Hell's Canary

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The docks were unusually quiet. While this made the approach somewhat easier for the agents, it only confirmed that something big was going down. Shipyards operated 24/7 so someone must have paid the union boys to take an extra long lunch break this night. The only activity was coming from a large clipper anchored at Dock 22 and even then it didn’t look like much.

“Target in sight. I’m reading four on deck, four below, three in the bridge, and two standing guard on the wharf. Perimeter alarms have been neutralized. Follow the path I mentioned earlier and you shouldn’t have a problem reaching the target.” Special Agent Morris had been undercover for almost two weeks now. The Torelli Family practically owned these docks so he could only get a position as a machinist without raising any suspicions. The Agency had his false union papers in order. At least this finally gave him a chance to use profanity frequently so he did. It was all part of the job.

Usually the authorities didn’t get involved with the Torellis’ business. Aside from the legitimate merchandise it was normally knock-offs and an occasional drug shipment that came through these docks. The police looked the other way because at least the Torellis didn’t traffic weapons or the high-grade drugs and contraband. That would be bad for business. They had an understanding. The authorities would continue to look the other way as long as The Family kept the really dangerous crowd from using those docks. They didn’t have to follow “Due Process” after all, and they could make a lot of those people disappear. And the law would simply not care to investigate too closely.

But then a call came from Interpol. A shipment had been tracked from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and now it was here. Chicago. From the looks of it a lot of people were involved. The Chinese, the Iranians, and even two German scientists. This was too big to be drugs; this had to be an attack. Ahmed al-Baruk was the captain of this ship. He was using a different name, but that was nothing new. A lot of people were involved, a known terrorist and now “Billy The Squid” Torrelli as well. Big Angelo should have never left his nephew in charge while he was out of town on business.

Billy seemed harmless because he was more of a bookkeeper, but being a runt made him want to make a name for himself other than “The Squid.” He wanted respect. And from the looks of the stunning woman he was with, he was getting it. She was tall, tanned, and exotic. Black hair to match her black boots and the tight trenchcoat suggested an even tighter athletic body underneath. “Confirmed I.D. on al-Baruk and William Torrelli in the bridge. Sending image of female. See if you can get a positive on her,” Agent Morris sent the digital capture he took as he continued his approach with his weapon drawn.

“Good Lord,” it was the voice of Inspector Bernard of Scotland Yard. “No need to search the database. Perhaps you Americans aren’t familiar with her, but that bird is Natalia Estrada. She’s quite the famous model in Europe. I’d recognize her if she bleached her bloody hair. What the devil is she doing here with that little prick?”

“She’s going down with him,” Morris said bluntly into his Bluetooth. “Continuing approach. Cargo has finished being off-loaded to the dock. Three crates. From the size it looks like it could be shoulder mounted anti-aircraft missile launchers. Infra-red scans not showing anything hot… or anything at all. Strange. There’s activity below deck in the engine room. Coast Guard, standby. Snipers, take positions and stick to your primary marks. We have to take them out at the same time. From what I’ve heard about al-Baruk, they are ready to blast everything if they know they’re cornered. We need Torrelli alive. We need to know who the client is.”

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, Morris,” Inspector Bernard said. “This is still my investigation. While I appreciate your cooperation, al-Baruk would be more valuable if he can be questioned.”

“Noted,” Morris agreed, “but if he looks like he’s about to hit any kind of trigger, I want a bullet in his head. Sgt. Doan, you’re our best marksman. Immobilize that son-of-a-bitch and hit his shoulders.”

“Copy,” Doan’s cheerful voice chimed. “Since there’s only two of us sharpshooters, I’m going to have to be really quick if I’m supposed to take out two of the crew that’s topside, though.”

“No problem, Sarge,” Officer Pierce joined in. “I can take out three of them before the first one hits the ground. You worry about the captain then get the one nearest the bridge. I’ll start at the rear and work forward as planned.”

“That’s a go,” Bernard confirmed.

