Machine Girl: Hard Times Call For Hardware – Chapter 15

Someone seemed to be pouring cold water into her head.  Trickles of ice ran from her data jack across the inside of her scalp and then abruptly disappeared.  She shivered, “That was disconcerting, let’s see if it worked.”  Victoria tried to access her phone with Adam’s help and easily checked the three text messages she’d gotten since Eugene had arrived.

“I don’t know how to test it, but I can see the code shows the /D for disabled instead of the /E for enabled so it shouldn’t be able to function.”  Said Eugene.

“Yeah, we’re good to go.”  Victoria heaved a sigh of relief and gave him a weak smile, “Thanks Doc.”

“No problem Victoria.  So what was the deal with that incident last night?”  He asked.

“I’m not sure.”  She replied, “I didn’t tell the cops that I knew someone shot the creep and I don’t have a clue who he was or who my mystery protector might be either.”

“Wait, someone SHOT him?  You didn’t tell me about that!  Why in the hell wouldn’t you tell the authorities everything?  Why wouldn’t you tell ME everything?”  Her father was walking into the room with a tray of coffee things.  “If they are going to catch the responsible parties they should have all the information you do.”  He set the tray down a little more forcefully than was strictly necessary.

“Because there is no reason for a high school senior to know anything about ballistics, large-bore military compressed air weaponry or stun bolts.”  She said, “Besides, it’s not like he didn’t find the projectile.  I don’t want them to catch the guy who saved me and they already have the jackass who tried to attack me in custody.  It’s a win on both fronts.”

“I don’t like you withholding evidence regardless.”  He said, pouring a cup of coffee and handing it to Eugene.  He gave her a meaningful look and she understood he was really upset about her not telling him.  “Besides, how DO you know about ballistics or military gear?”

“Thanks Rich.”  Eugene said, accepting the cup, “Listen, normally I’d agree but in this case Victoria has enough trouble without arousing suspicion about her involvement in an apparent attack don’t you think?  Even if it was deemed self-defense it would still likely give her an unwanted spotlight.”

“I suppose you might have a point.  I’m going to just pretend I didn’t hear this conversation.”  He sighed, “This whole thing feels like it’s getting out of hand why did that man attempt to attack my daughter anyway?”

“I believe he was one of those idiots from the Humanity Preservation Alliance as I hear they are calling themselves now.”  He sipped his coffee, “You know, those assholes who say Victoria is one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse or whatever.”

Victoria gave him a sidelong glance; he always hid his mouth when he was leaving something out and he hadn’t let the coffee cup return to the saucer yet.  She would weasel it out of him later.

“I’m sure Officer Seevers will let us know the details once he figures it out.  They have him in custody after all.”  Victoria said, pouring herself a refill.  “It should be a police matter now; he has our contact information.  It only makes sense for us to wait for them to get ahold of us.”

“Fine, you’re probably right.”  Her dad said, scrubbing a hand across his face.  “What is happening to you Victoria?  Since when did you become the logical one?”

“Oh come on dad, since when did you become such a worry wart?”

She could barely hear him mutter under his breath, “Ever since you turned fourteen.”

“What was that?”

“Oh nothing.”  He finished his coffee and glanced at his watch, “You’d better get ready for school unless you want to be late.  Eugene, you wouldn’t mind driving her would you?  I’ve got an eight o’clock.”

“Not at all Rich, it’d be a pleasure.”  Eugene said, nodding his head.

“Ummm, excuse me but I’m still in the damn room!”  Victoria couldn’t help but smile, “Jeez at least wait until I leave to decide who’s going to be my knight in shining armor.  If you’ve finished divvying up my security detail let’s blow this popsicle stand.”

She grabbed her bag and headed for the door but stopped before going out.  “You don’t think Yuen-Ja is going to be a target do you?  They wouldn’t attempt to do something to my family would they?”

“I doubt it.”  Eugene replied, “For all we know the only guy crazy enough to actually try to pull something is currently in police custody.”

“Do not worry about me Daddy, I can take care of myself.  Besides, I will be getting a ride to school from David.  He likes to talk about the latest advances in robotics technology on the way and I do not think anyone else knows enough of the terminology to put up with it.”

“I think you’ll be in more danger of that rattletrap Bug of his than anything else.”  Richard said with a laugh.”

“I love David’s little Beetle, what’s wrong with it?”  Yuen-Ja said in Mandarin, giving Victoria a puzzled look.

“Don’t take his comments seriously, but you have to admit that old car really isn’t the safest thing in the world.”  Victoria said with a grin, “But it won’t really matter for such a short distance.”

“We used to ride scooters all the time in Korea.  I would sit on mommy’s lap behind daddy.  I am not worried about the Beetle.”  Said Yuen-Ja with a shrug.

Her father was giving them a strange look, “What are you talking about?  It’d better not be anything nefarious.”

“My English is still not very good.”  Yuen-Ja said with an innocent smile, “I do not know what nef-whatever you said means.  Sometimes we just use Mandarin because it is easier for me.”

“Right, and I’m the Queen of Shiva.”  He said, shaking his head.  “How did you learn Mandarin so quickly Victoria?”

“I’m gonna be late if I don’t get out of here daddy.”  She gave him a kiss on the cheek, “See you tonight.”

Rich took a deep breath, let it slowly out and shook his head in defeat. “OK, I’ll see you tonight sweetheart.”

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