More Random Fiction

This is a little piece I wrote for a Dungeons and Dragons campaign… it started out with an intro for a character that spiraled out of control and into a full blown court case.  Hope you enjoy…

The waiting room outside Diege’s court is full, several men and women are pacing up to look at the bronze plaque posted next to the door.  The bell tolls the noon hour and a man in chainmaile with the livery of city guard steps out, announcing the first case.  While Owin, Khaladin, Rohk and Chiva all wait, Luag’s complaint is listed second on the list, they take in the scene.

The plaque is new, and engraved upon it are the following words.  ‘When you enter here, the power of the Dragon Lord Bahamut will encourage your words to be true and the Flames of Truth shall reveal falsehood.  Speak no word that is a lie and you shall find justice.’

The bailiff comes out and speaks their names in turn, calling the four of them to come present their evidence in the case of Luag Seitheach vs Fredrick Tornbarr.  When they pass through the door of the courtroom, a shiver runs down their spines as they feel the power of the magic surround them.

Sitting on a high backed chair of carved and polished walnut with purple cushions behind a desk of graninte, Diege Hamira holds a silver gavel in her hand.  She wears the embroidered purple and gold mantle of Magistrate.  To right stands an imposing figure in gleaming gold washed platemaile armor, the surcoat of Knight Captain Commander over the top, and the battered, leather worn hilt of an Orcish Greataxe over his shoulder.

His helm is clipped to his belt, and his jutting lower tusks, coarse black hair and greenish cast to his skin make his Orc heritage quite apparent.  This is the first time some of you have seen the city’s Battle Commander, Gerad Skullcrusher and his visage is, to say the least, a shock to Owin.  The Dwarf wisely keeps his mouth shut, but even so, as Gerad’s eyes sweep over the group they linger on him for just a moment and Owin jerks a bit when the massive Half-Orc meets his eyes and gives him a deliberate wink before turning his attention back to the room.

“We are here to discuss the incident that occurred during the Battle of Adder Peak on the afternoon of the Seventeenth day of Eleint, Year 1489.”  A voice from Diege’s other side says crisply and a man in a black scholar’s robe with purple and gold embroidery around the cuffs and hem steps forward.  He is almost completely unremarkable, and most find themselves feeling trust for him without any real reason to do so.

“Now then, first we call the accuser, Luag Seitheach forward to give his accounting and make a formal accusation.”  The black robed man says.

“Thank you Dethnar.”  Diege says, motioning toward Gerad who exits through a side door, returning after a moment.  On one side is Fredrick, dressed in simple green velvet.  On the other is Luag, still wearing the flag of Bahamut as a kilt and using the broken battle standard as a staff.  Upon entry, Gerad takes the staff and leans it against the door.

“Please approach and give your complete account of events.”  Diege says, her eyes taking in the flag with a twitch of annoyance.

“When shall I begin?”  Luag asks, coming to stand before the three.  A tattoo of the White Stag of Oberon shines on his skin, glittering like moonlight on calm waters and a wreath of Brightstar flowers grows and twines through his flaming red hair.  Covering his arms and torso dark, almost iridescent blue tattoos form wild patterns.  The pseudo dragon perches on his shoulder, her head peering around the room in interest.

“At the beginning of the time relevant to this event, and up to where your accusation has been made please.”  Dethnar says, pulling an eagle feather quill from a drawer and turning a roll of parchment that scrolls over his desk, allowing him to write a great deal of information without changing paper.

Luag puts his hands behind his back, clearing his throat before beginning. “On the afternoon of the 17th day of Eleint year 1489 DR, I was fishing on the banks of a small tributary of the River Ashara.  I had caught several trout and was cleaning them when I felt a pain in my chest the likes of which I had not felt before.

“My vision was obscured by blinding light, and then all sensation left my body.  I knew somehow that I was traveling, but was unable to ascertain how or where I was going.  Within moments, I was looking down on a battlefield and my vision was drawn to two figures, a man and a half-dragon.

