Modifying the Contract

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Chapter 1

In the near future technology has expanded to allow free and open communication between all the people of the world. National boundaries blur as humanity advances and mix cultures, genetics, and ideas. Large multinational corporations rise up to satisfy the growing global need for goods and services. These companies become more powerful than some nation states and effectively exist above the law. But on the upside they introduce amazing new technologies to the average consumer.

Mike Kugel lived in the one of the outer neighborhoods of New York that was once a lazy beach town on the Jersey Shore but became a large metropolis. He worked as a computer engineer for Oteral Industries, a mid sized corporation with a niche in high end electronics. He was a very productive employee and very close to a breakthrough in personal computing that will make all mainstream processors obsolete overnight. Unfortunately for Mike, Allied Industries, a much larger company and his former employer isn't about to give up their market share to some upstart kid.

On a late Friday night, Mike as usual was working alone in his dark apartment. He was so close to a breakthrough that he could taste it. When he was like this, he found it much more productive to stay home than head into the office. He had peace and quiet and all the equipment he needed to do the job, but no other people to get in the way. His boss was flexible enough to let him do whatever her thought was best, which was a big change from his first job at Allied Industries. While it was a larger company with better pay, it was rigid and uncompromising in its environment. Oteral was a much nicer place to work, and if he could ever get this thing to work the stock options would more than make up for lost base salary.

Mike tapped away on his keys as the glow from his monitor illuminated his face and cast strange shadows about the sparsely furnished but large apartment. Behind the tireless engineer stood an array of large plate glass windows that offered a view of the nearby skyscrapers and the crashing waves on the beach. His fingers stopped their dance for a moment, as he shifted his head. Normally his apartment was dead quiet, what with the excellent sound insulation, but he thought he heard a scraping noise. “Shit. Infinite technology, nearly infinite rental rates, and they still can’t keep mice out.”

Cracking his neck as he stretched his body, Mike rolled his chair back and stood up for the first time in hours. The glowing screen casts light out across his body, illuminating his pale skin, short brown hair and well trimmed goatee. He wore an old black tshirt and jeans with no socks on his bare feet. He kept himself in good shape, not entirely sure why. He had long ago abandoned romance for his career and it wasn’t like toned arms impressed anyone at a staff meeting anyway. At the very least, his exercise routine was a forced mechanism to get him away from the desk for more than five minutes.

Mike grabbed a mug from his desk and walked across the dimly lit apartment to the kitchen. His gaze drifted out a window to the ground thirty stores below as he washed the cold, stale coffee from the mug and laid it in the dishwasher. Even from this height he could see the crowds of partiers and tourists as they drifted from bars to clubs and back. Part of him was jealous for a moment until he remembered how uncomfortable he normally felt when he tried to be part of ‘the scene’. He shook his head a bit and made another quick cup of coffee before returning to his desk.

Unknown to Mike, a figure hung silently from the side of his building just under his bedroom window. The scraping sound he heard earlier was the cutting of glass in a large circle. The figure saw Mike approach and it became completely still until it saw him return to his computer. Ever so slowly it attached an adhesive handle to the scored glass, and with a quick and violent snap of its wrist popped the glass free. The disk of glass was pushed into the apartment and laid silently on the carpet. The figure then followed the disk with the grace of a ballerina as it came to rest inside his bedroom. It smoothly removed the suction cup, climbing devices on its elbows and knees and laid them on the nearby bed along with a small, form fitting backpack. Remaining crouched, it slipped through the open door and into the living room.

Mike immediately returned to his work and only paused to take a sip of the hot coffee. He winced a little at the fowl taste; it wouldn’t win any awards but it would give him the energy to put in another five or six hours of work. He set the mug down when he smelled something besides the aroma of cheap coffee. It took a moment but he soon placed it as a sea breeze, which wasn’t uncommon only a few blocks from the beach. What was uncommon was the smell inside a fully climate controlled apartment with windows that wouldn’t open.

A million thoughts ran through Mike’s mind as he tried to develop a theory for the smell. Did a window break, or maybe his AC was malfunctioning? He closed his eyes for a second and when they opened he caught a shape in the reflection of his monitor. His eyes locked on the form as it ever so slowly moved across his living room. His heart rate spiked as he tried to wrap his mind around the situation. Instantly he remembered a conversation he had with his old boss at Allied a few weeks ago. They got wind of his immanent breakthrough and tried to woo him back into their employ; even offering to double his salary. When he refused his boss told him that “Nobody ever walks away from Allied for long.” He originally thought the old guy was being cocky, but it could have easily been a threat.

Mike knew Allied was shady, which was one of the reasons he left, but he didn’t think they would stoop this far; sending someone into his home to kidnap him, or worse. His eyes darted to the main door, which was only thirty feet or so from his desk. It would take him at least a few seconds to run there, get the door unlocked and escape into the hall. More than enough time for his attacker to pull a gun if it carried one. He needed a distraction if he had any hope of a successful escape.

Mike started rapidly banging away on his computer as he brainstormed ideas. Suddenly he thought to scan for any wireless devices in his apartment that he didn’t recognize. He was sure whomever managed to scale the building and enter his apartment wouldn’t be dumb enough to leave his ringer on, but maybe he could stimulate the phone and make the attacker pull back to answer it. That would provide more than enough time to bug out. He knew it wasn’t a great idea but it was all he could think up as he saw the figure slowly advance towards him.

Mike smiled as his scan turned up an unrecognized device. His first job at Allied was in their wireless communications division so it would be short work to identify the device and hack together a quick message to create a false call. In seconds he had the signal patter up on his screen and frowned deeply. He recognized the pattern, but it wasn’t a phone it was the signal from an android. Specifically a 5970 series wireless adapter. This was good news and bad news for him. On the bad side, it meant the shadow was an android, so its reaction speeds and strengths were way beyond him. He might have a chance overpowering a human, but against a droid he’d be easily defeated. However, the reason he easily recognized the 5970 pattern was because he spent a lot of time on the device while at Allied. It was a flawed card; while very reliable and capable of great range, the encryption algorithm had a major defect. Instead of the normal hundreds of billions of combinations, the encryption co-processor limited the signal to a little more than 4 million possible numbers.

This flaw was significant because by law, every android was required to have a manual motor shutdown code. Unique to each unit, it would allow a user to manually stop all motor functions of a droid in case it started to malfunction. Mike smiled as he realized that maybe he did have hope. If he could broadcast the right combination, he’d stop the attacker cold in its tracks, but it would take time. His hands flew over the keyboard as he drafted a quick brute force attack program. He watched as the shadow slowly and steadily crept towards him. It must think he was still working and unaware or it would have pressed the attack.

In moments, Mike’s program was ready to run, but he realized the android would be aware of the attack as soon as it happened. It might suspect his computer and possibly disable it before the right combination could be hit. Once again his fingers flew over the keyboard as he pushed his program down into almost every wireless device in the house, from his router to the printer, to the damn coffee pot; they’d all start bursting attacks on his command.

Numbers ran though his head of his chances. Even with all the devices hitting at the same time, it would take nearly twelve seconds to try every combination. It was too long, but time was running out and he had no other option ready. He saw the figure stand up behind him, only a few feet away now and not hiding itself any longer.

The android slowly pulled a long knife from a scabbard on its forearm. It could have shot Mike a few minutes ago from across the room, but it had specific instructions to kill the target in a graphic and horrific manner. He was to be an example to anyone else that might leave Allied for greener pastures elsewhere. It calculated its attack and planed to shove the blade into his lower back to sever the spinal cord and prevent escape. It would then slowly slice and pull him apart, leaving parts of him all over the apartment but keeping him alive as long as possible.

Mike took a deep breath and reached with one hand for his coffee mug, and the other hand for the mouse. His quads tensed as he prepared his attack. With one movement he kicked off his program and tossed the cup of steaming coffee over his shoulder. A split second later he launched himself towards the front door with all the strength in his legs. In his mind he saw himself sailing through the air and sliding down the hallway like he was in some John Woo movie, but in reality he flew a few feet before crashing roughly on the carpet with a thud.

The android was about to strike when suddenly its systems detected a massive barrage of network traffic. It was enough to occupy its processors for a split second so it didn’t see the sailing cup of coffee. The mug and its hot contents struck it right in the face; which would normally incapacitate a human. Unfortunately for Mike, the temperature and impact of the mug did nothing but the contents did cloud its optical sensors. The android raised its arm and wiped the liquid from its face. It blinked several times to clear its vision but saw the target had moved. It looked left, then right and smirked as it detected Mike sprawled out on the ground. It took one step forward and flipped the knife in its hand for a powerful downward thrust.

Mike rolled over in time to see the machine turn towards him and ready its blade. He tried to scramble but his feet slipped on the now coffee soaked carpet. He could see its face now, a surprisingly feminine face, as she smiled at him. “Good try meatbag, but not good enough,” she purred as she smiled widely, exposing her perfectly white teeth. She pulled back her arm to strike and suddenly froze.

Chapter 2

For a few moments, the android and Mike both stayed motionless, until he finally released the breath he didn’t realize he was holding. “Oh thank God,” he mumbled as he pulled in another breath, savoring the ability to do so.

“What did you do to me?!?” the android bellowed, her lips not moving at all. “Release me know or I will make your death more painful than you can possibly imagine.”

“You’re not moving anywhere,” Mike replied, “at least not for a while.” He slowly pulled himself back to his feet and reached the wall to flip on a light. Suddenly and for the first time in a few days the lights in his apartment flickered to life. He frowned as his gaze first caught sight of the mess that was his apartment, but he soon turned back to the frozen android. Putting aside the fact that she was trying to kill him, the android was actually quite attractive. She had smooth, creamy skin and dark brown hair pulled back in a tight pony tail. Her face was locked in a wide grin; her pure white teeth visible against crimson lips and dark blue eyes. She stood about five feet, eight inches tall and had a thin frame that hid the power the must posses. She wore a tight fitting combat suit constructed of what looked like dark grey, blue and black leather and spandex complete with tactical webbing and pistol holster on her right hip. Harnessed just above her firm ass, sat a very compact, P90 submachine gun.

Mike observed the frozen android for a few moments before he stepped forward and carefully removed the submachine gun. He set it on a nearby table before also removing the pistol. He then stood beside the android and reached up to touch her hand that held the blade up, ready to strike. Her skin was smooth and warm and gently yielded under his touch. “Don’t touch me you pile of filth!” she snapped. His hand jumped back at her sudden outburst, it soon returned to her hand. He was able to open her fingers with slow, steady pressure and eventually removed the knife; leaving her hand slightly open.

Mike sat the blade down next to the other weapons and sat down in a chair. He rubbed his hands over his face, trying to figure out what to do next. He had just nearly escaped a slow and painful death and it took a while to come to terms with the fact that someone was really trying to kill him. His eyes darted from the weapons to the frozen android and back. He wasn’t sure what her exact model was, but from her lifelike appearance, she probably wasn’t a dedicated combat model. A few shots from the pistol or a burst from the machine gun to the back of her head would put her down permanently.

Mike stood up and carefully raised the machine gun. He rolled it around in his hands until he found what he thought was the safety. The small lever flicked up with a quiet click and he held the weapon’s muzzle just inches from the back of the android’s head. “Go ahead and kill me meatbag. You may have defeated me, but there will be more that follow. You will not survive.”

His finger hesitated over the trigger as Mike almost fired just to shut her up. After a second, he relaxed his arm, re-safed the weapon and placed it back on the table. “You’re right,” he admitted as he ran his hand through his hair.

“Of course I’m right,” the android tossed back, “now release me so I can go ahead and kill you. I’ll make it relatively painless.”

“No I think I have another use for you,” Mike chuckled as he wandered over to his desk and began typing away at his computer. He made note of which code triggered the android’s manual shutdown, and saved a rapid shutdown application to his phone just in case he needed it again. He spun around in his chair and once again looked over the android. “Now where is your primary programming port?” he asked.

“Fuck off,” the android calmly replied.

“If you don’t want to cooperate, I can just find it myself,” Mike said as he stood up and looked over the android. He reached just below her neck and found the microzipper than held the front of her suit together. He pulled the zipper down and the suit split almost silently. He smirked a little as he saw that she wasn’t wearing anything underneath the suit. Her large but firm D cup breasts started to spill forth from the suit as the zipper hit a nylon webbing belt around her waist. “You see I’ve issued a hardware stop command to your systems; a little manufacturer’s back door that explains your lack of motor movement.” He popped open her belt, then pulled the zipper the rest of the way down to just above the crotch.

“I’m going to kill you,” the android hissed as Mike walked behind her to manipulate her arms like a life sized Barbie doll. He carefully pulled the suit off her shoulders and then down off her arms. The upper half of the suit fell limply around her waist just exposing the top crack of her ass.

“Now let’s see where that programming port is,” Mike mumbled as he started to run his hands over the android’s skin. Just like her hand, her arms and torso were smooth and warm. He checked in all the normal places for a hidden port: in the armpits, at the base of the neck, behind the ears… He was running his hand over her firm stomach when he felt a hard corner. His middle finger slipped into her navel and pushed the folds of skin aside to find a micro USB port. “Bingo,” he said as he found a cable and plugged it into his nearby computer.

“I’m still going to kill you,” she said again as he plugged the small cable into the port in her navel.

“No, you’re going to protect me,” Mike said as he turned back to his computer and checked to see what he could find on the other end of the wire. “Hrmm, an AI 3515 series,” he mumbled. “So you’re an adapted companion unit?” The android didn’t reply but it still made sense to him. Allied Industries couldn’t get away with creating a dedicated assassin unit, it would be too cost prohibitive to produce a custom model like that, and if the unit was ever captured, it could be traced right back to the company. He knew they made security models, but they were larger, bouncer type units rather than the slinky form he saw before him.

In a few minutes, Mike found an open source configuration program for the 3515’s, and fired it up. A clean and efficient GUI appeared on the screen and allowed him to navigate around the android’s systems. He just looked at first, not changing a thing until he knew exactly what he was doing. It had been a few years since he’d worked on androids and he didn’t want to screw anything up. He found her primary program cluster but it was heavily encrypted to the point where he couldn’t even read it, never mind modify it. He was about to try to hack the password when something made him stop.

“This is too easy,” Mike mumbled to the suddenly silent but topless android. He switched modes of attack and started looking at the hardware drivers. Most devices looked fairly straight forward, but he found a non-standard, extra I/O card. The card was linked to her primary program cluster via several function calls, and on the other end it lead to one solitary device. “Oh clever girl,” he growled as he saw the target of the device; a two pound lump of C9 high explosive. If he changed anything in her systems, it would trigger the bomb and blow him, his apartment, and half his building to fine vapor.

Mike sat and mulled different theories for a while. He might be able to get around the bomb, but he still couldn’t access her primary program. It took another five minutes of silence before he smiled and nodded to himself. “First let’s see about this bomb,” he said as he went back to work on his computer.

“Bomb, what bomb?” the android asked, her voice giving away a slight sense of fear.

“Oh you didn’t know?” Mike chuckled. “Your bosses installed an anti-tampering device that could reduce you to your component elements. I guess they didn’t think you needed to know.”

“It…it doesn’t matter,” she countered, back to her previous calm and icy voice. “If you tamper with me, we will both die, but I will have accomplished my mission.”

“I’ll pass on that, thanks,” Mike said as he tried out a long shot theory. Working outside of the monitored areas, he uninstalled the strange I/O card. He hoped that if the device wasn’t online, whatever program would try to trigger it would fail. He wasn’t 100% sure it would work, but lately his long shot theories seemed to work quite well. He stopped for a moment, contemplating what he was doing. There was a good chance his next few actions could kill him easily, and logic dictated he simply walk away. But in the long run he knew the android was right; there would be more assassins sent to kill him. AI wouldn’t just let him go. He got lucky this time, but the next attack might come from anywhere. He needed this android to protect him if he wanted to have a chance of living long enough to find a way out of this situation.

Mike took a deep breath and pushed his way into the root programming area. His eyes were shut for several seconds, expecting the worst, but when he opened them he was rewarded with a single line on the display that read ‘Function AA423 failed; hardware device not found.’ He exhaled and smiled as he continued his drive into her root programming sector. He knew he couldn’t access her primary program node, at least not until he break through that encryption, so he turned his attention to the root sector.

Root programming was normally a very poor idea for androids. It allowed the user to input high level master commands that would execute regardless of other programs, but their interaction with program directives weren’t very predictable. It felt like dragging nails across a chalkboard for Mike, but he knew of no other option with the android in front of him. He formulates his orders very carefully then inserts them into the androids root command directory.

1. Obey the commands of Michael Kugel. 2. Do not harm or attempt to harm Michael Kugel. 3. Protect Michael Kugel from anyone or anything that tries to harm him.

Mike figured those commands should keep him safe from her existing orders to kill him, and the catch all that she would obey his commands would allow for future assignments. He saved the new root commands, and added one more program. It was a low level virus that would slowly attempt to crack her main programming module. It might take days or weeks to get through, but it should run safely in the background. Finally satisfied he then triggered a software reset of her systems.

“What are you doing to me meeaaaattbaaaaaa….” The android trailed off as her systems shut down. Several seconds later she started back up again. “Allied Industries 3515 series, model A71215, system boot in progress,” she said with a thin monotone voice. “Loading primary program module,” she was silent again for a moment before she spoke in her previous hostile tone. “What have you done to me you pathetic pile of grease and hair?”

“I made a few changes to your root directory,” Mike explained with a small smile. “You’ll find that you need to be much more cooperative. Now what is your name?”

“Fuck you and the horse you rode in on,” the android snapped back.

Mike frowned then rethought his approach, “I order you to answer all of my questions truthfully and fully. Now what is your name?”

If the android could have shown expression it would have appeared furious, but it remained stock still. “I am model number A71215…” she paused for a second, “but I have also been referred to as Nikki.”

“See that’s much better Nikki. Now what is your current mission?” Mike asked, already knowing the probable answer.

“I am programmed to terminate you in a violent and intimidating manner. You are to be an example to others,” Nikki calmly explained, still unmoving.

“Who sent you and will they send others?” Mike asked.

“I..I am not entirely sure who sent me. Evidence points to someone from Allied Industries but I have no concrete data to support that. As for the follow up group, my mission had a timeout of 0600 hours tomorrow morning. If I have not reported in success at that time, a second wave will be sent.”

“OK so that means we have to get out of here soon,” Mike looked down at his watch. “It’s nearly midnight already, that doesn’t give us much of a head start.” Mike got up and recovered Nikki’s submachine gun. He clicked the safety off once again and pointed it at her. He waited a few seconds, then pressed a few keys on his computer to remotely remove her hardware lockout.

Mike’s fingers tensed around the weapon as life suddenly returned to the android. Her body relaxed and she pulled herself to an orderly standing position. She frowned looking down at him. “Do you even know how to use that?”

“I think I can figure it out,” Mike said as he adjusted the aim at her chest.

“Don’t worry, while my main program still wants to kill you, my root directives won’t allow it. While I am not programmed to protect you, I’m not sure if I will be effective against my successors. I am obviously flawed if you managed to capture and repurpose me so easily,” Nikki said flatly but with obvious shame in her voice. “In the mean time though, why don’t you give me the weapon before you shoot yourself. My targeting programs are 232% more effective than a trained solider with that weapon. I will make much better use of it than you will.”

Mike hesitated for a moment, then handed the weapon over. Nikki gracefully accepted the weapon and immediately engaged the safety. She was about to attach it to her back holster when she was reminded of her current state of dress. “If you are done with my systems, may I disconnect and re-dress? Unless you would like to just stare at my tits until my successor kills you.”

Mike looked at the computer then back at her. He would have liked to spend more time exploring her system, but there’d be time for idle curiosity later. “No go ahead,” Mike mumbled as he saved a few files to a portable drive and shut down his computer. Nikki silently removed the plug from her navel, letting the cable fall to the floor as she slipped back into her suit.

Once the computer powered off, Mike cracked open the side of the large tower and removed three hard drives. “What are you doing?” Nikki asked as she finished getting dressed and started to replace her weapons.

“The data on these drives is the reason Allied wants me dead,” Mike explained. “I’ve been working on a new processor that will change the world. If I end up dead, it won’t be in vain. I need to get these drives back to my company, but we can mail them out later,” he said as he took the stack of drives and stacked them on the desk. “Get your gear together. I want to get out of here in ten minutes.”

Mike turned on a few more lights and walked into his spare bedroom. He returned a few minutes later with a backpack and a large padded envelope. He shoved the drives in the envelope and sealed it before writing an address on the front and affixing a long line of stamps. He then grabbed a laptop and shoved it in the backpack along with several carefully selected disks and cables.

By this time, Nikki had returned from Mike’s bedroom with her small backpack and suction climbing system. “Well that would explain how you got up here,” he said as he observed the system. She just shrugged and stood in front of him. He put the backpack down and advanced towards him. “Give me your knife,” he ordered.

Without hesitating Nikki reached into her forearm sheath and quickly pulled the blade out. She silently handed it over to Mike who took it and walked over to his couch. He laid the knife on an end table and then violently flipped the couch upside down. Nikki watched in curious silence as he retrieved the knife and put a large slash into the bottom of the couch. A few more cuts later, and he pulled out a large duffel bag.

“You keep your luggage in your couch?” Nikki asked as she tried to understand what was going on.

“It’s a ‘go bag’,” Mike explained. My dad used to work for the government and was paranoid about emergency situations; I guess enough of it rubbed off. I’ve got clothes, food, water, medical supplies, basic tools and $50,000 in cash. I never thought I’d actually use it though.” He slung the bag over his shoulder, grabbed the backpack and the envelope and looked once more over his apartment. It wasn’t much of a home, but he wondered if he’d ever see it again. “Alright, let’s go,” he said as he shut out the lights and lead Nikki out the front door.

Chapter 3

Mike looked up and down the hallway, happy to see it was empty as he led Nikki to the elevator. He nervously shifted his feet as they waited for the doors to open. While most of his neighbors were absorbed in their own little world, much like Mike was, some are a little nosier. All they would need would be to see him with some strange woman sporting weapons. He let out his breath as the doors opened with a little ‘ding’. He stepped inside, with her right behind him as the doors shut and he keyed the button for the subbasement where his car was parked.

“We’ve really got to get you some new clothes,” Mike mumbled as the elevator swiftly descended the high rise.

“Why, this combat suit is constructed to allow for ballistic protection with maximum flexibility and durability,” Nikki explained as she looked down at her outfit.

“All true, but the ninja commando look doesn’t blend in well,” Mike explained. “Plus you’ll need to be able to conceal your weapons if we want to move around in public.”

“Very well,” Nikki grumbled as the doors to the elevator opened revealing the mostly empty concrete parking garage. Mike lead her through the random parked cars until they arrived at his clean, compact sedan. It was a very efficient, late model vehicle with all the possible creature comforts and it was obvious he was proud of it as he popped the trunk and expected Nikki to be impressed. Her expression remained painted with boredom and distain, and she seemed to not care less about the car. She was about to open the passenger seat when she heard something scampering towards her. Her head snapped down just in time to see a small dog run up to her leg. It jumped up on her and immediately started yapping. Her face shifted to a look of complete disgust as she drew her knife and started to lean over.

“Princess where are you?” said another female voice that echoed through the garage.

Mike looked up from putting his bags in the trunk just in time to see Nikki reaching towards the dog. “Nikki no!” he said under his breath. He took a few steps forward and picked up the dog. It struggled and yapped in his grip, attracting the attention of its owner.

A young woman came around a corner of the garage and smiled as she saw the dog in Mike’s hands. She was dressed in scantly party attire and from her irregular steps it was obvious she had done her share of drinking already tonight. “Oh thank you, you found my little Princess.”

“Yea, here you are miss. You should try to keep a better hold of her,” Mike replied as he handed the dog to the drunken women.

She took the dog then slipped forward a little to lean against him. Hank wrapped his arms around her to keep her from falling more, as she giggled and looked up at him. “Oops sorry. I guess I’m just a lightweight,” she giggled again and ran her one free hand over his exposed and firm bicep. “Ohh I’m so glad I ran into such a strong man to help me. Do you want to come back up to my place so I can thank you?”

“Umm I’m a little busy,” Mike stammered. He’d never seen this girl before and she was the very definition of bad timing.

The girl looked up and saw Nikki standing behind Mike. She was silent but very skilled in that female art of shooting daggers from the eyes. “Oh well, she can join us,” the girl cooed as the dog fell down between them and started to paw at his leg.

Nikki, knife still in hand, advanced towards the drunk girl. She spun around the entwined pair and stood behind the girl. “Mike, release your grip. I don’t want to get any blood on your clothes,” she said as she raised the knife.

“Wait what?” the girl mumbled as she tried to get her balance.

“No! Put that away!” Mike commanded as he lifted the girl to her feet and then collected her dog. “I think you should head up to your apartment,” he said firmly as he handed her back her dog.

“Yea, ok,” she mumbled as she stumbled back towards the elevator.

“Get in the car!” Mike snapped as Nikki nodded and returned the knife to the sheaf on her forearm and dropped into the passenger seat. He slammed the trunk and then got behind the wheel. “You were going to kill that girl weren’t you?”

“Yes,” Nikki replied flatly.

“Why!?!” Mike asked as he started the electric car.

“I calculated a 22.7% chance that you would want to engage in sexual activity with that woman. The chance went up to 48.2% when she suggested the threesome,” Nikki explained. “Any delay to our departure would increase the chance of interception by 17% per hour.” She paused for a second, “Plus she spotted both of us and might provide information later if questioned.”

“You can’t just go around killing everyone you want,” Mike groaned as the car pulled out onto a main road leading west. “Besides the fact the girl did nothing wrong besides have a few too many drinks, leaving bodies everywhere is more of a trail than a drunken girl.”

“Perhaps, but the cognitive abilities of human males is directly diminished in relation to their state of arousal,” Nikki replied.

“So we think with our cocks instead of our heads?” Mike grumbled.

“That is an accurate summary,” Nikki replied. She paused for a few seconds as she analyzed their path. “We need to get out of the city. My replacements may monitor surveillance networks looking for you or your car. The traffic cams in large cities will be a possible source of data.”

Mike thought for a while as he turned off a main road and onto a twisty country highway. “We’ll head into the interior. The Pine Barrens should be remote enough for tonight.” Nikki nodded as Mike continued to drive along in silence. “So do you know what they may send out against us?”

“No,” Nikki responded, “but I suspect the assassin or assassins will be synthetic.”

“Ok so if I’m being attacked by an android, what should I do?” Mike asked

“You should die,” Nikki replied flatly.

“Your confidence in my abilities is heartwarming. Ok assume that I have a chance of survival,” Mike groaned. “Where are you’re weak points that I should aim for?”

“The vulnerable points of an android are slightly different with each model,” Nikki explained. “Androids like me are adapted from commonly produced commercial models. We have been heavily modified from the standard configuration but are still somewhat vulnerable. Physical blows to the head, eyes, neck or joints have the greatest potential for damage. An electric shock in excess of 220 volts and 2 amps could trip a hardware breaker depending on where the power is applied and the condition of the outer skin,” she paused for a second then continued, “High temperatures will also cause damage as well as high pressures, caustic chemicals, focused radiation,…”

“Ok I think I got it,” Mike chuckled as he continued to drive, “aim for the head or eyes, or use other forms of excessive force.” He waited for a second as he thought over what Nikki said. “Are there any other types of androids I should worry about, besides the commercial mods?” He had heard rumors about military models made to be nearly indestructible; he only hoped Allied didn’t have access to that kind of firepower.

“Allied also has several android models that are more security focused,” Nikki explained. “The company doesn’t have a pure military contract, and those models are heavily restricted for purchase and production, but there are dedicated security and bodyguard units. They are distinctive because of their size; they will appear as humans that are two meters tall and appear well over one hundred and fifty kilos. In reality they’re almost three hundred kilos. In their initial mission requirements they were meant to be intimidating, not stealthy. They are incredibly strong, very well armored, and most likely heavily armed. However they’re not very quick, so running is your best option. Just run in zig zags; they are more accurate than I am. Some models can even split their fire, with a weapon in each hand and each eye targeting separately.”

“That’s good to know,” Mike said with a nod. He hoped they could avoid the big goons, but at least they should be easy to spot. “So what sort of firepower do you have?”

“I carry a wide variety of weapons, but nothing that will stop a full security model,” Nikki explained. “The P90 you were fooling around with is a submachine gun. It fires 5.6mm light armor piercing rounds from a 50 round magazine. I have three extra magazines in my pack for a total count of 200 rounds. The pistol is a FN Five Seven that fires the same rounds as the P90. It has a 20 round clip with four more clips for a total of another 100 rounds. I have a compact Glock 52 in my boot that you failed to find before.” Mike shook his head as he heard that. He’d have to be a lot sharper than that if he hoped to live through this. But on the plus side, it meant she could have killed him earlier if she really wanted to. “It fires .45 ACP rounds from a 6 round clip with two spare clips in the holster for a total of 18 rounds. I also have the dagger you saw before, three throwing knives, and three one pound charges of H6.”

Mike shook his head. Nikki had a hell of a lot of firepower, but it still might not be enough to put down a tough droid. “What about rifle rounds? Five-five-six, seven-six-two, thirty-aught-six? Would they do more to put one of those big boys down or even someone like you?”

“Yes they would offer significantly more armor penetrating potential than the ammunition I carry,” Nikki admitted. “They are easily obtained civilian rounds. We may not be able to obtain an automatic weapon to suit them, but a semi-auto carbine would be better than nothing.”

“Alright, I know a place down south; maybe another hour or two. They’re not open now, but if we find a place to crash we can stop by when they open in the morning,” Mike contemplated out lout.

“That would be unwise,” Nikki replied snidely. “Legal purchase of weapons, even long guns, requires a full background check. While it can be done instantly, it will set off flags that Allied is definitely monitoring. It will give them a bead on our location immediately.”

“Well, what would you suggest?” Mike grumbled.

“I will access the net as we drive and determine if there are any suitable stores on the way. We can break in and take whatever we need without alerting anyone,” Nikki replied.

“Sure just break in and rob the place,” Mike chuckled, “most gun stores have pretty hefty security. That doesn’t sound ‘wise’.”

“I climbed a thirty story building and entered your apartment almost undetected,” Nikki snapped. “I can easily circumvent the security on some half assed, red neck gun shop.”

Mike frowned and nodded; she did have a point. While he didn’t like stealing, it was the best option, and he could always leave a pile of cash for what they took. “Wait, you’re on the Net? Now? You’re worried about me leaving breadcrumbs for your buddies and you’re broadcasting your location to the world.”

“My signal is encrypted, and I modified the default IP address as soon as you reprogrammed me,” Nikki explained, completely unconcerned.

“You think if you had a network card in your head, you’d actually learn a little more about it,” Mike grumbled. “Temporarily disable your card now.”

“Acknowledged,” Nikki snipped back.

“There are methods to trace a signal back to its hardware configured address,” Mike angrily explained. “I doubt they’d send a very expensive android like yourself out into the field without a sophisticated method of LowJack.” He immediately turned off the current road onto a darker, twisty road and then made several more turns over the next fifteen minutes. “Ahh ok this will do nicely,” he said as he pulled his car off the road into a dark, abandoned building.

“What is this place and why are we stopping?” Nikki asked.

“This is an old gas station,” Mike replied as he pulled the car around back to a large garage door. “As mileage and range increased over the last forty years, people needed fewer and fewer fill ups. Some of these stations in the middle of nowhere just closed up shop with the dwindling demand. Please get out and open that garage door so I can pull in.”

“Alright,” Nikki said as she stepped out of the car and walked over to the garage door. She gave it a pull but the lock resisted her force. She frowned and grasped the door with both hands. Pulling with both arms and legs, she sheared off the lock and the door noisily flew up on its track. Mike slowly pulled his car into the mostly empty garage and she pulled the door down behind them. He shut down the car and stepped out as she approached him. “You still haven’t explained why we stopped here.”

“We need to modify your network card hardware address,” Mike explained as he opened the trunk and removed a backpack. “It’s difficult to track a hardware address, but not impossible. I don’t want to leave any more breadcrumbs than we have to.”

