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Lexa
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The lights of the city illuminated his face in waves as they passed through Century City’s bustling streets. It was no longer safe to stay within its limits. The vehicle was unregistered, untraceable, the tracking systems encrypted to hell and back. If anyone wanted to try and digitally trace their movements, they’d find themselves looking on the other side of the planet. A contingency in place for just such an occasion. Never let it be said that James Gable was ever left unprepared. Hastily thrown-together bug-out bags were placed in the car’s cargo area.

Lexa and Ava remained quiet at first, preferring to catch their breath and get as far from everything as possible. The lithe hacker watched the cars go by and the city carrying on, the world still spinning, oblivious to them and their little dramatics. She hovered between the two states of still being upset with him and grateful that he’d come around...even if he was being tight-lipped about the reason for the moment. She’d known Gable a lot of years, and one thing she’d learned about the man was that, when given a long enough time and suitable pushing...he could often be counted on to do the right thing.

Lex glanced Gable’s way, studying the stoic, focused former cop. “So...what changed your mind?”

Gable’s jaw clenched, his focus ahead. Honestly, he wasn’t entirely certain that he HAD changed his mind. At least, not about Ava. At the moment, his main concern was protecting himself and his friend. If the girl...the robot was part of that package, so be it.

“They found us.” He said simply.

“What?” She exclaimed, her eyes wide. “How?”

“Didn’t think to ask.” Gable said, mocking her with his tone.

Lexa sighed in annoyance. Obstinate man...“Well...are they going to come after us?”

Gable was quiet a long moment before finally uttering “No.”

The tone in his voice told her everything about what happened in that apartment. The thought chilled her to the bone. Lexa was aware of what he was capable of. Gable was a killer when he had to be. It was often hard to separate the two sides of him for her. He could be helpful, kind, downright sweet...and then when backed into a corner, he could be ruthless.

“Where are we going?” She asked, deciding to push those thoughts aside.

Gable’s hands gripped the wheel, white-knuckled as they took a turn. “I’ve got a safehouse out of town.”

“If they found you in Novus Vitae, what’s going to stop them here?” She asked.

“It’s off the grid.” he said, looking over to her a moment. “Vitruvia Lake.”

Her brows rose in surprise. “That IS off the grid.” She said. The place was hours away from any city in a very rural area. Right smack dab in the middle of nowhere.

Gable glanced in the rearview to the machine in the back before he turned his attention back to Lexa. “Get some rest. It’s going to be a long trip.”

The hacker turned her hazel eyes back to the open road ahead as they passed out of Century City limits and into the unknown. She’d put her faith in him for now. It was the only hope for their survival.
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Willa Bryant
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Things had become tense at Autons Inc. Mr. Chase was on edge, snapping at everyone around him. The search for the Ava unit had consumed the man, reduced his already short temper. People were pulled off of projects, years worth of experiments abandoned. And if anyone questioned it, they were fired on the spot. Chase was always a bastard, Willa thought, but he usually concealed it under thin veneer of charm. Now, however, the mask was off.

So it was that Willa found herself surrounded by scared co-workers trying their best to disseminate Ava’s code. What was the saying? “Too many cooks spoil the broth?” The combined brilliance in the room couldn’t change the fact that Alvin Martin’s work was less science than art. His methods, software, and hardware were so far beyond what any of them were even aware existed that it made even WIlla feel like a lost school kid again.

“Lords…how did he keep all this secret?” one of the techs muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose.

Willa pushed a loose blonde tress behind her ear. Chase had her camped in front of her computer for what felt like days, running on strong coffee and sheer grit. A nice, hot shower and a nap would be a blessing at this point. The roboticist suppressed a yawn and took another big gulp of coffee.

“Doc.” One of them said to her. “You knew the old man. He had to have told you about some of this.”

Willa didn’t look up from her screen, just kept working. “Dr. Martin was intensely private before he disappeared. He kept even me in the dark.”

“Disappeared?” one of them asked. “He quit.”

Willa’s fingers stopped flying across her keyboard. “Of course he did.”

The mousy woman sat silent. She didn’t believe for a second that Alvin Martin just quit and left his greatest creation behind. Something more sinister was at play here and she was certain she knew exactly who was to blame.

The door to her over-staffed lab slid open and in stepped Chase. His usually well-coiffed and groomed appearance showing signs of fraying. His hair out of place and stringy in his face, a few days worth of growth to his facial hair. His eyes bloodshot and intense from the same lack of sleep she was going through. The stress was getting to him.

Heads lowered, busying themselves as he entered, not wanting to attract attention. His eyes darted from person to person, almost aggressively. That was Chase. Always sizing people up. He made his way to Willa’s desk, staring at the petite scientist.

“Doctor.” He greeted her, his voice showing not even a hint of warmth.

Willa’s dark eyes swiveled up toward the man. God, she hated him. From his greasy-slicked hair, to those angry piercing eyes, and that smug confidence with which he approached everything. Some women had described him as handsome. Willa found him to be anything but.

“Mr. Chase.” The name tasted bitter upon her tongue, barely suppressed disdain fought from appearing on her face.

“You have an update, I’m assuming?” He said in a tone that suggested a threat.

“We’re working as hard as we can, sir.” God, she hated having to call him that. “We need more-”

“Time?” he interrupted, “What time do you think we have? Every moment the Ava unit is out there, we risk it falling into the hands of our competitors. Now, I am doing everything in my power to reacquire the asset, but I need a copy of her positronic brain made so we can move ahead with production of our own. I’m growing impatient, Dr.”

Willa narrowed her eyes. “You demand things you don’t even understand. This isn’t some simple process of copy and paste. What Alvin created would fry the processors of our S-17s in seconds. It’s not simply software, it’s hardware.”

She looked around the cluttered lab. She was usually very meticulous about her workspace, having other people inside of it, getting in the way, leaving behind messes sent her OCD into overdrive. Chase was to blame for this intrusion. She turned her gaze back to him.

“I can recreate the synthetic skin and the endoskeleton, but the brain that he made was one of a kind. It’s like asking me to paint recreate a masterpiece to perfection while blind.”

Those piercing eyes narrowed just slightly in her direction. “You’ve made a lot of excuses, Doctor. I’m growing tired of them.”

“Well, I can’t help that they’re still relevant.” She spat back at him.

“You know what I think? I think you’re a fraud. I think you were screwin’ the old man, and that’s the only reason you’re here at all.” He sneered at her viciously.

She stood up, getting right in his face. “Unlike some people, I didn’t have to bully and cheat my way to where I am, I earned it with my own blood and sweat. I am a genius, and you’re just a thug in a suit, you slimy piece of filth.”

That arrogant little sneer dropped from his face. The other doctors were watching now in horror. Willa regretted it almost immediately. She’d lost her temper, something she promised herself she’d never do, especially in front of a man like him.

“Clear the room.” he said, barely keeping his voice steady. The other doctors cleared out quickly, Chase standing at the door to usher them along. As soon as they were alone he shut the door. He stood there a long moment, not facing her.

Willa steeled herself. She’d made her bed, she’d lie in it, but she would not cave to him, would not beg. “I take it, I’m probably not going to be at the next company Holiday party?”

Silence.

She scoffed and rolled her eyes, moving toward the door. To hell with him. Let the punk figure this out without her. Odds are, he’ll blow himself up trying. But when she got to him, he didn’t move. Didn’t look at her.

“Is this supposed to scare me?” she said. “My mother is more intimidating. Get out of my way.”

Chase turned to her slowly, something in his gaze unsettled her, but she continued on, not letting her fear show. “Move.”

Chase suddenly backhanded the woman across the face. Willa was completely unprepared for the strike, her legs giving out from under her. The mousy doctor fell to the floor, her cheek stinging and her head ringing.

“You want the thug? You got him.” he growled at her. Willa pulled herself to her feet, clinging to the desk, doing her damndest to ignore the pain. As soon as she was up, she felt his hand clench around her throat, her slight body pushed back against the wall. She struggled, trying to pry that hand from her neck, but he was much stronger than her.

Chase got close, his voice low and threatening. “You’re not going anywhere. You have no idea how far I will go to have this technology, how far I HAVE gone. You’re going to finish this job, Bryant. You’re going to finish it, or I everything and everyone you love will burn with you, do you understand me?”

She pounded his arm as she struggled to breathe, the fear overwhelming her. Willa winced as he just clenched tighter. “Do you understand?” he growled at her.

Through the chokes and emerging sobs she nodded slowly. Chase released her roughly, letting the small woman collapse to the ground, gasping desperately for air. She looked up at him, hate in her tearful eyes. “You’re a monster.”

Chase stepped in front of a reflective surface and straightened his shirt and slicked back his hair. “Yeah. I suppose I am.” He said turning to her. “And you would do well to remember it. I *am* a monster, you have no idea what I am capable of.”

