Machine Girl: What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Always Stay in Vegas – Chapter 1


Victoria woke exactly thirty seconds before her alarm went off, feeling rested and ready for the day.  She turned the clock off before it could sound and stretched luxuriously.  She’d had dreams of flying; her favorite kind where she sailed easily over the ground, doing lazy loops and exhilarating dives.  It had been a week since her release from the hospital and after the first day she was worried her life would never be normal again.  Thankfully after that day her problems had practically disappeared.

Studying was so easy; the information seemed to practically leap off the page and into her memory.  The few times she was having trouble remembering something all she had to do was concentrate for a few minutes and the answer she was looking for would come to her.  In spite of having missed six months of classes she was still going to be able to graduate in the spring.  She was pretty sure that she was going to be valedictorian too.

That last was very satisfying.  TT was PISSED when she saw the class rankings that were posted yesterday.  She sat up in bed and unplugged the charging cable from the back of her head.  Ever since the incident where she had run out of power plugging in had become part of her nightly routine.

She connected the diagnostic cable to its port, set her laptop to transmit the daily data and wandered over to her closet to get clean clothes for the day thankful that the cable was long enough to let her move around while it was connected.  It was nice not to have to choose what to wear on the weekdays since her school had uniforms, but on the weekends she liked to enjoy herself.  Picking her favorite cami, a pair of well-loved jeans and some flip flops she tossed them on the bed and waited for the transmission to finish.

The diagnostic laptop chimed, letting her know the data had been successfully transmitted and she unplugged the cable and walked to the bathroom to take a shower.  She was still amazed by how striking her prosthetic was every time she caught a glimpse of it in the mirror.

“Toria honey, breakfast is ready!”  Her mother was as regular as clockwork, something she was ever grateful for.  “Come get it while it’s hot sweetheart!”

“Coming mom!”  Victoria was buttoning her jeans, noting with satisfaction that they still fit perfectly.  Her stomach rumbled at the thought of food.  She’d been eating like a horse lately, and although she hadn’t been doing anything more than her standard workout she seemed to be gaining muscle tone at a rate she’d only dreamed of before.  Putting the finishing touches on her outfit she clipped her hair back with a pair of whalebone barrettes her grandmother had given her and skipped downstairs.

“Good morning sweetheart.”  Richard, no daddy… what was with that lately… was drinking his coffee and poured her a cup as she entered the kitchen, “How’d you sleep?”

“Like a baby.  Man I’m STARVING!”  Victoria filled her plate with eggs, bacon and toast.  “Thanks for breakfast mom, wow what a spread.”  She added some pancakes to her plate, drenched them with butter and syrup and set in as though she hadn’t seen food in days.

“Well you’ve been eating like crazy so I thought I’d make a little extra darling.  Glad to know you’re enjoying it.”  She smiled, nothing made her happier than someone relishing a meal she’d prepared.

“I can’t help it, I’ve been eating like, twice as much as I used to.  Thank goodness I’m not getting fat.”  She laughed, “I don’t know where it’s going but by some miracle it’s not going to my thighs.”

“Do you want a lift to the airport this morning?”  Her dad was trying to be casual but she knew he was still paranoid about her.

“No thanks, Doc is picking me up here at eight o’clock.”  She flashed her parents a reassuring smile. “Look guys, everything is gonna be fine, it’s just a weekend conference.”

“I know sweetie, I know.  We trust Eugene, he’s a good guy.  I’m sure everything is going to be fine.”  Her mom was saying it more for her dad’s sake than anything, she was sure of it.

“Just be careful Victoria.”  Now she knew he was serious, he only called her Victoria when he was serious.  “Call me the second you get there OK?”

“Jeez of course I will daddy.  This phone will work anywhere in the world, I’ll let you know as soon as they let me turn it on.”  The eggs and pancakes were gone from her plate, the bacon and toast fast disappearing and she was stirring the cream into her second cup of coffee.  “I packed last night so I have time for seconds!”  She smiled at her mom and held out her plate.

“Christ, I thought they weren’t going to let me leave!”  Victoria looked amazing and she knew it, especially judging by the look on Eugene’s face.  “Damn, they replaced the Porsche already?”  She tossed her only bag in the back and slid into the passenger’s seat of a new Aston Martin Vanquish.

“Yeah, you should have seen it.  Completely destroyed, it still scares me.  I would have gotten another one but the memory of the crash was just too much.  Besides, this thing has a V12; just wait until you feel the torque.”

“I like the green color, it sparkles.  You aren’t seriously going to leave this in the parking garage at the airport are you?”

“Yeah, I want it to be waiting for me when I get back.”  He looked at her, “What?”

“You are crazy; someone’s going to steal it.”  Statistics about airport parking garage vandalism popped into her head from somewhere.  “Or key it.”

“No, it’ll be OK.  It’s a secure garage.”  He grinned and started the car; the throaty growl of the engine a pleasing complement to the music playing on the stereo.

“Thievery Corporation?  Wow Eugene I love your taste in music.”  She was grinning back at him, “I’m really looking forward to this you know, I finally get to show this thing off instead of feeling like I need to hide it!”

The ride to the airport was a smooth and flawless.  The leather seat hugged Victoria like her true love and the radio was playing her favorite music.  As usual Eugene was completely focused on driving, giving her the opportunity to relax and to study the man who had saved her life.  He had dressed in a short sleeved gray and white striped button down shirt, jeans and sandals.  An expensive pair of Ray Ban sunglasses completed the look, although she noticed it looked like his nose had been broken at some point.

Now that she had noticed his improperly set nose, she saw the thin white line of a scar over his left eye and another tracing a delicate zigzag along his chin.  Huh, apparently he hadn’t lived the calm, quiet, safe life she assumed he had.  Eugene was parking the car and she suddenly had a chilling thought.

“Hey Doc, what’s going to happen when they send me through the metal detector?  It’s going to light up like the fourth of July when I walk through!”  She bit her lip and frowned, why hadn’t she thought of this before?

Eugene shivered and shook his head, looking away from her and setting the emergency brake.  “Not to worry, I have all the paperwork in order.  It should be just fine.”

They got out of the car; he had packed even lighter than her; just a garment bag and a laptop case.  He handed Victoria her suitcase.  “Are you ready?”

“Yeah, how about you?  Are you nervous about showing off your invention to the world?”  She laughed, and when she turned to go, he realized that she was wearing a tank top and that her prosthetic was clearly visible.  She had never worn a shirt that showed it before, after a couple of seconds Eugene realized he was standing there staring at her and hurried to catch up.

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