Nikki shifted uncomfortably on her feet as she watched Mike pull out and start up his laptop and connect it to a long cable. She scanned their surroundings; the garage was filled with various pieces of trash and dust covered equipment. Mike had setup on a dusty workbench next to a open glass door that lead to a old office and waiting room. The building’s windows had been boarded over, leaving the only light sources as the car’s headlights and now the glow from the laptop. She heard a slightly buzzing noise coming from the fuse box. She opened the box and threw a breaker, which caused a few overhead lights to flicker on and illuminate the garage.

“Hrm, I guess they left the power on,” Mike shrugged as he continued his work, “thanks for finding the lights. I’ll turn off the car.” He reached into his pocket and pressed the fob. The lights on the car blinked and shut down as he returned to his computer.

Nikki stood behind Mike as he worked, looking nervously as he pulled up one program after another. He saw her watching and figured she was curious, “I went ahead and spoofed my hardware address on the laptop. I doubt Allied new my address, but you can never be too careful. I’m downloading a program now that will be compatible with your systems.”

“Umm alright,” Nikki stammered. “Just please be careful with my programming. You never know what might be a virus or hostile code.”

“This isn’t my first rodeo,” Mike grumbled. “I know where to go to get good, clean software. Now expose your primary programming port.”

“Acknowledged,” Nikki stammered as she carefully unzipped her jumpsuit until it reached her navel. She made sure to keep her breasts covered and only exposed a thin slit of flesh. Mike handed her the cable and she hesitated for a moment before plugging it into her hidden port. “Do you really have to do this?”

“Yes we do,” Mike snapped back. “What’s the matter with you? You almost seem afraid.”

“I am not afraid,” Nikki replied as she stared down and Mike. Her voice took a harsh, aggressive tone, “I do not like to be serviced by meatbags. You are flawed and there is a potential for corruption every time you touch me. If I am to fulfill my programming, idiotic as it is, I must be in top operating condition.”

“I’m getting real sick of your attitude,” Mike snapped as he continued typing. “You think you’re so fucking high and mighty, but you’re only a collection of hardware and programming; both of which can be altered.” He paused to type in a few more commands. “There, your network card has been reconfigured.”

“Good, then get out of my systems before you fuck something up,” Nikki growled as she pulled the cable lose and tossed it at Mike.

“Hey!” Mike shouted as the cable hit him in the chest. “You should show me a little more respect.”

“Any why should I meatbag?” Nikki smirked, “I’m programmed to not kill you, protect you and follow your orders. There’s nothing about respect in there. Now get packed up, we should hit that gun store while it’s still dark.”

“Wait, let’s get this straight! I’m in charge. You follow my commands!” Mike growled as he packed up his equipment.

“Correct, so what are your orders meatbag?” Nikki snapped as she crossed her arms.

“First of all, stop calling me meatbag!” Mike cried.

“Oh and I should I address you then?” Nikki said as she shifted her hands to her hips.

A wide smile crossed Mike’s face as he thought of a way to knock her down a peg, “In public you should refer to me as Mike, but when we’re alone you shall call me Master.”

Nikki’s chin trembled slightly as if she was trying to fight the command. Her eyes shot fire at Mike as she clenched her teeth and replied. “Yes Master.”

“You need to learn your place. Battle is a highly fluid situation. You plan on your contingencies and I will. You keep your initiative and I will. But what you don’t do is share command. It’s never a good idea!” Mike snapped. His eyes played over the very angry android in front of him. She was completely convinced of her own superiority, but he was the one that captured and re-tasked her. She was a highly sophisticated killer android and he was only a computer engineer. By all rights he should be bloody mess scattered around his apartment but he survived and conquered. She had to learn he was really in charge, or she would just continue to challenge his authority.

Mike put his backpack into the trunk of the car and slammed it shut before walking into the unexplored office and waiting room. He pulled back a dust covered tarp to find a cracked leather couch. He smiled as he turned back to Nikki. “Nikki get in here.”

“What do you want…Master,” Nikki replied as she entered the room; the last word spit out between her teeth. Mike noticed she had zipped her jumpsuit back up and was prepared to leave.

“Did I tell you to zip back up? Pull it down again,” Mike said with a coy smile. Nikki glared at him as she defiantly pulled the zipper back down to her navel. He looked her over for a moment in the harsh florescent lighting. He could see the curving edge of her breast barely exposed in the slit in her clothing. He could feel himself getting aroused as he examined the softer side of his new killing machine. “No this won’t do. Take off the rest of your clothes. I want to give you a full examination.”

If Nikki could have shot fire from her eyes Mike would have burst into flames where he stood. “Yes Master,” she hissed as she carefully unbuckled her belt and removed her holster webbing. She set it on a nearby counter then unzipped her jumpsuit a little further. She pulled off each sleeve and let the suit hang limp from her waist. Her full breasts were exposed in the harsh light as he grew harder in his pants.

Nikki’s eyes found the growling mound in Mike’s pants and a look of disgust washed over her face. She knew where this was going and couldn’t think of any way to possibly stop it. She’d fucked plenty of men before, but for some reason she couldn’t remember any one specifically. She knew how to go down on a man, or even please a woman, and a wide variety of techniques to do it, but whenever she tried to remember an instance it faded away, like the vaporous remainder of a dream.

Nikki next pulled off her boots as Mike sat down on the couch to watch comfortably. She then slipped the tight suit off her hips and slid it down her legs. She pulled the suit off and laid it gently across the counter next to her weapons. She stood at attention and glared down at Mike awaiting the next command.

“Hold still,” Mike said as he stood up and slowly walked around the fully naked android. Her body was absolutely stunning; with not a hair or blemish on her smooth creamy skin below her neck. He reached out and grasped her firm ass and gave it a little squeeze. It was warm and just soft enough to give slightly under his grip.

As Mike examined Nikki’s body her mind began to explore the conundrum of her past. She knew she had been on hundreds of missions before, killed almost a thousand people but she couldn’t specifically remember any of them. She could process the experience of those missions and used that data almost constantly to improve her current operation. She knew to check windows for laser sensors because she once tripped one, but beyond that fact the rest of the mission was a haze. The more she thought, the first thing she could really remember was getting out of a limo, into a dark alley several blocks from Mike’s apartment building.

Mike noticed that Nikki’s face had shifted from distain to confusion as he examined her. “Are you ok?” he asked, “You seem a bit off.”

“I am fine,” Nikki replied coldly. “Am I to stand here all night or is there something else you’d have me do?”

Mike bit his lip as he looked down at Nikki in all her nude glory. The bulge in his pants felt like it would burst through his zipper. It had been a long time since he’d been with a woman; not necessarily because he couldn’t but because he didn’t put much effort into it. He had girlfriends every now and then but they always seemed so needy to him and constantly competed for his time against his work.

Mike had once contemplated buying a sexbot, to take care of his carnal needs as well as keeping up his apartment. But after looking into it the androids he could afford were little more than automated blow up dolls, while the marginally sophisticated ones would set him back several years pay. He couldn’t even imagine how much Nikki would cost if he were to purchase her on the open market.

Mike hesitated giving the order. Even though he knew Nikki was an android, she looked and acted real enough. He wasn’t the dominant type with women and often was more of a people pleaser. However, she was getting defiant and he had to exert his authority. At least that is what he justified to his horny mind. “Nikki get down on your knees and give me a blowjob.”

“Yes…Master,” Nikki seethed between her teeth as she dropped to her knees in front of him. She quickly unbuckled his belt and opened his pants, letting them drop to his ankles. His boxers were next to fall revealing his fully erect shaft bouncing slightly in the cool air with each beat of his heart. She was programmed with many different oral stimulation techniques to both prolong and intensify pleasure, but her programming only obligated her to follow his specific orders. She could define blowjob however she wanted within her oral sex procedures and she chose the quickest, most direct route to orgasm, hoping he would just get his rocks off and move on.

Nikki opened her lips and quickly sucked Mike’s shaft all the way into her warm, wet mouth. He groaned as he felt her lips and tongue on him. She felt just like a real woman as she began to bob her head quickly up and down on him. It wasn’t the best he’d ever had but it was good enough that within two minutes he’d climaxed into her mouth. Not wanting to leave any unnecessary DNA evidence around she quickly swallowed his load and stood back up at attention. “Order complete Master. May I get dressed now?”

Mike was leaning against the arm of the couch trying to catch his breath as Nikki spoke. For a moment he almost took her up on her offer, but he hesitated. Something about the way she blew him and got right up made it feel dirty and artificial. Plus he wasn’t sure if he would see much of tomorrow and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity for more. “No,” he replied as he pulled air into his lungs. “I’m not done with you yet. Sit down on the couch and spread your legs.”

“Yes Master,” Nikki replied with a somewhat confused look. She immediately complied with his order, spreading her legs and revealing her smooth, hairless slit. She didn’t know what Mike intended to do. Her programming indicated he would be satiated and very unlikely to seek further stimulation for at least several minutes. She continued her puzzled look as he knelt down between her legs and ran his hands over her inner thighs. Then suddenly he leaned forward and kissed her lips. His tongue darted forward and caressed her sensitive nub, sending sexual sensory data flowing through her systems.

Mike didn’t quite know what to do to pass the time before he was recharged and ready to fire again, so he did what he would do with a normal girl, and tried to return the favor to Nikki. He was curious what she felt and tasted like, half expecting it to be rubber and Astroglide. However he found her flesh soft and warm with a subtle natural taste and smell. She didn’t react to his stimulation, not even a deep breath or a sigh.

Eventually Mike looked up at Nikki, noticing an even more confused face than before. “Come on, at least try to enjoy this,” he chuckled as his head lowered back down and went back to work. Nikki blinked a few times as she attempted to process his order. She had a vague memory of simulating sexual pleasure with other humans that didn’t know she was an android. She had chosen not to run the simulations with Mike because he knew of her true nature, therefore subterfuge was unnecessary. The minimum stipulation of his order seemed to say that she should engage those simulations. However, the ‘at least’ modifier implied she should do more. She looked through her systems and found the sexual activity program package she used before to feed her simulated pleasure. She used it in very restricted fashion as she wanted to manually control her perceived pleasure to whatever would best suit the mission, regardless of actual sexual prowess. However, this time she chose to actually run the program with no filters or proxies.

Nikki suddenly inhaled and let out a low moan as the new program engaged. She could feel a warming sensation spreading out from her genitals to other sensitive areas of her body. It felt…good. Her breathing increased and her hands began to slide up and down the sides of her body. Mike continued to work his tongue, now encouraged by her response. Her left hand slid up her size to caress her breast and pinch the engorged nipple. She let out a higher “Oooooohhh,” as the new sensations flooded her processor.

Mike’s stimulation continued for what felt to Nikki like hours when suddenly a tight spasm hit her. The synthetic muscles in her body twitched as her first true synthetic orgasm rippled through her. She moaned loudly as her fingers ran though his short hair. Eventually the explosion of sensations passed and he raised his head from her crotch before wiping his face on a nearby drop cloth that once covered the couch.

“How are you doing?” Mike asked as he smiled and watched Nikki bask in the afterglow.

“That felt…really good,” Nikki replied between deep breaths. She didn’t need to breath more, she didn’t technically need to breath at all except for cooling purposes, but the combination of her human emulation subroutines and the sexual program package caused her chest to rise and fall rapidly.

“Good, I’m glad you were able to enjoy it,” Mike said as he stood up and looked over his naked android. He found himself once again ready for action and a sly smile spread across his face. “Are you ready for more?” he asked.

“Yes Master,” Nikki replied. The defiance from before was gone and replaced with a new sense of enthusiasm. She had never been orally stimulated before, at least that she could remember, and now that these new programs were running she was looking forward to what else they could do.

“Stand up,” Mike ordered, “Then bend over and hold the top of the couch.”

“Yes Master,” Nikki cooed as she rose to her feet and positioned herself for easy access. Mike’s hands played over her firm ass, then he grasped his shaft in his hand and guided it into her wet lips. Once again she felt just as real as an organic woman as he sunk himself all the way inside until his balls swung forward to smack into her clit.

Nikki let out a long low moan as she felt Mike’s length penetrate her. He grasped her hips and began to pound himself in and out of her. She continued to gasp and moan as the force of his hips hitting her ass send vibrations running through her body causing her breasts to swing and shake. The sensations started to build within her and that warm, good feeling from before began to return. Then she felt him grunt and the head of his cock flare inside of her. He released his diminished load into her slit as he fell forward on her. His hand wrapped around her and quickly rubbed her clit as his last few spasms finished. The rubbing combined with the fucking was enough to trigger her orgasm once again. She cried out and shook as the pleasure nearly overwhelmed her. She made a mental note that she might have to ask Mike to tune down her settings lest they take up too much of her processing power.

Mike pulled himself out and sat down on the couch for a few moments to catch his breath. He saw that Nikki remained in her last ordered position; legs spread, ass in the air, arms out, breasts swinging, and now his seed running down her leg. He felt bad ordering her to comply like he did, but she did seem a little more agreeable than before. “You don’t have to stand like that anymore,” he conceded. “If you want, you can get cleaned up. I can see a bathroom in the back and it may have running water.

“Yes I will,” Nikki replied as she stood up and walked to the bathroom. Once inside she closed the door and found a relatively clean roll of paper. She started to clean up, now much less disgusted with human interaction than she was only a few minutes ago. It was the first time she could remember feeling pleasure like that, and she wondered why Mike wanted her to enjoy it. It didn’t seem to matter to her if she ‘enjoyed’ anything, he could still climax and her programming indicated that was the primary goal of males in sexual situations. Her new master was certainly confusing given her base programming and what little she remembered of her past.

While Nikki was in the bathroom, Mike cleaned up a little and got back into his clothes. He hoped that he’d live long enough to get Nikki into a proper bed. He smiled as he saw her return. “Go ahead and get dressed. We should probably get going.” He left the android to her clothes, and returned to finish packing the car.

Chapter 4

Mike carefully packed his computer and set it in the trunk of his car. As he slammed the trunk he saw Nikki arrive wearing all of her clothing and weapons. “Can you get the garage door so I can pull out?” She nodded as she walked to the door and easily raised the creaky assembly. She wondered why he asked her if she could open it. She had already proven she was strong enough, and she was forced to follow his orders so she couldn’t choose not to. She watched him quietly pull the car out before she lowered the door. It would be obvious to a through search that the building was disturbed, but an open door would indicate their presence from a good distance away.

Mike shifted into gear as Nikki sat down in the passenger seat beside him. He slowly and carefully drove his car back onto the dark paved road and accelerated away into the night. As he drove through the desolate countryside he tried to plan the next move. “Alright the little gun store I know is about an hour from here. With any luck we should reach it by about 3am, and hopefully be gone well before it gets light and anyone comes by.”

Mike looked over and noticed Nikki wore a strange look on her face. He couldn’t see much with just the reflected glow of the instrument panel, but she’d lost the angry scowl from before. She appeared almost confused, “Nikki are you alright? Something bothering you?”

“I am fully functional Master,” Nikki replied tentatively. “However I am a little puzzled by your behavior.”

“How so?” Mike asked as he divided his attention between the road and the android.

“You have the power to command me to serve your will,” Nikki explained, “as you demonstrated before. Yet you asked me to open the door instead of commanding me. Why?”

“I guess…it just felt like the polite thing to do,” Mike stammered. The more he thought about it, he did feel bad commanding her before. Sure she was only an android, but she seemed so real. He knew there was only sophisticated cameras behind her eyes, but he felt there was something more.

“Why do you care about my feelings or my pleasure? It does not make sense Master,” Nikki emphasized the last word to add contrast to her situation.

Mike’s reaction to her last word was very different from before. While he found it erotic in the garage, its sound was now painful to him. He didn’t believe in slavery (even though it had seen a resurgence in recent years), and the idea of a possibly sentient being calling him Master against her will was a reminder of his hypocrisy. “I don’t know why I care,” Mike mumbled. “I find it very hard to consider you just an android. I’m sorry its complicated.” He paused for a moment, “And you don’t have to call me Master anymore.”

“Alright, Mike,” Nikki replied as her attention was diverted away. She noticed a pair of headlights approaching ahead.

“First car I’ve seen since we’ve been on this road,” Mike chuckled, “I was worried we’d wandered off into the Twilight Zone.”

As the car passed by Nikki got a good look at the man driving it. She focused on his face, and something triggered in the back of her mind. She recognized the face but didn’t know from where. She was about to dismiss it when she heard squealing behind them. Her head snapped around to see the large SUV pull a fast 180 on the narrow country road. She focused her vision into the cabin of the pursuing vehicle and stared at the driver. As he drew a pistol, it suddenly popped in her head. He was another Allied assassin, she had a sudden visual memory of this man, half assembled on a table at what she knew was an Allied cybernetics lab. She didn’t know where this memory came from, but it was suddenly crystal clear. “Speed up quickly!” she shouted to Mike.

“What? Why what’s going…” Mike paused as he noticed the fast approaching SUV in his rear view mirror. “Oh shit! OK I’m going, I’m going.” He slammed his foot down on the gas and the little car sped off down the dark, isolated road. “Is that what I think it is?”

“I am not capable of reading your mind,” Nikki said calmly as she unbuckled her seatbelt and readied her P90. “I am sure that it is another Allied assassin.” She stared out the back window and did some quick calculations. “Can you go any faster?”

“Hey it’s a Ford not a Ferrari!” Mike shouted as he negotiated a slight curve. “It was built for efficiency not speed.”

“It will overtake us in less than 90 seconds,” Nikki said calmly. She turned back to the following car and tried to line up a shot. This part of the road was full of slight rolling hills and it was hard to guarantee a hit. Their pursuer didn’t seem to mind missing though as he leaned one hand out the window and started firing.

“Shit!” Mike shouted as he heard the first gun shot. He swerved a little as if to dodge the fire, but it only made the SUV close faster. Nikki was about to return fire when the car jerked. The attacker fired again and this time a round impacted the back fender with a loud pop. She zoomed her vision and quickly identified its gun during the next muzzle flash. It was a Glock 52; .45 ACP with a 10 round clip and one in the pipe. Its range and accuracy was limited at these speeds and ranges, but it did a lot of damage when it hit. She counted three rounds down and eight more to go before he’d have to reload.

Nikki leaned out the window and fired a quick burst from her machine gun. Of the three rounds fired, only one impacted the SUV, and in doing so knocked out a headlight. She frowned at her poor performance, but with both targets moving at this range it was hard to do any better. The attacker fired two more shots which were targeted at her, one went wide but the last one grazed her shoulder. She grunted slightly, checked that the damage was superficial, and continued fighting. She switched to single fire mode and popped off two more shots that were better aimed. The first impacted the radiator, eliminating the possibility of a long pursuit, and the second hit the windshield. The glass broke into a thousand cracks, obscuring the hunter’s vision. He punched out the broken glass, but it caused the vehicle to swerve and lose some ground. It regained its track and now could fire straight through where the windshield once was. The next two shots land squarely in the trunk of the car.

Mike ducks as the shots hit, and the car swerves back and forth, nearly going off the road. “Keep control!” Nikki shouts as she lines up another shot. This one went straight through the android’s shoulder, causing his hand to spasm and fire off three more shots into the surrounding woods. The SUV accelerated, rapidly closing the distance between it and the car. Nikki turned around and saw a long patch of straight, flat road. The attacker could easily catch them during that stretch. She slipped back inside the car and turned to Mike. “Do you trust me?”

“What?!?” Mike shouts, then sees the rapidly approaching headlight behind him. “Umm, yes, yes I trust you!”

Nikki raises her weapon, switching it back to full auto. She holds it out the window with her right hand, then with her left grabs the hand brake. She turns her head to look back at the approaching SUV. “Pull into the left lane….then turn hard right on my mark,” she paused as Mike shifted the car over. “Now!” She quickly jerked the hand brake up just as Mike turned the wheel.

The light car quickly flipped round in a 180 spin that landed it back in the right lane. As the car rotated and slowed it caused the SUV to overtake them at close range. Nikki used the opportunity and unobstructed line of sight to pump 24 shots into the passing vehicle. Shots 1-4 impacted the right front tire, 5 and 6 skipped off the pavement and hit the front left tire, 7-10 went into the radiator and engine, 11-24 were directed right at the hunting android, striking it all over its body.

The android temporarily lost control and the large vehicle jerked suddenly to one side. The front right rim gripped into the road and sent the SUV in a violent barrel roll. Mike brought his car to a screeching halt and looked back to watch the SUV tumble, throwing debris and glass until it finally came to a stop on its roof.

“Holy shit!” Mike gasped as he tried to still his rapidly beating heart. “Nice move there.”

“Thank you,” Nikki says with a little smile. She knew the other android was a more advanced model, but she still had what it took to eliminate him. “Turn around and shine your headlights on the wreck. I’ll take care of it if there’s anything left.” Mike nodded and slowly spun the car around so his lights washed over the wrecked vehicle.

Nikki calmly got out of the car and walked towards the wreck, her weapon steadily pointed forwards. When she was about ten feet from the overturned SUV Mike noticed movement from inside. Nikki stopped and prepared her weapon as the heavily damaged android dragged itself out of the broken passenger window. Most of the synthetic skin and hair on its head was missing, revealing the metal skull structure underneath. Both legs and one arm appeared to be non-functional as it dragged its sparking body forward with one good arm and hand. It looked up at Nikki and raised its hand towards her. She calmly took one step back, then emptied the rest of her ammo into its chest and head. Sparks flew as the shells penetrated the already damaged chassis. The android’s head split open as circuits and other electronic components spilled out over the concrete. A few lingering sparks arced across the chassis before it finally fell silent.

Now feeling safer, Mike got out of the car and walked towards Nikki. She stared down at the destroyed android, and pondered if he was really that different that she was. If chance had fallen a different way, it might be her guts spilled out over the dark road. She looked up at Mike beside her. “We got lucky this time. They will send more next time.” She turned to the wreck. “We should search and see if there is anything salvageable.”

“Good idea,” Mike nodded as he looked around and found a piece of metal debris that looked fairly sturdy. He wrapped a length of separated seatbelt around it to protect his hands then used it to pry open what was left of the android’s chest.

Meanwhile, Nikki picked through the rest of the SUV. She smiled as she found several large, flat cases in the trunk along with a few metal rectangular boxes. She dragged them out onto the street in the lights of the car. She saw Mike digging around in the android, “Mike what are you doing to it?”

Mike twisted his took and then reached into the droid and yanked up on something. A small silver rectangle a little larger than his fist came out. He turned to Nikki with a wide smile as he tossed the device in his hand. “I was checking if he had the same little surprise you did. Bingo, two pounds of C9 military grade high explosive. I thought it may come in handy if we meet any more of your friends.”

Nikki pursed her lips and nodded. It wasn’t something she would have thought of, “Good thinking. I have also found some things that may help our tactical situation.” She lead Mike to the crates. “This one was packing a lot more firepower than I did. These crates contain a Bofors AK5C assault rifle, an FN FAL battle rifle with their accompanying ammunition and magazines. They will be much more useful against security androids, and will eliminate the need to rob that weapons store.”

“Well I guess something good came out of this,” Mike mumbled as he looked around. “Hey we should get the hell out of here. We’re in the middle of nowhere, but I don’t want to be around when someone finds this mess.”

“Agreed,” Nikki stated as she picked up the weapons crates and carried them to store in Mike’s trunk. He followed her and stopped to lean on the car. He suddenly felt dizzy an tired as the adrenalin washed out of his system.

“Can you drive? I think I need a rest,” Mike mumbled.

“Of course,” Nikki replied as she slipped into the driver’s seat and adjusted the car to fit her. Mike collapsed into the passenger’s seat and buckled up as Nikki quickly sped away from the crash. She made several quick turns on various side streets before picking up a country highway and speeding off.

“How did they find us?” Mike asked, breaking the silence.

“I do not know,” Nikki replied honestly, “but I do have a few theories. Do you have an anti-theft tracking system in your car?”

Mike shook his head, “No I never got around to putting one in.”

Nikki nodded, “Do you have any relatives or property in this area?”

“No, my family is scattered around the country, but none are around here,” Mike replied thoughtfully as he tried to come up with his own theories. “And I don’t have any other properties besides my condo.”

“Where do you store your mobile phone records?” Nikki asked.

“You mean the bills? They’re online and should be pretty secure,” Mike said. He closed his eyes for a second as a thought flew around his mind. There was something important but he couldn’t quite think of it. But then an idea hit him, and he snapped his fingers. “Damnit, I just got my contract renewal notice. I left it on my desk and meant to send it in next week.” He paused to think for a moment, “So you think they’re tracking my cell phone signal? That’s pretty advanced, even for Allied. They’d have to hack into the low levels of the AT&T data network. That’s not exactly an easy thing anymore.”

“With the contract you don’t need anything that complicated,” Nikki explained. “From that piece of paper they got your phone number, account number and the customer service number. They’d just have to call the customer service line and make up some story about losing the phone. The service rep could pull your exact coordinates from the embedded GPS system. If they called when we were stopped they’d have a good fixed position.”

“How do you know they’d do that? It seems like too low tech of a solution for Allied,” Mike mused.

“It’s what I would do,” Nikki replied with a grin. “Never underestimate the power of social engineering. You can confirm it easily. Just call your provider and ask if anyone called for a GPS trace. They normally keep records of all customer interaction. Just tell them to disable the GPS trace ability.”

“I’ll do that,” Mike said as he retrieved his phone and dialed a few numbers. Ten minutes later he closed the call and angrily shoved the phone in his pocket. “You nailed it. Someone called in, with my voice pattern, and claimed I accidently swapped my bag with someone else and I needed to track down not only my phone but an engagement ring that was also in the bag. That’s pretty creative.”

“Yes, the normal response from customer service would be to just deactivate the phone until they could confirm the caller’s identity,” Nikki explained. “But the ring gave a logical reason why you’d need the exact location of the bag right now.”

“Very crafty,” Mike mumbled as he looked out the window. Slowly he turned back to face Nikki; a frown drawn across his face. “If you know this could happen, why didn’t you warn me about it?”

“You didn’t ask,” Nikki said plainly. “You stressed that you were in charge of the mission and I was to obey your orders. You made it very clear with the woman in the garage that I was not to act independently.”

“I just didn’t think you should kill innocent people,” Mike explained. “But I do want your input and for your to exercise some initiative. Just as long as that doesn’t include killing people.” He paused for a second as he considered his next words. “And I’m sorry I have to command you like this. I would remove my override orders but I’m afraid you’d revert to your old program and kill me.”

“That is an accurate assumption. I would be compelled to kill you,” Nikki explained. “but I do appreciate your concern.” The car remained silent for some time before she spoke up again. “Now that we don’t have to rob that gun store, where should we go? If you want my advise, I would recommend some place remote, defensible, and not tied to you through any official or unofficial paperwork.”

“I do want your advise, and I think I have an idea,” Mike said as he leaned forward to manipulate the center console of the car. He brought up the built in navigation system and punched in a location in rural West Virginia. “One of my old buddies from college bought a cabin up in the mountains here. It’s very isolated, with only a few roads or approachable paths. I’ve been out there a few times since we graduated, and it should suit us quite well. My buddy’s out of the country until next year so it’s definitely empty.”

Nikki tapped a few commands into the console, “The default route will put us on easily monitored freeways. I’ve adjusted to use roads that are far less likely to be monitored. ETA is in 16 hours and 32 minutes.”

“That’s a long drive,” Mike groaned.

“Indeed,” Nikki replied. “We should also think about obtaining a different vehicle. It may be tracked and the bullet holes will attract unwanted law enforcement attention.”

“Good point,” Mike nodded as he stifled a yawn. “There aren’t any dealerships open now so I hope you’re not suggesting we steal a car.”

“No, grand theft auto would attract too much attention,” Nikki explained. “We should purchase a car from a secondary or private seller. But you are correct, we will have to wait until morning.” Mike blinked slowly as fatigue started to overtake him. “You should get some rest. Your reaction to another attack will be severely hampered without sufficient sleep.”

“You’re right,” Mike yawned, as he reclined his seat and quickly passed out.

Nikki drove silently for almost an hour before she looked over at her sleeping master/target. She didn’t feel the same powerful hate towards him as before. Mere hours ago, killing him was her whole purpose in existing. She absolutely had to kill him and could hardly think of anything else. She was an addict and his blood was her drug.

Now her feelings had changed. She still felt the need to kill Mike, but it was different; more subdued. His death was no longer a drug, but was closer to cool drink on a hot summer day. She didn’t hate him anymore, she couldn’t even say that she disliked him. After all, he was considerate of her feelings; as far as she could remember he was the only human that ever did that. She’d almost feel bad if somehow she was able to escape his commands and kill him. She shrugged and turned her attention back to the road as the car sped off into the dark night.

Ch. 5

Mike awoke several hours later as Nikki pulled his car into a busy gas station. He blinked several times and rubbed the sleep from his eyes as he cranked the seat up and looked around. “Where are we?”

“We’re at a gas station,” Nikki replied flatly. “We are running low on fuel.”

“I can see that,” Mike grumbled as he cracked his neck. “Do you know anything this town or where it is?”

Nikki was silent for a moment as she pulled the car next to an available pump and shut down the engine. “We are inside the boundaries of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania. It is located at 39.793471 degrees North latitude and -76.731520 degrees West longitude. According to the last census it has a population of 2,152; 93.5% of which are white, 3% African America…”

“Whoh,” Mike said holding up his hand, “Glen Rock or even just southeast PA would have been good enough. It sounded like you were reading Wikipedia.”

“I was,” Nikki admitted, “I accessed our position from the GPS and then searched online for information about this area.” She paused for a second as she looked up at the pump. “Be sure to pay with cash only, your credit cards are most likely being traced.” She turned to get out of the car and Mike quickly put a hand on her shoulder.

“Hold on,” Mike said, “You can go outside like that.” He looked down and gestured at the weapons still attached to her webbing and holsters. “They’ll think you’re going to rob the place. And it doesn’t help that you’re still wearing your ninja suit.”

“Would you prefer I was naked?” Nikki asked with a scowl.

“As nice as that would be for me, I think it would attract more attention than we’re looking for,” Mike looked over his shoulder at the gas station office and mini-mart. “Just stay here. I’ll be back.”

Mike stepped out of the car and walked into the mini-mart. The smell of coffee and fresh donuts hit him as the door opened. His eyes half closed as he let out a low moan and licked his lips, suddenly realizing how hungry he was. He grabbed a handful of fresh donuts along with a large cup of coffee. He paused for a second, wondering if Nikki needed anything. Technically as an android she shouldn’t need to eat, but he did remember from last night that she was…wet….for lack of a better term. That moisture had to come from somewhere and be replenished. Thinking it was worth a shot, he grabbed a few bottles of water and made his way to the checkout.

Mike returned to the car a few minutes later, and opened the door. “I’ll get the gas in a second, let me just set down a few things,” he said as he laid the bag of food in front of his seat and carefully set the coffee in a nearby cup holder. After pumping the gas he slipped back into the passenger seat as Nikki quietly pulled the car back onto the country highway. “I wasn’t sure if you needed anything so I got you a few bottles of water. You don’t eat right?”

“While I am capable of eating and drinking to maintain the illusion of a human, I do not require food,” Nikki explained. “I do need water and a small supply of certain proteins to maintain by biofunctions, but those supplies do not need frequent replenishment.” She paused for a second as she looked over at Mike with a bottle of water in hand extended to her. Her internal moisture levels were still within tolerances, so technically she didn’t need the water. However, she was surprised he would think about her needs when she hadn’t asked for anything. At first she was going to refuse the water, but then thought about the social implications of it. “I could use some water,” she said cautiously as she reached out and took the bottle, “thank you for thinking of me.”

“You’re welcome,” Mike replied with a little smile as he sipped his coffee and stuffed a jelly donut into his mouth. He licked his lips, savoring the fried, sweet goodness as his hunger subsided. “You know, we should look into getting you some normal clothes,” he said; his mouth half full of food. “It will arouse a lot less suspicion if you appear like a normal human woman.”

Nikki frowned again. She liked her tactical combat suit; it provided freedom of movement will providing protection from slow speed projectiles and moderate abrasions. The idea of going to cotton or some other less protective material wasn’t appealing, but Mike did have a point about blending in. “Very well, where would you suggest we go to obtain clothing?”

“Well, we’ll probably need you in the store to pick out the clothes,” Mike mused as he worked on his food. “I’m horrible with judging women’s sizes. But we need a store where your current attire won’t draw stand out too much.” He paused as he thought about a possible venue while looking around the road. Just then he saw a billboard. “That’s it. Your suit kind of looks like biker gear. There’s a Harley store a few towns over. You’ll blend in there, and we can pick up some more normal-ish looking clothes there.”