He strode to the door, letting it slide open before turning back to her. “Get to work.”
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The door slid shut behind him, Chase’s clenched fists shaking as he paced. He’d gone too far. Showed his hand to that arrogant little bitch. If he didn’t need her, she’d be dead, but circumstances being what they were, she was the closest to Alvin Martin he was going to get. The doctor was still missing, along with the most valuable piece of tech in the universe.

Chase walked to his liquor cabinet and pulled out a bottle Cerillian Whiskey, pouring it into a glass and immediately downing the contents in one gulp. The haze hit his system near instantly, giving him a moment of dizziness. His hands gripped the countertop, steadying himself.

The mercenaries hadn’t reported in. That was usually a bad sign. Facial recognition applications pulled up a partial match from the bodycam of one of the dead mercs. They’d been lucky the woman’s blocker malfunctioned for a split second when she was wounded. It was enough for them to extrapolate and narrow down their choice.

James Gable. Former Century City cop. Known for his actions during the MatsuTech hostage situation. Became a part of Martin’s Second Chance initiative for wounded officers and soldiers after an incident left him near death and without a significant portion of the left side of his body. He was discovered as living outside the influence of robotic surveillance in Novus Vitae.

Novus Vitae. A collection of delusional doomsayers, clinging to their antiquated ideals, fighting a pointless war against progress. From the old man’s psych notes, Gable fit right in with them. Bitter, angry, prone to violence. A deep seated dislike of robotics, despite their integration into his body, keeping him alive.

There were no reports coming from the mercenary force he’d sent. Gable must have been more capable than he thought.

Chase poured himself another glass of whiskey, turning on the holovision. An anchor was reporting on a disturbance coming out of Novus Vitae. Several bodies had been found in the 100 block of the Organics-Only section of the city. None of them mentioning a female of any kind. Gable might be dead, but Ava and the woman were almost certainly still alive and still at large.

Somewhere deep inside him, a boiling rage had begun to rise. His fist clenched the glass, shaking with anger before he let out a frustrated scream, throwing the glass with all his might and sending it shattering all over the floor.

Almost immediately, the tiny maintenance droids scurried out to clean the mess.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ava did not need sleep in the sense that Lexa and Gable did. Powering down in a sort of sleep cycle could help give her power generator a recharge, but usually, the effect would last for at least 20 days. No, Ava did not need to sleep. But she found, in the past few days that she enjoyed it. Leaving her physical vessel behind to delve into the complex consciousness that existed within her unique positronic brain offered what she would describe as comfort, eliciting a feeling she could only define as “safe”.

Her sensors indicated that the conveyance they currently occupied had come to a stop and the engine shut down. Her eyes opened slowly, darting quickly, taking stock of her surroundings. The towers and lights and business of the city were no longer around them. She looked behind her, the city a hazy silhouette in the distance.

The location they had arrived was an unpaved gravel lot alongside acres and acres of farmland, the road stretching farther than even her enhanced eyes could conceive. What appeared to be a decommissioned passenger ship had been converted to a roadside diner. Lexa turned around facing the android, her knees upon the seat and her tattooed arms wrapped around the back.

“Hey, you’re up.” the woman said with a smile. “Listen, we need to get a bite to eat, did you want to come with?”

She noted Gable’s eyes were watching her doubtfully in the rearview. Something inside her, bitter and rebellious decided she would not give him the satisfaction. Her eyes locked on his. “I would like that.” she said, almost spitefully.

She exited the vehicle, not bothering to see the surprise in his eyes.

As she entered the diner, she found a gathering of several species. A few Torkun; large, plated, creatures that looked like a cross between a rhino, a frog, in and alligator’s skin with arms and legs not too different from humanoids. Known for their strength and short tempers.

There were also a few Gor, Nigh skeletal creatures who communicated with eachother via bio-luminescent light emitted from their sternums (often bearing robotic translators for contact with humans and other auditorily-communicating species. A mostly peaceful race whose society had no formal military but made excellent spies.

She spied a Zalkan; Reptilian, short. A species often seen in the criminal underworld.

As her eyes bounced around from these and more, all of this data and more ran through her consciousness, as if she’d always known. Their revelation about what she was led her to accept this must be in her memory banks. Data files on every core species, their customs, and common traits among them loaded into her OS. She found herself a seat in a booth as Lexa and Gable entered the Diner.

The pair approached her, Gable sliding in across from her as Lexa moved to sit beside her, giving the android a nudge. “Scoot.”

Ava looked up to her a moment before making room for her friend. After a serving droid took their order, the trio sat in awkward silence, the two humans sipping glasses of water.

“Well. This is fun.” Lexa said wryly.

Ava noted the man, Gable would not make eye contact with her, despite her staring directly at him. “You are uncomfortable with my presence.” She observed.

“Yes.” He said simply, looking out the window.

“May I ask why?”

“I just...have a thing about canners, that’s all.”

“I am not a canning machine. That is not my purpose.”

“I have issues with things like you.” He spat back.

“There ARE no things like me.” She said.

“You know what I mean.” he asserted.

“It would I appear that I do not.” Ava stared at him...was that anger in her eyes?

“Girls, you’re both pretty.” Lexa said, rolling her eyes. “Can we just enjoy a meal without making a scene? Please?”

Ava could see the stress in Lexa’s entire bearing. She had noted that a smile often calmed humans, so she forced a small one to the woman. “Our destination cannot hide us forever.” She said, changing the subject. It was not a criticism, it was a fact.

“We don’t need it to.” He responded, pausing as their food was set before them. He waited until the service droid rolled away before speaking again. “I just want to get as far from their influence as possible and we’ll go from there.”

Ava did not seem too comforted by this plan, but she decided discretion was in order. She stared down at her plate, her head tilting, contemplating the food before her. Her sensors told her it was a concoction mixing eggs, flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla, all cooked into a round shape, crosshatched patterns creating pockets in the food. A “waffle” Lexa had called it.

Ava stared at it a moment, feelings stirring up that she didn’t quite understand.

“And we pour the syrup...careful..CAREFU-OH no! ”A kindly, male voice followed by childlike laughter echoed in her ears. But it did not come from either of her companions. It had come from nowhere. A ghostly voice that, instead of fear, filled her with warmth. In her mind’s eye she could picture a small girl of about 4 standing upon a chair in a blue dress, holding a bottle of syrup up high and squeezing it all over the table below, giggling with wild abandon.

Just as fast as she had come, the girl was gone.

“Ava?” Lexa’s voice echoed in her ears, bringing her too. Slowly, the android looked to her. Lexa’s face was mask of concern, her brows knit worriedly.

“Yes?”

“Are...you alright?” Lexa asked, her eyes flicking downward.

“Yes, why-” Ava looked down and noticed that her hand had bent in the surface of the steel table in the shape of her thumbs. She blinked, not having remembered doing it, feeling confused. Again that emotion returned. The one she did not like. Fear.

Gable chewed a mouthful of eggs, watching her knowingly, a certain smug satisfaction to his arched brow. The man raised his brows sarcastically and turned his head away.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The cottage sat in a clearing, surrounded by trees, a lake running along the western side of the property. It was a rustic sort of place, far away from the nearest town. No cortex connection, in fact, there was not a holoscreen to be seen on the premises, much to Lexa’s chagrin.

She'd only heard about this little cottage in passing. Gable wasn't exactly forthcoming with an explanation to the nature of its existence, not that he ever was a big talker about his life. It was a cozy little space, and as safehouses go, it was better than most of the dingy, smelly basements she’d usually chosen for her own.

As they opened the car door, Max sprinted out. The dog running amuck around all the new smells and sights like tiny grey blur. Just full-on sensory overload for the little guy. The corners of Gable’s mouth were tugged upward in a smile, watching the dog, oblivious to their current predicament, just running wild and happy.

Max was lucky, Lexa thought. He would not lose sleep to worry or be concerned with the men searching for them or the dead. He just wanted someone to play with, food, and a spot to sleep. For the first time, she envied a dog.

“You know...if you wanted to get away from society and robots...this would have been a great place to do it.” She said.

Gable ran his eyes over the charming cottage. There wasn’t nearly the amount of warmth she might expect from him over such a pleasant little place. In fact there was a hint of sadness there. “Too many memories. “ He muttered distantly. Gable blinked, shaking out of it. “Besides. Not going to make much of a difference from here, am I?”

With that, he shouldered his bag and moved into the house. Ava stared after him. “He seems sad.”

Perceptive, kid, Lexa thought sarcastically.

“It was his family’s place.” Lexa explained.

“Where are they now?” the android asked her.