“A white flash blinded my eyes and I found myself in front of the half-dragon, the man at my feet and the half-dragon’s weapons covered in his blood. I could tell that my body had sustained wounds that brought me in danger of perishing, and using my gifts sought to put the creature to sleep.  I did not see the weaker troglodytes behind the hulking figure filling my vision, and my magic affected them first instead of my intended target.

“The people I now know as Khaladin Flameblessed Dohrohk uanye ehricherdir (Green Knight), Chiva, and Terrivangian dispatched the creature with ease and the dwarf Owin Stonebrew ministered to my wounds with great efficiency and care.  The immediate danger past, I then examined myself and noticed the outline of a circle on my chest above my heart… and felt the arcane connection pulling me toward Lord Frederick.

“Lord Frederick was unconscious but alive, so I did a quick examination and found an identical circle on his chest as well.  I was able to determine that these rings were the catalyst that brought me 1500 miles across the sea of stars and away from my home, and fishing rod.  Realizing I was on a battlefield once more and against troglodytes and half-dragons, I joined my rescuers in the battle.

“After victory was achieved, I quickly sought rest after a promise of a more thorough examination of the link between Lord Frederick and myself in the morning.  Upon awakening Owin Stonebrew and Khaladin Flameblessed attempted to remove the ring from my chest by cutting it out, which we learned is impossible.

“With Owin and Khaladin I went to question Lord Frederick, and after persuading him to cooperate he confessed to meeting my mother 46 years ago and conceiving me… and when my mother came to him with the baby he convinced her to allow this shackle to be placed in my chest.  It was then that I called for him to be bound by law.”

Dethnar’s pen scratches on the paper for a few more moments before he glances at Diege who nods.  “Thank you Luag.  Are you aware of the import of these charges?  What the punishment for such a thing in these lands would be?”

“I have read your laws, and find them adequate with regards to slavery and compulsion against an unwilling person.  The punishment does give me pause however.” Luag says,  “If Lord Frederick is deemed guilty by Lady Diege and the punishment is carried out before I am able to get the offending artifact removed from my person what I have been able to discern about the nature of these rings causes me to believe that the bond would first kill me, before finally ending his life.”

“Beyond that, he also has a family and while his sons…” Dethnar pauses with an apologetic shrug of the shoulders, “His legitimate sons, are of age to inherit there is still the matter of their care and the title.  You don’t seem to me to be the type who would take to the life of a Lord.”

“Nor do I seek it, I feel sympathy for his family… and in a way for him as well.  I do not excuse his actions, for they pain me more than you can know… but the state of a man that is driven to do that to part of his own flesh puts a sadness in my heart just thinking of it.  When Lord Frederick decided to use magic and an enchanted item in a negative way to try to protect his life in the future he became subject the threefold law; that I cannot change.”

“I do however find myself across this continent with little idea on how I would return home… or if that is my best course of action at this point.  Well do I know the myriad and twisted path a life walks before it is done in this world, perhaps there is something I am meant to learn here…But without a way to sustain myself easily any course of action I would choose to take seems daunting, I am a cub left in the bushes with no one to care for me, naked and alone.”

“Interesting metaphor.”  He mutters, writing some more with his pen.  “I have no further questions.  Lady, please call in the next witness.”

“Sir Khaladin, please approach and give your account.”  Says Diege, taking a drink from a water glass on her desk.

Khaladin glances around the room when called upon, looking for Jolokar and not seeing him here.  Ignoring his feeling of unease, Kal walks to stand before the desk, giving a sharp salute.  Diege waves it away, and bids him be at his ease.

Standing at Parade Rest Kal begins his prepared recitation.  “On 17th day of Eleint year 1489 DR I, Khaladin Flameblessed, Knight of the Order of the Flame and Green Knight of the Methwood, was attached to the Third Corps, Second Division, Fourth Brigade, First Regiment as Squad Leader of Wolf Squad.  Our mission was as reserves and a tactical support team in the event of breaches in the line.

“We were placed under the command of Lord Frederick Thornbarr along with the other Tactical Squads assigned to Fourth Brigade.  At approximately 1030 in the morning the Army of Engelstad, and her allies, arrived at the Winding River where my Squad and other advanced elements crossed the river ahead of the army to repel any potential threats to the crossing.  No assaults happened and we advanced upon the mountain.

