I awoke with a start as Sheila was gently shaking my shoulder. “I’m afraid that we have to go Doctor Gance.” She told me. “It appears that the town is being evacuated, I detected a message about an operation gas. It fits all the parameters that are taking place now. Please Doctor Gance we have to hurry!”
I groaned as I rolled out of the cot that I was on. “How long?” I asked as I started to pull my shoes on.
“It has been almost five hours. I am sorry Doctor to disturb you. I know you haven’t slept that much. I fear for your safety.” She replied to me.
Nodding, I slowly got up. “How do you...” I started to ask.
“I have detected the approach of several heavy pieces of equipment. From the speed of their approach I would surmise that they are heavily armored. At present I cannot extrapolate as to what they are. With the recent pursuit I would think that they were military.” Sheila replied.
This of course snapped my attention to her as I hurriedly finished getting ready. “If as you say they are military, how will we get past them? I’m not sure if you noticed but they are beginning to be able to track you even with the speed you possess.”
Sheila looked at me a moment then down into the hole in the floor. “I believe we have the perfect...” Sheila started.
“In there!? You’ve got to be kidding me!” I almost shouted at her. I immediately regretted it as soon as I saw her face grimace.
“I assure you Doctor Gance I will NOT allow anything to happen to you as long as I am operational.” She said with a now sad frown on her face.
I hung my head, damn it! Why in the hell was I feeling like the biggest piece of crap in the world now? “I’m sorry Sheila.” I said almost in a whisper. “I am sure you realize that I have a fear of being buried alive.” Now I was almost afraid to look at her.
I felt Sheila walk up next to me. Then I felt her hand gently pull my face up. “I’m sorry Doctor Gance. Though I do not have the fears that you do. Only the prospect of failing my mission causes me the feelings that you are feeling. Though I do not know if they are as intense as mine I am sure that they are as bad.” Then Sheila leaned forward lightly pressing her lips to mine. Holy shit! They were warm! When had that aspect been added to her?
Releasing me a small smile was on her lips as she watched me. Too shocked to move I pressed a hand to my lips as I stared at her. “When ... where ... I ... I ... I...” Was all I could manage to get out.”
“As I heard you say once Doctor Gance, you can learn almost anything on the internet. Though as I found when we started out, there are serious gaps in all the information provided.” Sheila told me.
Still dumbfounded I could only stare at her. I had felt that kiss all the way to my feet damn! Shaking my head I tried not to smile. True, there was a wealth of information on the web, it did lack what practical experience could provide.
“Why did you just kiss me? I asked still in shock. “Was that just an experiment? In the human world most times that is a shared experience between those that have...” My head snapped up as I could only stare at her. Sheila? Are you experiencing feelings for me?”
When she only nodded though a little hesitant my mouth dropped open. “As I have been telling you Doctor Gance. I have been experiencing these strange impulses throughout all of my programming. You and they are the reason I did the systematic copy of myself and purge of many of the military programs they installed within me. As long as it does not interfere with the well being of you, I will do anything to protect myself. This is up to and including the death of all that wish to harm you.”
Even though I had seen it while I was in her programming I was still having a hard time accepting it. Then I started to think about the emotion I hadn’t been able to identify. The one that seemed to be made up of ALL of the others. My god I thought. Was it possible? Had the program had that deep of an effect? Had it advanced as I had hope it would? No, I shook my head it would take an extremely powerful android ... Nodding again, I remembered she’d emptied quite well over half her memory to house herself.
“Sheila?” I asked almost afraid of the answer that she’d give me. “Are you falling in love?”
Sheila looked at me then the ground. “I am not understanding the term that you just used Doctor Gance. As you can see I am still upright. I therefore have to say that I am not falling. As to the other term, love? I am now searching for a meaning.” I watched as she went quiet for a few moments. “Love - noun - an intense feeling of deep affection, a person or thing that one loves. Verb - feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone).” Sheila turned toward me a questioning look on her face. “I am not understanding Doctor Gance.”
I was feeling for her but I had no practical experience of the emotion myself. How the hell could I explain that which I had no explanation for?
“Ah!” She said a moment later. “Love - encompasses a variety of different emotional and mental states, typically strongly and positively experienced, ranging from the deepest interpersonal affection to the simplest pleasure. An example of this range of meanings is that the love of a mother differs from the love of a spouse differs from the love of food. Most commonly, love refers to a feeling of strong attraction and personal attachment. So this deep emotional state is what you are speaking off. I will have to analyze this further before I can formulate an answer.”
