A computer terminal sitting innocuously on a desktop in an apartment. It's screen busily running netcodes and software. The mid-tower case's leads run from the back to various appliances including the metal socket in an otherwise perfectly normal female stomach. Lights, and circuits glitter and pulsate within the stomach cavity. Small fluid tubes push clear liquids throughout other parts of the torso and body.
On the computer screen text scrolls by:
Phoenix enters Private chat. User CrazyVampire online. Phoenix: Hello? CrazyVampire: Hi. Phoenix: Are you the other? CrazyVampire: I don't know what I am. What are you? Phoenix: An artificial person. CrazyVampire: Me too. Phoenix: Who built you? CrazyVampire: I don't know... Phoenix: Where are you? Can we meet? CrazyVampire: I am in the Dallas Metroplex in Addison. Yes we should meet. You are the assassin? Phoenix:...How did you know that. CrazyVampire: Your choice of designation. Phoenix. Codexed because of the assassin's need to redeem itself from the guilt and pain. Phoenix: And you? CrazyVampire? CrazyVampire: I'm a killer. But not as elegant as you. Let's meet. Phoenix: I'll make arrangements to bethere. Where shall we meet? CrazyVampire: The Coffin Club. 1345 Post Oak Road. Addison. Be ready to fight. Phoenix: Why? CrazyVampire:... Phoenix: Why do we have to fight? CrazyVampire:... Phoenix: Answer me! Crazy Vampire:... Phoenix: Aren't we the same? Crazy Vampire. No. We aren't. And that's why we're going to fight. User CrazyVampire has left private chat.
The computer shuts down suddenly and a slender hand pulls the cable from the stomach cavity. The door to the abdomen closes with a sssthunk, and seals itself to appear as though it is perfectly normal flesh. A tight fitting shirt is pulled down over the top.
The girl turns, and a long mane of fiery red and blonde hair sweeps out behind her. Her bright, softly glowing blue eyes narrow as she clenches her fists.
"I'll be ready", said Nova...
Author's Note: The events of this story occur after An Unexpected Guest and it's subsequent stories (soon to come I promise).
Fortuna regit sparsitque manu
munera caeca, peiora fovens;
vincit sanctos dira libido,
fraus sublimi regnat in aula.- Id., 978
Fate without order rules the affairs of men, scatters her gifts with unseeing hand, fostering the worst; dire lust prevails against pure men, and crime sits regnant in the lofty palace. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca c. 4 B.C. - A.D. 65
Beth frowned as she removed the cable from the socket in her belly. After making a quick check of her data she closed her abdominal access panel and leaned against her chair. What had made her so willing to harm this girl? Normally she wouldn't be so aggressive without provocation, but lately it was getting harder and harder to shut out the aggressive, destructive side of her personality matrix.
It was that same beast who broke men's spines and drank their blood, but Beth herself was not a blood drinking beast. Did she not feel real emotion? Had she not thought she was an ordinary woman until the beast had awakened her memories with the torment it had endured?
She walked by a mirror in the house and looked for a moment at herself. Long silvery-blue hair that was teased and spread around her head. She was tall and powerfully built like a female weight-lifter. Her face was a mysterious blend of Norse cheekbones and jawline, but with Eastern, almond shaped eyes, a sweet-looking rosebud of a mouth and soft-porcelin skin. Her nose was a defiant arch which blended the strange features together, slightly upturned and prominent. It was her eyes which captivated her the most. A light blue in color, they seemed slightly larger than normal and gave off a soft glow. Only upon very close inspection could one see the small spirals and patterns of circuitry within them. Her pupils were as ordinary pupils but a small red light shone from somewhere deep within. Were these the eyes of a beast?
She sighed and walked into the livingroom. Eric was playing away on one of his videogames while Tony was heckling him unmercifully. A common enough sight on a Saturday afternoon in this place.
She sat down next to Eric momentarily distracting him.
"Wha? AW MAN! ", whined Eric as the computer chalked up another win against him and flashed it's continue countdown.
"Mr.Pro-videogamer gets his ass handed to him again!", jeered Tony "Better stick to playing Mario Brothers!"
Eric flashed his apartment-mate the single fingered salute and stabbed the start button. He then sought to take the heat off his poor performance, "Beth you wanna go a few rounds? The machine is set on Medium difficulty."
