Machine Girl: Hard Times Call For Hardware – Chapter 5

When she walked into class, there was a vaguely familiar woman writing on the board, Mrs. Ordstrom was sitting at her desk.  Victoria slipped into a seat next to Stace and watched with interest.  She had written ‘Ms. Daceiron’ on the board and began speaking as she turned to face the class.

“I am Ms. Daceiron, I’ll be student teaching for the remainder of the year.”  Victoria stared in shock.  Standing in the front of the class was Dace, the leader of the Special Forces squad seventeen.

“The Ms. means you aren’t married right?”  One of the boys in the back asked.

“Yeah, how old are you?”

“Inappropriate questions will be ignored.  Repeat performances will result in punishment.  My age is a state secret and I’d have to kill you if I told you.”  Dace smiled a friendly and dazzling smile and Victoria suppressed a shudder.

She was good at knowing when someone was lying, especially with Adam’s help.  There were certain voice modulations and stress reactions that made it pretty simple.  Either Dace had an epic poker face or else she was telling the absolute truth.

 

Eugene

“They WHAT?”  Eugene couldn’t believe his ears.

“I’m serious, I now have a seasoned military commando as a student teacher.  Listen, I have to go to detention now but I’ll call you later.  Or we can chat by email while I’m in detention if you want.”

“But I –“ He began

“Look Eugene I gotta go OK?”  Victoria hung up.

Eugene looked at his phone, momentarily feeling a flush of anger until he realized that she was in school and likely had been calling him at risk of being caught and punished.  Taking a deep breath he tried to relax.  It had been difficult since his kidnapping.

After a momentary hesitation, he dialed Dmitri’s number.  He needed to know she was safe.

“What can I do for you Dr. Arlington?”  Ivanov’s voice was flat and toneless.

“I was hoping to speak with Dmitri.”  Eugene said, “I just had a question to ask him.  A rather important question.”

“The Young Master is currently occupied with another task that requires his full attention.”  Ivanov said, “Perhaps I can assist you?”

“Dmitri had mentioned having Victoria… watched.”  Eugene said, feeling uncomfortable.  “Do you know anything about that?  Do you happen to know if his man is still on the job?”

“As a matter of fact, I believe the bodyguard is indeed still watching Miss Scott.”  Ivanov said in his precise, clipped speech.  “What is your concern?”

“Ahhh, I don’t know, it’s probably nothing.” Said Eugene, “Never mind.  Forget I called.”

“That, I will not do Dr. Arlington.”  Ivanov said in his deadpan voice.  “I never keep anything from the Young Master.”

“I wasn’t asking you to keep anything from anyone.”  Eugene protested.

“Excellent.  I will let him know you called.” The line went dead.

“Shit.”  Eugene looked despondently at his cell phone before tossing it on his desk.  He wasn’t so careless as to allow it to land somewhere that wasn’t soft though.  “I don’t want to trust Dmitri, but he has acted in his own best interests as long as I’ve known him.  At least I know keeping Victoria alive is within those interests.”

Well, even if Dmitri had more resources at his disposal he certainly didn’t hold all the cards.  Eugene powered up his laptop.  It was time to do what he could to help Victoria in his own special way.  Cracking his knuckles, he set about trying to figure out everything he could about the zealots in this so-called Humanity Preservation Alliance.

 

Victoria

Detention, Victoria couldn’t believe it.  She opened her locker to put her books away with a heavy sigh and saw there was a small package sitting there.  Damn, a weird secret admirer?  She wondered who the hell it was and how they had gotten into her locker.  Before she could open it, a singsong voice came from behind her.

“Vicky’s got detention, Vicky’s got detention!”  TT burst out laughing and was echoed by her group of friends.  A group that Victoria noticed had grown in the last few weeks.

“What are you, six?” Victoria asked, then had another thought. “Wait, how did you know about that?”

TT just laughed harder and walked away, “I’ll be at practice freak, enjoy hanging out with the delinquents!  That’ll teach you to cheat; I guess you couldn’t bear the thought of me being smarter than you.”

Victoria opened her mouth to respond, but sensed someone coming behind her and slid suddenly to one side, turning to see David’s surprised face.

“Damn, there’s no sneaking up on you!”  He said with a grin, “Don’t worry about Thorndon, she’s a wicked pain in the ass.  Listen, this weekend can you swing by the lab?  I think the MKII is almost ready to test and I want to run some basic diagnostics.  You’re gonna flip when you see them.”

“MKII, you mean the second pair of legs you won’t give me any details on?”

He nodded, “Yeah, you’re gonna love them I just know it!”

“Maybe, I’ll text you later tonight and let you know.”  Victoria said, slamming her locker door.

“You have plans?  What are you up to, spending some time with Dmitri?”  His voice had an unfamiliar edge.

“I’m probably going to be spending quite a bit of time with my folks for a bit.  They’re all clingy for some reason.  I can’t imagine why, can you?”  Victoria glared at him, “Look I told you what the deal with us was; I like you and I like hanging out with you but if you want something more than that you’ll need to look elsewhere.  Same goes for Dmitri or anyone else right now.”

He winced, “Yeah, sorry I didn’t mean to be like that.  I’m just jealous of time other people get to spend with you.”

“No, it’s fine I’m on edge too.”  She said with a sigh, running a hand through her hair and tucking it back behind her ear.  “I have my fucking detention to go to.  Kneepkens has it out for me.  Again.  I don’t get what the hell I did to get on her bad side.”

“Want me to round up the troops and make her life hell?  I’m sure she has some dirt we could dig up.” He said.

“Thanks for the offer but I’ll be the one to take the risk if it comes to that.”  She said, “I don’t want any of you getting in trouble over something as stupid as that.  Besides, I’ve already given her and Jean something to think about.  I need to go I don’t want to give her an excuse to extend my sentence.”  Victoria turned to go, leaving David staring after her.

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