The V.I.C.I Diaries - Broken (Part 9)

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The V.I.C.I Diaries - Broken (Part 9)

Postby DukeNukem 2417 » Thu Jun 02, 2016 2:17 pm

“...so you've been spying? All this time, you've been following operatives around San Jose?”

“Less 'spying', more 'recon', Vicki. I wasn't exactly built for stealth....” Sophia giggled at the thought. “Though I would love to try the whole 'Solid Snake' look for a music video,” she teased. “If I could think of a good spy title for a song—-”

“License to Love?” Vicki offered.

After a few seconds' worth of silence, both gynoids burst out laughing. “That is way too corny,” the pop singer chortled, “but it's a start---”

We're approaching a red zone,” the voice of SARIA stated. “ALPA operatives have tagged the area as being potentially hazardous to android/gynoid agents....we may need to find a detour.” The Regency---having been repaired enough since its last outing to return to the road---slowed to a stop at a traffic light, allowing its occupants to see the after-effects of Epsilon having “visited” the area. “And this is the part where I wish we were in an armored personnel carrier,” Vicki muttered.

Sophia regarded the cars Epsilon had flipped over with a slightly arched eyebrow. “....so, Epsilon. What---”

“I didn't really interact with him before he was...conscripted...into the Epsilon project,” Vicki admitted. “And all I know about him as Epsilon is that he was pretty much made to fight. Everything that would've made him weak was....” Her eyes squeezed shut. “....removed.”

She didn't bother opening her eyes---she knew Sophia was recoiling at the news. “Removed?!”

“They didn't let me read all the files,” the brunette gynoid continued. “I know they tampered with his brain, tried to neutralize parts of it, or use drug therapies to....it's just too much to even think about.” She shook her head, her eyes slowly opening as she reminisced about what she knew regarding Epsilon. “And...mistakes were made,” she added. “On both sides.”

“I heard some of what happened with Oberon,” Sophia replied. “I don't really know what to say---”

“Nothing to say, really,” Vicki muttered. “I talked to him about it---he was....contained, after the incident---but he didn't exactly give me any definitive answers.” She stared out the window, frowning. “I don't want to dwell on it for the rest of the mission---”

A loud rapping on the window cut her off, actually drawing a shout from the formerly pensive gynoid.

Apologies, Agent Lawson,” the deep voice of Mr. Roboto intoned, “but I noticed your vehicle parked at a green light....is everything okay?

Vicki's annoyed glance faded as she noticed Sophia's wide-eyed stare. “You look like you stepped right out of an album cover!” the singer beamed. “Anton mentioned you a few times....what's your codename, again?”

I am known as Mr. Roboto.

Sophia glanced at Vicki, grinning. “Dennis is going to freak out---”

“We can't tell him,” Vicki cut in. “Roboto....isn't a standard operative. He's been through a lot....he started out as a human being, back in the 80s. Then, stuff sort of got weird....” The brunette gynoid turned her attention back to Roboto. “So what exactly are you doing out here, anyway?”

“Securing the perimeter, containing any threats and protecting civilians.”

“Makes sense....also, that reminds me of something, but I can't put a finger on it----”

Roboto cocked his head; “Apologies,” he intoned, “but Galatea has just spotted an entity that matches the physical profile of Epsilon. All available operatives are to engage---”

“Please don't say what I think you're about to say,” Vicki whispered.

“....with non-lethal force.

The brunette gynoid calmed considerably upon hearing those four words. “Even if it degrades to a slugfest, try not to hurt Epsilon too much. He's....not fully able to control himself---” She flinched. “Did...did you just hear that?!” she gasped.

“I felt that,” Sophia quietly replied. “Is that Galatea, or---”

Both gynoids, and Roboto, all heard the voice of Galatea screaming: “NO, IT WAS NOT!” just as a pink and purple-clad figure smashed into the side of a building in the distance. “What you just felt was a signal from Epsilon---I think it's a---” Galatea's voice was cut off for a second. “---as I was saying, I think it can best be described as a---” Another pause, followed by a shout (out loud, as opposed to heard via WiFi) of “OH, COME ON!”---and the impact of what could only be Epsilon's fist against the side of the building.

“Is....she going to be okay?” Sophia quietly asked.

I'll be a lot better as soon as Epsilon stops trying to cave in my face,” Galatea's voice replied. “Like I was just saying, the signal is a LITERAL panic signal....I don't know who the intended recipient is--”

Abruptly, her sentence ended in a gasp....then silence.