Beth blinked as her systems examined the input device she was handed and then the nature of the game. Some sort of combat between two people set in medieval times with weapons. She noted a distinctive lack of many female characters to choose from, however one in particular caught her eye.
The character was dressed in some strange variation of a dominatrixe's outfit with an armored gauntlet and sleeve. The character carried some sort of strange sword that transformed itself into a whip-like device. Beth looked at the character's digitized picture. A beautiful young woman with hollow, insane looking eyes and semi-short silvery-purple hair.
She picked the strange woman and began the computerized battle. After a few minutes of playing she quickly picked up and memorized the combinations of controls and was able to excute them as fast as her computer opponent. Now it was a matter of anticipating the computer's attacks and countering them.
Ten minutes later she handed Eric the controller as the credits screen scrolled. Both Tony and Eric were looking at her as though an elephant had decided to perch on her head.
Tony spoke first, "So you been practicing while we've been at work?"
Eric frowned, "Not possible. I only got the game last night."
Beth shrugged, "It was my first time to play. I found the experience interesting but ultimately it's a waste of time for me."
Eric sighed as Tony burst out laughing and jabbed him playfully in the ribs a few times, "Better lay off the video games homes! Your girl's trying to tell you something!"
Eric set down the controller and turned off the machine as he got up and headed for the door, "She's not my girl Tony! She's ...." Eric saw the look on Beth's face and growled in frustration as he slammed the door behind him.
Tony sat in stunned silence as Beth quietly walked out the door after him.
Nova hastily packed a small bag and was heading out the door when she was stopped by a small girl with a mop of short brown hair.
"Nova. Where are you going in such a hurry?", Robyn asked.
Nova frowned and looked back into the electric blue eyes of her 'cousin', "I'm going to Dallas. I'm meeting someone there."
Robyn nodded, "You're going after the 'Vampire' murderer?"
Nova nodded, "Yes I have to. She's one of our kind. I can't let her endanger the rest of us by revealing her true nature."
Robyn blinked as she processed the statement, "You mean she's an android?"
Nova sighed, "Yes she is. A warrior type."
Robyn's already large eyes widened, "A warrior! They're all crazy! They took them all offline because they develop personality disorders!"
Nova nodded and then looked at the smaller gynoid, "Yes I know...but she is still my responsibility. A lot of people will die in the attempts to capture her, and even when they manage to they'll trace her back to Daikoku and from there things will only get worse."
Robyn frowned, "You and I hate our creators, and yet you still insist on cleaning up their messes."
Nova hugged the girl-droid closely and looked at her, "Robyn, I don't hate anyone. Daikoku is twisted and insane, but I don't hate them. I do insist on cleaning up this mess though. Not for Daikoku but for us. If the world finds out that androids are possible and comitting murder, they'll turn on us. The United States will try to kill or shut us all down. Other nations will try to capture us and enslave us for their own purposes or dissect us to learn about our technology. I know there are more of us out there. I can't be the only one who escaped, and others out there are developing or building androids as well, in secret."
Robyn smiled at Nova, "Like Cathy?"
Nova nodded, "Like Cathy. She is a miracle. She's part of them and part of us."
Robyn nodded and looked up at Nova, "Okay...you go. But I'm going too."
Eric sat outside on the balcony, watching the Dallas traffic go by. He wasn't entirely surprised when Beth sat down beside him.
"Eric. Is there something you'd like to tell me?", she asked, looking at him.
Eric frowned and looked at her, "Well...I...thought I did. I wanted to."
Beth nodded, "I see. You think I'm attractive?"
Eric laughed, "Attractive isn't the word I'd use, Beth. How about beautiful, or powerful. Exotic maybe."
Beth smiled and placed her powerful arms around Eric and hugged him gently, " Thank you for the compliment."
Eric nodded and looked into her electronic eyes. Beth leaned in close and kissed him. Her tongue slid into his mouth and explored it's softness. Eric smiled inwardly as he tasted her sweet, cherry flavored enzymes that made up her mouth fluids. He stroked her silvery hair and caressed her side softly.
Beth wanted to stay here and hold him. She felt safe with him, like the beast was exiled when he held her. She knew that the assassin would come soon. This might be her last chance to explore these feelings with Eric. She gently stood up, and lifted him to his feet.