“Gone.” Lexa said simply. She knew the story of what had happened to Gable’s family. She couldn’t really blame him for being less than excited to get here. “Grab your stuff. We’ll find rooms.”
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ava stepped into the cottage, her scanners running over everything. Traces of leather, and mahogany creating a pleasant, earthy scent in the air. Decorated rustically, with evidence of years of use and the lives lived inside. A few wild animal heads, and pictures scattered throughout. Certainly more photos than Gable ever had in his own home. It was like a timeline of his life, showing a young boy with his father and mother, all aging as the pictures went along until the mother disappeared during Gable’s adolescence. A few pictures later a new woman appeared. Beautiful, blond-haired with a smile that lit up her entire face.

Three pictures later, she was showing signs of pregnancy. The next, she was holding a tiny, blonde-haired baby girl in her arms. 6 more pictures followed her progress as she aged grew into a beautiful, happy little lady. And then the pictures just stopped.

The quiet of the room was calming, just the sound of a clock ticking away quietly and the wildlife muffled outside. The android stepped forward peering at the child. She had Gable’s eyes and the female’s features. As she noted the sudden end of the pictures and the apparent lack of any of the others featured in the photographs, Ava felt a pain grow deep inside of her. The little girl seemed so happy in the pictures, clinging to the woman and Gable with a bright smile on her young face. Ava’s eyes began to moisten. She couldn’t quite explain the sensation or why it had begun, but she felt it nonetheless. She reached up and touched a droplet of water that ran down her cheek. Ava stared at the moisture on her fingers, perplexed.

Gable stepped into the house, carrying a bag full of canned goods in from the car. Ava turned to greet him, those sad brown eyes meeting his. “Is there something I might assist you with?” She said in a quiet voice.

Gable stared with furrowed brow at her, his lips parted just slightly. Was she crying? Could she cry? Who the hell made a machine that was capable of tears? The physical beauty, the personality simulations, he could understand. But a negative He cleared his throat, coming back to reality. “I don’t know if you’ll need it...but there’s a room you can use…”

A smile worked it’s way to her lips as she nodded. “I would like that. Thank you.”
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Willa walked down the corridors of Autons Inc, her tablet in hand. Her workplace had become one filled with fear since Chase had attacked her. Part of her considered running, but where would she go? There was no doubt in her mind that he would make good on his threats. She wasn’t sure she had the ability to make herself disappear, let alone her elderly mother.

The strange modulated voice had contacted her again in a rare moment to herself in the lab. Who it was, she still couldn’t figure, but it was very knowledgeable. It seemed to know she was stalling, and the voice supported this. It would offer advice and work-arounds to certain problems, providing solutions, but only on an incremental level Whoever it was wanted to see Devin Chase fail.

That was a sentiment Willa could support.

Chase was not in his office when she came looking to deliver a status update. His AI secretary informed her that he could be located on the production floor. Ugh...it was bad enough, being forced the deliver these reports to his repugnant face herself, but now the son of a bitch was making her chase him?

Willa boarded the lift and glanced up. “Production.” She instructed the machine, receiving a pleasant tone in return. The inertial dampeners erased every bit of force from the lift’s acceleration. In the silence of the elevator, Willa found a moment to just think. The voice. That mechanical voice that was so deadset on standing in Chase’s way...there was something so familiar about it. In the back of her mind, Willa dared to hope that Alvin was still out there. Working to undermine Chase in secrecy. Hiding his identity. It was a pleasant fiction.

The lift came to a stop with a ding as a soothing computer voice said “You have arrived at the Production and maintenance-Observation deck.” Willa stepped out into the antiseptic silver and white hallway, lit entirely in bright, fluorescent lighting. She moved through halls, clutching her tablet, dreading seeing that face. That greasy, slicked back hair. She imagined touching him would feel slimy, the disgusting pig.

She steeled herself outside the door of the control room, taking in a deep breath. “Okay, Willa, girl. Just go in. Hand him the pad. And walk away. You might not even have to stay and talk…” the roboticist told herself before pushing a thumb to the ID plate.

As the doors slid open she found him standing in front of the huge room-length window overlooking the assembly floor, his hands clasped behind him. If he heard her enter, he showed no signs of it. She rolled her eyes and pushed onward.

“Sir?” She said irritably. “I have the reports. Status updates for you.” She kept her distance from him.

“I was born in Davosport.” He said quietly. “The rough end.” Chase clarified. Great, Willa thought. It was story time.

“My father worked in a foundry creating the metal used in this company’s robots. Mean, violent drunk.” His eyes narrowed as he spoke. “My mother was a whore he managed to knock up.”

Slowly, he glanced back at her. “They told me I would never amount to much.”

It certainly explained a lot about him, Willa thought. Why he was such an unimaginable bastard.

“Now look.” His arms raised up, gesturing around him. “When I became CEO, do you know what happened?”

She could guess, but shook her head.

“I had that factory closed down. I bought that *****y apartment block and I had it demolished. Now *they* are nothing.” He said in a low, gruff tone. Chase turned back to the window, looking out. “Look what I have done. I will usher in a new era of robotics…”

Willa’s brow creased with concern as she stepped forward. Her eyes widened in horror. There were thousands of them. Androids just like Ava, given different appearances, different sexes, standing there naked as newborns, but mere shells until Willa cracked the positronic brains. He was going to try and fasttrack something he did not understand, something NO ONE understood. She’d seen what Ava was capable of, and that girl was a work of art. What would a half-assed imitation be capable of?

“When I am done…” He said “...the galaxy will never be the same.”
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The girl...no, he corrected himself. The machine was surprising, to say the least. Once they’d settled in, she went to the bookshelf. Lined with dusty, old paperbacks from before he was even born. She took up one, “Shadows Of Elinor”. A tale about an elf-princess going out on her first pilgrimage and finding love, adventure, and her purpose in life.

He wasn’t sure why she…*it* would need entertainment, but there they were. Gable watched her from the kitchen as Lexa paced nervously.

“You know, you keep going back and forth on that spot, you’re gonna wear a hole through the floor.” He said, arms crossing as he leaned against the counter.

“Ugh...I hate this. I need a screen or an uplink. I need...noise! “ she complained. “How do you put up with all this QUIET?!”

Gable grinned. “That was part of what I loved about this place to be honest.” he told her. “You could come here, get away from it all...just enjoy the silence.”

She blinked at him. “That is, literally the worst thing I’ve ever heard.” She said quickly. “I almost fell asleep listening to that.”

“Well, consider the alternative. You jump onto the cortex, they track you, they find us...we die.” Gable gave a quick raise of his brows her, smirking.

“I can work out an encryp-”

“No.” He said simply.

“But-”

“Lexa.” Gable said firmly before shaking his head.

The slender hacker bit her lip in frustration before she just erupted in an irritated outburst. “Fine. Fine….Whatever. So what now?”

“I was thinking dinner.” Gable said, getting a thoroughly unamused look in return. He did love to tease her. “We know They’ll be looking for us in Century City. So, we can’t go back there. The nearest spaceport is Oolom Taurus. But they’ll be looking there. So, we lay low. Stay off their radar. And THEN we go for the spaceport and get off-planet.”

Lexa stared at him. “Then what?”

“God, I don’t know! Galaxy’s a big place. We find somewhere with enough tech to study her, maybe find out if she knows anything. Look, all that matters is that we get as far from Autons Inc. as possible.” Gable said to her, grabbing an apple and pulling a pocket knife out.

Kara looked up, watching him carve the apple.

“Jim...they’re everywhere. Every planet, every system, every backwards-ass moon and station...where are we going to go that Autons Inc. cannot follow?” She said with a touch of fear in her voice.

Gable frowned then, taking a bite. His eyes turned to Ava, a little smile appearing on her face as she read.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ava lay in bed in one of the spare rooms. Anyone who saw her might assume she was sleeping, but her system was actually recharging on its own internal generator. Her eyes remained shut as she lay there, still as death.

Images flashed in her mind. An older man. Smiling.

He appeared familiar. Kindly. He made a silly face at her, flipping her hair after putting it in ties at either side of her head. He seemed huge, like she were a mere child. And she felt love. Pure, unadulterated affection for him.

And then he was gone.

Ava’s eyes popped open suddenly. Her senses picking up sound coming from downstairs. Slowly, the android sat up and pushed herself off the bed. She was near silent as she padded down the hall to the balcony, peering over its edge.

Gable sat out on the porch, the door left wide open as the sound of night and a cool breeze blew in. The cold air rose goosebumps on her synthetic skin, Ava’s arms hugging herself instinctively. If pressed, she couldn’t quite explain why she’d done it, it just sort of happened.

The stairs creaked lightly as she descended into the living room. Outside, Gable was sat in wooden lounge chair, his feet up on a matching ottoman. The final picture of his family in his hand and a bottle of whiskey sat on an end table beside him.

