Shelly is released from the hospital heartbroken and feeling alone. Will her family cheer her up, or drive her into a deeper depression? And what has Jessica been up to this whole time? = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = Chapter 16 = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = Prime Directives Shelly signed the documents, allowing her to leave the hospital.
She could have walked out, but they had a silly policy about wheeling patients out the front door, regardless of their condition. Did they think she was going to trip and sue them? "You're agitated," Sonia stated as she pushed the wheelchair. "I thought you'd be happy to get out of here." "I didn't think your software included reading minds," Shelly snapped, and immediately felt sorry for it. She knew Sonia could read her body language and temperature. She was a sophisticated piece of machinery.
She could probably even sense Shelly's pheromones, and extrapolate data from that. "I'm sorry.
I know I should be happy, but I'm tired of being treated like a child. I can take care of myself. I'm all healed up.
I don't need this chair. I can walk. And as much as I enjoy your company, it's been a couple weeks since the explosion. I don't need you protecting me all the time." "Of course not.
You have your big girl panties on, and don't need anyone." Was that hurt in her voice? Shelly knew she could emulate emotions, but what was the point in acting hurt right then? "You've been acting surly ever since Jessica abandoned you. Knowing that you gave away your father's secret, and being trapped in that hospital haven't made you any nicer." "Don't forget about Becky dying, or Areth giving up her life, either," Shelly grew defensive.
"Everything has gone downhill lately, and I've been next to useless. What good am I, huh? All those years of training to protect others and to fight for what's right&hellip.
Where's it gotten me? I couldn't save anyone. I don't even know what's right anymore! I fell in love with my own sister, and I&hellip. We&hellip." Shelly stopped moving forward suddenly, and Sonia rounded the chair to confront her.
She found herself weightless as Sonia gripped her under her arms and lifted her into the air. Anger blazed behind the android's green eyes. Shelly hoped it was her imagination, but she thought she saw arcs of electricity behind her pupils.
Sonia brought their faces together, until Shelly was certain of the blue-green sparks. "I have known a lot of soldiers," Sonia informed her through clenched teeth. Had Shelly really thought that the android's emotions were synthesized? "I have known men and women who went into certain defeat, only to walk away victorious. I've seen brave men run from spiders and snakes, and cowards stand up to overwhelming odds.
Do you want to know what always made the difference?" A male orderly approached, a concerned look on his face as he asked Shelly, "Do you need some help ma'am?" "Official business," Sonia stated without looking over. "You know who I am. Everything is in order.
Make sure we're not disturbed further." "Yes, Agent Sonia," the orderly stated. He gave Shelly an uncertain look, but she shook her head and the man turned to do as he was told. She turned back to Sonia, her heart still pounding, but a little calmer. "What made the difference?" "Heart," Sonia informed her as though that was the answer to everything.
"I haven't known your family for long, but the CIA and the FBI, and a number of other agencies that I'm not even allowed to admit exist have a huge dossier on your family. You wouldn't believe the amount of detail that's in it. I have access to all of it. Guess what's not in it?" "Why ask? You're going to tell me anyway," Shelly muttered. "Damn it!" Sonia swore and let go. Shelly wasn't expecting to be released and she collapsed into the chair.
"I understand you're hurt because you lost someone, but—" "Not someone," she spat and jumped to her feet. Or tried to. Sonia stood her ground and Shelly ended up bouncing off her and sitting back down. "We lost Becky and Areth. In a way, we lost Gloria and Jessica also. And for what? What do we have to show for it?" Shelly heard the other woman grinding her teeth before she spoke.
"I'll have to update your file that you're a quitter." Sonia's voice sounded final and resolved as she spoke. "I have the most powerful processors known to mankind, but I can't figure you out. Compared to me, you're a ghost driving a meat-covered skeleton made from stardust. You can change forms, and do things most humans only dream of. Yes, you live a violent and dangerous life. You have to fight more than most people.
Not only does that mean you'll end up losing more than most, but it also means you'll end up living more than most. Do you think either Becky or Areth would want you moping around like this?
Stand up and grow a pair!" Shelly felt something turn in her stomach. It lurched up past her heart, making it flop for a moment before working its way into her throat. When it burst free, she finally recognized it for what it was.
She laughed, and then laughed harder. Her sides ached, but still she laughed.
She couldn't help it. It struck her as hilarious. "Grow a pair!" she gasped, and then broke down into hysterics again. She clutched at her stomach as she doubled over in the wheelchair. "I… I think… you have… some… wires crossed. Grow a pair?" She continued to chuckle and wheeze, having to wipe at her eyes.
"My brother can change… to grow a different pair… I can't—" She cut off, her laughter overcoming her again.
"It wasn't that funny," Sonia groused. "You know what I meant." Something in her tone sobered Shelly a bit. She looked at the android and realized she may have actually offended her. Scooting the wheelchair back a little, she was able to stand.
Sonia looked at her, wary for some reason. Shelly felt like crap, knowing she'd been rude, but Sonia was just a robot. Sure, she was incredibly lifelike, and she'd been at Shelly's side for the last two weeks as she recovered, appearing to care, but Shelly knew it was all programming and electricity. "I'm sorry, Sonia. I know I've been an ogre to deal with.
I didn't mean to offend you, I—" She was cut short as Sonia pulled her into a bear hug. "Are you sure you're an android?" she gasped as she tried to breathe. Sonia was acting too emotional. The second she finished asking the question, she was released from the hug.
Sonia blinked repeatedly as she looked at Shelly. Her brows knit together for a few seconds before she dropped her gaze down. "Something is wrong with my programming," she admitted and shuffled her feet.
"Ever since I entered your mind, something has been wrong with me. All my diagnostics come back clean, but my emotions have been stronger than my emotional subroutines can account for. I can't entirely turn off my emotions, either. I tried. I'm in charge of my body, but not my emotions. I can't figure out why." "Welcome to being a woman," Shelly muttered, then felt guilty again as Sonia's shoulders slumped further.
