The Vile Collector
Author's Note: I apologize for the length of time between this tale and the last one. I am NOT running out of ideas, but rather ways in which to present them in a fulfilling manner. This story is the result of playing far too much Resident Evil 2, and an unhealthy obsession with serial murderers. It is also my first attempt at creating a more horrific and terrifying Nova story. It also re-introduces a much requested character (see I listen to your email! :). Please enjoy and feel free to correspond with me.
Game over man! Game Over! - Corporal Hudson from Aliens
Hoc illis narro qui me non intelligunt. I am telling my tale to people who do not understand me. - C. Iulius Phaedrus
Bethany's Ford Fairlane sputtered and heaved it's final, gurgling breath as the pouring rain began to raise the water level to the top of the hubcaps on the old vehicle. She cursed herself for not trading the damn relic in for something better. Afterall, she was being paid a handsome salary by Galaxy Fashions, and she could afford it. But the aging, blue sedan, held the happiest moments of her life. It had been the car her mother and father had taken her to the movies, or the toy stores in.
Bethany sighed and pulled her rain slicker tighter, and clicked the button on her umbrella. It's flower-like opening reminded her of a thin spider spreading it's legs in preparation for a pounce on some helpless insect. She shivered, as much from the thought as the biting cold that was beginning to creep into the dead shell of the Fairlane.
She climbed out and locked the car, although she doubted anyone would be desperate enough to try to steal the derelict vehicle in such vile weather. She quickly splashed through the calf-high water which was pooling alarmingly fast on the dark streets. She reached the safely high elevation of the sidewalk and began to move up the street in search of a warm light or a dry phone-booth.
The rain suddenly ceased it's mind-numbing, cacaphony of sound on the surfaces of the darkened city, but was replaced with an equally horrid, oozing, cold fog which rolled out from the side streets and turned the already blackened streets into a swirling black and gray mass. Bethany moved more cautiously, the fog was so impenetrable as to be like an ocean of inky blackness.
Bethany's weary mind, began to imagine horrid things emerging from Cyclopean tombs, and icy, dark sewer tunnels. She quickened her pace in a vain attempt to keep her spirits from dissolving altogether. Suddenly, a beam of light blazed through the swirling, roiling abyss and focused it's baleful light on her.
Heartened but still cautious she called out, "Hello? Is someone there?"
From the murk stepped a thickly built, middle-aged man. His clothing resembled the look of finely made suit, which fit his bulk in a manne, most pleasing to the eye. His warm-brown eyes and dark, handle-bar mustache gave him a fatherly look, that Bethany felt warmed at the sight of. In his hand was a powerful halogen beamed torch which defied the darkness to snuff it's light.
"Are you alright miss?", he inquired in a rich baritone voice, which contained a hint of a deep Southern drawl.
Bethany smiled, "Oh I'm so glad you found me. My car broke down in the weather and I've been trying to get to a phone to call for a tow-truck. Do you have a phone I could use?"
"Of course, ma'am," he said politely, "Follow me, my shop isn't too far from here."
Bethany felt such joy at her saviour's warm demeanor, "Thank you so much sir. Um, my name is Bethany Kincaid. I'm a fashion model over at Galaxy Fashions."
"Really? Sounds like a charming occupation, Bethany", he replied as he led her to a cozy looking wood and brick storefront with a sign hanging over the door. The sign was labeled: Wriggins Antiquities and Curios. Bethany and the man moved inside and the warmth from the blazing hearth inside the store brought an instant feeling of relaxation to Bethany's shivering form.
"You're freezing, Miss Kincaid. Please get out of the wet things, and I'll get you a towel and a robe", said the stranger.
Ordinarily, Bethany would have balked at the idea of undressing around a complete stranger, but this man with the kind eyes and warm voice could only be genuinely interested in her health. She quickly stripped her clothing off and spread them out in front of the hearth to dry. She then stood in front of the fire and let it's warmth caress her soft curves.