“We need to get over there and help her,” Vicki stated, already halfway out her seatbelt. “Otherwise---”

DUCK!

Roboto half-shoved Vicki back into the Regency, just as the brunette gynoid noticed the silver-skinned, purple-and-pink armored figure soaring through the air in an arc---straight towards the vehicle. The towering android took two steps forward, raised one arm and watched the rapidly-descending body....

…..catching Galatea by the collar before she hit the roof of the Regency.

“....okay,” the gynoid muttered, “that was probably the worst op I've been on in the past five years....”

“What happened to you?!” Sophia nearly tripped trying to get out of the car; “I saw you smash into the side of the building earlier,” she breathed, “and....I heard your transmissions----”

“How exactly did you not get wrecked when you hit the building?” Vicki cut in.

Galatea managed a weak chuckle. “The phrase 'built Tonka tough' comes to mind...”

Agent Lawson, Galatea,” Roboto stated, “I will engage Epsilon. I suggest you stay here and avoid attracting Epsilon's attention.”

“I've fought Epsilon before,” Vicki countered. “And the last time I had to deal with him....he saved me. Carried me out of the building, even, after I almost....anyway, even if he's still succumbing to whatever's destroying him, the mind of Tony Sanderson is still alive within him.” She turned away. “Whatever he does,” she murmured, “don't destroy him. Don't break him any further.....just contain him. And try not to let him damage you if you can help it....”

Roboto's glowing eyes settled on the gynoid. “I can't make any promises, Agent Lawson.

A primal howl split the night; Sophia dove for cover behind the Regency, while Galatea just sighed. “Your cue,” she casually informed Roboto. “Try not to break too many cars, big guy...”

The nickname had little effect on the android. “Stay here....I'll try to make this quick.”

Without another word, Roboto strode forwards, even as another howl from Epsilon sent Sophia diving back behind the car. “How the hell are we going to keep any civilians from trying to see what's going on?” Vicki whispered, glancing over her shoulder at Galatea. “We can't exactly say it was a gas main leaking, or some lame excuse---”

“It's a movie shoot,” Galatea replied. “At least, that's what the news will say.”

Vicki groaned. “A movie shoot?!”

“To be fair,” Sophia chimed in, peeking up from behind the Regency's fender, “I sort of had a hand in coming up with that alibi....working in the entertainment industry made it sort of necessary to have a great reason for stuff like this.”

“It's better than filming a spy movie at the Chirky Dam,” Vicki muttered. “With Steven Segal...”

Her remark was met with a giggle from Galatea. “They actually used that cover story?!”

“They actually put out the 'movie', too,” the brunette gynoid sullenly replied. “At least the only shots of me are in the 'opening'....and they did a decent job hiding my face. Never thought I'd see security camera footage of myself riding a UAV being used in a Segal movie----”

Several sounds---the crunch of a car landing on its hood, Roboto's carbon-fiber armored fist hammering into the chest of Epsilon, and at least five explosions---cut her off. “So much for no damage,” Galatea sighed, one of her ocular sensors rolling back into her head seemingly of its own accord. “And there goes the eye again...I just got it fixed last month.” Ignoring the concerned looks from Vicki and Sophia, she moved the silvery “skin” away from the eye socket and gently inserted her finger in; “This doesn't hurt, if you're wondering,” she calmly informed her fellow gynoids, manually rotating the eye back into place. “It's just...annoying.”

“See, I'm glad you've got the silver skin thing going right now,” Vicki mused, “because if you had your human look, that would've been weird....”

“Ah, not to take away from the inherent weirdness of...that,” Sophia cut in, “but....shouldn't we try to help---”

Something that vaguely looked like a metal sail flew over the heads of Vicki, Sophia and Galatea. “And he's throwing car doors,” Galatea muttered. “Great....”

“Epsilon, or Roboto?”

“Both, probably. No offense to Roboto, but I've seen him train---his strategy is usually 'punch, punch, punch, throw heavy objects'...” Galatea brushed a strand of purple hair out of her eye. “I know he wasn't built to fight, but...someone needs to kinda sorta maybe help him learn how to fight---”

“You do know he was the product of a failed conversion, right?” Vicki reminded her---catching herself at the last minute. “I mean, uh.....”

“I read the file. I know who and what he used to be....no need to censor yourself here.”