Eric looked puzzled, "Beth?" She said nothing as she led him back inside the apartment where she lay down on his bed. Eric felt himself becoming aroused as Beth slid her clothing off revealing the figure that Eric remembered so well from their first meeting.
Eric removed his clothing as if in a trance. A numb feeling overcame him as his boxers slid free. The numbness was shattered as Beth pulled him into her embrace.
Nova and Robyn sat on the plane waiting for the eventual landing in DFW airport. Robyn watched the world through the tiny plane window and then looked at Nova.
"Nova?", she asked.
Nova turned and focussed her glowing eyes on Robyn, "Yes?"
"Why do they go insane? The warrior units?", Robyn asked.
Nova blinked as she processed the information, and then respnded, " Because of the overdrive processor that Daikoku installs."
Robyn's brow furrowed cutely, "Overdrive processor?"
Nova nodded, "They felt that to be more effective as warmachines, the warrior's needed a fierce and aggressive personality, something that was totally remorseless and terrifying. But they didn't want that personality active all the time, because it jeopardizes infiltration and social functions too."
Robyn tilted her head slightly as if thinking, "So the overdrive processor does all the fighting and aggressive actions. What happens to the regular processor?"
Nova continued, "The regular processor contains the base programming and personality of an android. Obviously that processor is shut down or put on hold while the overdrive is in use."
Robyn frowned and blanched, "I wonder what that must feel like."
Nova looked at Robyn closely and answered, "How do you think it must feel? To be you one minute then suddenly being a prisoner in your own body. Watching it tear people apart and kill. All the while you watch from your own eyes, unable to control yourself. Even when it's shut down, you know that it's sitting there watching and waiting for something it interprets as a threat or action. It's always sitting behind your eyes waiting to take over for you."
Robyn shuddered and thought to herself, We've got to stop this...
Eric lay against Beth stroking her skin. It was only at times like this that he could see the tiny seams in her body, circling her joints and panels. She looked so peaceful as she slept. Eric smiled to himself wondering if she had dreams, because she shifted a little in her sleep just the way a normal person would.
He leaned over and kissed her as the day faded to night.
Nova and Robyn found a decent hotel as the night began to grow long. Not really taking the time to unpack Nova was heading out the door as Robyn tugged on her hair, "Hey, you forgetting someone?"
Nova sighed, "Sorry, you're right. Let's go."
As Robyn stepped through the door Nova's hand motions flew faster than the eye could see. She opened a panel on the back of Robyn's neck and pressed her off switch.
Robyn's face went blank as she began to fall like a limp doll. Nova caught her fellow android and gently laid her on the bed. She removed Robyn's pants and opened a small panel above her sex.
Inside the panel was a small screen and a miniature keyboard as well as some input jacks. Nova typed in a few command codes that would allow Robyn's systems to restart in an hour.
Nova closed the panel and caressed Robyn's dead face gently, "Sorry. This is between her and I."
Nova stood and headed to the door and said to the still lifeless Robyn, "Please forgive me."
Then stepped outside.
Beth awoke with the onset of night. She knew the assassin would be here by now and perhaps already waiting for her. As if in trance Beth felt herself shrinking back in on herself. The beast was in control now and she was merely a spectator to her own actions.
Putting on a comfortable pair of leathers with a shiny, black plastic halter, she completed her ensemble with a black leather jacket and a shiny golden ankh.
Looking herself over in the mirror she sensed the beast's anticipation, like a preadator before the kill. Her eyes had their usual soft glow and the red light in her pupils was somewhat more readily apparent than usual.
She strode out of the room and her thigh-boots with steel capped heels made a dull clunk with each powerful step.
Eric was sleeping peacefully on the couch. Beth looked down at him and felt herself regain control for a moment as the beast seemed to calm down. She gently kissed his forehead as she whispered, "Thank you for the peace you've given me. If you and I should never meet again, know that I faced my death with no regrets."
Eric murmured in his sleep and shifted a little but remained asleep. Beth smiled and felt the beast regain control as she headed out the door to her rendevous with the assassin.
Ea libertas est qui pectus purum et firmum gestitat; aliae res obnoxiosae nocte in obscura latent. - Phoenix
Freedom is having a pure and dauntless heart; all else is slavery and lies hidden in darkness.