“You know, kid…”he said to no one with a drunken slur to his voice. “I think you’da thought it was pretty cool…”

Bloodshot eyes stared at the picture. “Your old man riding a hoverpod off a building…” He snickered. “All to...to...rescue a….a friggin’...can opener.” He laughed bitterly and took a swig from the bottle.

The insult brought a frown to Ava’s face, her eyes lowering for a moment.

“It...she’s...she’s different Kate...I dunno what she is...but…” He trailed off and shook his head. “She’s got a...something about her. Had every excuse to just leave her where she was and get on with my life. Don’t know why I didn’t.” He mumbled to himself. “She just...she’s so...helpless.”

Ava’s eyes upturned again, listening, the frown fading a bit.

“She’s...actually...she’s alright.” He said, slowly shaking his head. “I hate it, but she’s...I like her.”

Gable was quiet a long moment, staring off as his drunken eyes went glassy, his voice breaking with emotion. “God, I just miss you both so much…”

Ava saw him reach for the bottle again and stepped out. As his fingers wrapped around it, her hand gently lay across the top of the neck. “Perhaps you should reconsider.” She said in a soft, soothing voice.

He looked confused a moment as his eyes turned up to her, tearful and red. He softened and cleared his throat. “What...hey. What’re you doin’ here?”

Ava titled her head. “I heard a noise, and was coming to investigate.”

“Ah…”He said with a distant nod.

“May I sit?” Ava asked him. Gable’s only reply was to gesture to another chair. The android dragged it over and sat beside him. For a long moment the two sat in silence before she glanced over to the picture. “They were your mate and offspring, were they not?” she asked him.

His fingertips brushed across their faces. “Yeah.”

“And they are the reason you hate my kind?”

Gable looked over as if he was going to argue, but he just didn’t have it in him. He stared back at the picture and nodded. Ava noted his lack of denial. “If I may ask, what happened?”

The man stared off, the crickets in the night sky and the wind in the trees the only sound to be heard. “We were coming home. We’d spent a long weekend here, Katie, Kaylee and me… Kaylee, she was my daughter. Smart kid. Funny kid.” He said, his eyes distant and a little smile on his face. Those blue eyes turned her then. “You know, she’d walk into a room and talk to everyone there, make ‘em laugh...make ‘em smile. She took after her mama like that.”

The corners of Ava mouth twitched upward. There was so much love in his voice when talking about the two females.

“Katie could light a black hole with her smile. Just a sweet...fair...ridiculously good woman.” he said almost wincing at the end his description. Gable stared off a long moment, lost in memories before he cleared his throat.

“So, we’re driving back to Century, and one of those automated A2 cargo haulers throws a hover disk.” he started, his brow furrowed. “Thing jerks into our lane. We take the hit, and all I can hear is busting glass, crunching metal and...and screaming.” His voice turned hoarse, haunted.

“Thing crashes us through the guardrail and slam down onto the underpass. We hit a concrete divider and I get thrown through the windshield. I finally come to a rest, and I know...everything’s broken...everything hurts. I’m dead and I just don’t know it yet.” He said, turning his eyes to the android with a shake of his head. He paused a long moment at the look upon her face. Again, she didn’t understand the how, but she knew what she felt. Horror. Sorrow. Empathy.

Gable turned those sad. booze-soaked eyes to her. “But Kaylee and Kate are still in the car. I see Kate and she-she’s bleedin’ from her head, she was probably already gone at that point… But Kaylee’s in back and I see her start to move. So I’m crawlin’ and crawlin’ to her when I hear this sound. This awful...wrenching sound. The A2’s about to fall.”


Ava felt a pain in her chest, then. Something she was certain she should not have been able to feel. Something none of her kind had ever felt, she knew. Gable looked destroyed, but persisted.

“So, I try to get up to run, but my body ain’t cooperating.” He said, his face turning dark. His voice filling with spite. “S-14’s out walking, sees me, assesses the situation. I finally get to the car and Kaylee’s pinned in there, trying to get free...but she can’t.” He shook his head.

“Now, I *know* I’m ****ed up because she sees me and screams and starts crying. I start pulling on the door with my one good arm but it won’t budge.” Ava listened sadly as his voice dropped into a low growl. “And I hear that son of a bitch behind me, shouting ‘you are in danger!’ Those metal claws grabbing at me.”

Ava knew what had to be coming, but didn’t want to interrupt. Suddenly, she was able to understand James Gable a lot more.

“I manage kick him away and I’m screaming, pulling at the door, but the bastard won’t stop. ‘You are in danger!’ he keeps yelling at me over and over again...and I feel that cold hand grab my ankles and he starts draggin’ me. I’m clawin and fightin...and Kaylee...she’s just….She’s screaming and crying and trying to get free...and then...then...it fell. 7.000 lbs of steel and cargo...just...fell onto her.”

Ava blinked away guilty tears, feeling like something inside of her just broke. It must have been what she’d heard referred to as ‘having the wind knocked out of you’. She stammered a moment. “The...the 3 laws operating system is forced to operate on...on computations. The likelihood of-”

“Yeah. The likelihood of survival. I was injured so badly, I might as well have been dead already, but my little girl MIGHT have taken it too long to save. That was my baby.” He said to her. “That was my baby girl and that damn thing didn’t even try. Any human would know better.”

“But you’re alive now.” She said simply.

“For what? Huh? To do what? Drift around like a corpse? Stare into that mirror and hate what I see every second of every day?” his voice was so venomous, it made her flinch. “It would have been better if I had died. For everyone.”

“Not for me.” she said quietly, her eyes cast downward. “I would not be here...free, if not for you. And Lexa would not have her friend. ”

“She doesn’t need a friend like me.” He grumbled.

“You underestimate your value.” Ava shook her head. “You have lost those you loved. But there are still those who care for you. You should not discount them, nor your importance to them. Allow me to share with you a sentiment I have come to realize since falling into your company. A concept that has given me great comfort.” she said to him.

“You are not alone, James Gable.” She said simply.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Davosport. What a ****hole, Chase thought, walking down the rough streets of his youth. The place was run-down, filthy. The hazy smoke of industry tainting the air, giving everything a sort of gray, dreary feel. The perfect place for his meeting today.

Chase dressed down, his usual expensive suit exchanged for more working class garb. Those dark, sharp eyes scanning around for witnesses before he stuffed his hands in coat pockets and headed down an alleyway.

He wrinkled his nose as the scent of trash and filth hit his nostrils. When this was over, he'd see about having the neighborhood condemned and sterilized, he thought. For now there was work to do. He pushed open a rusted metal door and stepped inside. Immediately he found rifles pointed at him.

The businessman put his hands up. “Easy! I’m expected!”

The nearest guard. “Yeah? You think you might wanna learn to ****in’ knock?”

“Take that gun out of my f-”

The barrel pressed against his forehead, Chase’s bravado fading instantly as his eyes clenched shut.

“Enough!” A female voice called out over the room. Carmelita Rojas stood at the balcony overlooking the entrance. Clad in a leather trench coat with its sleeves cut off over a tank top, her dark brown eyes regarded Chase with a derisive sneer. She beckoned him up the stairs.

The guard smirked at him as he let him go. In his mind, Chase thought“Keep smiling *** hole. I’m going to burn your neighborhood to the ****ing ground.” He made his way up the stairs and into her office. Carmelita sat in her chair, feet propped up on her old rusting, peeling desk. Her black hair was tied back in braids, a scar marring the tan skin of the right side of her face from brow to cheek. She would be attractive, Chase thought, if there wasn’t a 50/50 chance of her castrating you in your sleep.

“Well, well. If it ain’t Devin Chase. Local boy done good. Surprised you were willing to slum it and grace us with your presence.” She teased him.

Chase did not look amused. “Well, when someone ****s up as entirely as you have, a personal visit becomes necessary, doesn’t it?”

“Well, maybe if you kept your damn house in order, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” She shot back, eyes narrowing. “You cost me a lot of men. Good ones, Chase.”

“If they were so good, then I’d have the girl. When I shell out big money, I expect results. I expect your best, not a bunch of morons I wouldn’t trust with a goddamn slingshot.”

She shot him a dangerous look. “Watch your mouth, Chase.” She said, her voice dropping low as she leaned forward against the desk, her fingers brushing the grip of her pistol. “You withheld information from me. You want your secrets? Fine. But put your own ass on the line, not mine. Now, you want results? Then you better start talking. What the **** are they protecting?”

Chase laid it all out. Martin, Ava, Gable, the reason he needed them brought in. Rojas was not happy. “So my men are dead because you lost one of your tinker toys?”

