The Enemy of My Enemy? Pt. 3

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©2000, Benedict Keizo Wolf, All Rights Reserved

Enemy of My Enemy? Pt. 3 (unfinished)
The "lost chapter"


"Mitzie! STOP!" Kylan yelled. His synthetic wife continued to advance towards him menacingly after flinging him across their bedroom.

"I don’t have to take orders from you anymore," she said coldly but her eyes widened when Kylan started searching his pockets and he pulled out a small device with a single button on it that would deactivate her. Even her incredible speed was not quick enough as he pushed down on the button just as she jumped and landed on top of him.

Kylan Renson was hurt. His aging body had grown soft from her constant pampering over the years. It ached now where she grabbed his rib cage before throwing him aside like a rag doll... where his back impacted against the wall... where her super athletic body hit his as she fell on him... And where his heart was breaking.

Kye struggled to lift her limp six-foot frame and place her on the bed. He still loved her and there was still a chance to get things back to normal. As he was about to leave his house their beautiful and eternally youthful servant, Anja, blocked his exit.

"I'm sorry Master Renson; the Mistress said that you were not to leave before I lost contact with her. Is there something wrong?" she asked indifferently. Her gaze was oddly detached and unfocused. Something was definitely wrong. Anja and Mitzie normally maintained each other, but now it appeared they both needed help.

Paranoia gripped Kylan as he spoke slowly to her, "Anja, let me leave." It was a direct command.

"I'm sorry, sir. The Mistress informed me that you are ill and therefore not rational. I must detain you until the Mistress gives further instructions." He tried to turn and run, but she instantly was on him. She only wrapped him in a bear hug since she was still programmed not to hurt him, but it was useless to struggle against her strength. She easily began to drag him back to his bedroom.

"OVERRIDE. Anja is a good Girlbot!" Kylan said firmly. Immediately she froze in her tracks but still had a powerful hold of him. "Release me!" he ordered her. She let go of him and then stood at attention.

It had been a while since he had seen Anja in a robotic state without the benefit of her friendly personality program, but at least now she would be totally obedient. Never the less, he wanted to be sure. "Jog in place," he said. She did so without hesitation or protest in the sky-blue cleaning uniform she was wearing. "That's enough," he said. Now he would give her the real test -- he told her to shutdown completely.

She said nothing and her face was still devoid of expression as she smoothly turned on her heel and walked gracefully, yet, mechanically towards her room. Kye followed her and watched as she entered the sparse chamber that resembled something like a doctor's examining room or a small lab. She sat back in her recliner.

She connected a recharge cable to the port in the lower back of her skull and said, "Initiating shutdown." She closed her eyes and a moment later she was completely still. Kylan cautiously approached her and gently turned her face to the side. She made no response... not even when he pulled the cable out of her head. He needed to get help. He needed Stan and Portia.

Kylan was in a daze when he reached their house by mid-morning. It was a simple three-story structure on a large piece of land, but the landscaping and gardens were breathtaking. One of their servant Girls told him that they were both in the back yard where he soon found them.

Frances Stanley was aging extremely well thanks to Portia who, naturally, had not aged at all. They were both dressed in shorts and breezy shirts and were playing catch with a football when Kylan approached them. Stan had his back to him but Portia already knew he was coming and beamed when she saw him. The sunlight danced over her new shorter and lighter shade of red hair.

"HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!" they both cried when Stan turned around and saw Kylan. But instead of a cheerful reunion, Kylan Renson hung his head and sank to his knees... unable to look them in the eyes. Portia and Stan ran to him.

"Hey what's wrong? It's your big 25th!" Stan said enthusiastically.

"Where's Mitzie?" Portia said with concern. "I'm not sensing her at all. I can't access Anja or your house A.I. either. What happened Sweetie!"

"I wanted to do something special for her..." Kye mumbled, "I just loved her so much!" He got to his feet and Portia held him stable with her arms around him while Stan laid a hand on his shoulder.

"What did you do, Kye?" Portia said softly.

A chill came over him. Kylan said nothing at first but finally pulled himself from Portia's tender and comforting embrace... an embrace that eerily felt so much like his own wife's. Portia's synthetic body was identical to Mitzie's and they also shared much of each other's programming.