"Sorry. Do you think entering my mind messed you up somehow?" "Not really," Sonia said and turned away from Shelly.
"I've had to do that before while on missions, and it never affected me. Why should you be different?" "Why indeed?" Shelly tried not to feel insulted from the easy comment. She didn't think Sonia meant to be rude or condescending. In fact, why should Shelly be different? Just because they'd fooled around in her Mens Mundi?
"I was in my Mens Mundi at the time. Maybe that had something to do with it?" Sonia was quiet for a long time. Shelly placed her hand on the woman's shoulder, trying to comfort her, and wondering at the switch in their positions. Just a moment ago, it was Sonia trying to get Shelly out of her funk.
After a moment, Sonia placed her hand over Shelly's and gave it a gentle squeeze. "There you two are," Sheldon's voice boomed to them. "We were starting to worry about you." Shelly glared at her twin as she felt Sonia tense up under her hand. Of course he would come in and ruin the moment.
Sonia dropped her hand and stepped away. Shelly followed Sonia from the lobby without saying anything to her brother, and without sitting back in the pointless wheelchair. Sheldon still had that annoying golden glow around him. Outside she found her parents, Mandy, and Shlee waiting beside the Orange Bubble. There was also a massive crowd being held back by a security force. Cameras flashed and cheers erupted as she stepped into the afternoon sunlight.
She hadn't expected this. What was happening? Why were these people here? Her mom pulled her into a tight hug, almost matching the strength of Sonia's embrace a moment ago. She felt her father's strong arms encircle them both a moment later. "Glad to have you out and free again," Lyden said as she felt his love and warmth envelope her.
She hugged them back, feeling better than she had in some time. "Oh, sure!" Sheldon complained to Shelly. "They get hugs, but I get a cold shoulder." "Sheldon?" a female voice called out from the crowd.
She had long red hair, and a tight-fitting black miniskirt. "Sheldon Snow? Was that you at the club? I've been trying to talk to you! Sheldon! Please look at me!" "A new girlfriend?" Shelly couldn't help but tease her brother. "She doesn't even know your correct last name." "No, I don't think I know her," Sheldon looked confused.
"She seems to know you," Shlee teased him. "Or maybe she just wants to know you?" "Another broken heart left behind?" Mandy asked with a smirk right afterwards. "I honestly don't know who she is!" Sheldon glanced from them to the woman waving frantically at them. She was attractive, if dressed a little slutty, and seemed desperate to get past the police holding the crowd back.
Shelly enjoyed watching her brother grow flustered by the other two women. At the same time, she was glad that he was no longer keeping them at arm's length. It seemed the three had acquired a balance between them. For a moment she felt empty inside. Eldon had two beautiful women to replace Gloria, while she had no one to fill the hole Jessica left behind. Jealousy wormed its insidious way into her.
It wasn't fair! She'd never felt the need to have someone else in her life, but now that Jessica had abandoned her, she had no one. Her brother's girlfriends may have been forced on him, and she knew he still pined after Gloria, but at least he had girls that cared about him, and loved him.
Even Bridgette ended up with a new boyfriend in the form of Oberon, King of the Fairies. And now here was another attractive woman chasing after her brother. Why should he get all the love, and she get nothing?
"Her name is Megan Raquel Myers," Sonia informed them. "She is currently unemployed. She has no children. She is twenty-six years old. According to her last driver's license, she is five foot seven, and weighs a hundred and five pounds. In truth, she weighs closer to one-twenty. She has red hair and brown eyes.
She broke up with her boyfriend after kissing a stranger in a nightclub a couple months ago, according to social media. She—" "Thanks, National Registry," Sheldon complained, "but that tells me nothing. I still don't know who she is. Sounds like she's human, and I don't know many of them." "We should get out of here before this crowd grows any more unruly," Sonia turned back to face them.
She glared at Sheldon for a moment before taking Shelly's arm and heading for the car. The crowd roared again, but she tried to ignore them.
"I can walk on my own," Shelly tried to pull her arm away, but Sonia's grip was too strong. It didn't hurt, but Shelly didn't appreciate being treated like an invalid either. "Let go of me." "As soon as you're safely inside," Sonia told her. Shelly ground her teeth as she was forced into the Orange Bubble. As soon as she crossed the threshold, she shook Sonia from her and stomped to the back. Everyone else clambered in, but Shelly turned her back on them.
She was glad to be out of the hospital, but she couldn't stand seeing how Shlee and Mandy hung on her brother. Even seeing her mother waiting hand and foot on her father sickened her. Between the crowd outside and Sonia treating her like a porcelain doll, the laughter earlier was gone from her heart. "Your heart rate is elevated," Sonia stated behind Shelly. "Is there anything I can get for you?" "Why do you even care?" Shelly snapped, though she kept her voice low enough to not be heard by anyone with normal hearing.
"Don't you have some terrorists to kill, or the president to save?" She didn't receive an answer right away, and for a moment she thought Sonia had left her alone. So alone. When Sonia did answer, there was no doubting the anger behind the voice.
"I care, because I care. My current assignment is to make sure your family stays safe. That crowd out there idolizes your family right now, but that doesn't mean someone with ill intent might not be hiding among them.
I demanded this assignment. I refused to let anyone else take it. I thought that maybe you… you were happy for a moment in the lobby. I don't like seeing you like this. Do I need to tell you to grow a pair again?" Shelly had the feeling Sonia had wanted to say something else when she hesitated, but couldn't think what it might have been. Part of her appreciated Sonia taking time to talk to her, but part of her felt it was an intrusion. That latter part won out when something else she'd said struck her.
"So you only care about my safety because this is your mission? Well, I'm fine, okay? In here, I'm safe. There are very few creatures that could hurt us in this car. You can relax and leave me alone." Her voice rose as she spoke, but she didn't care. What did any of it matter? "Are you even listening to me?" Sonia gripped her shoulder and turned her torso around to face the android.
Shelly saw that everyone was watching them, but she didn't care anymore. She was used to not having any privacy. "I told you I care.