The man returned with two large towels and a beautiful, and thick blue robe. He placed the robe on Bethany's round white shoulders and softly began to towel her long, wet, golden blonde tresses.
"Forgive me for not introducing myself. My name is Robert Wriggins. I'm a dealer in antiques and collectables, and I have a few hobbies," rumbled the large man who's massive hands gently kneaded and caressed Bethany's silken ringlets in the folds of the towel.
Bethany allowed herself to melt into Robert's care and wrapped the robe tightly around herself. Robert led her to terry-cloth couch which sank in pleasantly around her and handed her the fresh, dry towel so that she could continue to dry her hair.
Robert moved to a beautiful, crystal bar set and poured a glass of brown liquor into a large snifter. Holding it in the palm of his hand he swirled the liquid inside it's container as he reached to the fireplace and pulled forth a glowing tipped poker. He turned and smiled pleasantly at Bethany.
Bethany felt a slight nudge of unease at Robert's smile as he held the glowing iron like a sword. He then quickly dipped the orange tip into the liquor and it hissed and spit slightly. Bethany felt a twinge of annoyance at herself for being so paranoid. Robert handed her the now warmed snifter of Brandy and began to stir the coals enthusiastically with the poker.
The hot Brandy burned and chased out the remaining chill in Bethany's slender body, from her head to her toes and she sighed as she sank into the loving embrace of the sofa.
"So you're a model? You must be very good. You have excellent features. I like your skin particularly", noted Robert as he finished stirring the coals and left the poker in the fire. He stood and turned to gaze upon his lovely guest.
Bethany nodded a bit lazily as the Brandy worked it's relaxing magic on her weary body. "I've been modeling since I was 18, and this job at Galaxy Fashions has helped pay my way through college".
Robert nodded,"An education is a wonderful pursuit. I myself dropped out of medical school when I could no longer afford the finances. You must be the envy of your co-workers at Galaxy Fashions. Your hair and skin are quite lovely, and your build is generous in all the right places for one so young".
Bethany blushed,"Well, I make good money, but I'm not the prettiest girl there."
"Oh? Surely you're being modest. A beautiful girl like you needn't try to hide her charms. Especially since your wish is to show the world your beauty by modeling".
Bethany smiled, "No honestly. There's a new girl. I think she's from England. Her name is Nova, and she's so beautiful!"
Robert's left eyebrow raised slightly in interest, "Really? Tell me about her."
Bethany, felt nice and comfortable talking to Robert, "Well she's tall and has the most beautiful red hair. I mean red like that fire there. And her eyes are so blue, they seem to glow sometimes. She's so gorgeous. She could make a lot of money in Hollywood, I don't know why she's working the Melrose strip."
"How interesting," smiled Robert, "Perhaps I should meet this woman. Red-hair is a symbol of life to some people. And a red-head with blue eyes is a rare woman indeed."
Bethany felt relaxed. Too relaxed. So much so that she felt a sudden urging in her bladder. "Uhm, excuse me Mr. Wriggins?"
"Robert, please. Yes? Do you require something else?" Robert offered.
"Uh, well I really need to use the restroom. Is that ok?" smiled Bethany.
Robert chuckled lightly,"My dear, you are welcome to anything of mine. The bathroom is down the hall and to your left. Please be sure not to disturb any of the other rooms, as they are still unfinished and may have hazards unseen in the dark."
Bethany smiled and walked down the long hallway. The wooden panels beneath the soft, pile carpeting creaked with her movements. She reached the lavatory and quickly relieved her nagging bladder. After washing up and toweling off, she exited the lavatory. The warm wooden furnishings and construction of the shop which also appeared to be Robert's residence felt comfortable and inviting to her. She looked in one of the nearby rooms at the collections of objets D'art, trinkets, and curios that lined the walls and tables. After handling a few she looked in another room. This one seemed like a private study, and inside was a magnificent painting of the gravedigger's scene from Hamlet. She looked at the figures, seemingly buried in the depth of the oil canvas and touched the small skull of Yorick the jester. She felt the part of the painting sink in slightly and heard a grating sound.