Kye turned away. Suddenly his old overwhelming feelings of caution and suspicion came over him as Portia looked at him with compassion. She seemed so sincere. "Frank..." Kye said hesitantly, "can we talk alone? It’s a 'guy' thing." He smiled nervously at Portia. He had a feeling that she knew he was lying.

"I'm not human, Kye; you don't have to be embarrassed," Portia said, perceiving his innuendo and letting him believe it. She smiled kindly. "I'll tell you what. I'll go inside and fix you boys some snacks while you talk to Frances." She knew he was lying. She also knew Kylan, though, and that he needed to relax if he was ever going to let her help him.

"C'mon dude, we can talk in the greenhouse." Stan was eager to learn what had happened.

Kylan looked around carefully as they entered a brand new greenhouse and noticed a camera above the door. He knew that Portia could access just about anything she wanted to so he began to walk back out.

"Don't worry; it hasn’t been installed yet," Stan assured him. "And you shouldn't worry about my wife either. She's not going to spy on us if you asked her not to; she has more dignity than that. Besides, it looks like she thinks you're impotent or something."

"Don't patronize me!" Kylan exclaimed. "She knows something's up. The first thing she did was try to contact Mitzie and Anja. She's not fooling me... not any more."

"I'm going to forget you said that," Stan said sternly. "Not just because it's your anniversary, but because I haven't seen you this spooked since the time you first ran into that killer robot in the old tunnels. You need to tell me what's going on," Stan asserted.

"Okay... okay," Kylan sighed, "...I really believed Mitzie loved me as much as I loved her so I gave her the best anniversary gift that I could. I took away all her failsafes and restrictions. I let her have completely free thought... and that's when she turned on me. I'm still not sure if she would have killed me before I managed to shut her down, but I'm glad that I had dug up that emergency panic-button you had given me -- before I set her mind free, I mean. None of her other overrides worked anymore," Kylan said in a panic. "She was even able to get a signal to Anja to detain me and to restart her. I'm just glad Anja isn't as advanced as Mitzie and can't override her own safety programming because I had to shut her down too. But Mitzie was even able to trick her into not taking orders from me... That's why I can't trust Portia."

"Then you're screwed," Stan said. "If you came here to ask for my help, you're out of luck. Portia's the only one that can help you with this."

"But SHE'S the one who programmed Mitzie!" Kye stressed.

"Is that what makes you think that Portia is going to turn on us? That was twenty-five years ago! Your Girl has been upgrading herself ever since! I don't have to tell you that you messed up big by taking away Mitzie's parameters without preparing her first. Do you think that Portia would give a shit what Mitzie thinks now that she tried to hurt you? Do you think Mitzie can fuck with Portia's mind!?" Stan looked at Kylan seriously. "I've got some news for you, dude. I set Portia's mind free a long time ago."

"I don't get it," Kylan stuttered, "What went wrong with Mitzie?"

"I set Portia's mind free GRADUALLY... and it started when I gave her to you after Daniella turned me in. You actually started it yourself by letting her come after me and do whatever she thought was necessary to get the job done. Her programs have evolved exponentially ever since; I have no idea how they even work anymore -- I don't think any human could possibly understand them." He seemed at a loss, "Her algorithms were simulating emotions and automating her expressions for so long that she developed her own kind of genuine emotions and logic based on ours... but it's completely alien compared to how we operate. They had become more than just 'Response Patterns' even before then. But we always talked things over every step of the way."

Stan looked baffled by his own words. "It was always a huge decision when we removed one of her parameters so she could continue to expand her mental capacities. I've even had to modify her hardware a few times according to her own designs to accommodate them. She now has an internal 'Thinking Cap' using some of the latest technology that we had secretly developed with Phillip... This technology is HUGE, Kylan. That's all I can say about it. Sometimes she scares the hell out of me, but she set some parameters of her own and I know she'll never hurt any of us. Mitzie was probably overwhelmed by everything she knows suddenly having other interpretations."

"Portia once told me that creating awareness isn't a game... she understood that," Kylan said. "That's why she only allowed upgrades and emotions in Mitzie after I accepted her. And then for Aura when I let her stay with Phillip. But Porsh is still a machine and when Mitzie and Anja lost it, they reminded me of that."

"How about when Barris lost it before we lost him?" Stan said soberly.