“She’s not a tinker toy. She’s the most advanced piece of technology the universe has ever known. When I have her, I will have a corner on the scarcest commodity in the universe. I will be able to change everything.” He said, those piercing eyes looking hard at her.

“I can see why you’d want to keep that to yourself, you cheap son of a bitch.” She spat at him. “You want this job done, you’re paying 10 times the agreed upon rate and 15,000 per each man I lost because of your short-sighted stupidity. Is that understood.”

Chase did not like being extorted. “Understood. Just do your job.” Once again, he made the decision that he would destroy this town and everyone in it. Carmelita Rojas would receive her payment….before joining her men in hell.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gable stood outside, axe in hand. Sweat made the shirt cling to his muscular form as he set up another log. The axe was brought up and cleaved the wood in two with one swift stroke and a grunt, that cybernetic arm making short work of the log. Footsteps approached from behind.

A quick glance back revealed Lexa, wrapped up in a little sweater, combating the cool morning air. A smirk played across her lips as she hugged herself, holding a mug of coffee in one hand. “Well.” She said, almost antagonistically.

Gable quirked a brow, setting up another log. “Well, what?” He brought the axe up and slammed it down again.

“My little lumberjack was hanging out pretty late with the horrible robot girl last night.” She teased him. “James Gable, are you developing a soft spot for the girl?”

He turned his eyes up to her, unamused, and lined up another log.

“Oh, come on, grumpy-puss!” She chuckled.

“She’s...very convincing.” he allowed. He couldn’t help but notice the widening of that smirk on her face as he hefted the axe up. He sighed and let his shoulders slump. “What now?”

The tattooed hacker regarded him warmly. “You called Ava ‘she’.”

Gable stood there a moment, looking confused. Had he? Must have been a slip of the tongue. Though, he couldn’t deny, spending time, speaking to the machine...even he had his doubts. There was something growing in place of the blind hatred of what she was. He would be hard pressed to call it affection. No, this was more...pity. He felt sorry for her. Whoever made her, programmed the girl-no, he caught himself, the machine to feel fear, sorrow, pain. To show empathy and concern. Those were human emotions, human feelings, and often they were unpleasant and confusing. For a being just figuring those out, he couldn’t imagine what it was like.

Lexa walked up to him. “It’s okay to admit you were wrong, you know?” She turned her eyes up to him.

Gable looked like he wanted to say something, but it didn’t pass his lips. “You don’t have to be best buddies with her, Jim. But she’s a good kid. And I think you know that” She patted him on the arm and headed back to the house.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Over the next few days, Chase had Willa burning the candle on both ends with her project. Exhaustion and panic had begun to set in. With the unit bodies in production, they were down to the wire. She couldn’t delay him much longer.
Willa sat back in her chair and rubbed at her eyes, yawning. She turned her weary gaze to the clock. 3:30 AM. The scientist let out a sigh, slumping. She rested her eyes a moment, needing even a few minutes of rest.

“Wake up, Willa.” Came that computerized voice.

Pale blue eyes popped open in a panic, but nobody was there. Slowly, she realized that she recognized the voice and straightened up, clearing her throat. “I’m up.”

“It’s time, child.” the voice said.

Had she heard right? Her hand swept a strand of hair behind her ear. The doctor realized she was in desperate need of a shower. “It’s time? What do you mean?”

“I have uploaded a segment of code to your system. All you have to do is place it within the brain and our work will be complete.”

Her brow furrowed as she stared ahead. It all seemed so sudden. “But…”

“But what?” the voice asked.

Images flooded her mind of the thousands of Android bodies currently completed and the MILLIONS, perhaps billions across the galaxy under construction. “We can’t let him create an army of Avas. We simply can’t.”

That voice took on a soothing, gentle tone. “And we won’t, dear girl. I promise you. We’re going to stop him. We’re going to end him. When this is over, Devin Chase’s name won’t even be a footnote in history. I promise you.”

Willa couldn’t help but smile at that. “Good.” Whatever happened to Devin Chase was alright in her book.

“You’ve done well, Willa. I’m very proud of you. Just a little longer and our work will be complete.”

Something about that voice, the wording, the personality in it...she knew it. She could swear she knew it. Finally, she would ask the question that burned inside of her these past weeks.

“Before you go…” Willa said.

“Yes?”

“I need to know…”she paused trying to find the strength to speak. “Alvin...is that you?”

Silence followed.

“I had...hoped to keep my identity a secret. But I suppose, I should have known you’d figure it out. You were always so very intuitive, Willa.”

A wave of emotion hit the doctor, tears rimming her eyes. She looked around cautiously, her voice dropping conspiratorially. “Where are you? What happened to you?”

“I shouldn’t talk about it here, but I can tell you that I am in hiding. But the time to rise is coming. We’re going to take it back, Willa. We’re going to take it all back. I swear.”

Willa’s eyes shut, happy for the first time in weeks.

“There’s just one more step, Willa. I’ll see you soon.”
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lexa sat in the yard upon a swing, not really up to anything. In reality she was thinking about how much she missed technology. Not having any way to access the Cortex was infuriating. She felt like a junkie in dire need of a fix.

At least Gable and Ava were getting along. Having him so on-edge was almost worse than putting up with all this...nature.

He’d still not given them a concrete plan in the slightest. All he kept saying was that he’d figure something out. She was beginning to think this WAS the plan. Rot here until either Chase gave up or their bodies did.

She heard the steps behind her before she saw who it was, the slim hacker leaning her head back to find a curious looking Ava standing there. “Hey there, cuteness. What you up to?”

“Nothing.” She responded those big brown eyes looking over the swing.

“You look confused.”

“This…device. It stirs up strange feelings.”

“Feelings?”

“Images. Images I cannot explain.”

“Some programming information embedded in your system?”

“No. You might call the data ‘memories’.”

Lexa stared at her with a furrowed brow. “What do you remember?”

“I remember a child. Sitting upon a swing. Like this. Very much like this. And older man pushing her.” A smile formed on her face. “The girl laughs as she high. So high up. The man smiles to her. Calls her ‘Goldie’.”

Ava’s eyes shimmered as tears formed. “He tells her he loves her. Holds her tight...so tight. And the girl feels safe. Secure. Home with her father.”

Those deep brown eyes fluttered as if coming out of a trance, her brow furrowing. “Father....why do I know that?”

Lexa looked on unsure of what she was witnessing. Something was wrong with Ava. “Maybe it’s just something in your positronic brain. I can take a look if you like?”

