Morpheus’s Legacy Universe – Part 5
The rain was beating hard against my windshield, making it even harder to see through the dark outside. It wasn't the greatest driving weather, made worse by my being a bit tired. But I'd been through much worse. And I still had a good ways to go before I could pull my truck over and get a bit of sleep, at least if I wanted to make my delivery on time.
My name is Cole Shannon, and I was 6 foot 1, 270 pounds of lean...or not so lean, mean trucker. I was 36 years old with a slightly thick build, shaggy brown hair and a beard that I was somewhat proud of. Overall, I figured that I looked every inch the trucker that I was, including my old baseball cap and flannel shirt.
"C'mon," I muttered, glancing out the side window at the empty stretch of country around me. There probably weren't any people for a long ways...but then I saw a faint light a ways ahead, realizing that I just might be wrong. It was probably a farm house or someone who just wanted a bit of privacy.
Letting out a yawn, I plugged a tape into my radio and giving a faint grunt as a calm voice started to play. It wasn't the music that someone might expect from someone in my occupation, but more of an educational tape on American history. I figured that if I was going to spend countless hours behind the wheel, it wouldn't hurt to learn a thing or two while I was at it. Of course, I still had a nice collection of music tapes in a box under my seat as well.
Suddenly, there was something in the road immediately in front of me. I didn't have any time to react, barely even having any to halfway register that it was a large deer...an instant before it collided with my truck, flying down my hood and smashing into my windshield. It all happened so fast that before I even knew it, I lost control of my truck and slammed through the barrier and over the embankment.
The only thing that I had time for...that I could even think was, "OH SHIT!" An instant later, the whole world twisted around before exploding into pain...then finally...darkness.
I had no idea how long I was out, or even that I was out until I came to and found myself staring at a wall and feeling completely confused. Memories of the crash immediately rushed in, though the clearest thing that I remembered was the pain. I remembered that it had hurt worst than that time I'd been roughed up pretty bad in Chicago and put into the hospital. But the odd thing was, at the moment I didn't feel a thing. Not a single thing.
Feeling rather apprehensive, I tried to turn my head to look around, but it wouldn't move. I couldn't budge my arms either. Hell, I couldn't even feel them. That really began to worry me. Either I was on some really strong drugs...or... I didn't want to think about the 'or'.
Then another thought suddenly ran through my mind. It was the realization that I was upright, facing a wall on the other side of a large room. And from what little I could see of the room, not being able to turn my head and all, it didn't exactly look like a hospital.
Suddenly, a man stepped right in front of me, staring me straight in the face with a concerned look. He looked to be in his late fifties or so, with light gray hair and a goatee...not to mention a pair of glasses on his face. Another man moved beside him, looking at me almost emotionlessly. This man looked to be in his forties, with dark hair and a small scar on his forehead.
"Are you awake?" the older man asked, sounding both worried and hopeful at the same time.
I tried to respond, but was unable to move my mouth. It was as paralyzed as everything else. The younger man scowled at the older, then stepped off to the side and out of my vision. A moment later, I felt something. I could move my head slightly, but that seemed to be all.
"Aw...," the man in front of me announced, "You are awake."
"Yes," I responded, surprised that my voice felt strong and clear, though it seemed to sound wrong to my ears. Probably whatever medication they had me on.
"Do you remember what happened to you?" he asked, looking a little more hopeful.
"Yeah," I answered him quietly, giving a mental wince at the thought and trying to prepare myself for the worst. "A crash...I hit a deer..." I was surprised again at how clear the words were, even if they sounded odd. I'd imagined that they would probably have been a bit slurred.
The man nodded at that, looking faintly satisfied. The other man came into view again and commented, "The memory appears intact."
"Let's test that," the older one commented, giving me a steady look.
"What's your name?" he asked me, to which I answered.
That was followed with about a dozen more questions, each one something fairly simple, but apparently meant to check that I didn't have brain damage or anything. The very fact that they were checking for that didn't wasn't a good sign, but the fact that I could easily answer was. It certainly eased my mind slightly, but not much at all.
Finally, they seemed satisfied and the older man told me, "I'm Doctor Eli Lindquist, and this...," he gestured to the other one, "is Dr. Westerman."
I didn't respond to their introductions, being far too worried to think about being polite. With each passing moment, I started to feel worse and worse about what was going on. A thousand about what the crash had probably done to me quickly filled my mind, each one worse than the one before. All I knew at the moment was that I was alive and hadn't been left a vegetable.
"This is going to be difficult," Dr. Lindquist started, glancing at the other man for help, though he just shrugged, apparently satisfied to leave the talking to Lindquist for the moment. "You...you were severely injured when we found you."
That was the last thing that I'd wanted to hear and I winced badly, dreading the worst. It was as though for the last minute, I had been standing before Saint Peter...waiting to find out what my eternal fate was going to be. Then again, I'd already come extremely close to doing just that. But as bad as the accident itself had been, now I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it scared the hell out of me.
"You were in critical condition," Dr. Westerman elaborated, "The nearest hospital is an hour away and there was no possibility of your surviving that long."
"It was a miracle that you were still alive when we found you," Lindquist told me nervously. "If we hadn't heard the crash and arrived when we did..."
At that, they both paused to look at each other and I felt another sinking feeling. It took a bit of effort to keep from demanding that they quit pussyfooting around and tell me what was going on. But at the moment, I didn't think that being pushy was a good idea.
"How bad am I?" I asked quietly.
"Very." Lindquist responded quietly, then gave me an odd look before adding, "Or you were."
Westerman took a long look at me, frowning slightly. Then he glanced at his watch before telling the older man, "I will leave the explanations to you." He gave me a strange look before walking away.
"Um...yes," Lindquist sighed, adjusting his glasses. "I am not sure how to explain..." Then he sighed, "You see, we are not medical doctors. We're scientists, though some of our research does contain incredible medical potential."
"Not doctors...," I repeated, feeling even more confused than before. Then how was I still alive at all if I was as critical as they said?
Before I could ask, Lindquist continued, "Virgil...that's Dr. Westerman and I have been working in the development of advanced robotics systems. Specifically, in the creation of androids which might serve a number of useful purposes." He looked slightly embarrassed at that.
I just didn't see where this was going. Nor did I particularly care. I had a hell of a lot more important things to think about.
"Your body was mangled," he reminded me, "There was nothing we could do. Even if there was a hospital nearby, you wouldn't have survived." Lindquist paused to adjust his glasses again, even though they hadn't moved. It was apparently some sort of nervous habit. "In order to save your life...we had to take drastic measures. We transferred your mind into our prototype."
That statement was something of a shock, and all I could do was stare at him, wondering if he could possibly be serious. However, the expression on his face was definitely so.
"It has a highly complex crystal matrix brain," Lindquist explained. "And we transferred the contents of your brain into it. All of your memories and personality. Though to be honest, I wasn't completely certain that it would work..." Lindquist gave dramatic pause while I stared at him in shock, then he finished, "We couldn't save your body...but we could save your mind."
"Bullshit," I growled after a few seconds, "I ain't buying." Still, in spite of my forceful denial, I wasn't completely certain.
The doctor gave me a hurt look, as though insulted. "Yet that is the truth," he finally responded. "We knew that it would be difficult to accept, which was why we left the...your motor controls deactivated until we could explain."
Again, I told him, "Bullshit...," though this time without much force. I was far too afraid that he was telling me the truth, even if I didn't want to believe it.
"I'm afraid that there is another surprise as well," Lindquist told me with a faint smile, moving over to the side to push something, "I'll let you see for yourself..."
A second later, I could suddenly feel my body again...and I could move. I remained where I was for just a moment, moving my fingers and then taking a step forward, finding that I had been in some sort of receptacle thing on the wall. And then remembering Lindquist's claim that I was inside some sort of prototype android, I took a look down at myself and received the shock of my life.
"OH SHIT!" I blurted out.
With a single look down, I could see a pair of tits on my chest... I just gasped at the sight, unable to believe that I actually had a set of melons, just like some woman. However, as soon as I got past that enough to look down, I realized at those weren't the only things of a woman that I had. My whole body seemed to be female...or at least it looked like it.
Feeling extremely uncomfortable as I looked over my unfamiliar body, I gasped, "What the hell?"
There was one thing that was immediately obvious to me, besides the female body...or being completely naked. It was the fact that my skin looked weird as hell. My skin was sort of a pinkish flesh color, and sort of shiny as well, looking as though it was made out of plastic. A sudden thought ran through my mind that it probably made me look like some kind of human sized barbie doll or mannequin. That effect was only added to by several seams in my skin, especially around my joints.
Seeming to read my unspoken question, Lindquist said, "As you can see, our prototype hadn't been completed yet. Dr. Westerman and I had yet to replace the artificial epidermis with a more human looking one." Then he looked thoughtful, "And though the computer and control systems are fully operation, we had yet to finish creating the artificial intelligence programs that would have made it useful for anything more complex than following immediate direct orders." There was another pause before he looked at me with an embarrassed smile and added, "Then again, there no longer seems to be any need for an AI."
"I'm...I'm a robot!" I exclaimed, tearing my eyes from my body and staring at Lindquist.
"Not a robot," Lindquist responded just a little quickly, looking just a tiny bit insulted, "An android. No...a synthoid."
I just grumbled, "Whatever," to that. I didn't care if it was an android or a wind up toy soldier. The fact was, I wasn't human anymore. I was a machine. A stupid fucking machine.
However, in spite of that, I didn't really feel like a machine. But then again, what was a machine supposed to feel like? All that I knew was that I felt strange, but not nearly as strange as I thought I should have. As I ran my hand along my skin...or whatever passed for it, I could feel it, proving that I still had a sense of touch.
"It is actually a very complex artificial system," another voice came from the side. Dr. Westerman came in, apparently having heard our exchange, "Designed to mimic human functions very effectively."
"Indeed," Lindquist nodded agreement.
Then Westerman gave Lindquist an odd look before telling me with a hint of amusement in his voice, "In fact, Dr. Lindquist designed the prototype you currently inhabit to function in...adult entertainment."
I stared at one, and then both of them, seeing from the look of embarrassment on Lindquist's face, that Westerman had been telling the truth. Shit, I'd been turned into a walking, talking blow up doll. A human sized sex toy. It was not a pleasant realization, but then again nothing seemed to have been since I awoke. Excepting of course the fact that I was still alive.
"I know that this must be quite a shock for you," Lindquist said as he put a hand on my shoulder, "But this was the only way that we could save your life. Perhaps someday we can build a male model to transfer you into..."
Westerman winced at that, then muttered something about that being outrageously expensive and a ridiculous waste of money. I didn't think that I was meant to hear, but even from the other side of the room I could make most of it out. And after looking at him for a moment, I began to realize that he wasn't particularly happy about my being inside of his project...probably messing with whatever it was that those two had planned for it. But it wasn't like I could do anything about that.
"That would be great," I told Lindquist, not looking at Westerman as I said it.
After several more seconds of uncomfortable silence, Lindquist suddenly suggested, "Perhaps you might like to have a better view of your new body. It might help some..."
I just nodded, feeling too overwhelmed by the whole thing to do much more. One minute I was driving my truck and minding my own business, and the next thing I know...I'm roadkill. Then I wake up to find that I've been turned into some kind of wind up toy. A sex toy at that. No guy should have to deal with that.
"I need a drink," I muttered, then suddenly realize, "Can I still drink?"
"Your artificial body does not require food or water," Lindquist tells me, then smiles faintly, "Though it does possess the ability to consume both."
"The better to mimic human functions," Westerman added calmly. Then just as I was beginning to tiny bit better at least, he continued, "Though of course you would be unable to taste the food..."
Lindquist sighed, "We have yet to truly duplicate the senses of taste and smell."