Vicki arched an eyebrow. “...you knew, and you never raised an alert---”

“Now is REALLY not the time to argue about this,” Galatea reminded her. “Seeing as how Roboto is---”

Another car door sailed overhead, nearly clipping the top of Sophia's head.

“Like I said,” Galatea mused, “really not the time to argue.” She blinked a few times, making sure her eye was in the right way again. “It's times like this I wish I never downgraded---”

“Your current body is a downgrade?!”

Vicki's incredulous question was met with an amused glance from the purple-haired gynoid. “I'll explain later.”

“Probably after Roboto takes down Epsilon,” Vicki added. “Or after we help him take down Epsilon---”

“I think someone else is trying to take down Epsilon right now,” Galatea cut in, just as her fellow Field Agent noticed a vehicle driving towards the battle between Epsilon and Roboto. “Pretty sure that's not one of ours, or even someone trying to rubberneck---Vicki, wait!” She stopped the brunette gynoid before she could run towards the newcomer. “We have no idea who these people are---”

She stopped midsentence, just as Vicki shrugged away from her grip. “...what the hell---”

You felt it too?” the brunette gynoid mused, slipping into her robotic monotone. “The digital signature of the program that nearly slagged Casey back at my place...except this time, it's coming from....” Her eyes widened in shock. “....it's coming from that car!” She gestured for Sophia and Galatea to hide behind the Regency. “It's almost like the car is aiming it towards Epsilon and Roboto,” she realized. “Wait, no....it's only aiming it at.....”

The name formed on the tip of her tongue, but was never spoken. “....oh....”

“You're saying that Epsilon is about to get attacked with some kind of ordnance?” Galatea inquired.

“....not ordnance,” V.I.C.I quietly replied. “A virus.”

“Just ran a license check on the car,” Sophia piped in, earning a bemused stare from Galatea and a blank look from V.I.C.I; “It's an autonomous vehicle,” she continued, ignoring the brunette gynoid's apparent apathy, “only meant to be driven on one of those super-exclusive test tracks, away from any actual roads---”

So what's it doing out here?

Galatea scoffed at V.I.C.I's question. “Isn't it obvious? If it's targeting Epsilon, it's not out here to throw us a lifeline.” Her eyes glowed for a second; “Oh, you're gonna love this,” she added, sarcasm giving her words an exaggerated drawl. “I just checked Sophia's license check---”

“You were in my head?!” Sophia cut in, sounding equally indignant and impressed.

The silver-skinned gynoid brushed off the complaint---and the sound of Roboto being slammed into the side of a building. “Comes with the territory. I checked your check, and it turns out that self-driving car is registered to Drake Bradford's people---”

Not possible. Bradford was ordered to leave town after what happened to Brittney Delacroix.

Yet again, V.I.C.I's response earned a scoff from Galatea. “I never said he's working with them of his own free will,” she replied. “If anything---” She rolled her eyes as both Sophia and V.I.C.I flinched; Roboto had been hurled into a fire truck, and was being worked over with a series of savage punches. Noticing Sophia's look of wide-eyed shock, Galatea sighed; “He can handle it,” she assured the gynoid singer. “He was built to handle this sort of thing.”

Which means we have to handle the car,” V.I.C.I finished, leaving no room for argument. “Cover me.”

Any question, objection or speech of any kind that Galatea would've used to protest the brunette gynoid's decision were left unspoken as the Field Agent moved towards the vehicle. Well, “moved” being the most basic description---in reality, her myogel-enhanced limbs carried her towards the self-driving car at speeds no human being could ever hope to attain, making her look---even to the enhanced ocular sensors of both Sophia and Galatea---like a vaguely humanoid, red and white blur.

It helped that the self-driving car was going only slightly faster than the speed limit; whoever had deployed the vehicle was obviously aiming for a bloodless battle against Epsilon.

Let's see if we can't---

V.I.C.I's internal monologue was halted by Roboto being thrown, yet again, into another vehicle; a quick glance at her fellow operative revealed that the larger android was no worse for the wear, without even a dent in his carbon-fibre chassis. He's resilient, I'll give him that----

She stopped.

Midway through punching Roboto in the face, Epsilon had frozen, almost as if sniffing the air....and as V.I.C.I backed away, trying to get a bead on the still-moving car, the man/machine hybrid turned towards her....

….seeing only the faintest after-image where she'd been standing.