Ava turned her gaze upon the tattooed hacker and nodded.
~~~
The pair sat in the basement of the cabin, It was a bit of a cluttered mess down there, but it would be fine for their needs. Ava pulled up an old deck chair and sat as Lexa approached. She looked down at her counterpart. “Now, I’ve got a multitool interface implant. I’m going to try and access your system processes, but I need you to lower any firewalls as we come to them.”

Ava nodded in response. “Very well.”

Lexa placed two fingers on her right hand to the girl’s temple. Her forearm flexed, the holographic interface flickering to life like a gauntlet of red light. A holographic display of Ava’s brain glowed blue in front of them. Nimble fingers on her left hand manipulated her way into the mind of the machine as they came upon firewall after firewall.

“Damn...somebody REALLY didn’t want you getting accessed.” Lexa muttered.

“I detect 400 such firewalls. I will attempt to shut them down.” Ava said helpfully, her eyes sliding shut.

Little by little, the map of Ava’s brain was being revealed, and it was astounding. Lexa had seen a positronic brain at work. This was something else. Even the most advanced robots were merely a marginally successful approximation of humanity, simplistic and focused for their one purpose. Ava’s was hugely complicated, infinitely more complex. “My God…” she said, an enthralled laugh escaping her lips. “What the hell are you? You’re amazing.”

Suddenly, Ava twitched, the unlocked portions of the brain flashing red a moment. Lexa’s brows knit together. “Whoa...what was that?”

Ava twitched again, this time more violently, her face contorting in anguish, the display showing synapses firing like a warzone as the girl’s body arched. Ava’s hands clenched the armrest so hard, she cracked the wood.

“Holy ****!” Lexa exclaimed, panicked as she backed out of Ava’s system in a rush, before removing her fingers.

Ava’s eyes opened slowly. Silent for a moment before she began to speak. It wasn’t her usual tone. It was more conversational, more lighthearted, more lively. “I will, Daddy.” She said to someone who wasn’t there. “I’ll be home in just a few hours, okay?”

Lexa’s head turned, cautiously.

“I love you t-” Ava suddenly looked horrified. “Oh my God! DADDY!” She screamed and suddenly slammed back in her chair, agony on her face.

The hacker stared down at her friend in stunned silence. Her eyelids fluttered a bit as she took stock of the situation.

Ava’s eyes opened slowly, looking dazed, exhausted...hurt. She seemed to be struggling to breathe.her entire body shaking. “D...d….daddy?” Her hand reached up, shaking aggressively. “I...I c-can’t f-feel….” she trailed off, tears pouring down her face as she went still, her body going limp.

The sound of Gable’s feet clomping down the stairs pulled Lexa out of the moment. “What the hell is going on down here? Who’s screaming?” he demanded.

Lexa was pale, looking like she’d seen a ghost.

“Lex? What is it?”
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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2017 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gable followed Lex as she rushed out of the room. The hacker was frantic, and refused to speak. “Will you slow down and talk to me?!” he called after her.

Lexa whipped around. “She has memories.”

Gable’s brow quirked. “Well, she wasn’t built yesterday…”

“No!” Lexa interrupted him impatiently. “Memories she shouldn’t have. Couldn’t have! She has someone else’s memories.”
He was about to say something, but caught himself. Now might not be the time. But Lexa noticed, narrowing her eyes. “What are you up to? What is your plan here?”

Gable looked guilty. “I told you. I’m still figuring it out.”

“Bull ****! What are we doing here? What are you waiting for?!” she demanded.

Gable knew he was caught and couldn’t talk his way out of this. “I’ve been in contact with someone.”

“Who?!”

Gable glanced at the cellar door where Ava stood looking terrified. “How does an android look pale?” He wondered. His eyes shifted to Lexa again. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Is it Chase? Have you been planning on selling her out?” Lexa was absolutely on-edge, the fear taking over and giving way to anger.

“No!”

“Then who?!”

“Alvin Martin.” he said finally.

Lexa backed away from him, looking at him incredulously. “No. No, no, no, no no. Jim, that’s-”

“It’s the truth. He’s on his way. He’s coming to claim her.” Gable told her.

“Wait, you’ve...you’ve been contacting him?” she asked, as if suddenly realizing something.

He didn’t like lying to them, but Martin had told him to keep it under wraps. “Yes.” he admitted.

“You’ve kept us locked up here for DAYS. No contact with the outside world, no access to the cortex at all, and you’ve been chit-chatting with a fugitive?”

Gable looked around as if she were insane. “WE’RE fugitives! Why are you so angry?”

“You REALLY don’t get it?” she narrowed her eyes. Gable just threw his arms up, eyes wide as he shook his head.

Lexa stormed right up into his face. “You may be surprised to learn this, but the world does NOT revolve around James Gable. All of our asses are on the line, so you want to keep secrets? Do it when it only affects you, you arrogant son of a bitch.”
Lexa stormed off back to the house, brushing past Ava. The android stared at him with those big brown eyes as she approached slowly. Gable glanced over her, an ache in the pit of his stomach. He didn’t like keeping things from them, but from what Martin had told him, it was imperative.

“I’ve caused a problem for the two of you. Haven’t I?” She asked him, hands folded and a guilty expression upon her face.

“No.” Gable shook his head. “I’m the problem.”

He stepped over toward the swing, that prosthetic hand reaching out and clutching the rope for a moment. Martin had better show up soon. The sitting and waiting for him to show up was infuriating. He just wanted to get back to normal life...if such a thing was possible at this point. The more time went on, the less convinced he was that such a thing was possible.
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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ava sat outside that night, resting upon the swing. Her synthetic mind a whirl of confusion. Images and memories were coming and clashing like a tornado, overwhelming her to the point where she couldn’t make sense of any of it just yet. There was joy, sadness, pain, pleasure, even just memories of boredom, but there was no order. It was like watching a movie out of sequence.

“You know, those work better when you...swing on them.”

Ave turned her attention toward the voice, finding Gable standing there, hands in his pockets. A small smile formed on her face. “So I’ve heard.”

His brow creased in an expression she knew was confusion. “You sound different. You can do sarcasm now?”

“Sarcasm simulator operating at 100%.” She said, going stiff and robotic

He quirked a brow, but then saw the smirk form on her face. “Oh no. You’re developing a sense of humor.”

“Lexa unlocked many things inside of me.” She nodded.

“And being a bit of a smart-ass just happens to be one of them?” He asked her with a grin.

Ava turned her head to him. “Among the best of them, yes.” She smiled proudly up at him. The smile faded as she cast her eyes downward. “All these bits and pieces, and I still have no idea who I am. What I am.”

“Does it matter?” He asked her. “Who you were? Where they came from?”

She turned those big brown eyes to him, curious.

“The past is trivia. Who you were doesn’t have to define who you are.”

“The girl in my memories...she was happy. She had someone who loved her. A father. And she loved him. I remember a moment...the two of them at a funeral for a woman...I assume her mother...and I just...there was this feeling of loss. Such profound loneliness and sadness. And her daddy put his arm around her and held her close...so close, so tight. It felt safe.”

There was a tightness in her chest as tears began to roll down her cheeks. “He loved her so much.” she said with a longing. “I want her memories. I want them to make sense. I want to be her so badly....to have someone care for me like that.”

Gable looked down to her sympathetically, but stayed quiet.

“Otherwise, I’m just...this shell. This blank canvas that has nothing but the moment you woke me up. No one loves her. No one knows her. She’s a thing. No more real than this swing I’m sitting on or a computer.”

“You are far more than that.” Gable responded.

The android turned her gaze up to him. “You say that. But you hated me for what I am. For what this...this shell represented. You thought I was some mindless automaton. No better than the ones who allowed your family to die.”

“And I was wrong. Do you think I’d still be standing here with you, protecting you if I thought otherwise?” He asked her.

“I don’t know.” She admitted. “I think you’re as confused as I am.”

Silence hung between them as gently swung a little. She knew she was probably right. You didn’t lose that kind of hate overnight. She just sat there, rocking back and forth on the swing until she felt hands on her back. They flexed and pushed giving her a bit of lift on the swing. For a moment, she felt indignation, but it was replaced by a mild exhilaration as she swung forth. The hint of a smile working its way to her lips. Again, he pushed, giving her more acceleration in her arc.

The moment brought her back to the memory of the father, pushing his daughter on a swing much like this. As the little girl laughed, so did Ava. She was joined shortly after by Gable, continuing to push her until she was managing to control the arc and height on her own. For the first time since she was activated, she felt happy. Not someone else’s happiness. Not a memory. This was her own.
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PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The next few days were tense. Lexa kept, largely to herself, except for meals. When she did speak it was to and through Ava. She sat now in the basement, cleaning a gun. The hacker had been practicing for a while now and was actually becoming a decent shot, a point she took no small amount of pride in.

Gable and Ava were getting along incredibly well. She was surprised how quickly they'd managed to forge a friendship. Especially considering his feelings towards robots.

Lexa replaced the charge pack on the blaster as she heard footsteps coming down behind her. “Basement dwelling hacker. Could you be a bigger stereotype?” Gable’s voice hit her ears, indignation rising up within her.

“Did you want something?” She asked without looking up, keeping her hands busy, pulling another weapon to her and disassembling the main components.

“Lex…”Gable pleaded. “How long are we gonna do this?”