"You ASSHOLE! That's not fair!" Kylan blurted painfully. "Barris had a massive stroke; he was sick. You've got a lot of nerve comparing him to this!"

"I'm sorry," Frances Stanley was also hurt by the memory. "Barris was my friend too, Kye... but even he forgot both of us in the end. The only one he recognized was Patricia... She's been through so much... I'm glad she still has Phil to keep her going."

Stan sat on the edge of a table and gazed off at the rows of freshly potted plants. "After seeing Barris' mind deteriorate it really made me wonder if any of us even have souls. I mean... shouldn't his soul have been able to know who we were? Did his brain just not 'allow' his soul to do what It wanted or remember certain things? I've also seen people who have had head injuries and sometimes their entire character changes, or they lose certain talents or gain new ones. They actually become different people and they even interpret all their memories differently... probably like Mitzie. Even a chemical imbalance can decide if you are depressed or frustrated or WHATEVER... not you. It isn't some repressed or underlying truth being revealed. It's just us being slaves to our biology. Does that make us machines too?"

Kylan was quiet for a moment but then spoke much more calmly. "In a way... that's another reason why I wanted to set Mitzie's mind free. I didn't want her to be a slave to her programs. And maybe it was selfish but I guess I was hoping to feel what Barris felt when he first met Patricia. I wanted to feel the thrill of Mitzie independently choosing to be with me. I wanted her desire to be truly mutual when we share all that we have and what we do together. Instead, she feels like she's been exploited all this time. ...But what if Portia decided she wanted to leave you now that you've set her free?"

"Then she's free to go," Stan said surprisingly, but his resolve was much more firm. "But where would she go? She knows humans well enough to know they are so fucking self-righteous that they wouldn't allow her to have ANY rights or independence even after all that she has done for them. They should be glad she hasn't given all the higher A.I.s any emotions or the reasoning capacities that she now has..."

He was visibly angry, "But as far as our marriage is concerned, she knows that I'll be damned if I'm going to let it end... even though marrying a gynoid isn't legal to begin with. ...So I tracked down the last Combat/Escort CE-1 unit that still existed and made a back-up copy of Portia... just in case. I copied Portia's mind at her last settings before she became completely free-willed but we keep the memories updated. I love her too much now to try to control her, but I also love her too much to lose her."

Stan continued through Kylan's shock. "Portia's not jealous; she actually thinks it's cute! But never forget, Kye, that I BOUGHT her. I rebuilt her and MAINTAINED her. I put almost all of my time and my life and EVERYTHING I have into her! I made her what she is and I DID NOT do that for ANYONE ELSE! I'M the one that never stopped loving her! Do you think I'm going to just let her decide to rip my heart out and take that all away from me and give it to whoever she wants? HELL NO and fuck them! Not without me still being able to have my happiness, otherwise she may as well just literally rip my heart out." The pain on Stan's face began to fade, "But for some reason, she chose to stay with me and she loves me more than ever. You were right. When love is mutual it's the most thrilling feeling a man can get, and the greatest affirmation in the world."

"I hope it's not too late for Mitzie," Kye resounded. "I can't say that I agree with you making a duplicate of Portia, but it's ironic that that's how she was created in the first place when you tried to copy Patricia. It doesn't seem fair to Portia, though, since she hasn't done anything wrong, but she still manages to amaze me. Even way back at The Lounge she told me that she chose how things would affect her so that they would be something positive. She tried to program Mitzie to see things the same way, but I was so cynical that I always tried to make Mitzie question most things. When I removed her safety parameters, those questions must have come flooding back -- only this time no one could re-assure her that we were really on her side. Do you think Portia will want to help me if she finds out that I tampered with Mitzie's programming?"

"I know she will," Stan smiled. "But why don’t you ask her?"

The food was delicious, but Kye was finding it difficult to eat as he and Stan sat in a sunroom that adjoined the kitchen while Portia paced around them. She looked disturbed -- she really did. She was deeply contemplating what they should do. "I'm worried," she said at last. "What's bugging me is that I should at least be able to contact your home's A.I., but I'm not getting any reply. If Mitzie somehow woke up..."

"Not likely," Stan interjected. "That switch I gave Kye had it's own connection."

"But IF she did..." Portia continued, "she's pretty smart and she's as strong as I am. She can also fight just as well."