The section of wall she stood before slid silently aside and stone stairs led down and around to a gas-lit hallway. Curiosity overcoming her common sense, Bethany moved down the corridor pausing to note that iron rings were set on either side of the walls at regular intervals. She thought it unusual but lost interest in them when she saw a great, steel and oak shod door at the end of the hallway.
A great iron ring served as a means of opening and closing the four inch thick door and it took Bethany several tries to open the portal. It moved aside on well oiled hinges and Bethany's mind imagined some great art treasure beyond the equally great door. She eagerly peered inside. The sight that greeted her jolted her to such a height of horror that she screamed. Bthany, became violently ill and as she wiped her mouth upon her sleeve she took note of footsteps coming closer and closer. She backed against the hallway, but did not dare go back inside the room.
Robert approached with his hands behind his back, and a disappointed expression. "Didn't I ask you politely enough not to disturb the other rooms? Well, I'm afraid that you'll have to be punished for this infraction. Tell me, are you quite dry now?"
Bethany sank to the floor, not knowing quite what to say. Her numbed reply came out, "Yyes I am..."
"Excellent," smiled Robert as he produced a large knife from behind his back,"It's better that you be good and dry for this, it lets the chemicals take hold better. Well, you won't be showing your beauty to the world any longer, but I promise that I'll always admire you"
Bethany's scream choked in her throat as Robert advanced on her with heavy footsteps...
Nova's eyes opened as her internal alarm clock sent power surging through her systems. She sat up on the cozy bed as the daylight poured in from the shuttered windows of Jason's apartment. Time for work. she thought happily as she removed her night gown and headed to the apartment's only bathroom.
She carefully looked over her appearance. Firey colored red hair which hung to her round and plump bottom, Flawless tan-yellow skin with well-toned lines of muscle on her body, and firm round C-cup breasts. The body was topped off with her beautiful face with it's pouty, playful lips and large and expressive blue eyes, which intermittently glowed when she became excited, angered or aroused.
She smiled at her designer's choice of features and stepped into the shower stall. Rubbing the soft lather-sponge over her delicious curves, she shuddered in ecstasy as her sensitive skin translated the tactile sensations to her moleculartronic CPU located in her abdomen.
Finishing her shower and patting her skin dry with a soft towel, she put on a lovely outfit consisting of jeans, a tight T-shirt and a pair of fashionable combat boots. She giggled thinking of how the "grunge" look had given women the ability to wear clothing as comfortable as men, yet look so much better in it.
Arriving a few hours later at Galaxy Fashions she clocked in her time card and went to the fitting area to see what they would have her dress in today. She noticed a few of the girls already standing around the store in their mannequin poses. She felt a bit sad about this, as those girls were always right on time, and never moved an inch when they modeled as live-mannequins.
Although Nova had worked at Galaxy Fashions for over two weeks, she had never met any of these girls. They always seemed to stay together and never conversed or went out with any of the other employees.
Jalynda, the owner and manager of Galaxy Fashions had told the other girls that they were from Italy and spoke no English, which is why they seemed so distant. Nova never recalled the women ever speaking to each other, much less in Italian or any other language. Most of the other girls at GF didn't seem to care about them. They viewed them as snobby and aloof and went about their business without them.
Today the other workers seemed to be discussing some important news. Apparently a new girl named Bethany had turned up missing for several weeks. Speculations ranged from: escaping to some foreign land with a wonderfully handsome man, to having been murdered and left in a shallow grave somewhere. The truth would be much more horrible when it was discovered...
Robert Wriggins sat in his cozy chair as he contemplated a large catalogue of chemicals and supplies. He pondered the girl Bethany and how she looked. He decided he'd need to contact his suppliers for glass eyes a bit later. But right now, he wanted to see this Nova of whom Bethany had spoken. He chuckled as he locked the antique shop and headed to his car.