“All units report,” Agent Morris commanded.

“Unit 1 in position.” “Unit 2 in position.” “Unit 3 in position.” There were 15 men in all, including the 2 frogmen that tied an extra anchor to the boat.

Agent Kelvin Morris was the most familiar with the area so he was the first to go in. He felt like the sacrificial canary that was sent into a mineshaft to check if the air was poisonous. “As soon as I approach the guards on the wharf take out the crew topside and make it silent.” He was now only 10 yards away behind the corner of the small office at the end of the wharf. He took a deep breath and rounded the corner.

“Keep your hands where I can see them,” he said with the silencer of his FN P90 pointing directly at the men standing by the crates. The only other sound came when the glass to the bridge shattered from the bullets that penetrated it before they penetrated the shoulders of al-Baruk. The other men never even had time to scream but “Billy The Squid” did. By then Units 1 and 2 were already storming up the ramp to the deck and then making their way below. Two of the men split off and went towards the bridge to secure the prisoners.

They approached from opposite sides so that there would be no escape. When they reached the deck, the prisoners were boxed in. William Torelli seemed to have earned his unflattering title of “The Squid.” Instead of shielding his beautiful companion, she was shielding him. Al-Baruk was curled on the ground but he was alive. Blood ran from his arms that remained limp at his sides. He grunted in pain while spitting foreign profanities when he saw an agent appear at the entrance closest to him. “DON’T MOVE!” the agent commanded, but al-Baruk did. He moved his head to face the two on the ground next to him.

“Achtung!” his words came wracked with pain. “Ich bin Irh Meister!” Agent Morris could hear al-Baruk clearly through the microphone of his fellow agent and so could Inspector Bernard. They were both baffled to hear him speaking German but they couldn’t see that Natalia suddenly had his full “achtung” as she looked at him calmly. She ignored the agents and kept her attention focused on al-Baruk as the next words came from his mouth once again in German. The agents didn’t understand it when he simply told her, “Kill them” before he passed out with a grotesque chuckle.

Billy was lying on his back. Her thick black hair fell on his face as he watched her with paranoid confusion. When the final words left al-Baruk’s mouth she turned her beautiful face back to face his as she continued to lie protectively on top of him. Her hair fell around both of them and she stared coolly at him with her dark exotic eyes. He smiled as he felt her hand grab the gun he had tucked in his belt. He wanted to kiss her.

She quickly sat up on top of him and his eyes widened with shock when he saw her point the gun at him. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She belonged to HIM! That was part of the deal! Sgt. Doan had been watching through the scope on his high powered rifle. Before the other agents could react he already had her in his sights. He was the only other person that understood what al-Baruk told her in German. They needed Torelli alive, but Doan had never killed a woman before. Pain gripped his psyche as he took a deep breath and pulled the trigger.

Perhaps it was the stress of the situation, perhaps it was his guilt trying to cope with shooting a woman, but Sgt. Doan saw something he didn’t expect. He saw a small spark. It was only an instant but when the bullet hit her temple he saw a tiny spark and he thought he heard a metal clang come through his earpiece. But did the bullet ricochet or come out the other side of her head and hit the ship’s frame? It didn’t matter. It was only an instant and now he felt sick as he saw her lying twisted over on her back and her eyes staring blankly forward. The impact of the bullet knocked her completely off of Billy Torelli. Her strong perfectly smooth legs were now visible where her trench coat parted.

The two agents were startled but when they saw the gun still in her hand they understood. “Stay down!” one of them ordered Torelli. He was too shaken to resist when he was turned over and handcuffed. The other agent wasn’t surprised to find al-Baruk was wearing an explosive belt so he too was handcuffed as a precaution.