Somehow, I had the feeling that they hadn't tried too hard either. After all, how necessary were either of those for a robot. At least my other senses...my hearing, touch and sight were all good. Though I couldn't help noticing that they were all a bit off as well.
Just then, Lindquist stopped walking and gestured to a mirror the wall. It took me a moment to realize just what that meant. I hesitated for several seconds, taking a look at both Lindquist and Westerman, then moving towards the mirror. I was definitely not looking forward to this, though I knew that I had to see what the hell they had made me into.
With the first sight of my reflection, I froze motionless, staring at it in disbelief. I had long blonde hair and a hell of a nice figure. My skin was inhumanly smooth, without a single hair other than what was on my head. And with my plastic looking skin, I did look like nothing more than a mannequin. Except perhaps a human sized barbie doll.
"Oh shit," I whispered, unable to take my eyes off of that image. I was a...a fembot. Like in that Austin Powers movie.
Lindquist didn't say a word, though he stepped beside as though trying to comfort me. After a minute, he interrupted me and asked, "Would you like some time alone?" All I could do was nod to that. He nodded back and then left the room with Westerman.
I had no idea how long I remained standing motionless in front of the mirror, though as soon as I wondered, the answer suddenly came to me. 19 minutes, 23 seconds. It was like the answer was fed directly into my mind, spooking me a bit. That didn't really make me feel any better about what I had suddenly turned into.
A short while later, Lindquist came back, looking rather uncomfortable. I guessed that I could see it from his point of view, where his wooden puppet had suddenly started moving around and thinking on it's own. It was like he was Gepetto, though I was sort of an anti-Pinnochio, having gone from being a real boy into a plastic doll.
Neither of us said much as Lindquist led me down several halls and into a spare bedroom where he said I could have some privacy. I just nodded, not saying anything as I went inside and closed the door, staring down at my alien body and trying to absorb what had happened to me.
While I sat on the bed, lost in thought, it took me some time to realize that the lights in the room were off. Glancing around, I didn't see any windows or source of lights, so I didn't quite understand where the green light I was seeing things in came from. Then I winced, feeling stupid as I remembered that I wasn't even in a human body anymore. It was my artificial eyes, giving me night vision of some sort.
"Great," I muttered bitterly, "I'm robo Barbie...with see in the dark action."
I continued to sit there though, doing nothing except staring at myself and wondering, "Why me?"
And as the hours passed, I grew increasingly depressed, sinking more and more into self-pity and shame. I felt humiliation and disgust for what I had become. I was a freak...a monster. I wasn't even human anymore. I was a thing of plastic and metal...a robot. A fembot. A fucking blow up doll. Thoughts that I would have been better off having died like I was supposed to have kept crossing my mind.
Eventually, something snapped inside of me and I started feeling disgusted at myself for an entirely different reason. I'd never believed in suicide before and didn't like the fact that I had been considering the idea now. Nor had I ever been the kind of guy who was into self-pity, so I didn't think that I should start up with it now.
Then I looked down at my hands yet again, realizing just how lucky I was to be alive at all. It was a miracle that I was still around, so I should be counting my blessings rather than pouting about HOW I was still alive. My hands...I realized that they were like prosthetics. A guy with a prosthetic leg was still human. It was just that more of my body was prosthetic than normal...a whole lot.
"I'm alive," I finally said with a sigh, a faint smile beginning to form on my face.
I stood up, experimentally moving my arms and legs before finally dropping down to my knees and bowing my head. Though I didn't do it very often...I prayed. If ever there was a time to give thanks to God, I figured that this was it.
When I was done, I left stepped out the door and started down the hall, knowing that I owed my rescuers a delayed, but very heartfelt thank you.
Several days later, I stood in front of the mirror, taking a long look at my reflection, still hardly able to believe that it was really me. I didn't quite cringe back at the sight of the moving barbie doll that faced me, but I still wasn't that comfortable with her either. Nor was I that pleased with what I was wearing...or what I wasn't.
"Damn Victoria's Secret," I muttered, uttering the words that I never thought that I would have heard myself say.
Though I had an artificial body that didn't feel at all cold, nor discomfort at walking around without shoes, I wasn't very comfortable at walking around without a stitch of clothes on, for modesty's sake if nothing else. And even if I didn't think of them that way, they were a symbol...something to mark me as human, not as a machine. So while I had thanked Lindquist and Westerman for saving my life, I'd asked them if they had anything for me to wear.
I had been a little less than pleased when the only thing Lindquist had come up with was some lingerie that he'd bought for his fembot. That was just further proof that he was a bit of a dirty old man, though I hadn't really needed much after seeing what kind of robot he'd built. However, the lingerie was the only thing around that would actually really fit my current body, so I had little choice but to wear it unless I wanted to go around buck naked...which I didn't.
With a bit of embarrassment, I posed just a little bit in front of the mirror, once again struck by the similarity to a store mannequin. A very well built mannequin though since my proportions were a little more like those of a barbie doll. Then with a frown, I buttoned back up the large white lab coat that I'd insisted on borrowing from my rescuers as well...much to Lindquist's unspoken disappointment.
"I wonder how long it will take to get the new skin," I mused, thinking about comments both Lindquist and Westerman had made about the work they still had to do on the cosmetic changes. Apparently my being inside of their project hadn't changed those plans, much to my relief. I'd be much happier when I could go out in public without feeling like a freak, or walk through a mall without worrying about being put into one of the store windows...
Several seconds later, I added, "Or when they can make me another guy body..." Somehow though, I didn't think that it would be anytime soon, and I didn't think it very appropriate to try pushing the doctors for more just yet.
As I turned from the mirror, I looked down at my still bare legs and feet, wondering how soon before I could get real clothes either. But with my build, I suspected that for anything much more than what I was currently wearing would probably require some specially made clothing...or a bit of looking. Either way, Lindquist had made a few vague promises about the next time he got into the city...though I wasn't holding my breath.
"Almost time for dinner," I sighed, knowing that it wouldn't do me much good. Sure, I could still eat small amounts and have something inside of me actually disintegrate it, but I couldn't taste it. Eating was no longer an enjoyable experience for me.
That was probably one of the worst thing about what had happened to me. I winced at the thought of not being able to enjoy a double bacon cheeseburger or a thick juicy steak with side order of chili fries. No more munching on twinkies while I drove, nor finishing off a six pack at home. It was a little depressing, knowing that I'd be missing out on my favorite foods.
I had learned other things about my new body during the last few days as well. For one, I didn't need to sleep anymore either, which gave me a lot more free time than before. Not that I really had anything to do with it at the moment. Of course, not having a human body anymore, I didn't have to breathe or go to the bathroom anymore either. Both were pretty odd for me, though they were easily overlooked unless I thought about them.
There had been a lot of things for me to get used to, or at least to try getting used to. I didn't think that I'd really gotten used to a single thing. Not from looking like a barbie doll, nor from now being a much shorter 5 foot 7. However, I was definitely trying. After all, I had no doubts that I was a whole lot better off than I would have been if they hadn't found me.
However, that just reminded me of my truck, making me wince at the very thought. I'd spent a lot of time in that baby so it kind of hurt to think that it was a total wreck now. But, as I had been reminding myself over the last couple days, that was over with and there was nothing that I could do about it now.
"Just deal with whatever comes," I told myself, for what had to be the thousandth time, "and move on."
A moment later, took a long look around the small room that the docs had let me use and then sat down on the edge of the bed, turning on the TV. It seemed that watching the tube was one of my few old pleasures that I could still enjoy. And I'd been enjoying it a good bit since I couldn't exactly go out and the docs tended to stay busy with whatever it was they were doing.
"Wish I had some chips," I complained as I flipped through the channels.
Then I saw a show that made me stop, a weekly series called Developments. It was sort of like one of those news shows about Hollywood and entertainment, except that it focused on the developed...people with weird powers and the latest new about them. I frequently watched the show because it was interesting if nothing else, and of course, because a lot of the developed girls were....well developed. And not to mention usually wearing spandex. There was nothing like a hot girl wearing spandex.
This time, Developments was going on about how Ms. Miracle and her team dealt with some alien invasion attempt in New Jersey, and how Praxis had fought some unknown villain who managed to escape. And of course, they gave reports about some unknown and apparently new super heroine in Miami, as well as some new big shot team of developed heroes who were supposed to be the best of the best.
After the show ended, I went back to flipping through channels, hoping that I could find something interesting. Then I paused, looking down at myself again in disbelief. Somehow, I didn't think that I'd ever get used to either seeing that body...or wearing it. But then again, I didn't really have much choice so there was no use whining about it.
With that, I put my hands on my large breasts, feeling them in my hand and having a hard time believing that they weren't real...even if they did look a bit like plastic. I could feel them in my hands...I could feel my hands on them. And they felt soft, not like the hard plastic they appeared. It was definitely strange, though I had to give a faint smile at the thought that at least the perverts had made their sex toy able to feel some pleasure.
"Some prosthetics," I muttered with another shake of my head. I was even sure that I could feel a bit of a warm lubrication beginning to build up between my legs. "One hell of a machine..."
Then I flipped a mental switch and turned off those sensations, amazed at how easy it was to do so. I could make myself horny or not...just by willing it. That was certainly a handy feature to have.
Deciding that I'd had more than enough of both that and TV for the moment, I left the room and headed out to find Lindquist. He seemed a bit friendlier than Westerman, who was distant if nothing else. Though Lindquist had gone out of his way to be friendly to me, I could tell that Westerman resented my presence to some degree. Not that I blamed him though.
I found Lindquist in his lab, working on something that I couldn't quite identify. But he stopped and looked up when he saw me, giving a nervous smile.
"What can I do for you?" Lindquist asked me pleasantly.
"Maybe some clothes," I reminded him, wondering how long I could get by with just lingerie and a lab coat. It was...embarrassing.
Lindquist just nodded at that, promising to get me some the next time he got into town. "But I have been thinking," he told me afterwards, "You might want to consider using a female name for the time being..."
That had briefly occurred to me as well just the day before, though I hadn't given it much thought since.
"Maybe you can flip your name over," the doc suggested eagerly, "Call your self Shannon Cole."
"Maybe," I nodded without much enthusiasm myself.
"Or," he continued, "you can just change your first name a little...becoming Carol..." I gave a faint grunt at that. "What do you think?"
After staring at Lindquist for a second, I responded, "I think I'll stick with Cole." He looked a little disappointed, though didn't push it. Then I reluctantly admitted, "That first one's not bad. I'll think about it."
"Good," he nodded, "very good."
"Now, about those clothes," I reminded him, earning a slight chuckle.
"I won't forget," he grinned back, adjusting his glasses. I was just a little nervous about what he might get me, though wasn't sure that I should push the issue just yet. I could end up giving him some ideas.
Several seconds later, he went back to work on what he had been doing, with me just watching silently. Finally, I couldn't resist asking him what it was.
"An upgrade on the android control system," Lindquist told me proudly, a faint gleam in his eyes. "It still needs a bit of work though." Then he paused to frown slightly. "I'm sorry. I know that you were hoping for the skinwork..."
"Yeah," I admitted, feeling just a little uncomfortable. Then I told him, "I really appreciate everything, but I was kind of hoping to at least look a little more normal." And then I quickly added, "But I don't want to rush you or anything..."
Lindquist chuckled, "I understand, and we are working on it. However, developing highly realistic synthetic skin is more difficult than it sounds." Then he gave me a grin before adding, "But we are almost there...."
I nodded at that, still feeling a bit uncomfortable for imposing on him. Though I didn't really have much choice, I hated having to rely on other people for everything...or making them go out of their way for me.
"Well," I told Lindquist sincerely, "Thanks. Thanks for everything."