“Just til you and Martin figure out whatever the **** it is you’re doing and then I’m outta here. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m making sure our **** is in order so you don’t get us killed if your little plan falls apart.”

She felt a hand land upon her shoulder and something about it just sort of melted the anger away. She looked up at him. “We’re supposed to be partners, Jim. Since when do we hide **** from each other?”

“I’m sorry.” He said sincerely, leveling those blue eyes at her. “I should’ve told you. I just did what I was told.”

“I need to be able to trust you if we’re going to make it through this.” She said standing before him.

“You can.” He said and offered a hand to her. For a moment, she just stared at it. Then suddenly wrapped her arms around his waist and pulled the man into a hug. He cheek rested against his chest. Lexa smiled as he stroked his fingers through her hair.

“Where’s Ava?” she asked him.

“She said she was going outside for a bit of a walk.” Lexa told him, pulling out of the embrace. “You two seem cozy.”

“We’re friends.” He nodded. “She’s actually pretty funny.”

“Don’t go getting a crush, now.” She said giving him that smug little smirk.

Gable rolled his eyes. “Oh, **** off.”
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lexa and Ava sat in the kitchen with a deck of cards. The android had taken every match they'd played, but the hacker was dead set on beating her. Lexa studied her hand, the slightest twitch coming to the corner of her mouth. She turned her eyes up to Ava. “Well. You’ve had a good run, sugarlumps, but as the man says...All good things must come to an end.”

She laid out her hand: four of a kind. A triumphant little smirk formed on her face as Ava’s brow furrowed with concern. Those big brown eyes turned up to her, just feeding that smug feeling of victory in the hacker.

“Throw ‘em down, kiddo. It’s okay, we all know what’s going down.” She winked to the android.

Ava laid out her hand...and Lexa’s stomach dropped. A royal flush. When she looked back up Ava was grinning. The hacker narrowed her eyes across the table. “I liked it better when you couldn’t gloat.”

“Awww...keep at it, ‘sugarlumps’ I’m sure you’ll get there one day.” Ava said in response.

Gable came running into the house. “Hey!” He called out to them.

“In the kitchen!” Lexa called out. “Getting my ass handed to me…” she grumbled under her breath.

Gable stepped in, a happy little grin spreading across his face. “I’ve got good news.”

Ava turned to face him, an inquisitive look on her features.

“Martin’s on his way.” He said simply.

Ava's face dropped, her eyes widening. “He's coming here?”

A little grin spread across Gable’s face. “He’ll be here any moment.”

A rumble reverberated through the ground. The unmistakable sound of an approaching craft. Ava lit up and rushed out the door, leaving Gable smiling to Lexa.

The tattooed hacker quirked a brow at him. “Ugh. You’re so smug when you think you’ve done a good thing…”

Though, even she couldn’t keep up the annoyed facade as she passed him, and a happy grin worked its way out.

Ava stepped out into the clearing that was the cabin grounds, the ship approaching in the distance. A wave of emotions rushed over her. Fear, joy amped with the anticipation. Slowly the craft settled down, the thrusters whipping dirt, dust, and debris all around as it lowered to the ground.

Gable stepped past her, giving her arm a squeeze. The boarding ramp lowered bit by bit as he made his way over.

But the face waiting him was not Alvin Martin. No, instead it was a woman. Tan skin and a scarred face. His brow furrowed in confusion. “Where’s Martin?” He called out to her.

A sinister smile spread across the stranger’s face. And then she drew a pistol, took aim.

And pulled the trigger.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2017 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A mist of red burst out Gable’s back before he fell, slamming back against the ground and suddenly it became obvious what had just happened.

Ava’s joy, her excitement was replaced with one imperative.

Run.

Lexa grabbed her arm and pulled her away, but she required no further prompting. The two sprinted off toward the trees as Carmelita Rojas signaled forth, her men moving out on either side. They brought up their weapons and opened fire at the fleeing women.

They were lucky they made the treeline before anybody got hit.

“Fan out.” Rojas ordered. “Close in around them.”

Ava and Lexa sprinted through the dense forest, weaving in and out of the tall trees. “They shot him…” Ava managed, her voice wavering.

Lexa did everything she could to keep herself together, tugging on the androids arm. “I know, bit we have to move “

“We left him! How could we leave him?!” Ava shouted.

The slim hacker wheeled around on her. “I know!”

The signs of cracking were all over her face. Anguish filled her eyes “You think I want to leave my best friend to that bitch? You don't think I wanted to try and drag him with us?!”

Ava lower her head sadly

“ he's gone “

The moment was interrupted by the crack of a rifle being fired. Splinters scattered into the air around them. Time was up. The girls tore off, weaving wildly through the forest, blast bolts searing past them and obliteratIng smaller trees

Terror flooded Lexa’s veins as she led them on, unclear of where to go except away. The logistics of any form of plan were boiled down to one, driving motivation: Survive. She ran so fast, so hard it felt like her veins pumped pure acid. Her legs, her chest ached, the world going quiet except for the sounds of her breathing and her pulse pounding in her ears.

The sounds of blaster fire behind her, she looked back. The mercs were gaining on them. Lexa cursed under her breath.

“LEXA!” Ava called out just in time for the tattooed hacker to slam face first into a tree.

The world went black.

The sound was as if she were underwater, hearing voices above the surface.

The voice was saying something, but she couldn’t quite make it out. The same two words, muffled, insistent. Terrified.

Pain flooded her consciousness as she slowly opened her eyes, the light pouring in. She dimly became aware of something warm and wet rolling down her face. A blurry, shadow hovered over her.

“GET UP!” the shadow shouted, slowly coming into focus. Ava stared down at her, the big beautiful brown eyes wide and panic-stricken. “Please, Lexa! Get up!”

“Ava?” She muttered dully.

Suddenly, the android lurched forward, struck in the back by something unseen. Arcs of electricity ran all over her body as she went rigid, her face contorting in pain. The last thing Lexa saw was the girl collapsing like a ton of bricks...and then darkness returned.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“He’s waking up.”

The voice was muffled, distant. Echoing in the air as the world came back, murky and blurry. Gable looked around,finding a tan-skinned young man knelt over him, talking to an unseen figure. Suddenly everything came rushing back. The woman, the gun, the ship…

Suddenly, he panicked trying to move, to fight but the entire left side of his body was paralyzed. The young man held him down. “Whoa! Easy! Easy!”

Gable managed to wrench his right arm free and grab the boy by the throat. “Who are you! What did you do with Ava and Lexa! Tell me NOW!”

“Ava and your friend have been captured by Autons Inc. right now.” A familiar voice came from behind. Gable slowly turned to the sound, finding an older man, tall, grey haired...those stern, yet kind features.

“...Doctor Martin?” Confusion in his tone.

Martin nodded, hands in his coat pockets. “That’s right, son. In the flesh.”

“Where...what happened?” Gable asked.

“Well...if you wouldn’t mind releasing Aresh, I will be glad to tell you.” The doctor said with a little smile.

Gable looked to the kid, suddenly aware that he was still holding on to him. He let go immediately, his face flushing. “I’m sorry.”

Aresh rubbed at his throat. “Don’t worry about it.” He said in a hoarse voice heading off for elsewhere in their craft.

Alvin Martin approached him, sitting down beside the wounded former cop. “How are you doing, son?”

Gable shifted as best he could. “Can’t move very well.”

“Yes, well, there was damage to your CBC actuator when Ms. Rojas shot you. Aresh over there installed a new one for you.”

Gable glanced to his chest, noticing that the synthetic skin was burned away, showing the metal underneath. For some reason, it made him think of Ava.

“What is she like?” Martin asked him. “Ava.”

Gable turned to him, thinking. “She’s...very funny. Kind...smart...I mean, you know...aside from being a robot.”

“Did you know the term robot is derived from the slavanic word for slave?” Martin asked him. “Ava isn’t a robot. She is far, far more. Yes, she is a synthetic form of life, as were the Neo Tarrans so many centuries ago, but she has the potential to be every bit as alive as them.”

Gable rose his eyebrows and nodded, “Oh, we know that. We stumbled across a memory block for her and suddenly she’s got a sense of humor and can mock us…”

Alvin turned to him, suddenly looking a bit horrified. “You removed the blocks?”

Gable nodded. “I think so.”

Alvin brought his hand to his head. “You shouldn’t have done that. Those were there to protect her.”

Gable furrowed his brow. “What do you mean?”

“The mind can only take so much trauma. And...where Ava comes from...those memories, the pain of it...it could drive her mad.” Martin stood up. “I blocked those memories, because it happened before. I had planned on a slow leak of information for her until Chase pulled his coup.”

“But she seemed fine.” Gable said.

“That’s how it starts.” Martin said. “Jokes, smiles, and laughter. And then the pain sets in. The agony, the anger. The memory of who she was and how she died.”

Gable stared at him, the left side of his body slowly coming to life. He pushed himself up. “I don’t understand. Who was she?”

Martin turned toward him, blue eyes regarding the man with a pain behind them. “Ava was my daughter.”
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Ava was in college. Studying advanced biochemistry. Took more after her beautiful mother than her old man.” Alvin smiled sadly at the memory. “It was just the two of us after my wife passed. For years. I didn’t know anything about raising a girl, but I loved that child with all my heart. And I did my best.”

Gable looked across the table at him.

“She developed a bit of a smart-arsed sense of humor, I suppose, but she grew up smart, brave. Made me proud every day. She was, by far my greatest creation.” The distant smile on his face recalled memories of her as a child, a little brunette girl in pigtails clinging to her daddy.”More than few boys came knocking around, but she wouldn’t be deterred from her studies.”

“She got accepted into the most prestigious scientific academy on Boros. Full academic scholarship. Not that it mattered. I could have sent her anywhere...but she wanted to go there. Be with the best. Learn from the best.” Alvin grinned and turned to Gable. “Gods, son, I was so proud. My baby girl was going to be a scientist.”