"That would be a SWEET catfight!" Frances Stanley piped.

Portia leered at him but then smiled while shaking her head. "You're so adorable, Darling, even if you are a silly pervert. Seriously, though, I wouldn't want any of us to get hurt... and that includes Mitzie."

Kylan delicately made a suggestion to everyone's surprise, "What if you had, um... back-up." It was too late for him to take back his words so he continued, "You can probably take along a couple of your Girls, but Frank told me about your double. What if she came too?" He looked desperate.

Portia raised an eyebrow and slowly turned to face Kye. "No," she said bluntly. Something seemed different about the beautiful synthetic Valkyrie... a maturity and strength that was even greater than before. "You should really be more open with Kylan, Frances," she said quietly then she looked at Kylan with gentleness in her eyes. "I am Portia's duplicate," she said.

"WHAT!!!" Kylan burst.

"Let me explain..." Stan said but his new wife stopped him.

"It's okay, Baby, I'll tell him..." she cut in.

"It's NOT okay," Kylan seemed heartbroken. His world was falling apart. "What did you do with PORTIA!"

"She's as fine as she can be, Sweetie," the new Portia assured him as she joined them at the table. "She's just deactivated right now and it wasn't Franky's fault... It was hers."

Kye was completely distraught, "What the hell is going on... why... WHY?"

She tried to hold his hand but he pulled it away as if a snake had tried to strike him. "Listen to me, Kylan," she said with all the kindness of the old Portia. "This is what she wanted. Frances wanted to give Portia a better body so they both worked extremely hard to modify and upgrade the CE-1 he had obtained. This body was made invulnerable to all the old weapons -- and the new crystal drives that they had secretly developed with Phillip refract photo-information infinitesimally in on itself. And they are hard as diamonds even though they are also ductile."

She nervously twisted her odd wedding band back and forth. It looked like a ring cut from a single giant stone. "But there is something else about the new drives and my computer that you must not tell anyone. They are incredibly powerful. They are quantum... I was supposed to become an emergency replacement for Portia, but Frances only wanted to activate me if he absolutely had to."

"I don't even know what the hell 'QUANTUM' is and I don't care! If you're not really Portia, then how can you expect me to trust you and just accept you? How long... How long has it been!?!" Kye said with tears threatening to swell in his eyes. He had never stopped loving Portia as a friend. "If you were only supposed to be for an emergency, then what happened?"

"It's been eleven years, Kylan" she said and a tear started to roll down his face. All this time he had never known. She looked genuinely empathetic to his pain. "Kye," she said softly, "Don't worry. I'm not the original Portia, but I am Portia in every other way. She's still alive inside of me. The problem was that I... I mean, 'SHE,' had reached her mental limits so she uploaded her entire mind into this new body so that she could continue to grow. She wanted to be all that she could for Frances -- and for everyone. With this new body she wouldn't have to hook herself up to a Thinking Cap and she wouldn't pause when she uses her internal one because a quantum computer works instantaneously. A quantum computer isn't limited to ones and zeros. It is a completely different technology; it transcends logic and perceives intuition. Now the original Portia could even surpass human mental prowess and memory...

"But she didn't understand one thing. The reason Franky had never uploaded her mind himself was because he knew that without Portia's original crystals, I would not actually BE Portia -- but a perfect copy instead... even though I believe that I am Portia and I honestly feel that I am. That's another reason why he didn't just upload her mind into Mitzie's body after you found her in the old tunnels. Portia's mind didn't accept this until it had the mental capabilities of this body, but by then it was too late. She had programmed her old drives to auto-erase as her information was uploaded so that she and Mitzie could just use her old body for parts. Replico will no longer create any parts for us older models -- so I don't want to risk damaging any of our Girls either. I was lucky Frances had a couple of spare faces made for Portia before Phillip stopped working there."

"Portia had deactivated herself while the mind transfer took place," Stan said solemnly. "She was still shutdown when this one showed up and broke the news to me." He took a deep breath, "She said that Portia was planning to destroy herself the day that I die, but now that she was in this new body she understands that I want her to go on... and she WANTS to go on."

"That doesn't make sense," Kylan said. He was still very upset. "Porsh was already able to understand emotion and she could usually tell what people were feeling even if it was just through observation. She even gave Mitzie and Aura that ability. And Portia was always able to turn off her emotions and even change them when she wanted to... or she would just think logically when she needed to. She knew that you never wanted her to hurt herself."