I wasn't much for all that sentimental stuff and felt pretty uncomfortable saying as much as I was. So with that, I turned and hurried away before Lindquist even had the chance to turn it into some kind of soap-opera mushfest, leaving him to his work instead.
It had been a long night, but then all of them seemed to have been that way since my being turned into a human mannequin four days earlier. Since I no longer needed to sleep, it left me with lots of spare time at night. And because of that, I'd just spent the night watching late night TV, Discovery channel and playing solitaire. It was boring enough as it was, but not being able to really munch on chips or drink some beer while watching just made things even more bland.
"At least I can catch up on some reading," I muttered, patting the book that I had started reading a little while earlier. It was Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, which I had really thought appropriate. And it was certainly a little different than most movie versions that I'd seen.
After awhile, I looked over at the clock and was relieved that it was time for breakfast...even a late breakfast. That didn't mean much to me personally, but what it did mean was that the docs were bound to be up and about. And that meant someone to talk to...if they weren't too busy. Which they usually were. At least Westerman was...and he wasn't the talkative type even when he wasn't busy.
"Damn this," I tugged at my lingerie, shaking my head and wondering yet again when Lindquist was going to get me something else to wear. I was about to the point to start insisting on it. At least I didn't get cold and still had the lab coat to help cover things up just a little more.
Giving a shake of my head, I left the room and started for the kitchen area, though I found it empty when I got there. That wasn't much surprise though, so I just took a look around, fought back the urge to grab myself something to munch on since it wouldn't do me any good, then went to find the docs.
When I got close to the lab, I heard Lindquist and Westerman talking...loudly. And feeling curious, I stopped where I was and listened in, feeling the faintest bit guilty, but not enough to stop eavesdropping.
"We shouldn't have given direct control of it up," Westerman was growling.
Lindquist immediately came back with, "But he needed out help. I know that it's a setback...but he would have died otherwise."
"Maybe he should have died," Westerman sneered. "At least then our project security wouldn't have been compromised."
"I can't believe that you would say that," Lindquist gasped in horror.
However, before he could say anything further, Westerman continued, "But at least you did find something useful during this mess. The AI. We finally have the perfect way to create the adaptable mind and perspective that we'd been looking for. Instead of trying to duplicate a human's understanding of the world and ability to adapt to the unexpected, all that we need to do is download the actual contents of the human mind. All of the data that would be required and even missed is already there. Much simpler...and more effective."
"Virgil!" Lindquist spat, "You know that this was never my intention. Our work..."
"No," Westerman growled, "Your work was about satisfying your perverted fantasies. This technology is wasted on the sex toys that you had intended it for. That's why I've been developing the military aspects from the start."
My eyes were going wide as I listened to them getting even louder, and as the insults started to fly. It was obvious that Lindquist was pissed at Westerman, who's arrogant tone would have been enough to make a priest punch him. It was almost as if Westerman was taunting the older man, trying to make him angry. And I was beginning to think that it was about time for me to step in and try calming things down.
"I've always known that our ultimate goals are different," Westerman said as I began to move closer to the door, "And it appears that the time for us to part has finally come..."
"I won't let you," Lindquist started to tell him, his voice more filled with determination than I'd heard it before.
But Westerman quickly growled, "You don't have a choice."
There was a sudden loud bang, and I stepped through the door just in time to see Westerman standing there with a gun in his hand. Just several feet away stood Lindquist, with a look of pained horror and confusion on his face as his hands grabbed at his chest. Blood was dripping down his front, leaving droplets all over the floor.
"Consider this a termination or our working agreement," Westerman commented, sounding almost calm about it...though I could hear the underlying stress. Then he fired another shot, dropping Lindquist to the ground.
"Doc!" I gasped out in horror, staring first at Lindquist and then his murderer. I couldn't believe what I'd just seen happen and wasn't at all sure what to do about it. A part of me said to just turn and run, while a smaller part said that I should help the doc out somehow.
Westerman's eyes snapped towards me, a deep scowl forming on his face as the gun was now aimed at me. I gulped, suddenly feeling pretty damn afraid. Being killed once didn't make me any less afraid of dying again.
"Stupid machine," he spat, sounding almost as though he was talking to himself. "I had planned on dealing with you just a little later."
"What the hell are you doing?" I demanded nervously, looking at Lindquist and pleading, "He needs a hospital..."
However, Westerman just scowled deeper, then smirked faintly as he lowered the gun. I started to sigh in relief, glad that he was going to let me get some help for Lindquist. But then, he just said, "Override code...delta sullivan three one nine."
Suddenly, I felt something click inside of my mind. I couldn't quite make out what it was, but I knew without a doubt that it was absolutely no good for me. Not in the least.
"What the hell did you do?" I asked fearfully, then grimaced and tried to put on a brave front. "You sick bastard..."
Westerman just gave a smug look, "Every computer system has a back door...and I just activated the password to mine. The computer system that you currently reside in responds only to my voice and is back under my control...where it belongs."
I took an instinctive step backwards, but he quickly ordered, "Stop. Don't move." And suddenly I did. It wasn't anything that I had meant to do, but I had no control.
"What...?" I started in horror.
"Quiet," Westerman told me, forcing me to immediately go mute. "You can stay here until I decide what to do with you."
With that, Westerman stepped next to Lindquist's body and glared down at him before turning to leave the lab. I was alone, helpless to even move or speak. And even worse, was the fact that I could see Lindquist still moving just a little...and groaning weakly. He was dying right in front of me, and I couldn't do anything for him...nor even turn away.
I watched in horror as Lindquist passed away in front of me, as well as more than a bit of guilt. He had saved my life, and I wasn't able to help him back. I hated owing other people, and I hated not being able to pay them back even more. And he'd even been killed partly because he had saved me...and there was no way that I could pay that back. Instead, all I was able to do was bear silent witness to his passing.
Westerman left me there for nearly a day, and it was a form of torture worse than any that I had ever imagined possible. I was bursting with rage and frustration, wanting to bust his head open so bad that I could taste it. However, that was not going to happen anytime soon, much to my further frustration.
When Westerman eventually came back in, he gave Lindquist's body a dirty look, and then shook his head in disgust. Finally, he only glanced at me before ordering, "Dispose of the body and clean this mess up."
Though I hadn't wanted to do anything, I found myself moving to do what he had told me to. It was as though my body had a mind of it's own...separate from my own. A mind that existed solely to follow orders. Just like any good computer I guessed, much to my disgust. I hated being a fucking robot.
After this, I helplessly did what I'd been told to. I dug a hole in the field behind the lab and buried Lindquist. Somehow, I was able to hold enough control over my body to give a silent prayer before I was forced to turn around and go back up to finish cleaning. Cleaning up the blood stains was not a pleasant job, but it wasn't like I could complain.
By the time I was finished, Westerman actually seemed somewhat pleased with himself. He even muttered something about, "Completing a job with only the objectives given...," and "Initiative in completing the instructions..."
I supposed that he might have been referring to the fact that he'd only told me to get rid of the body and clean up the mess, but I'd buried it and chose to use a mop without specifically being told to. I guessed that was the kind of thing that they had been trying to get the android to do for them...and I ended up making possible, just by being inside of it, even if not in control. Needless to say, I wasn't all that proud to be part of that success.
Then when Westerman was finished with me, at least for the moment, he just had me stand off to the side where I wasn't in the way. Without giving me another glance, Westerman left the lab, turning the light off behind him...and leaving me alone and helpless in the dark. And once he was gone, I wasn't sure whether to be more afraid or relieved about it.
By the time the doc came for me again, I was bursting with anger and resentment, not to mention a bit of fear. But at the same time though, I felt a tiny amount relief at the sight of him, a reminder that I had not been forgotten about as I had started to think.
"Time for work," Westerman said, though he was talking to himself more than to me.
Westerman did some work at one of the benches without even looking at me, at least until he finally told me to do some cleaning. Unable to refuse or even argue, I found myself going for the mop and bucket, then beginning a thorough cleaning of the whole lab...followed by cleaning of the rest of the building.
For the next two days, I spent all of my time either standing in the corner or doing work around the building at Westerman's instructions. It was frustrating and humiliating, but I had no choice. The doc had made sure of that. As far as he was concerned, I was a robot....nothing more. And I was more than a little sick of being treated like one.
"Come," Westerman told me, gesturing to follow him. Of course I did so, not having any other choice.
Westerman led me to one of the back rooms where there were some racks of electronic equipment, the purpose of which I couldn't even guess. He slowly looked some of them over before turning back to me.
"Move this rack and that one," he pointed to two of them, "to the far wall," he gestured over there, "and take the others into the storage room."
I wished I could have told him to do it himself, and that he was insane if he thought I could lift something as heavy looking as one of those racks, but I was still unable to talk. However, I was able to hesitate and look from the racks to the doc, the computer controlling me seeming to agree that I couldn't lift them.
"Do it," Westerman demanded impatiently.
That seemed to override the hesitation because I moved over and attempted to move one of the racks. However, as I had expected, it wouldn't budge. But at least, I suspected that I wouldn't have to worry about a hernia or anything in my fancy metal and plastic body. However, I wondered if there was something else that would break with too much effort instead.
"Damn," Westerman muttered, glaring at me as though it was my fault, until he shook his head and added, "I almost forgot..." With a frown, he told me, "Deactivate strength limiters."
Suddenly, I felt something shift inside of me. Not physically, but more mentally. I didn't really have time to think about that though as I was already going to work again on the racks. However, to my surprise, the one I was attempting to move did so with ease. And just a minute earlier, I hadn't even been able to budge it.
I was completely stunned, not to mention impressed with myself as I moved the racks as Westerman had directed, finding that they didn't really feel too heavy. And though I was slightly confused at first, it finally dawned on me why. I was in a damn robot body, which was apparently super strong. And since I doubted Lindquist would want his sex toy to be too strong and hurt him, he would have had to limit it's strength. Hence the strength limiters that Westerman had just removed.
"Cool," I thought to myself sarcastically, "Super strength..." But a fat lot of good it would do me. Especially when I couldn't even control my own body. Then again, the whole problem was because it wasn't my own body.
"Good," the doc commented, looking over the racks with a faint smile. Then he turned his attention to a large plastic box which had been sitting next to them, "Now for you..."
A moment later, I stood by motionlessly while Westerman undid some fastenings on the box and caused the front to open up. I was surprised as the contents of the box were revealed. It was a robot...a metal creature in the shape of a man, though it had to be about 8 feet tall. However, unlike the android body that I was currently within, there wasn't even a trace of artificial skin on it.
For several seconds, Westerman didn't move at all, just staring at the obviously unfinished android within the box. Finally, he moved closer and said, "Now I can get back to work on the military applications..."
Since I was unable to move or speak, all that I could do was think, "Oh shit." I had a feeling that things were going to get even worse.
It was nearly a week since Westerman had murdered Lindquist and I had become little more than a puppet. I was more frustrated than ever, though there was also a calm acceptance that I could do nothing about it. At least not yet. I still hadn't given up completely.
And though I was helpless to do anything other than what the doc told me, I had discovered that I did have a little freedom...though it was very little. I still had to do what he told me, but I could influence exactly how I did it. It was sort of like when I'd buried Lindquist's body rather than burning it or putting it in the garbage dumpster. The computer inside of me made me do the things, but it relied on my mind for the information on just how to do it. And because of that, I still had at least some small ability to choose my actions. Small...but there.
Westerman had made me move the big android to the main lab, where he had been working on it almost nonstop. And from what I learned, it was the military prototype which he had been working on behind Lindquist's back for some time. He'd been doing a bit of work on it here and there, after the technology had been proven to work on the prototype body I was wearing first. So I guessed, that made the thing my kid brother in a weird sort of way. However, I didn't feel very brotherly...or even sisterly towards it.
