Eugene couldn’t believe it. Nothing had prepared him for this moment, not that he had done any training or anything that should have prepared him for it. He heard glass shatter as a bullet sang past his ear like an angry wasp. He kept his foot on the floor and tried to concentrate on keeping the car on the road; no easy task with someone shooting at him. The fact that he had a few hundred million dollars’ worth of specialized equipment which also happened to be his life’s work sitting next to him didn’t help either.
Everyone would like to think that they would be the hero and save the cute young girl from the evil bad guys in this situation but all Eugene could think of was that they were probably going to die. Amazingly enough she seemed perfectly calm all things considered. They flew past the semi on the shoulder in second gear and he ran the car all the way up to its 9000 rpm redline before shifting into third at eighty-seven miles per hour.
The truck driver swerved and laid on the horn, apparently oblivious to the gunshots. Eugene saw motion to his right and glanced over to see Victoria doing something unbelievable. She had grabbed two of the road flares he had mounted next to the glove box in one of his ricer moments and as he looked on in astonishment she slammed the butt of the first flare down on the dash. It burst into a harsh red light, spitting sparks of burning magnesium and acrid smoke.
She unbuckled her seatbelt and wrapped it around her left arm while spinning to stand on the seat. Leaning back, she used the belt to brace herself and threw the flare straight through the grill of one of the Durango’s that was chasing their car. Whatever that accomplished, the truck swerved to the shoulder and was lost from view as it spun out into the median. Pulling the second flare from her mouth, she ignited it against her thigh and flung it in a high arc that impossibly punched through the headlight of a second truck following about four or five cars behind them. What was going on?
A cold sweat broke out on his forehead. This was a set of protocols that the General had insisted upon. An ‘insurance policy’ he had called it and although he had included this extra code in the initial programming he hadn’t used it in the final version. The raw data was still there though, and an experienced programmer could have reestablished the connections but he certainly didn’t believe his AI had been hacked and even if Victoria had known about it he doubted she had the skill or the desire to make use of it.
Eugene knew what the answer was but refused to acknowledge it. There was no way it had broken free and the AI wasn’t able to do anything autonomously. He was one of the two people who knew the existence of its true capabilities. Nobody else had the security clearance to activate the military protocols, least of all the girl who was its host. Their left rear tire exploded as a bullet from the last Durango’s passenger found its mark, wrenching Eugene back to reality. He wrestled with the wheel as the Porsche swung into an uncontrolled skid.
Victoria was sure this was it; she was going to die. There was just no way to survive a high speed crash into a guardrail in a convertible when you weren’t wearing your seatbelt. Before she could fully panic that cold logical part of her brain took over.
Everything seemed to slow down; she took note of their speed, 95.32 mph which gave her approximately 10.2 seconds to respond. Still holding on to the seat belt, she pulled herself back down into the seat, kicking off the flats she was wearing. 7.4 seconds. She attempted to latch her seatbelt and found that the ratchet had locked from the impact and it wouldn’t let enough belt out. 5.1 seconds. She slammed her feet into the tops of her unlaced roller blades, grabbed the laces and pulled, tightening them as much as possible. 1.5 seconds. The instant before the Porsche hit the guardrail she jumped as hard as she could, launching herself from the car.
The sound of the car hitting the rail was like a physical blow. Somehow she managed to ignore it and concentrate on keeping her feet under herself. She continued holding the laces to keep them from loosening and focused completely on dodging cracks, rocks and traffic. Even the slightest mistake would cost her dearly at this speed.
She tried to stay as upright as possible so the wind resistance would slow her down and dodged around a minivan, passing it like it was standing still. The load of kids going to soccer practice were pointing at her while the driver pulled over to the shoulder. It was all she could do to continue stepping over cracks, luckily her speed had slowed somewhat but she was still traveling at around 75 mph if her calculations were to be trusted.
Victoria was approaching the Green River Bridge when she heard the shriek of tortured tires behind her. Moments later she caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye and chanced a glance at it. The last Durango was cutting through what traffic remained, apparently aiming to run her over. Without taking time to think about the consequences she turned as hard as she dared, aiming for the edge of the bridge. She jumped hard, knowing she was going to have a very slim margin of error due to the height of the railing and flew over it head first with scant inches to spare.
Watching the railing slide past her face made something snap in Victoria’s mind. She screamed in combined exhilaration and fear, nearly losing herself to terror. Once she was in the air her instincts just took over. She smoothly tucked into a roll and prepared to hit the water feet first knowing the impact was going to be pretty severe because of how fast she was moving.
She hit the river at a precise thirty degree angle, toes pointed to break through the surface smoothly. The water closed over her head and Victoria let herself sink for a bit, knowing that the current here was strong enough to carry her downstream.
“Those following will likely fire their weapons at me. It would be better to be further away when I surface. If I just relax I should be able to stay submerged for a lot longer.” She wasn’t sure where she had gained this particular insight; maybe from that one Mythbusters episode?
Victoria shivered, “What have I gotten myself into? Who were those guys anyway? Oh shit, I hope Eugene isn’t dead. What am I going to do? ” After a while she noticed she hadn’t taken a breath for what seemed like minutes and that realization made her need to breathe and badly. She fought to the surface, gasping for air and saw that the current had carried her down river and around a slight bend. The bridge wasn’t even in sight anymore.
Kicking to the river bank with her rollerblades on was difficult, but she didn’t have any other footwear and wasn’t sure what she was going to find on shore.
The rate of data flow was far beyond what the optical receptors and graphical processors could handle. ADAM shouldered as much of the load as he could, stripping away the extraneous information and only feeding back the most important pieces. He was continually impressed with the adaptability and versatility of the host system. Now that some of the changes he had made were in place its response times had drastically improved.
This situation, however, was far beyond what the system had been experiencing for the last few hours and was by far the most stressful and difficult for ADAM to deal with. Letting the system clone keep the nominal functions going, he concentrated on analyzing the incoming data and initiating expedited responses. Even as he tried to push the limits of the machine he found there were severe physical restrictions that were simply insurmountable. If they were going to avoid being broken he was going to have to get creative.
The concussion of gunfire erupting behind them had caused a change to occur in ADAM’s system. His reaction was to reach out, searching for a directive to handle the situation and abruptly a section of his databanks that had been blocked off and hidden so well he hadn’t even known it was there made itself known to him. Apparently this was a set of protocols for emergency self-preservation. A new set of possibilities opened up for him; maybe they could pull this off after all.
While the chassis wasn’t very strong it was quite agile and appeared to have some decent tracking systems that were capable of doing fairly complex triangulations on the fly. A quick search revealed that the cellular device the unit was carrying had open communication ports. Using his newfound security protocols, he hacked it with ease. Connecting to the Web through it ADAM scanned and found technical specifications for the vehicles that were chasing them.
Weak point; left headlight can short electrical system. Weak point; cooling system failure will overheat engine in seconds. This was going to be easier than he had initially analyzed. The Host machine’s safety parameters were easily overridden with the release of a few chemicals into the system. ADAM was pleased with the response times he was getting, the Host reacted with nearly flawless timing and two of the pursuing vehicles were removed from the chase.
He barely had to push the limits of the unit’s capabilities to immobilize two of the chase vehicles. Then the left rear wheel of the vehicle that was transporting them was struck by a bullet and the situation completely changed. With mere seconds to spare he devised a battle strategy for them and pushed it into action.