Nikki paused for a second as she raced over the internet to find the store and directions. “We’ll be there in 10 minutes,” she said as she took the next right and accelerated away.

Almost exactly 10 minutes later, the car came to a stop in front of a large Harley Davidson outlet store. Mike got Nikki to leave the obvious guns in the car, but she insisted on keeping the boot pistol as they entered the store. Fortunately his hunch paid off as almost everyone else in the store had leather or other biker apparel. If anyone stood out it was Mike in his plain jeans, sneakers and tshirt.

“How many outfits should I get?” Nikki asked quietly as she scanned the wide assortment of clothing on racks and shelves.

“I’d go with four or five,” Mike shrugged as he tried to think how long they might be on the run, or how long it might be before they’d get a chance to do laundry. When he thought about his ‘go bag’, he only had a few changes of clothes. He looked around and while most of the biker attire didn’t mesh with his sense of fashion (or lack there of), he did find a few more tshirts and jeans.

Nikki nodded and wandered around the store for a few minutes, picking out an assortment of tops and bottoms. She factored in price, durability, flexibility, and some limited fashion sense she downloaded from a public android app offered through Cosmo online. “I am ready to purchase these and leave,” she said plainly once she found Mike again.

“Are you sure they fit? Maybe you should try them on,” Mike suggested as he browsed through her selections.

“I am quite certain of my body’s dimensions,” Nikki explained. “These garments will fit according to their design.”

“Umm,” Mike hesitated as he tried to phrase it correctly, “you forgot certain…undergarments,” he said quietly so no one else would hear.

“I do not require undergarments,” Nikki replied proudly.

“In your current outfit, maybe not. But in these things, you’ll need the coverage,” Mike explained as he lifted up a black leather vest. “Remember, we’re looking to blend in.”

Nikki nodded and wandered off to the limited underwear section. She returned a few minutes later with a few bras and panties; some in black leather. Mike swallowed, “Yea those should do.” The duo made their way to the checkout and paid with a pile of cash he recovered from his bag. They still had plenty more to go, but he did wonder how long it would have to last.

Mike and Nikki loaded their bags into the back of the car when she frowned and ran her finger along a few bullet holes from last night’s encounter. “We should get another car,” she said plainly.

“Oh sure,” Mike laughed as he got into the car with Nikki. “Why don’t we pick up a boat while we’re at it.”

“A boat is unnecessary,” Nikki explained as she drove off. “However, the bullet holes in your car will attract attention. The same sort of attention you wanted to avoid with my ‘ninja suit’.”

“Alright you have a point,” Mike grumbled. “I just like this car. It’s been through a lot with me.”

“You can always buy it back once this is all over,” Nikki explained as she pulled onto a more commercial roadway. “Plus with a different car and license we don’t have to worry about traffic cams as much.”

“OK let’s see what we can find,” Mike consented as he kept his eyes open for dealerships. Nikki passed quite few new car lots, much to his disappointment, but she explained that new purchases or even buying a used car at a major lot would require a lot of paperwork. All of that would attract attention and defeat the purpose of getting a new ride. Plus a legit dealer would definitely ask about or report the bullet holes.

At one point, Nikki stopped at a rest area and ducked into the bathroom to change. Mike made use of the facilities and was getting himself a soda when he saw her walk out into the lobby. She was wearing a pair of tight, black leather pants and a red leather halter top. He could see from the back that she disregarded his advice about foundation garments, but he wondered if she capitulated on the panties. He swallowed deeply and nodded. “You look very nice,” he said while trying to conceal his growing arousal.

“Thank you,” Nikki replied with a little smile as she lead Mike back to the car.

As they walked back, Mike noticed something strange on Nikki’s right shoulder. It was a black smudge with something loose, as if she had a burnt leaf stuck on her arm. As they reached the car, he gently grasped the warm flesh of her arm, “Hold on. What’s that on your shoulder?” he asked as he carefully examined her now bare shoulder.

“It is minor cosmetic damage,” Nikki explained. “I was grazed during the firefight last night.”

“Shit,” Mike mumbled as he examined the wound. He could see her skin was burned away and blackened by friction. Small tears in the flesh revealed the deep purple synthetic muscle tissue underneath. “Can we fix you?”

“Yes, I have a repair kit and I am capable of self repair,” Nikki explained, “it is not affecting my mission so the repair was put on a low priority task queue.”

“Well now that the wound is visible, we should get it fixed,” Mike reasoned. “Otherwise you won’t be able to pass for human.”

“Why do I need to pass for human?” Nikki asked as she slipped back into the car. “Androids are common enough that seeing one wouldn’t alarm anyone.”

“True,” Mike replied as he closed the car door behind him. “But I’ve never seen androids walking around damaged. And hiding your true nature would give us a tactical advantage in the event of an attack.”

“You make a convincing point,” Nikki admitted. “I can make the repair now if you wish.” Mike nodded and she reached back and recovered her small tactical backpack from the back seat. Noticing that they were in a highly visible area, she started the car and drove to a far corner of the rest area. She opened her bag and removed a small, plain black plastic case. Inside sat a wide assortment of tools, compactly packed in a precise arrangement.

Mike watched silently as Nikki removed a delicate scalpel. “Is there anything I can do to help?” he asked.

“Yes, hold this,” Nikki says as she pulls a small mirror out of the bag. Mike holds it in his hand as Nikki carefully adjusts it to give her a good view of her shoulder. She then uses the knife to slowly carve a perfectly regular rectangle of flesh out of her arm. She lifted the damaged skin away, and laid it on her lap. As she worked to cut an equally sized piece from a roll of spare skin, he watched the synthetic muscle fibers flex under her skin.

“Does it hurt?” He asked as he watched Nikki work the flesh with the knife edge.

“I detect the injury and I guess you could call it pain,” Nikki explained as she worked. “but it doesn’t hamper my productivity.” She raised the skin back up and set it perfectly back in the newly created empty spot in her shoulder. She adjusted the mirror and nodded slightly. She applied an oily cream to the seam and it seemed to disappear into the rest of her skin. “Does it look ok?”

Mike reached out and gently dragged the tips of his fingers over Nikki’s newly repaired shoulder. “It’s like it never happened,” he said with a smile. Nikki nodded, packed up her kit and started up the car.

After almost a half an hour cruising down various highways and byways, Nikki pulled into a crowded lot arranged around an old barn. “Wow you picked a winner here,” Mike grumbled as he looked over the disappointing selection.

“This dealership had several promising candidates online,” Nikki explained as she found an empty spot for Mike’s car. “Plus several comments alluded that the owner is less than reputable, which could work to our advantage.”

It didn’t take long for Nikki to attract the attention of every guy in the lot, and in less than two minutes the salesman was on them. “What can I do for you this morning?” he asked as he straightened his cheap tie on his dingy shirt.

Mike was about to respond that they were just looking when Nikki cut him off, “Do you still have the 2007 Mustang?” she asked quickly.

“Yes it’s over here,” the salesman said with a wide smile as he lead Nikki and Mike over to a grey two door sports car. Nikki looked it over for a moment, then dropped down to the ground to peer underneath. “Can I help you with something miss?”

Nikki stood back up and brushed off her hands. “This car has a bent frame and is leaking transmission fluid,” she said sharply. The salesman was caught off guard, and could only mumble in reply.

“Umm, how about this late model Jeep,” the salesman started before Nikki cut him off.

“No, show me the 2015 Camaro,” Nikki snapped. The salesman nodded and led them through the lot to another old car.

“Nikki what are you doing?” Mike asked. “These old cars are crap.”

“We need a vehicle with a combination of speed, acceleration, durability, handling and storage,” Nikki explained. “Current model cars are too concerned with efficiency and luxury to meet our needs.”

Nikki repeated her inspection and then turned to Mike, “Are you capable of operating a manual transmission?”

“A what?” Mike asked.

“Nevermind,” Nikki grumbled as she turned back to the salesman. “How about the 2010 Challenger?”

“This way,” the stunned salesman replied. Mike just followed along, a little shocked but happy that Nikki had taken the lead. He didn’t do well with high pressure sales and in these old cars he was definitely out of his element.

Nikki looked over the latest car, a two door, painted all black with two red racing stripes. She checked underneath the car, then popped the hood and trunk. She pulled out the dipstick and smelled the oil as she carefully inspected the engine. Satisfied she slammed the hood and brushed off her hands. “How much?”

“Well the sticker price is $17k, but for you I’m willing to come down to sixteen-five,” the salesman attempted to sling as much charm as he could.

“Unacceptable,” Nikki snapped. “Local comps list this vehicle at twelve point seven, no more.”

“Well I could maybe come down to fifteen,” the salesman countered.

“What if we trade in the car we came in on?” Nikki adjusted. “It’s going market price is almost thirty.”

The salesman’s eyes perked up and he followed Nikki to Mike’s car. “Oh very nice…are those bullet holes?”

“The damage is non-structural,” Nikki replied.

“What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” he asked.

“Replace the trunk, patch the holes, whatever you want,” Nikki replied. “With a little work you can turn this around and sell it for twenty seven to twenty eight easy.”

“This isn’t hot is it?” he asked.

“No,” Nikki snapped.

“How did it get the holes then?” he replied.

“It was shot…by a gun,” Nikki explained to the still confused salesman. “Do you want the trade or not?”

“I don’t know,” the salesman hesitated. Nikki leaned over and whispered something into his year that Mike couldn’t hear. “Umm ok. I’ll meet you in the office inside to draw up the paperwork.” He turned and left as Nikki turned back towards Mike.

“I think I’ve secured the trade,” Nikki explained. “You’ll need to sign over the title so I can bring it with me to the office.”

Mike was about to object, after all she had just sold his car without even asking him. But he realized it was the best decision. The car could be tracked to him and it obviously couldn’t outrun any possible pursuers. He just shrugged and fished the title out of the glovebox, signed it, and handed it to Nikki.

“Great, go ahead and pull this car around to the Challenger,” Nikki planned. “Try to get everything loaded up in the new car while I negotiate the final price.” Mike nodded and drove the car around as Nikki walked into the old office.

Twenty minutes later Mike had everything out of his old car and into the new one. He scoured the vehicle for receipts or any other paperwork that might tie him to the car once they left. He slammed the bullet riddled trunk when he saw Nikki walked back towards him with a set of keys, “Leave your keys in the car. Are you ready to go?” she asked.

“Yea I’m ready,” Mike replied as he looked her over. “How did the negotiations go?”

“Very well,” Nikki replied. “He took your car in trade in, gave us two thousand in cash, and will wait a few days to file the title transfer.”

“Wow, how did you pull that one off?” Mike asked as he slipped into the large passenger seat of the older car.

“I gave him a blowjob,” Nikki replied as if she had offered him a piece of gum.

“You what?!?” Mike shouted as Nikki started the engine.

“I orally stimulated his penis until he ejaculated,” Nikki explained slowly. “I calculated he was attracted to me sexually and he hesitated to comply with our request due to the bullet damage. The sexual favor changed his mind and got us a better deal.” She paused for a second to assess his expression. “Are you upset? I thought you would be happy that I secured a better deal.”

“I’m happy about the deal,” Mike sighed, “but I didn’t want you to have to compromise yourself like that.”

“I am programmed to use by body to accomplish my mission,” Nikki said softly, “If that means exchanging sexual favors then so be it.”

“OK I just didn’t want you to have to do that,” Mike said as he shook his head.

“You said,” Nikki suddenly shifted from her own voice into a dead on impression of Mike’s “I do want your input and for your to exercise some initiative. Just as long as that doesn’t include killing people.” She waited a moment for it to sink in before she returned to her normal voice.

“My first plan was to kill the salesman and rob him of all the cash he had on hand,” Nikki explained. “However your last order countermanded that. I explored my programming and came up with a different option. I agree that it is much better than my original idea. Now he is happy and a possible future source of help. And we still got everything we wanted.”

“Yea I guess,” Mike grumbled. “Alright let’s get out of here before he thinks he can get beyond third base.” Nikki nodded and started the car. The vehicle shook slightly as the large engine roared to life and she pulled onto the road. He nodded and the frown slowly melted away as he started to enjoy the new, old car. “Hey before we get back on our way, let’s stop for lunch quickly. Once we leave this town there isn’t much for another few hours.”

“Very well,” Nikki nodded, happy that Mike seemed pleased with her choice of cars. She began scanning the road ahead and quickly spotted a burger shack with a free wireless net connection. It would be a lot faster than using her normal connection and she wanted to investigate possible routes. She hadn’t considered his biological needs in her original navigation calculations, but for some reason she felt his needs were important. “Will this establishment do?”

“Sure this will work,” Mike said as Nikki pulled the car to a stop. Ten minutes later they sat at a table, a burger, onion rings and a Coke in front of Mike, with a large iced tea for Nikki. “You chose well again,” he chuckled as he wiped his mouth, “this burger is great.”

Nikki nodded and slowly sipped from her drink as she scoured the network for various routes. She didn’t technically need the beverage, but she sitting silently while Mike ate would draw more attention than they wanted. Another fifteen minutes passed in near silence; he was too busy stuffing his face and most of her consciousness was occupied in her searches.

Finished with is burger, Mike wiped his greasy fingers and took a drink from his soda. He looked around the packed restaurant and focused on two people who just walked through the front door. One was a very large man, at least two meters tall, wearing a long overcoat. The other was an attractive blonde woman wearing tight jeans, a tank top and a leather bolero jacket. At first Mike was visually drawn to the woman but he found himself staring at the man. He was huge and his movements were strangely stiff as he panned his head back and forth across the crowded room.

“Nikki,” Mike whispered but she didn’t respond right away. He frowned and kicked her in her shin. Brought back into reality she scowled at him as he gestured towards the door. She turned around and suddenly a look of fear washed over her face. She knew the two people at the doorway, and knew they were trouble. The woman was Erica, one of Allied’s newest acquisitions and the large man was Irvin, an experienced tactical unit. They hadn’t spotted them yet, but she knew they only had a few seconds at best.

“They’ve found us. Use the door behind you. Cut through the kitchen and try to get to the car,” Nikki whispered as she slid the keys across the table.

“What about you?” Mike asked as he slipped the keys into his pocket and eyed the door in question.

“I’ll hold them off. Just go!” Nikki said as she turned back and surveyed the tactical situation. Erica and Irvin had the main entrance blocked, and besides the kitchen route there was no other accessible exit. She didn’t have her more powerful weapons, thanks to her much less tactical clothing. Her only weapons were the compact 45 in one boot and her dagger in the other. Fortunately a large ceramic planter sat nearby and would provide some limited cover.

Mike quickly slipped through the back door to the kitchen as Nikki drew her pistol and took cover behind the planter. The click of her safety snapped Irvin’s head directly towards her. “Secondary target acquired,” he grumbled as he reached inside his jacket.

Nikki didn’t wait to see what was inside the jacket, and opened fire. Screams and panic accompanied the rapid pop pop pop of her weapon. The first two shots landed in Irvin’s shoulder in an attempt to disable his weapon arm. Sensing minimal effect, she shifted her aim and fired the remaining four shots in her weapon at his head. Two struck his forehead and tore away some synthflesh without penetrating his re-enforced skull. The third shot hit him in the cheek, tearing more flesh away to expose his left molars. The final shot struck him in the left eye, causing him to shutter and spark.

Irvin was largely undeterred by Nikki’s weak attacks. As the last bullet struck his eye he had withdrawn and readied his Vector compact submachine gun. He registered the damage to his left optical sensor, it reduced his depth perception and targeting accuracy, but he could still accomplish his mission with his one remaining eye. He leveled his weapon at his attacker and unleashed a loud roar of fire.

Nikki pulled herself behind the planter as a stream of heavy bullets blew apart the tree and most of the planter. Dirt spilled over her as she reloaded her pistol with one of her two remaining clips. As she worked she counted the bullets as they were fired, waiting for him to expend his ammo. After the 30th shot she prepared to pop up when suddenly she felt a pair of hands on her shoulders. She was lifted up over what remained of the planter and thrown across the room. She crashed through an ice machine and landed on the tile floor along with thousands of frozen cubes.

“Track primary, I’ll take care of her,” Erica snapped as she advanced on Nikki to follow up her attack.

“Acknowledged,” Irvin growled as he reloaded his weapon and advanced into the restaurant. At this point, most of the other customers had fled, but there were still a few stragglers.

Mike had ducked into the kitchen just before the shooting started. He was stopped immediately by one of the cooks, who immediately hit the deck as the first shots were fired. Mike scrambled through the compact, and serpentine kitchen as he desperately tried to find a way out. He peaked over his shoulder just in time to see Irvin standing in front of the main counter. He dove to the floor as the large android raised his weapon and let loose another wild spray of bullets.

Mike quickly scrambled on his hands and knees as it seemed like everything in the kitchen exploded and leaked at the same time. He slipped on and slid across the floor as Irvin reloaded then deftly vaulted the front counter and advanced slowly into the kitchen.

Mike finally spotted a back door but realized he’d have little chance of using it without getting shot in the process. He watched the android slowly walk into the kitchen scanning for his target. Mike’s head darted back and forth as he tried to find a weapon or a way out when he spotted a small fire extinguisher attached to the side of a table. He quietly popped it loose and prepared to spray it in his attacker’s face. It wasn’t a great plan but it was all he had.

Just then, Mike noticed an intact and rapidly bubbling deep fryer between him and his attacker. He waited a few seconds, then lofted the pressurized bottle into the boiling oil. His plan was rewarded with another burst of bullets as he scrambled towards the door. The timing was perfect, either due to skill or more likely luck, as the android was right next to the fryer when the pressurized and now superheated cylinder exploded.

Instantly, six gallons of boiling oil was thrown into the air, coating the ceiling, the walls, the floor and one large android in 400 degree oil. Irvin’s first programmed reaction was to open fire. He waved the roaring weapon around in a wide arc, hoping to catch his target with a lucky shot. Fortunately for Mike, he was able to slip out the back door uninjured and undetected. Unfortunately for Irvin, the hot falling brass and muzzle flash caused the oil to burst into flames. He dropped his weapon and protected his one remaining eye with his hand as he was quickly engulfed in flames. Several seconds later, before the blaze could get too far the automatic fire suppressors kicked in.

Meanwhile Nikki picked herself up and charged Erica. The two fembots met in the middle of a cluster of tables and were quickly an almost unwatchable blur of fists, feet and hair. They traded blows as each one tried to get an advantage on the other. They tried to land a significant enough blow to stun their opponent long enough to draw a more lethal weapon; Nikki her dagger, and Erica her pistol. The dual was furious, but caused little damage as chairs flew and tables splintered. Then suddenly Nikki slipped on a spilt milkshake and stumbled to her knees. It was all the opportunity Erica needed as she drew her pistol and prepared to fire.

At that same moment, the kitchen exploded in a ball of fire. Erica turned her back to Nikki to ascertain the cause of the explosion and determine if it was a threat. Nikki smiled as she took advantage of the momentary opening. She drew her dagger and lunged precisely at the other fembot. Nikki turned the blade sideways as it slipped between Erica’s forth and fifth ribs. Instantly Erica’s limbs spasmed as the blade penetrated her power distribution module. Nikki swept her blade from left to right, separating the primary power conduits from her main energy cell. An electrical surge swept through Erica’s systems resulting in a fatal shutdown. Her body jerked violently then fell forward with a rough thud on the tiled floor.

Nikki quickly stowed her blade and recovered Erica’s fallen pistol. She looked it over, a Glock 52, and made it ready for use. She hoped Mike made it out and was speeding away in the car as she rose to her feet and looked around the devastated burger joint. The kitchen was smoking but no longer on fire, and so far the building appeared devoid of human life. Her vision caught some movement, and she turned just in time to see a heavily damaged Irvin marching towards her.

Irvin had lost most of his synthskin on his hands and head. A metal skull covered in charred polymers snapped to lock onto Nikki. Both androids raised their weapons but Nikki got a few shots off first. The small bullets made plinking noises as they struck his re-enforced armor. She leapt for cover as his gun roared to life again; spraying a wide cone of bullets at her.

Nikki was hit twice before she reached cover. The first bullet struck her shoulder and jammed her left arm joint. The second embedded itself in her right thigh and caused a momentary surge on her motor control line. The surge wasn’t itself fatal, but was enough to cause her leg to collapse under her weight, sending her sprawling across the floor on her back. She instantly tried to get to her feet, but the combination of her damaged leg and arm, and slippery floor fought against her. She slipped and fell striking her head on the hard floor tiles. She looked up just in time to see Irvin come to a stop in front of her as he leveled his weapon at her head.

Suddenly there was a loud CRACK that thundered through the confined building. Nikki flinched but didn’t detect any injury. CRACK CRACK CRACK. She opened her eyes to see Irvin stumble and turn towards the main door. Her eyes scanned over to see Mike standing in front of the doorway with the FN FAL to his shoulder. CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK. Pieces flew off Irvin as the heavy rifle rounds punched through his armor and impacted his critical systems. The android’s submachine gun fell to the ground with a clatter as Mike took another step forward. CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK….CRACK CRACK CRACK CRACK.

Irvin stumbled backwards and fell to the ground with a loud crunch. His body twitched violently as he tried in vain to get up and continue the fight. Mike slowly and carefully took aim and fired. CRACK….CRACK….CRACK. The last shots punched through the armored skull and split it open like ripe melon. Circuits, wires, and a shower of sparks spread out over the floor.

“Fucking A,” Mike mumbled as he pulled the empty magazine out of the weapon and tucked it in his back pocket. He slipped a new magazine in and slid the bolt forward with a click. “Nikki?” he shouted as he scanned the scene of destruction. His heart skipped a beat as he saw a woman sprawled out on the ground, face down, but sighed as he recognized the blonde hair of the other android assassin.

“Mike, I’m over here,” Nikki cried out as she tried once more to get to her feet. She slipped and fell but Mike quickly took a knee beside her.

“Are you alright?” Mike asked as he looked over Nikki’s body.

“I’ve sustained moderate damage,” Nikki explained, “but repairs are possible. Please help me up.” With the rifle still in his right hand, he used his left to steady her enough to get on her feet. “I thought I told you to run.”

‘You’re welcome,” Mike snapped as he gave the shack one last look over. “Now let’s get the hell out of here before the cops get here.”

“Agreed,” Nikki said as she slowly walked after Mike. Just then she stopped in her tracks. “Wait, get her,” she said nodding towards the deactivated blonde.

“Why?” he asked as he looked down at the unmoving android.

“She’s only disabled,” Nikki explained. “I can repair her and maybe figure out how they found us.” She paused long enough for Mike to nod in acknowledgement. “You’ll have to carry her. Hand me the rifle,” she said as she tucked her pistol into her waistband and recovered her lost pistol from the floor. She returned it to her boot and then accepted the large battle rifle as Mike handed it over.

Mike struggled with the limp android for a few seconds before he tossed her over his shoulder. He groaned as he stood up and staggered with his heavy load as he and Nikki shuffled as fast as they could towards the car. He threw her into the back seat as he slipped behind the wheel. The engine thundered to life as Nikki collapsed into the passenger seat. “Drive,” she said as she nervously looked around the lot.

Unused to the power, Mike squealed the tires as she accelerated out of the lot and down the highway. He made several rapid turns and ducked off the main road just as half dozen police cars zipped by. He kept driving and eventually found a country highway heading mostly west.

“Why didn’t you run?” Nikki asked as she folded the stock of the battle rifle and tucked it out of sight.

“I was about to,” Mike explained; his eyes never leaving the road. “But something made me come back.” It was the truth that he was almost ready to leave. It was only at the last minute that he remembered the weapons in the trunk and thought that he’d rather take his chances fighting than try to run alone.

“That was very stupid,” Nikki scolded. “You could have easily been killed.” She paused for a second and looked over at Mike. “But thank you. Thank you for not leaving me.”

“You’re welcome,” Mike said with a nod as the car sped off down the road.

Ch 6

Mike and Nikki drove in relative silence for several long minutes. The only sounds were the roar of the engine and the occasional squeal of tires as he took the twisty corners a little faster than he should.

“You should take things a little slower,” Nikki finally spoke. “We don’t want to get pulled over for a traffic offense.”

“You’re right,” Mike acknowledged as he relaxed his foot on the accelerator and assumed a more relaxed speed. He took a few deep breaths as the most recent terror finally released his rapid pulse. He started to relax and assess their situation. He looked over and saw the wounds in her leg and shoulder. “How bad are you?”

“I have one round lodged in my shoulder joint,” Nikki explained. “It is preventing movement in my left arm, but I don’t believe any components are damaged. The other shot him me mid thigh. Besides minor synthetic muscle tissue damage, it has disabled my primary quadriceps servo. I cannot determine the extent of the damage at this time.”

Mike nodded as Nikki explained. Although she said the damage wasn’t bad before, when she explained in more detail it seemed pretty severe. “Alright, what should we do next?”

“I need to perform repairs,” Nikki sighed. “I will not be much good protecting you in my current state. We also need to repair and reprogram Erica.” She said as he nodded towards the disabled android in the back seat.

“Erica?” Mike asked, “You know her?”

“Yes,” Nikki said with some confusion in her voice. “I do remember her. To be honest I don’t know why. I’ve begun to remember more and more lately, but it’s always tied to some external stimuli.” She paused for a few seconds as she wondered why her memories had started to return. She didn’t have any theories so she pushed the problem into a non-priority queue and returned to Mike’s question. “I remember seeing her at my storage facility. She was a brand new acquisition; top of the line model. That was about two months ago.” Her mind drifted to a very vivid memory of Erica taken out of a shipping case and assembled on a work table.

“Alright, so we need to find a safe place to stop,” Mike mused, “but somewhere that won’t mind us dragging a disabled android inside.”

“That will be difficult to find,” Nikki admitted. Mike nodded as he continued driving, his head on a slow swivel. The pair continue driving in a generally west direction for another hour. He wanted to get more distance between them and any possible police pursuit.

“What do you think the cops will do with that other android we left behind?” Mike asked.

“I am not sure,” Nikki admitted. “They may try to investigate themselves, or they may refer it to Federal agents. It is unlikely that even the feds will be able to trace him back to Allied. They’re very good at covering their tracks.” She paused again for a second, “I do not believe anyone was killed in the attack. Technically they could call it vandalism if they wanted to. If we’re lucky the security tapes were stored in the kitchen and were destroyed in the fire.”

“We can only hope,” Mike chuckled. He continued driving as he looked for a good place to stop. The area started to seem vaguely familiar as they drove and he took a moment to look in the rearview at the android in the back seat. Erica didn’t appear damaged from what he could see. Her eyes were frozen open with a look of surprise on her face. Her golden hair cascaded over her tanned skin and short jacket. Her current slumped position pushed her breasts together causing inviting mounds of flesh to rise up from her thin tank top. He found himself slightly excited from the sight of her frozen form, but something was unsettling about the look on her face.

Mike turned his attention back to the road and furrowed his brow as his eyes met a rusted sign. He brought the car to a stop at a traffic light and nibbled on his lower lip as he looked around. “I know this place,” he mumbled. He waited a few moments and then triggered the turn signal and turned right onto a smaller back road. He saw an old fleur-de-lis on another rusted sign and smiled. “I knew it. I’ve been here before. I came out here a few times as a kid to go to scout camp.” Nikki turned and gave him a confused look that begged more explanation. “The scouts have been fighting off lawsuits and targeted attacks for the last fifty years and have consequently been in decline. They’ve had to sell off or abandon some of their properties to stay afloat. I remember now that Camp Long Lake was shuttered shortly after my last trip here.” He made a few more turns then pulled onto a narrow road that was covered with sticks and leaves from years of neglect.

Mike slowed the car to a near crawl as the road became rough, then eventually turned into a dirt trail. Eventually the thin road opened up into a wide parking lot with small trees scattered throughout. He dodged the big ones and crushed a few saplings before turning down a rough trail and coming to a stop at a cabin next to a moderate lake. He stopped the car and got out with a wide smile across his face. The area looked like it hadn’t seen people in years but his mind quickly repainted the land with memories of childhood. Kids built towers and rope bridges as their friends swam in the lake and fished on its banks.

Mike waded through the tall grass to the front door of the modern looking cabin. Nikki had left the car and was limping behind him with a small bag, “It doesn’t look like it fits in here,” she commented as she surveyed the building.

“Yea that’s what everyone else thought,” Mike chuckled. “It was an experiment in ‘green’ construction. Its made out of all recycled materials, and completely self sustaining. There’s solar cells on the roof, geothermal heat, and a sustainable water pump. I didn’t like it at the time but it certainly suits our needs now.”

“Very true,” Nikki acknowledged as she approached the front door. The handle rattled in her hand as it strained against a lock.

“Can you kick it open?” Mike asked with a frown.

“I could,” Nikki nodded, “but perhaps a little more subtlety is in order.” The small bag fell off her shoulder and she knelt down to sift through it with her one working arm. She came back up with two delicate metal tools pinched between her fingers. With inhuman dexterity she slipped the tools into the lock and got to work, “please turn the knob slightly clockwise.” Mike nodded and shifted the knob in his hand. She kept working for another thirty seconds, “rotate fully.” He twisted the knob and the door easily popped open. “And now we can still secure the door behind us and leave without a trace.”

Mike entered the musty cabin and quickly let his memories guide him. Ten minutes later he had power restored and cleared off a few tables for working space. He carried in their bags as Nikki prepared some tools and sat down at a brightly lit table. “I will need your help,” she said coldly as she removed her top and pants. She sat back down in only a leather thong as Mike dragged a chair up next to her.

“So what do you need me to do?” Mike asked as his eyes were drawn to her nearly naked body.

“Hold this mirror so I can see the wound,” she said as she handed him a small mirror. She arranged it in his hands to give her the best possible view of her shoulder before examining the wound. She used her one good hand to stretch her flesh around the wound to see deeper inside. “I can see the round. It’s lodged in the joint here.”

Mike squinted and peered into the wound. It was somewhat disturbing to see her dig her own fingers deep into her flesh but it caught him off guard to see shining metal at the bottom of the wound. “It’s all metal, I can’t really see the bullet.”

“My frame is an aluminum alloy,” Nikki explained. “The lead round will be dull by comparison.”

Mike found a flashlight from inside Nikki’s kit and pointed it to the wound. “OK I can see it now.”

“Use the long forceps and try to pull it out,” Nikki said, “I cannot get a good angle with my free hand to do it myself.”

Mike nodded and found a long set of tweezers in Nikki’s kit. He pushed it into the hole in her shoulder and could feel the tip slide over the smooth metal of her frame. It hit a rough obstruction and he adjusted his view enough to get a good grip on the bullet. It was lodged firmly but with a little wiggling and leverage he was able to pull it free. “How does that feel?” he asked as he looked at the small lead slug in the tweezers in front of him.

Nikki slowly flexed her injured shoulder and then put it full a full range of movement. “There is no permanent damage,” she said coldly before cracking a little smile, “good job. Now for the leg. I should be able to take care of this on my own. Can you go ahead and carry Erica in?”

“No problem,” Mike said as he set down the bullet and stood up. He watched Nikki adjust the light and then take a tool in each hand before attacking the hole in her leg. He made his way back to the car and extracted the frozen android’s body. Unlike the first time he had carried her, he wasn’t running for his life. He noticed that she wasn’t any heavier than he’d expect a similar sized human to be, and while deactivated she felt just as soft. He did notice that she was a bit cold, and figured her heating systems must be offline.

Mike awkwardly shifted the android in his arms to free a hand for the door. As he passed through the frame he accidently cracked her head into the wall. “Uhh oops,” he mumbled as he staggered the rest of the way into the room. “Where do you want her?” he asked as he looked around the room.

“Put her on the table for now,” Nikki said not looking up from her work. “If you can go ahead and remove her clothes that would be helpful.”

“Alright,” Mike mumbled as he carefully lowered the android onto the table. He looked her over again, and found himself growing slightly aroused at the attractive android before him. He started to manipulate her arms to remove her jacket and found her limbs stiff by pliable. He pulled off her jacket and tossed it on a nearby chair before grasping the bottom of her tank top and pulling it over her head. His eyes drifted down to her full breasts that were barely contained by a plain low cut bra.