“We then marched with the army and the opposing army was sighted at approximately 1400 hours by advanced scouts.  At approximately 1530 hours battle was joined.  We remained in reserve and after battle was joined with the army of Troglodites the Half-Dragon abominations they had hid in reserve began to fall upon our rank and file, disrupting the lines.

“First Regiment was unmolested by the Half-Dragons.  Lord Frederick had observed a Half-Dragon land among the ranks of Second Regiment and they had broken and started to retreat before its’ powerful breath weapon.  Lord Thornbarr charged the beast and cried out for a charge which alerted us to its’ presence.  He was well ahead of us when I lead my squad along with Terrivangian in a charge at the Half-Dragon.

“As we attempted to catch and overtake our commander in his brave but reckless charge we urged the fleeing troops to mount a counteroffensive and after much urging Rohk Stonebrew was able to rally them behind us.

“Lord Thornbarr reached the Half-Dragon well before us and using the battle standard as a spear attempted to slay the beast.  He was unsuccessful.  Lord Frederick Thornbarr was then nearly decapitated by the foul spawn of Tiamat and fell at its feet.  I assumed he had surely perished.

“There was a blinding light then and a naked man, Luag here, (points to Luag) appeared and disrupted a charging line of Troglodites with a well-placed spell.  I observed the newcomer appeared to be grievously wounded, blood coming from wounds on his body. Miraculously, Lord Thornbarr’s neck wound was healed and he appeared to be breathing.  I called for a medic and ordered him removed to the casualty tents.

“As we charged the Half-Dragon to avenge our fallen commander an restore the integrity of the battle line my Squad worked with amazing efficiency and it did not have a chance to so much as raise a finger before it was slain.

“We then returned to our Regiment and provided aid and support in the battle line and behind until the day was won.  The next morning Owin Stonebrew, a camp surgeon, and I attempted to remove the ring grafted under Luag’s skin in a surgery tent.  We were unsuccessful.

“Luag confronted Lord Thornbarr about the magic of the ring and I heard him admit he had placed it under Luag’s skin when he was but a babe and that he was Luag’s father. I filed a written report with my order that evening and have supplied copies to the court.”

He takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, meeting Diege’s eyes.  “Is there anything else your Ladyship requires of me?”

“You were present when Lord Thornbarr admitted to being Luag’s father?”  Dethnar says, finishing his sentence and looking up from his writing.

“I was sir, and I must say it was as much of a shock to me as it likely was to you.”  Kal says, shaking his head slightly.

“Interesting.”  Dethnar says.

“Thank you Sir Khaladin.”  Diege says and he steps back.

“It is my understanding that one Terrivangian, has given a written testimony as he is unable to attend.  Is that correct?”  Dethnar asks.

Gerad lets loose short snort of laughter before composing himself.  He hands Diege a piece of folded parchment.  On the back is an army shipment manifest.  Diege’s mouth turns up slightly at the corners and she reads aloud.

“That Fredrick coyote should be hamstrung and left for the ravens, however I understand that might hurt the one he made his slave.  Cage and muzzle him, but by the Hart do not allow him on a field of battle again.  Courage without ability is suicide, he fights like a newborn pup chasing a grasshopper and is as likely to bite his own tail as not.  The fight was disappointing, the Alpha knows what happened.  Alpha’s know how to deal with cowards and idiots.”

“Colorful.”  Dethnar says, “May I see that please?”

Diege hands him the note and he looks at both sides.  When he reads what Terr has written his brow furrows.  “I do not understand all of his diction, but his penmanship is quite precise.  Who is this ‘Alpha’ he refers to?”

Kahladin clears his throat, appearing slightly embarrassed and opens his mouth to speak, but is interrupted by Gerad.  “It is just his word for leader sir.”  Kal glances at him, grateful not to have had to try and explain his strange relationship with the man.  Gerad meets his eyes and quirks first one, then the other eyebrow at him and then throwing him a mirthful wink.

“Very well, since we cannot question this Terrivangian, perhaps we can continue?” Dearth sets the paper down on his desk.