"Damn," Westerman cursed as he looked over his project. He ignored me, as he almost always did when not giving me orders, "The control system still isn't ready." Then he shook his head in frustration, muttering, "If I only had more funding."
That was the same complaint that he'd made a number of times in my hearing. Apparently, he and Lindquist had used up most of the money they had just making my body, with him using what little was left on more parts for his android. There wasn't enough to finish his project, which would have made me laugh...if I'd still been able to.
After several seconds of staring at his android thoughtfully, Westerman turned and gave me a speculative look. He rubbed at his chin for a moment, with me not liking the expression on his face in the least. Somehow, I suspected that he was planning on recycling the parts in my new body for use in that one...or maybe even tearing me apart and selling the pieces for spare cash. Neither appealed to me in the least. After all, I might not have had that body for long, but it was the only one that I had left.
Finally, Westerman smiled, ordering me to follow him, then adding, "It's time to acquire some new funding..."
A few minutes later, I was sitting in the back of the van and heading down the road. It was the first time since my accident that I'd left that building, and I felt somewhat uncomfortable being on the road again, even if I couldn't see where we were going. Perhaps even more because of that reason.
Eventually, the doc stopped the van and came into the back with me. He crouched down and gave me an odd look for several seconds, looking even a bit nervous. I just didn't see what he had to be nervous about since I was the one in his power. Still, he was undoubtedly nervous about something, and I wasn't sure whether to be happy or nor with that.
"What do you think of me?" he abruptly asked. I just looked at him, still being unable to talk. He realized that and told me, "You may speak again. Now answer the question."
"I think that you're a piece of shit," I told him honestly, putting every bit of bitterness I had into that statement. Damn it felt good to talk again.
Westerman didn't seem bothered by my words though. Not that I really expected him to be. "Understandable," he responded with a shrug. "Sometimes you must do unpleasant things to achieve a greater goal."
Then he got down to business, "There is a jewelry store half a block down the street. You are going to go inside and rob it of as much cash and valuables as you can. Then you are going to avoid capture and bring them to me, without anyone following you to my location." Then he put a duffel bag in my hand and asked, "Do you understand?"
"Yes," I spat back bitterly, hating both the fact that he was going to make me into a robber...a criminal, and that I couldn't even say no.
"Well then," Westerman paused to undo the buttons on my lab coat and touch one of my boobs, musing, "This might provide a useful distraction..." I just bit back the urge to really let him know what I thought of him.
Once Westerman had told me where to meet him, he opened the van door and carefully looked around outside. Then he gestured for me to get out and get on my way. With a feeling of dread, I climbed out of the van and watched as he drove away before I finally stepped out where everyone could see me.
"Whoa," one man exclaimed as I stepped onto the sidewalk, staring at me in disbelief. I couldn't blame him. Not only was I an almost naked woman, but I was an almost naked plastic looking woman on top of that. I was immediately the center of a LOT of attention.
As I walked down the sidewalk, I tried to ignore all of the stares and comments directed at me. All of the chatter from the people nearby. However, it looked much easier than it actually was as I wasn't able to respond to any of it. I wasn't able to do anything more than step around those who got in my way. The truth was, I felt pretty damn embarrassed. All I wanted to do was get out of their and away from it all...but the computer controlling me didn't give me that option.
"That mannequin is walking mommy," a little girl exclaimed as I walked past and into the door of the jewelry shop.
"Please no," I muttered aloud, begging myself to stop....trying to make the computer disobey Westerman's commands. But it was useless, as I already knew it would be.
I stopped in front of the counter and without my willing it, ordered, "Give me all of your money." But then on my own, I added, "And call the cops...they have to stop me..."
The clerk stared at me with her mouth open, looking extremely confused. Without waiting for her response, I punched through the glass case and started to put the contents into the duffle bag. After seeing this, the clerk started to dig at the cash register, realizing that it probably wasn't a good idea to mess with me.
Though I hated doing it, I quickly had their cash, as well as a good supply of jewelry. And just as I was about to leave the store, I was faced with a cop, standing there with his gun pointed straight at me.
"Freeze," he ordered, his voice shaking slightly. "Don't move...whatever you are."
"Thank god," I sighed, relieved that the cops were finally there.
The cop looked confused at that, then as I continued forward, unable to stop myself, he shot me. I felt an impact, knocking me back a tiny bit. But it didn't hurt. Not at all. Feeling stunned myself, I looked down at my chest where he'd shot me, seeing a slight crack in the skin...but that was all. Apparently, the docs had built me a whole lot tougher than I'd thought.
"Holy shit," the cop gasped, about ready to shoot again, though as I thought of it, my hand lashed out and tore the gun from his hand.
"Damn it," I growled, "You're supposed to arrest me..." That seemed to confuse him even more than he already was. Hell, the guy looked as though he was about to shit his pants.
Without any further hesitation, I pushed past the cop, breaking the gun in my hand before dropping the pieces. That was one of my active choices as I probably could have used it to help me get away instead. However, I didn't want to risk anyone being hurt because of me.
I silently cursed as I moved down the sidewalk, people running to get away from me. The very sight made me wince, though I also thought that Westerman had to be some kind of idiot. Did he really think that I would have been able to just rob a jewelry store and then get back to him without anyone noticing? With the way I looked, I doubted that I would have been able to do that even without having robbed the place.
Suddenly, the ground in front of me literally exploded, throwing me back. I scrambled back to my feet, then froze, shocked at the sight in front of me. It was a man. A man hovering a short distance away from me...several feet above the ground.
The blonde man had the looks to be an actor, and was dressed in a blue and white spandex costume. The white on his chest was framed by the blue to form a stylized letter F, and there were silver metal wrist bands and shoulder pads, as well as a white cape. And though the costume was a newer variation on his traditional uniform, there was absolutely no doubt that this was the developed hero called Force.
"Oh shit," I whispered to myself, suddenly feeling as though things were getting worse with every passing moment. Sure, I wanted to be stopped before I hurt anyone without meaning to, but having a super hero stop me seemed overkill.
"What's this?" Force asked with a look of amusement, "A walking mannequin?"
"Possibly animated by magic," a woman's voice commented off to the side.
A man's voice quickly added, "Or an android."
I looked at the others who were speaking and was sure that I would have peed myself had I still been able to. Having the famous Force there to stop me was bad enough...but this...
There were several other people in costumes forming around me. Though I'd never seen any of them before in my life, I knew exactly who they were. I'd seen them on TV, and just a week earlier I'd seen a story about them all on the show Developments. And from that, this was absolutely not good for me.
The girl who'd spoken was in her early twenties and had shoulder length black hair, and a costume of blue and white with gold trim. I recognized her as Omni Woman, and like Force, she was a former member of the Protectorate. Apparently her powers were....anything that she wanted them to be. And at the moment, they seemed to be flight because she was floating in the air with a cocky expression on her face.
Standing on the ground to one side of me was the other man who'd spoke. He was dressed in a black spandex bodysuit, though he had glowing neon red goggles, with matching neon bracelets and belt. And of course, he was holding a red neon quarterstaff in his hands. Not surprisingly, he was called Neon, known as being the unofficial super hero of Las Vegas. And though his costume might stand out everywhere else, there it would probably act as camouflage. But more importantly than his costume was the fact that he had the power to create force field objects out of energy...which happened go glow with a neon light, giving him his name.
A third man was floating in the air as well, his body sort of split straight down the middle with one side being entirely gold metal, while the other was all black. The only exceptions to those colors was that there was a circle on his chest, where those two colors were inverted from the other sides. He was called Eclipse, and though I didn't know much about where he'd come from, I remembered what they'd said about him on Developments. He apparently had the power of light and darkness, being able to create lots of light and energy, or lots of darkness.
Another man stood behind me, wearing a suit of blue and gray armor that covered his whole body. There was also a symbol on his chest that looked like a spider. He was the Arachnid, a famous hero from Chicago. He didn't seem to have any real developed powers of his own, but he did have some sort of high tech power armor which made him pretty strong, let him climb walls and generate some sort of metal cable webbing. And of course, there were the claws on his gloves which looked a little viscous.
And of course, there was Force who was floating on front of me. He was a famous member of the Protectorate, with a bit more power than I wanted to deal with now...or ever. I remembered that he'd had some sort of spit with the Protectorate and had formed his own team, a group of developed who were supposed to be the best and most powerful heroes around. That was why they were called the Elite. And at the moment they were all surrounding ME!
For a moment, all that I could do was stare at the powerful heroes who had me surrounded, knowing that these were some of the most powerful developed around. I was terrified, wondering what I had ever done to deserve having people like them come after me.
"Kind of lightweight for us," Neon commented disdainfully.
"Well," Omni Woman responded, "We were in the area when the call came in so we might as well deal with it."
Force just smirked at me, "Drop the bag NOW!"
"Why are we wasting time talking to it," Arachnid growled in a cold voice, "It's not even human, so let's just destroy it and be done with it." He was raising his hands to try doing just that.
I certainly wasn't about to just sit back and let him kill me, and almost the instant that the thought was formed, I was in motion. In a sudden burst, I was moving faster than I'd ever moved under my own power again, quickly sprinting through the space between several of the Elite and running away from them as fast as I could. Of course, the bag was still clutched firmly in my hand.
"Stop," Omni Woman called out, though the others were already beginning to chase after me.
There was a sudden burst of light in front of me, and the ground seemed to melt into a puddle of molten lava. However, my android reflexes took over and I swerved around it and kept moving with only the slightest hesitation. From the corner of my eye, I saw that the blast had come from Eclipse.
Several small metal spikes hit a wall beside me, contributed no doubt by Arachnid. An a bare instant later, I felt something hit my left arm. One of the spikes had gone right through it. In a strange way, it hurt a bit...yet it didn't at all.
I didn't have time to think about it though as that was followed by a blast of raw kinetic energy that tore a hole straight through the wall. A single glance back revealed Force was the one who did that. I felt a faint tinge of relief that they were trying to get me from a distance rather than confronting me face on since at least that way I had time to avoid them. However, I knew that I couldn't do it for much longer.
"Damn," I muttered to myself fearfully, knowing that I'd been damn lucky to have survived this long against some of the most powerful heroes around.
"I think I'll take a page from your book Eclipse," Omni Woman exclaimed with a smirk, standing on the ground about a twenty yards from me. "She can't run if she can't see..."
Suddenly a wave of darkness came pouring from Omni Woman's hands, flooding over everything. Within mere seconds, the whole area was covered in pure darkness, as thick as the blackest ink.
"NO," Force called out, "We can't see either..."
An instant later, my eyes shifted on their own and I suddenly found that I could see again. It wasn't very clear, nor even with much color. But I could see. And from the cursing I heard around me, I was apparently the only one.
Arachnid's voice growled, "I can see in the dark...but this..."
Not being one to ignore a free opportunity to save my own kiester, I quickly looked around for a way out, knowing that since they could fly, it wouldn't do much good to just run away. Then it dawned on me, being enough to bring a smile to my lips.
A moment later, Neon called out, "Turn it off..."
The darkness was already beginning to recede, but I'd already started to make my move. I threw a large chunk of broken brick down the street, making sure that I hit a car and made lots of noise. Then an instant later, I dodged through the open door of a clothing store that was just a short distance away.
I held my breath as the darkness faded away completely, or would have if I still had breath to hold. It was all that I could do to keep from running further away as fast as I could, feeling terrified, worse than that time when a group of drunks had chased me with baseball bats back in Georgia.
"Damn," I heard Force curse from outside the store, "It's gone..."
"I'm sorry," Omni Woman apologized, "I didn't think..."
"Nevermind," Arachnid said, "I heard her moving this way."