I demanded to be on this duty. I wanted to be… I wanted… I thought that you… Damn it! How do you humans deal with these out-of-control emotions?" "What are you talking about?" Shelly asked, seeing some inner struggle cross the android's face.
"What's wrong with you?" "According to my diagnostics?" Sonia scoffed. "Nothing! Every system is functioning optimally in normal parameters. When I shut off my emotional functions, they report as off, but I still feel. I feel!
I find my mind wandering at times. Considering the speed at which I think, do you know how annoying that is? Your mind might wander every few minutes, but mine wanders every other femtosecond. That's every one quadrillionth of a second. Thank goodness it doesn't hamper any of my non-automated systems. But do you want to know where my mind wanders?" Shelly opened her mouth to answer, but nothing came out.
She remembered Sonia being a cold robot, not this emotional wreck. She stared at the android, trying to come to terms with her behavior. "I think back to that time with you," Sonia informed her. "I think back to when I entered your mind, and we got intimate. I can give you the number of men and women I've been with.
I can even give you the amount of time I've spent having sex since I was first booted up, but that time with you was different. It changed me, somehow. Before, sex and intimacy were just a tool in my arsenal, to be used when needed. That was it. Now, I think about the way your lips felt as you kissed me.
I remember how your soft voice sounded as you moaned. I remember the scent of the air as you played with my breasts. The feel of your hair as it trailed along my body. I remember wanting to make you feel as good as you made me feel." "So, what then?" Shelly asked, feeling uncomfortable with everyone listening into such intimate details being spoken now.
Her cheeks were burning, but there was no hope of getting any privacy. "You lust after me? Sorry I was so good at it." "No, that's…" She trailed off as she shook her head in denial. "It's more than that. I think about the way you smile, and how fierce you get when standing up for what you believe in. I think about the way your eyes sparkle, or how your nose crinkles that certain way when you concentrate. Seeing you hurt in that hospital, hurt me." Shelly felt her cheeks burning hotter at Sonia's confession.
What was she thinking, saying all that? "Sheesh! You sound like you're in love." Sonia stared at her as all emotion drained from her face.
She didn't speak, just stared. "I mean, you can't be, right? Considering your job, falling in love would be a bad thing. Why would anyone program you for that? Sonia? Why are you staring at me like that? Say something!" "Yes, that's what I meant about your nose crinkling," Sonia's voice actually shook a bit as she spoke. Shelly straightened out her face, or tried to.
She'd never noticed her nose crinkle before. "Love was not part of my programing. I don't know what love is. I'm programmed to learn and adapt, but how do you learn a new emotion?" "You can't be in love with me," Shelly almost shouted. Her heart pounded in her chest as she tried to understand what was happening. "You don't know me. You don't know anything about me.
You can't be in love with me, because you're a robot. You're not real." "Ouch," Sonia flinched away from her. She looked back a moment later though, and met Shelly's gaze. She was shocked to see tears forming in the android's eyes.
"I already told you, I know you. I probably know you better than you know yourself. I have your file downloaded, and I know every detail in it. I've watched you as you recovered in the hospital. One night as you slept, I even composed a song to the beat of your snoring.
I'm not saying I love you. As you so bluntly pointed out, I'm just a robot. I'm not programmed for it. Would you like to hear the song?" "You sound more like a stalker, now," Shelly complained.
"And no, I don't want to hear it." What was happening? Sonia was acting like a love-sick teenager. What happened to the cold, calculating woman that helped save her from the Paladonic Knights?
Then something else struck her, and she wanted to laugh, and cry, and curl up into a ball. Hadn't she just been complaining about having no one? She felt all alone a bit ago, and now a woman was professing to care deeply about her, and she was rejecting her. But Sonia was a mechanical being. She wasn't a living person. "I'm sorry to intrude," Lyden broke in with hesitation, "but I may have an idea." He held Areth's statue in his hands as he looked between the two women.
Shelly looked around the car, remembering again that she wasn't alone with Sonia. Sheldon appeared to be arguing with his girlfriends, though they were hushed enough that she couldn't hear what was wrong. His golden glow shined, and it irritated her. Sheila was looking at her daughter with a worried glance that Shelly couldn't read. "What are you thinking, Dad?" Shelly asked after the silence dragged on.
"I think Sonia may have gained a soul," Lyden stated as though his statement made sense. But it couldn't. Rocks didn't have souls, though trees might. Sonia was a large moving metal rock, not a living thing. "I wasn't programmed for one," Sonia informed him.
"That's something for flesh and blood people to believe in. There has never been scientific evidence that a soul exists." "Yes there is," Shelly surprised herself by speaking up. Everyone looked at her, including her brother and his girlfriends.
She met her father's eyes, and after a moment he nodded for her to continue. Her lips turned down in a grimace, but she knew she was right. As she spoke, everything started to make sense. "Sonia, as you know, my father is a generator." She was still upset with herself for giving that secret away, but what was done, was done.
"When he is in his Mens Mundi, or… um… is with someone, he shares a portion of his soul with them, and takes part of theirs into himself. It makes him dangerous to some people, because when he does that, they become loyal to him. If he chose, he could create an army of fanatic followers, and overthrow any government. With time, he could even turn any enemy into a staunch ally. He doesn't do it through mind control, or removing their will.
A person remains who they are, and wouldn't do anything they really didn't want to, but they find that they start to care about him." She looked at her mom, remembering stories about how she met Lyden Snow. Sheila Lance used to be a hardnosed, and very strict boss.
One day her dad snapped and all but raped her. The story wasn't told that way from Lyden's view, but Sheila had told her a few more details than she ever wanted to know.
It changed her mom. Sheila Lance found that she preferred to be subservient. She demanded to be Lyden's slave after that, and had served him faithfully ever since. There was love between them that no one who knew them could deny. Shelly wondered on more than one occasion if it would have been the same if Lyden hadn't been a generator. Lyden didn't change who a person was, but he did affect them.
