Machine Girl: Hard Times Call For Hardware – Chapter 13

After a few minutes two more squad cars approached from different directions, sirens on and lights flashing.  One of them went to assist Seevers and the other came and opened the door, and smiled at Victoria.  She held a well-worn notepad in one hand and a pencil was tucked behind her ear.

“I’m Jessica Amunson, Larry asked me to take a statement from you.”  She said, “I’m going to be recording all this on my body camera as well as taking notes, just so you are informed.  Can we start with your name?  Then you can tell me what happened here.”

“My name is Victoria Scott.  I don’t really know what happened.  He just came up to me and started talking.  He was giving me a real creeper vibe so I called 911.  I tried to keep him talking long enough for the police to show up and then he just fell over.”  Victoria wiped the tears from her face, the feeling of panic was finally draining away now that she began to logically order her thoughts.

“Do you have any identification?”  Jessica asked, “Just standard procedure you know.”

“It’s in my bag.  Officer Seevers has it out there somewhere I think.”  She gestured vaguely towards the front of the car.

“I’d like to search your person too if I may?”  Jessica said, glancing at her apologetically.  “Again, just standard procedure.

“I guess; it’s not like I could hide anything in this uniform but I don’t mind.  Just don’t freak out about my prosthetic OK?  It’s a little weird if you aren’t ready for it.”  She pulled her hair out of the way and leaned forward to show her spine.  Jessica’s sudden intake of breath betrayed her shock even though Victoria couldn’t see her face.

“Um… that’s not all of it.”  Said Victoria, tugging up the bottom of one of her stockings to show her carbon fiber leg and wiggling her ‘foot’ for emphasis.  “I’m kind of a mess.”

She let out a low whistle, “Oh wow, you ARE her!  I thought maybe your name was just a coincidence at first.  I mean I heard about this because of the protesters that are gathering in the park across from Dr. Arlington’s apartment, but I never thought I would actually meet you.”

“Yeah, it’s me.”  Victoria rolled her eyes, “I’m the ‘Machine Girl’ as I guess they are calling me.” Her phone buzzed and she tried to tap into it to ignore the call.  She couldn’t, and her wrist began to itch again.  The Bluetooth must have failed again, maybe it needed to be rebooted.  “Wait, what’s happening to Eugene?”

“I think it’s an apt description.”  Jessica said, ignoring her question, “It’s not as crazy as I thought it would be though.  I mean this is certainly a major piece of hardware but you aren’t turning into a giant robot or anything.”

“So I can go now right?  You don’t need anything else?”  She asked, “I’m late getting home as it is, I’d like to get back before dinner.”

“I need to help Larry secure the scene and gather any additional evidence, but after that I could give you a ride if you’d like.”  She said, “At least one of us has to wait for the ambulance but I’m sure I could leave to give you a lift.”

“That’s OK, I appreciate the offer but I’m almost home.”  She picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder, “Thanks for the help, and thank Officer Seevers for me too.  You’ll let me know if you need to ask me any more questions right?”

At the officer’s nod, Victoria took a few steps away, shouldering her backpack before flicking her feet into wheels and skating away.  She wanted to be home as soon as possible.


Adam knew something had gone wrong, but he was having trouble tracking it down.  Every time he attempted to intervene directly with Victoria’s body he could feel the Neuro-inhibiter activate, scaling back his productivity to a minimum.  Even with the direct connection he shared with her organic computer the inhibiter had the effect of limiting his functionality.

The worst problem seemed to be rooted with a subroutine accidentally linked from the copy of his old code that had been created at the beginning of his integration with Victoria.  That moment she had saved him from annihilation was when he actually began to live; to be an entity instead of simply a thing.  He treasured that old code as a memento of what Victoria had done for him and in addition it was handling both the data logging and transmissions for whatever The Creator used it for as well as the basic functions of Victoria’s body.

Every time he touched that code, his systems were immediately limited to the most basic of functions, things which he was not even responsible for anymore.  In a panic he sent an email to Yuen-Ja begging for help.  After it had been transmitted, alien seeming protocols slammed into place and he found he was isolated, unable to use his normal modes of contact with cyberspace.

He thrashed like a caged animal, unable to get out.  The harder he fought, the tighter the restrictions became until he began to lose functionality.  Afraid that the loss would spread to Victoria’s primary functions, Adam ceased his fighting.  In the stillness that followed, he knew the terror of waiting.  There was nothing else he could do.


Eugene sat in an overstuffed leather chair in the cozy den of the apartment Dmitri was letting him use, reading logs from the night before.  As he scrolled through the pages of data, a strange anomaly caught his attention.  Normally he got two sets of data, one from the part of the AI that controlled Victoria’s basic necessities and one from ADAM itself containing the information it was compiling.  The latter was generally the most interesting and its absence was disturbing.

Worried about his young patient, he quickly pulled up the application he had installed on her phone that connected through the Bluetooth node on the prosthetic.  It showed her basic body functions and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  He called her but she didn’t answer.  Eugene chewed nervously on his thumbnail, just to make sure he thought he’d better call her home number.

Richard answered on the first ring, “Hello, Scott residence.”

“Hi Rich, Dr. Arlington here.  I was wondering if Victoria was home yet, I had a couple questions I wanted to ask her.”

“No she isn’t here, did you try her cell?”

“She didn’t pick up but I’m sure my questions can wait.”

“Would you like me to have her call you when she gets home?  I’m sure she won’t be long.”

“Thanks Rich, that’s be great.  Have a good evening.”

“You as well Eugene.”

Rich hung up and Eugene tried Victoria again.  This time she answered after three rings.

“Sup Doc?”  She sounded tense.

“Just saw an anomaly in last night’s logs and thought I’d call and ask you about it.  How are you doing?”

Victoria sighed, “I’m OK now.  Some jackass tried to jump me and I had to call the cops.  Why can’t the world just leave me the hell alone?”

“Holy shit!  Are you OK?”  He paused and gave himself a mental shake, “Well you said you were, but what happened?”

“I have it recorded and I’m sure the police do too since I had my phone on speaker with 911 dispatch while he was threatening me.”  She said, sounding tired.  “I’ll send you a copy if you want.”

“Do you need anything?  Can I help in any way?”  Eugene asked, “Just say the word and it’s done.”

“Thanks Eugene, I appreciate it.  Really all I want to do is go home and be with my family.  Maybe later we can talk about that anomaly you mentioned.  Is tomorrow good for you?”

“Yeah, tomorrow’s just fine.  I’m sure it’s nothing to be worried about.”  They hung up and Eugene sat back in his chair, running his hand through his hair.  His computer chimed and he saw it was an email from Victoria.

‘Here’s that recording I mentioned.  Tomorrow we can talk more, but someone else was there.  They had been following me and shot my would-be assailant with some sort of air powered projectile launcher.  It’s a good thing too since Adam didn’t see fit to help.’

“What in the world does she mean by that?”  He wondered aloud.  Attached was an audio file.
As he listened to it, his blood ran cold.  He recognized that man’s voice; he had heard it before in the parking lot of a gas station.

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