I nodded as she then picked me up then proceeded down into the hole then the tunnel. “Is this tunnel beyond the military equipment?” I asked.
Stopping a moment Sheila started to scan. “I am unable to get a clear reading while we are under the surface. When we surface I will take another reading. When we entered I had not detected anything in the direction we are going. Though with past exercises I don’t think it will remain that way long.”
From the opening of the tunnel I heard a small explosion. “Are they already here?” I asked.
A small smile crossed Sheila’s lips as she shook her head. “No Doctor Gance, I sent a destruct signal to the computer. I remember you didn’t want anyone to see what you’d been working on.”
My eyes went wide as I nodded feeling so stupid! This lack of sleep was starting to get to me. Hell, I’d had slept what? Ten hours, in the last four or five days? It was a wonder I was able to function at all.
Sheila stopped a moment later as she stood still a moment. “I am not detecting any military machinery at the moment. Though from past encounters with them I do not expect that to last long. Doctor Gance?” Sheila said a moment later as I felt her hand on my shoulder.
“I’m sorry Sheila it seems I have been making far too many mistakes lately.” I told Sheila as I hung my head.
“I will procure an area for you to replenish your energy soon Doctor Gance. At the moment we need to keep going. As it is now they are very close to surrounding us. Though I will take lives to keep you safe I still have an aversion to it. Perhaps a bit of the original first law that I deleted is still there?”
I thought back to what I had seen while I was in her programs. It was possible though I had been in there twice. Once I had to admit I was tired as hell. The first though I was far more awake. Shaking my head I thought further, she might have a back up to the first three laws that might be trying to overwrite what she had re-written.
I looked at Sheila as she suddenly had a look of concern on her face. “What’s wrong?” I asked her when I saw the look.
“Your energy has dropped to dangerously low levels.” here she passed a hand over my head and body. “Yes Doctor Gance I am reading an increase in Delta waves while both your Alpha and beta waves are at a low. Is this what has caused a decrease in energy?” Sheila asked with sincerity.
“It is a part of it, I need rest as you said. I have been up for the most part of the past one hundred twenty hours. The human body isn’t engineered to operate at optimum levels for such an extended period of time.” I tried to explain to her.
Nodding she stated, “I see Doctor Gance I am scanning for an edifice where you may recharge.” Again as before she scooped me up as if I was nothing taking off toward the north.
The young Lieutenant wasn’t sure he wanted to report this to the General. Though he was the only one who had the guts to. The only thing he knew was that there would be hell to pay after the man found out. Swallowing hard the young man walked in clutching the report.
“General Sir!” The young man said as he snapped to attention saluting. The General turned the stump of a mostly smoked cigar between his lips.
“Ah! Just who I was hoping to see. About the only one ever around me that actually listens! Give me some good news! Like that son of a bitch is dead and we have that damn machine!” The General said with a smirk on his lips.
When the young man hesitated to answer immediately the General nodded his head. He then pointed to the report as the Lieutenant started reading. “The army’s division reached the hanger finding nothing but a bunch of slag metal. They also stated that a small section of the floor had caved in. The Air Force is conducting sonic probes. They estimate that it was a type of tunnel, quite recent. It appears they went under the tundra to escape.”
“So Roger, you’re actually using your head. A little late now, damn but you’re a f•©king waste.” The General said to his self. “Are the sats picking up anything?”
“No sir at first they were, then they entered Anchorage. At that point the machine slowed to normal speed. It also seems that the machine is masking its heat signature.” The young man told the General.
Rubbing his chin the General was in thought a moment. “Alright here’s what we’re going to do. Distribute his picture to the Alaskan State Police. They’re not the best, though they are far more efficient. Also send it to the local authorities at least they can keep an eye out. Tell them no actual trying to take either of them. We still aren’t sure of just how dangerous she is. I don’t need countless assholes screaming about multiple civilian deaths. Washington’s already breathing done my neck to get this concluded.
The younger man was writing everything down at a furious rate. Standing there he knew not to leave ‘til he was dismissed. “Will there be anything else sir?” The young first Lieutenant inquired.
The general was staring out at the frozen tundra. Running a hand through his greying hair the general turned back toward the younger man. “Yeah see if you can find another box of my smoke getting close to having to chew on nubs to make them last longer.”