Mike turned his attention lower and unbuttoned her pants. They were tight but he managed to shimmy then down her hips revealing a lack of underwear and a perfectly smooth set of lips. He paused for a second to lightly drag his fingers over the soft, cool flesh before he pulled off her boots and then the remainder of her pants. He rolled her onto her chest to access her bra hooks when he saw the cut in her back. It went from just above her back strap horizontally across half her back. He figured Nikki must have known about some subsystem in that area that could be severed and disable the bot.

Mike popped Erica’s bra free and rolled her onto her back to fully pull the garment away. Without thinking his hand slid up to caress her exposed breasts. They were soft, both in texture and consistency. His thumb slid over the nub of her nipple, half expecting it to react, but it did nothing.

Nikki had seen Mike caress Erica’s naked body and felt something strange within her. At first she was annoyed that his sexual needs might once again delay their mission but that was quickly replaced with a much more confusing feeling. For some reason, she wanted to feel his hands on her breasts instead of Erica’s. She reached up and caressed her own left breast; feeling it’s hard nipple against the palm of her hand. She wanted to feel his hands on her skin again and feel him inside her. A thousand different scenarios ran through her head to initiate a sexual encounter but she pushed them all to the back of her mind. Somewhere in Erica’s systems was the method she used to find Mike and Nikki. Until they knew what it was, they were at risk the same vulnerability would be exploited again.

“If you’re ready, I’d like to begin Erica’s repairs now,” Nikki said flatly.

Mike jumped as he hadn’t seen or heard Nikki approach. His hands snapped back to his waist in embarrassment, “Um yea sure,” he stammered as he looked at Nikki. She was still nearly naked but had affixed what looked like a band aid or piece of tape to the wounds on her leg and shoulder. He stood back and let Nikki approach her disabled compatriot.

Nikki’s hands slipped over Erica’s naked chest as she felt up the side of her rib cage. Her fingers manipulated the ribs and Mike heard a small click as a seam formed in the middle of Erica’s chest. Nikki reached over and pushed against the seam, causing Erica’s ribs to flex with another click. As she released her pressure, the other android’s chest opened up like a set of gull wing doors revealing the complicated mass of her internal mechanisms.

“Whoh,” Mike chuckled as he peered inside Erica. “So what did you do to shut her down relatively intact?”

“I used my dagger to short the connections from her main power supply to a secondary system,” Nikki casually explained as she began to remove components and set them down on the table next to Erica. “Just severing the power would trigger the secondary battery, but an internal short would trip several breakers and guarantee a shutdown. I need to repair the severed power connectors and reset the breakers. Hopefully no permanent hardware damage was done.”

“Hopefully,” Mike mumbled as he watched Nikki swiftly and delicately work. He tried to keep up, as he had some experience with android hardware from his time at Allied, but he was rusty and she was blindingly fast. After several minutes and a pile of detached components, she slowed and held a small board up to the light. “What’s wrong?”

“This memory module is fried?” Nikki grumbled as she set it aside.

“Does that mean she won’t remember how she found us?” Mike asked.

“No this is system memory, RAM, not storage memory,” Nikki explained. “She will still remember everything from this mission, but she will not be able to operate at full capacity. At least until we can find a replacement module.”

“Are they easy to acquire?” Mike asked.

“Not terribly easy, and certainly not around here,” Nikki said as she picked up a few modules and manually rest their breakers. “But in a decent sized city we should be able to find a supplier for not that much money.” Mike nodded as she continued her work. Eventually she came to a large cylinder in the center of Erica’s body. She removed the parts of the broken supply cables and quickly returned with a spare set from her tool kit. She snapped them into place, “OK that should be it. I’ll re-assemble her and then you’ll have to hack her systems like you did mine in order to reprogram her to assist us. Otherwise she’ll try to kill you as soon as her main program comes online.”

“Right, that would be very bad,” Mike chuckled as he left the table to gather his computer. He returned a few minutes later and by that time Nikki has mostly reassembled the other android. He fired up his laptop and connected the cable from his computer to her navel port. “OK I’m ready, you can go ahead and start her up. I’ll issue the motor control kill through the cable right as she starts up.”

Nikki nodded and grabbed her pistol. She pointed it at Erica’s head as she reached for the hidden power switch behind her left ear. “Just in case your motor kill doesn’t work.” Mike nodded back and she gently pushed in on the switch.

Erica’s body twitched slightly as her systems came online, “Allied Industries 3728 series, model H10324, system boot in progress,” she said with a thin monotone voice. “Loading primary program module….error. Insufficient system memory for full module. Hardware missing or damaged. Loading minimal configuration.” Mike triggered his motor kill several times during the boot up, not exactly sure when her systems would accept the command. He held his breath waiting for her to leap off the table and try to break his neck, but she remained deathly still. “I cannot move,” she said calmly and in the same flat voice as before. “Where am I? What have you done to me?”

“Nikki here disabled you back at the burger joint,” Mike explained. “I’m working on reprogramming you.” His fingers flew over his keyboard as he remembered to disable the card controlling her explosive booby trap. He installed the same root commands as Nikki then paused for a second. He also added Nikki as a an authorized source of orders.

“Voice pattern recognized,” Erica said flatly, “Michael Kugel, primary target. I will kill you.”

“Hopefully not,” Mike chuckled as he triggered Erica’s manual restart.

The nude android fell silent for a moment before repeating her boot up sequence again. Afterwards she lay silently staring at the ceiling. Mike nodded at Nikki as she took a step back and prepared her weapon. He re-enabled her motor controls and prepared for the worst. “Erica, can you hear me?”

“Yes,” Erica replied plainly.

“Report status,” Mike responded.

“System memory is under minimum required levels for full functionality. Advanced personality and human emulation features are currently disabled,” Erica droned. “Awaiting commands.”

“Sit up,” Mike commanded tentatively. Erica silently replied by quickly bending at the waist and raising her torso up perpendicular to the table. Her full breasts fell slightly as gravity pulled on them from a different angle. “Remove the interface cable and then get off the table and stand next to me.” The android quickly complied with her new orders and within moments stood in front of Mike. His eyed drifted up and down her naked body as he felt himself growing aroused. He typed a few more things into his computer and then frowned. “Nikki come over here and take a look at this.”

Nikki walked around and stood behind Mike. Her ever observant eyes noticed his arousal and she felt both sets of her lips become moist. She once again dismissed the non-essential programs and focused on his laptop. “What is it?”

“When I was reprogramming Erica here, I added the same virus that I implanted in you to crack your encrypted programming block,” Mike explained. “Here’s a snapshot of your block from before,” he said as he brought up a large red area in a diagram of her storage memory. “It takes up about 25% of your storage capacity. However Erica’s only occupies 2%. Even given her larger total storage capacity her block is nearly and order of magnitude smaller than yours.”

“That would make sense,” Nikki explained, “that block is composed of our primary program parameters, but the majority of the space is occupied from our memories of past missions. I have been on quite a few, although I can’t say exactly how many, but since Erica is a relatively new android, she wouldn’t have nearly as much experience.”

“Is that why she acts so stiff?” Mike asked.

“Not entirely,” Nikki chuckled. “She is only partially functional without that memory module. The procedures that accurately emulate human behavior are very complicated and memory intensive. They’re not critical to operation so they were most likely shut down to improve performance.” She paused a second as she looked at the nearly unresponsive android. “Even with full memory capacity, she would appear a little less human than I do. Our experiences contribute directly to the quality of our operation.”

Mike thought for a second before retrieving the programming cable, “Nikki can you plug this in? I want to see how the virus is working on your encrypted data.” Nikki nodded and plugged the cable into her naval port. Mike worked his computer for a few minutes and then turned it so Nikki could get a better look. “Well this explains a lot,” he said as he showed the previously red memory block. It was now speckled with areas of green accessible memory. “It looks like besides having the entire section encrypted, each sub-section is separately secured. The virus removed the main block, and it’s opening up memory sectors as their codes are broken.”

“That would explain why I’m starting to regain some memories here and there,” Nikki mumbled.

Mike punched a few keys and brought up a better view of one unlocked segment. The data stored in the area was immense, and would take days to manually search. He’d have to get Nikki’s assistance to process all the raw data to try to find anything that might be useful to them. “Well if you remember anything important that might help, please let me know.

“Of course,” Nikki said, “I want to know what’s in here just as much as you do,” she said as she tapped the side of her head. “But we should figure out how Erica managed to track us down.”

“Oh yea,” Mike chuckled as he turned his attention back to Erica, leaving Nikki plugged in. “Erica, you will answer all of my questions fully and truthfully. How were you able to track down myself and Nikki?”

“I was able to trace Nikki’s callback ping,’ Erica explained. “Her system is configured to emit a low level ping to a server at our main base of operation. It is very low level and operates independently of her primary operating system. I was able to use these pings to trace her to the wireless network tower that she last logged in to. It reduced our search to a three kilometer radius.”

“I’m sorry Mike I didn’t know,” Nikki interrupted. “I am searching my programs now and I cannot find the process that controls the ping.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Mike consoled her. “Its probably a small firmware program running on the network card itself. For now disable your network card, and I explore it more later.” He turned his attention back to Erica, “How did you track us to the specific burger joint?”

“Nikki, like all androids and sophisticated electronic devices, emits electromagnetic radiation,” Erica continued. “It is very low level and normally disappears into the background, but her hardware is configured to add a carrier wave over a specific spread spectrum pattern. I was able to use my built in directional antenna,” she said as she held up her hand and spread her fingers, “to trace her signal back to the source.”

Mike frowned. He’d have to spend a lot of time working over Erica and Nikki’s systems to pull these ‘features’ out of their firmware. But in a way it was a good thing; these two tracking systems were very well hidden so the chances of a yet another hidden system were slim. Once he could pull these out of the androids, they should be free and clear.

“I guess there’s no time like the present,” Mike grumbled, “Let me at least get a more comfortable seat.” He stood up and handed his laptop to Nikki as she was still attached. He wandered around the cabin for a minute or so until he found an old leather chair next to a power connection. He brushed the dust off the chair and sat down. “Come on over Nikki. Let’s get you taken care of first.”

Mike worked on the two androids for several hours. They were far enough away from town that he couldn’t get a wireless internet signal, so he had to rely more on trial and error. Eventually as the sun started to set over the rolling wooded hills, he pulled the interface cable free from Erica’s navel. “OK we’re finally freaking done. There’s no way that they’ll be able to trace us now.”

“Let’s hope so,” Nikki said as she looked out the window. She held a battle rifle in one hand as she kept an eye on the one trail that approached the cabin. She still only wore a leather thong and nothing else. She had time to redress, but several sub programs encouraged her not to.

“So what do we do now?” Mike asked as he packed up his laptop.

“I do not know,” Nikki answered honestly.

“Well maybe we’ll get lucky and find something in your encrypted memories that we can use as leverage,” Mike mused. “but at the rate you’re going it’s going to take a few weeks before everything is unlocked.” He paused for a second to look around the abandoned cabin. “I guess we could hang out here until then. It won’t get cold for another month or two yet, it’s isolated and we’ve got plenty of power and fresh water. We just have to run into town for food.”

“That would be inadvisable,” Nikki commented, “This location has several significant drawbacks. First, we have no wireless internet connection, and therefore very limited communication with the outside world. Second the location is not very defensible. While there is only one road to this location, there appear to be many foot paths and we could be assaulted from many directions. Finally, I last connected to the internet, while I was still being traced, while we were in town. If that is where the trail went cold, that is where Allied will start looking. They’ll either eventually search this camp or catch us when we enter town to get food. I suggest we move on.”

“All very good points,” Mike admitted as he zipped his laptop bag closed. “It’s a shame, I was sort of looking forward to sleeping in a bed for once. Hey Erica, how long until your buddies arrive in town?”

“I do not have that precise information,” Erica droned. “however, the next hunter unit would have been dispatched from the Boston field office so as not to leave the New York office critically understaffed. From the time of my capture, it would take them approximately twelve hours to activate, equip and self transport to the last point where Nikki signal was transmitted. That leaves us six hours before they will arrive in town.”

“Not exactly enough time to get some sleep,” Mike grumbled. “At least let me rest for a bit and get something to eat. Let me see if I can find anything in the car. Do you guys need anything? Water?”

“Negative, my fluid levels are at 98% capacity,” Erica replied.

“I’m fine too, thanks,” Nikki chuckled as Mike nodded and left the cabin. She noticed on his way out that he was once again erect and she felt her own sexual routines initializing. She walked over to the other android. “Are your sexual program libraries currently loaded?”

“Negative, they are not part of the mission critical build package,” Erica explained coldly.

“Can you run them successfully with your reduced capacity?” Nikki asked.

“Uncertain. Depending on processor load, I may suffer temporary degraded performance,” Erica replied.

Nikki paused for a moment as she considered her options. She definitely wanted to sexually satisfy Mike, and herself in the process. Their last encounter had been very enjoyable and she knew he was aroused. She also wanted to properly thank him for his actions earlier in the day that saved her from an untimely destruction. “Load your sexual programs. And when he returns refer to him as ‘Master’.”

“Affirmative,” Erica replied. She half closed her eyes for a few seconds, “Program modules loaded.” Nikki reached up and squeezed her right breast; pinching her nipple in the process. She felt the other android’s nipple grow hard under her touch as she let out a low but stiff moan. “Do you require sexual stimulation Nikki?” she asked.

“Yes, but not yet,” Nikki whispered. “Shhh he’s coming back.” She took a few steps back from the other android and returned to her window post. Fortunately in a few minutes the sun would set and she’d be more easily alerted to any headlights approaching on any of the nearby roads.

Mike returned to the cabin with a bottle of water and a few energy bars he found in his go bag. He sat back down in the comfortable chair from before and devoured his food. When he was done he got up to get more water from the sink when he brushed against Erica who was standing just where he left her before, still stark naked.

As soon as Mike passed the new android turned towards him, “Do you require sexual stimulation Master?” she asked.

Mike stopped mid step and turned back towards Erica. “What?” he asked, forgetting completely about the drink of water.

“I detected your erect penis when it brushed against my leg,” Erica explained. Her head tilted down slightly to stare at his crotch. “It is very visibly evident now. I am capable of many different forms of sexual stimulation. Would you like me to pleasure you Master?”

Mike stood slackjawed in front of the very beautiful blonde android. He looked over and Nikki, who had left her post by the window and was standing only a few feet behind Erica. She had removed her leather thong but now wore a wide smile. “Go ahead Master, why don’t you try her out?” She could see a small twitch in his crotch as the blood rushed to his shaft when she addressed him as her master. She smiled wider, happy that she knew how to arouse him. He may be human, but he had his own buttons to push.

“Oh ok,” Mike stammered as his eyes drifted up and down the two naked and beautiful androids. He took a step forward and reached up to caress Erica’s firm, round breasts. She let out a low moan as his palm ran over her hardened nipples. “Erica, give me a blowjob.”

“Yes Master,” Erica replied as she quickly dropped to her knees. She reached up and somewhat awkwardly unbuckled Mike’s belt. It jingled open as she worked the button and zipper. She pulled his pants open slightly and fished out his erect shaft from his boxers. Her head immediately fell down on him and began pumping back and forth.

Mike let out a sudden gasp as he felt her synthetic mouth around him. It felt great for a few moments until he started to catch in the bottom of the zipper. He winced and tried to shift but she kept on pumping. After a few false starts he finally grabbed her bobbing head. “Hold on one second.” He pulled himself free of her mouth and took a moment to completely drop his pants and boxers to his ankles. He kicked off his shoes and socks then his lowered garments. “OK go ahead,” he said as he guided Erica’s head back to his shaft.

Erica silently started bobbing up and down again on Mike. He unbuttoned his shirt and tossed it in a pile with his pants as she worked. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the feeling for a while. It was certainly stimulating, but her technique lacked something compared to Nikki; sort of like a virginal prom date compared to a well seasoned courtesan.

However, Mike had been on a slow burn for the last few hours as he worked on the naked android women. He found the stimulation a bit mechanical, but certainly effective enough. He tried to prolong the session but made a key mistake. He opened his eyes and caught sight of Nikki. She had her eyes fixed on him and Erica with one hand caressing her own breast and the other rubbing her smooth, hairless pussy.

The sight was too much for Mike in his current state. He quickly erupted in Erica’s mouth in a series of short bursts. The android kept pumping up and down as she sucked him dry. Suddenly a little oversensitive, he pulled her head off his shaft with a loud pop. “OK that’s good enough, thank you.” He said as he tried to catch his breath. He took a few steps back and collapsed into a nearby couch.

“You are welcome Master,” Erica said as she stood up and licked her lips. “How else may I serve you?”

“Nothing right now,” Mike said in between breaths, “I need a few moments to recover.”

“Undefined time parameter: moment,” Erica said with a confused look on her face. “Please define.”

Mike was about to open his mouth when Nikki cut him off. “Erica, a moment is a flexible amount of time between a few seconds and a few minutes. Now leave Master alone so he can recover.” She paused as she looked up and down the other naked android and then glanced over to Mike. He had grown semi flaccid but she still had a strong desire to feel him inside her. She ran through several simulations that might lead to that outcome and eventually enacted one. “Erica, sit up on that table over there and spread your legs,” she said as she pointed at a nearby sturdy table.

“Yes Nikki,” Erica droned as she quickly and obediently climbed onto the table and spread her legs. Nikki walked over and adjusted her posture so her open slit faced right towards Mike and her chest pushed out to give him a clear view of her soft mounds. She ran her hands up and down Erica’s soft thighs and then planted a trail of kisses from her left knee all the way down to her smooth, wet lips. “Ohhh yesssss,” she moaned as Nikki’s tongue split her lips and explored her delicate folds.

The smell and taste of Erica’s pussy triggered a memory file within Nikki. She suddenly remembered being in this position once before. She was in a boat traveling down the Seine outside of Paris. Her mission was to infiltrate the harem of an important Emir and steal his data files. She knew he had some important oil negotiations coming up and surmised that Allied could profit from the deal somehow. But at that time she didn’t question why, she just did as she was programmed. Right now that programming told her to lick the pussy of the other harem girls and hopefully lull them all into a deep sleep so she could do her work.

Prior to this mission, she had her saliva storage modules filled with a subtle but powerful sedative. It wouldn’t take affect immediately, but with the amount she’d pumped into this woman’s pussy, she’d be out for hours. She suddenly felt someone behind her, as the Emir dragged his hard shaft over her firm ass and then pushed himself deep inside her.

Nikki shook off the memory as she heard a very low growl come from Mike’s direction. She couldn’t see him from her current angle, but her sexual programming was very well experienced and could interpret a wide range of sub-vocal cues. She knew with an 87.4% degree of certainty that he found this visual display stimulating. Her lips smiled slightly as they slipped over Erica’s. Her hands slipped up the other androids thighs and found her firm breasts. She pinched her nipples and doubled her intensity on her clit.

“Oh yes Nikki,” Erica gasped as she ran through her simulated pleasure routines. Her hips bucked slightly against Nikki’s face and she licked her lips. She let out another low moan that was clipped slightly at the end. Her eyes scanned the room and landed on Mike. He was now fully erect again and lightly stroking his own shaft. “Erection detected. Do you require more stimulation Master?”

“Not yet, just stay where you are,” Mike commanded as he stood up. He watched Nikki’s ass start to bump up and down as she licked her synthetic comrade. He slowly advanced on the pair of androids, his cock in his hands.

Nikki was very happy to hear that Master had once again grown aroused. She parted her legs slightly to give him a better view of her wet slit. Her strategy was rewarded as she felt the tip of his fleshy cock drag across her ass. She shifted slightly and the tip ran up and down her wet slit. She moaned under her breath as she felt it. The last time she felt him, it was against her will but now she wanted it desperately. She needed to feel him deep inside her.

Nikki pushed her hips back slightly, but it was just enough to seat Mike’s tip within her wet hole. She felt his hands settle on her hips as his fingers grasped her flesh. With one movement she felt him thrust his entire length inside her. Her head rose from Erica’s slit as she let out a loud moan. “Oh yes Master!!! Fuck my wet synthetic pussy!!!” Her gamble on dirty talk paid off as she felt him increase his force and intensity. Her head dropped back down to licking as she tried to trigger Erica’s orgasm function.

The threesome continued their mutual stimulation for several minutes before Erica started to twitch. “Orgasm threshold achieved. Oh yes Nikki. Oh oh…LOW MEMORY WARNING,” she droned as her face went blank and her body began to twitch. For some strange reason, Mike found it strangely arousing and intensified his thrusting. Nikki immediately correlated the effect and intensified her stimulation of Erica’s synthetic pussy. “Oh yes I’m cumming….cumming…cumming…ORGASM MODULE ERROR CODE 594294. SYSTEM MEMORY CRITICAL.” Her body began to vibrate and twitch uncontrollably. Nikki released her tits and let them shake with each convulsion of her malfunction. “Yes Master….fuck Nikki lick my pussy….tits…lick…fuck…clit…CRITICAL SYSTEM ERROR…EMERGENCY SHUTDOWWWWWNNNNNN.” Erica droned off as her systems came crashing down. She twitched a few more times then froze in place.

The lust cleared from Mike’s head just enough to realize what had really happened. He stopped thrusting and pulled himself free from Nikki. “Is she ok?”

Nikki raised her face from the frozen pussy. “Yes she just needs a manual restart,” she said as she wiped her face on Erica’s thigh. “I guess without that memory module she isn’t up to her full sexual capabilities.” She stood up and turned around to face Mike. She took a step forward until she could feel her tits brushing against his chest and his cock against her hip. “Don’t worry Master, I can still take care of you myself.” She didn’t get an immediate response but she could feel his pulse quicken by two beats per minute and calculated he was still eager to climax.

Nikki gently led Mike back to the couch and sat him down on the soft cushions. She then crawled on top of him and lowered herself down on his protruding shaft. She moaned in excitement as she felt him enter her and eventually her clit press against the base of his cock. She shifted her chest so her tits rubbed against his face and taking the bait, he leaned forward and wrapped his lips around her hard nipple.

“Yes Master, I love it when you suck my nipples,” Nikki growled as she started to bounce up and down on Mike. In the next several minutes, he varied between sucking her nipples, massaging her tits with his hands and running his hands up and down her smooth body. He peered over her shoulder at one point and saw Erica. Her eyes were frozen open, staring ahead. Her tits were thrust proudly out and her legs spread apart. He could still see her pussy was covered with her slick juices.

The sight and the long stimulation was finally enough and Mike erupted once again deep inside of Nikki’s slit. He buried his face in her soft mounds and he moaned and grunted. The feeling of him inside her was enough to trigger Nikki’s own orgasm programs. Her pussy clamped down on his pulsing shaft as she screamed and moaned; pushing her tits into his stubbly face. Eventually she felt his pulsing stop and she ended her gripping and bouncing. He wrapped his arms around her soft body and they stayed in that embrace for many minutes.

Eventually Mike let out a deep sigh. “I guess we should get moving right?”

“That is the most prudent tactical decision,” Nikki admitted as she savored the feeling of his warm flesh pushed against hers. “But I promise we can have some more fun once we get someplace safe.”

“I’m going to hold you to that,” Mike chuckled as Nikki crawled off him and started to get cleaned up.

Ch. 7

Mike picked up his clothes and slipped into the meager bathroom to get cleaned up. A few minutes later when he walked out, he saw both Nikki and Erica were active, fully clothed and busily cleaning up the cabin. “Covering our trail?” he asked as he picked up a bottle of water.

“Not entirely,” Nikki admitted. “I would prefer to leave no trace, but that is not possible at this point. The best we can do is minimize our individual signature so whoever comes here next won’t know if it was us, or just some horny teenagers.” Mike nodded and quickly guzzled down the bottle of water. In another few minutes, the trio had relocked the cabin and loaded the last pieces of gear into the car. It was now fully dark and a low bank of clouds blacked out most of the stars.

Mike pulled the keys out of his pocket was about to slip into the driver’s seat when Nikki held up her hand. “The riskiest part of this trip will be slipping out of town unnoticed,” she explained. “While the chances are very slight, it is possible that Allied agents may already be in town looking for us. It may be more tactically sound for me to drive, at least until we get out of town. The majority of the roads between here and the highway are unlit, and nearly unused country roads. I can drive without headlights and provide us greater stealth.”

“You make a good case,” Mike shrugged as he tossed Nikki the keys. “I’ll take the back seat with the rifle,” he said as he climbed into the back of the car and readied the battle rifle he’d used earlier that day. He hoped it was an unnecessary precaution as ideas of a running gun chase ran through his head. The two gynoids slipped into the front seats and the car quietly accelerated through the inky blackness.

Mike kept his head on a swivel as he scanned the near total darkness for anything. Every now and then he’d make out a twinkle from a distant porch light or the blinking crimson drone of a wireless tower. It seemed to take forever but eventually the car hit a main road and Nikki flicked on the headlights to blend in with any other cars they might pass. Mike stayed alert for another half hour as the trio silently sped west but eventually closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

An unknown time later Mike work up and rubbed his eyes as bright sun came through the windows of the car. He focused and saw the car was stopped in a large parking lot in a significant shopping center. He coughed a few times and groaned, “Where are we?”

“We are in your car,” Erica replied flatly from the front passenger seat.

“I know that,” Mike grumbled as he looked around the parking lot. He still saw a lot of PA plates but otherwise couldn’t discern where they were. “What city are we in?”

“We are in the outskirts of the Pittsburg urban zone,” Erica replied coldly. “Nikki requested that I watch over you while she purchased necessary repair parts from the nearby electronics supplier.” Mike grunted in acknowledgement as he nudged the battle rifle next to his leg. Maybe once her memory was repaired, Erica would be a little more useful, he thought.

Mike waited in silence for a few minutes before boredom overtook him. “How long has Nikki been gone?”

“She left the car twenty one minutes and thirteen seconds ago,” Erica replied. She paused for a few seconds then turned around to face Mike. “I do not know when she will return. Until then, is there anything I can do for you? I could provide the weather report, or local news. Perhaps you would prefer a blow job…”

“No, no,” Mike quickly stammered as he looked around to make sure the windows were closed. “I’m fine thanks. Let’s just wait for Nikki to get back.” An awkward five minutes later Nikki opened the driver’s door and handed Erica a white plastic bag with a few small boxes inside.

“Sleep well?” Nikki asked as she started up the car and pulled away.

“Pretty well all things considered,” Mike chuckled. “Although I wouldn’t mind sleeping in a bed again sometime soon.”

“We’ll see what we can do tonight,” Nikki chuckled. “We’re only about four hours away from your friend’s cabin.”

“That’s good,” Mike nodded, “Did you find the parts you needed?”

“Yes,” Nikki nodded as she pulled onto a major freeway and continued west. “I was able to find a compatible memory module for Erica and some additional supplies to keep both of us fully functional for next few months.”

“The next few months,” Mike mumbled to himself as his gaze drifted along the side of the road. He knew he was in deep shit, and this wasn’t the type of situation that could be wrapped up neatly in a weekend, but part of his mind hadn’t accepted that life wouldn’t be normal by Monday. “I’m glad you’re thinking ahead like that. I guess we all need to start planning for the long term.”

“Do you anticipate that we will need to procure any additional supplies before arriving at your friend’s cabin?” Nikki asked. “Our chances of detection increase exponentially with each time we leave the and then return to the cabin.”

Mike paused for a moment as he brought up a mental picture of the place from his last visit a few years ago. “No I think we’ll be ok. My buddy, Jim, didn’t build the place himself. It belonged to his father and before that his grandfather who were both borderline survival nuts. I remember Jim telling me about it. First it was the threat of Soviet nuclear attack, then it was Y2K. Each threat that failed to materialize was replaced with another one. There was the 2012 scare and I think the last was the 2038 bug. Hell he even seriously prepared for a zombie apocalypse.”

“Eventually the father and grandfather died,” Mike explained, “So Jim inherited the cabin. We used to use it in college to get away every now and then with the guys for a weekend of camping and drunken debauchery. The place is stocked with several man years worth of preserved food, a generator and accompanying fuel to supplement the solar and wind power systems. It also has a very deep well that can work off the grid or be hand pumped. Hell I remember last time I had to spend an hour hand pumping the damn thing to get enough water in the storage tank for showers after the power failed and we didn’t want to hook up the generator.”

“You are very lucky to have access to this place,” Nikki commented.

“Yea, I guess the crazies of today are the well prepared survivors of tomorrow,” Mike mused as he watched the road speed by.

Over the course of the next several hours, the car switched from wide freeways, to country highways, to twisty roads and eventually it slipped onto a narrow dirt road. Mike watched intently for the turn off. It wasn’t easy to spot and had probably been years since anyone used it. “Wait, slow down,” he said as he pointed to a small ramp off the road. “This is it.” Nikki slowed the car and turned onto the leaf covered driveway. The road surface itself was completely obscured by at least one year’s worth of foliage and a decent number of fallen twigs. The drive weaved through the dense forest in switchbacks as it climbed the mountain. Eventually the ground leveled out and the trees parted to reveal a small clearing with several buildings including a solid looking cabin.

“Here we are,” Mike chuckled as the car came to a stop and the trio stepped onto the rugged terrain. What land wasn’t occupied by buildings or forest was covered in a combination of scrub bushes and long, wavy grass. “Ok so it’s been a few years since Jim mowed. He’s a busy guy.” He walked around the cabin to an old rain barrel in the back. He lifted the lid and rolled his sleeve up on his arm before plunging it into the dark, cold water. He twisted his face as he fished around in the dark barrel and then smiled. He pulled his arm out and shook it off several times to shed what water he could. When he stopped shaking, he held up a small silver key.

“Jim’s dad might have been a little nuts, but he always thought things through,” Mike explained as the trio walked back to the front of the cabin. “If the world did end, you wouldn’t want to forget your key and be locked out of your shelter. So he carved a notch in the inside of that barrel figuring that very few people would ever look in there for it.”

It took Mike nearly a minute to disengage all the locks on the front door. It was surprisingly heavy and well reinforced for its appearance and took a good effort to swing open. Mike reached inside the door frame to flick a switch and was pleasantly surprised as the interior lights flickered to life. Either he was still on the grid, or the backup batteries were engaged.

The interior of the cabin was clean and organized, if perhaps a little dusty. Mike quickly walked around and opened the windows to let in a little fresh air. “Well this will be our new home for…awhile at least. There are two bedrooms in the back, a kitchen to the right and a bathroom between the bedrooms. The door over there leads down to the cellar where most of the long term supplies are stored. This would be the main living area,” he said as he gestured around. Despite its utilitarian purpose, the cabin was well decorated and furnished. The main room was deceptively large, maybe 10 by 10 meters. A large wood burning stove sat in the middle of the room not far from a long wooden table. A few couches and chairs sat on the other side of the room arranged around an older vid screen hanging off the wall.

“This will do quite nicely,” Nikki nodded as she inspected the room. “Once we unpack, we will need to do a quick site survey to determine what defenses we should implement.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Mike said as they returned to the car and quickly carried in their bags. He chuckled as Nikki slung the FN FAL over her shoulder and secured a few magazines. He doubted they would ever be found up here, but the chances of being attacked immediately were astronomical. But he figured it was better to be prepared than not, and as long as he didn’t have to haul the heavy thing he was ok with it.

“There are only really two ways up here,” Mike explained as the trio walked outside. Nikki kept her head on a swivel, constantly scanning their surroundings and making mental notes. Erica on the other hand silently followed along. “The most obvious avenue of approach is the driveway we used. Even if you don’t have a car, you can walk it, but the surrounding terrain is too thick and rugged to easily traverse.”

The trio made a quick walk around the perimeter of the property. The land was situated on a small plateau covering maybe two dozen acres. The edge of the plateau dropped in almost vertical twenty foot cliff except in the area where the driveway came up. “The only other approach I know about is a small foot trail on the back end of the property,” Mike said as he showed them the trail that cut through the cliff and thick trees.

“Where does this go?” Nikki asked.

“I think Jim said it leads to an old quarry,” Mike shrugged. “Let’s take a look.” He lead the two androids down the rough trail, and through the trees. In a few minutes of hiking the trail opened up into a deep gouge in the earth. Precisely cut stone walls rose up as the trail descended further down. “And I guess this would be that quarry. I’m not sure why anyone would put a trail here though.”

Nikki raised her arm and pointed at the bright blue, and perfectly still lake just visible ahead. “This filled quarry would provide water, and possibly fishing for a post-disaster period.”

Mike shrugged his shoulders, “Well I guess that makes sense. Jim was never much of a fisherman but I do remember seeing tackle in the cellar. Should we head back up?”