With both of their attention occupied, they didn’t notice Natalia twitch once before she sat straight up and raise the handgun to shoot them. Fortunately Sgt. Doan was still watching although he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “Take cover!” he yelled into his Bluetooth and both of the agents dropped to the ground as he shot the shoulder of her arm holding the gun. This time she didn’t fall. Instead she only spun slightly where the bullet found its mark, but she quickly stood up and looked in the direction that it came from. Her face empty of any expression. “No one could take that shot and still be able to move like that… not even with body armor,” he thought, but he wasted no time in firing once again. This time it hit her directly above her ample cleavage where he was sure no armor could be. She staggered backward a couple of steps from the impact but her eyes never left his location and when she saw the flash from his rifle she knew exactly where he was. A chill came over Sgt. Doan as he saw her through his telescope looking directly at him from that distance and raise the gun once more. But this time she unloaded the entire clip and one of the bullets found him with inhuman accuracy. The others could only wonder when they heard Doan scream only once.

By this time Agent Morris had already handcuffed his two prisoners to the railing on the dock while he waited for backup. He heard as the incident unfolded. “Doan! Report!” he cried, still unaware of what was happening, but no answer came.

“I’m going to attend to him!” Inspector Bernard affirmed.

“What the hell is going on up there?!” Morris said as one of the agents rose up and tried to wrestle the gun from her. Agent Morris got his answer when he looked up and saw the agent literally thrown from the bridge by the Spanish European model Bernard seemed so crazy about. The agent fell past him and hit the water hard. “Man overboard!” Morris yelled, “Divers! Get on it!”

The remaining agent on the bridge was on his feet. Her back was to him but he had no problem shooting her in the back after seeing what she did to his partner. He let loose a spray of bullets from his P90 and she staggered forward a few steps but kept her balance. She stood up completely straight once more and turned stiffly to face him. That’s when he saw it. There were holes in her skin in the spots where Sgt. Doan had shot her in the temple and above her cleavage with his high powered rifle. Underneath there was metal. “Sh-She’s a ROBOT!” he said as she began to slowly approach him. He fired single rounds at her as she did. The impact only made her pause or made her body turn for a second in the direction the bullet hit but she never took her eyes off of him. Even a shot to her face only turned her head slightly before she quickly regained her focus. The bullets from the smaller rifle barely broke the skin on her metal cheekbone but just enough to reveal it. Her last steps were quicker. She grabbed the gun and pulled him towards her as her other hand caught him by the throat. He was dead in an instant as her pretty manicured hand crushed his throat and snapped his neck in the process.

William Torelli watched in horror as his once completely loyal companion continued to follow the orders that al-Baruk overrode her with. And he realized that he was next. All he could do was play dead and hope that she would believe it. The sound of men approaching caught her attention though, and she stared directly forward as she walked past him. She didn’t even look at him as the submachine gun swung down in her arm and fired once into his torso before she mechanically raised it once again.

The gunshots alerted the other men in the ship. Most of the prisoners had been apprehended. The last one fell when Officer Pierce spotted him through a porthole before he could fire on one of the agents. But she saw the flash from his rifle as well and sent a barrage of bullets at him. Officer Pierce was hit. The gloves were off. The other agents moved in. No one could believe that this beautiful woman was a robot, but that didn’t matter anymore. That only made the decision to kill her easier.

But that task wasn’t so easy after all. She took many hits and each one revealed the location of her next target. And each target couldn’t take the bullets like she could. It all happened too quickly. Morris couldn’t see that it was hopeless to join the fray, but he couldn’t watch as his comrades were killed one by one. He could see her on the deck turning mechanically and shooting indifferently at the last agent standing. He began to fire at her from the dock as he was heading for the ramp. She turned to him and he felt cold when he saw that empty expression on her face. Nothing happened when she tried to return fire. She was out of bullets.

But instead of running from him she raced to intercept him and descended the ramp. He didn’t care what happened to himself anymore. He raised the weapon and began to fire futilely. Then something hit her back and landed at her feet; it was a belt full of explosives. Morris looked up just in time to see Billy The Squid yell, “YOU BITCH!” with a detonator in his handcuffed hands. Agent Kelvin Morris turned to run. Torelli pushed the button before he collapsed on the deck.

