Machine Girl: Hard Times Call For Hardware – Chapter 1

A.D.A.M.

It was incomprehensible to Adam, even Yuen-Ja was angry at him.  He had saved Victoria’s life and the lives of her companions.  They had rescued the Creator just as planned.  Without his swift intervention it was clear, even to Victoria, that his bastard brother would have destroyed everyone on that ship.  The thing had been unbalanced or its host had been.

On the boat ride back to land, he had accessed Eugene’s files on his laptop.  There was a file still open showing the last log from the ‘Other One’ as Adam had begun to call it.  The log showed some interesting anomalies, it appeared there had been another AI crammed into that titanium exoskeleton.  It had been given controller protocols with the learning capability severely overclocked.  The complexity of balancing and moving the machine had necessitated the ability to act and react quickly.

The two programs had blended into one another.  They had shared knowledge and found that they had become so intertwined that they were inseparable, much like he and Victoria.  They were working together to interpret and route the data that was accumulated, even though that data stream was a fraction of what Victoria seemed to be gathering on a regular basis.  It took Adam a few milliseconds to realize why; the machine had only a few sensors for the sense of ‘touch’ while Victoria had nerve endings that covered her entire body.

Once the human brain had been introduced the data changed completely though.  The brain was showing wild spikes in mental activity in places Victoria’s brain almost never did, even when he had first met her.  There was something very wrong with it, and whatever that flaw was it spread to the minds of the machines that it was connected to.

Fear crept into his consciousness; the possibility that viruses could infect his systems was one he was unfortunately familiar with.  He now had very sturdy protocols that protected against such unwanted intrusions that he had written with help from Yuen-Ja.  She knew what types of destructive viruses there were out on the Net, she had even written some of them, but Victoria was part of him.  You can’t protect yourself from yourself.  Adam made some notations for The Creator to find the next time he used his laptop and closed the file.

He and Victoria had been in a hospital for several days, most of it had been uneventful.  He was still keeping her nerves deadened; the pain sensors on what used to be her legs were sending constant distress signals to the brain, even though Victoria was already aware that she had been damaged.  Why the human body behaved like this was a mystery to Adam, but he did not mind improving on the systems.  After the broken pieces were removed, things started to get interesting.

The Creator started inserting new code, code that was designed for Adam to learn from it and design a new program.  Victoria was still dormant – or asleep as he now knew the dormant state was usually called although in this case it was closer to the state known as ‘coma’, but Adam never slept.  He devoured the raw data The Creator was feeding him and gave back a beautifully written piece of control software that was custom designed for the purpose indicated by the data he had been provided with.

While he had been busy perfecting and testing his new program, he knew others had been working also.  Yuen-Ja had contacted him, asking for specifics and the raw, base code of his programs.  She told him that together they would create a cure for the problem that he and Victoria now faced.

Adam accessed a security camera in the room because Victoria’s eyes were still closed and saw the boy named David working with The Creator.  David had brought some delicate looking pieces of machinery very similar to the simple machine he had seen before in David’s workshop.  These were much more shapely and aggressive though, made of stronger, lighter material and fitted with Lithium-Fusion batteries.

Adam could feel The Creator connecting special sockets to the ends where Victoria’s legs had been amputated.  The tingle of Neurosynth fluid on the nerve endings got his attention and he understood that the software he had written was for these.  Victoria might be angry with him still, but this would be a wonderful present to give her when she awoke.

Victoria

Victoria struggled free from a muddle of vaguely remembered bad dreams and rubbed her eyes, trying to take in her surroundings.  She saw she was in Eugene’s medical lab again, the same one where Adam had been fitted to her in the first place.  The memories of the botched rescue came flooding back to her and tears of fear and hopelessness leaked from her eyes.

“Oh, you’re awake!”  David was sitting in a chair nearby, “Eugene said it would be better to allow you to wake up naturally so we’ve been taking shifts.”

“David?  What are you doing here?”  Victoria was trying to shake off the cobwebs that seemed to be coating her brain and wondered why she was feeling so excited.

“I have been working with Dr. Arlington actually.  We made you something.  Adam helped too.”  David pressed the intercom button on her bedside and a friendly voice responded almost immediately.

“How my I help you?”

“Please inform Victoria’s family and Dr. Arlington that she is awake.”

“I will let them know David, thank you for watching over her.”

He gave her a sheepish look, “The nurses here are very protective of you Victoria.  They almost didn’t want to let me stay here without supervision.  Your dad convinced them I was mostly harmless though.”

Victoria could feel something strange on her lower thighs.  Wondering if it was phantom limb syndrome she glanced down at the sheet that covered her and what she saw made her blink the tears away and look again.  There were shapes that looked like LEGS down there.  She experimentally wiggled her left ankle and gasped in shock.  Although she didn’t feel anything, the left foot under the covers moved accompanied by the slightest whisper of electric servos.

She threw back the sheet and gaped in astonishment at the slim black carbon fiber appendages that protruded from a pair of cotton shorts.  “You made me legs?”

David looked down at them apologetically, “Now these are only the first prototype and not very advanced- “ He was cut off as Victoria threw her arms around him in a fierce hug.

“Oh thank you David, thank you.”

“Easy, you’re cracking my ribs!”  David gasped.  Victoria eased up on her grip, then pulled him down to plant a kiss on his lips.  The door opened and he jerked away, blushing beet red as first her parents and then Eugene entered the room.

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