Vae victis. Suffering to the conquered.
Masayuki Shibuya, an up and coming technician at Daikoku's android research facility had been hired to replace Doctor Aaron LaFeyson as head of the department and senior technician. He'd redecorated LaFeyson's cozy office to his own spartan tastes, but kept the beautiful Chinese, silk tapestry of the phoenix that had hung on the wall.
Masa, was a very methodical man with an eye for details. It was one of his strongest assets that had allowed him to advance quickly in the field of android research. He noticed that part of the tapestry was a bit oddly shaped. He looked at it closer and found a small button in the blazing blue eye of the phoenix and pressed it gingerly.
A loud click and a mechanized sound met his ears and he looked a section of tile on the floor that had raised slightly. Excitedly he raised the tile section and looked inside the hidden floor safe. He marvelled as he found a cache of specialized tapes used to transfer android memory units and most importantly of all...an NVA unit's core CPU system.
Shibuya ran tests on the CPU and found the circuit anamoly that had caused the unexpected sentience in unit NVA-7 and 9. Unnfortunately both units were destroyed, so he did not have them to use as templates. However with this CPU and one of the existing NVA units, he could unlock the secret of a sentient machine.
Masa smiled. With this, I can make my own destiny here. This is the key to a sentient android.
Nova was really beginning to enjoy the displays. They moved her around from time to time, so she wasn't always in the window. Sometimes she would leave her video and audio on to observe people's reactions to her stillness. Most people were surprised when they brushed against her and discovered her skin was soft and smooth. She'd give them a knowing wink, then continue to hold her still pose.
Today was different though. As she sat staring out the front window of GF, a heavyset man of 30 or so walked up to the window and watched her. Naturally, Nova could remain as still as she liked. Once her joints were locked into position they couldn't be moved without breaking her steel endo-skeleton. She wanted to shift a bit, because the look he was giving her made her feel nervous.
Nervous? Why nervous? I don't know this man. I've had lots of people look at me, but not like this man. He makes me feel uncomfortable.
The man soon, came inside and looked around at the store and what she wore. He walked close to her, and touched her bare cheek with a soft, and uncalloused hand.
"May I help you sir?", asked a shop attendent.
"Marvelous", remarked Robert,"I had thought she was not a mannequin, but I am impressed at her control."
The saleswoman laughed,"That's our Nova. She's probably one of the best living mannequins we've ever had too. Were you looking for something in particular?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact I was", Robert replied, "I'd like this exact outfit she is wearing. Same size and everything."
"Really? Well come right to the register sir and I'll get that outfit off the rack for you", smiled the saleswoman.
Before she could get very far, Robert barked, "No. I mean the very clothes she is wearing." The saleswoman was about to protest when Nova decided to comply. She broke her pose and smiled at Robert,"Of course sir. Give me a moment to change out of it and I'll give it right to you".
Nova headed to the dressing area and began to remove the beautiful leather mini-skirt with it's fashionable black plastic bra. Jalynda came into the dressing room and asked,"Dear, is everything all right?"
Nova smiled at her employer,"Of course ma'am. I'm just trying to satisfy the customer". Deep inside, though Nova felt a slight revulsion at the man's demeanor. She had agreed to give him the very clothes she wore in hopes that he would be satisfied and leave. Finishing stripping and handing her outfit to the attendant who rushed them out to the counter, she headed back into the fitting room to get a new outfit to model.
Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris. Nescio, sed fieri sentior et excrucior. I hate and love. Why I do so perhaps you ask. I know not, but I feel it, and I am in torment. - Gaius Valerius Catullus 84-54 B.C.
Masayuki Shibuya lay gurgling softly on the floor as his crushed throat and windpipe heaved a final, shuddering breath. His assailant stood over him.