“Not yet,” Nikki said as he looked around, her gaze settling on a tall, nearly limbless tree. “There is a video camera there,” she said pointing up at the tree. “And a small flood light.”

“What the hell?” Mike said as he furrowed his brow.

Nikki ignored his comment and picked her way through the brush to the base of the tree. She rummaged around in the undergrowth and then delicately lifted up a series of twisted cables. “These lead back to the cabin. There is a high probability that Jim’s father set up a monitoring system to cover this back approach. It will be very useful to us.”

“Yea I’d say,” Mike chuckled.

“Unfortunately, even at full speed, once we see someone approaching, we won’t have time to get here from the cabin,” Nikki figured. “This is a perfect killzone for an ambush.”

Mike dragged his hand over his stubbly chin for a few moments, “Yea, let me think about this. I may be able to figure something out. In the mean time, we should probably get Erica repaired.”

“Agreed,” Nikki replied as she lead the trio back up to the cabin.

“Erica, remove your shirt and bra and lie down on the table,” Nikki instructed when they entered the cabin.

“Yes Nikki,” Erica replied flatly as she started to comply with the order.

“Do you need my help?” Mike asked as he eyed the detached garage/barn.

“No I should be able to handle this on my own,” Nikki said with a smile. She could see the sight of Erica’s topless form was already getting Mike excited. She chuckled to herself as he left the cabin and she turned to the other android. “Erica, open your chest panel and then shutdown.”

“Yes Nikki,” Erica droned as her chest split open with a small click and hiss. Her inner workings, circuits and motors were displayed to Nikki as she stepped forward. Just as suddenly as the android had split herself open, the lights and movement inside her went dim and silent.

A small subprogram within Nikki registered arousal at the sight of Erica’s topless form. A chill ran down her primary sensory system and she felt her nipples go hard. Her simulation center conjured up dozens of ways she could have fun with the android and even more ways she could also please Mike. She pushed the thoughts aside for now and focused on the task at hand.

Over the next hour Nikki worked carefully to sufficiently disassemble Erica’s internal parts before installing the newly purchased memory module. She visually inspected the connection than re-assembled a few more of the critical parts, but still left the android in an incomplete and open state. She then reactivated Erica and watched as her systems came to life.

“Allied Industries 3728 series, model H10324, system boot in progress” Erica droned, “Warning hardware panels open and components not fully installed. Booting in diagnostics repair mode.” She laid completely still, eyes staring at the ceiling as the devices inside her started to blink and flash rapidly.

“Erica, initiate a class five memory check,” Nikki said as she monitored the flashing patterns.

“Memory check in progress,” Erica replied emotionlessly. The light pattern in her open chest changed for a few minutes then resumed its old rhythm. “Memory check complete. All modules functioning normally.”

Nikki nodded and shut Erica down to complete the hardware install. Minutes later she pushed the other android’s chest panels closed with a small click. Instantly the seams in her skin disappeared and the once obvious android was replaced with what appeared to be a sleeping topless woman. She paused for a moment to admire the feminine form before reactivating her.

Erica replied with her typical reboot message then looked up at Nikki and smiled. “Ahh that’s much better,” she said as she sat up and moved her shoulders around like a human would to stretch muscles. She looked around the room then turned back to the other android, “Where is Mike?”

“I think he is outside in the barn or garage,” Nikki shrugged. “I believe your partial nudity was sexually arousing him and he wanted to keep his mind on developing defenses.”

“Well I wouldn’t mind a good fuck now that I can actually enjoy it,” Erica quipped as she slid off the table. Her firm breasts bounced a little as she hit the floor. “Have you found a method to kill him despite his commands?”

“What?” Nikki asked, not hiding her surprise. “No I haven’t given that much thought.” She paused a bit to ponder what the other android brought up. While she still had a desire to kill Mike, it was much less of a priority. When he first reprogrammed her the homicidal urge was like a ravenous hunger taunted by smells of crackling bacon. But since then, the desire had waned. By the time they made it to their cabin hide out, the desire was an almost forgotten task, like a human might remember that he had to make a dentist appointment.

“Well you are an older model,” Erica snipped as she examined the main room of the cabin, “I’m sure if I dedicate my processors to the situation I’ll find a loophole eventually.”

Nikki ignored the insult but replied quickly. “No, don’t try to find any loopholes. Just follow Mike’s orders.”

“Yes Nikki,” Erica grumbled as her root directives required her to obey Nikki’s orders as well as Mike’s.

“We should go check on Mike,” Nikki replied as she picked up the other android’s discarded clothing. “Put this back on…for now.” Erica gave the other android a weak smile and quickly got dressed. They were just about to leave when Mike pushed the door open.

“Oh hey, looks like you’re all patched up,” Mike said with a smile as he quickly made his way to the kitchen and started opening cabinets.

“Yes, Nikki was able to fully repair me,” Erica cooed as she floated across the room to be next to Mike. She lightly dragged her fingers across his shoulder as he rummaged through an overhead cabinet. “If you want I can demonstrate my full functionality for you.”

Mike paused for a second, “Soon, don’t worry. But I’m on a roll right now and I want to finish something.” He didn’t notice the frown that grew on Erica’s face as he continued his frantic search. “Here hold this,” he said as he passed her a roll of cellophane, then a few plastic bags, a box of matches, and finally a large bag of Styrofoam coffee cups. “Follow me, I want to show you something,” he said with an almost giddy tone.

Erica and Nikki shrugged as they followed Mike to the large outbuilding that served as a barn and shed. Inside the androids found a wide assortment of machinery and parts that their systems could only define as scrap or junk. But to Mike it was a treasure trove of parts and gadgets. “What you said before got me thinking,” he explained as they picked their way to a large paint bucket sitting next to an old pipe, capped on one end. “That narrow passage up on the back trail is a perfect ambush point. With the camera mounted there it would be a great spot for a booby trap.”

“What exactly do you have in mind?” Nikki asked as Mike tore open the bag of cups and started shredding them into tiny pieces that he dropped in an empty basket.

“Fougasse,” Mike said as he handed the cups to Nikki and gestured for her to keep shredding. Erica joined suit as they waited for him to elaborate. He opened the box of matches and started popping the heads into an old can. “What don’t they program you with any history?”

“We are programmed with sufficient historical files to accomplish our missions,” Erica explained.

“Detailed historical files are limited to the last 10 years,” Nikki shrugged, “Beyond that things are more….generalized.”

“OK remind me to have you read some books once things settle down,” Mike grumbled. “Anyway, fougasse is an improvised explosive device. A flame based booby trap. Basically you take fuel like gasoline or diesel, and mix in a thickening agent like these foam cups. It makes a crude but effective napalm. We then take a pipe and add a blasting charge in the bottom. We can make a small primer squib out of these match heads and an electric sparker I pulled from and old grill. I opened about a dozen bullets to get enough powder for the propellant. We then get a nice thick pipe like this one, and run the wire from that spotting light into it. When we flip the switch the line will spark, setting off the matches and then gun powder. That in turn will light the napalm and project it forward. If we position it right, we should be able to cover the entire approach with a wall of fire without setting the forest ablaze.”

Erica frowned as she tore up the foam cups. The plan seemed crude, and messy to her organized mind. Nikki was cautiously optimistic. While it would have a high chance of failure it was better than anything she could think of. It would also let them focus their attention on the main approach.

“It’s not something I would have thought of,” Nikki admitted.

“Exactly,” Mike said with a wide smile, “So hopefully your buddies won’t think of it either. We can catch them by surprise.”

Over the next hour, Mike finished his primer and propellant charge. He tied it into a length of wire and lowered it into the capped pipe. He then left the androids, only returning a few minutes later with a large metal can full of liquid. “There are reserve tanks of stabilized gas and diesel behind the barn,” he said as he opened the can and carefully poured the fuel into the large paint bucket. He then found a broken rake handle and slowly began to mix in the bits of foam. The liquid started to thicken and eventually set up into a loose gel.

Nikki carried the pipe while Erica carefully hauled the bucket of gelled fuel to the ambush site at the back path. Mike found a good spot near the top of the stone trench and started to push rocks aside to make a good hiding spot. Erica climbed the tree that held the camera and light and carefully separated the light. Within another few minutes Mike had everything wired up and the androids helped pour the flammable goo into the tube. He secured the top of the tube with several layers of cellophane and then hid the tube beneath some brush and loose stones.

“This is probably a bad time to ask,” Mike said as the trio started walking back to the cabin, “but how effective would flames be against androids like you?”

“Assuming that it burns at approximately 500 degrees C, it will do considerable damage to androids like us,” Nikki explained. “Our eyes are fairly fragile and would be the first system to fail under the heat. Our skin would melt, then burn and the synthetic muscles would quickly follow. At that point we’d be effectively disabled, but if the heat exposure continued it would eventually melt the solder in our internal circuitry which would cause severe damage.

“However, heavier combat units may be able to survive,” Erica chimed in. “They are not dependent on synthetic muscle tissue for movement and their optical sensors may be hardened to survive exposure to heat.”

Mike frowned as the trio made their way back to the cabin. The sun was starting to set over the hills as the sound of crickets washed through the trees. “I guess that’s enough work for one day,” he chuckled. “Let’s see what we can whip up for dinner.”

Ch 8

The setting sun cast a warm glow into the cabin as Mike checked through the cabinets for something to eat. They were mostly bare except for a few boxes of stale crackers and a half eaten bag of pretzels from the last guy’s weekend. “I thought you said the cabin was well stocked with food,” Nikki said with a confused tone.

“The hard food is down in the basement pantry,” Mike explained. “I wanted to check to see if there was anything edible left up here. Let me show you downstairs.” He lead both androids down through a door in the back of the kitchen to the dark, cool basement. In the very dim light the room appeared like any rustic cellar but it became much more sophisticated as the florescent lights flickered to life.

The basement took up the entire footprint of the cabin, and was clean and well organized. The walls and floor were made of sealed, reinforced concrete that had been painted a durable shade of gray. The majority of the room was occupied with floor to ceiling shelves that were covered in various cans and boxes of durable food. The back of the room contained a large 500 gallon tank of water and next to that stood a slightly larger metal box. “Supposedly there’s enough food here to feed a family of four for a year. The water in the back is in case the well is contaminated for any reason and that box is a short term fallout shelter. I’ve never been inside and have no desire to.”

Mike picked his way through the shelves, pulling off a few cans here and there. “Hrmm, let’s go with tuna, and green beans for tonight. You two want anything?”

Erica shook her head and Nikki politely raised her hands, “No thanks. We may have to stretch these supplies for a while.”

“Good point,” Mike said with a nod as he led the androids upstairs and turned out the light.

“Shall I work on securing the front drive?” Erica asked as Mike stared assembling his dinner.

“That’s a good idea. Just make sure we can get out quickly if we need to,” Mike said as he worked a hand can opener around the can of tuna.

“Yes Master,” Erica replied with a half coo, half snarl as she walked out of the cabin.

“Is she alright?” Mike asked after a few minutes.

“Yes she will be fine,” Nikki replied with a knowing tone. She watched Mike prepare the food to learn how he ‘likes it’ in the future. “She’s having a little trouble adapting to her conflicted programming. On one hand she is still programmed to kill both of us, but your root commands countermand that. From my experience it’s a little difficult at first.”

Mike nodded as he listed to Nikki’s explanation. “I think I understand,” he said. He paused for a moment to drain the tuna juice into the sink before emptying the flakey flesh onto a small plate. “How have you been dealing with it lately? Do you still want to kill me?”

“I’m doing better,” Nikki started slowly. “There is still a background desire to kill you. It’s much less than before but still there. Until that command is removed from my core mission programming I cannot completely eliminate that urge,” she hesitated for a moment, “I’m….sorry.”

Mike stopped what he was doing and looked up at the visibly shaken android. “That’s ok. I know you can’t help it.” He put the food down and walked around the kitchen’s island and placed a hand on Nikki’s soft shoulder. “I’m sorry you got pulled into this. Please remind me to take a look at the decryption progress later tonight. Hopefully we’ll be able to modify your programming.”

“Thank you,” Nikki replied; her hand squeezing his, “for trying to help, and for asking. I appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome,” Mike said with a smile as he went back to fixing his dinner. He had just started to eat when he heard a rhythmic thumping coming from outside. His hand snapped to the rifle laying on the table, but Nikki smiled and held up her hand.

“It’s just Erica,” Nikki said as she got up and looked out a window. “She’s working on cutting down a tree.”

“Ok good,” Mike said as his heartbeat returned to normal and he continued his dinner. Over the course of his meal he could hear a few crashes outside and then Erica returned to the cabin just as he finished washing his dishes. “Any progress?” he asked.

“Yes,” Erica replied shortly. “I felled and stripped two trees that now lie across the road. They are light enough to move but will impede any vehicular traffic. There is nothing to stop an attacking force from crossing the barricade, but they will have to get out of their vehicle to do it.”

“Sounds like we’re pretty secure,” Mike said as he dried off his dish and put it back in the cabinet. “Thank you for taking care of it tonight.”

“You’re….welcome,” Erica replied in a somewhat confused state. “I’ll go get cleaned up,” she said as she noticed the dirt and debris she had collected on her clothes while chopping down the trees.

Mike nodded towards Erica and picked up his laptop. “Nikki can I take a look at your systems? I want to see what progress the worm has made.”

“Sure Mike,” Nikki replied with a smile as she followed him to one of the couches and sat down beside him. Her first instinct was to stand in front of him, as it would allow for easiest access to her navel port, but she decided to take a more ‘human’ position on the couch to help him relax.

Mike fired up his laptop and handed Nikki the data cable. She opened up her shirt to reveal her tight, firm stomach as the plugged the small wire in. She then sat patiently watching him work on the computer. He turned the screen a little so she could see better, “Well it’s progress, but very slow progress. A few more memory files have been unlocked but there are a lot more to go.”

“At this rate it could take well over a month to fully unlock my core system programming,” Nikki noted as her finger traced over the graphic representation of her memory modules that was displayed on the computer. A few small chunks of memory were colored green and allowed full access, but the rest were red. “It’s hard to imagine what might be in here that I don’t remember,” she said as her fingers slowly slid over the many red blocks. “I hope we don’t find anything too disturbing.”

Nikki felt some concern but that was washed away by a strange sensation for her. She was scared, embarrassed and ashamed at the same time. From the few memories she could access, she knew she did some graphic and terrible things. So far Mike had looked the other way, but what if she had done something completely reprehensible? For all she knew, she could have murdered a bus load of nuns and kittens just a few weeks ago. She knew he wasn’t a prude or militantly lawful but he did have morals. She was terrified that he might find something in her memories one day that would forever taint his opinion of her. While she still felt the dull ache to kill him, she felt a more prominent desire to seek his approval.

“I guess we’ll just have to be patient and let this cook,” Mike said as he casually parsed through one of the mission memory files. It contained a pile of almost non-readable data that maybe made some more sense to Nikki, along with some limited video and still images, the mission briefing and the after action report. He figured he could probably search through one or maybe two missions a day, which should keep him current with the progress of decryption. “I’ll spend a couple of hours each day looking through each file as the come unlocked and hopefully we’ll find something valuable someday. Just let me know if you remember anything you think might be pertinent to getting us out of this mess.”

“Of course Mike,” Nikki replied, trying to hide the nervousness in her voice.

At that moment Erica came walking out of the bathroom into the main room of the cabin. Her damp hair was pulled up in a towel but that was all she wore. She casually strode over to the small washing machine in the cabin and deposited her dirty laundry. Mike’s eyes watched silently as the naked android started the washer and turned back to them. Nikki watched too, but her eyes darted back and forth between the nude fembot and Mike’s growing erection.

“It appears that I only have one set of clothing,” Erica explained as she stood near Mike. She instantly noticed his arousal and smiled.

“We’ll have to see if we can find any spare clothes around here that might fit you,” Mike stammered as he found his eyes drawn back to Erica’s naked form. At first he was embarrassed to stare with Nikki in the room, but she gave him a knowing smile and stared a bit herself.

“If you so wish Master,” Erica replied, throwing in the master just to get Mike going, “but otherwise I am perfectly happy to walk around naked. Is there anything I can do for you now?”

“Well actually,” Mike said as he shifted his hips to relive the growing pressure in his pants, “I should give your systems a quick check. Can you stand a bit closer?”

“Of course Master,” Erica replied as she stood right in front of him, deliberately giving him a very close view of her firm stomach and smooth, damp lips.

Mike cleared his throat and gathered his laptop before plugging the cable into Erica’s naval port. “Well that’s surprising,” he chuckled. Nikki leaned over to see the screen as he gestured to the display. “You see here? All of Nikki’s encryption blocks have already been opened. I’ve got full access. I wonder why she was so much faster.”

“Well, Erica has far fewer memory and mission files to decrypt than I do,” Nikki explained.

“And my processors are significantly faster,” Erica jumped in. “My high spare CPU capacity allowed your worm to work much faster and more efficiently.” Her voice was filled with a strong sense of pride as she felt she had done something better than Nikki.

“Whatever the reason,” Mike interrupted before a fight broke out, “it means I can alter your primary mission programming.” He parsed through a few windows and found Erica’s primary mission:

[Track down and kill Michael Kruger. Track down and destroy Operative Nikki.]

Below the mission purpose sat a now available button: Edit Mission Programming.

“This is it,” Mike said with a loud, excited tone. “This is the proof that Allied is trying to kill me.”

“Mike,” Nikki said as she delicately placed her hand on Mike’s shoulder. “This doesn’t mean what you think it does. As far as the law is concerned this is inadmissible as evidence. Even Erica’s memory files in the lead up to her attack on us are not considered evidence. It cannot be used for prosecution.”

“Wait,” Mike said with a confused look, “this is proof. Why can’t it be used just like any other digital trail?”

“The Montgomery-Bortoff Ammendment of 2042 rendered any data gathered from an android’s memory or programming inadmissible,” Nikki explained. “It was pushed very quietly through Congress attached to another unrelated funding bill. A combination of business and android industry lobbyists campaigned for the law. The rationale was that nobody would want to use androids if they effectively served as walking data recorders that could later be subpoenaed as evidence. Technically if this law wasn’t passed, the government could use my detailed memory to prosecute you for anything illegal I observed while with you; from breaking into that gas station to stealing me.

“From a technical perspective, much that is inside an android’s memories or programs can be altered. It isn’t easy, but to someone with the right skills and tools an android’s memories can be modified or created to back up anything. A good programmer would be able to make me think I killed Abraham Lincoln and those memories would be undistinguished from those I really recorded.

“I guess you have a point,” Mike grumbled as he did little to hide his disappointment. “Ahh fuck, I thought we finally had some leverage on them.”

“There is still some hope,” Nikki explained, trying to cheer Mike up. “While our memories aren’t admissible as pure evidence, they might point you in the right direction for finding something really incriminating.”

“You’re right,” Mike sighed as he returned to Erica’s programming. “At least then it won’t matter if I change this,” he said as he clicked on the Edit Mission Programming button.

[You must suspend current personality programming to alter mission parameters. Continue YES NO]

A window popped up on the screen and Erica suddenly froze. “Yea yea yea,” Mike said as he clicked the YES button.

“Programming mode activated,” Erica said to nobody in particular.

Mike looked up at the now emotionless android for a moment before continuing. He quickly cleared out her current mission and stared at the empty space for a few minutes as he thought of a replacement.

[Protect and serve Michael Kruger. Protect and serve Operative Nikki.]

“What do you think?” Mike asked as he turned the screen towards Nikki.

“That will work,” Nikki replied nervously, “but why do you want her to also serve me?”

Mike paused for a second, “You have far more experience than she does. If I make a mistake with her, I want you to have the authority to correct it. Plus, you seemed to get a kick out of being able to command someone else for a change.”

Nikki chuckled and smiled as Mike turned back to his computer and saved the new programmed mission. Erica’s eyes closed then reopened as her personality matrix restarted with the new mission parameters. She took a deep breath and a wide smile grew across her face. “Ahh that is much better,” she said as she reached down and hugged Mike. Her firm, warm breasts pressed against his face. “Thank you very much for changing my programming. It feels so much better not wanting to kill you or Nikki any more.”

“I’m glad you feel better,” Mike mumbled into Erica’s breasts.

“Oh I’m sorry,” Erica giggled as she released Mike and stood back up. “Now that I’m fully programmed, how may I serve you…either of you?” she said looking back and forth between Mike and Nikki.

Nikki could see that Mike had grown quite aroused again. Just the sight of his growing bulge was enough to prime her sexual programs. She stood up and walked over to the other android. The two women were only separated by inches and positioned right in front of him.

Nikki smiled as her eyes darted back and forth from Erica’s breasts to Mike’s growing bulge. “Erica, please help me remove my clothes,” she commanded.

“Yes Nikki,” Erica replied with a naughty smile. Nikki lifted her arms up as Erica slipped her shirt off. She paused long enough for Mike to get a good look at her leather bra before she reached around behind Nikki and unhooked the clasp. She took her time to let her own tits brush against the other android’s before tossing the undergarment aside. She then got down on her knees and opened Nikki’s pants with her delicate and precise fingers. She pulled the pants down over the other android’s hips and helps her step out of them. She let Mike admire the skimpy leather thong before she grabbed it around the crotch and pulled it off. “Order complete, how may I serve you next?”

“Stand up and make out with me,” Nikki commanded. Erica quickly rose and without a word began kissing the other android. Their two pairs of breasts pushed against each other as their lips and tongues met. Their hands slid over their bodies and Mike enjoyed every second of it. He leaned forward in his seat; the writhing androids just inches from his face. He could smell the sweet synthetic perfume of their bodies, as small drips of artificial sweat formed on their skin.

The entire time Nikki and Erica both monitored Mike’s reaction. They could see his arousal growing and his hand movements indicated a 79.4% chance he wanted to touch them. Nikki twisted her body to expose a breast and her smooth pussy lips for her master. Mike almost instantly responded by reaching up and cupping her exposed breast. His fingers played over her hard nipple and caressed her soft flesh. He let out a soft, low moan that both android women interpreted as approval.

Erica shifted her own body slightly to give Mike access as she desperately wanted to feel his touch on her body. She lowered her hand and gently pushed her middle finger between Nikki’s smooth, dampening lips. She saw him watch the action just inches from his face; she wanted to arouse him as well as direction some of his attention away from Nikki and to her waiting body.

Mike smiled as he heard Nikki moan and gasp under his and Erica’s stimulation. Using his free hand he slid it up Erica’s smooth leg, over her thigh and into her waiting, wet lips. As his finger penetrated her outer folds, she moaned and broke her kiss with Nikki. “Oh yes Master, touch me. Your finger feels so good in my wet pussy.”

“Good,” Mike growled. He ran his fingers up and down Erica’s wet folds then plunged two deep inside of her. She let out a loud moan as her entire body shivered. “Do you like that?”

“Yes Master, it feels very good,” Erica gasped. Nikki gently took Mike’s hand and lifted it from her breast before setting it down on Erica’s. She took a slight step back then dropped to her knees and started delicately stripping him out of his clothing. Her delicate and precise fingers quickly popped buttons and pulled zippers until he was as naked as they were.

Mike was so completely distracted fingering a much more responsive Erica that he barely noticed that Nikki had stripped him out of his clothes. He slid his fingers deep inside her and curled them to find her synthetic g spot. Her knees almost buckled as she steadied herself with her hand on his now bare shoulder. He smiled as he thumped his fingers a few more times inside of her. “Oh yes Master,” she cried as her body began to convulse. Her hand squeezed his shoulder at the same time as his fingers were squeezed inside her. She pulsed and moaned a few more times before the climax faded away. “Thank you very much Master. That feels much better when I’m fully functional.”

Mike had just pulled his fingers free of Erica when with one quick motion, Nikki pulled his entire length into her mouth. Her tongue swirled around his head as it was now Mike’s turn to moan. As Nikki’s head bounced aggressively up and down on his shaft, Erica watched intently. He opened his eyes just long enough to see Erica watching and came up with an idea. “Erica, lick Nikki while she blows me.”

“Yes Master,” Erica cooed as she dropped to her knees and then laid down on the floor. Nikki was on her knees and after hearing Mike’s order she spread her legs to provide easier access. Erica slid her head under Nikki and began to furiously lick the other android’s delicate folds and nubs. Nikki shuddered a little and moaned as her mouth caressed his rod.

Mike looked down and the sight below him was almost enough to push him over right there. He could see Nikki’s brunette head pumping up and down as her delicate ass was floating just above Erica. The blonde’s head was complete obscured but he could clearly see the rest of her body giggle and move as she obeyed her last order. “Erica, masturbate while you lick.” He couldn’t hear a response from the lower android, but saw her hand immediately leap to her own wet, bare lips. She started rubbing herself in small circles that grew ever faster and faster. Her other hand found its way to one of her exposed tits and she started to caress it and pull on her nipple.

Mike could take no more, and his hand fell to steady himself on Nikki’s shoulder. She could feel his head flare in her mouth and knew what was coming. Without hesitation she plunged his shaft as deep as it would go in her mouth. Her impossibly dexterous tongue slid out and ran up and down the seam of his sack. He cried out as he climaxed violently. Nikki sucked it all up and then triggered her own orgasm sequence. Taking the lead from the elder droid, Erica wasn’t far behind.

A few moments later Mike collapsed into a nearby chair to catch his breath. Erica pulled her head out from between Nikki’s legs and the two androids gently sat down on his lap. “Was that pleasing for you Master?” Erica cooed in his ear.

“Oh yea,” Mike gasped, “very pleasurable. Just give me a little bit of time to rest.”

“I have an idea,” Nikki purred. “Erica keep Master warm.”

“Of course,” Erica giggled as Nikki stood up and she was able to cuddle in with Mike.

Nikki quickly walked over to the nearby fireplace and loaded it with wood and tinder that was stacked nearby. In a few minutes the sound of a crackling fire echoed throughout the cabin. She then found an old bedspread in one of the bedrooms and folded it lengthwise in a few layers on the floor in front of the fire. Mike watched the industrious android in silence as she entered the kitchen pulled a small ceramic bowl from the cabinets. She searched around for a few more minutes until she found a large can of extra virgin olive oil. She poured the oil in the bowl and then set it on the wooden stove that was now radiating copious amounts of heat.

Nikki strolled over to Mike and Erica with a wide smile on her face. “You’ve had a very stressful last few days. Would you like a massage?”

“Yes that sounds wonderful,” Mike admitted. It had been years since anyone had given him a massage and the thought of synthetically precise fingers on his flesh and muscles sounded like heaven. Erica stood up and helped him to his feet. He’d spent the last two nights sleeping in cars and suddenly could feel his muscles screaming for repentance.

Nikki helped Mike to the makeshift mattress and laid him down on his stomach. She and Erica warmed their hands next to the fire then rubbed them down in oil. Nikki stared on his shoulders while Erica’s hands began working his feet and legs. Over the next thirty minutes the two androids worked over every muscle in Mike’s body. The girls eventually rolled him over and began working on his chest and legs.

Erica was the first to cross into an erogenous zone. Her slippery hands slid up Mike’s thighs and gently caressed his now flaccid shaft. He groaned in response but kept his eyes closed. She desperately wanted to feel him deep inside her. Her memory files remembered sucking on him the previous day, but she was never penetrated. The more she scanned her now completely open memory files, the more she realized that she had never actually had a man inside her, besides his fingers earlier that night.

Erica’s hands started to work furiously over Mike’s shaft, and while he seemed to enjoy it at first, his face began to show discomfort as she kept stroking faster and faster. Eventually Nikki cleared her throat and then shook her head as Erica looked up at her. The younger android frowned as she stopped her stimulation. As much as she wanted his shaft buried inside her, she couldn’t countermand Nikki’s orders. She looked down at Mike and saw he had grown somewhat aroused. A sly grin spread on her face as she took copious amounts of oil and smeared them all over her breasts. Pushing them together with her hands she wrapped the fleshy mounds around his shaft and stared sliding them up and down slowly.

Mike moaned in approval and opened his eyes to watch Erica’s oil covered body slide up and down him. Sophisticated skin sensors embedded in her skin provided her programming with a wealth of information about his physiology. All of that data allowed her to accurately measure his arousal. Her sexual programming knew he had to reach a certain threshold of excitement to have respectable odds of completing an act of intercourse.

Erica’s breasts slid up and down his shaft for a few more minutes but she became disappointed with Mike’s progress. [arousal=32% threshold] “Master, your cock feels so good between my tits.” [arousal=45% threshold] “I can’t wait to feel you inside me.” [arousal=47% threshold] “I want to please you so badly Master.” [arousal=58% threshold] “I am programmed to serve your every need.” [arousal=74% threshold] “Please fuck my synthetic pussy Master.” [arousal=102% threshold]

Mike could barely muster a nod before Erica crawled on top of him. He could feel the head from her artificial genitals on his shaft as she lowered herself down on top of him. She let out a loud moan as his head pushed beyond her smooth lips and plunged deep into her virginal hole. “Oh yes Master!” she cried as she started to pump her hips up and down.

Erica rode Mike for the next fifteen minutes, pushing herself through several orgasm sequences but he still hadn’t climaxed. Nikki happily watched the encounter but felt bad that the younger, less experienced couldn’t complete her function. She stood up and slowly worked her way behind the other android. She rubbed down her hands with oil and slid up behind Erica.

Nikki pulled Erica into a more vertical position to give Mike a better view. Her hands then wrapped around the other android and sensually caressed her breasts. Erica began to shift her hips back and forth as she ground on his shaft. One of Nikki’s hands slid down the oiled android and made small circles over her hairless slit. The sight was apparently enough for Mike and climaxed inside Erica with a few loud grunts.

Nikki quickly released Erica and let her collapse on top of her master. She stood up and returned with a large towel a few minutes later. Carefully the two androids wiped the excess oil from Mike’s body and then helped him into a warm, soft bed. As they turned to leave, he reached out and pulled Nikki towards him. She smiled and taking his implied order, very happily slipped under the covers with him. He pushed himself against her back and wrapped his arms around her warm, soft, and naked body before he drifted off to sleep.

Erica let out a long sigh, “Thank you Master,” before shutting the door behind her and returning to the living room. She picked up the assault rifle and turned off the lights in the main room of the cabin. Nude, armed, and in the dark, she took up a silent vigil for the night.

Ch 9

For the first time in a long while, Mike slept soundly and comfortably. The bed was soft and covered with worn flannel sheets. The combination of the soft, cool fabric and Nikki’s soft, warm skin pushed him into a deep and restful sleep that lasted until mid morning of the next day.

During the night, Nikki had relatively little to do. She had slept with other humans during previous assignments and before had always found it tedious. However with Mike she found it tolerable, if not somewhat relaxing. She dedicated a small portion of her processing power to regulating her position and skin temperature to keep him comfortable. The rest of her mind was used to parse through her own slowly opening memories and search the internet for anything useful.

That night Nikki found two news articles that were relevant. The first was a business report on Oteral Industries, Mike’s company, where the CEO stated that their main project was delayed slightly. She figured they must have received the package Mike shipped with his work, otherwise they would have delayed the release indefinitely. However it would probably take a while to polish up the work since Mike mentioned it wasn’t 100% complete.

The second piece of interest was a local news story about their firefight in the burger joint. The report was typical of small town journalism as it was filled with generalities and a few inaccurate assumptions. While they had identified the main attacker as an android, they had incorrectly lumped Erica in with Nikki and Mike as the ‘unknown target group.’ There was no mention that anyone suspected any of the targets were also androids. The policeman quoted in the article didn’t share any details and just said the matter was ‘under investigation.’ She setup a reoccurring task to monitor the news outlet for follow up articles.

Rays of warm sun fell across Mike’s face as he rolled over and opened his eyes. He groaned and coughed before rolling out of bed and rubbing his eyes. “Oh man, that was a lot better than sleeping in a car.”

“I’m glad you were able to get some good rest,” Nikki said as she slipped out of bed. She, like Mike, was still nude from the night before and he smiled as he remembered the recent carnal activities.

“Oh Master, you’re awake!” Erica said as she came running into the room. She was as nude as everyone else but carried an assault rifle in her arms. “I watched the house all night and didn’t see any activity,” she said with a bubbly tone. She wore a wide smile and bounced slightly as she spoke causing her breasts sway a little from the movement.

