Ready to continue this bumpy ride? I hope you fastened your seatbelts this time.
When I maneuvered the TU into the space designated for me, I noticed something was brewing. Two human agents wearing full body armor were waiting for me. They were both armed with electro-mag guns which were about the size of small assault rifles. If I had eyebrows, I probably would have raised them. Those weapons were extremely dangerous to bots like me. The shock waves those things sent out could permanently scramble a girl’s code. If humans were here with those guns aimed at me, then something was terribly wrong.
I eased out of the TU, and code locked it. I leaned against the driver’s door, and folded my arms. All of my systems were running at full capacity, analyzing the situation and checking the news wire reports. There was nothing in my bank to suggest that I was the cause for the humans to bear arms, so I took my chances and spoke first.
“Why, a welcoming party! How special. Is it my birthday?” I asked sarcastically.
The human closest to me, a medium height, medium build, all-around plain and bland male, flinched, and took a step backwards. His partner, a tall, pale female, glared at him, and then turned that angry gaze on me. “We’re not doing this by choice, you know. Captain Alton is afraid that his precious HART will be dismantled before Cassius can be captured. We’re here to protect you,” she said through clenched teeth.
I was unable to prevent what happened next. My programming was such that whenever I saw or heard something comical, I was to respond in human fashion. So, I laughed. Hard. Had I tears, they would have been streaming down my face. Had I the ability to draw breath, I would have been gasping for air.
The male shifted his weight and, pursing his lips, turned away with his gaze downcast. The female, however, had all the signs of being antagonized. She hefted her weapon, and closed the distance between us. She placed her face directly in front of mine, and blew out a hot breath.
“It’s. Not. That. Funny.” Huffing and puffing and turning red, she gritted her teeth. Besides being angry, she also appeared to be holding back tears I cocked my head, mildly interested in this range of emotion.
“Forgive me,” I said, “for making light of your seriousness. However, your ‘protection’ of me is not needed. I do appreciate the gesture, and sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“You don’t have a heart.”
Oh, yeah. I had been spending so much time with humans and approximating their lifestyle that I often forgot that little tidbit. I reminded myself that I was not one of them and prepared to walk away.
“Of course. You are correct. Please excuse me.” I turned to walked away, and was stopped by the male. “Yes?” I questioned him, impatiently.
“Um. Well. Could you tell our division leader that we completed our task properly? I’m Shane, and she’s McRidge. We didn’t mean to disturb you. We were just trying to do our jobs.” As he spoke, my sincerity meter registered a perfect score. His heart rate was normal, if slightly elevated, and his color was good. He definitely was not a liar. At least not concerning this.
“Fine. You may accompany me. But only to the entrance.”
“Yes sir!” Shane happily saluted me, and adjusted the grip on his weapon. His index finger rested lightly on the trigger as he rapidly checked the area for suspicious movement. His partner, McRidge, reluctantly followed behind him, halfheartedly covering the same ground.
“All clear!” Shane bellowed, and motioned for me to close the distance between us.
“Yeah, clear, right,” McRidge repeated in a voice dripping with boredom. My emotion meter chimed wildly. Could this be sarcasm, or perhaps boredom? I stored a copy of her tone in my data center for future reference, pushed my shades higher on my nose, and sauntered across the lot.
Shane’s eyes followed me appreciatively, I noticed. The female’s eyes noticed this too, if the sound of her sucking her teeth was any indication. I filed this emotion away, also. Surely, this was jealously, although I had heard that sometimes that teeth-sucking sound was used to convey disgust. With smirk, I continued my lazy walk towards the Justice Complex, or Jus Com, where the office I operated out of was located on the twelfth floor.
At least, I intended to continue my walk. I lifted one foot off the ground, and in the next moment, Shane was at my side, gawking at my prone form.
“Are you okay?”
“Hmm?” I ran a check on my systems, attempting to access the previous moments. There was nothing other than static available for reading. “That’s strange,” I said to myself. I tried it again, only to receive the same result. McRidge crouched next to me, scanning the surrounding area. Her gun carefully followed her line of sight. I could tell she was looking for an enemy, but there was none. I felt nothing.
I copied the blank spot in my programming and dropped it into a folder. Dismissing it as a glitch, I mailed the file to Alton anyway as a precaution. Perhaps he would see something that I did not. Pushing myself upwards, I returned to a standing position. I adjusted my shades and strolled past the curious onlookers as if nothing had transpired.
Once inside of Jus Com, I made a beeline straight for the elevators. I was anxious to begin my newest mission. I refused to allow anything to prevent me from taking the head of my prey. Recalling the information mail that I viewed just that morning, I activated several search programs at once. This would enable me to simultaneously review the past deeds and footsteps of my target, Cassius, as well as monitor current traffic in the area.
“Welcome, HART. Please confirm your access code.” I tilted my head at the instruction. I froze, making a quick note of exactly where I was. I had been so deep into my research that I had gotten on the elevator, rode to my office, and entered the reception area without noticing a thing. That was so very unlike me that it scared me as much as anything could. I would definitely ask Alton to run a manual check on my systems. Blanking out twice in such a short period of time was not what I was configured to do.
“Sorry, Glory,” I apologized to the humanoid female at the desk. “X75234PLE16.”
“Access granted,” she chirped. “Captain is waiting for you. Go right in,” she instructed.”
“Ah, but,” she interrupted, “your escorts must remain out here. They do not have the proper authorization.”
“Escorts?” I swiveled my head and saw Shane and McRidge fidgeting behind me. “Oh, them.” Something else I had forgotten. I really needed to get my head checked.
“We’ll be fine. We’ll wait right here,” Shane offered. He sat in the first chair he saw, right next to the door. Pointedly, he stared at McRidge until she huffed and puffed her way into the chair on the other side of the door frame. He waved his gloved hand at me and beamed.
“Yeah.” I left the collection of weirdos in the room behind me and went to see my boss in his private quarters.