“I knew it, I just knew the subroutines and protocols we’d put in place were still alive and well.” General Hallbeck was pacing his office, smiling a dangerous and crooked smile in spite of being in the presence of those who didn’t need to see him gloating.
“Sir?” Sargent Daceiron asked, arching an eyebrow.
“You’ve seen the unit’s capabilities, its strengths and weaknesses Sargent, I want a full report breaking down what needs to be modified to make it more combat ready on my desk tomorrow at 0600.” Hallbeck said, still pacing.
“Sir, permission to speak freely sir?” Dace said, her voice coming out crisp and tight with controlled emotion.
“Yes, sure, why not. I’m in a good mood.” The General moved to a cabinet and poured himself a scotch, neat, swirling the amber liquor in the glass and enjoying the smoky peaty aroma.
“First this isn’t a thing, she isn’t a product and she isn’t she isn’t a ‘unit’. Second, she is terrifying in nearly every way, from her ability to squeeze more power ounce per ounce out of her tiny frame that should be possible to her somehow being able to draw precise to scale blueprints on a legal pad in the back of a Scimitar class aircraft getting ready to launch. Third, if the kind of thing we fought against becomes more of a possibility I think it’d be in our best interest to kill her, destroy that tech and bury anyone she has come into contact with. Sir.”
“Ahh yes… the metal monster.” Hallbeck had a faraway look on his face as he sipped his scotch. “It really is a pity that ship went down, losing all hands… too bad you couldn’t have captured at least some of it.”
He shook himself slightly and gave her a grim smile, “I will take your objections into account Sargent.” He “Dismissed.”
Dmitri pace in his office, chain smoking and drinking Sibirskaya vodka from the bottle. In spite of the less than perfect outcome of Victoria’s little trip, he was in an excellent mood.
“Did you see her Ivanov? Did you SEE her?” He exulted, gesturing with the bottle.
“Young master?” Ivanov asked, exhaling smoke from one of his long, thin cigars in twin streams from his nostrils.
“Bah, of course you did not see her, but you SHOULD have. It was perfect.” Dmitri laughed, a deep, dark sound. “Oh, it was so… educational Ivanov. The eventual endgame is always the same for the others. They all play it safe until they get themselves and everyone around them killed… but she… Victoria knew when safe meant dead and she did not hesitate.”
“So you say young master. So you have said.” Ivanov frowned slightly and took a deep drag on his cigar. “I am not so certain it was … the girl who made that decision.”
“Of course it was her Ivanov.” Dmitri said, lighting another cigarette, “You do not believe that slander from those idiots protesting do you?”
Ivanov kept his expression carefully neutral. “Of course not young master.”
David read the email for the tenth time and picked up his phone, punching Yuen-Ja’s number on the speed dial. She picked up on the first ring.
“David, a little busy right now, may I call you back?” She said, polite but firm.
“YJ I just got an email from… I think it’s from Victoria’s … um … from A.D.A.M.” The line was quiet for a few moments.
“What?” She said, her tone dropping into dangerous registers.
“I don’t even know how… it’s not like I even gave Victoria my email address or anything.” He said quickly, “Is everything OK? I mean with Eugene and stuff?”
“No. Things are not OK.” Yuen-Ja said sharply, and then took a deep breath and continued more normally. “Eugene is fine, however Adam has been bad and Victoria is unhappy with him.” He noticed she didn’t spell out the AI’s acronym, but treated it like a name instead.
“Uh he’s, A.D.A.M. I mean, he’s asking me to help him build some robotic parts.” David said, starting to sweat, “They’re … he wants me to make legs. He wants Dr. Arlington to help. What happened to Victoria?”
“Do you have Eugene’s number?” Yuen-Ja asked.
“Yeah. Victoria gave it to me the other day.”
“Good. Call him.” She replied, and hung up.
David stared at the phone for a few minutes, trying to wrap his head around what had just happened. Then he pumped his fists into the air in excitement, “YES!!! Yes yes yessss! I’m IN!”