For nearly a full minute, I remained exactly where I was, as motionless as only an android could be. And when I was sure that they were gone, I slowly looked around, letting out a sigh of relief. Then I looked down at myself with a smirk, never having thought that looking so much like a mannequin could actually be a blessing. But as it was, dropping the lab coat and pretending to just be one more mannequin in a store full of them was the perfect disguise.
"At least they didn't look inside," I muttered, knowing that they probably would have just glanced right on past me as no one really pays much attention to a store mannequin...but not wanting to take a risk on it.
Though I wanted to make sure that they really were gone, I didn't look out the door to see, thinking that it might be a little risky. They might still be out there somewhere.
Then, just as I thought about how to get out of there, I found myself turning and walking out the back. I had been given a degree of control, but only as long as it was used to accomplish Westerman's orders...namely avoid capture. And now that I'd done that, I was forced to follow the rest...and return to him with the loot.
Fortunately, the rest of the trip back to the meeting place was without incident. I went through the back way, behind the stores and using the alley, avoiding people entirely. The parking lot was only a block away from the jewelry store so it wasn't difficult.
As soon as I saw Westerman waiting beside the van, I felt a sense of relief, knowing that at least this particular nightmare was over. However, there was no doubt that the rest of the nightmare my life had become still remained.
It was more than twelve hours since the robbery and I was once again standing motionless in the middle of Westerman's lab. He had seemed incredibly pleased by what I'd gotten for him, though I felt sick for having done it. Not that I'd had a choice. And apparently, he had even already found someone to take the jewels off of his hands, making him even more pleased.
"Damn you for being careless," Westerman growled, "almost getting caught..." Then he glared at me, "And worse...getting those costumed idiots involved."
I didn't say anything to that, though I was currently free to do so. He'd never removed my freedom of speech, though I sure as hell didn't want to remind him of that and get turned mute again. It was one of the few freedoms that I had left, and I wasn't about to throw it away with a viscous comment...not matter how satisfying.
Westerman shook his head, "And you let yourself get damaged." The tone in his voice seemed to say that he actually thought it was my fault that Arachnid had hit me with one of those spikes he shot.
All I could do to that was stand motionless, my left arm almost completely useless. It had been hit by one of the spikes, and damaged a bit worse than I'd first thought. And in the hours since then, it had more and more difficult to actually use, until finally it hung off of me, dead and numb.
Then Westerman stood in front of me, giving a good look over, a scowl on his face. Without a word, he pulled out his tools and went to work on me, removing my damaged arm at the shoulder, and then doing the same to my other arm. I was scared and confused, dreading that he was going to tear me apart and use me for spare parts. Or worse... I wasn't sure what would be worse, but I was afraid of it.
"Fortunately," Westerman muttered as he walked off with the arms, "I created alternate parts without that idiot knowing..."
Half an hour later, the doc came back, holding another pair of arms. He didn't say anything to me as he attacked them, though he did seem somewhat pleased with himself.
"Move your arms," Westerman told me, "Verify that they are in working order."
I fought back the urge to tell him exactly what I'd like to do with the arms, knowing that I wouldn't be able to. That override thing he'd put on me made it so that I didn't have any choice but to follow his instructions. So I slowly moved my arms around, silently pleased that they were both working just fine. However, I couldn't help noticing that they felt...different.
Westerman nodded faintly at that, seemingly satisfied. After I was done, he even gave me a brief smile, though it was only at his own ingenuity.
"These are special parts," Westerman announced.
I watched him, realizing that he was talking to me more now than he had before taking control of me. And had a suspicion that maybe he was just getting a little lonely without even Lindquist to talk to. After all, I'd been known to talk to myself and even my truck while being alone for long periods on the road.
"I designed them with prototype integrated weapons systems," he continued, no longer even looking at me, "though my former partner never would have appreciated how brilliant they are." Then he paused for a moment, a smirk appearing on his face as he finished, "Now you really are armed."
The pun was almost enough to make me groan, though I held my tongue again. It was better than being told to shut up and then having absolutely no choice but to do so. At least knowing that I could talk if I really wanted to provided me with some small sense of relief. It wasn't much, but it was all that I had.
After staring at me for several more seconds, Westerman shook his head faintly before turning his back on me. Now that I had given him what he had wanted, as well as an opportunity to try his gadgets, I was no longer of any interest to him. At least not at the moment. Instead, he turned all of his attention back to the android he had been working on...much to my relief.
For the next several days, things had gone back to their previous routine. I was kept either standing around like a statue, or doing chores that Westerman had set me to while he worked on his android. Fortunately, none of those chores had anything to do with robbing another jewelry store.
I was standing off to the side, watching as Westerman worked on something, alternating between being satisfied and frustrated. However, there was a new urgency to his work that had been lacking before. Urgency...and even a bit of desperation.
Apparently, robbing the jewelry store hadn't been the end of Westerman's money problems. From what I'd overheard of him talking on the phone and to himself, he had gotten a pretty bad deal for trading in the jewels I'd stolen, getting a whole lot less than they would have been worth. And he'd already spent that on parts for his project.
But to make things worse for Westerman, much to my secret delight, was the fact that he and Lindquist had gotten behind on paying their bills, and now he was being threatened with being kicked out of the building. That was unless he was able to pay them within the next several days, apparently being pretty far behind. However, I realized that unless he sent me out on another 'ATM' run, there wasn't much chance of that happening.
"Damn them," Westerman cursed as he worked, "shortsighted fools..."
He continued for another minute before shifting position and lifting what looked like some sort of helmet. After staring at it for a moment, he moved closer to his still skinless android and adjusted something inside of it before closing a panel on the chest.
"I need more time," he complained to himself, "The autonomous controls aren't ready... " Then he paused and scratched at his chin before smirking faintly, "Fortunately, my brilliance provided the solution...albeit a temporary one."
With that, Westerman slipped the helmet on his head, pushing a button on the side of it and then staggering slightly. A moment later, the android began to move...just faintly at first. It's hands began to shift...and then it sat up.
"Oh shit," I started to gasp in surprise, but caught myself and forced myself to shut up.
Westerman's android quickly moved to it's feet, it's size now even more apparent as it towered over Westerman and myself. It was at about 8 feet tall and looked extremely frightening. I didn't think that even a layer of human skin could have done much to tone down just how monstrous it appeared.
"Yes," Westerman chuckled, raising his hand in front of his face...the android mimicking his motion exactly. "There are certain advantages to controlling it directly myself."
Staring at the monstrous machine in front of me, I desperately wished that I'd been free to run away as fast as I could. Hell, it was all that I could do just to keep from yelling out. And it kept moving, slowly stepping around the lab as Westerman stood off to the side, somehow remote controlling it with that helmet.
"Very good," he mused to himself thoughtfully, "Though the balance feels awkward and slightly clumsy..." However, a moment later he grinned, "But the power..."
Suddenly, Westerman moved the android forward and lunged straight at a large rack full of electronics on the wall. Without the least appearance of effort, the android picked the rack up and tossed it to the other side of the lab, smashing it to bits. Westerman seemed pleased at this, though didn't say anything. He tried again with another piece of extremely heavy looking equipment, again with the same ease.
I was feeling really spooked at the sight of this, especially when I thought that he might turn that raw power on me. Sure, wrestling was fun to watch on TV, but I suspected that having me be thrown around like that would be a lot less pleasant, especially when I couldn't even fight back.
Apparently getting carried away, Westerman held out his arm...and suddenly a beam of red light shot out of the palm of his hand. It hit the wall and burned a hole right through it, making me feel even more afraid than before. Being thrown around would have to be a hell of a lot nicer than that.
Westerman seemed satisfied with his new display of power, and much to my relief he didn't try to do any more. He'd already destroyed half of his lab, and I guess that was enough for the moment. With that, he pulled the helmet off and the big robot went still.
"They think that they can threaten me," Westerman said, this time looking at me, gesturing around the lab, "That they can take this away from me." He turned and started walking towards the door, slipping the helmet back on his head, "But now I'm going to take something from them. Their funding...and their lives."
At that moment, the android started moving again and left the room. Westerman remained for a little longer, gloating over his success but seeming to need an audience for it. Namely, me.
"Soon I'll have all the funding I need," Westerman muttered, glaring at me as if it was my fault the robbery hadn't given him enough. Then he turned and was gone as well.
For a long moment, I just remained where I was, filled with mixed emotions. I couldn't believe what I'd gotten myself involved in. A thousand thoughts filled my mind, the same ones which had since Westerman had turned me into his puppet.
If I'd never hit that deer, I wouldn't be here now. I'd be on the road, cheerfully munching on chips while making my run. I'd still be a man...not a woman...or what looked like a woman. Hell, I'd still be human...and most importantly...FREE.
"If," I muttered to myself. "The most powerful word in the word. It can turn beggars into millionaires.
Of course, it was useless to wish that things were otherwise. I mean, if wishes were horses...all the roads would be covered with horse manure. Wishing for things to be different than they were was useless. If you wanted them to be different, you'd have to make them so.
"Fat lot of good that does me," I complained, relieved that at least I could talk again now that Westerman was gone. At least for the moment.
Deciding to take advantage of the only freedom that I had...and as a way to occupy the time, I started singing. "A thousand bottles of beer on the wall..." However, I only got through a couple bottles before I grew tired of that song decided to try a Reba Macentyre song, "It was the night the lights went out in Georgia...."
I sang for several minutes, not really surprised that I remembered every word for the song. Ever since I'd been turned into an android, I'd found that my memory seemed to be extremely good when I really wanted to remember something. I figured that it was probably something to do that I had a computer for a brain....though I didn't think that I thought like a computer. But then again, how were computers supposed to think?
What did surprise me though was the realization of just how good my singing sounded to my own ears. I'd never had much of a singing voice before, so it seemed pretty damn amazing. Hell, I thought that my singing sounded just like Reba's did on the radio. Without the actual music of course, but that didn't seem to matter as I could hear it inside my own mind.
"What?" I demanded of the air with mock disappointment. "Don't I get any applause?" Then I smirked and in my best Rodney Dangerfield voice said, "No respect. I don't get no respect..."
Then I paused again, frowning in realization that my impression had been dead on. I not only sounded like a guy again while impersonating him...I actually sounded like him. But how was that possible...? Suddenly, the answer came to me...given by the computer that was now a part of me. My voice synthesizer...
Of course it seemed obvious now that I thought about it. It was so novel, and I knew that playing around with it would make a good distraction from everything else. So I started doing impressions, with each of them being identical to what was in my memory...which seemed to be pretty accurate now.
After doing this for a couple minutes, something suddenly dawned on me. I frowned as an idea began to form, more as a question at first but then as a brief hope. I just tried not to let my hope get up too much.
"You are free to move," I told myself, this time using Westerman's voice.
To my immense relief, I found that I could move. I slowly took several steps and moved my hands, a deep smile beginning to form on my face. He'd programmed the computer to obey his voice...not realizing that it might actually come from someone other than him. The very thought of that made me laugh aloud, for what was the first time in a good while.
"Not bad," I laughed, jumping up and down to savor the freedom of movement. It felt great.
However, my mood was dampened as I remembered that all Westerman had to do was get close and tell me what to do again. But then again, if I ran off now and didn't let him get close... Then another idea stared to form. Sure, I might drive a truck for a living, but that didn't mean I was dumb.
"Override code...delta sullivan three one nine," I announced, repeating the code that Westerman had used to take control of me, and in his voice at that. I felt a faint shift inside of me and realized that it was working...or at least I hoped it was. "Change override code to....," my mind raced for something and I blurted out, "Pink guacamole fudge ice cream."
The instant that I finished saying it, I felt the computer part of me accept it. It worked. I'd changed the password and was out of Westerman's power. However, just to be certain, I instructed the computer not to obey Westerman's voice anymore, freeing me from him for sure. I also made myself a mental note to get rid of the override completely when I had more time.