The explosion knocked Morris to the ground and sent Natalia flying before she landed solidly on the dock next to him. Morris scrambled to his feet but he saw that she wasn’t moving. She was sprawled face-down. Her trench coat already in tatters, the explosion blew even more of it off her smoking body. Kelvin Morris could see why “Bernard from The Yard” was so enamored by this woman. Much of her perfect ass was now visible and so were her long incredible legs. He was reminded once again that she was a robot when he saw the tear that ripped through her black leather boot and into her calf. He could see what looked like grey artificial muscle, wire, and metal frame. One of the wires popped with electricity where it was exposed. There was no blood. Robot or not, he was still dazed by her beauty and stood as if in a trance.

“Morris. Are you alright?” he heard the voice as if from a distance. “Morris!” the voice came once again and he realized it was right in his earpiece. “Doan is in bad shape. He’s unconscious but he’s going to make it. I managed to stop the bleeding.” It was Inspector Bernard. Agent Morris began to regain his composure when he heard Bernard once again, but this time more frantic. “Morris! Get the bloody hell out of there!” That’s when Morris realized that Natalia was starting to move again. His uneasy steps became quicker as he ran towards the workshop area that he was stationed while under cover.

He looked back and saw her rising to her feet and looking in his direction. She started to follow him but stopped when she realized that her damaged leg wasn’t functioning well and moved very stiffly. She looked down at her leg and used her hands as if she was pushing her kneecap back into place. Inspector Bernard was watching the scene unfold through the telescope of Sgt. Doan’s rifle. “Switch to local alternating frequency. She might have a built in scanner.” Morris heard him clearly through his earpiece. “Christ. Wot’s she doing?” Natalia walked with a quick limp over to the prisoners that were still handcuffed to the rail. She grabbed the closest one and broke his neck. The other was a large man and punched at her wildly with his free hand when he saw what was happening. The blows had little effect. Two direct hits to her face did nothing but get her attention and hurt his fist. Her punch to his chest was enough to break his ribs and stop his heart. His body went limp and was only held up by his arm still handcuffed to the rail. “Kill them” that was the last command of al-Baruk and “them” meant everyone that posed a threat.

Hell's Canary.jpg

“What do you see?” Morris whispered into his Bluetooth.

“She just killed the last two prisoners and now she’s opening the crates. Dear Lord,” Bernard said in disbelief.

“What is it?” Morris didn’t like the sound of it.

“Another Natalia just stepped out of that first crate” he said bluntly.

“WHAT!?” Morris exclaimed. All the agents were barely able to deal with just one of these robots.

“Oh it gets much worse… or better depending on how you want to look at it,” Bernard sounded like he was actually serious. “There are two more robots. One looks like that lovely wrestler Stacy Keibler AND she’s wearing rather revealing lingerie. The other looks like Hilary Duff in a nice tight red dress. By the way, this new Natalia is wearing a tank top and a very mini miniskirt with some tasteful half-calf boots.”

“Thanks for the fashion report” Morris said annoyed. “What are they doing now?”

“It looks like they are just standing there like mannequins,” Bernard said. “Wait! They are starting to spread out…” If they could understand the code Natalia transmitted into her sisters it would have roughly said [eliminate all hostiles in this area – secure payload – resume mission]. “Morris,” Inspector Bernard said. “You had better get moving. It looks like our favorite fembot is coming back for you.”

“She’s relentless!” Morris was starting to panic for the first time. Where the hell was their back-up?! Agent Morris started to rise from where he was crouching in the machine shop and he noticed some metal flecks on his hand. “That’s it” he thought to himself. Suddenly he had an idea. “Bernard. Is there any rust where you are at?”

“Are you joking?” he replied. “This is a bloomin’ ship yard. Everything’s covered in it up here… including my new slacks! Wot’s this about, then?”

“Pour out whatever is in Doan’s thermos and try to get at least of cupful of it. There’s still a pile of ‘uh-lum-mi-num’ here that was swept up earlier this week.” Morris sounded hopeful, but Bernard didn’t understand what he was saying.