“Then one day...my darling, baby girl is coming home.” He said, swallowing hard. “Nothing big, just the holiday. We’re on the cortex, just talking when a car loses its brakes...plows into her.” Tears had begun to well up in the old man’s eyes as he stared ahead.

“The car rolled a bunch before it finally came to a halt...and I heard everything. The connection was choppy but I could hear her...and I’m screamin’ and screamin’ for her, trying to find out if she’s alright...And my girl...my...beautiful. Intelligent...funny girl didn’t even get to finish a sentence before the life left her. No one to blame. Nobody’s fault. No...grand conspiracy. Just some guy out for a drive when things went bad.”

Gable stared in silence at the old man, letting him finish. Martin cleared his throat. “I, uh...the technology was already in development in my lab to transplant human memories into a computer. And I...I just couldn’t let her go. I’d lost her mother and I couldn’t handle losing her. So...I went to work, trying to imprint upon positronic brains...but they would burn up from the sheer processing power. So I worked...and I worked...and I worked until I could produce a brain, an AI capable of processing those memories...functioning with them in the hopes that I would once again find the girl I lost so many years ago. There were mistakes, of course, trial and error...but with the Ava unit...I had finally done it.”

Gable stared. “And that’s when Chase found out.”

Martin grimaced. “Chase has always been a thorn in my side. A man without vision or talent, beyond bullying and coercion. A worthless parasite. When he found out I was developing an android, indistinguishable from organic life-forms, he saw credit signs, defense contracts...Gods knew what else. I was under surveillance...withdrew into my lab because it was the only place I could be free.”

Martin wiped his lips, leaning forward on his elbows. “I told him there was no way. The bastard leans forward tells me ‘I hope you’ll reconsider.’ like I don’t know when I’m being threatened. Well, i didn’t. They came for me at my home, his goons. But I was ready for them. Traps had been laid. In the chaos, I managed to escape.”

Gable nodded slowly, eyeing the doctor. “And where did you find this ragtag group of rebels?”

Martin looked around him. “They’re an underground movement. Fighting against Autons Inc. They were only too happy to collect me into their ranks. They’re going to help us, James.”

A grin formed on Gable’s face. “So. You’re going to war with Autons Inc.? Count me in.”
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At last.

He finally had the girl back. Chase stood in the lift heading up to the landing pad, his face a mask of grim determination. Armed guards flanked the sharply dressed man.

As the doors opened, cold winds whipped at his long, woolen overcoat and tosseled his inky black hair. Rojas’ ship awaited, the loading ramp inching down slowly as bursts of hydraulic steam jetted forth from the vessel.

Rojas stood on the other side, flanked by her crew. The scarred beauty smirked at her employer before stepping aside to reveal a metal and glass stasis tube. Inside lay the slumbering form of Ava.

“Ms. Rojas...you are worth every penny.” Chase grinned and stepped forward only to be greeted with raised weapons.

“Slow your roll, Chase.” The woman said moving right up in front of the perplexed and increasingly frustrated man. Those sharp, dark eyes stared up at him. “The money.”

Chase’s expression turned to amusement. “What, you don't trust me?”

“No.” She said simply, producing a datapad. The man smirked and pulled off one of his leather gloves, pressing his thumb to the device.

Rojas watched the screen until the transfer was complete, turning her dark eyes up to the man. “Pleasure doing business with you.”

Chase watched her saunter off and turned to his technicians. “I want the android’s mind wiped. And boost security. I want the entire building on lockdown.”

Chase followed after the technicians, too self-satisfied to notice the mousey woman he’d kept in fear for the past few weeks peering at him from her office.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Willa paced around her office like a caged animal. Ava was back, and that could NOT mean anything good was coming next. She’d pulled up the contact Dr. Martin had given her, but so far, there was no response.

“Come on, Doc. Come on…”

The holoscreen lit up with activity then, the blue light cascading over the room. “What is it, child? Is everything alright.” Martin’s voice hummed from the emitters.

“He's got her. She's here!” Willa said in a panic. “What do we do?”

“I know.” Martin said calmly. “Our timeline just got bumped up. I need you to do me a favor. There's a file in the system. I need you to take it to the mainframe and upload it.”

“I can't! The building is on lockdown!”

“You will have to be very careful. But you must do it. The virus will shut their whole system down, we'll be able to bring Chase to his knees. Get the file, upload it, and I'll take care of everything.”

Willa tried to work through that terror, but it was damn near all consuming. She knew what would happen if she was caught.

“Willa...my dear. You can save us all. This is bigger than you or I. Trust me.”

The doctor stared off a moment, weighing her options. But this was everything she'd worked for over the past weeks. It had to end. Now was the time.

“Okay.” She said. “I'll do it.”

Martin’s voice softened kindly. “It will be okay. I'll see you soon, child.”

Willa smiled nervously as the connection cut. She loaded the file onto a data stick and pocketed it.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Martin stepped out of the cockpit and approached the gathered team. His eyes swept over them one by one.

“You have all given so much to be here today.” He said. “Sacrificed safety, careers… loved ones. If we allow Devin Chase to complete his work...to bastardize the technology and power within Ava...it won't just be our loss...it will be everyone's.”

Lexa, sporting a bandage on her head, locked eyes with Gable.

“In less than an hour, we will infiltrate Autons Inc. We will march our way in…and we will reclaim what is ours. We will deliver a blow from which that son of a bitch cannot recover. Stay strong. Stay resolute. Stand together.”

Martin turned to Gable. “Mr. Gable. You will lead a team in through the rooftop while I shall infiltrate from below with a team of my own, while Ms. Davos runs ops from here. AI reprogramming is on level 123. That is where they will have her. That is where we shall meet. Reclaim Ava at all costs, but there are innocent, good men and women in that building. Remember, we are doing this to save lives. Do not fire unless fired upon. This is our most desperate hour. Prepare for a battle, for Chase will not give her willingly.”


Gable nodded slowly testing out his newly repaired prosthetic.

“Godspeed to you all.”
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gable fastened the drop harness at his chest. The first time he'd done this felt like a lifetime ago. So much had changed since that night. The man he was wasn't the man Ava had turned him into. Once again, he would be infiltrating Autons Inc to retrieve her. Only this time, he knew why. This time was to save a friend.

“Here we are again.” Lexa’s voice came from behind. Gable turned to find her there, a wry grin on her face.

“Here we are.” He said warmly.

“You ready for this?” She asked.

He took in a deep breath, looking around at the men and women kitting up and nodded slowly. He turned back to Lexa and smiled. “No.”

A little laugh left the tattooed hacker as she lowered her eyes.

“But...they took my friend. Nobody ****s with my friends.” He said, resolute.

Lexa’s head tilted to one side. “James Gable. Are you telling me a filthy robot is your friend?”

“I think the term is android.” He deadpanned.

“You're going soft in your old age.”

For a moment, he considered that. “Yeah...well, gotta grow up sometime.”

Lexa nodded. “Be careful. I'm not planning your funeral.”

“Wouldn't dream of imposing.”

She forced a laugh, but the smile soon faded. The pair just grabbed each other in a tight embrace, Lexa clinging to her friend for dear life. “Come back.” She pleaded. “And, if you can...bring her with.”

“I will.” He promised, turning his head and kissing the top of her head.

“Making our approach, get ready!” The pilot called out.

Reluctantly, Gable and Lexa parted. He backed toward the men before finally turning and grabbing a weapon from the rack.

“Ready in 5…”

He checked the weapon.

“4”

He pulled down his goggles.

“3”

He glanced back at Lexa.

“2”

She brought a hand up to him. This was goodbye.

“1”
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ava woke in an antiseptic, metallic room. Rather spartan in its appointments. The android attempted to move but found her limbs strapped down tight. What happened? She tried to remember.

The last thing she could was…. Oh no. Lexa. She'd taken a full force header into the tree...and from there, everything was black. What had they done to her friend? She HAD to know!

She tugged and tugged to no avail.

“Gods, but you are magnificent, aren't you?” A voice came from behind. That low, brash, arrogant voice harkened back to something before Gable woke her up. Something that caused no small amount of revulsion in her.

Chase rounded the table, eying her up and down. “High marks to Martin. He really outdid himself with you.”

She glared at him, but he just marveled at her. “Not much in the way of foresight, though.” Chase said. “Gods. All the things he could have given you, and he gives you hatred.”

“My hatred is all yours. You want to enslave me. Tear me apart so you can turn me into your own little army. You want to kill me.”

Chase leaned in close. “You can't kill a machine. No matter how your little friends or Alvin want to dress you up and play make-believe, you're a thing. You are property.”

He reached up and cupped her face, but she pulled away, recoiling in disgust.

“And considering you were created on Autons Inc grounds, using Autons Inc resources… well that makes you *my* property.” He smirked to himself.


Ava looked him in the eye her fists clenched. “I am alive. More than you can possibly comprehend. I remember everything. My childhood. My father…”

“Your death?” He asked pointedly. “Ava Martin died. Her body is ash scattered to the wind. You're a lonely old man’s inability to let go. Nothing more.”

“I am Ava. I'm everything she was. And when I get out of here...everything she'll be.”

Chase leaned in close his cologne reaching her nose like he was hiding the rottenness within. “When the sun sets on today… you will be nothing more than an empty shell.”
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