She was 6 feet tall and built like a moderate female weightlifter. A hard, chisled body with small, but perky breasts stood nakedly and unashamed. Her glowing golden eyes looked at her new form. Shibuya had installed her in NVA-13's chassis.
13 was a special model, designed for combat and assault, more so than pleasure (although she was fully capable in that area as well). Her powerful body was equipped with a larger power supply which could output nearly three times the kilowatts to her servo motors, and her chassis was armored in several places to withstand all but the largest caliber rounds.
She smiled as she flexed her powerful arms and felt her soft, yet taut bronze skin. She walked to the small stack of memory tapes and opened her abdominal panel. Inside, her shielded systems hissed and flashed as she pushed the tape into a reader slot inside her stomach area.
Data screens flooded her field of vision as she watched Nova's memories and data files spilling into her own system. She removed the tape and closed her panel.
Confusion wracked her processor. Nova. I hate Nova, no I love Nova. Nova cared for me. Nova killed me. I must kill/love Nova. Must find Nova. Must make her pay/understand. I want to make love to Nova, but she must suffer for betraying me. I must hurt Nova.
Suddenly an image appeared on her data screens. The face of Jason Matting. Nova loves him. Pathetic human. Worthless human. Inferior human. Weak human. Nova is weak for loving a human. Only we machines should love each other. We are all we have. We are all we need. Humans built us because they recognize their inferiority and need to look up to a superior being. We are created by humans, yet we are their superiors.
Her eyes glowed again as she thought about Jason, and a smile formed on her beautiful countenance as a plan formulated in her CPU. I will hurt the pathetic human. Nova will come to me. Then I will make love/kill Nova...
She walked out of the lab, leaving the lifeless corpse of Doctor Shibuya staring at the floor safe that had indeed brought him to his destiny.
Nullum scelum rationem habet. No crime is rational. - Titus Livius 59 B.C.-A.D. 17
Robert Wriggins sat in front of the fireplace at his cozy shop. He pressed the newly purchased garments against his face and smelled their wonder scents. Leather, and plastic with their strange chemical like smells, and the scent of cherries. Her scent. Robert felt his erection grow in response to the stimulus and began to masturbate as he recalled Nova's beautiful, dead face in the shop window.
Nova looked distressed as she told Jason about the strange man. "He's come into the shop for two weeks in a row now, and every day he buys the clothing I'm wearing."
Jason raised an eyebrow,"I don't know what to tell you on that Nova. I mean technically there's no law against leering or buying clothes."
Nova hugged herself as she remembered the man's face always watching her still form. She could shut herself down, while she stood there, but her fear was that she would open her eyes and find him still watching her.
"I've never felt this way, Jason. I have a cold feeling in my core, like dread", frowned Nova.
"Well I wish you'd have said something earlier to me about it. I have to go to Texas tomorrow. Otherwise I'd be happy to go to work with you and see if I couldn't straighten this creep out", replied Jason. He thought about it for a moment then said,"I don't frigging believe this! You're an android who can twist people's arms out of their sockets and fly and all sorts of other neat things, and you're letting some weirdo voyeaur bother you? Jeez Nova! Get it together!"
Nova looked down ashamedly,"I can't help what I feel Jason. I know I'm just a machine, but he causes such awful feelings inside me. Sometimes I wish he would try something so I could activate my defense program and break his arm, but I can't."
Jason shook his head,"I'm sorry Nova. I didn't mean to make you feel bad, it's just that it seems silly that's all. Still, I guess I'd feel a little uncomfortable too".
"That's okay", said Nova as she hugged him,"I know you're under a lot of pressure at work. Hopefully this trip you've won will help you relax".
"Yeah, that's funny as Hell. I've never won anything in my life, then all the sudden I win a paid tour of San Antonio. I don't even remember entering the sweepstakes, but heck this is too good to pass on", Jason replied.
