Ok, I changed my mind.
Wow! This story was – WHEW! I hope you enjoy the end of our adventure with HART as much as I did. See you next time!
“So you’re saying,” ventured the technician that was interviewing me, “that this is the extent of your data dump. This is the complete story of what happened?” He sounded skeptical. Had I not personally reviewed the contents of my own memory bank, I may have been a bit skeptical myself.
“That is correct. There is nothing else in my files until I was reconnected in the lab and saw you.” I attempted a smile as I muttered “Not that it was a welcoming sight.”
“Pardon?” Mr. Skeptical quizzed me with a raised eyebrow,
“Nothing useful.” I adjusted the heavy black frames on my face. I was allowed to procure another pair of shades to hide my disturbing orbs before the interrogation began. I still am not entirely sure what Cassius did to me in that room; as a result, I am in permanent hunting mode.
“More importantly, X75234PLE16 -”
“My name is HART. Please use it. Sir.”
“That is not your name, that is your designation.” Disbelief oozed from Mr. Skeptical’s pores. I guessed that he was wondering how I, a mere machine, could offer an opinion.
“I rather like it, and prefer it to my model number. Please remember that in the future.”
Yep. Whatever Cassius did, he made my initial personality much, much worse than before.
“Fine. HART. Where is the chip?”
“The main chip in Cassius’s head. We recovered his body. The lights are on, but there’s no one home.”
“Please clarify that statement,” I demanded in what I hoped was a polite tone.
“He’s saying that even though Cassius was breathing, all the data is missing.” This was from Captain Alton.
“Sir!” I tried to stand, but the wires connecting me to the labs computers prevented me from doing so. “I had no idea that you were present.”
Alton motioned for me to remain seated. I complied.
“All the hardware is intact. However, several circuits are burned out, and the main chip that we need is missing.”
“Are you implying that I failed my mission?”
“No,” the older man said gently. “You did what you were told to do. You lead us to Cassius, breathing, with his head intact. You took some heavy damage in doing that, as did the soldiers that were sent to escort you.”
“Ah, Shane and McRidge.” The two humans had completely slipped my mind. I neglected to process how that was possible. “How are they?”
“Shane will be fine. He had a minor seizure due to the electromag waves that were floating around, Of course, that knife wound that you gave him was also minor. He is expected to fully recover. McRidge, on the other hand, is still unconscious.”
“I offer you my sincerest apologies, Captain Alton, sir. I was responsible from them, and I allowed them to be taken and harmed.”
The technician, Mr. Skeptical, snorted. “Not like I’ll believe the words of a program unless I wrote it myself.”
I rose from my seat once again, this time disconnecting several of the wires. I heard the monitors buzz as the signals were lost. Reaching up, I yanked the remaining cords free, and tossed them to the floor. I could see the guards posted on the other side of the glass tense. A few of them reached for the electromag guns at their sides.
“HART, calm down,” the captain requested.
“Calm down, you say? I am being accused of deliberately placing those humans in the way of harm. I am being accused of faking my own data and stealing a chip that could affect the security of our country. Calm down, you say, sir?” I could feel the agitation rising. Unfortunately, it was a new feeling.
I am a machine. I have no feelings, other than the ones that I have copied and the ones that came pre-installed. I tried access my data bank in order to retrieve more information about my sudden mood swing, and ran into a wall.
A static wall surround by white noise and blanks spots.
I knew that wall.
“HART,” said technician mockingly, “I need you to be seated. I’m not finished running the diagnostic tests on you.”
“Screw you,” I growled. “I’m no one’s guinea pig! What do you think a life is?” Oh. Shit.
Captain Alton laid his hand on my shoulder and I smacked it away. With that action, a group of five nervous guards rushed through the now open door and crept toward me. Snarling, I lifted Mr. Skeptical’s desk, forcing the monitors and various pieces of equipment to crash to the floor, and heaved the metal slab in the direction of the encroaching humans.
“GRAB THAT THING! SHUT IT DOWN! KILL IT!” came the cries from the remaining people. I called up the floor plan of Jus Com and decided that the quickest way out would be through the windows. The lab was located on the fourth floor of the complex, which meant that landing on my feet and/or sustaining minimal damage would be difficult.
But worth it!
With a growing desire to be free, I ran at the wide windows with full speed. Smashing through the glass, I hung in the air for a brief moment, just long enough to wonder what the hell was going on, and then fell to the ground.
Tucking in my legs, I slammed into the ground, shoulder first. I bounced and rolled for a few feet and then stopped. Blinking, I ran a quick check on myself. I seemed to be in working condition. My arm was a bit cracked, but it was nothing that a good mechanic could not fix. Still, I had no time to waste lamenting the destruction of such a great arm; I could see soldiers pouring out of Jus Com, searching for me.
“GET HER!” went the cry of the humans. Groaning, I lurched to my feet and headed for the parking unit. A heat sig check informed me that getting a TU would be close to impossible. I changed direction and headed away from Jus Com. Turning a corner and running several blocks, I saw my chance. There was an empty TU parked on the street.
The sounds of the soldiers grew faint. It seems that I had not been followed. Which, once again, should have been impossible, unless my tracking code was scrambled. I approached the TU with something akin to trepidation.
Another impossibility in a long line of impossibilities.
I wrenched the door open and slid into the driver seat. I analyzed the structure of the vehicle’s computer system and managed to hack into it. Starting the car, I wondered how I knew that. No matter. I set the command to “drive” and pulled away from the curb.
“I told you, my HART. We WILL be together.”
“Cassius? Great. Now I’m hearing things.”
“Don’t you wonder what happened after I shot you? Or rather, when I first attacked you?”
“I am very certain that if you wanted me to know, you would tell me,” I said to the voice in my head.
“Then watch.” Images came, fast and hard. Information flooded my systems; an overload seemed imminent. Had I a need to breathe, I would have hyperventilated.
“You – in me – you – you -” I sputtered when the show was over.
“From now on, my HART, I will always be with you. I will protect you.”
I flipped down the visor on the ceiling and revealed the little mirror attached to it. Reaching up to my face, I slid my shades down to the edge of my nose. There, in the center my left orb, was a glittering object that had not been there previously.
I now knew where the famous missing chip was.
I smiled. “Of course, Cassius. Of course.”
If you enjoyed HARTbreak, you might also enjoy HART of Darkness