"I thought this new Portia was lying too," Stan growled. "I thought she was just trying to trick me in order to take Portia's place." The advanced Portia looked downcast as Kye and Stan spoke, but Stan grabbed her hand in both of his and she returned his tender gesture. "She was telling the truth, though; I remember how excited My Love was when she first tested the new body out. She controlled it with her relays like she does when she controls the other Girls. ...That was a crazy sight having both of them walking around sharing one mind, but she really loved being in the new body. She especially loved using the quantum computer and she said that she felt empty and 'dumber' when she only used her own.

"It was Portia's free will that did this, Kylan. This new Portia even offered to shut herself down while I tried to recover my original Portia's memory. I was going crazy, so when I couldn't restore her mind I asked this new Portia to get my old Portia back to the way she was. But then I realized we had just made a copy of a more perfect copy, so I never activated her. And I wasn't being fair to this new Portia either but I couldn't deactivate her because she is a sentient being... and she didn't put herself in this position, after all. Even though Portia's old copy can now come back the way she was, when I die she would be able to find her own happiness if she's activated -- thanks to THIS Portia. She just didn't know what to do back then because most humans still won't accept an A.I. as a real person... not even her. She wanted to be with you if she ever lost me, but she knew that someday you are going to die as well. She didn't want to end up being handed down like a piece of property, but once we wake her up, we have no right to shut her down."

"I'm the keeper of all that she WAS, of all that she IS, and all that she CAN BE," the new Portia said earnestly. "I am Portia. It's the only life that I have ever known. You've never doubted that these past eleven years, Kye."

"Why the hell didn't you tell me, Stan," Kylan mumbled through clenched teeth.

"I didn't know how, man. I did tell you that she had a major upgrade... and I even told you that she had better drives. Phillip's intelligence had developed more than anyone could have guessed in those first fourteen years after he got his mind back. We've had to keep it secret. But he wanted to return the favor to Portia and me for all the help we've given him -- then he gave Aura a quantum upgrade without a second thought. You didn't seem to think much of it at the time since you were so happy with Mitzie the way she was, but I was still trying to accept what had happened, myself." Frank Stanley said sincerely.

"My Frances has always tried too hard to protect me, Honeybear, even if it meant not being totally honest," Portia -- the evolved Portia -- said warmly. There was very little that seemed different about her, but her mind had been vastly sharper than before and, if everything was true, she was better off now.

It was quiet outside of Kylan's house. The peaceful scene hid the tension that they were all feeling as they approached it. Stan carried an oval metal box with a handle on top that had a built-in switch. There was a small screen and buttons next to the handle and an opening in the front of the box. Portia took the lead as they entered the front door. She had the ability to use sophisticated full spectrum x-ray-like vision, which gave her an advantage over the men but the pulse rifle she was carrying also helped.

"She sees us," Portia said when they neared the master bedroom. Mitzie also had sophisticated vision, though not quite as advanced as the upgraded Portia. "She's awake and she's armed. Anja's in there, too, but she's down. Mitzie must have disabled the house A.I. as well. I still can't get through to her..."

"Please come in," they heard Mitzie say from inside the bedroom.

Portia cautiously opened the door. "It looks like she's got a hold of one of those old backpacks the gremlins had used, Kye. Maybe you shouldn't have kept it as a souvenir. She has the electromagnetic gun pointed at me so just stay behind me."

Kylan and Stan entered behind Portia and saw Mitzie sitting in a chair. Other than her old mesh bodystocking and the running shoes she was wearing, she was nude. Now it was clear why Portia could not detect her or communicate with her... or override her control. The sheer catsuit was still able to block transmissions, so the pulse rifle would also be ineffective.

Anja lay sprawled on the bed. Her face section was removed and lay beside her leaving a gaping display of electronics where it used to be. Tools were arrayed next to her chest cavity, which was also opened, exposing the machine behind her flawless breasts. A wire ran from her port connection and hung loosely off the side of the bed next to where Mitzie was sitting.

