Victoria couldn’t sleep. Her body was exhausted but her mind wouldn’t stop churning the day’s events over and over. The men who had died in the car accident in the morning. The likelihood that others had died on the freeway when she incapacitated their vehicles during the chase. The fact that those men had tried to at least kidnap if not kill her. Then, to top it all off the police had invaded her house only to be turned away by a General of all people who apparently had financed some of Eugene’s research.
There had to be some connection, she wondered who the General really was and what department he actually worked for. She was especially curious because his presence had frightened Eugene so much. The more she thought about it, she was sure she’d seen him on a TV news show once.
She sat up suddenly, the memory flooding back. He had been featured in the Discovery Channel program “Modern Warfare” he was on the commission that had funded the design the Predator Drone and some high-tech bomb disarming robot. This type of technology would align very well with his department indeed. Victoria shuddered, just thinking about it made her nervous.
At the same time, she was an American citizen and eighteen, so it wasn’t as though they could just sneak into her house in the middle of the night and take her off to some government facility somewhere. She laughed nervously to herself, catching a glimpse of something outside her window.
“It’s just my imagination. You always see things when you start to look for them.” She was talking out loud to herself like she always did when she was nervous. Victoria looked outside and was certain that she’d caught a glimpse of something move but just couldn’t see through the darkness no matter how she strained.
After a few minutes she took a deep sigh, “Nothing out there but the neighbor’s dog crapping in our yard again. That’s a relief.” She stretched, finally feeling the exhaustion of the day. “Time for bed I guess.” A feeling of calm washed over her and she snuggled under the blankets, falling asleep almost immediately.
ADAM was waiting for the Host system to go into the dormant state he had learned was normal for this time in the Western time zone of North America but found that despite his best efforts to calm the systems it persisted in staying active. Not only that, but it was continuing to process extraneous data at an astronomical rate. He decided to bide his time until the Host settled down and then continue his cataloging of the vast amounts of information in the Host’s databanks.
Something out of the ordinary flagged in ADAM’s systems; suspicious activity in the outer perimeter of the Host’s home territory that fit the MO of a military trained organization. He tried to use the Host’s input devices to sense what was happening but was unable to gather pertinent data.
He knew something going on out there but there didn’t seem to be anything suspicious. In spite of this, he continued checking and re-checking the perimeter looking for evidence of any kind of breach. ADAM ran a scan of his circuits trying to locate the source of his illogical behavior; after all, if there wasn’t any data indicating danger he shouldn’t be constantly investigating it. Interestingly enough, his search uncovered a subroutine that appeared to have been added by the Host system itself.
Further investigation found it to be some sort of system by which the Host was able to predict future events based on accumulated data. Although the conclusions drawn rarely fit a logical pattern it was interesting to not how often this prediction system turned out to be correct; it was far above the standard margin of error.
Deciding there was way too much he still didn’t know about this system he cohabited with, ADAM settled in to do some serious research. On the surface the odd and often self-destructive tendencies exhibited seemed to serve no purpose at all. Some of them stemmed from ancient protocols that no longer applied to the current OS but were still connected through a system of reverse-engineered coding.
Careful not to disturb any of the delicate matrices without knowing their exact function, ADAM dug even deeper. The capabilities he discovered frightened him. Without the careful limitations the system had built in from the ground up, the unit literally had the power to tear itself apart. Perhaps the most amazing thing was that the system was cognitively aware that it had this ability.
Dredging through the unit’s memory storage ADAM uncovered several instances in which it had either knowingly or accidentally done just that. Twice to the point of immobilizing itself, the concept amazed him. It was so illogical that he checked it a few hundred times just to be sure.
Despite his best efforts he couldn’t dispute the fact that the illogical behavior had been able to predict future outcomes with an above average success rate. How strange. ADAM flagged the behavior for advanced monitoring and continued studying the systems in an effort to improve their performance.
After only about an hour and a half of waiting nervously in Dmitri’s study with nobody but an aging Jack Russell terrier who would occasionally look up from where he lay on the rug in front of a heat vent to give him a hopeful look before sighing mournfully and lapsing back into slumber, the door opened and a grinning Dmitri swept into the room.
“What a pleasant evening. They never expected us to be there; I am sure it will make them think twice about messing around in my territory again. Well it will make their friends think twice anyway since they will not be thinking about anything ever again.” He glanced back through the doorway and a pair of his men dragged a partially conscious man into the room.
“Now then, I have a few things I need to speak to this gentleman about.” Dmitri was still smiling but this close Eugene could see the smile never touched his eyes.