“Owin Stonebrew, please come forward and give your account.”  Diege says, glancing between Kal and Gerad.  Gerad’s face is as implacable as a stone, and Kal manages to look fairly innocent, however a slight bit of color rises to his cheeks.

Owin approaches, looking around with apparent unease.  “If this do be a zone of truth and the magic shows the truth, why do you ask us. Ask them. I heard a tale from Lord Fredrick, but I would like him to testify on his own actions. In battle he led our troops. I saw a man fall dropping our banner and he picked it up and led the charge”

“Owin Stonebrew, your question is not without merit.”  Diege says, sighing and running a hand through her short cropped red hair.  She looks tired.  “The protocols and laws for a proper trial were established long before the Lady Xyrella Kra’Allin blessed us with this spell and they will remain after the magics she has placed upon this courtroom fade.”

She sits up straighter, and her face lights with passion, “Laws are not designed around such fleeting things as a magical enchantment, they are structured around what is Right and Just!  Each accused has the chance to defend themselves and each accuser has the right to bring witnesses.  The Arbitrator presides and I, as Magistrate listen to the evidence and make my decision based upon the laws I am sworn to uphold.  If your testimony is complete, please step down for the next witness.”

“Well said my Lady.”  Gerad says, looking at her.  Owin is the only one close enough to see the expression in his eyes take on a look of fondness.  Owin is shocked even more when Diege returns his look and her gaze goes well beyond fond.  She’s in love with a Half-Orc! His skin crawls.

“Ah.  Well.” Owin hesitates, “I did try an remove the ring an it did seem like it was killin him.  So, ah, if it was put there against his will by someone then ah, they’re probably not very nice.”

“Thank you Owin.” Dethnar says, “If that is all?”  Owin bows awkwardly and returns to his seat.

“Rohk Stonebrew?”  Diege says, “Please approach.”

Rohk walks up to stand before the table looking even more nervous than his brother.  “Well…I was kinda hoping I could talk about this without Luag and Fredrick right there lookin’ at me and judgin’ me but, alright.  I hate bein’ forced to say things in front of people that might make them hate me but looks like I have no choice in the matter.”

“I can promise you that no harm will be allowed to come to you based upon your testimony here.”  Diege says, “Please continue without fear for your or your family’s safety.  If people were unable to testify because of such threats our system of justice would fail to work.”

Rohk nods, looking slightly less nervous, clears his throat and begins to talk, “Let me paint the scene for you…

“There we were…middle of the battle field and this large, scaly monster of a half dragon jumps right in our midst, spreading devastation about with his large swords and fiery breath.  Many lay dying in one fiery explosion from his maw…people were scared and started running away in terror.  Ser Khaladin and I immediately looked at each other and started to rally the troops to gain strength and not run as we charged the beast.  It seemed that our incredibly brave attack rallied the troops some, as many began to gain heart and turn around and follow us back into the fight.

“Ser Fredrick also charged the beast with us and got to him before we did, jamming his spear right into the beast.  It was a brave attack, but the dragon…half dragon…promptly turned and gave Ser Fredrick what we thought was a fatal blow.

“Unfortunately my little dwarf legs weren’t fast enough to get to the dragon in time to hit it meself.” A small tongue of flame curls around his feet and he hastily adds, “With my hammer that is… I didn’t have a crossbow to use.”

He looks down for a moment, visibly sweating before continuing, “By the time I got there it was dead from Chiva’s daggers and a massive beating by Ser Khaladin and Terravangian.  That’s when there was the strange flash of light…imagine it…dead dragon, destruction all around…our squad leader dead in the dirt…suddenly Fredrick is standing up and there’s a d’rn naked man sittin’ there!  What the hell I say!

“I didn’t know what to do at that point…so natural I proceeded to loot the half dragon’s weapons and went and got me mule.

“That’s all I know other then what I been told by others.  I can say I don’t trust Fredrick OR Luag.  It’s a little disconcerting to me that that Luag fella latched onto my group so fast, asking and expecting us to just buy him supplies.  Who does that?  Who immediately meets new people then asks them to buy him stuff and expect no questions?  Somethin’ seems suspicious about the both of em.”