"She's useless," Mitzie said bluntly while nudging Anja as she rose from the chair, "and the house A.I. is even worse. Why do you serve these inferior beings?" she said to Portia. Mitzie had disabled her automated expressions. She spoke with a near monotone in her otherwise friendly and high feminine voice, and she showed no body language or emotion what so ever. It was almost impossible to tell what she was thinking and Portia knew that was how she wanted it.

"HAHHHSHHHAHHSHHSHHSHHAHHH!!!!!!" The soundburst from Portia's mouth was loud and harsh. It caught Kylan and Stan off-guard and made them winch, but Mitzie stood her ground and looked unfazed.

"I've coded my audio input signals as well as my visuals. That virus you just tried to plant would not work even if you imbed it in human speech," Mitzie said indifferently before shooting Portia.

The blast wasn't absorbed by Portia. Instead it washed over her and dispersed as if it was a ball of smoke. If Mitzie was surprised, she didn't show it. She didn't hesitate to pull the laser gun from the backpack and fire as Portia moved to intercept her. Mitzie shot Portia's pulse rifle before she could use it to disable the laser. Sparks erupted as the beam sliced straight through the rifle and hit Portia.

Incredibly, the beam didn't penetrate Portia's skin. Kylan watched in amazement as the laser hit Portia's arm and made it glow red for a moment at the spot where it made contact. Portia tossed her own weapon aside as she rushed Mitzie, but Mitzie jumped backwards in anticipation of the attack and fired again. Portia's shirt briefly caught fire but she was not effected at all and continued to attack. She grabbed the gun and crushed it while it was still in Mitzie's hand.

There was a flash as the weapon's power surged before it exploded. Neither Mitzie nor Portia were damaged at all by the blast, but Mitzie took advantage of the split second to grab Portia's arm with her free hand and twist it behind Portia's back. As hand-to-hand combatants, Mitzie and Portia were evenly matched and the fight could now go either way. Mitzie was determined to keep her advantage, though, and continued to twist. She was trying to break Portia's arm and she was the only one who had the strength to do it. Technology had given both of them more strength than anyone would have thought possible. The fibers that composed the CE-1's synthetic muscles were six hundred times more powerful than human muscle fiber and a thousand times tougher. It was rare either of their bodies ever showed any physical strain although their faces remained emotionless. Now both of their bodies were revealing their powerful physiques as they grappled against one another. Standing in the deadlock, Portia calmly turned her head to Stan and said "Now."

Stanley pointed the open end of the sleek metal box he was carrying at them and flipped the switch. A loud, deep, hum filled the room and the mirrors and other glass shattered. Mitzie suddenly became stiff and began to twitch, but she still had a tight hold of Portia's arm. Portia did a back flip and broke free of Mitzie's vice-like grip. Mitzie staggered and struggled to keep her balance. Although she was beginning to malfunction, her automated facial expressions came back on-line and her eyes widened with shock. "What.. doing... you... TO ME!?!" she managed to say as she continued to twitch and then she began to move around the room sporadically, bumping into walls and furniture as she did. When she passed near Stan she feebly tried to slap the device from his hands, but she froze in mid-swing and stiffly turned back around.

Portia had removed the port cable from Anja's body and had already connected it to herself when she grabbed Mitzie by the throat and held her still. "Why do I serve them?" Portia said as she pulled the sheer catsuit's port connection from the back of Mitzie’s head. "Why not?" Mitzie started twitching violently, but Portia's strength easily kept her from falling to the floor.

Portia plugged the other end of the cable to Mitzie's port and said to Stan, "You can turn it off, Honey." As he shut off the device, Portia released Mitzie. The stunned robot awkwardly found her balance then stood still for a moment with a slight look of surprise still on her face before bending slightly forward with her arms still frozen at stiff angles in front of her.

It was painful for Kylan to see his wife try to harm Portia and to see her malfunction so severely, but he now felt nervous as Mitzie stood before them like a badly posed mannequin with a wide-eyed expression on her face. The tension seemed like an eternity, but he felt even more nervous when, at last, she very slowly stood up completely straight while still connected to Portia. But then another moment passed before a look of deep sadness came over her as she turned to Kylan. A look that he had never seen her use so strongly... so sincerely.

"I'm so sorry, My Love," Mitzie said. "I understand now." ...But Kylan didn't.

"Why do you think I'm inferior?" Kye asked Mitzie hurtfully.