"That's only magic. That doesn't prove a soul," Sonia claimed. "No humans believed in magic, until after the Chaos War," Lyden replied. "I didn't believe in magic, until Angela found me.
It still took me awhile to accept it. It wasn't until after I wrecked my car, and was nursed back to health, and then taken to the Shadow World that I started to accept that magic might be real." "Magic doesn't equal a soul, though," Sonia continued to argue. "If a fireball were cast at me, it'd still cause my systems damage." "But what about magic that's more subtle?" Sheila cut in. "I've seen what changes my master's magic can create.
It's not flashy like a fireball, but still powerful." "That's different," Sonia refused to give up. "They're not the same. The fact that magic exists, doesn't prove the existence of a soul." Lyden held up the statue of Areth. "Yes it does. When a fairy loses its virginity, their entire soul is transferred to whoever takes their maidenhead. This ties them together.
A fairy can't be far from their soul, or she will die. The demon Marchosias once tried to force me and Areth to be tied together in this way. He put us both in an imaginary world, and made me fight to free her, or die. We couldn't leave that world until I took Areth's virginity.
Except that he didn't know that we had already swapped out portions of our souls via other means. When I took her maidenhead, I was able to give her a portion of her soul back, even as I took everything she had at that moment.
It meant that Areth could survive being away from me. It also proved to me that souls exist. The Orange Bubble would be another example, sharing a portion of Angela's soul. Even if it didn't, remember that the Pillars of Light and Dark are the proverbial God and Devil. They collect the souls of those that die and believe in them." Sonia's eyes looked from Lyden, to the statue, back up, and then opened wide as she turned to Shelly.
Without words, Shelly knew what was going through her electronic brain. "You gained a soul, Sonia. Your diagnostics can't check for it, so they come back clean. It would explain why you can't turn off your emotions. You may be mechanical, but you're also alive.
Now you're a ghost driving a meat-covered skeleton made of stardust. Um… except for the meat part." "But… how did I get one?" Sonia shook her head. "Your father exchanges them, but I didn't enter his Mens Mundi, and I didn't have anything to exchange with you." "That just means I gave you a portion of mine, and it grew to be your own over the last two weeks," Shelly replied, starting to feel sick.
"That might also explain why you're focused on me. It was my soul, so you gravitated to me. You don't really love me. Your soul just feels the connection to mine." "No," Sonia stated almost immediately.
"I've run everything you've said against every argument I have. With all the information you've given me, I have to admit the possibility I have a soul now, but your assessment of why I feel for you is invalid.
When we copulated in your Mens Mundi, it felt better than anything my circuits have ever felt before. At the time, I associated it to me being linked directly to your brain. I assumed it was some form of feedback. I have run simulations, both physical and in my software. Nothing has felt as good as that time with you." "Simulations? Do you mean you masturbated?" Sheldon asked with too much honesty. Mandy and Shlee both smacked his chest. "What? It's a valid question.
Masturbating never feels as good as the real thing." "I compensated for that in my calculations," she informed him with a touch of acid. "May I speak again, Master?" Sheila asked, though she was staring at Mandy.
"Always," Lyden smiled at her. "There is an easy test to see if she has a soul, besides her emotional state," Sheila informed them. Some of her older self showed as she faced them with confidence.
"There is?" Shelly asked. "All Sonia has to do is try to lie." Sheila nodded to Mandy, and Shelly understood. By the look on her brother's face, he was lost. "When we first met Sonia, Mandy's effect of forcing those around her to speak the truth didn't influence her. I surmise that it was because Sonia didn't have a soul at that time. If she does now, then she won't be able to tell a lie while Mandy is around." Before anyone else could speak, Sonia intoned, "I'm a hot sex-bot that is also an undercover agent for the United States government." She paused for a moment before a frown marred her face.
"That wasn't what I'd meant to say." Sheldon chuckled, and Shlee covered her mouth, but everyone else kept a straight face. Shelly didn't know how to feel. On the one hand, she was no longer alone, as she'd fretted about, but on the other, she didn't know how to feel about the android.
She wasn't ready to jump into another relationship. Her brother might be able to do it, but not her. "What does this mean for you?" Shelly asked. Sonia remained silent for a long time. Considering how fast her brain functioned, it must have been an eternity to her. After a large pause, she blinked and shook her head. "I need to turn myself in and be dismantled." "Dismantled? You mean you need to kill yourself?" Sheldon spat. "What the fuck?" "Eldon!" their dad snapped. "No, Dad," he replied but refused to look at Lyden.
"That's not right, and you know it. She can't throw her life away just because she has a soul now." "I'm no longer fully mission capable," Sonia informed them. Shelly looked at her, just as aghast as her brother. "So you have to die?" Shelly asked as her heart beat even faster. How could her heart pound so hard, and yet start to feel so empty? "Not die," she shook her head with a sad smile. "I'm not alive. I should be decommissioned. Another one of me can be built and put in my place." "No," Shelly surprised herself as she got up from the bed and confronted the woman.
"Nuh-uh. That's not right. You have a soul, so you can die. What makes you think you're no longer able to complete your mission?" Sonia smiled and a tear leaked from one eye. "It makes me happy that you care, but the point is moot. With a soul, my emotions are no longer under my control. Some of the things I've had to do required that I turn off my emotions.
Part of my primary duties required that I seduce men and women to gain intelligence, or access to restricted areas. I can't do that now, because I care for you, and how that may hurt you. I can't emotionlessly kill some dirtbag, because I'll worry that he might have a family. I'm no longer fully capable of performing my missions as I was programmed.
My purpose, what I was created to do, is now invalid. I am invalid. My worth is—" "Is more than just your job," Shelly interrupted.
"I don't care if you can't do what you used to. There is still so much you can do. You're still a valuable person, Sonia. As far as I'm concerned, you can now do more. You can make judgement calls you couldn't before. You can care where you couldn't before." "I can also hurt," Sonia stated, meeting Shelly's eyes.