At the moment though, I didn't want to hand around for Westerman to come back. I took one look around the lab and then hurried through the building. Just outside, I found a car sitting there, bringing a broad smile to my face. However, as I had expected, the van was missing. It only took me another minute to find the keys, right next to where I'd seen the doc take the van keys from previously.
I quickly hopped in the car and started the engine, thinking that I just had to get as far away from this place...and Westerman as possible. Then I paused, slowly looking back and remembering Lindquist. Westerman had murdered him...just like he was going to murder more people. There was a pang of guilt at that, as though it was somehow my fault. As if their saving me in the first place may have set the whole thing in motion.
"Damn," I spat after a few seconds, shaking my head and letting out a stream of curses.
I certainly wasn't any kind of hero and had never considered myself to be one. I was just a guy... A guy who watched wrestling, ate chips and drank beer. A guy who sometimes read A Tale of Two Cities or books on philosophy. And at the moment, I was a guy who felt responsible for Westerman and knew that I had to at least do something.
With a deep scowl, I turned the car on the road and headed towards the city as fast as I could, hoping that I could somehow find the doc and stop him before he did anything too bad.
When I arrived at the city, I made my way towards the offices of the company that held the Doc's loans. I'd seen the address earlier on a letter that they'd sent him, and my improved memory had made sure that I still had it. And as I got closer, I kept a very careful look out for the van.
"There it is," I gasped as I spotted the van parked in an out of the way place. I was fortunate to have noticed it, though I suspected that the computer inside of me might have helped a little as well. "Gotcha now..."
It didn't take me long at to find nearby parking space, and then to run to the van. I was barely even conscious of the fact that I was in public while dressed only in a silvery bathing suit and shoes, having grown used to walking around in next to nothing. And it helped that I was so intent on my target.
"Westerman," I growled as I literally tore the back door off of the van. Then I let out an, "Oh shit."
The van was empty. I'd expected Westerman to be sitting around in the back with the helmet at the very least, but obviously he'd decided to do that from somewhere else. A quick thought occurred to me that it was probably somewhere where he could actually watch what was going on a lot better.
"Damn," I cursed, giving a swift kick to the side of the van and putting a pretty nice dent in the metal. "What am I going to do...?" I was almost in a panic, and realized for the first time that I should have called the cops from the beginning.
Letting out a howl of frustration, I punched the side of the van as well, putting another nice dent in it. Then I turned and looked around, noticing a pay phone outside of a store a short distance away. And of course, a number of people who were watching me with mixed expressions of disbelief and fear. Some were starting to run away. I tried not to pay attention to them as I started making my way towards the phone so that I could call the professionals for help.
Suddenly, a wall of glowing red light appeared right in front of me, making me gasp in surprise. I quickly looked around then gasped again as I saw what had created the wall. Neon. And the rest of the Elite were all scattered about as well.
"Oh shit," I whispered, not liking the look of this one little bit.
"When we heard that there was a robot running around here," Force announced, "I suspected that it might be you again..."
"You won't get away from me this time," Arachnid added, holding his clawed fingers out in a threatening manner.
If I'd still been able to, I was pretty sure that I would have shit my pants at this. Or at the very least, pissed myself. However, I wasn't able to anymore so perhaps that gave me enough edge to at least give the appearance of not being terrified.
"Um," Omni Woman turned to Force, "Didn't the report say that the robot was 8 feet tall?"
"An exaggeration," Force snorted, not taking his eyes off of me.
Deciding to make the next move, I called out, "I'm not the one you want..." They seemed surprised at that, "You need to stop him..."
"It's lying," Eclipse stated, firing a blast of raw energy straight at me. I was quick enough to dodge avoid it, but there was a nice hole where I had been standing.
The attack had horrified me, as well as made me realize that they weren't about to listen to reason. In fact, they reminded me of some cops that I'd run into before...being all smug and self-righteous. Being so positive that you were guilty that in their eyes, you'd already been tried and found guilty. Because of that, they weren't about to listen to me. It was a shoot first and ask questions later situation.
Not wanting to wait for them to attack again, I ran all out, but unfortunately away from the direction I really wanted to go since Neon's wall was still there. It only took several seconds for Arachnid to charge straight at me, obviously deciding that a direct physical attack would be a lot more effective.
"NO," Eclipse yelled out, "You're in my way..."
I threw Arachnid off of me, but he quickly regained his balance and charged again, this time with his claws stretched out. However, I managed to grab his arm, throwing him to the side. A second later, I realized my mistake as it had left me open for another distance attack.
A single glance revealed that Neon was standing back with a glowing neon green energy sword and a matching shield. The glowing parts of his costumes were now all of the same color. And he was beginning to move towards me with a purpose.
"My turn," Omni Woman exclaimed, picking up a car and actually throwing it at me. I managed to avoid it, but knew that I wouldn't be able to keep avoiding their attacks.
An instant later, Force came flying down straight towards me, catching me with a punch. I was suddenly thrown backwards....right through the window of a store. I managed to get back to my feet, stunned that I wasn't really hurt. Apparently I'd managed to twist myself enough to avoid the worst of the punch.
"Sporting goods," I muttered as I looked around what was obviously a sporting goods store. And I'd landed in the middle of some baseball stuff. Without any hesitation, I stood up and grabbed a baseball and baseball bat.
Before I'd even made my way to the window, both Arachnid and Neon were standing there. I grimaced and threw the baseball as hard as I could with Arachnid, giving a silent apology as it hit him straight in the chest and sent him flying back. As for Neon, I jumped forward with the baseball bat, however, he blocked the bat with his energy shield and started to swing the sword at me, hitting the store wall instead as I shot past him.
"I'm not your enemy!" I called out, but none of them seemed to hear me...or just didn't care.
Once again, Omni Woman came at me, this time deciding to make it up close and personal. I remembered how easily she'd lifted that car and wasn't very thrilled with the idea of mixing it up with her...or of hitting a girl for that matter. Even if I happened to look like one myself now.
"Careful," Force called out to her, "You've only got one power at a time." It didn't take a genius to realize that he meant that since she was really strong right now, she probably wasn't any tougher than normal.
Several more attacks came all at once, though I managed to grab Neon and throw him towards Omni Woman. She caught him, though seemed somewhat surprised by the move. I turned to Eclipse, who was getting ready to fire another blast at me, and changed position enough so that Omni Woman was between the two of us so he wouldn't dare fire.
"This isn't working," Omni Woman complained, "I need another power."
She stepped back out of the way, then stood where she was with a look of concentration on her face. That was the way she remained for about fifteen seconds. Then she looked up at me, a bunch of electricity moving around her hands. A moment later, she actually shot a blast of electricity straight towards me, though her aim wasn't the greatest.
I was getting sick and tired of being shot at from a distance and wished that I could do something back, when I suddenly realized that I could. Westerman had 'armed' me when he'd rearmed me. And my computer just fed the instructions on how to use it into my mind.
"Take this," I called out, a beam of red light shooting out of the palm of my hand, straight into the ground in front of Omni Woman. I had no intention of actually hurting anyone, but I hoped that a warning shot might get them to back off a bit.
It did...though I suddenly wasn't sure whether or not that was a good thing. I'd just escalated things to the next level, and wasn't sure that I wanted to know where that would lead. I was already being chased by some of the most famous heroes in the world...and was lucky enough to have survived so long as it was.
Then, Force fired a beam of raw force at me again, just as Arachnid jumped at me and got in the way. The armored spider hero was badly hit, his armor even looking cracked all over as he hit the ground instead. I wasn't sure that he would even be able to get up again. However, he still had enough in him to aim his arm at me...and shoot some sort of metal net out of it.
"Oh shit," I cried out as the net hit me with enough force to throw me back, and then stuck into the wall behind me. I was stuck.
"Got her," Force cried out triumphantly.
However, Omni Woman glared at him, "It looks like you got Arachnid instead." That just got her a glare back.
As I watched this, I suddenly realized something. Any one of these guys was more than enough to take me down without much problem. But together...together they kept getting in each other's way. They kept attacking me one at a time, not working together like the team that they were supposed to be. That was how come I'd lasted so long against them. They were their own worse threats...as was proven by Arachnid.
Though the observation might be useful, I first had to get out of that metal webbing that Arachnid had pinned me to the wall with. That wasn't very difficult though as I just had to use the energy blasts from my own hands to blast through part of it, then slipping out while they were all still distracted by Arachnid's being hit.
"She's free," Omni Woman cried out, firing a blast of electricity at me...or at least at where I'd been a moment before.
"I've got her," Neon announced, blocking my path with a glowing neon blue wall. Then he charged straight at me with that glowing sword of his.
"You've got to stop this," I tried telling him, though he swung at me with the sword. I jumped back, realizing that he was showing off a little bit more than just going straight at me. He probably wanted to look impressive to his friends.
Neon kept swinging at me, trying to drive me back before finishing me off. Force was calling for Neon to get out of the way, while Eclipse just floated in the air, waiting for an opening. However, Neon was so intent on getting me himself that he was getting in the way of the other's possible attacks. And that was good news for me.
Unlike some of the others, Neon didn't seem much for talk, though he was one for show. He kept slashing at me as I stepped back, and then jumped out of the way. As he took one more slash at me, I jumped out of the way, just in time for his energy sword to cut through a fire hydrant behind me instead. It suddenly exploded in an eruption of water, which startled him and gave me time to get further away. Unfortunately, it also gave an opening for the others to come at me again.
Force landed right in front of me, standing there with a smug expression on his face. I just glared at him, then wiped my soaking hair back out of my face. He was probably the most powerful of the group, being one of the most powerful heroes on the planet. And I had no doubt that I couldn't beat him in a face to face fight...even in my suped up body.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Omni Woman about to try blasting me from behind while I was distracted by Force. And at the same time, I took a step back into the huge puddle of water that was forming, realizing that I had an opportunity. And I used it. The moment that Omni Woman fired a blast of electricity at me, I jumped as high and as far as far as I could, getting out of the way while the blast hit Force head on instead.
"FORCE!" Omni Woman cried out.
In the huge blast of sparks, Force collapsed to his knees, though that wasn't all. Neon was soaking wet and still standing next to the fire hydrant. The electricity shot through the water and hit him as well, causing him to howl in pain before collapsing.
A single look revealed that Neon was still moving, but barely. Force had taken the brunt of the blast, but he wasn't nearly as affected as Neon. However, it had hurt him, which brought me some mixed feelings. Sure, he was trying to kill me at the moment...but he was one of the good guys.
"You idiot," Force screamed out at Omni Woman, while Eclipse just glared at her with an arrogant, superior expression.
She looked as though she felt horrible for hitting her own team mates, though I was thankful. If these guys actually knew how to work together...or at least stay back and out of each other's way, then they would have taken me down right away. My opinion of these heroes was really taking a nose dive. In a way, the feeling was a lot like discovering that Santa Clause doesn't exist.
"Westerman," I muttered, giving the brief hope that all of this chaos would have chased him away. However, remembering that single-minded determination of his, I rather doubted that. Those people were still in danger, and the Elite were providing the perfect distraction for him.
"I need to change powers," Omni Woman told herself. She hadn't said it very loudly, but it was loud enough for now much increased hearing to pick up. "Something to stop a robot..." Then she grinned as she finished, "Electro magnetic pulse blasts..."
Omni Woman paused at that and then took several steps back as if to further herself from the danger, and then she started the look of concentration that she'd had earlier while changing powers. I realized that her powers didn't change instantly. There was a period where she had to reset them. A period where she was helpless...