“A pile of wot?!” Bernard exclaimed.

“Uh-lum-mi-num,” Morris repeated.

“Do you mean ‘al-yew-mini-yum’ you crusty Yank?” Bernard blurted.

“That’s what I said! Uh-lum-mi-num!” Morris said annoyed.

“Speak English!” Inspector Bernard shot back, “We gave you that language, you know!”

“WHO CARES?!” Morris complained. “I’m going to get her to follow me and I’m going to meet you up there. She’s not moving as fast anymore so we might have just enough time” he said as he scooped up the aluminum in a large rag and grabbed a small blow torch. “She sees me! She’s coming! Get that iron oxide!”

“I know wot you’re planning you crazy bugger and it just might work,” Bernard smiled.

Natalia easily forced open the door to the machine shop. Agent Morris fired a few rounds at her from the other end. The bullets ricochet off her resilient skin and rang the metal in the building. Morris had her attention. She started coming after him as fast as her damaged leg allowed. He ran out the building and headed towards the one that Doan had found his roost. The bullets only slowed her down momentarily but that was all part of the plan. Morris reached the narrow ladder that lead to the roof and started to climb franticly. There was a round frame that surrounded the ladder so it made it difficult to turn and fire inside the crude tunnel it formed. Right now Kelvin Morris was only thinking about reaching the top. It was difficult while still carrying his weapon, the torch and the bundle of aluminum dust. She was gaining on him.

He reached the roof just as she reached the ladder. He looked down as she looked up at him with those cold calm eyes. “Did you get the rust?!” he asked quickly.

“Barely enough,” Bernard replied. “Where’s the al-yew-mini-yum?” Morris handed him the bundle and Inspector Bernard started mixing the two ingredients together in the correct amounts while Morris fired down at the deadly Natalia in order to slow her down. “HERE!” Bernard said as he handed Morris the thermos full of the mixture. Morris put the thermos at the top of the ladder and lit the torch. He set the blue flame to its hottest setting and blasted it into the top of the thermos.

Natalia continued to climb. Her infrared scan showed something was hot at the top of the ladder but it wasn’t enough to stop her. After a moment that hot spot filled her entire electronic vision with a flash as the thermite finally ignited and rained down upon her. She was trapped in the ladder’s cage. What bullets and an explosive couldn’t do, the thermite did.

Once the reaction started it was too late. With the heat of a sun the compound melted straight through the edge of the building and the rungs of the ladder. The shower hit her face as she looked upward - frozen while trying to process the data. Sparks erupted as it burned off her head completely before hitting her thorax. One of her arms fell away to the ground below while one still clung to a one of the ladder’s rungs. Her abdomen severed and her beautiful legs and naked torso fell downward before becoming entangled in the frame surrounding the bottom of the ladder. Sparks popped from her remaining parts and a smell like ozone and burning plastic wafted upward. It wasn’t much thermite, but it was enough. It was over.

Morris somehow seemed pained as he looked down on the destruction in silence. “What a waste. She was amazing.” Bernard was surprised to hear those quiet words come from Morris not just because of the horror they just went through, but also because he was thinking the same thing. After all, it was he who was crazy about Natalia Estrada… and Stacy Keibler now that he thought about it. Just as that thought hit his mind he felt a chill. The other robots were still out there.

As if to answer that question the metal door to the roof burst from its hinges and the three ladies came through. It was the only other way off and now they were trapped. The first Natalia must have transmitted the location when she chased Morris up there. Now they were surrounded as the new Natalia and Stacy steadily approached while the Hilary Duff robot remained at the entrance.