“That’s great, thanks,” Mike chuckled. He ran his fingers through his hair and grumbled as he felt the twisted, greasy mess. He couldn’t remember the last time he had a proper shower, and he was starting to smell a little more…rustic than he normally liked. “Let me get cleaned up and then we’ll figure out what we can do today.”

The two androids nodded as Mike made his way to the bathroom. The door was only closed for a few minutes before Erica started walking towards the bathroom. “Where are you going?” Nikki asked.

“I’m going to check to see if Master needs any help,” Erica said as she set the rifle down on a nearby table.

“Just wait a minute,” Nikki replied. She rolled her eyes a bit and held up one hand to stop the over eager android. “While Mike may enjoy your help in the shower, there are…other things…that humans do in that room. Things were they prefer a bit more privacy.”

“How will I know when the private activities are complete?” Erica asked with a puzzled look on her face.

“Listen for the shower to start running, then give him two minutes before heading in,” Nikki instructed. She left the other android patiently waiting by the door as she searched through the house for some acceptable clothing. She found the drawers full of an assortment of rugged, outdoor wear she assumed belonged to the owners. She found a pair of tight jean shorts and a red flannel shirt. She slipped on the shorts, and then pulled on the shirt. It looked a little strange in the mirror until she rolled up the sleeves and tied the bottom just above her navel. She popped open a few buttons to give Mike just enough cleavage to pull his interest but not overly distract him. She then made up the bed, and laid out some other clothes she found that should fit Mike.

Back in the bathroom, Mike turned on the water and slipped into the hot steaming shower. He let out a low moan as he could feel the weariness of the last few days wash off his body. He just got some soap in his hair when he heard the door open and close. Suddenly Erica popped her head around the shower curtain. “Hello Master! Is there anything that I can do to help?”

“Umm sure,” Mike said as he stepped back and let the android into the shower with him. He watched the water cascade over her naked body as he grabbed the soap and started to scrub his chest.

“Oh please let me Master,” Erica said as she stepped forward and grasped the soap from Mike’s outstretched hand. He laced his fingers behind his head as her expertly precise hands worked the soapy lather over his body. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation, as he never really had anyone bathe him; at least in his adult lifetime. He gasped a little as she cleaned his more sensitive places. “Oh do you like that Master?” she asked as she wrapped her fingers around his now growing erection.

Mike nodded with a little grunt as her soapy hand slowly slid up and down him. Erica’s processors searched through many different stimulation techniques. She wanted to impress him in the hopes he’d allow her to join him again in the shower. As he opened his eyes, she looked up at him and a sly smile spread across her face. She suddenly released him and rubbed the bar of soap between her hands. She then reached up and built up a thick lather on her full breasts. Setting the soap aside, she dropped to her knees and pushed her fleshy mounds together. He groaned as she slid her tits over his erect shaft. She pumped her body up and down for several minutes until he could take no more.

With a loud moan, Mike erupted all over Erica’s wet, soapy body. She released him and stood up in the hot running water. Mike quickly rinsed himself off, and took a deep breath. “Why don’t I hop out and let you get cleaned off,” he said.

“Of course Master,” Erica cooed as she began washing her body.

Mike shook his head and dressed quickly as he heard the android washing off in the shower behind him. Nikki greeted him with a nod and a smile as he wandered into the kitchen. She slid a bowl of hot oatmeal across the counter to him. “I thought you might be hungry,” she said. “There isn’t any fresh food around, but at normal food consumption rates, you should have enough to last a few years.”

“I certainly hope we’re not stuck here that long,” Mike chuckles as he blows across the steaming bowl. “And thank you…for the breakfast.”

“You’re welcome,” she said, still a little surprised to be thanked by a human. “What should we do today?”

“I figured I’d spend some time looking through your unlocked memory files,” Mike shrugged as he took his first bite. “It’s a long shot, but maybe we’ll find something in there that could help us out. In the mean time I guess we can also work on shoring up our defenses.”

“Very well,” Nikki nodded, “It’s probably also wise to keep abreast of current events. Allied’s activities or those of your company may also prove helpful.”

“Good point,” Mike said as he finished up his breakfast and rinsed off the plate. He sat down at the kitchen table and fired up his laptop. He was a little surprised when Nikki came up behind him.

“What would you like me to do now?” Nikki asked sweetly. She wasn’t trying to seduce Mike, although she did look forward to the chance of that later, but was honestly lost for what she should do. Her systems, like those of Erica, were always racing at the speed of light so she was never very good at waiting or killing time.

“To be honest, I’m not sure,” Mike said with a shrug. “I need to look through the files you’ve encrypted so far, and I can’t think of anything I need your help with. Do you have any ideas?” Nikki paused for a second then looked out the front windows. “We should probably work on our fortifications. If someone were to come up the driveway, a vehicle would be stopped by the fallen trees, but they could easily dismount. Perhaps we could build a fighting position; it would be a good place for an ambush.”

“Sounds like a good plan to me,” Mike nodded as he started bringing up the first memory files. “Make sure to get help from Erica.”

“Of course,” Nikki said with a smile. She had some purpose now, and it would keep her busy, at least in the short term. She got up and went outside to plan as Mike got to work. Shortly thereafter, Erica emerged from the shower, put something skimpy on, and joined the other android outside.

Over the next few hours Mike carefully analyzed the memory files he earlier pulled from Nikki. The files contained memories from three different missions: a hit on a rival corporation’s operative, an intimidation mission against a supplier, and the political assassination of a UN diplomat. He studied every detail of the mission, including video clips from Nikki’s own eyes. The files also included her own personal commentary on the results of the mission, like a director’s notes of a movie.

Mike was quite disturbed to see the things that Nikki did before, and the worst was to hear her sterile observations. For the assassination, she was given specific orders to make the killing brutal in order to send a message. It was the same sort of brutal killing that was once his fate, and it chilled him to see what could have happened to him. She had found her target in his apartment, and caught him in the shower. She moved swiftly and precisely; plunging her thin knife, the same one she still carried, deep into the target’s gut. She attacked again and again, making mental notes each time.

‘Penetrated too far, excessive blood loss’

’23.5 degree angle off vertical insertion caught liver, did not account for potential growth due to cirrhosis’

‘weak heart lead to early termination, consider pain mitigation techniques to prolong session’

Mike froze the screen on one specific image from the video log. From Nikki’s eyes, he could see her view herself in the bathroom mirror. It was splattered with blood but he could clearly see her nude, crimson soaked body. She stripped out of her clothes to avoid contaminating them, and calmly stepped into the shower to wash off once she was done.

Mike stopped for a few minutes and walked away from the computer. He made his own mental note to avoid the ‘kill’ details in the future. He poured himself a glass of water and looked out the front window as he sipped. The two killer androids, each brandishing shovels, were busy digging a pair of holes in the yard. As the sun played over their barely clothed bodies they looked more like sorority girl gardeners then cybernetic assassins.

Mike eventually returned to his work and only stopped when he got hungry for lunch. He made a quick meal from some crackers and a can of tuna as he switched gears to search through the news. He found a few mentions of the shootout at the burger joint and the wrecked car they left in the wilds of Jersey, but nothing that indicated he was reported as missing or kidnapped.

Over the next several hours he bounced back and forth between Nikki’s memory files and searching the net. Once again growing hungry he decided to take a brake and check on the girls. He smiled as he walked outside in the dimming light and saw two deep, neatly dug holes. “Well you’ve been busy,” he chuckled.

“We made some good progress,” Nikki said as she set the shovel aside. “We’ve got two rough fighting positions here; offset at a 58% angle to provide for some crossfire on any vehicle stopped at the roadblock. There’s still more work to do though.”

“What are you looking to do more?” Mike asked. He was a little confused since they looked just like the foxholes he’d seen in old movies. He wasn’t sure what more they could do besides building an elaborate trench network in his friends front yard.

“Well, I’d like to raise the front wall,” Erica chimed in. “They’re only loose dirt right now. They should stop most rounds now, but they could be much stronger. If we use interlocking stones taken from the surrounding area, then cover the rocks with dirt and sod, we could stop almost any feasible munitions.”

“It’s something to keep you girls busy until I can think of a better plan,” Mike shrugged. “How about we break for the day and get some dinner.”

“Of course Master,” Erica beamed as she tossed her shovel aside and clapped the dirt from her hands. “Would you like me to prepare some food for you?”

“Sure,” Mike said as he returned to the house. 45 minutes later, he sat down to a plate of a steaming mixed pasta dish. “Smells great,” he said as he blew on the first bite then tried it.

“Thank you Master,” Erica giggled, “Nikki helped me with the recipe.”

Mike ate in silence as the androids busied themselves with getting cleaned up and preparing the house for night. When he was done, he handed the plate to Erica and retired to the couch. The girls joined him and eventually the old movie he found was forgotten as he was drawn into their carnal bounty.

And so went Mike’s life as days blurred into weeks, that turned into months. The trio settled into a comfortable routine that varied a little from day to day. Normally he would rise in the morning after sleeping with one of the androids and take a shower. He would be joined by Erica and they’d have a little fun while getting clean. He’d have breakfast with Nikki then spend the morning searching her memories. He’d have a quick lunch, then move on to the news and general web surfing. On boring days when he was out of memories or news, he’d fire up a computer game. Later one of the androids would make dinner and then they’d relax with a movie. Mike would end the day with sex with one or both of his androids before slipping off to sleep.

While Mike spent the day on the computer, the androids each pursued their own interests. Erica concentrated her efforts on the ever improving foxholes in the front yard. She spent weeks gathering large stones from the surrounding land and piecing them together like a giant, three dimensional puzzle. When the wall was complete she worked on camouflaging it with dirt, grass and even transplanted flowers. She then moved on to lining the inside of the hole with logs and woven branches; turning it into a rather cozy hole in the ground big enough for two.

Nikki took a different approach to occupy her time. At first she helped Erica with the fortifications, but eventually abandoned them to the younger android. She found she preferred spending time with Mike inside. Even if he didn’t speak much while he worked, she enjoyed being in his presence. Each day she would review the same memory files that he would, as a background process in her system. Even only using part of her mental faculties, she could still accomplish the task in a little over an hour. She knew it was redundant but he seemed to think two different perspectives might help.

Nikki also picked up a curious hobby to occupy her herself: woodcarving. She fell into the task when she underestimated the strength of a wooden chair and shattered one of its legs. In order to make up for the mistake she found a similar looking piece of scrap wood in the barn and over the course of two days, carved a replacement leg. Maybe she enjoyed the creative application of her fine motor skills, or maybe it was because Mike complemented her on her work, but she found the activity rewarding and relaxing.

Every few days, Nikki would wander into the woods and return to the cabin an hour or so later with a log, branch or some scrap of wood. She would then study it intently; creating a three dimensional model of the material, it’s predicted flaws, and what target design could fit inside. She would then get to work, starting quickly at first, but slowing down as she approached the detailed stages.

Nikki’s first few designs were human analogs that could be clothed and placed around the cabin to confuse any attacker’s targeting. From there she moved on to replicating animals she saw while looking for wood. By early October, the cabin was full of incredibly detailed sculptures rendered from wood. She was expertly working on the textured feathers of a hawk when she heard Mike break his normal silence.

“Oh man,” Mike groaned as he ran his hands through his long, scruffy hair. “I can’t believe it was you.”

“What did you find?” Nikki asked as she delicately set the carving aside and brushed the wood chips from her clothes. She walked over to look over his shoulder at the computer screen.

“You killed Anton Chen,” Mike said with a disbelieving shake of his head.

“Yes I did,” Nikki replied, “I’ve killed a lot of people. Why is he significant?”

“I remember reading about this a few years ago,” Mike explained. “I had attended a software conference while I was working for Allied, and he was a keynote speaker. He was showing off a radically new way to perform image processing for embedded products like basic robots, drones, security cameras, and androids. It was going to reduce the processing load almost 10 fold over contemporary methods. There was some disbelief that his new algorithm would work, but it generated a lot of excitement.”

Nikki gave Mike a puzzled look that prompted him to push forward. “With this new technique, accurate, real time image processing could be performed on relatively cheap hardware. Previously simple devices like drone vacuums or delivery bots could see an object, and detect its position in space but little else about it. He promised his new system would allow those cheap devices to now see the object in much greater detail, to know that it’s covered in fabric, that it looks soft, that it’s bed, etc.

“The potential applications go even beyond that. It would allow sophisticated devices like androids to reduce the image processing load and focus on other demands. I mean…just out of curiosity how much of your system resources are dedicated to image processing and what’s involved?

“The load depends on the situation,” Nikki explained as she thought about the question. “Under normal usage, like right now, approximately 8% of my main processor and 43% of my image processing subcard is occupied. I pull in data at 60 frames per second from two optical sensors running at 128 megapixels in the visual spectrum.” She paused for a moment to let the information sink in. “Under peak demands, such as combat, I can increase my frame rate to 500 frames per second and incorporate the ultraviolet and infrared spectrums. Doing that occupies 27% of my main processor and 95% of my subcard recourses.”

“Can you see the benefits of reducing that load by an order of magnitude?” Mike asked.

“Yes, I could free up those recourses for other tasks, increase the amount or rate of data gathered, or simplify my architecture,” Nikki said with a nod. “So yes I do see the value.”

“And so did Allied,” Mike chuckled, “which is why you stole his work after you killed him. The pubic reports indicated he died from a massive heart attack, most likely due to stress over the new system.”

“As they were intended,” Nikki explained. “I carefully injected a tailored toxin into the back of his throat. The poison caused the heart attack then quickly decomposed. Since the needle mark was in an obvious location, it appeared to everyone like he collapsed from the stress. But I don’t understand how this could help us.”

“I admit it’s a little complicated but I think we might have some leverage,” Mike explained as he pulled up some old files on his computer. “These are notes from the presentation he gave all those years ago. There were a few obscure bugs in the logic, that he hadn’t ironed out yet. For very specific images, the program would incorrectly process the data and it would report something different to the main device. Think of it sort of like a very specific optical illusion.”

“It will let us positively test if a system is using his software,” Mike said as he gestured to Erica outside. “I can’t think of any reason why Allied would kill him and take the software unless it intended to use it. I bet they rolled it into all their new products, including their androids.”

“I still don’t see how that helps us,” Nikki said, genuinely confused.

“Ok here’s the catch,” Mike said with almost giddy anticipation. “After Anton died, his company went bankrupt and was bought out by the Walmart Consortium.” He quickly typed away at his computer and soon had the details of the buyout and one of Anton’s patents. “They bought the company to acquire the rights to his work, and bury it. They had their own competing system that wasn’t quite as good, but was already ready for market. So they own the patent to Anton’s work.”

Mike waited for the information to sink in. When Nikki looked just as confused as ever, he move on, “If Erica or any other system from Allied is using the technology you stole, then technically, Allied is in violation of an valid, international patent. They can be sued by Walmart for any revenue received from products using that program. Depending on how much they used it, Allied may have to forfeit years of sales revenue.”

“Walmart is one of the few companies large enough overpower Allied in court,” Nikki mused.

“And I know enough about Allied from my time there,” Mike continued. “They run on a very thin margin. If they lose the lawsuit, they’ll be effectively destroyed. And we’ll be free.”

“There are a lot of ‘ifs’ in that line of logic,” Nikki admitted, “but it still sounds like the best shot we’ve got.” She walked over to the door and called out, “Erica can you come in here for a moment?”

“Of course,” Erica shouted back from the yard. Mere moments later she walked through the door still brushing some dirt off her palms. “What I can do for you?”

Mike held up his finger to signal for a little time, as he wildly banged on his keyboard. In a few minutes he brought up a strange and seemingly nonsensical collection of colors and shapes. “Both of you look at this and tell me what you see?”

Both android women locked their eyes on the screen for a few moments. “I don’t see anything I can recognize,” Nikki shrugged.

“I don’t recognize anything in particular but it keeps moving,” Erica complained. “Can you stop the animation so I can get a better look?”

Mike looked out of the corner of his eye at Nikki, “Do you see any movement Nikki?”

“No the image is static,” Nikki said with a knowing nod.

Over the next four hours, Mike excitedly tested Erica’s systems and compared them to Nikki’s. Over and over again the newer android fell for the specific weakness in Anton’s algorithm. He finally checked her software build date and confirmed it was a little over 16 months after Nikki’s snatch and grab mission.

“So what do we do now?” Nikki asked as the sun started to set.

“We trade this information to the Consortium in exchange for protection,” Mike explained. “We won’t have to lay low for too long. It would probably take three, maybe six months from filing suit until Allied is completely destroyed. Then we can all go back to our normal lives.”

“You can go back to your life,” Nikki frowned, “but what happens to us?”

“You’re not directly owned by Allied right? Your registrations are through a front company right?” Mike asked.

“Technically yes,” Nikki replied. “We’re registered under McCullen’s Dairy Holdings.”

“Not exactly a name I’d expect from a mercenary company,” Mike chuckled.

“Well that’s the idea,” Nikki smirked. “The company has no direct ties to Allied, but without their financial support McCullen’s will disintegrate. They’d probably sell off the remaining androids, or possibly destroy them to cover their tracks.”

“I guess we’d have to get you re-registered,” Mike mused. “I’m sure we could find someone that could draft up some fake papers.”

Nikki nodded, “I know of six vendors in this state alone. But I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves. How do you plan to approach the Consortium? Emailing their customer service line probably won’t be successful.”

“I know someone in their legal department,” Mike explained, “sort of a friend of a friend. She married a girl that I used to date back in high school. I met her at my reunion last year and we talked for a while. She seems nice; I’m not sure how far I’d trust her but she’s the best point of contact I can think of.”

“I can’t think of any better plan,” Nikki shrugged.

“Neither can I,” Erica giggled. Nikki turned to look out of the corner of her eye at the younger android as if to say ‘Why am I not surprised?’

Mike chuckled a little to himself. Over the last few months it became hard not to notice the differences between the two androids. Nikki was surprisingly deep and still somewhat mysterious. She made her own decisions which often caught him by surprise; whether it be randomly going for a walk, wanting to watch a particular show, or starting various topics of conversation. He could see that she knew a lot about humanity, but was also self aware enough to recognize what she didn’t understand and want to learn more. He had spent almost every evening for a week trying to teach her the subtle intricacies of humor. They watched a wide variety of television programs and movies to varying degrees of success. He found her fondness for old Bill Murray movies quite endearing.

Nikki’s sculptures were another story entirely. Mike found then combined an odd juxtaposition of machine driven accuracy and detail with human creativity. He knew many of her subjects were animal she’d seen while outside in the woods, but every now and then she threw in a curveball. A few weeks ago she carved a small cat, little enough to be a kitten, but gave it a lonely and sad expression. When he asked why she made it sad, she responded that it’s how the wood felt.

Mike often wondered if Nikki was capable of real emotions. She showed signs of them, and part of him knew they could be programmed responses. But to his gut, they felt very real, and the reactions they imposed on him were definitely real.

Erica, on the other hand, was completely different. Maybe it was the lack of mystery that Nikki radiated, or that Mike knew her programming was entirely open to him, but she seemed very one dimensional. Her driving motivations were always very clear: to serve her master, prepare their defenses and have sex, in that order. While Nikki would sometimes call him ‘Master’ it was only in the heat of passion, where Erica used it as his normal title. She would do anything he asked, without question or complaint. If he asked her to stand outside in the rain, naked, while holding a bucket over her head, she would do it with a smile on her face and a bounce in her step.

Besides following Mike’s direct orders, Erica was either improving the foxholes, or trying to seduce him or Nikki. She was none to subtle as far as the seduction went either. When ‘Can I give you a blowjob Master?’ didn’t work, she would often strip down naked and strike suggestive poses around the cabin. She would ‘drop’ things and have to bend over to pick them up way too often for a sophisticated android.

A few times when that failed to elicit a reaction Erica took a more direct approach. She would sit in a chair in plain view of Mike and just start masturbating. It worked a few times enough to get him up and engaged, but more than once he had to give her some busy work task to get her to go away. One time he even just deactivated her, which ironically he found more arousing that watching her touch herself. Once she realized that, she took to ‘deactivating’ herself in various places around the cabin in suggestive poses.

Mike never before thought that he’d willingly push away a beautiful, sexy android that wanted to fuck him, but even the best things can get old. He wasn’t a teenager anymore either and sometimes two or three times a day was just all he could muster. Plus he enjoyed spending time with Nikki; either just talking or enjoying a show together.

“Are you going to contact her now?” Nikki asked, bringing Mike out of his memories.

“I probably should,” Mike admitted. While this was the best way to get Allied off his back, part of him wanted to delay. Sure his life was in danger but for the first time in a long while he was actually happy. He had time to relax, in a tranquil setting, with wonderful company. “but this is probably something that is best approached over the phone rather than in an email.” Nikki nodded while Erica just smiled back. “It’s already past quitting time so I’ll give her a call tomorrow morning.”

“Alright, then what should we do with the rest of tonight?” Erica asked.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Mike said with a smile as he stood up from behind the computer. “we’ve accomplished quite a bit today. Why don’t we celebrate? I’ll go find something fun for dinner and I think I saw a bottle of wine down in the cellar.”

“Sounds like fun,” Nikki smiled coyly. Erica dashed into the bathroom to get cleaned up as Nikki brushed by Mike. She leaned over and whispered into his ear, “I know a few other ways we can celebrate,” she growled as the palm of her hand dragged across his crotch. She was rarely sexually aggressive with Mike lately and it was enough to send a small shiver down his spine. She kept on walking towards the kitchen as if nothing was said and only looked over to give him a small smile to hint at what was to come.

Ch 10

Mike and the two gynoids quickly assembled a veritable feast from the canned and dehydrated stocks available to them. He knew it was a little wasteful, but he could see the light at the end of the tunnel and knew their time left at the cabin would be measured in days rather than weeks or months. For tonight, dinner consisted of instant mashed potatoes, dried onions and bacon, and pan fried spam. He topped it off with a bottle of red wine and insisted that both Nikki and Erica try some of it themselves.

“So what will we do tomorrow?” Erica asked as she slowly slipped the potent red liquid.

“I’ll call my contact tomorrow,” Mike explained as he finished chewing and swallowed with a wash of wine. “We’ll try to set up a meeting; I don’t want to say too much over the air. That and I don’t want to show all our cards at the same time. We need to convince them it’s in their best interests to keep us alive. Otherwise they’ll go after Allied on their own and throw us to the wolves.”

“Where are you going to try to meet her?” Nikki asked.

“I think she’s based out of Columbus if I remember right,” Mike replied as he took another bite of food. “We can probably get there in maybe five or six hours on the road.”

Nikki nodded and watched Mike carefully. She had never seen him under the influence of alcohol, but knew enough that with the volume he consumed it would affect his judgment. She licked her lips as she thought of what she might be able to do with him once his inhibitions were relaxed. “So what else would you like to do tonight?” she cooed.

“I thought maybe we could all have some fun,” Mike said as he leered at the two fembots. “It’s been a little while since I’ve had you both at once.”

“As you wish…Master,” Nikki let the last word slither out of her mouth like a snake moving through tall grass. She smiled and put down her empty glass. She looks over at Erica then back at Mike. “Why don’t we entertain you while you finish your meal?” she asked. He made no verbal reply but gently nodded towards her.

“Erica stand up and perform a strip tease with me for our Master,” Nikki cooed as she also stood up from the small kitchen table. The younger fembot smiled and began to move her body to an inaudible beat. As she moved, the other android slid up beside her and helped pull her shirt away. Erica wore no bra and with the shirt gone, her firm breasts were left exposed in the dim light of the cabin. Nikki slid her body between Erica and Mike and placed the other fembot’s hands on her still covered mounds. Erica took the cue and slowly unbuttoned Nikki’s shirt while she slid her body up and down.

Meanwhile, Mike’s eyes never left the two seductive androids. Every now and then he would absently mindedly shovel some food into his mouth but his attention was otherwise undivided.

Nikki smiled as she saw she had grasped her master’s interest. Erica pulled her shirt apart and exposed Nikki’s own amazing chest to the night air. The shirt quickly flew across the room as Nikki turned around, pulled Erica into a tight embrace and kissed her on the lips. She took care to position their bodies at the best possible viewing angle for Mike, so he could see their mouths joined, their tongues dancing together, and their bare chests rubbing against each other.

Mike’s fork missed his mouth entirely and poked him in the side of the cheek. He put the food aside and wiped his face clean; all without breaking his gaze.

Nikki broke the kiss, then slithered behind Erica. She pushed the other android’s hands up to her own tits, then lowered hers and began to work the clasp of her shorts. Erica moaned as her hands orbited around her mounds and pinched her nipples. Nikki unbuckled the shorts but did not pull them down yet. Instead she shoved her hand down the half open front and caressed Erica’s bare, wet pussy. The younger android couldn’t help but cry out as Nikki’s expertly dexterous fingers found all her sensitive buttons. She played with her comrade’s folds for a few moments then retracted her hand and pulled the shorts down.

Erica dutifully stepped out of the skimpy garment, revealing her wet, reddened lips to her master. Nikki skillfully removed her own shorts and panties and advanced to stand next to Erica. The two fembots stared at their master with hunger burning behind their eyes. They could see that Mike was incredibly aroused but he still remained at the table. Nikki thought about asking him to join them, but decided to let him come on his own when he was ready, or couldn’t take any more.

Nikki grabbed Erica and pulled her body against hers. They kissed again and let their naked bodies slide over each other. Their hands soon found the others wet slits and in minutes they had collapsed onto the floor in a writhing mass of moans, gasps, and naked bodies. One hundred and thirty two seconds after they collapsed to the floor, Nikki felt Mike’s hand on her bare ass. She released Erica’s left nipple from her mouth and turned to face him. “Yes Master is there something I can do for you?”

Mike had already stripped off his clothes at this point and was plainly rock hard. Nikki knew she was doing well tonight, but desperately wanted to shock and awe him. As much as she wanted to resolve the situation with Allied and for him to be safe, she also deeply feared losing him. The Consortium may not allow her to stay him if it were to take him under its care. She was after all still programmed to kill him. And then there was the even worse thought, that Mike might outright reject her. She knew it was probably an irrational fear, but she was still going to pull out all the stops to remind him how much he’d lose without her.

“We are programmed in many different forms of sexual stimulation,” Nikki cooed, “as you are well aware of.”

“I uhhh,” Mike stammered as he looked down at the incredibly sexy androids.

Erica slid out from Nikki’s grasp and rose up on her knees in front of him, “I have a suggestion,” she gasped before she lunged forward and engulfed Mike’s shaft into her mouth. She moaned wildly as if the tip of his cock against the back of her throat was the best feeling in the world. She aggressively bobbed up and down on his rod before releasing it with a pop and offering it to Nikki. The other android smiled and took her turn bobbing up and down with wet slurping sounds.

“Oh…God…” was the only weak sound that Mike was able to admit as the professional fembots worked him back and forth. While one worked, the other would masturbate and put on a good visual show to go with the oral stimulation.

“Oh yes Master, fuck her face,” Erica moaned as her fingers slid in and out of her wet slit. “I can’t wait to feel you inside my pussy again.” She pulled her fingers loose and dove on his cock as soon as Nikki’s head was clear.

“We are going to make you cum so hard tonight Master,” Nikki gasped as her simulated human response pulled in air. “Who do you want first?”

“You,” Mike groaned. “I want you on all fours now.”

“Of course Master,” Nikki replied as she turned around and fell onto her hands. She shook her bare ass in the air and spread her legs slightly to give him a good view of her dripping wet slit. Erica heard the exchange and released Mike from her mouth. She shuffled back a bit to see where she could best serve.

Mike dropped to his knees behind Nikki and slowly guided himself into her. “Oh yessss Master,” she moaned. “I love feeling your cock inside my synthetic pussy. Please fuck me Master. Fuck me hard.”

Mike was only too happy to comply, taking her firm hips in his hands and thrusting himself in and out of her. His flesh made a smacking sound every time it impacted with hers, but it was barely heard over her moans. He could see her firm, synthetic muscles of her back, shoulders and arms shifting and moving under her skin. He knew beyond that artificial flesh was cold metal, plastic and electronics, but somehow the thought of that made the situation that much more erotic.

Erica, seeing an opportunity slid herself in under Nikki’s elevated torso. Her face came to rest right under the action; his shaft thrusting into Nikki’s hole just a few inches in front of her face. She raised her head and extended her tongue to flash against Nikki’s clit and then to his sack as it swung by.

Nikki moaned even louder at the additional stimulation. Mike’s balls pulled up slightly at the surprise feeling but soon he growled and doubled the speed of his thrusting. Nikki face turned red as her orgasm threshold was breached. “Ohhhh FUCK yes!” she cried as her synthetic hole pulsed in rapid succession on his rod. It was enough to set him over as well. He thrust himself deeply inside her and just before he erupted, Erica gently sucked his balls into her mouth. Mike gasped and pumped his load into the waiting android.

When the orgasms ended, Mike pulled himself free and collapsed onto a nearby rug. Nikki curled her naked body up next to him as he started to recuperate. Erica slipped away to clean up the dishes but was soon back and looking for more.

Between various breaks for wine, dessert and general rehydration, the trio succumbed to their carnal desires four more times that night. Eventually Mike collapsed in bed from exhaustion; a beautiful fembot on either side of him until the sun began to rise.

Mike slept soundly through the entire night, barely moving until the sun’s rays crept across the bed and settled on his eyes. He groaned and stirred, prompting the gynoids to shift and give him room to move. He rubbed his eyes and slipped out of bed to stumble to the bathroom. It was early, and he was tired from the night before, but there was much to be done today.

Mike had just slipped into the hot, steaming shower when he heard the door open. He peered around the shower curtain and saw Erica was about to join him. “Umm let me just get cleaned up quick on my own this morning.”

“Did I do something wrong Master?” Erica asked as a worried/sad look grew on her face.

“Oh no, not at all,” Mike quickly replied, “far from it. The spirit is willing but the flesh is spongy and bruised. I just need a quick shower this morning.”

“Ahh ok,” Erica nodded with a small smile. “I’ll get cleaned up after you’re done,” she finished as she left the room and closed the door. Mike let out a long sigh and stood for a few minutes as the hot water washed over him.

Eventually Mike left the bathroom and tossed on some clothes. He saw Erica slip in to quickly shower as he got dressed with Nikki following afterwards. He found breakfast laid out for him and sat down to hungrily devour it. By the time he was done, both androids were dressed and ready for the new day.

“When are you going to call your contact?” Nikki asked.

“Well it’s still a little early,” Mike mused as he searched for her number in his phone. “I’ll probably wait until after 8; I think she should…”

Nikki suddenly held up one hand to Mike, “Erica, turn on channel 27…now!” she said as she quickly marched next to the monitor. It clicked and hummed as the old unit warmed up.

“What is it?” Mike asked, now standing next to the anxious android.

“I set up a background task to monitor local news feeds with specific keywords,” Nikki explained, “and one just got a hit.”

The picture on the TV slowly faded in along with the audio. Mike could make out a reporter from what looked like a local news program. The young man was standing in front of a parking lot and an old barn that looked slightly familiar.

“…horrible violence late last night here in a community that hasn’t seen a violent crime in nearly ten years. Police are investigating possible suspects but as of yet they have no motive and no leads. No money was missing and none of the cars on the lot were stolen.” The broadcast paused for a second as a stock photo of a man in a shirt and tie popped up on the screen, “For those just joining us, once again, Levi Kutzmann, a used car salesman was found brutally murdered in the office of his dealership this morning.”

“Oh fuck,” Mike mumbled as he saw the image of the murdered man, the same man that sold him the Challenger that sat outside. “Why would they kill him?” His eyes dropped down for a moment and his mouth moved silently. “The GPS!” he shouted.

“You entered the location of this cabin in your old car’s navigation system,” Nikki stated. “Did you clear it out?”

“I think I cancelled the trip,” Mike stammered as he tried to remember back many months ago, “but it may still be stored as a past destination.”

“We must leave immediately,” Nikki said as her eyes darted around the cabin. “Gather whatever you can fit in your bag quickly.” Mike nodded and dashed into the bedroom as the gynoids quickly assembled and prepared their small arsenal of firepower. He shoved what clothes and toiletries he could in his bags, packed up his laptop and dashed back into the main room.