Not being one to waste an opportunity, I charged straight towards her. And though I felt incredibly guilty about it, I punched her in the solar plexus, though definitely not as hard as I could have. I wanted to incapacitate her, not kill...or even really injure her. And apparently, I'd got to her soon enough as she started to drop to her knees.
"Two left," I told myself, watching as Force got back to his knees and started to lift a car. Eclipse however was focusing on me, a sphere of black shadow beginning to form around his body, around the part that was all black. And without a word, he fired it at me, a stream of pure shadow. I barely managed to avoid it. "Damn..."
I ran, avoiding two more blasts from Eclipse, one glowing energy and the other pure shadow. And at the same time, Force was actually lifting a car to throw at me, though he still looked a bit shaken from that shock.
"Over here," I called Eclipse, "Hit me if you can!" He scowled at that, looking fairly angry, "You couldn't hit the broad side of the barn!"
Then, I turned and fired a blast at Force, knowing that it wouldn't hurt him, though I guessed right in that it distracted him. It distracted him enough so that he dropped the car right on his own head, which didn't to much to improve his temper. And then I yelled a couple more insults at Eclipse, already on the move.
By now, Eclipse seemed pissed, just as I had hoped. I just hoped...prayed that it didn't blow up in my face. If I still had a heart, I was sure that it would have exploded from the excitement and fear already. Then finally, he fired another blast of shadow at me. And again, I dodged out of the way. This time, his blast hit Force straight in the chest. Force let out a howl of pain, then collapsed to his knees, shaking badly and looking completely exhausted.
"You bastard," Force gasped, sounding just as tired as he looked. Obviously those shadow blasts of Eclipses took a lot of energy out of whatever they hit. Just as reported on TV.
"Thank you Developments," I grinned, always having known that TV could prove pretty education. Especially a show that tells all about those developed people's powers.
And then I looked up at Eclipse, the only member of the Elite who was still active. However, Omni Woman was started to get back up, as was Arachnid so I knew that I had to make this quick. Without a word, I grabbed Force, who was now too weak to resist, and threw him straight at Eclipse.
"Catch," I called out.
As expected, the flying hero caught his friend, though it knocked him back. And while he was completely occupied by his friend and unable to watch me, I took the opportunity to run down an alley and out of sight. I looked back after a minute and was relieved that no one was following. He probably didn't even have a clue where I had run off to...and hopefully was taking care of his hurt friends instead.
I paused in the alley to lean back against a wall, feeling as though I wanted to throw up...though it was more psychological than physical. I'd fought some of the biggest developed around...and to my complete shock, had actually won. Or least had managed to get away, which at the moment meant the same thing.
While leaning back, I looked down at my breasts, at the fully female looking body and shook my head. Who ever would have imagined that something that looked like an overgrown barbie doll could be so powerful. I sure as hell didn't feel powerful.
"Damn these clothes," I spat, realizing that if first Lindquist and then Westerman hadn't had such a thing for dressing me in skimpy clothes, then I wouldn't have been nearly so noticeable. And the Elite might not have caught me before I could do anything.
However, that just reminded me why I was really there. Westerman. He was still out there with that monster android of his, and it appeared that the Elite weren't going to be of much help in stopping him. It looked like it was still up to me. Damn.
I stood outside of a large building, scowling deeply as I did so. So far, I had seen no sign of Westerman himself, though evidence of his monster was right in front of me. Specifically, the fact that the front doors to the office building were completely blown in.
"He's already inside," I muttered nervously, saying what was already so obvious. I just hoped that I wasn't too late. Hell, I still wasn't even sure what I could do against it. But I had to try.
Still, I couldn't quite bring myself to go on. Not yet. I was terrified, not sure of what was going to happen. That android was huge, built for war. And I was inside of one that was built for sex. There wouldn't be any competition.
With a shake of my head, I reached down and grabbed my tits, muttering, "Super hero Barbie I ain't..."
For another second, I remained where I was, staring down at myself. Then finally though, the thought of Westerman and his android brought me out of it. What the hell was I doing waiting around when every second could count? It could very well already be too late.
And with that thought, I ran straight for the torn open doors of the building, and then up the stairs that were smashed in. The path of damage was easy to follow, as was the sound on crunching and crashing that I started to hear a short distance off. I grimaced and hurried even faster.
"Damn," I cursed, wishing that I knew where the doc was hiding. It would be a hell of a lot easier just to stop him and take away the helmet. In fact, that was what I had originally intended to do. But that just reminded me of that old saying about the best laid plans.
It was about the fifth floor when I caught up with the big guy and saw him leaving the stairwell. I cringed but charged straight at him anyway, punching him as hard as I could in the back and knocking him forward. I heard people scream about us, though I wasn't sure if it was because of the big android or myself.
"It's a robot," one woman screamed off from the side.
Someone else called out in shock, "Is that a mannequin?"
"Yeah," I spat out, "I'm a damn mannequin." I glared at the man, "You have a problem with that?"
The man just paled before turning and running, just as everyone else was already doing. I knew that I'd gotten there just in time. The offices of the people the doc was planning on killing were on that floor. If the Elite had delayed me any more...
Just then, the big android shifted position and turned to face me, it's head nearly scraping the ceiling. It looked every inch the weapon that Westerman had designed it to be, from the gray metal parts to what seemed to be some sort of huge gun where it's left hand should be.
"What are you doing here?" Westerman's voice came from the android. He was obviously stunned since he'd left me as little more than the mannequin I appeared back at the lab.
"Stopping you," I spat back, trying not to look as terrified as I felt. One thing about having an artificially generated voice was the fact that I could keep it from shaking.
Westerman didn't even move the android for a moment. He just stood there motionless before finally ordering, "Cease all movement."
I froze at that, not because I had to anymore, but because I wanted to. And because it gave me a good idea. I remained froze, until the android started to turn. Then I charged forward again and punched it again, this time in the side. However, he swung his arm back and caught me, sending me right into the wall with a heavy crunch. Fortunately, the crunch was from the wall...not from me.
"You're still moving?" He gasped in surprise, obviously even more confused at how I was no able to disobey his orders. That was enough to make me smile, even as I climbed out from the wall.
"And you're still an asshole," I responded, silently hoping that my distraction was letting everyone get away. I didn't see anyone left in the area, though that didn't necessarily mean anything.
Still not accepting that, Westerman demanded, "I order you to cease movement immediately." When I didn't stop, he growled, "Deactivate all systems." But again, it had no effect on me.
"What's wrong?" I demanded furiously, "Someone cut your puppet strings?" I'd had more than enough of being his puppet and was finding it incredibly satisfying to refuse his commands. Not to mention rubbing it in.
Though the android didn't show any emotions, I could still feel the rage that Westerman was feeling at that moment. He was obviously getting pretty pissed at me, which brought a smile to my face. But it also made me more cautious, not to mention more nervous.
Westerman made one more attempt, "Override code...delta sullivan three one nine."
I froze the instant that I heard him start saying that, terrified that I hadn't been able to really change the override. That maybe it had been designed so that it couldn't be. However, there wasn't that little shift inside of me and I let out a sigh of relief, now positive that it had worked. I truly was free of him.
"Nope," I told him, "I don't think so."
That seemed to be the last straw though as Westerman's android swung it's fist at me, with me barely managing to avoid it. The fist smashed into the wall and tore a heavy hole through it, making me wince, unable to believe that I could possibly survive a hit from something like that. Intellectually, I knew that this body probably could...at least for awhile, but mentally...I still thought of myself as an all too human truck driver.
"Stand still," Westerman growled at me from the android.
However, I laughed, "Didn't you already try that?" That only seemed to infuriate him more.
Without another word, the android started punching at me again, one after another. However, I was able to dodge them, finding that I was a bit faster and a lot more maneuverable than my hulking 'brother'. At the same time though, there was absolutely no doubt that he was a hell of a lot stronger than me too.
"Everyone get out of here!" I yelled, just in case anyone had been stupid enough to hide under their desks instead of running.
Suddenly the android raised it's arm and opened fire a me, releasing a blast of red energy. I'd barely seen it coming in time to drop to the ground, then roll out of the way. Remembering what that had done to the wall at the lab, I didn't want to risk taking any kind of hit from it. And I had to keep avoiding it as Westerman fired several more blasts, tearing apart the offices that were around me.
"Holy shit," I gasped in fear and awe as I glanced around, seeing what kind of havoc the Doc's killer robot could create. There was no doubt that I preferred Lindquist's idea of what a robot should be, even I was stuck inside of one.
Apparently deciding that he'd had enough with shooting me at the moment, Westerman had the robot stand there, leaving me trapped against the window. I couldn't really make it out past him, but a single glance behind me and then back at him gave me an idea.
"And I thought you were supposed to be smart," I yelled at him. Then I gestured around me, spitting out, "But you couldn't even think of anything better than what some drop out gang member would." He took a step towards me and I gave a mocking gasp, "Oooops, I'm mad. I'd better go do a drivebye... What an idiot..."
My taunting worked just as well on him as it had on Eclipse because as I had expected, Westerman charged straight at me. However, that was the only thing that went quite according to my hasty plan, because as I stepped to the side to let him charge straight through the window, he stopped short, lashing out and grabbing hold of my arm.
"Oh," but he taunted back, "But I am smart. Smart enough not to fall for such an obvious ploy..." I could feel the sneer behind the words, even though there was no visible expression to go with it.
I didn't have time to think and reacted more out of instinct than anything else. And perhaps because of some subtle information from my internal computer as well. An instant later, I lashed out. Instead of trying to pull away from him which would have been useless, I slammed myself right into him, shoving him straight through the window.
The only thought that ran through my mind was, "OH SHIT!" Somehow, I'd thought that he'd let go of me as he went through...but I was wrong.
Somehow, though I wasn't completely sure how, I instinctively shifted my balance in midair. It was probably more influence from my computer, perhaps assisting in my goals. And because of that, I was on top when we hit the ground, leaving Westrman's android to take the brunt of the impact. All 5 stories worth.
Rebounding off to the side, I silently thanked God...and then my computer. It didn't have a mind of it's own...only mine, but I was sure that it had a large role in saving my butt.
However, just as I was beginning to count my blessings, I realized that I'd started to do so too soon. The android was starting to get back up. And that was definitely not good for me.
"Where the hell is that bastard?" I muttered as I thought about how much easier it would be to just stop that asshole rather than fight his damn robot. Besides, his fighting by remote control just didn't seem fair at all.
I didn't have much chance to think about what I'd like to do to that asshole as his android was already taking several steps towards me again, showing no signs of being damaged in the fall. Then it stopped there for a moment, and instead of charging straight at me, it raised it's hands, giving me only a bad feeling before it fired a blast of red energy. But this time, I didn't even need to dodge out of the way as the blast missed me by nearly 10 feet.
"Wow," I whispered, not sure if my luck was getting better or his aim was getting worse. Come to think of it, I guessed they were the same thing.
Several seconds later, more blasts were fired, barely even in my direction at all. I was stunned to realize that Westerman hadn't been trying to hit me. He was showing off. The bastard wanted me to see just how powerful his combat android really was. Without a word, he fired more blasts of energy into walls and cars.
People were screaming as they ran away and several cars were crashing in the desperation to get away. Westerman hardly seemed to notice that as he cut loose with more energy blasts, though not seeming to actually aim at any of the people. It was as if he wasn't even thinking about the people at all...as if using the android to do all of that from a distance made it less real to him. Or made him feel less responsible. Then again, maybe it was just because he was a freaking sociopath who'd finally found a way to cut loose without fear of consequences.
Then Westerman paused, giving me enough chance to realize that most of the people had already gotten out of sight. That was a slight relief, though not nearly as much as if I could. I was seriously regretting that I'd tried coming after him rather than just running off when I could. What had I been thinking? I wasn't any kind of hero.