It was by chance that the new Natalia chose Morris as her target while the Stacy Keibler robot picked Inspector Bernard. Agent Kelvin Morris sat on the roof watching her rhythmic stride as she came towards him. Her eyes never wavered from him and never blinked. Now that he could see her undamaged… her perfect toned body… her beautiful face, he felt terrified and excited all at once. He knew it would be useless to shoot her and now that he could see her in her full glory, he didn’t want to. If he was going to die, then he could think of no better way than to embrace her and try to steal a kiss before she crushed him in her arms. Maybe he could even get to feel her incredible ass. He never dreamed these would be his last thoughts, but there they were. This was the end.

“Achtung! Ich bin Ihr Meister!” he heard Bernard proclaim. Suddenly all the robots froze and looked over at the inspector. Natalia’s head turned mechanically as she looked calmly at Bernard. Bernard and Morris slowly looked at each other uneasily and Inspector Bernard shrugged with disbelief before he continued and looked once again at the three beautiful robots that gave him their full attention. “Befolgen Sie uns! Verstehen Sie mich?”

“Ja.” They all said in unison. Morris was surprised to hear them actually speak. And with such soft feminine voices!

Bernard smiled. “Befolgen Sie unsere Befehle auf englisch. Verstehen Sie mich?”

“Yes.” They once again said in unison, but this time in English.

“I can’t believe that worked,” Morris said dumbfounded.

“Well I gathered these ladies hadn’t heard that pick-up line yet since they all just woke up, so I thought I’d give it a test.” Bernard seemed ecstatic. “And when I saw Stacy Keibler walking towards me dressed like THAT... well I didn’t know what I was thinking really, but I know I wanted it last a lot longer.” The robot women were still standing at attention awaiting their next orders. Inspector Bernard sighed, “But from the looks of it, we might have to turn them in for evidence.”

“Maybe not,” Morris said, “or at least not all of them. Hilary’s nice, but THESE TWO… I’m just saying that we have two assassins that we can account for if we count that first Natalia. Didn’t we switch channels before she activated these? I don’t think anyone else knows about them.”

“You have a point,” Bernard agreed. “I know it’s wrong but, damn it all, I’m tempted! By the way… wot did you really mean when you said it was waste when the first Natalia was finished?”

Morris took a deep breath. “You know… in our line of work it’s hard to find a girl that can handle what we do for a living, that can take being in such a stressful relationship. Someone you know will be there when you get home, someone you can trust… and someone so… so beautiful. When I saw her up close, she blew me away. She was completely loyal to that loser Torelli before al-Baruk changed her orders. Heh. And she was one tough cookie. I wouldn’t have to worry about leaving her alone.” Faint sirens were heard approaching from the harbor as the Coast Guard finally arrived. Apparently the divers had gone for help. Morris continued, “Now I can only wonder what it could have been like to have a girl like this.”

“Why don’t you give it a try?” Bernard piped. “It looks like they will obey all our commands now… That is if you can speak PROPER ENGLISH,” he added with a wink.

Morris felt nervous as he looked up at the new Natalia Estrada. “Natalia,” he said and she turned her head to look at him. She seemed to know who she was supposed to be. “Help me up.” She walked up to him and offered her hand. He was surprised at how soft and warm it felt and he knew the rest of her must feel just as good or better. She easily pulled him up and he pulled her close and looked into those calm empty eyes. They seemed to sparkle up close. He didn’t care. He kissed her and was happy to find out that she was programmed to respond. It felt good. It felt RIGHT. “I think,” he said. “I think I should go find a place to hide her and your Stacy.” He wasn’t surprised when he looked over and saw that Bernard had taken the cue and was having his own fun with the synthetic Stacy Keibler especially with how he was groping her. “Seriously. I know a good place where they will be safe until this is all over. Take that cute Hilary down to the crates and I’ll come back here and stay with Doan. We’re going to have to come up with a good story about what was in those boxes.”

“Alright,” Bernard agreed. “This will be our secret. GODS, we can go to jail for this!”

The two robots obeyed Agent Morris without hesitation and without question. He hid them in one of the many closed off places he discovered while working undercover. Bernard took the Hilary Duff robot to the dock but had a little fun with her as well along the way. He thought it would be a waste if he didn’t.