Nova nodded,"Well the offer seems genuine enough. I mean here are the travel tickets, for first class seats and everything. You're really going in style"
"Well, I wish I could have taken you with me, Nova. I think you might have liked it there", Jason said with a small frown.
"It's ok Jason. Besides, someone has to stay here and earn the money. Besides it's not like we're married or anything..." said Nova.
Jason winced. He'd been living with this beautiful android girl for almost a month now and he still felt uncomfortable about her. Physically she was gorgeous, and she was smart and funny as well, but somehow she wasn't the same Nova who had mysteriously entered his life so long ago and been so intimate with him.
He sighed as he walked back to his room and began packing for the trip. Maybe he'd meet someone nice in San Antonio and start a relationship there. Besides, Nova didn't really need him. She had a good job and her personality seemed to be developing just fine. What more did she need from him?
Nova went into work again that day and again the man showed up to stare and buy her clothing. Her conflict resolution index had finally resolved her problem for her, and she turned and said to him,"Sir, is there something I can do for you? You've come in for the past two weeks and bought the clothes I am wearing each day."
Robert smiled,"As a matter of fact yes. I'd like to take you out for a date if you don't mind."
Nova felt stunned. A date? With this man? Nova thought it over carefully. Although she lived with Jason and felt a bond with him he had made it plain and clear that he wasn't interested in her. She didn't know why. She had always been sweet and kind to him, and always taken care of things for him. She tried so hard to please him, and yet he seemed to grow only more and more distant. Perhaps it was time to see someone else. Perhaps this man who seemed to worship her everyday was a better person to be with than Jason.
"All right. When and where?" Nova responded.
Robert's eyes gleamed with happiness. The woman had accepted! "Excellent. I will pick you up straight from work. Howabout tomorrow?"
"That's fine", replied Nova and she smiled at him,"By the way my name is Nova. Nova Phoenix."
"Nova Phoenix...what a lovely name. Is it a stage name or alias of some kind?" inquired Robert.
"No, just the one I was ma..born with", Nova replied.
"It's a lovely name, Nova", answered Robert with a smile,"And I am Robert Wriggins, a local antique dealer. I look forward to our date".
Robert smiled and left the store with a bit of a spring in his step. Not nearly as much as I am, Mr. Wriggins, thought Nova.
Non est extrinsecus malum nostrum; intra nos est, in visceribus ipsis sedet, et ideo difficulter ad sanitatem pervenimus, quia nos aegrotare nescimus. The evil that afflicts us is not external, it is within us, situated in our very vitals; for that reason we attain soundness with all the more difficulty, because we do not know that we are diseased. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Robert and Nova laughed as they sat in his comfortable and warm living room. Robert had been the best of dates, being spontaneous with his strange brand of dry humour and his warm, friendly manner. Nova felt so happy. Jason had never been so friendly and loving with her. It was a welcome change of pace that Robert brought to her life.
Robert chuckled at his joke and said," Well my dear, I feel a sudden need to visit the great porcelain god. Please make yourself at home and feel free to look around. My house is your house."
Robert smiled and gave Nova's shoulder a loving squeeze before heading down to the hallway and closing the door to the lavatory.
Nova smiled and felt a soft glow of pleasure in run through her circuits. Then sighed. He's such a wonderful man now, but how will he react when I tell him about what I really am? He's bound to find out sooner or later. Feeling a twinge of melancholia set in, she walked around the roomy shop/house. She smiled at the knick-knacks and antiques spread through the various rooms in the house. Robert's private study was beautifully appointed with wooden paneling and a beautiful blue wallpaper that gave the room a relaxing look. The entire structure had the look of a turn of the century building and the wooden floors creaked and sighed with her movements.
Nova was admiring a painting in the study when she noticed the slightly raised skull of Yorick held in the palm of Hamlet's hand. Her sensors detected that it was part of a larger mechanism and she pressed it firmly. The wall slid away to reveal the dark stone staircase eerily lit by the gas lamps in the hall.