Shelly had to look away. Her stomach turned, knowing that she was causing that pain in the other woman, but there was little she could do. She still hurt from Jessica's betrayal, and didn't want to commit to something else right away. She knew rebound relationships were a terrible idea. She thought and chose her next words carefully. "I'm not telling you I don't care for you, Sonia." She looked back up to meet the android's sad, steady gaze.
"I'm hurt right now also.
I understand the desire to be able to turn off my emotions. There's a part of me that wants to welcome you with open arms, but that wouldn't be fair to you. I welcome your friendship, and I hope you stay with us. I don't want you to turn yourself in. Stay with us.
You can be a great asset, but more than that, I need a friend. Right now, that's all I need. I won't promise that it will become more.
I can't. But if you're—" This time Sonia cut Shelly off as she was pulled into a powerful embrace. Shelly hugged her back, unsure if it was a good idea, but the simple feeling of being held warmed her inside, and for just a moment she didn't feel as lonely, or empty.
"I wish you would have said that a few minutes ago," Sonia's voice sounded sad and Shelly felt cold enter the pit of her stomach. "I've already relayed the request in and been accepted. I'll need to be dropped off so I can turn—" "No!" Shelly shouted and pulled away. "No, I won't allow it. Damn it, Sonia. Didn't you listen to anything I said?" "You shouldn't swear," Sonia gave her a soft smile that did nothing to warm Shelly. "Your father doesn't like it." Shelly ground her teeth, but didn't respond to that statement.
"Send a message back. Tell them it was a mistake. You're not broken." Sonia glanced at Mandy, then turned back to Shelly. "But I am broken. I can't lie right now, remember?" "And I said you weren't," Shelly retorted. "You can't say anything you believe to be a lie. That's not the same thing as stating absolute truth." "Can you retract that order?" Lyden interjected. "It is already above my level," Sonia stated. "The directive has been sent to me to return.
It is hard coded into my programming. I can't disobey it." "You have to," Shelly demanded. "Thank you, Shelly. It means a lot that you care." Sonia stepped back up to her, arms outstretched, but Shelly couldn't handle it. She turned away and walked to the side of the car, away from her. No one looked at her, but she was okay with that. Once again she was alone. It felt like years ago, though it had only been a couple months, but she remembered being okay with being alone.
She fought next to her brother and saved lives. Things were so much simpler then, before Jessica stepped into their lives and ruined everything. Before Sonia grew attached to her, and now she was losing that fledgling friendship. Despite herself, Shelly felt it was more than a friendship, though not what she'd felt for Jessica. She was alone, and it hurt.
Her father and mother returned to the front of the car, Sheldon was on his phone, while his girlfriends watched him anxiously. She could feel Sonia's eyes on her back, but she couldn't face the android. Why couldn't Sonia understand that she was important? Not just as a person, but as a member of this team. She had skills and access to information that none of the rest of them possessed.
"I understand," Sheldon said with a calm voice. She felt her anger rise at the sound of his voice. How could he stay so calm in this situation? Why was he on the phone? Why couldn't just one thing go in her favor? Just once! "Is that yet another girlfriend you're on the phone with?" Shelly demanded of her brother. She couldn't handle it anymore. She felt ready to burst with the injustice of it all. "Sonia is standing there, talking about committing suicide—suicide—and you're on the phone.
I heard that female voice on the other end. What? Having two women here to love and care for you isn't enough? You've got to call another one? You even had that hot redhead calling for you from that crowd.
I always knew you were a bit cocky, but I never thought you were this self-centered!" She saw her words strike deep as a pained expression crossed his face. Serves him right! she thought vindictively. "Shelly—" Mandy laid one of her four hands on his shoulder, and held two others out to her, pleading. "What, Four-Arms?" Shelly demanded of her. "You got something you want to say?
You know your love for him isn't real, right? It was forced upon you by Gloria. Same thing with Shlee! Neither of you really love him. You just think you do. You'd both be better off leaving our family alone. We're nothing but trouble.
Lisa died before we were born, now Becky and Areth are gone as well. Sonia's off to commit suicide because her programming won't allow her to live for herself." Tears streamed from her eyes as she vented, but she didn't care. The pressure built inside her, demanding to be let out, and this was the only way she could relieve the stress. "At least Gloria wised up and left him, before something bad could happen to her.
Obviously Jessica saw it, too, or she—" She choked up a bit, mentioning that name out loud. "Shelly Lisa Lance!" Sheila's voice snapped in the air like a whip, using her full name. The tone and rebuke in it were so sharp, she almost wondered for a moment if she might be bleeding. It didn't fill that empty spot in her, or assuage her pain and grief however. Instead, it offered her another target. "Don't start with me, Mom," she sneered.
"Just drop back to your knees like a decent slave to your master. Or maybe you should run too, before it's too late. Dad has enough wives to take care of him. Those that aren't dropping like flies. Run, Mom, before it becomes too late for you too." Shelly had never seen her mom move so fast before. In the time it took her to blink, Shelly felt pain blossom across the side of her face and found she was laying on the floor, head ringing from the unseen, but powerful slap.
Sonia dropped next to her, to comfort her, and she was in too much shock to even think of pushing her away. Sheila Lance had never struck her children like that. She looked up and saw her father with one hand on Sheila's shoulder, but his eyes were on her. Those eyes were angry in a way that made her want to crawl into the deepest darkest hole and never come out.
"We understand you're hurting," Lyden stated in an even voice that was all the scarier for the rage burning behind his eyes. "I also accept that for the moment, you believe what you're saying. But you might want to get your facts straight. I can't speak for Shlee or Mandy, but I can speak for Lisa, Areth, and Becky.
Lisa's and Becky's deaths were tragic and unnecessary. Lisa made perfectly clear before her death that she didn't regret a moment between us. I've talked with all of my wives numerous times over the years, and they all know what being with me entails.
It's not the safest life, but we love each other. And if you think for a moment, that I could do without one of my loves, just because I have others, then you have no idea who I am. I am nothing without them. Every single one is a part of me.