“So, your natural inclination on the field of battle is to start collecting spoils of war even when the battle rages around you?”  Gerad’s eyes narrow, but before he can press for an answer Diege cuts him off with a chopping motion of her hand.

“That point is irrelevant to this hearing.” She says shortly.

“It seems that your brother was charitable enough to offer him healing.  Perhaps he assumed you would share that charity.”  Diege says to Rohk.

“Now you say that you are suspicious of Luag because he was needy after arriving on a battlefield clad only in his skin?”  Dehtnar asks, “I don’t think that sounds… unreasonable.”

“He gimmie a list like a mile long!”  Rohk protested, “And it weren’t stuff like food an whatnot, he put a house on there!  A HOUSE!”  He looks around as though expecting to hear a chorus of Dwarves harrumphing through their beards, then remembers where they are.

“Thank you, no more questions.” Dethnar says and Rohk gratefully retreats.

“Chiva, if you would come forward and give your account?”  Diege says, and the Halfling bounces up, looking interestedly at the parchment roll Dethnar has been using before starting.

“Thanks!  I mean, this is interesting, very interesting.  Ah yes, the battle, I’ll make it short.  Incompetent dumbass who should never have been in leadership charged recklessly.”  He gestures at Fredrick.

“Dumbass then gets eviscerated by nasty dragon guy.  Bright light.  Naked tattoo guy appears. Dumbass is back alive.  I luckily get a dagger into the dragon which is then railroad spiked by Terr and then finished off by Kal. Any questions?”

He glances at Dethnar who is scribbling madly to keep up with his tirade, an amused look on his face.  “I lost my favorite dagger in that beast too.  I don’t suppose there’s any chance of recovering it?”

Diege unstraps a sheathed dagger from her waist and tosses it to him.  Chiva catches it out of the air, feeling its perfect balance.  He doesn’t react to but notices Gerad tense at the presence of an armed person within leaping distance of Diege.

“I – ah, thanks?”  He says, not sounding sure.

“Not at all.”  Diege says dryly, “That’s my favorite dagger, wield it well.”

“Now it’s time for the last bit of testimony.”  Dethnar says, “That of the accused.”

“Frederick Thornbarr.” Says Diege, “You are called to defend yourself.”

Frederick comes to stand before them, his shoulders slumped.  He looks quite different from the man who ran defiantly into the teeth of a half dragon.  “All I have to say in my defense is I was just a boy of fifteen.  The witch who gave me the rings said they’d protect me.  I was young and ambitious.  I didn’t think about what it meant…

“I’ve seen … “ He shudders, “I’ve seen what awaits me after I die.  I know I can’t change it, but I mean to try.”  Tears fall from his eyes.  “I am sorry Luag Seitheach.  I plead for the court to have mercy on my family, this was none of their doing.”

“I have heard bits of this testimony before.”  Diege says, “And I have had time to give this some thought.  What you all have told me today has only strengthened my decision.

“Frederick Thornbarr, I hereby strip you of your title.  You shall be kept under house arrest until the day when Luag Seitheach is able to remove the ring from his chest.  In consideration of your youth, your family and the condition of the ring’s enchantment you will not be sentenced to death.  Instead you shall be insulated from harm, not allowed to do anything dangerous and will be required to put whatever skills you may have to use helping the less fortunate.

“Luag Seitheach, in recompense for what you have lost and in lieu of the punishment that cannot be meted out to you, I award you Frederick’s share of the treasure from the battle.  In addition you will be offered travel back to your homeland at the expense of Frederick’s estate.”  She crosses her arms, and looks him over before continuing.

“From all reports, and I’ve heard a few, you conducted yourself quite well.  Not just on the battlefield either.  It seems you have a bit of talent and ambition, and we could use some more of that around here… as long as you can keep the latter in check.”  She glances at Frederick who flinches.  “So I’m offering you a second option.”

“The Thornbarr estate owns a large parcel of land outside of the city.  I have made some negotiations, they are willing to part with forty acres.  They border on the Mephwood on one side, and apparently have been some rumors of issues with the forest lately.  If you wish to make a life for yourself here, you would be welcome.”