His senses haven't degraded, the brunette gynoid realized. Even if he remembers carrying me away from Oberon.... She didn't finish the thought. All she could think about was the cold, hard fact that, if Epsilon went after her with the same level of ferocity employed against Roboto, she'd be reduced to a vaguely humanoid tangle of limbs within seconds....

A line from an old spy novel, referencing a gangster giving someone who'd upset him a bit of “friendly advice”, swam to the forefront of the brunette gynoid's thoughts: “Be missing”. The main character had told a female acquaintance about the gangster's remark to make sure the memory of a man she'd killed was “missing” from her mind, so that facing down death in the field wouldn't become troubling to her.....and just as quickly---almost half a second later---all thoughts of how Epsilon could mangle anyone or anything in his way went missing from V.I.C.I's processors. Thus freed from this apprehension, she could focus once again on the task at hand.

Acquiring target....

The driverless car was doing a good job of impersonating a rookie driver at a track day---staying in the middle of the roads when it could, hugging the insides of every curve it took and doing its best to not hit anything.

What it wasn't doing, of course, was evading V.I.C.I's optical tracking, or even her line of sight.

Target acquired.
HQ authorizes pursuit.


A small smile formed on the brunette gynoid's lips; if HQ had received all updates from the field---from herself, Galatea and even Sophia---they'd probably be the first to read the field report of what would happen next.

Guess I'd better give them something good to read about.....

Breaking into a run from where she'd hidden from Epsilon, V.I.C.I charged towards the driverless car, fully intending to disable it before it caused any damage. Had any human being been behind the wheel, the sight of a 20-something brunette running that fast would've sent more than a few shivers down their spine. The AI guiding the car was nowhere near complex enough to process anything resembling emotion....

…..nor was it fast enough to evade the brunette gynoid before she landed on its roof, creating a sizable dent.

With her “grip” on the car enhanced by the precise manipulation of the electromagnetic fields created by the RadioThermionic Generator that served as her “heart”, V.I.C.I had no problems laying flat on the roof of the car and directing three precise punches into the windshield. It shattered in less time than it took V.I.C.I to blink; it took even less time for the gynoid Field Agent to half-roll off of the car's dented roof and land, with the barest hint of a thud, on its hood. Jumping from the hood through the now-nonexistant windshield would've allowed an easy takedown of any human being that might've been in the car, or even a rudimentary armature set up to manipulate the steering wheel and brake/gas pedals.

A quick glimpse into the car's interior revealed no such entities. The job would be easier than----

Something slammed into the car with enough force to nearly turn it onto its side; for a moment, V.I.C.I thought that Epsilon had hurled a heavy object in her direction and managed to hit the car. To her surprise, relief and admitted annoyance, the object in question was another driverless car---an SUV, as opposed to the sedan that V.I.C.I was still clinging to. The larger vehicle spun its tires, but rather than trying to push the sedan onto its side, it attempted instead to turn right---a move that would've planted it fender first into the side of a building.

Both of these vehicles were on patrol routes, the gynoid realized, trying to “tag” Epsilon with whatever took out Casey…..and now they're hitting each other. Just my luck.

With a decidedly non-robotic eye roll, V.I.C.I jumped off of the sedan---a move that led the self-driving SUV to abandon its attempts to turn. Before the other vehicle could reroient itself, the gynoid punched through the hood of the sedan, ramping up the power output from her RTG.

Let's see if I can stop a car the same way I can jump-start one....

Her eyes took on a sapphire glow as electricity flowed through her fingers as she grabbed for vital components under the hood. Predictably, the headlights flared on and off, the horn sounded a few times and even the windshield wipers kicked on....but in a matter of seconds, the brunette gynoid had fully overloaded the car's electrical systems. The headlamps blew out, the horn rose in decibels until it effectively exploded, and both wipers flopped uselessly as their motors shorted out.

Seconds later, V.I.C.I's internal sensor suite detected a sharp decline in signal from the electronic “ordnance” within the vehicle. Half a second later, the signal died completely.

Fittingly, as the last of the sedan's electrics died, the driverless SUV---bearing no “ordnance” of its own---pulled back and rammed the smaller car again, flipping it onto its side and pushing it towards a wall. Either that thing is on the fritz, V.I.C.I mused, or someone doesn't know how to program a self-driving vehicle....

“VICKI!” Three sets of approaching footsteps---one running, one briskly jogging and one calm stride---entered the gynoid's range of hearing. “Epsilon was....I think whatever they did to him is changing him,” Sophia began, glancing back over her shoulder. “It's getting worse....” She let the words trail off as she noticed the SUV and sedan, now pushing fruitlessly against a wall. Smoke was pouring out from beneath the SUV's hood.