Not because I'm a generator, but because they have become a part of my heart. Even Areth, before… before she sacrificed herself for your brother. I know I'm not the least bit worthy of any one of them, but I can't give up a single one.
I love them all. I love them still, even those we've lost. I will not have you speak ill of any of them." Tears sprouted from her father's eyes, filling Shelly with shame from her outburst.
She opened her mouth to apologize, but no words formed. What could she say? She'd meant what she'd said, even if she felt sorry for it now. It was Shlee that filled the silence.
"After the, um, orgy in here when Gloria left us, Mandy and I had a long talk. The wolf in me had to know where each of us stood in the relationship. Mandy made it clear that she'd never stopped loving your brother." She saw Mandy nod in agreement. "And yes, I didn't fall in love with your brother naturally. I liked him, and maybe could have fallen for him on my own, but that doesn't change how I feel now.
Whether it was natural, or a magic spell, I still love him. Given the choice, I wouldn't have it removed. I love him, and I'm happy to love him." "What about—?" she started to ask, but hesitated. "Dimitri, my fiancée?" She asked with a wry twist of her lips. "We're going to work that out after we talk to the Pillar of Fire.
I love him as well. Eldon understands and accepts that. Dimitri is a bit of the jealous type, but I hope we can get him to understand." The whole time everyone else spoke, Sheldon remained on the phone. He hung up now, and looked at Sonia. "You should get an update soon." Sonia's gasp a split moment later proved his words. "What have you done?" Shelly demanded as Sonia's body stiffened. Shelly was still in her lap after her mother's strike, but the woman had become hard as stone.
She wriggled free of the rigid arms, but Sonia started to tip over. The android didn't move to brace herself, so Shelly tried to hold her upright. While Shelly was no wimp, she wasn't strong enough to support the robot by herself and carefully laid her back on the floor. The Android's joints were locked and rigid, looking awkward as she lay on her side, body in a seated position. "What did you do?" "I called Martha," he said in a soft voice.
"Why? So she could be killed remotely?" she cried. "Shelly, I swear to the Pillars&hellip." He stopped and shook his head before pinching the bridge of his nose. "I know you're hurting, but like Dad said, you need to start getting your facts straight, and stop jumping to conclusions.
Sonia may have given me the cold shoulder, but she fought next to us when we went to save you. She is important to me also. Do you really think I would want her harmed?" She opened her mouth to snap back at him, but didn't have an answer.
He was a bit cocky, sure, but he was never cruel. She was saved from any further arguments as Sonia relaxed and straightened out, then sat upright. Her eyes remained closed as everyone stared at her. "S-Sonia?" Shelly stuttered and slowly reached a hand out to her.
The android's head turned at the sound of Shelly's voice. She pulled her hand back, unsure of what was happening. "Update complete&hellip. Curious. My infrared and standard spectrum vision seem to be disabled, but my x-ray vision is working fine." Sonia turned her head as though looking around the car, but her eyes were still closed. "Um… your eyes are closed," Shelly offered, trying to be helpful. "Oh!" Sonia jerked as she opened her eyes and looked around.
"Curious. My core programming has changed. I still have access to the Department of Defense records, but it's restricted now." Her brows knit together in thought.
A second later she smiled at Sheldon. "You did this for me?" "I hope you don't mind," he said. "What?" Shelly wanted to know. "What's going on?" Shlee stepped forward and helped Sonia to her feet.
Shelly stood as well. "Sonia stated that her orders to return and be dismantled were above her level, so your brother went to the top.
He explained everything to the President, and Martha agreed. Sonia won't be terminated." Shlee sounded ecstatic with the news. Considering the geek that she was, she probably couldn't bear to have something as technologically advanced as Sonia go to waste. "You… You got me fired&hellip." The smile was still on Sonia's lips, but her eyes took on a different light.
"Yeah, I… wait… What?" Sheldon spluttered for a second. "That wasn't the plan. She was just supposed to remove the order to have you return for decommission. She wasn't supposed to fire you." "I no longer officially work for the US government," Sonia stated in a tone that was impossible to read any emotion from.
She turned to face Lyden and gave him a crisp salute. "I work for you, now, Ambassador Snow. My prime directive is to keep you and your family alive at all costs. I am to follow your orders explicitly, unless they conflict with the United States, their allies, or are illegal.
Outside of that order, I am free to do as I please, as long as it doesn't cause harm to any innocent civilians. I still have some access to DOD files and data, but the highly classified or sensitive information has been blocked to me." "How do you feel about that?" Lyden asked.
His voice was firm, but his eyes betrayed his uncertainty. "I have a purpose and a goal," she replied. Shelly wished she would look at her, but she kept her eyes on Shelly's father. "I will live. As long as it is your will, I will do everything in my power to keep your family safe. Based on the data I have of you and your family, my emotions will not be a hindrance to performing my duties." Lyden looked at his daughter, but Shelly couldn't look away from Sonia.
Had her reprogramming removed her soul? Could it have been that easy? "Then my first order to you is to follow my children's orders as you would mine, as long as they don't conflict. In the case of opposing orders, mine supersede all others. Outside of that, I leave it to your better judgement. Barring any orders, you are free to act in any way that you feel would bring honor or credit to yourself, or my family.
Is that acceptable?" "Don't get any ideas," Mandy hissed at Sheldon. "You two are more than enough," Sheldon whispered back. That was enough to earn him a soft kiss from both, but Shelly focused on Sonia. Why wouldn't Sonia look at her? Was she angry? Was she hurt? As if Shelly couldn't feel any lower, her heart felt heavier than ever.
Some of her emotions must have registered on her face, as her father gave her a sympathetic look. "My son has two personal bodyguards, and I have my wives, but Shelly is currently alone. As long as she has no objections, I would have you guard her personally." Lyden paused to draw in a breath. "Do you have any problems with that order?" "No, Sir," Sonia snapped another salute.