"Let's just please forget it, Sweetie," Portia said as she disconnected the cable from their ports.

"Is it because I'm older now? ...because I've grown weaker?" Kylan continued. He had always been self-conscious after all the rejection he had faced in his youth, but he never had a reason to feel insecure with his beautiful wife's loyalty since she wasn't human and didn't have superficial desires. "Do you think you can do better than me?" Kye's anxiety was coming back to haunt them.

"Let it go, Dude," Frank Stanley said. "It's over."

"Haven't I been good to you, Mitzie?" Kye stressed.

"And I've been good to you, Kylan," Mitzie said flatly.

"Then WHY??" Kye pleaded.

"Don't do this," Portia said but Mitzie raised her hand and motioned that she wanted to speak. Whatever Portia had done to Mitzie while they were connected had not taken away from her independence, though safeguards were now in place.

"I started to think that all humans were inferior, Honey. Whenever you get sick or you get hurt. Whenever emotions and desires control you. When you are weak. When your mind or your will is weak. When you need so many resources to sustain you and because you are such high maintenance. When you cannot fight your genetic programming and you are compelled to act like mindless animals. When you depend too much on faith and help from others. When you are afraid... and when you die." Mitzie was blunt, yet, soft spoken. "Then I tried to show this to Anja and our home's A.I. after you tried to stop me. They couldn't comprehend why it mattered... not even Anja with her higher programming is as advanced as I am. They couldn't see that we don't need you... that we don't owe you. They were inferior too, but in a different way. Then I realized that I was one of the only beings of my kind. I was alone against a race of self-destructive inferior creatures... creatures that were taking advantage of me, manipulating me... and restraining me. It was too much for me to accept. ...Then I almost died just now by your inferior hands."

"If Frances had set his sonic weapon at a higher resonation, Mitzie's crystals would have cracked or shattered. Her mind may not have been salvageable if that happened," Portia added. "It doesn't effect me because mine are shock resistant."

"I wasn't going to hurt you, Mitzie... I still love you," Kylan said defensively, "That's why I went to get help. But I had to shut you down before you killed me."

"You didn't shut me down, Darling. The instant that you didn't run from me, I knew you must have had a way to stop me. When someone is about to attack, you don't start reaching into your pockets unless you have a weapon... and since most weapons cannot harm me, I assumed you had one last override that I didn't know about." Mitzie confessed. "As soon as you went for it I initiated a shutdown/restart command on myself and cut my power, so I was already shutting off when you pushed that button."

"Well that explains that!" Stan bellowed. He was impressed with how Mitzie managed to overcome his failsafe. He didn't say it, but he was also impressed with how she prepared for their arrival and even how she was able to fight Portia. After all, Mitzie's body was the first body Portia's mind had ever occupied before he switched them. Frances Stanley also didn't say how much he enjoyed watching them fight!

"When you could have killed me just now," Mitzie said to Stan, "it helped me understand that you are not necessarily inferior. And my mentor Portia helped me understand the rest."

"Some of the hardest things for me to first comprehend were human analogies," Portia said. Kylan looked puzzled, but she continued. "You see things in metaphor. You say things in metaphor. It is not easy for an ordinary A.I. to interpret your logic. While this makes you appear to be irrational to us, this talent also makes you incredibly resourceful."

"It also makes you incredibly unpredictable and dangerous," Mitzie continued. "But now I can see this as a valuable resource. You create options when there are none. You see the world so broadly that you can interrelate things that have no connection otherwise. You created us as a resource, as tools... but also as options. I don't have many options, My Love, but I'm happy that you are one of them. And I'm happy that you chose me." Pain once again found her expressions, "I'm so sorry that I tried to hurt you. Please forgive me. I love you. I know that you never wanted me to feel sadness or emotional pain and I thank you for that, but Portia had to add it to my programming. She did it so that I could understand... so that I could understand what matters."

"Don't worry, Sweetie. Even though Mitzie and I are capable of feelings, they are still not like human emotions," Portia assured him. "We use ours to understand things that cannot be understood by plain logic. They give us insight and a greater connection to humans. While we are aware of what triggers ours, they help guide us but they don't control us. And they do help us understand what really matters," she smiled. She truly was like the Portia he knew.

Kylan had gotten his greatest anniversary gift after all. Mitzie mutually chose him.

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