After only waiting a few seconds, Westerman changed tactics. He suddenly opened up with the gattling gun that was part of his arm...sending a rain of bullets everywhere. This time, I ran and jumped behind a car, landing flat on my stomach and being fortunate I did as the bullets almost cut the car in half a little higher up.
"Oh shit," I gasped, wincing as I glanced at him from under the car. He was still shooting, and not just at me. He was aiming at the buildings nearby, causing tons of damage. Windows were exploding everywhere.
"Very good," he laughed, "This will provide ample demonstration of my android's capabilities. Now I will have buyers lining up..."
"You're crazy," I called out, desperately hoping for the Elite to show up again. Even if it was to come after me. Dealing with guys like him was supposed to be their job.
Westerman didn't respond to that, at least not verbally. Fortunately, he didn't open up fire again. Instead, he started moving closer to me, probably wanting to look me in the face when he destroyed me. Or maybe, just to keep the damage to a minimum when he killed me because my new body was so expensive.
The reprieve from shooting didn't last long though as Westerman fired a blast of energy at the car I was hiding behind. That was all of the encouragement I needed to get my ass in gear and run again, avoiding several more blasts before I took cover behind a UPS truck. At least I hoped it would give me a second or two to try figuring out my next move.
"Please God," I looked up, "Get me out of here..."
Then I tried taking a peak around the corner, only to nearly have my head taken off by a blast of energy. The doc's laughter followed right behind, making me realize that he was still playing with me. That just pissed me off more. I was sick and tired of being shot at. First by the Elite, and now by him...
Finally having enough, and remembering that I was armed too, I called out, "MY TURN!"
With that, I stepped around the corner and opened fire with energy blasts from both of my hands. I could feel the strange tingling coming out of my palms, right before the red lights shot out.
And I felt a pleasant stir of satisfaction as I was finally fighting back. My only regret was that I hadn't done so sooner, but that would have been hard to do with so many people around. Not to mention when I didn't even remember that I could.
"Gotcha!" I yelled out in delight, though only one of my blasts had hit Westerman. However, it had been enough to knock him back a tiny bit, and leave a heavy singe on the armored part of his chest where I'd hit. In fact, it even looked a little melted. But unfortunately, it wasn't enough to stop it. "Damn..."
I fired another couple blasts before jumping back behind the truck. The android was taking another crack at me, tearing holes in the truck and then opening up with the gattling gun again. I just ran, turning a corner and using the building as cover to return fire, hoping that I could do some real damage. However, so far I'd only done a real small amount. But unfortunately, his blasts were a hell of a lot more powerful than mine were.
"You might as well surrender," Westerman called out arrogantly. "As you can see...my combat android is much superior to that prototype..." Then after several seconds he added, "Still, I would hate to waste such a resource..." Left unspoken was the threat to do exactly that though if I didn't surrender.
I shook my head, clenching my fists tightly together. No way was I going to go back to being just a puppet. I might look like a mannequin, but that sure as hell didn't mean I was going to let myself be made into one again.
Deciding to give Westerman the response he deserved, I snapped around the corner and gave him another couple blast. I caught him straight in the chest with both of them, doing some damage to the metal armor, but not enough to destroy him. But that didn't stop me from firing again, this time deciding to try something different. This time...I aimed towards his hands. And to my amazement, I actually hit where I aimed.
"YES!" I exclaimed, giving silent thanks to both God and the computer inside me that had helped guide the shots.
I'd done it. I'd managed to take out his energy blasters, which left me with a few more options. The first one that came to mind was run, but instead, I turned and charged straight at him, knowing that it was probably stupid, but I was sick and tired of running. I jumped at him, catching him straight in the chest with a flying kick that I hadn't even known that I was capable of until that moment. The android was thrown backwards, though he caught his balance and seemed unharmed.
Westerman didn't say a word as he started swinging his fist at me, though I managed to avoid them. I'd already seen that the android was a lot slower and clumsier than I was. Whether that was because it was bigger and bulkier, or because Westerman was controlling it by remote while I was plugged directly into my body, I didn't know. Nor did I particularly care. It was something that I'd been counting on when I charged and planned on taking full advantage of.
For nearly a minute, Westerman and I traded punches and kicks. He would lash out at me and I would dodge or block, then strike back at him. I hit him a number of times and was sure that I'd actually damaged part of the android, but it was still going.
"Where are those developed heroes when you really need them," I asked as I gave a powerful kick to the androids waist, hearing a faint crunch. I couldn't believe how durable it was.
Finally, Westerman laughed, "Very impressive for a sex toy..." Then he charged straight at me, catching me with a punch that sent me flying backwards.
I hit the ground and rolled, having automatically shifted my weight to avoid taking too much damage. However, there was no doubt that I couldn't keep taking punches like that or I'd end up smashed to pieces like fine china.
Giving a glare at my feminine hands, at the tiny red lenses in the middle of my palms I wished that I had something more powerful to hit him with. That I had some kind of weapon that would actually do some real good against that monster.
Suddenly, I gasped, instantly knowing that I did. I just wished that my computer had fed me that information a little earlier. However, it only gave me a slightly more powerful weapon, not anything that would guarantee the android's destruction.
With that, the backs of my arms sort of opened up and a small piece of the inside raised up and shifted into position, forming a sort of gun. I winced at the sight of them as they were reminders of how inhuman my body now was, but felt a surge of relief as I knew they were also my only hope at the moment.
"Here goes nothing," I growled, charging straight at Westerman again.
Though there was no expression on his android's robotic face, I could feel the smug confidence that Westerman was giving off...even through the machinery. And I could imagine the look on his face as I suddenly opened fire with both of my arms...firing a pair of tiny round projectiles that were smaller than marbles...but made of concentrated explosives. They were tiny, but potent grenades.
"Tag," I spat as I changed direction, having aimed at what looked like the weakest parts of the android.
A pair of explosions knocked me off of my feet, though I quickly got back up and looked at the android...or at least what remained of it. One of the grenades had caught it in the waist where it was swiveling around, while the other had caught it in the neck. It had worked even better than I'd hoped. The android was nearly blown in half at the waist, only being partly still connected. The head however was completely removed.
I stood above the wreckage, shaking my head in disbelief. The body was still twitching around, though what was left of the head was about seven feet away and fairly whole. The glow in the eyes faded away as I watched.
For a moment, I just stared at the machine in disgust, not pleased with the fact that underneath my plastic looking skin was something similar. Something a lot less bulky and powerful, but something similar all the same. However, I put those thoughts out of my mind, reminding myself that I was lucky to still be alive. Alive...and free.
Without a word, I deactivated the grenades and launchers, pulling them back in and sealing my arms again. Then I told the head, "If you can still see me Doc...you lose." And with that, I fired a blast of energy at the head, destroying it completely, then turning my attention to the body and firing several more shots at it's exposed internals, making sure that it was taken care of too.
As soon as I was done firing, I felt a sudden weakness and staggered slightly. I suddenly felt...tired. Almost exhausted. It was the first time that I'd felt anything like that since awaking after the crash. For a moment, I just stood there, wondering what was wrong. Then it came to me...fed directly to my mind by the computer. I was low on energy. Each of those blasts had taken a good bit of it, leaving me barely enough to keep going.
"Oh shit," I whispered, wondering if I had to get some robot gas or something. But again, the information was fed directly into my mind. I had some sort of self recharging power core that would keep me going almost indefinitely. Theoretically at least. All that I had to do was keep from wasting more energy for a day or so and I'd soon be back to full power.
Giving a frown, I tore my eyes away from the android wreckage and looked around, seeing only faint signs of other people...but not of Westerman. Then I realized that the cops would probably be getting there soon...and maybe even some heroes like the Elite. I definitely didn't want to deal with them again, especially then.
"Damn," I muttered, deciding that I had better get out of there quickly. And, I looked down at myself, at my tits and curvaceous female body, plastic skin and all. Obviously I would have to do something to avoid attracting attention again, which could be rather difficult.
With that in mind, started to hurry out of the area as fast as I could, delaying only long enough to run into a store across the street to pick up a few items that I would need. Still, even with that necessary stop, I was still far enough away by the time the cops arrived.
It had been a full day since the fight with Westerman's android and the Elite, though it didn't seem quite that long to me. It almost seemed as though it was only an hour earlier, being so fresh and clear in my mind that I could hardly believe it. Hell, I could hardly believe that I had anything to do with fighting either those heroes or a monster android. That wasn't the kind of stuff I did.
Unable to help myself, I glanced around nervously, half afraid that someone was coming for me. Specifically, Westerman...and especially the Elite. I winced faintly at the thought, though I hadn't seen any sign of either the doc or the heroes.
Once I was finished looking around, I looked down, thankful that no one was giving me very much attention. Of course, the clothes that I'd taken from that store the day before were great for helping hide my plastic looking skin. Instead of going half naked, I was wearing a jogging suit, with an overcoat and hat. Now I was able to blend in on the streets instead of being stared at, at least so long as no one gave a very close look at my face.
"Maybe they'll just mistake me for Michael Jackson," I muttered sarcastically, thinking about my plastic looking skin.
I wasn't even sure what to think about what I had become. For one, I wasn't even human anymore. And for another, I looked like a woman, and a very well endowed woman at that. Of course that wasn't even taking into account that with my odd skin, I also happened to look like a mannequin. But then again, I reminded myself with a faint smile, I could live with all of that. It was being someone's puppet that I refused to accept.
Then I caught sight of something on the TV's in the electronics store window and moved closer for a better look. When I got there, I was slightly startled to see that it was footage of my fight with the Elite the day before. Someone had been recording the whole thing from the window with a video camera.
Without saying a word, I watched as it showed Eclipse and Force blasting holes in the street and walls while trying to hit me. It showed Neon cutting through the fire hydrant, as well as several cars being thrown around and crushed by the heroes. Even though I'd been there, the sight was disturbing. Especially when they showed all of the destruction that was left on the street after the fight...and the fact that it was the heroes who'd caused almost all of it.
"Oh shit," I whispered, shaking my head faintly. All of that video really made the Elite come out looking bad. "And they think that I'm some kind of super villain..."
Of course, me being some kind of villain was the most ridiculous thing that I'd ever heard. I was a trucker...not a villain. Then again, after Westerman had made me do that robbery, and then that fight I had with the Elite...I could see why they might think that. And that was why I had to keep out of sight and avoid notice, which wasn't going to be extremely easy considering my unique appearance.
As they finished showing the footage of my fight with the Elite, it went to a brief thing on the 'killer robot' which had torn apart a building and the street below just a short time afterwards. However, this time they only showed footage of all of the damage afterwards, not of me or the fight itself. I guessed that there wasn't anyone hanging around with a video camera that time.
"Why couldn't they get me saving people," I complained with a sigh, thinking that at least that way I might not have to hide so much. However, it was no use complaining about it.
After that store was over, I remained where I was for another minute, thinking about how bad things might get if the Elite came after me again. I had no doubt that the only reason I'd done so well against them was because they didn't know how to work together. After all, any one of them could have taken me down alone. But I guess that in the Elite's case, the whole isn't stronger than the sum of it's parts. At least at the moment. I wouldn't be so lucky again.
Then I tried to put the heroes out of my mind, remembering that they much more important things to worry about than me. If I kept my head down and avoided notice, I'd be fine. As I thought about it, I realized that it wasn't the heroes that I had to worry about. It was Westerman. The doc was still out there...and I knew that he wasn't done with me yet. I'd be hearing from him again. Of that I was certain.
Finally, I turned away from the TV in the window and slowly started walking down the sidewalk, deciding to deal with that problem when I came to it. At the moment, I was a mannequin and had no idea what I was going to do next, but that didn't bother me too much. I was alive and free...and those were the most important things.