“Fuck off Russian scum.” The man was bleeding from a nasty looking cut above his right eye, there was a bruise forming around it that darkened his forehead. Eugene felt a twinge of sympathy in his own swollen face. Then the captive turned his head to look at him, “YOU! What the hell did that crazy bitch of yours do to my brother? It was supposed to be a simple kidnapping and ransom operation this morning and instead she turned it into a goddamn bloodbath.”
“It turns out this operation of his was not sanctioned; he was trying to get revenge for his brother dying earlier today. Something about him slamming into a garbage truck I understand.” Dmitri had a satisfied look on his face. “That is the inevitable result of interfering with my will.” Without warning he pulled his gun from his shoulder holster and pistol whipped the man across the face.
“We rule here, and we do so with absolute divine power.” His voice was flat, not just calm but devoid even of anger or satisfaction. The man fell to the floor and Dmitri put his perfectly polished shoe on his throat. “We will crush any resistance underfoot with no more remorse than you would have crushing a cockroach.” The man on the floor flailed, trying to push Dmitri off.
“Boss, we need him for questioning don’t we?” Ivanov glanced at him in a way that almost seemed nervous.
Dmitri turned a baleful eye toward Ivanov, “What did you just say?” His voice was unsettling. It still sounded calm but there was an undercurrent of inhuman rage just below the surface. “Did you just tell me what to do Ivanov?”
Ivanov held up his hands, “Kill him if you want Sir, but maybe after we get some answers out of him about their other activities right?”
Taking a few deep breaths, Dmitri’s grip on his pistol tightened until the knuckles whitened. “Don’t do this to me, I need you Ivanov.” His other hand shook as he pulled a pack of cigarettes from his jacket. Putting one in his mouth, he patted his pockets for a lighter.
“I know you do sir.” Ivanov stepped into the pistol Dmitri had aimed between his eyes and lit the cigarette for him with practiced ease. “I apologize for my insubordination; do as you will.”
Taking a deep drag, Dmitri exhaled with satisfaction. Leaving the cigarette dangling between his lips, he curled his left hand into a fist and struck Ivanov in the face spraying blood from the impact and nearly taking the larger man off his feet.
“Fine, take him to the interrogation chamber.” He took his foot off the man’s throat and listened to the rasp of his tortured breath.
Eugene was speechless; he wanted to stop what was happening but knew there wasn’t anything he could do. Dmitri was at least as unhinged as he had heard; if he’d nearly killed his own man for suggesting they keep him alive for torture; what would happen to Eugene if he opened his mouth?
“Doctor, you look a little pale are you feeling unwell?” Dmitri walked around and sat heavily behind his desk. “I am so glad you came over tonight Mr. Arlington, without your visit we never would have been able to teach those interlopers the lesson we did.” He tossed his gun carelessly on the desk and leaned back to put his feet up.
“What did you end up doing? Is Victoria OK?” Eugene swallowed hard, trying to keep his cool.
“We disposed of some trash, exterminated some insects and brought one in for questioning. They were planning some sort of midnight capture.” Dmitri waved it away as though the past wasn’t worth talking about. He leaned in, appearing to notice Eugene’s battered condition for the first time. “What happened to you? Girlfriend get pissed off at you or something?”
“Yeah, something like that. So you aren’t going to have Victoria followed are you? They should leave her alone so there’s no need right?” He winced as he said the words, hoping they wouldn’t be interpreted as a command.
“We already have someone assigned to her but do not worry; he is very good. Besides the only times she needs a babysitter is at night or when she is between home and school.” He frowned slightly, “Did you think she needed more surveillance than that? You’re obviously worried about her safety or you wouldn’t have come here.”
“Well you’re right about that, I am certainly concerned with her safety-”
“Good, then we have that in common. I want to protect my father’s investment, especially now that it’s MY investment. Why did you come here anyway?” Dmitri paused to light a cigarette from the butt of the one he’d just finished.
“Initially I wanted to tell you to call off your dogs. Turns out it wasn’t your boys, it must have been… your prisoner’s brother? Could I have one of those?” Eugene reached out his hand and Dmitri gave him the cigarette he’d been smoking after lighting another from the cherry.
“I realize you have had a difficult day Eugene. I apologize for that but there was no helping it.” He gestured and Ivanov brought glasses of vodka, “My day has not been all that amazing either. Let us get drunk together and forget our woes.”
Knowing it would be dangerous to say no, Eugene accepted a glass of warm vodka and another cigarette. It was going to be a long night.