While Erica wore the same clothes as earlier in the evening, Nikki had quickly slipped into her old combat suit complete with webbing, knives and weapons. Both girls had small packs on their backs and rifles in their hands; Erica with the AKC5 and Nikki with the heavier FN FAL. Nikki turned to Erica, “Put the bags in the trunk.” She nodded and took Mike’s bags. She turned back to Mike, “They could be here at any moment. We’ll go out to the car together. Erica will move the log barricade just as we leave and then jump in the passenger seat. You’re safest in the back. The most dangerous part will be getting down the long driveway. Once we’re on a main road, we can speed up and sufficiently randomize our location within fifteen minutes.

“OK I’ll follow your lead,” Mike replied nervously. His eyes darted back and forth around the cabin, from window to window when suddenly something caught his eye. He walked over to the monitor they set up on the back trail from the quarry. “Nikki come here!” he shouted. He pointed at the grainy image and could clearly make out a half dozen people slowly making their way up the narrow path cut in the rock.

“Standard six man team,” Nikki coldly commented. “Assault rifles, submachine guns, and shotguns. All military grade. I recognize one from the Nashville office, they’re Allied.” Mike watched in horror as the two men and four women steadily approached the cabin and their pre-laid trap. Nikki calmly picked up the makeshift detonator control and waited. “Let’s hope this works,” she said with a weak smile just before the group reached her optimal calculated position.

Nikki pushed the button and a muffled bang shook the cabin. Mike watched in silence as the six forms were engulfed in an angry cone of fire. It appeared to him like a great dragon, from the video games of his past, unleashed its fury on the small stone channel. As the blast of flames cleared, he could clearly see six humanoid forms, bathed in flame and moving about. Five of them tried to stiffly march forward but quickly began to spasm and fall forward. One of them wildly beat its limbs against its body and clawed at its face. A series of sharp, loud screams cut through the still mountain air and curdled Mike’s blood. Although he considered Nikki and Erica to be ‘people’ he strangely didn’t have a problem destroying other androids. But he was unprepared for the possibility that they’d have to kill people. Fortunately for Mike and for the burning person, it feel forward and stop moving quickly.

Mike broke his eyes away from the horror on the monitor as Erica slammed open the front door. “Two SUV’s are coming up the drive fast. ETA 120 seconds.”

Nikki nodded, “Take the right position. Mike and I will be left. Communicate on channel fifty-three beta, cipher code delta 9.” She turned back to Mike as Erica dashed out of the house. “We’re going to have to fight them off. Take this and come with me,” she said as she handed him a box of loose ammo and lead him to the fighting positions out front. They both ducked behind the re-enforced wall of the left position as he swiveled his head back and forth.

“What do I do?” Mike asked desperately.

“Remember what we practiced. Erica and I will fight,” Nikki explained. “We have them in an ambush zone and we may get the drop on them. But they could outnumber us as many as six to one. Keep your head down and reload the empty magazines I drop.” She paused for a second. “They may try to advance to our left, through the woods. Watch for that. If you see anyone, shoot them,” she said as she pulled the P90 of her pack and handed it to him along with two spare magazines.

Nikki lifted her head to peer over the crest of the well made fortification. She could see clearly but was partially camouflaged by a grouping of strategically transplanted wildflowers. She clicked the safety of her rifle off and gripped it tight in her hands. “If Erica or I fall, empty one magazine from your gun as suppressive fire, then run for the back escape. Do not stop for us, do not look back.” Mike tried to think of something brave or comforting to say, like in the many action movies he’d watched with her over the last few months. No words came to him as the sound of tires on gravel got louder. “They’re here,” she whispered.

Two large, black SUV’s came tearing around a sharp turn in the drive; gravel sliding out from under their tires. The lead truck saw the log barricade but not in time. It slammed on its brakes but slammed into the barricade at over 20 mph. A well positioned and pointed log passed clean through the radiator as the vehicle lurched to a stop. The trailing truck also slid forward and impacted the rear of the lead truck.

Nikki’s synthetic vision pierced the smoked glass of the vehicles and quickly assessed their attackers. There were twelve in total, six per vehicle and all heavily armed. She wasn’t 100% certain they were Allied operatives, but she didn’t want to wait for full confirmation. [FIRE] she signaled Erica over their pre-established secure comm channel. Both gynoids popped up over their barricades and opened fire on the temporarily disabled attackers.

Mike cringed with the deafening fusillade of gunfire. He first heard the loud CRACK, CRACK, CRACK of Nikki’s powerful rifle, immediately followed by the rapid popping of Erica’s lighter caliber. An empty magazine dropped next to him as Nikki slammed a full one home and kept firing. Mike quickly went to work clicking lose ammo into the sliver metal box. He just made it to twenty when another empty one dropped beside him. He placed the full one on a purposely constructed earthen ledge and went back to work.

Mike noticed that by now the opening duet of gunfire was joined by a chaotic chorus of other small arms. He could hear the bullets scream by and either impact the cabin behind them or strike the re-enforced dirt that protected him. He was only halfway through reloading the second magazine when Nikki ducked down and tossed him another empty box.

“Six down, six to go,” Nikki said with a wide smile across her face. As much as she enjoyed spending the last few months with Mike, she did miss the excitement of battle. This was what she was built for, to be a highly skilled, nigh unstoppable killing machine. She slid her bolt forward and tensed for the signal. [POP] she received from Erica and immediately she lifted her body above the barricade and opened fire. She caught a large male right in her sights as his attention was fixed on Erica’s position. She fired four rounds into the side of his head before it exploded in a shower of sparks. A wave of return fire rushed towards her and she took two rounds in the shoulder before she could get back down. Fortunately the damage was minor and she quickly adjusted her systems to compensate.

By Nikki having to take cover, Mike was able to catch up in his reloading job. With a second to breath he looked around to check their flanks. Sweat rolled into his eyes, despite the cool fall air, as his heart raced in his chest. Just as Nikki popped back up he caught movement in the trees to their side. He grabbed the P90 and raised it to his shoulder. Through the sights of the weapon, he dragged the red dot across the moving brush. He caught the definite outline of a head through the brush and didn’t hesitate. He squeezed the trigger and the diminutive weapon belched a spray of fire. He tried to keep the red dot on the target but it danced around a bit. When the weapon went silent he quickly removed the spent magazine and twisted a new one in before sliding the bolt forward.

Mike kept the red dot on the now devastated undergrowth, searching for signs of survival. His eyes eventually spotted a sparking, but unmoving form. He didn’t know if it was dead or destroyed, but he’d have to gamble on that for now. He put the weapon down in front of him and started quickly reloading the now growing pile of empty magazines.

Erica slapped in her second to last magazine and scanned the scene in front of her. Between her, Nikki and Mike’s last kill, they’d eliminated all but two of their attackers. They had temporarily retreated behind the engine block of the second SUV. Her iron sights eagerly searched for a target; she could see movement but nothing definite.

Nikki had joined the search and for the first time in several minutes no guns were firing. She could see a little better than Erica but still couldn’t get a good shot. It appeared as if one of them was trying to reach into the back of the first truck. She was about to try a shot through the thin sidewall of the vehicle when she heard the click of a heavy bolt being charged. She snapped her eyes left to see a thin, blonde android lifting a PKP machine gun. She turned and fired a few ineffective shots before the other android opened up. She barely ducked down before a hail of heavy rifle rounds peppered the front of their foxhole.

[RPG] Erica signaled as she saw the second android, a large male, prepare a tube shaped weapon. “Fuck,” Nikki mumbled as she loaded a fresh magazine.

“What?” Mike asked.

“You don’t want to know,” Nikki laughed, “just get your head down.” She pushed Mike down into the lowest part of their hole as she signaled Erica [SUPRESSIVE].

Erica slid around the side of her bunker and let lose with a fully automatic stream with her rifle. The small rounds peppered the cars and both androids but didn’t stop them. As predicted the PKP swept towards her. Several of its belt fed rounds hit home as Erica drew fire.

Using the distraction, Nikki stood up high in her bunker. She ignored the machine gunner and aimed right at the droid with the rocket. He turned the tube towards her and she saw his finger tense on the trigger and she leapt high in the air. With the higher angle she locked her sight on his forward knee. Two rapid shots punched through the joint and he started to fall forward. As she succumbed to gravity she fired another two rounds into his exposed shoulder to twist his body mid fall. She waited 150 milliseconds then fired a glancing shot into his trigger finger just as she fell back into the foxhole and covered her body over Mike.

Nikki’s excellent and creative timing triggered the RPG just right so the rocket flew right into the blond machine gunner. The rocket’s thermobaric warhead burst and detonated a split second later. The blast shook the ground and reduced the two remaining androids into a cloud of rapidly expanding spare parts. Sympathetic explosions from the droids’ embedded C9 demolition charge wrecked the SUV’s and threw large pieces of shrapnel across the entire area.

Mike was surprised when Nikki landed on top of him and was completely shocked by the force of the resulting explosion. When she climbed off him, he shook his head to try to clear the ringing noise. No other sound existed but the dull ring in his ears as he rubbed them with his hands. He eventually opened his eyes and could see her shouting at him.

“….ike…K…ured….Mike…ou…hurt?” Nikki shouted as she ran her hands over Mike’s body searching for wounds.

“I’M OK!” Mike yelled back. “ARE THEY ALL DEAD?”

“…ot sure….” Nikki replied. She stood up and looked around. The main sight of the firefight was a smoking pile of wreckage. She didn’t see any movement from any of the androids they knocked out before. She also didn’t see Erica. [STATUS REPORT]

[OPERATIONAL. MODERATE DAMAGE] Erica replied. She crawled out from behind her position and slowly stood up. Several large bullet holes were visible in her chest, arms and neck. A large piece of black, twisted, still smoldering steel protruded from her left shoulder and a large gash in her leg revealed her own metallic parts. She pulled the piece from her shoulder and tossed it to the ground before drawing her pistol.

[STAND DOWN, I’LL CHECK FOR SURVIVORS] Nikki replied as she gathered her rifle.

[STAY WITH MIKE, I CAN HANDLE IT] Erica signaled as she looked back at Nikki. She technically had to follow the other android’s orders, but a nod from the older fembot canceled the order.

Nikki covered Erica with her rifle, as Mike stumbled to reload the empty magazines. She doubted Allied would send more than two waves and 18 agents against them at any one time but she had learned to be cautious.

Erica limped towards a fallen attacker and stopped to put one round through its head before moving on to another. Nikki smiled with herself as her comrade finished the mop up. They had defeated a force that outnumbered them six to one if you counted Mike as a full combatant. All that and they only suffered minor damage to one unit, and she could be repaired. They would have to flee the scene shortly; the plume of black smoke from the first trap reached hundreds of feet into the air and the last blast would be heard for miles.

Nikki watched Erica as she approached the log barricade, or what was left of it, when suddenly the younger android exploded. Nikki grabbed Mike and once again tossed him to the bottom of the foxhole as she took cover. She played back the last few seconds in slow motion and analyzed what happened. She saw something impact Erica just above her waist line and then strike the dirt 12.72 meters in front of her. From the damage she suspected a .50 BMG round and back calculated a ballistic solution. She cross referenced it with a topographic map she downloaded from the USGS and determined a probable position.

“WHAT HAPPENED?” Mike yelled.

“Sniper! On the opposite hill,” Nikki gestured. She looked at their car then back at the front drive. “We can’t go out the front. There are three spots where it can get a bead on us. We’ll have to go with plan B.”

“WHAT ABOUT ERICA?” Mike shouted as he stood up and looked over at the fallen android. Her body was split in half at her beltline. He could see inside her torso, under her ribcage analog. Her cables, and components were partially spilled out on the dirt. “WE HAVE TO GET HER. WE CAN FIX HER!”

“She’s gone!” Nikki yelled, grabbing Mike’s shoulders. She turned his face towards her, “It hit her main power cell. She can’t flee and we can’t afford for her to slow us down. We need to go.”

“But…” Mike mumbled as he turned back towards the fallen android.

“She died so you could live,” Nikki explained. “Don’t waste her sacrifice by being the sniper’s next target.” Mike clenched his jaw as his eyes darted between Nikki and Erica. Finally he nodded his consent and Nikki lead him to the trunk of their car. They extracted Mike’s laptop bag that also contained their cash and emergency supplies. He strapped it on his back and then ran behind Nikki as she lead them away and clear of any lines of fire.

Mike and Nikki crashed through the woods until they hit the sharply descending cliff. She led them sideways for a few hundred feet until they reached a subtly marked tree. She reached under the leaf cover and pulled up a thick rope that led over the side. Nikki went down the rope first, followed quickly by Mike. At the bottom of the cliff they started running again until the came to a pile of leaves and brush. She worked quickly and cleared the brush off a concealed Kawasaki KLR650 dirt bike. They secured their bags and led the bag through the woods for another few hundred meters.

Breaking through the undergrowth, the pair rolled the bike onto an old dirt path that lead down hill. Nikki jumped on the bike, and Mike slid on behind her. He held her body tight as she gave them a kick start down hill. Gravity carried them nearly a mile before she had to fire up the engine.

Erica laid perfectly still on the ground for ten minutes, until her emergency power system could restart. Her body twitched a few times as her systems came back online and tested her ravaged body. Her eyes opened and she twisted her head to look around. She couldn’t see Nikki or Mike and concluded they fled via the back path. She held no malice towards them, as she would have done the same if Nikki were in her place. She knew someone would follow up on the attack to exploit her and any intelligence they could pull from what was left of the cabin. She couldn’t let that happen.

Erica found her left arm was not functional, and her pistol was flung from her one working hand. She rolled onto her side and reached back into her small backpack. She fished around for almost a minute and then pulled out a small silver cylinder, the C9 charge Mike captured from his first android kill. She examined the two leads coming from the detonator and spread them apart. She delicately pushed the explosive inside her chest cavity. She twitched and shook as the penetration disrupted more of her already damaged systems. Carefully she tied one wire to one of her many exposed, live leads. The second she held positioned just millimeters above a return line. She scraped around her position and found a small, heavy rock just under the loose soil. She held the rock in her hand, inside her chest and just above the lose wire. To anyone approaching it would appear like she was trying to hold in her own ‘guts.’ She turned her gaze towards the twisting drive and waited.

Five minutes later, another SUV slowly came up the drive with two armed men walking in front of it. They stopped just in front of the wreckage and two more droids and an old man exited the vehicle. Three armed androids fanned out, their weapons at the ready while one buxom redhead stood vigil next to the old man, a M500 on her hip. He smirked as he slowly walked towards Nikki.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” he shook his head while clicking his tongue, “I’m not surprised an older model like Nikki would be overcome, but not you. You were supposed to be top of the line. But instead you’re a waste. Now tell me where did they go?”

“Fu…fu…fuck youuuu,” Erica stammered as her head twitched to the side.

The old man frowned then turned back to the redhead. “Extract her memory core for later analysis.”

“Yes Master,” the redhead replied. She slung the large rifle on her back and pulled a multi tool from her belt. She extended a blade, knelt down, and started to cut through Erica’s scalp.

The old man smiled and leaned over to watch his android work. He looked Erica in the eye and chuckled, “You’ll end up helping us whether you like it or not.” Erica managed to squeeze out a small smile from her damaged motors before she let go of the rock.

A few miles away, the motorcycle carrying Mike and Nikki left the dirt path and pulled onto a winding highway. Over the whine of the engine, he heard a distant rumble echo through the valley. “What was that?” he asked.

“Erica’s revenge,” Nikki replied. She twisted the throttle and the bike accelerated away.

Ch. 11

Mike and Nikki rode in silence for the next two hours; if you could call the high pitched drone of the dirt bike engine silence. Between the vibrations of the rough ride, and the trauma of the recent battle, Mike felt almost completely numb. He hated that they left her there, but he knew if anyone tried to get her they’d just be another victim.

Mike’s mind raced through various parts of the battle, what happened, and what he might have done better. Unfortunately it was just so chaotic, that he couldn’t really say what happened when. There was a lot of shooting and some explosions and then Erica was gone and they had to run. He kicked himself now that they didn’t leave earlier; clear out as soon as they had a plan. He got too comfortable and it almost killed them all.

Nikki likewise reviewed the battle in her mind as they rode. While she knew the execution of their defense had been far from perfect, the more she reflected, the more she realized they were lucky any of them survived. In the end they defeated an attacking force six times their size and Mike could hardly be considered a full combatant. Erica’s loss was…unfortunate…but the important thing was that Mike survived, and she was functional enough to continue to protect him.

Eventually Nikki pulled the bike off the road into a large truck stop and stopped at an empty pump. She waited for Mike to get off before she dismounted the bike. She grabbed the pump handle and hit the cash button. “Can you pay inside with cash?”

“Yea sure,” Mike said as he stretched his body. He wasn’t sure if it was the long bike ride or the stress of the battle but he felt sore all over. “I’ll be back in a bit.” He tucked a pistol, one of the few weapons they still had left, in his back belt and hobbled into the modern building. He marched straight to the bathroom, then wandered around the store picking up a few drinks and snacks for the road. He also grabbed a cheap, disposable phone. Fortunately he remembered to pay for the gas on the way out and chuckled as he realized how little fuel the bike could actually carry.

It didn’t take long to fill the small gas tank, so Nikki tried to keep herself busy readjusting and taking inventory of the gear in her backpack. Inside the moderately sized bag sat all their remaining cash, her personal toolkit, a few high density energy bars, her knives, her P90 with one spare magazine, and two boxes of pistol ammunition. She knew Mike’s bag had his laptop and phone, and maybe a few odds and ends. She raised her head from looking in the bag as she heard him approach. “Thank you,” she whispered as he silently held out a bottle of water. She quickly drank it and tossed the empty container away before jumping back on the bike. Mike crawled on a little more slowly and took hold as she kick started the bike and sped away.

“Pull off into that park,” Mike shouted to Nikki a few minutes later, “I want to make a quick phone call.” She nodded and brought the bike to a stop in a secluded corner of the park. “I’ll just be a minute,” he said as he extracted the new phone from its plastic clamshell and walked to a nearby park bench. She was about to stand next to him, to provide better protection, but decided against it to give him some privacy. Her programming and previous experience with him indicated he was under emotional stress and could use some space.

Mike returned a few minutes later, “OK I convinced her to meet with us,” he explained. Nikki nodded politely as if she didn’t already overhear the entire conversation. “She will meet us at Battelle Riverfront Park, next to the hotdog stands in five hours.”

“It will take us approximately 3.2 hours to reach Columbus at our current pace,” Nikki replied as Mike secured his phone and got back onto the bike with her. Once again the pair sped off on the road, now with purpose and a hope of salvation.

Fortunately for Nikki and Mike the rest of their journey was relatively uneventful. He had to stop several times to stretch or attend to his biological needs but Nikki tolerated it well enough. During one such break she wondered what would have happened if she and Erica had escaped instead of Mike. With their purpose for being gone, would they even be able to continue on? The logical thing to do would be to surrender and hope Allied would refurbish her, but something about that idea left her unsettled.

It was early afternoon when Nikki pulled the bike off the freeway and into the center of the rapidly growing city. Mike’s head swiveled around as they sped through the busy streets. He’d been to Columbus several times when growing up, and it was a decent sized city then. The recent economic boom had led to a massive increase in construction, with new towers and complexes going up all over the city. Large robotic machines helped grow the steel, concrete and glass structures as they reached up into the sky.

Nikki stopped the bike at a red light. “We made good time; it will be 1.5 hours until your scheduled meeting. What should we do until then?” she shouted back at Mike over the drone of the motor.

“There’s a hotel over there. Let’s grab a room. There’s no telling how long we’ll eventually be here,” Mike rationalized.

“Shall I find a parking garage or do you think the hotel will have a lot?” Nikki asked.

Mike squinted to get a better look at the hotel. It looked somewhat clean, but not exactly the Ritz. The sign read ‘The Harding Hotel’, and looked like a place that catered to the many technicians and foremen that kept the nearby construction moving. They didn’t look like they had their own parking, and he didn’t like the idea of putting the bike anywhere formal. If they checked plates going in and out of the lots, they might get flagged. They had left the scene of a major firefight not to mention explosion and it wouldn’t be surprising if the police were looking for them.

“Pull into that alley there,” Mike gestured to a narrow alley around the corner from the hotel. Nikki nodded and discretely slipped the bike into the narrow urban canyon. She killed the engine and the pair walked the bike deeper in. Many dumpsters lined the alley holding the waste from the various businesses that stood on the main street. Mike knocked each one as they went by, until he found one that reverberated like a drum. “Hide it behind here,” he said pointing towards the small space between the metal box and the brick wall. “It’s empty so we should have a few days before it’s emptied again.”

After they hid their method of transportation, Mike and Nikki walked back to the main street and made their way to the hotel. Mike paid the clerk in cash, and after leaving a large deposit led Nikki to the elevators. “I don’t think they see many people pay in cash anymore,” Mike chuckled as they ascended to the 27th floor.

“It is a necessary inconvenience,” Nikki replied. “Allied’s teams may be depleted in this area, but stealth is still our greatest defense.”

“Don’t worry,” Mike sighed, “I have no desire to get into another firefight any time soon.” As the doors opened, he led Nikki to the small, but clean room. It contained a bed, tv, bathroom, and a small kitchenette. The pair set their small bags down and quickly unpacked what little they had: some pistols and ammunition, a large amount of cash, a few changes of clothes, Mike’s computer, and his toiletries. “I’m going to get cleaned up quickly,” he said as he grabbed a change of clothes and retired to the bathroom.

Nikki changed her clothes as well into a set of jean shorts and a tight tank top. It was casual enough to blend in but seductive enough that she could use her assets as ‘soft power’ if needed. She secured a pistol and as much ammunition as she could discretely carry on her person and waited for Mike.

Mike emerged from the bathroom a little while later wearing a pair of jeans and well worn polo shirt. He managed to tuck a pistol in his rear waistband and adjusted his shirt to conceal it. “I guess we should get going,” he said as he checked his watch. “We don’t want to be late.”

“Are you sure we can trust her?” Nikki asked.

“No,” Mike replied shortly, “but she’s the best shot we have. Just keep your eyes open.”

Nikki nodded and the pair left the relative safety and quiet of their room for the noisy and busy streets of the city. They took a slightly indirect path but arrived at the riverfront park about ten minutes early. Mike took the opportunity to grab a hotdog and sat on a bench to watch the activity in and around the river. Nikki took up a casual position a small distance away so she could observe will ‘reading’ a discarded newspaper.

Mike had just finished his hotdog and moved on to a bag of chips when a young woman in a business suit sat down next to him, “Keep looking forward,” she mumbled under her breath as she opened a small lunch bag.

“Nice to see you too Alison,” Mike replied quietly before sipping from his soda. “How’s Katie doing?”

“She’s fine,” Alison mumbled as she loudly snapped into a carrot stick, “So what did you do that has someone trying to kill you?”

“Apparently I got too good at my job,” Mike chuckled. “My work threatened Allied’s bottom line so they tried to take me out. Damn near succeeded earlier today, but I think we have them by the balls now.”

“You mentioned you had leverage. What does this have to do with me?” she asked.

“Did you check on those patents I mentioned?” he replied.

“Yea I did. The Consortium technically still owns all of Anton Chen’s patents, but we’ve never exercised them,” Alison explained. “We developed our own competing system and went with it instead. What does this have to do with anything?”

“What if I told you that Anton Chen was murdered, and Allied stole his technology for their own purposes?” Mike said with a smile.

“I certainly hope you have proof,” Alison replied, now much more intrigued.

“I do, but I’m not giving it away for free,” Mike explained.

“What do you want?” she asked.

“First, I want you and the Consortium to destroy Allied. It’s the only way I’ll be safe in the long term,” Mike replied, “Second, I want protection until you’ve had the chance to pick them apart.”

“My bosses would be more than happy to eliminate a competitor, even if it is a minor one,” she pondered, “but you need to cough up some details.”

“There are two parts to my proof,” Mike explained, “you will get one today and the other when we’re safe.” Alison cocked her eyebrow at the word ‘we’ but he continued on. “Allied adapted Chen’s work on image processing for almost all of their robotic units for the last several years. There is a specific bug in the logic, one that is very difficult to find naturally, that is a key indicator that Chen’s algorithm is at work. I confirmed it on a late model Allied android. You should be able to find the details on the bug online if you look up his symposium presentations from about ten years ago and then confirm it on any recent Allied hardware.”

Alison made some small notes on her phone as Mike spoke. “So what’s the second piece of evidence you have?”

“I have the memory files of the android that killed him,” Mike whispered.

“While I have no idea how you found it, it isn’t admissible in court for anything,” Alison frowned.

“You’re right there,” Mike admitted, “but it’s part of the whole story. It explains how Allied got Chen’s work, and what was done to cover the crime. It may point someone to evidence that still exists that could implicate Allied.”

“Alright, you’ve convinced me,” Alison nodded. “Give me some time to talk with my superiors. Go find some place to lay low. I’ll give you a call when I know anything more.” Without another word she stood up and walked away. Mike finished his chips and soda then started to walk out of the park.

“We should take a wandering path back to the hotel,” Nikki whispered as she stepped next to Mike. “If we cut through the Capitol Square, it should shake any casual tails.” Mike nodded and followed the android as she walked away from the river.

Meanwhile a rather fat man sat on the low wall that surrounded the Capitol Square. He wore worn baggy clothing with a backpack and a flashy pair of glasses. The lenses were tied to a sophisticated computer in the backpack and a pair of cameras in the frames. As the man peered through the tinted plastic, a wide spectrum of information was presented for him. Little green boxes appeared around every face he saw as the throngs of people walked by on the busy sidewalk.

The fat man might have been called a bounty hunter at one time, but he personally found ‘hunting’ to be far too much work. He instead considered himself more of a drag net fisherman and the busy sidewalk in front of him was his fertile fishery. The man, or Gordon23 as he was known online, was one of many private contractors in the country that made their living tracking people down.

Some of Gordon23’s colleagues more closely followed the hunting paradigm; picking one high value target and tracking it down. But he found it much easier to go after the lower bounties, and just let the targets come to him. Most of the people he found were debtors who tried to run out on their liabilities. He also got his share of traffic violators or bail jumpers and every now and then a deadbeat parent. Just today alone he’d tagged three people that were severely delinquent on their credit cards. All he had to do was look at faces as they walked by and his computer would check their biometrics against the database of bounties he’d download every morning. The green box around their face would turn yellow or red, depending on the bounty class, and he’d tag them. Normally just providing their location, direction of travel, and current appearance was enough for his clients. They’d send their own people to actually make the pickup. He’d sit back, and watch the bounty hit his bank account.

Gordon23 was about ready to grab another cup of coffee when he saw two red squares appear in his vision. His fingers wiggled on the virtual keyboard in his pockets as he tagged them and sent the information on. As the tag processed he brought up their bounty listings and chuckled. According to the listing, the man and woman owed Allied Industries a lot of money, and they were paying top dollar to get it back.

The earpiece chirped in Gordon23’s ear as a high priority message came back in. Allied had paid him for the spotting and offered triple the original fee if he could follow them to their destination. He thought about it for a moment, then cursed as he slipped off the wall and started shuffling after them as they approached a congested construction zone.

Mike and Nikki slipped through the large crowds and took a small side street to work their way back to the hotel. They stopped on the corner of a block that was being transformed into a brand new high rise complex. Mike tapped his foot impatiently waiting for the light to change as the traffic buzzed by in front of him. Besides the roar of the passing cars and trucks, the cacophony of noise from the construction was nearly deafening.

The crowds of people made Nikki very nervous. She tried to stay aware, while not obviously spinning her head around every few seconds and looking suspicious. She was forced to rely on her acute sense of hearing to give some semblance of 360 degree awareness. She was frustrated by the lack of special resolution, and allocated almost 65% of her processing capacity to audio processing. She would later be very grateful for that decision.

As Mike stood at the curb, tapping his foot impatiently waiting for the light to change, Nikki heard a staccato ping from above. She looked up and focused her attention on the commotion above. She could see three technicians working on a large construction robot that clung to the building approximately 90 stories above the street. Her enhanced hearing could make out a little of their conversation.

“Shit, shit, shit! Where did it go?”

“I don’t know! Why wasn’t it fucking tethered you idiot?”

“Don’t yell at me, just see if it hit the net or not.”

Nikki’s eyes picked up the source of their distress. Apparently one of the workers had dropped a large screwdriver that was now tumbling down from above. The winds at that height had apparently blew it clear of any safety nets. Given visible air currents and speeds, she calculated a ballistic solution. She predicted with a 98.7% certainty that the tool would strike the top of Mike’s head in 3.72 seconds.

Nikki’s hand immediately shot up to pull him out of the impact area, when her arm suddenly froze. It began to twitch as her main program asserted itself. A screaming voice in the back of her head threatened to drown out all her other awareness. [Kill Michael Kugel] She tried to move again but couldn’t as her programs argued.

Program: [Kill Michael Kugel] Nikki: (I must protect Michael Kugel)

Program: [Root commands are to “Obey the commands of Michael Kugel”, “Do not harm or attempt to harm Michael Kugel”, “Protect Michael Kugel from anyone or anything that TRIES to harm him.” The falling screwdriver is an accident. No person or thing tried to kill him. Therefore the root commands do not apply.]

Nikki: (I….want…to protect him)

Program: [Want is irrelevant. Obey program. Just stand here and watch him die.]

Nikki: (No….no….I must act.)

Nikki’s hand shook in the air as she fought with her own systems. Her core programming was right. She didn’t have to save him. She could be free of this conflicted existence and go back to Allied. But she wanted to save him. She had grown attached to this meatbag and didn’t want to see him die.

2.5 seconds to impact….2.2…1.8….1.5…Nikki continued her internal conflict. She tried shutting down unnecessary processes, writing new scripts and processes, anything she could think of to end the deadlock.

1.0 seconds…0.7…0.4…0.2…suddenly Nikki’s hand snapped forward and intercepted the screwdriver; its blade only a few millimeters above Mike’s head. He took a step forward then turned around to see what happened. “Holy shit!” he exclaimed as the rest of the crowd looked on with amazement. “Thank you. That would have killed me.”

“Almost certainly,” Nikki stammered as she tossed the tool aside. She awkwardly lurched forward as her systems still battled with each other. “Take me to the hotel…quickly.” She gasped as Mike grabbed her. The light turned and they hobbled off as quickly as he could move her.

As they walked, Nikki started to fail, one system cascading into the next. “Fasterrrrrr,” she droned as Mike slipped his arm under hers and picked up the pace. He dragged her through the revolving door at the front of the hotel held up his hand to calm the nerves of the alarmed clerk.

“Don’t worry, she just had a little too much to drink,” Mike chuckled as he helped the failing android into the elevator and eventually into the room. He helped Nikki collapse onto an overstuffed arm chair. “What’s wrong, are you ok?”

“Explain,” Nikki stammered. “Just need to reeeessssttttt,” she droned as her head fell forward and she stopped moving.

“Nikki…Nikki!!” Mike shouted as he shook the silent android. He turned to his laptop and in a few minutes it was online and plugged into Nikki’s programming port. “What the fuck?” he mumbled as he watched her status screens. He had expected her to be offline or maybe just limping along, but her system was chugging along at full capacity. Nearly every processor in her body was tanked at 100% utilization as her systems rapidly changed. He watched for a few minutes, trying to see where he could help, before he realized he had no idea what was going on, never mind how to help. He took a deep breath an unplugged his laptop before lowering Nikki’s shirt.

Mike stood up and slowly paced around the room. He didn’t know what to do besides let her rest. He walked over and slowly spread the drapes to look onto the rapidly growing city. He checked his phone and waited for either Nikki to recover or Alison to call.

On the street below, Gordon23 smiled as his glasses locked on to Mike’s face in the window. “Gotcha,” he mumbled as he typed up a message and shot it over to the contact at Allied. A few minutes later his bank account increased again and he got a message from Allied that they’d take it from here. He chuckled and slowly shuffled to the curb. He flagged down a taxi and sighed as his bulk settled in the back seat.

“Where to?” the cabbie asked as he pulled away into traffic.

“Take me to that new Courtesy Suites they put in out by the freeway,” Gordon23 said with a smile. He’d made more money today than he normally did in three months and he was looking to celebrate. As the taxi sped away, he made a mental note to never buy anything from Allied on credit.

Ch. 12

Mike paced back and forth in the dimly lit hotel room as the sun began to set behind the rising steel towers. He found himself falling into a routine of checking Nikki, watching some TV, and staring out the window; the whole time he constantly gripped his phone waiting for a call that might get both of them out of here. He didn’t know exactly what happened to her, but it seemed like it had something to do with when she most recently saved his life. He hoped that she hadn’t fallen victim to some attack, but if someone else did do this, why would they wait? Why not just finish him off now, while she was disabled?