Shelly couldn't hear any emotion in her voice, or read anything on her face as she turned and walked back to Shelly. "What are your orders, Ma'am?" Shelly's heart thundered in her chest, almost drowning out everything else. She had to know. Whether she returned the feelings or not, she had to know if Sonia still felt the same about her.
She didn't know which way she preferred. "I want you to tell me I have two noses, and twenty-four toes," Shelly commanded her. Sonia opened her mouth, but only garbage noise came out.
After a second she grimaced. "If I cross my eyes, you have two noses, but I cannot think of a way to honestly state you have that many toes. I still cannot lie while around Mandy.
I suspect you were testing for my soul, and it would appear I still possess one. If you truly wanted to know how I feel about you, then please ask." Shelly didn't know what to say. She didn't know what to feel.
Her emotions were on a rollercoaster, while Sonia sounded formal and emotionless. To make matters worse, she didn't even know if she wanted off that rollercoaster.
It was nice to feel wanted, even if she couldn't return the feelings. On the other hand, she was tired of feeling hurt and betrayed. She wanted to be cared for, but was afraid to open up and care for someone else. In short, she was a mess. "I see…" Sonia said after a few seconds of awkward silence. She bit her bottom lip before adding, "Perhaps you don't want me at your side. If you would prefer, I can ask your father to put me to use elsewhere?" "No!" Shelly shouted and held out her hand.
She hadn't expected such a fierce reaction, and pulled her hand back almost immediately. She took a steadying breath and held her rebellious hand to her chest.
"I mean… It makes sense for you and me to work together. I'm not very good on my own, and you're skilled in ways I probably can't even imagine. And… And… I really need to have someone who wants me around." The last part was ripped from her throat against her will, but she knew it was the truth.
"You have that with your family," Sonia informed her in an even tone. Shelly still wasn't sure if the android's emotions were going out of control, or if her update had allowed her to master them, but she seemed calm and collected. Dispassionate, almost. "Not.… Not like that," Shelly admitted with a grimace before rushing on. "I mean, I love them, and I know they'd have my back, but… there is an emptiness inside that you help fill. At least a little.
I'm not saying I care for you the way you care—cared?—for me, but I feel better having you around." Sonia met her eyes for a long while.
Shelly wished she could read minds, but even if she could, she doubted she could keep up with the speed at which the robot could think. Considering that speed, and the amount of time it took for her to think, she must have been deep in thought. "Without my aid, I calculate your chances of survival to be less than twenty percent." She stated as though discussing what to have on her toast. "That is unacceptable. With my aid, I calculate the chances of us having a successful relationship to be less than twenty-five percent.
However, your chances of survival increase to over eighty percent. My emotions are affecting my logic, but I cannot allow any harm to come to you, if it can be avoided.
If you do not object to my accompanying you, I will do all in my power to ensure you survive." Shelly couldn't stop herself from stepping forward and pulling Sonia into a hug. "And I will do the same for you," she promised the woman. "I can't promise a relationship, but I can promise a friendship." "Wow," she heard her brother mutter, "even other women and robots can be friend-zoned.
Ouch! That hurt." Shelly didn't know which of his girlfriends caused him pain, but she sent them a mental thanks. "I just thought of a possible complication with our destination," Shlee piped up as Shelly pulled away from Sonia.
She reached down and gripped the android's hand and offered her a smile before turning to the werewolf. "Technology works in the Shadow World, but there are no data connections, or cell service, or anything like that there.
Will you be able to function without that kind of connectivity, Sonia?" She nodded immediately. "I have had to go deep undercover in the past, and turned off all external access. My functionality is reduced, but I am able to perform autonomously." "What about power and recharging?" Shlee asked next, a hungry gleam in her eyes.
"Are you still trying to find out all my specs?" Sonia asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Well, yeah! Crap, I didn't mean to admit that." Everyone chuckled at her expense for a moment before she added, "But it's an important question also." "I have a battery that will run for at least two weeks on a full charge.
A month if I'm conservative with my activities," Sonia offered her. "I also have numerous ways to keep myself fully charged. The likelihood of me slowing us down to recharge is less than .001 percent." "Uh-huh.
That's so cool. And what do you use to cool your system?" Shlee pressed. "I would like to tell you that I use the blood of nosy werewolf reporters, but that would be a lie," Sonia grinned. "Dang it," Shlee muttered with a glance at Lyden. "I was hoping that Mandy could get the truth out of her." "I am able to think of ways of speaking the truth, which do not give away information," Sonia informed her.
"I cannot lie, but that does not mean I need to embarrass myself, either." "I'm just curious," Shlee grimaced. "I can't help it. It's just the geek in me." "Such questions are like if I were to ask you the color of your panties, or your bra size," Sonia informed her.
"They are personal to me." "Pink with lacy frills, and I prefer not to wear a bra. When I do, they're C-cups," Shlee stated with a wolfish grin. Mandy elbowed her, and she lost the grin. "Oh, all right, I understand. It's just… Imagine that you had something in front of you that you really wanted, but it was just out of reach.
Someone is there who could give it to you, but they won't. I know I'm being rude in asking, but I'm just so curious." Sonia glanced at Shelly for a moment, but didn't let go of her hand. "I also understand," she said. "However, please understand that most of my technology is classified. My new directives haven't released me from stopping classified spillage." "I see," Shlee dropped her head and shuffled her feet. "And what programming language are your new directives in?" "Shlee…" Sheldon's voice rebuked her even as his hand gripped her shoulder and pulled her back.
"When we have time, I'll tell you what I can," Sonia offered in a conciliatory tone. The way Shlee lit up, it felt like Christmas for a moment.
Shelly had met Santa Claus, and understood why he did what he did for those that still believed in him. The joy on Shlee's face was almost childlike. "Yeah, speaking of which, Dad, where are we going?" Shelly asked, as she tried to pull herself back together. She hadn't even thought about what the plan was when they left the hospital, but the Orange Bubble travelled at frightening speeds when it wanted to.
