Adam was finding it far more convenient to pull data from the Net than from Victoria’s current filing system and the more he used it; the more he thought it might just be the proper answer for some of the more obscure things she kept trying to commit to memory. Response times were greater, but at least that data wasn’t clogging up his system.
He used protocols similar to the ones he had created for allowing her to understand the different auditory communication that Yuen-Ja used when they first met. Linking to external databases that housed translation algorithms seemed like cheating but not using the resources available to him was illogical. Besides, the more words Victoria used, the more data he retrieved and injected into her databanks, the less he had to access external sources.
For now the only reason he was using the Net was the continued overhaul of her current logical data storage and retrieval system. When he was finished, Adam was confident that she would have rapid access to any piece of data she had ever stored, although he had thought the same thing several times before. If he could make it work, it’d be quite the accomplishment considering the vast amount of information that was thrown into her drive without apparent organization. Some of it hadn’t been accessed in years; however Adam suspected that much of the time it was because she simply hadn’t been able to.
The process of organizing was taking a lot longer than he had anticipated. Since the main system had lost the paths needed to retrieve the data, Adam sometimes had to use more hands on investigation techniques instead of being able to rely on the code he had written to search for him. Of course most of that could be handled by his clone, but it was still a time consuming process.
During Victoria’s last period of inactivity, a time he now knew was referred to as sleep; Adam had made a stunning discovery. Victoria’s system actually had its own rudimentary form of an organization subroutine that ventured into her tangled databanks and randomly pulled samples of data to see if they might be relevant. He hadn’t noticed it before because it was such a low level process and it didn’t seem to be very effective. The strangest part was it didn’t have a very clear or direct link to the main unit.
At first, Adam had thought it was a virus or a hostile program, but after analyzing it two or three times he decided it was a part of the older set of outdated and underutilized applications that seemed to be kicking around the dark corners of Victoria’s convoluted archives. A thrill ran through Adam’s circuits, the effect was much like the virtual space Yuen-Ja had created. The reminder of Yuen-Ja’s request prompted him to send a message to Victoria’s mobile communication device and copy her on it.
“Victoria. I would like to interface with Kai Yuen-Ja, would it be possible for us to interface soon? Please advise.”
After school Victoria felt like an orange that had been squeezed. She had drained the information out of her head and printed it on paper. Her right had hurt from writing so much and all she could think about was getting home, eating dinner and sitting on the couch with her family to watch some well-earned television.
Yuen-Ja’s tryouts for the math team had gone well, not that Victoria had doubted they would go otherwise, and she was at a team practice. The cheer team didn’t have the fortitude to have practice running through midterms so Victoria was walking home on her own.
She was heading down the sidewalk when the door to a limousine parked by the sidewalk opened and to her great surprise Dmitri stepped out. Without preamble he gave her a very direct look that was strangely exciting.
“Victoria, I imagine midterms were hell, please allow me to take you out to dinner.” He said, his voice smooth and confident. “I have reservations for us at Bishop’s in an hour would you accompany me?”
“I don’t know about a date out of the blue like this, I hardly know anything about you.” She listened for the part of her subconscious that usually gave alarm when she should be questioning someone’s motive. It was strangely silent.
“Is that not the point of a date? To get to know one another better? Come now, I shall be a perfect gentleman. You have my word.” He gave her a strange half bow from the waist, right arm bent so that it was perfectly following his belt line, eyes on the ground.
“Well I should talk to my parents first, and I need to clean up and change too.” Something about that bow bothered her. She’d seen it in a movie, a bad movie, oh yeah it had been ‘The Kosak Killer’ a terrible Russian war movie.
“I will take you home if you wish. I do happen to think that outfit is quite fetching in all honesty.” Dmitri looked her up and down and smiled. Even though the smile never touched his eyes Victoria felt a shiver of pleasure go through her body; God he was gorgeous.
“OK you talked me into it. I do need to change though. You might think my school uniform is cute or whatever but I think it’s boring and I need a shower. Ugh, I feel like I’ve had the data wrung out of my head.” Victoria said, sliding into the back seat of the limo.
The glass was tinted so dark she almost couldn’t see out of it and as a result it took her eyes a few minutes to adjust to the dim interior. Her other senses took up the slack, there was a scent of Jasmine mingling with the rich scent of leather and the slightest hint of cigarette smoke. The seat was plush and comfortable and felt like velvet instead of leather.
“How was your day?” Dmitri asked, sitting across from her. He tapped on the glass between them and the driver and the car smoothly pulled away from the curb. “Your midterms went well I trust?”
“Yeah, although that jackass Coleman accused me of cheating.” She frowned, “As though I’d have to stoop to that. As if I’m not the brightest mind in the senior class.”
Dmitri’s eyes narrowed dangerously. He reached into an inside pocket again, but withdrew his hand almost as quickly. He opened his mouth to speak, but he was interrupted as the phone in the car rang.
“Please excuse me.” He picked up the handset, an old school corded affair. “What.” His voice was clipped and tense, its former smoothness replaced by a rough edge of barely restrained anger. At the same time Victoria felt her phone buzz in her pocket.
She pulled her phone out and there was a text message from an unknown number. All it said was “Be careful.” Well, that was weird.
“Yes. Do not bother me again or there will be consequences.” Dmitri set the phone down, and his urbane politeness returned as though it had never been absent. “I do apologize for the rudeness. It will not happen again.”
“No problem I understand the life of a businessman is not a calm one.” Victoria said with a small smile, “My father runs his own business you know.”
“Oh yes, your father.” Dmitri arched an eyebrow, “Is he still going to tournaments?”
“Tournaments? I don’t follow you, what kind of tournaments?”
“Martial arts tournaments of course, defending title. Do you not know of his title? I had heard he was retiring but I did not know he had taken to it so fully. Interesting. Well enough of that, how have you been? Did your conference in Las Vegas go well?” Dmitri almost seemed mechanical, his sentences efficiently clipped, the pauses between too short for her to get a word in edgewise until he was finished speaking.
“Wait I want to know more about daddy, what martial arts title?” Victoria said, leaning forward to look at him.
“I will not reveal things to you that he has concealed; I assume he must have his reasons.” Dmitri crossed his arms and leaned back in his seat.
Victoria shrugged and tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear. “The conference went well. Almost too well, Eugene says he’s hardly had time to do anything but answer phone calls and emails since we got back. Just the same, it means you will get a good return on your father’s investment.”
“Yes. Not that the poor bastard will probably ever know about it.” Dmitri muttered almost to himself.
“Oh God, oh I’m sorry Dmitri I forgot about him being in a coma.” Victoria blushed, feeling terrible, “Is he doing better?”
“Not measurably, the doctors say his brain has nearly gone dormant. It’s only a matter of weeks before his body will follow suit. He had a full life and is leaving behind quite a grand legacy which is more than many can say.”
“That’s an awfully pragmatic view to take.” Victoria was starting to wonder if her mystery text messenger knew something she didn’t.
“Well, I have had some time to think about it. He’s been this way for weeks now and the family business…” He sighed, “I have been pretty wrapped up in things. I really appreciate you coming out with me Victoria, it will be a pleasant escape.”