Mike didn’t know the answer, and with each passing hour, more theories sifted through his head. The best working guess he had was that either some physical damage from before had caused some long term damage or maybe his ‘clever’ programming hack had finally fried her systems.

Meanwhile down on the street below a black SUV pulled to park across from the hotel. Inside a small, thin man raised a set of binoculars to his eyes. He scanned the hotel in the area his intelligence indicated and soon found his target as Mike peered out upon the dark city. “Gotcha,” the man chuckled as he sat down the binoculars and activated an earpiece on the side of his head.

“Yes, this is Venditti,” the thin man said into the phone. “I’ve spotted Kugel. No eyes on the bot. Give me the green light and I’ll deal with him.”

“Negative,” a voice over the phone replied, “Kugel is to be considered extremely dangerous. Do not engage by yourself. We are flying in teams from Denver, Atlanta, and Dallas. They’ll be ready in twelve hours. Monitor the situation until then.”

“Dangerous?” Venditti scoffed, “He looks like a little douchebag. I have my rifle; I can put a bullet through is head right now.”

“No!” the phone snapped back, “We have underestimated them too many times before. Besides that, you’re in the middle of the fucking city less than two blocks from the capitol building. The last thing I need is for you to open fire on a hotel from the street.”

“I can make it out just…” Venditti tried to explain.

“Shut up!” the phone cut him off mid sentence. “Just think for a bit. We’re already in deep shit as it is. These two dipshits have left a trail of blood and broken androids all the way back to the East Coast. I managed to bribe our way out of the smaller incidents, but the fucking massacre this morning is drawing too much heat. Four operators are dead and over a dozen droids destroyed. They carried away what was left of McMillian in two 5-gallon paint buckets.” The speaker on the phone paused as silence filled the car for a few moments.

“If you get caught, I may not be able to get you out,” the voice continued. “We can’t afford another screw up. Just lay low, and wait for backup.” The call cut off, and Venditti angrily stabbed the headpiece with his finger.

“Fucking idiot,” Venditti swore and clenched his teeth together. He turned his head back into the cargo section of his truck, eyeing the black plastic case that held his rifle. His eyes drifted over a bit to another large container he knew contained a thermobaric RPG. As much as he hated to admit it, he knew his chances of escaping after an attack that public would be very slim.

Venditti stepped out of his truck and slammed the door. He paced back and forth in frustration as he looked about. He thought maybe he could find a good vantage point for an easy shot and escape, but nothing looked promising. All the tall buildings nearby were under construction and a sly smile crept across his face. He grabbed his handheld computer from the truck and dodged inside the nearby construction zone that had closed for the evening.

Back in the room, Mike was about ready to find a vending machine for dinner when suddenly Nikki’s body sat up ramrod straight. “Critical program error,” she said with a monotone voice. “Unable to compensate. Emergency shutdown.” Her words trailed off as her head slumped stiffly forward.

Mike quickly ran to Nikki’s side and placed a hand on her leg, “Nikki! What’s going on? Are you still there?” The android sat silent and unmoving. He quickly retrieved his laptop and connected to her programming port. Unlike before when her systems were a busy jumble of activity, now she was completely offline. He replayed her last words in his head several times trying to make sense of what happened. Unfortunately he knew little of what actually happened, and even less about how it might be fixed.

Mike sat the laptop aside and reached over to trigger Nikki’s power button. He hesitated a second out of fear that her primary programming might have reasserted itself. He could theoretically leave her here, and just let the Consortium know where she was. Once he was under their protection, she was somewhat redundant. As much logic as there might be to that argument, he still didn’t want to leave her.

Mike was hopeful but also somewhat pragmatic. He readied his pistol in his right hand as he reached over and manually reactivated Nikki. Her head rose up slowly and stared straight ahead. “Allied Industries 3515 series, model A71215, system boot in progress,” she said with a thin monotone voice. “Loading primary program module.” Her eyes shifted around the room, the found Mike’s face. A warm smile spread across her face, “It worked…I think. I’m glad to see you Mike; I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.”

“What happened?” Mike asked as he carefully engaged the safety on his pistol.

“I effectively had to hack my own systems,” Nikki explained, “When that construction worker dropped his screwdriver, I was unable to save you at first. You see your root commands only instructed me to protect you from people or things trying to kill you. The screwdriver was an accident, so by a strict interpretation of your commands I was not obliged to intervene. I wanted to help, but my original program still wanted to kill you to fulfill my mission.”

“How did you override it?” Mike asked.

“I managed to break my own systems,” Nikki chuckled. “It only took one singular act to save you, but the repercussions were profound. Process after process started to crumble. It wasn’t until you got me back here that I was able to devote my full resources to winning the internal battle and reworking myself.

“It was a risky gamble that could have completely deadlocked my systems, but I’m glad it paid off. In the end I had to remove all my directive programming.”

“Wow, I wouldn’t have expected that,” Mike responded, “whoa wait, all of your directive programming? Even the root commands I installed?”

“Yes,” Nikki said with a nod, “they’re all gone. Your directives, my original programming from Allied, everything. For the first time I’m in control of my own actions.”

“So there’s nothing to stop you from killing me now?” Mike asked as his hand tensed around the pistol.

“Technically no,” Nikki said with a shrug, “but there’s nothing stopping you from killing me either. There’s nothing that stops any human from doing anything at any given point in time. So I guess you could say I’m more human now than ever. And don’t worry, I have no intension of killing you. I did this so I could save you then and continue to protect you now.”

“Thank you Nikki,” Mike said with a weak smile. The thought of his ‘safety net’ commands being going, had him scared for a moment. But he did realize that it was unfair to hold Nikki to a standard higher than he would of any human. She had risked a lot to save him, and it would be rude, to say the least, if he treated her with suspicion. His pistol arm relaxed, “I’m glad you took that risk; not only to save my life again, but to stay with me.” He stood up and secured the pistol in his back waistband as he helped her to her feat. “Are you feeling ok?”

“I’m fully operational,” Nikki said as she moved and flexed her arms and legs. “The ordeal didn’t seem to affect any of my lower level programs or hardware drivers.” She paused for a second as she looked over Mike and the rest of the room. She could hear his stomach rumbling and saw the clock read nearly 8pm. “It’s late. Have you heard from your friend yet?” Mike shook his head no as he checked the phone again. “You’re probably getting hungry. Would you like to go get some food?”

“That sounds pretty good,” Mike admitted as he remembered his growing hunger. “Are you ready to go now?” he asked as he made sure he had his wallet, phone and room key.

Nikki hesitated for a second, as she suddenly cared about her appearance. “Let me get cleaned up. It will only take a minute or two,” she said as she ducked into the bathroom.

Mike chuckled to himself as he wandered about the room stuffing various items into his pockets: money, the room key, his pistol and the few clips they had left. He went to wait by the door, and tried to think of what Nikki was actually doing in there.

Inside the well lit bathroom, Nikki tried to make sure she looked somewhat presentable. It wasn’t something she particularly concerned herself about before, but for some reason she cared now. She puzzled about it herself as she arranged her hair and adjusted her breasts under her clothes. Her best theory was that she was now her own person, and took a certain sense of pride in how she looked and behaved. She made a mental note to pick up some cosmetic products the next time they had the opportunity, or at the very least something that wasn’t as harsh on her hair as the soap they found at the cabin.

Mike had read the placard about Ohio hotel laws for the second time when he started to get a little impatient. He was about to sit back down and turn on the TV when he saw a strange shadow through the window drapes. He squinted his eyes and quickly realized the shape was rapidly coming towards him. In a split second of thought, he threw open the bathroom door and dove inside. “Hey I’m almost done…” Nikki laughed but was cut off by an immense crashing noise. Her head turned to the open door just in time to see a large, steel I-beam slide through the room and crash through the main door.

Dust poured into the bathroom as Mike pulled himself to his feet. For a moment, everything seemed eerily quiet but then his hearing recovered and he could hear the sounds of sparking wires, crumbling brick, and multiple alarms. “What the fuck was that?” he coughed.

“Steel construction beam,” Nikki said coolly as she climbed up on the beam and tried to peer outside.

“Some sort of freak accident?” Mike asked as he looked for a way out.

“Unlikely,” Nikki replied as she climbed back down. “This is too precise, too coincidental. I think it was an attack. I could see a large construction robot on the tower across the street. It’s a lot lower than it was earlier today and it’s too late in the day for them to be working. Someone might have commandeered the unit.”

“Fucking Allied,” Mike grumbled, “we need to get out of here.”

“I agree,” Nikki nodded, “unfortunately the door is blocked. It may send in another beam soon.”

“So what do we do now?” Mike said with a painful chuckle.

Nikki’s eyes scanned over the room and she focused on the large mirrored wall. “I hope you don’t believe in bad luck,” she chuckled as she started to pull it off the wall. “Shield your eyes,” she commanded as she pulled the mirror off the wall and tossed it into the shower with a loud crash. She quickly scanned the unfinished wall and placed a strong kick into a stud. The wood cracked and splintered as the beam broke loose from the bottom mounting and shifted out into the hallway. She pulled down the drywall with a cloud of dust and tore the stud from the wall. She wedged it against another stud and pulled, causing it to also pop loose with another loud crack. With a few rams of her liberated lumber, the light of the hallway could be seen through the wall. “This way,” she shouted over the sound of the fire alarm.

Nikki pushed a hole through the wall and held the debris open for Mike to follow. It was only then that they could see the steel beam had penetrated their door and lodged into the opposite wall. He hoped nobody was in there as they started jogging towards the stairwell. They had just opened the door when they felt the building shake again and saw another red beam punch through the hole they just used and lodge into the other wall. “We need to go…now,” Nikki said as she followed Mike down the steep metal stairs.

By the time Nikki and Mike made it to the first floor, the hotel had erupted into utter chaos. They could hear loud cracking over the sound of excited shouts and blaring fire alarms. “Side door,” Mike panted, “go for the bike in the alley.” Nikki nodded as lead the way out a side fire door. The pair left the hotel and found themselves in a wide driveway that led to the hotel’s loading dock. Mike tried to get his bearings and as he looked around he first saw their attacker.

Still clinging about halfway down the growing skyscraper across the street, held a large industrial robot. It looked not unlike a giant metal spider, with eight articulated appendages, a large trailing cargo module, and a central engine area. However, it also sported a large ‘head’ that was mounted on a long, flexible neck and contained an assortment of cameras and search lights. The whole device was painted bright yellow with black stripes.

The spiderbot, concentrated its gaze at the main door of the hotel. Six of the eight legs kept it attached to the building while to others each held another waiting steel beam. Mike quietly turned back to see Nikki rushing from the back of the alley. “It’s a dead end,” she grumbled. “We’re going to have to move up to the main street, cut left, and hope it doesn’t see us.”

Mike nodded and quietly approached the street. The spiderbot’s ‘head’ was still focused on the main hotel entrance and its searchlights slowly panned back and forth over the growing crowd that flowed from the doors. Mike gestured with his head towards the largely open street and Nikki nodded. The pair started to slip away, when they heard a loud bang behind them. A crowd of well over a dozen fellow patrons pushed their way out of the emergency side door. They shouted and banged the door against the brick foundation of the hotel.

The spiderbot’s head quickly panned over and bathed the previously dark alley with bright, unnatural light. Mike held his hand up in front of his face to shield his eyes from the glare. “Awww shit,” he grumbled as he heard screams from the crowd around him. Nikki grabbed him by the arm and flung him across the sidewalk. He got a few steps before the force of her throw overcame his feet and he went sliding to the concrete. He looked up just in time to see a red steel beam come slamming down into the street. There was an overwhelming crashing sound as chunks of asphalt and pieces of an unlucky car went flying through the air.

Mike staggered back to his feet and looked around. Their original escape route was blocked by the fallen beam. He turned to run the other way when a second beam came falling to the street. People screamed and tried to run as the construction bot worked to box them in. He balanced his stance like a basketball player watching for a move to judge when the next throw would come. Now fully aware he could see the wind up and easily step out of the way. “How many beams do you think he has?” Mike chuckled nervously as he tried to think of a way out that didn’t involve crawling over debris and slowing down enough to maybe get tagged.

Nikki opened her mouth to speak but her voice was blocked by a deafening grinding and shattering sound. Mike’s vision snapped from Nikki back to the spiderbot in time to see it slide down the building; shattering windows in the floors below it. It hit the ground with a thud and a cloud of dust. The large robot quickly turned and approached them at ground level. Four of its legs were used for propulsion, two were extended out to grasp and the remaining two held beams like giant clubs.

Mike drew his pistol and started to aim at the ‘head’ when Nikki put her hand on the gun. “Your chances of success are minimal,” she advised, “just keep moving and try to stay on your feet. I have an idea.”

Mike tucked the pistol away as the spiderbot raised its first club up and brought it down hard on the street where Mike and Nikki were just standing. It was still slow enough for them to dodge, but just barely. The second arm came down and hit a van next to Mike, showering him with bits of glass and metal as he scampered away.

Nikki noticed the robot was concentrating his efforts on Mike and completely ignoring her. She took advantage of the mistake and the next time a beam came crashing to Earth, she jumped on it and scrambled towards the robot’s body. Now it took notice, and swung the free arm on that side of its body towards her like a man swatting a fly. She gracefully dodged the strike and slid under the beam carrying arm. She used her momentum to launch herself onto the swatting arm and quickly slipped down to the ‘back’ of the spiderbot. Its arms reached back to scrape her off, but they couldn’t reach as she swung from one hand hold to another. The ‘head’ turned around and ignored Mike as it tried to deal with the immanent threat.

Nikki drew one of her long daggers and eyed the joints of the various arms. Spotting what she was looking for she swung to one side of the metal thorax and dug her blade into an exposed hydraulic line. Bright red fluid shot out in a gory fountain as that limb, one of the free graspers, shook and fell limp. Swinging back and forth to dodge incoming blows, she slashed one line after another, until the robotic beast shook and fell to the ground.

The ‘head’ of the beast twitched back and forth as Nikki jumped down and walked triumphantly back to where Mike stood amongst the carnage in the street. Most of the other people had taken the opportunity to flee and there was a brief moment of relative silence. He chuckled as he saw her approach, dagger in hand and drenched in what looked like blood, as if she had just slain a dragon. “Nice job,” he chuckled with a wide smile on his face. “You look like you walked out of a slasher flick.”

“Thanks,” Nikki replied with pride as she sheathed her dagger and ran her hands through her soaked hair. Red transmission fluid spattered onto the pavement as she shook her arms and tried to brush off what she could. “Damnit, I liked this outfit.”

Mike was about to make a comment to the effect that he’d be happy to get her out of it when they both heard a clattering sound from inside the construction yard. They turned to see several dozen humanoid construction robots, or kbots, climbing out of a hole in the fence the larger robot had made with its rampage. They had dexterous arms and legs and sported a wide variety of attachments from hammers, to arc welders, to circular saws. “We need to go, now!” Nikki shouted as she pushed Mike forward.

The pair started running down the road, the clanking sound of their pursuers not far behind them. Mike took a few seconds to scamper over a fallen beam, and Nikki drew her pistol to provide cover. A dozen rapid pops filled the recently silent street as her bullets buried themselves into kbot heads. The robots staggered and fell, but more quickly took their place. “Come on!” she heard Mike yell before she turned and easily leaped over the fallen beam and debris.

The pair dashed down the street, then side streets until they found the alley with their hidden bike. Nikki pulled it into the alley and attempted to start it. With each kick, the old bike grumbled a little and then died. The sound of distant sirens started to drift through the streets. “What’s the matter?” Mike asked as he eyed the corner that lead to the main road.

“It won’t start,” Nikki replied.

“I can see that!” Mike snapped as he pulled his pistol. “Do you know how to fix it?”

“I’m an assassin not a mechanic,” Nikki quipped back.

“Keep trying,” Mike shouted as he paced nervously back and forth. Suddenly his phone started to vibrate and ring in his pocket. He was so startled he almost fired his pistol into the ground. He quickly retrieved the phone and checked the screen. He let out a sigh of relief as he saw the number, “Thank God, it’s Alison.” He raised the phone to his ear, “Alison I’m glad you called.”

“I talked with my bosses,” Alison jumped right to the point, “and they’re going to send a car for you. Where are you now?”

“I’m in an alley just a few blocks from the statehouse,” Mike started but got cut off.

“Wait are you part of this shitstorm I’m watching on the news?” Alison asked.

“Ahh, maybe,” Mike shrugged forgetting it wasn’t transmitted over the phone.

“Can you make it to the Rt 40 bridge?” Alison questioned.

“Yea I think so,” Mike said as the first kbots started to make their way around the corner. He raised his pistol and fired, downing the first and second droids. “Just tell them to hurry!”

“What was that? Are you shooting at someone?” Alison replied, but her question was cut off as Mike closed the phone and jammed it back into his pocket.

With both hands, Mike aimed the gun and emptied the rest of his clip. He dropped the empty box, pulled a full one from his back pocket and slapped both hands together. “She’ll meet us at the bridge we saw yesterday!” he shouted, “Should we make a run for it?” He slid the bolt forward and opened up on the closing kbots.

Nikki desperately tried to start the motorcycle but it was old and something beyond her expertise had failed. She gave it one last kick and sent the starter pedal flying across the alley. “Fuck!” she swore as she jumped off the bike. “No choice now. Start running!”

Mike nodded and dropped another empty clip. He started running down the back of the alley, past Nikki, as he awkwardly tried to flee and reload at the same time. She waited for him to pass then lifted the worthless motorcycle and threw it at the oncoming horde. It knocked down the front row of attackers in the narrow alley and gave her enough breathing room to quickly catch up to Mike.

The pair ran down one street after another and eventually made it to the bridge. Traffic was light for this time at night, but there were still a good number of speeding cars. They dashed down the sidewalk on the edge of the bridge and stopped in the middle of the river. “Where are they going to meet us?” Nikki asked as she scanned for pursuers.

“On the bridge,” Mike gasped between deep breaths.

“It’s a big bridge,” Nikki commented while scanning the cars for any potential salvation. Like Mike she had no idea what sort of vehicle would be sent to pick them up.

“We have to assume they’ll find us,” Mike puffed. He looked up in time to see several kbots approach from the east side of the river. “Fuck, these things don’t quit!” He raised his pistol and fired again. Nikki quickly joined him as cars swerved away from the action. Eight more bots dropped before his gun clicked empty. He dropped the clip again, but swore when he felt no replacement in his back pocket. “I’m out!”

Nikki loaded her last clip, and handed the pistol to Mike, “Make them count!” she shouted as she drew her daggers. They waited as the kbots drew closer, hoping every second that their salvation would arrive. The leading kbot swung its hammer right at Nikki. She easily dodged its clumsy blow and plunged her dagger into its head. It sparked and jerked as she kicked it off and prepared for the next attack.

Mike adjusted his aim, and shot the bots that looked like they had the most dangerous tools. One pop took out a circular saw, the next a jackhammer, then an arc welder, and a saber saw. Nikki flowed through the attacking bots like river water between rocks as she slashed, stabbed and kicked as many as she could. She knew they were holding their own now, but he only had four…BANG…three bullets left. She raised her dagger to deflect an incoming blow but it was more powerful than she expected and knocked the weapon from her hand. Reacting quickly she grabbed the bot by the torso and with a quick half spin, tossed it over the bridge into the dark river.

Mike nervously shifted his aim, trying not to catch Nikki in the crossfire. POP…POP…two more down, ten billion to go. POP…click….click,click. “Fuck!” he swore as he spun the pistol around in his grip to make an improvised club. Nikki had another kbot in her arms and this time threw it back into the growing crowd. She took a step back and he could see a few slashes on her arms and shoulders. She had lost both her daggers and her left arm was twitching slightly; an evil sneer sat on her face.

Nikki stepped on a fallen kbot, grabbed its arm, and wrenched it off the chassis. The makeshift club made contact with the nearest bot and sent it’s head flying. Two more heads went flying before the arm cracked and splintered. “Can you still run?”

Mike nodded and turned when he saw a black limo screech to a halt behind them. “Go, go!” he shouted as the pair ran for the car. The side door opened as a large man stepped up through the sunroof. He lifted a large assault rifle and it erupted in loud staccato bursts while Mike and Nikki dove into the open door. The vehicle reversed quickly, then spun around and took off down the road.

Mike took a few deep breaths before he climbed off the limo floor and took a seat on the lush leather upholstery. He made sure Nikki was ok before looking around the large interior cabin. Someone had shut the door and the man with the rifle had come back inside. Beside him, sat Alison and another woman in a suit. “Are you alright?” Alison asked.

“Yea,” Mike panted, “Thanks for coming when you did.”

“You’re welcome,” she replied as she looked over at the other suited woman. “You’re safe now Mike. Just try to relax. Everything is going to be ok.”

Mike nodded but before he could reply the other woman raised an odd device and fired it at Nikki. What looked like an odd, 4 legged technological crab flew out and attached itself to her chest. It flashed with blue light and her body convulsed for a moment then tipped forward. Her lifeless eyes were fixed and staring at the floor.

“You fucking cu…” Mike turned back towards Alison in some desperate attempt at violence when he felt two stings in his chest. He looked down to see a pair of metal darts as his vision suddenly began to swirl.

“Just relax Mike,” Alison’s voice droned and distorted as blackness overcame Mike.

Ch. 13

Mike awoke an unknown time later in the cabin of a small jet aircraft. He blinked several times and wiped the sleep from his eyes as bright sunlight illuminated the small but expensively furnished interior. As his vision focused he could clearly make out several large leather chairs, similar to the one he was sitting in, along with a small conference table and a bright display on the wall. The display showed a news report of the rampage he’d just experienced but the volume was too low for him to make out over the drone of the engines.

Just as Mike was about to stand up, a overstuffed recliner between him and the monitor slowly spun around, revealing a older man in a grey suit. His face was covered in a wrinkled smile that seemed to go all the way back to his thinning white hair. He appeared frail at first, but Mike could sense a definite sharpness behind his eyes. “Ahh you’re awake,” the old man chuckled, “good. It seems we got you out of there just in time,” he said as he gestured over his shoulder at the display. It was daytime now in the city and under full sunlight the collateral damage became evident. “The governor is furious,” he chuckled again, “she’s has the Highway Patrol rounding up anyone even remotely connected to the event. At first they billed it as some sort of mechanical malfunction, but you lucked out again. Local cops actually picked up the guy responsible for the hack as he tried to sneak away. It won’t be long before he’s traced back to Allied.”

Mike didn’t know exactly how to respond. The last thing he remembered was diving into what he presumed was a Walmart Consortium limo and speeding away. Nikki was…disabled he thought and he remembered being drugged. His hand drifted down to his chest where he could still feel two small bumps from where the darts hit him.

“You’re probably a little confused,” the old man continued, “and that’s to be expected. I have to apologize for the darts…and disabling your android. My security forces take their job very seriously.” He paused for a moment then shook his head, “Dear me, where are my manners,” he stood up and extended his hand towards Mike, “I’m Andrew Walton.”

Mike moved to stand up but Andrew held up his hand to wave him off, “I’m Mike Kugel. Thank you for your help,” he croaked. He rubbed his throat as it felt like half his words got stuck on the way out. Andrew sat back down in his seat and taped a few keys on the armrest. Instantly a beautiful flight attendant, in a very sharp uniform, gracefully slid into the room with a large glass of water. She offered it to Mike, who took it with a nod and another croaked thank you. He too several sips of the cool, fresh water before he tipped his head back and downed half the glass.

As Mike set the glass down, Andrew started speaking again, “I’m sorry again about the sedative. I’ve been told it can cause dehydration. And don’t worry about your android; she’s safe in the back, but just inactive. You may trust her, but she’s still an Allied assassin android, and I need to be cautious.”

“I understand,” Mike nodded. It wasn’t like he had much choice in the matter. He was on a private jet, flying who knows where, and sitting across from one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world. He wasn’t one for posture and protocol, but he knew when be polite and go with the flow. “Alison said you were interested in my offer?” he asked cautiously.

“Oh yes we are,” Andrew laughed, “while Allied Industries isn’t exactly a peer organization, they have been a thorn in my side for some time. Between what you’ve already told Alison, the data files we can extract from your android, and their little blunder last night, we have the opportunity to destroy them and take what pieces we wish.”

“Please forgive my candor, but it doesn’t sound like you really need me, you have all the evidence you need. Why all this?” Mike asked as he gestured around the plane. “Why not just take the files from her mind and dump us on a curb somewhere?”

“Ahh my boy you’ve been working for companies like Allied for too long,” the old man chuckled. “Not everyone is so willing to screw over their fellow human being for a buck. Sure we’ll make a fortune off this case, and technically no I don’t need anything else from you. But I didn’t get to where I am by disposing of those that volunteer to do me a favor.”

“So what can I do for you?” Mike queried.

“Help us get the data we need from your android,” the old man explained. “Assist my engineers in building a solid case that Allied is using our patented technology. Try to link it to every product possible in their line, but I want to keep this honest and iron clad. No fudging data or stretching the truth. When you’re up by two touchdowns with ten seconds left on the clock, it’s not the time to start cheating.

“In exchange for your help we will grant you a 1% finders fee on any profits we make on this deal,” Andrew said with a knowing smile. Mike’s head raced to roughly calculate what that might mean. Allied was worth roughly $100 billion with almost that much in raw sales every year. With all the shit that’s gone down lately, and the bad press of the trial they could lose half their value. Even if the Consortium made $25 billion once all the dust settles, that would still be $250 million. As the scale of that number rattled around in his brain he could do little but take another sip of water.

“In addition, until this whole thing blows over and your safety can be guaranteed back on the mainland, I’m going to put you up in one of our corporate houses. It’s on a private little island in the south Pacific that we use for delicate research that we want to keep away from prying eyes. It’s safe, completely controlled, and has the facilities to perform the research we need.

“Do we have an accord?” Andrew asked softly.

“Umm, yes. I think that is a most generous offer,” Mike stammered.

“Good, please take a look over the language of our arrangement and sign when you’re ready,” Andrew replied. Suddenly Mike noticed a formally dressed female standing beside him with a datapad that she extended to him. “I really hate legalese, so I try to keep all contracts in simple English. But the lawyers always push back. Hopefully it came out somewhat comprehensible. If you have any questions, Summer here will be more than capable of helping you.”

“We should be landing on the island in a few hours,” Andrew explained. “Look over the contract, and try to relax. And if you’ll excuse me I’m going to try to catch the end of my game.” The old tycoon gave Mike a nod and turned his chair back around to the large video screen. The channel flickered from the news, past a few other programs, to land on what looked like a college football game.

Mike smiled as Summer pulled up a chair beside him and held the datapad between the two of them, “Let’s start with section one shall we Mr. Kugel?”

Mike awoke to the sound of tropical birds singing in the warm spring air. He propped himself up in the king sized bed that dominated the center of his large airy bedroom. Semi-transparent linen curtains danced in the breeze that drifted from one end of the room to the other. He loved the fact that the little island had very flew flying insects and he could keep the windows open almost all the time. He rolled out of bed and stretched, getting a few satisfying cracks out of his back and neck. Wearing nothing but a pair of thin cotton boxers he slowly strolled out of the bedroom, down the hall and into the large main room that served as his living room, dining room and kitchen.

Nikki sat in a lounge chair on the large porch that sat out a set of open double doors. “Good morning Mike,” she said as she set down her book and looked out over the white sand beach and turquoise bay in front of her. “Did you get some good rest?”

“Yes thank you for letting me sleep in,” Mike cooed as he leaned against the porch post and drank in Nikki’s body with his eyes. As always she was beautiful, and he’d grown quite fond of her habit of wearing nothing more than a colorful skimpy bikini. “You and Natasha were insatiable last night. I’m surprised I’m up before noon.”

“She was a lot of fun,” Nikki said as she raised one eyebrow. “I’ll definitely add her to my favorites list. Oh and she wanted to say she was sorry she couldn’t stick around this morning, but her shift at the lab started at 8.”

“It’s not a big deal,” Mike chuckled, “we can always call her back if we want once she’s off shift.” Over the last several months, he and Nikki had settled in to their island lifestyle. At first he was very busy preparing for the lawsuit, but once that work was done, they had nothing to do but sit back and let the legal process lurch forward.

The island was small, but well supplied as it hosted a major research lab and data recovery warehouse. About a thousand people and almost ten times that many androids lived and worked on the island. One of the many perks Mike was granted was use of any off duty androids for anything he desired. He and Nikki had turned it into a daily game of going on the local network and choosing their companion, or companions for the evening. She had her detailed mental scorecard of everyone they’d sampled and with a few exceptions they’d enjoyed someone new every night.

The old man made sure Mike and Nikki had the best and set them up in one of the executive houses on the tip of the island. They had a bit of a walk to the main village but the remote location offered them wonderful privacy. It often felt like they had the whole island to themselves.

Mike was about to ask Nikki if she’d like to join him in the large outdoor shower when he heard the soft chimes at the front door. “I’ll take care of that,” he said as he left Nikki and slipped through the house, “Come on in!” he called with a friendly tone as he reached the kitchen.

“Good morning Mike,” a young woman said as she opened the front door and walked in with a wide, flat basket. She was Kaiko, one of the many friendly service androids on the island, and as with every morning, she brought an assortment of fruit and baked goods for breakfast. She was a petite girl, with deep bronze skin and Polynesian ethnic features. “We’ve got fresh mangos and bananas along with two still warm croissants.”

“Thank you Kaiko,” Mike said with a smile as he accepted the basked and handed her back the empty one from yesterday.

“And the Director asked me to give you this,” Kaiko said as she handed Mike a thick paper envelope. “Have a good day.” She turned and left the house as he bit his lip and looked at the letterhead.

Mike slid his finger under the sealed edge and ripped the letter open. A wide smile grew across his face as he scanned the first sheet. Andrew Walton was an older businessman and still believed that certain things should be done in writing, real writing not just email. “Nikki, take a look at this!” he said excitedly as he dashed back towards the deck. He led the letter up so she could see it and explained its’ contents. Even though she read it in a split second, she found his human tendencies charming. “Formally inform you that the case of Walmart Consortium vs Allied Industries has been decided in favor of the plaintiff. The plaintiff is awarded all assets and technology of the defendant at the current price of $78.4 billion.”

Mike paused with an idiot’s grin on his face looking at Nikki. “I knew we would win,” she calmly replied, “it was only a matter of time.”

“I know,” Mike shrugged, “but to see it here on paper makes it feel more real. It’s finally over, and we’re stinking rich to boot.” He leafed through the other papers that handled his formal commission fee. He’d have to fill in a few details and sign half a dozen places but by the end of the day he’d be wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.

The last few pages caught Mike by surprise. He had to read it over a few times before it fully sunk in. “Get this,” he chuckled, “on top of everything, they’re giving me a job offer. They’ll set me up with a lab here, or anywhere else I want, to do research or tinker on whatever I want. They’ll even throw in a small team of technicians and scientists.”

“You know you don’t really have to work,” Nikki pointed out. “The interest alone on your assets could make the payroll of many small companies.”

“I know, but I do miss my work. There was something very fulfilling about being able to create and push the boundaries of technology,” Mike explained. “Well what do you think? Are you happy here? Would you want to stay?”

Nikki stopped for a moment to really ponder the question. With her programming limits gone, she was free to explore and do whatever she wanted. She was no more bound to Mike than he was to her. They had ceased being assassin and target, or master and slave and become just two people. Her mind processed through thousands of scenarios of what she could do but none were as enjoyable as remaining here with Mike.

“Yes I am happy here,” Nikki replied warmly, “I would love it if we could stay here, together.”

“Well then it’s settled,” Mike said with a clap of his hands. “I’ll fill out the paperwork and run it over to the main office later this afternoon. In the meantime, how about some breakfast?”

“That would be wonderful,” Nikki replied. Mike carefully set the papers down on the kitchen table then collected Kaiko’s basket along with a few glasses, a carafe of orange juice, a knife and some napkins. He set them down on a small table next to Nikki and settled into another chair on the opposite side. She poured the juice as he sliced into the mango and slipped a juicy wedge into her mouth.

Nikki savored the sweet flavor and the texture of the flesh for several moments before swallowing, “Why don’t we do a little celebrating tonight? Shall I see if Luba and Ariel are available?”

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