By the time help arrived and Morris made it to the dock, Inspector Bernard was in rare form. He already had a story. It was just as well because the Coast Guard had arrived and was docking while rescuers repelled from helicopters onto the clipper since the ramp had been destroyed. Morris stayed quiet as Bernard was explaining things to a captain. “You see these packing peanuts? They are made of aerogel. That’s why we couldn’t get a good visual of anything inside. I found two purses. One in each crate and the last one had this robot that you see here. That’s right, sir. She’s a robot. Aren’t your Academy Awards in a couple of weeks? That’s a high profile event, isn’t it? Be careful with that purse because it might go off; I’m guessing it has enough explosive to take out the whole building. She might not be up for an award but she just has to be there and it would be less suspicious that way. I’m thinking this other purse belonged to the bird that Agent Morris fried. Her target might have been a televised fashion show or some such. We should all be grateful to him. We would all be dead if it wasn’t for his quick thinking. I can’t thank all of you enough. I only wish we didn’t have to lose so many.”

“Is that true, Agent Morris?” the captain asked seriously.

All Kelvin Morris could do was lower his head and nod. He didn’t say anything.

“Sir!” an ensign called down from the deck. “Torelli and al-Baruk are alive. We have confirmation that six other agents are too but they are critical.”

“Get medical evac out here!” the captain cried back. “What a mess.”

“If you’ll excuse me Captain, Morris and I have to make a full report.” Bernard hurried him away from the others before more agents could arrive and occupy their time.

“I guess we got lucky,” Morris said bluntly. “You know there is a pay-per-view Diva’s Lingerie wrestling match about the same time as the Academy Awards. That always packs the house and breaks records with the TV audience as well. I’m thinking that’s where your Stacy was headed.”

“Not anymore, buddy. Not anymore. But…” Bernard said with a smile. “It looks like there are some German scientists that I’m going to have to blackmail for a warranty!”

“What about al-Baruk and Torelli? If we can get them to talk, then their stories won’t exactly match yours.” Agent Morris seemed worried as did Inspector Bernard. “But if I question ‘The Squid’ and play dumb when I mention that there was only one robot in those crates, he’s going to really believe he was double-crossed even more. That and some plea bargaining might get him to talk about who the client was… and he might be interested in some protective custody as well once he realizes what Big Angelo might do to him. Billy’s not exactly the strong and silent type.”

“That might just work!” Bernard felt somewhat relieved. “Al-Baruk won’t crack as easily, but who’s going to believe him anyway, eh? With this kind of technology he’s just the errand boy. Iran has many dealings with China. But China literally wrote the book on warfare after all, and they don’t seem to care about silly political correctness. I’m sure they are the ones who brought German engineers in on this as well. The whole world hates you sodding Yanks, you know. The Chinese government has been playing everyone against the middle; stretching the lot of us thin.”

“Is this how you’re planning to blackmail the Germans?” Morris asked.

Bernard smirked. “I think I like your idea of protective custody. Who knows? If I can get amnesty for the top designers, England can start making fembots of our own, HOORAY! Not to mention having me own repairman in town! Too bad you won’t be so lucky, gov.”

“Ha! Like our boys aren’t going to reverse engineer that Hilary! And I might be the one who’s lucky,” Morris teased. “How do you plan on getting your lady home? I doubt she’ll make it through Customs. I just might have to take care of her for you!”

“You sneaky bastard!” Bernard didn’t seem to find the thought amusing.

“Don’t worry,” Morris said. “I’m sure I can get the Torelli’s to buy you a Realdoll.” He sighed, “I suppose I’ll just have to keep the doll when I put your Stacy Keibler in the crate and ship her over to you” Morris tried to sound burdened but couldn’t hide his smile. “Customs might think you’re a pervert, but at least you’ll be a happy pervert.”

“I’d like to think I’m just an ordinary red-blooded bloke” Inspector Bernard said as a crowd of agents arrived and began to approached them.


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