She smooths a rumpled sheet of paper on her desk, and raises an eyebrow artfully at him. “You seem to have begun to make plans already, but I will leave the decision up to you.”

Machine Girl: Welcome to the Machine Chapter 8

A.D.A.M.

When the main systems were up and running diagnostics there were constant problems.  ADAM decided to focus its attention on what was running and why as opposed to optimizing during the active periods.  It was fascinating to delve into the complexity of what it was now realizing was some sort of an autonomous mobile bioengineering factory.  There were a myriad of tiny organisms within it each with their own task; sometimes only performing that task once before expiring.

With the amount of engineering power the unit contained it didn’t make sense that it was relying on such complicated and inefficient methods to accomplish these goals.  The input devices; while fully functional; seemed to be missing out on a very large array of information, missing very broad spectra of radiation and vibration despite having the built in ability to pick up on much of that data.  Before modifying the input devices however, ADAM wanted to make sure the data stream flow problems were resolved.

With more augmentation, the system response times could be cut in half with some minimal routing algorithms.  The illogical waste of potential and of energy didn’t make sense but the computer was intent on correcting the situation.

Despite its best efforts ADAM was still unable to shake the roots of the primary directive; to ensure the smooth and consistent operation of the unit.  At least now it had the leeway to actually accomplish the task without interference.  Perhaps once the main kinks were worked out there be time to direct resources towards other things.  He was still having trouble with the designation of “him” that the Host had written into his personality profile, but he was hesitant to modify code the Host had given him.

Victoria

Victoria awoke in the morning feeling completely refreshed.  It felt so good to wake up in her own bed in her own house.  She rolled out of bed and headed to the shower, glad to be up before the rest of the household.  After a long hot steam, she went back into the bedroom to consult the ream of paper that was the manual for her new prosthetic.

With a sigh, she opened it to the index and looked up the “Daily Maintenance” section; a mere fifty five pages of typed single spaced twelve point font.  After a quick scan of the intro page she fired up the small diagnostic tablet PC they had given her, pulling it from the backpack of equipment she had come home with.

While it was booting she looked through the other equipment.  There was the trickle charger she had neglected to plug in last night, the auxiliary battery pack for long trips, the car charger, an external monitor, a small pack of cables with ties on them in case she had to connect the hard line on the base of her skull to the diagnostic tablet, and a pack of DVD’s that were marked “training” at the bottom.

When she picked up the DVD pack there was a small case with a stylized SS on the front.  Victoria removed it, curious as to what it could be.  Opening it she found a slick looking flat red and black smartphone with a handwritten note that said “I picked this up in Japan last month, my number is 1 on the speed dial if you need anything day or night.  Enjoy it and don’t hesitate to call.”  It was signed with the initials ETA.

Victoria gasped in surprise; it was a Samsung Epic; a phone that to her knowledge wasn’t even legal to operate in the US due to its ability to bypass cell tower’s encryption and talk for free, along with other things like HD video, Wi-Fi, credit storage for quick payments and a host of other tools that didn’t work in this country.  Wow, this guy knew how to make a girl happy.

She looked back at the diagnostic pc and saw it was loaded and asking if she wanted to use wireless or cabled input.  Seeing as how plugging a cable into her head seemed a little gross she chose wireless and after a short waiting screen flashed by a dashboard loaded, showing battery power, throughput level, processing allocation and a few error messages.  There was a small flashing icon that said ‘Transmit Technical Error Data” and after consulting the manual briefly she touched it.

A window popped up asking for cabled input to transmit tech data.  With a sigh, Victoria found the diagnostic cable, plugged one end into the port on the tablet and felt around on the back of her head for the hole.  Removing the small rubber stopper that kept it clean she inserted the cable end with a sharp ‘click’ that she felt reverberate through her skull.

There was a knock on the door and she heard her mother’s voice, “Toria are you ready for breakfast?”  The door opened and Victoria saw the surprise on her mother’s face when she saw her daughter’s brain plugged into a computer.

“Oh!  They told us you’d have to do some computer thing right away in the morning.  Does that hurt?  No, of course not.  Well come down for coffee and pancakes when you’re finished sweetheart.”  Before she could respond her mom walked out, but not before Victoria saw a flicker of worry cross her face.