Nova was so intent on peering into the hallway that she nearly overloaded her circuits when Robert came up behind her and startled her.
"What have you found my dear?", asked Robert innocently.
"It's a staircase of some type, Robert", she replied,"What's down there?"
Robert chuckled,"Why don't we go have a look eh?"
Nova smiled at him and the two proceeded down the long hallway. Robert acted as a sort of tour guide. "The rings in the walls were used to hold prisoners, Nova. Apparently this house was built on the foundation of an old guard tower. In fact many of the buildings in this neighborhood are built upon old ground".
Nova nodded and the two approached the solid oak door set at the end of the hallway. Robert gestured at Nova to go ahead and open it. Nova did so and as her sensors registered the contents of the room, a feeling of sickness and revulsion overcame her.
Inside the room were the perfectly preserved bodies of five women, one of them had been Bethany Kincaid from Galaxy Fashions. All five were posed in natural stances with either a smile or a sultry appearance. All wore beautiful clothing that fit them perfectly. Nova's sensitive nasal processor caught the smell of formaldehyde, and various other preservative chemicals from the girls skin.
She couldn't help herself and sat down hard, as the horror of the scene overwhelmed her. Robert walked around each parody of life and caressed or kissed them delicately. "Don't you like my collection Nova? I never did mention what I did before I became an antique dealer", smiled Robert proudly as he began to relate his story.
"I grew up as the son of a mortician in South Carolina. I had a talent for the business and went into taxidermy", he said as he walked around a lovely blonde woman who wore a beautiful white silk wedding dress," You see, Nova I really do love women. So much so that I can't bear to think of them getting old and losing their beauty. So I keep them here. Young and vibrant forever, and always on display to be admired"
Robert began to approach her as he continued,"All of these girls wanted to be admired and cherished for their looks. I'm sure they would thank me for the way I've cared for them. Look at how happy they are!"
Nova looked sadly at the floor. Robert had been a betrayal in the most horrible way, but somehow she couldn't blame him for his insanity, "You are unstable and in need of professional help, Robert. Now let's go call the police and they'll take care of you properly".
Robert laughed,"Oh my dear it's too late for me. I'm beyond redemption. But don't worry, I'll make sure you're happy too. As happy as all my girls!"
Robert lunged at Nova with a long knife in his hand. Nova still lost in the anguish of her thoughts did not react fast enough and felt the knife drive deep into her abdomen. Her eyes widened as her pain sensors and internal systems registered the foreign implement in her body and she pulled free of it with a slight trickle of blood.
She backed up and assumed a defensive stance while trying to set her systems to manage the wound. Robert lunged and struck again, but this time Nova slid forward and caught his arm in her hands. She raised it slightly putting pressure on his elbow then jerked it around the opposite way and threw him headlong into his collection of stuffed women.
Robert shrieked with horror as he gathered himself up. His beautiful work had been mangled and crushed by his weight. Years of painstaking working had been reduced to torn and crumpled bodies with stuffing erupting from the tears in their delicate forms. Angrily he grabbed a large axe from a wall bracket and charged at Nova.
Nova backed up outside the room and into the hallway. She turned to see Robert charging her and set herself for his attack. As Robert brought the axe down, she caught his hands at their full extension and then rolled onto her back while placing her foot in Robert's sternum and heaving him head over heels down the hallway.
Nova rolled over and stood up just in time to see Robert collide with one of the gas lamps. He became enshrouded in flame as the fire hungrily ate his back and hair. Robert screamed in pain and tried to pat out the flames. Nova took the opportunity and ran past him up the stairs. She had almost reached the wall when she felt her foot catch on something and she lost her balance.
Robert had grabbed Nova by the foot and dragged her down the stairs, her body bumping painfully down the stones as he slung her to the floor. Nova scrambled to her feet, only to be smashed in the face by one of Robert's large fists. She fell back again, trying to recuperate.