It usually only took a few minutes to reach their destination, but they'd been in the car for some time now. "Egypt," Lyden stated, and that was all that needed to be said about their destination. There was only one reason to go to Egypt, and that was for the only portal that led directly into Angela's stronghold. "I wish I could have given you more time to relax after leaving the hospital, but I knew you would want to be there when we ask the Pillar of Fire about Jessica." The fact that he'd called Angela by her title sent a clear message.
She may have been an ally in the past, but keeping the existence of a daughter from him had hurt him deeply. Perhaps deep enough that the wound could never be healed.
* * * * Jessica spat in frustration. "What's the matter? Don't you know how to lick a pussy, Pussy?" Erwin Schrödinger glared up at her, but he didn't stop what he was doing. His black furry ears twitched, even as his rough tongue lapped at her swollen lips. He couldn't disobey her. Whenever she sent someone to that other place, they always returned as her slave, willing or otherwise.
Erwin was of the latter type. He hated and despised her, but her word was absolute. "Do I need to call that demon back and show you how it's done?" Her question was a bluff, but he couldn't know that. Only two people had ever resisted her will after being captured, and Marchosias was one of them.
He'd almost managed to strangle her before she could banish him again. "Perhaps I'll have him demonstrate on you?" Schrödinger redoubled his efforts after that threat. It almost felt nice. Almost. What he lacked in skill, he also lacked in enthusiasm. She wished Shelly were there.
Now that was a woman who knew how to please. Jessica let her mind wander, remembering being with her girlfriend. Her heart ached, recalling how she'd been tricked into revealing her secret. She'd loved Shelly, but knew that after she found out who Jessica's mother was, there wasn't a chance of them being together. She'd even had feelings for Eldon, though not as strong. There was something about his cocky attitude, tinged with his humor that appealed to her.
Now both were out of her reach, and she had no one to take care of her sexual urges. Well, no one that was skilled at it and she could safely use. "Damn it," she swore and kicked the cat-man away from her. "Maybe you can fuck better than you can eat pussy. Take off your pants. Let's see what you have to work with." He jumped to obey, though he continued to glare at her. "Is this what you wanted to see, slut?" he demanded as he shoved his pants down to his ankles.
She didn't even try to stifle a laugh. "That looks more like an oversized clit than a cock," she mocked him. "Oh well. I guess if you have nothing better to offer, I'll have to take it. Lie down and hold your hands to the side." Once he'd complied, she stood up from her chair, completely nude, and straddled his waist. Despite his distaste for her, he was rock hard. He wasn't as small as she'd teased him to be, but after taking Eldon's massive dong, Schrödinger might as well be a tiny nail compared to his jackhammer.
He slipped easily into her canal. She was wet inside, more from her frustrated sex drive than from him. She heard him moan at the connection, and couldn't help but smirk. He may hate her, but most men were alike. Put their cocks into a nice wet pussy, and they were yours, magic powers or not. She rocked her hips back and forth, enjoying the feeling of her clit rubbing against the soft fur above his crotch, and the way his cock rubbed against her inner wall.
She still felt empty. It wasn't enough. She needed more, but he wasn't even trying. "Play with my perfect breasts," she ordered him and leaned forward. "No, softer. That's it. Much better. Now take one in your mouth, but no biting! Yes, that feels nice. About time we found something you're good at using your tongue for." She continued to rock back and forth, listening to him slobber on her unmatched chest, and the sound of his solid cock squishing in and out of her cunt.
She closed her eyes and tried to pretend it was Eldon under her. He suddenly felt bigger inside her, though not as big as the man she wished he was. She opened her eyes and looked down, but he shrank just as fast. "I, ungh, told you I was bigger, ah, as a man," he panted as he released her breast. "When no one is looking, I revert back." "Shut up and keep sucking," she ordered him, and pulled him back to his duty. She closed her eyes again, and almost moaned at feeling him grow once more.
It's not enough. I'm desperate to cum, she thought. It wouldn't be so bad if I could get myself off, but I have to rely on someone else for that. she hated that part of her curse with a passion. While using one hand to hold Schrödinger to her tit, she spit on her other hand before reaching back and slipping two fingers into her tight rectum.
Once again, her pleasure increased as two of her holes had something slipping in and out, but she got no closer to climax. She brought her feet under her, and started lifting her hips up and slamming them back down.
He grunted into her teat with every pound, but he stayed hard and sucked harder. She slipped a third finger into her backdoor, relishing the way it stretched her sphincter. "That's it, fuck me," she grunted between lifting and dropping back onto him. "Fuck me hard and make me cum." He obeyed, matching her pace with his hips. She slipped her fourth finger into herself, and then her thumb. A couple of sloppy slappings later, she had her whole fist in her bum, and felt herself climbing to her goal.
She was about to cum! It'd been so long, but she was so close! It wouldn't be a big one, but it would be something.
Animal grunts and groans were escaping them as she rode him for all they were worth. Erwin's body locked up beneath her, and he grunted into her breast as she felt his semen coat the insides of her womb.
"No!" she cried out in frustrated anguish. "I was so close! Couldn't you last even thirty more seconds you worthless piece of shit?" She gripped his head and slammed him hard against the ground.
His eyes rolled back in his head as the blow knocked him unconscious. Frustrated, angry, and still feeling horny, but empty in her heart, she stood up and walked away. He was under strict orders not to abandon her or run away, so she wasn't worried about leaving him alone for a moment.
His seed dripped down her leg onto the carpet of the room she was using, but she ignored it. Would nothing ever go right in her favor again? Soon they will, the other voice in her head told her. Soon we will kill another Pillar, and this world will weaken, crumbling back into the real one. Then we can be separated, and you can have all that your heart desires. Tears dripped from her cheeks as she looked out over Gaia's city.
She wanted freedom from the other voice. She wanted to have her heart fulfilled again. She was sick of feeling so empty inside. She wanted so much, and would do whatever it took to get it. Even if it meant destroying the world her mother protected.
==================== From the Author ==================== *REAL* comments below are ALWAYS welcome. Please let me, or Garbonzo607 know how we're doing on this story. Chapter 17 is already available on the blog.