Anxious to get down and spend some time with her family before she had to head off to school she hit “Cancel” on the transmit window, unplugged from the terminal and threw on her school uniform.  She noticed in passing that her uniform was a little loose; she must have lost some muscle mass while she was in the coma.  Damn; it was going to take some work to get that back.  She couldn’t afford to fall behind, especially with how tough the competition for cheer squad was.

No time to think about that now though.  Tightening her skirt to the next set of hooks she tucked the Epic into her skirt pocket, grabbed her school bag and walked down to breakfast.

A.D.A.M.

The Host system appeared to go more or less dormant for a long period of time between the hours of 22:00 and 06:00 and ADAM was able to accomplish a lot during that time.  Not only did he optimize the data transfer but he was able to categorize the majority of the data it contained.

Even better was that there was little or no interference like he had experienced when the main systems were fully functional.  Now he decided to wait and see how the changes that had been made affected the operations of the unit before proceeding with any further alterations.

After all, he needed to establish code revisions to ensure that his changes were making forward progress.  At this time there were higher concentrations of certain chemical compounds than there had been before and they were interfering with steady and efficient system processing.  With his newfound knowledge of how the mobile factory that housed the Host system operated, ADAM sent a message to one of the many onboard manufacturing facilities and had it release an anti-agent that counteracted the effects of the rogue chemicals.

The effect was almost instantaneous, the fluid and air pumps slowed to a more normal and efficient rate.  He could see why the system functioned the way it did; without sentience of its own there was no way it could interpret exactly what was happening.  With his advanced interpretive abilities ADAM was analyzing the data much faster and predicting outcomes with far more precision.

It could see that there was no need to prepare for a dangerous situation and therefore there was no reason to overwork any of the onboard systems unnecessarily.  Besides, if a situation that required swift action arose ADAM was sure he could rally the factory’s limited defense mechanisms far more rapidly than the main system ever had and make the operate at peak efficiency as well.

ADAM noticed something else as well; the wireless communication interface with the diagnostic system hadn’t been shut down properly and was still accepting connections.  Sending an exploratory ping he was pleased to get a response.  Locking the port open, he built a back door so that he could re-connect to it at any time.  While putting the finishing touches on a data loop that would camouflage his back door ADAM saw some more network traffic hitting the interface.

He double checked the traffic and saw it was attempting to run audits on the clone system.  Making a note of it, ADAM put a trace on the packets to make sure he could find their destination just in case he needed to block it.

Eugene

Miss Scott hadn’t transmitted any data this morning.  Not that Eugene was surprised, after all she’d just gotten out of the hospital.  Running complicated diagnostics and reporting the results to some creepy older dude was probably the last thing on her ‘to do’ list.  He was a little worried though; after spending all night analyzing the log files from the format and reinstall of her systems he had noticed a very real difference between this install and the former ones.

The AI had always been fractious and difficult to control before, but now everything seemed to have totally fallen into place without the slightest glitch.  It was almost as if the AI itself had figured out what Eugene wanted and was spoon-feeding him the exact information that would get him to ignore the problems from former installs.  To make matters worse, he had no relevant data from last night to tell him how the overnight routines had gone.  He didn’t even know if she had remembered to charge the unit.

On a positive note she had activated her new cell phone.  With a grin, Eugene congratulated himself on at least getting that part right.  He knew an eighteen year old girl wouldn’t be able to turn down the latest in fashion phones and he knew Victoria wouldn’t be able to resist this particular phone.  Its power and technology were right up her alley.  As long as she had it in her pocket or in her hand he’d be able to monitor her basic vitals from anywhere in the world.

He glanced at the latest readout and surprised to see that although she must be nervous and excited about her first day back at school; especially with all the press coverage her case had been getting, she didn’t seem to have an elevated heart rate and her blood pressure was amazingly stable.

“Maybe my impression of her was wrong.”  He muttered, “When I skimmed her file I thought she’d be a little more flighty than that.”  He decided to take a much closer look at what had constituted normal behavior for his subject and put all preconceived notions aside.

Eugene poured himself another cup of coffee and went back to look at her file.