They were on patrol,” V.I.C.I explained, “but the SUV was apparently compromised.

“'Apparently' is putting it mildly,” Galatea replied, approaching the vehicles. “This thing was hit with about eight or nine different scramblers, signal bafflers and a few gigs' worth of malware----”

You can tell all that by looking at it?

V.I.C.I's incredulous question was met with a smirk. “Not all of my current body is a downgrade....”

Galatea's boast was waved away. “Save the details for later,” V.I.C.I advised. “Let's get back to HQ.”

As the team left the self-driving vehicles behind, the SUV's engine revved...then belched black smoke.
-------------------------------------
“....and you're sure they used an earlier version of Helios?”

Ignoring the now-disassembled figure of the gynoid on the bed before him, Max Mills---having traded his usual attire for white coveralls (now stained in various internal fluids from the aforementioned gynoid), leather work gloves and a dust mask---listened intently to the voice on the other end of the phone. Apparently, the DVS had decided that Max's Helios demonstration warranted further research of their own into the project, resulting in a pair of self-driving vehicles being deployed to deal with....something.

“No, no, no, I don't care what cars they used,” he protested, “I just---will you let me talk, please?” He actually let out a short laugh; rarely, if ever, did anyone interrupt him in person. “I just want to know---I SAID I JUST WANT TO KNOW what the cars were after! Where the hell...where are you calling me from, anyway?”

Out of the corner of his eye, Max thought he saw one of the disassembled gynoid's fingers twitch.

“....no, no, I'm still here.” He turned his attention to the unmoving figure of his ersatz driver, frowning....every limb was motionless, every servomotor still. “Where are you calling me from? It sounds like a welding shop...”

A feeling of unease settled in; even with the photoreceptors removed, the eyeless “skull” of the gynoid seemed to be staring into Max's own eyes. “Look, you don't need to swear at me for asking a simple question,” he continued, circling around the bed as he spoke. “I just....what were the cars after? Did you get any information about....no, I don't care how badly damaged the cars were! What were they after?!

For three whole minutes, he stopped talking and simply listened.

The details were vague---another name he didn't recognize, “Epsilon”, was mentioned almost twenty times in twice as many seconds. The ALPA was name-dropped three or four times; the DVS, surprisingly, was only mentioned once. By the time Max's informant had stopped talking, the story was beginning to congeal: this Epsilon, whatever it was, had gone on a tear in part of San Jose, and the ALPA had been called in, probably to keep the collateral damage to a minimum. The two cars sent by the DVS were apparently driving around the area trying to “tag” Epsilon with the outdated Helios code, which did, in the informant's words, a whole lot of nothing. Epsilon had escaped, the ALPA left the area, and both cars were now useless.

Max waited a few seconds after the informant stopped talking. “....and you're sure there were no active DVS operatives in the area?” he quietly asked. “None at all?”

A small movement from the bed caught his attention; the left hand of the disassembled gynoid had fallen onto its side. Max had already stowed the synthetic “skin” of the gynoid in a lockbox currently bolted to the floor of his closet (just holding it had given him a case of the heebies), and he was dangerously close to taking a cutting torch to every last piece of the gynoid just to be sure the parts wouldn't suddenly reanimate.

Something about “massive inquiry” on the other end of the phone stirred Mills out of his morbid reverie.

“....who's going to be...you think I'll be involved in an inquiry?” He almost laughed, but stopped. “You're not kidding....you...slow down, I'm right here....” The beginnings of a migraine were beginning to take hold. “Are you positive?”

A few more details stood out, including the rather intriguing mention of a girl with silver skin, but none could shake Mills out of the realizations that he was going to have to face this “Epsilon” soon, if he wanted any hope of getting closer to the DVS, and that wherever the DVS went, the ALPA wouldn't be far behind. “....okay, okay, I get the picture, I get it.” He sighed. “Call me when you have more info. No, no, I finished that already...you want to come pick up what's left, feel free.” With one last look at the dismantled gynoid on the bed, Max nodded. “In fact, I'm leaving in...ten minutes, to go do a thing. You show up after I'm gone, you'll find it on the bed upstairs. Take all of it.”

With the push of a button, the call ended. “And now to find a thing to go do...”
-------------------------------------
"No one steals our chicks.....and lives!"

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