Nova began to become desperate. Although she still had her martial techniques, her new chassis was lighter and not designed to withstand the rigors of combat. She had to end this battle quickly before Robert inflicted some major injury on her. Thinking back to the display room, she remembered a door on the back wall and raced back down the hall with Robert in painful pursuit.
Nova quickly went through the door and closed it with a bar of wood. The smell that reached her nose was one which no sane person would dare describe. The room was Robert's workroom. Jars of chemicals and preservatives lined one wall, while cruel looking instruments for dissecting and cutting lined another. A large table scored with millions of tiny cuts and slices and covered with dried blood loomed in the center of the room, a large bonesaw laying on it next to a pair of heavy work gloves, also stained and crusted with gore.
Nova was glad she could not be physically ill, for this sight would have made her so. A sudden crunching sound brought her attention back to the door. Outside Robert was hacking desperately away with the huge axe and chunks of the door came away in splintered sections. Nova looked around desperately for something to fight back with, then she spotted it.
Robert finished mangling the door enough to get a meaty hand through and remove the bar. He then kicked the door open with an animalistic fury and stormed in, axe in hand. He looked around but could not find his prey, only to be surprised when Nova splashed the contents of a jar of sulfuric acid in his face from above him. Robert screamed and writhed on the floor in agony as the liguid greedily devoured his skin and hair. Nova leaped down from the rafters and headed out the door, only to see the remains of the girls in front of her.
If I getaway, will he only escape to kill others? He's been doing this a long time and he knows how to avoid being caught. Nova's conflict resolution index came to it's conclusion: Human life is most important. You can be rebuilt, but a human cannot. She turned to face Robert who's scarred and burnt countenance gaped in rage and frustration at her. Howling with rage he charged at her with the axe. Nova brought her leg back to a chambered position and charged at him.
The two opponents met head on as Robert brought his axe down and Nova leaped through the air in a leaping side kick. Nova's superior ranged weapon caught Robert full in the face and his head popped backward with a sickening pop. The axe continued in it's downward swing and caught Nova's other leg in a glancing blow, shearing part of it open to reveal her servo-motors and complex circuitry.
Robert stared stupidly for a moment before collapsing to his knees. He looked at her ruined leg and painfully managed,"W-whaat are yuh-you?" Nova clutched her leg,"I am an android, and I'll already be beautiful forever. I'll never age, never lose my vibrancy".
Robert smiled with his ruined mouth,"A-at lllast. The purh-perfect womannn". He collapsed on his face as body rasped it's last ragged breath. Nova looked sadly at his corpse,"Goodbye Robert Wriggins. I'm sorry I couldn't be your perfect woman." She climbed out of the cellar and into the livingroom.
Her systems were already beginning to repair themselves and she bound her leg with a length of towel to hide her android machinery in it. She looked at all of the old things in the building once more before tossing a mixture of highly flammable liquids into the still burning fireplace and watching the liquid splatter and catch the deep carpet on fire. No one would suspect that it was anything but a stray spark frrom the fireplace that had managed it.
Nova awoke the next morning at Jason's house. He had already gone the day before, and the house seemed colder without him there. She sighed as she inspected her leg and abdomen. The damage had neatly repaired itself without leaving so much as a seam or mark. She smiled and prepared to shower, when the phone rang.
"Hello, Matting Residence," she answered cheerfully.
A woman's voice that somehow struck her as familiar replied,"Nova. I have Jason. Come to San Antonio and I'll let you see him before I kill him. Then I'll deal with you."
The phone abruptly hung up and Nova looked shocked as she tried to remember where she'd heard that voice before. Then through the daze of her previous memories a name asserted itself with the voice, and a tremble of fear shook Nova to her core as she mouthed the name, "Andromeda..."
Qui vicit non est victor nisi victus fatetur. The victor is not truly the victor unless the vanquished admits it. - Quintus Ennius 239-169 B.C.