by David Kitson
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When Ex-DEMON pilot Jon Carlson meets beautiful humanitarian Rachel, it’s a match made in HEAVEN. Literally, because Rachel’s an ANGEL. She’s also an AI controlled android of immense power and capability. As Jon finds himself drawn into the world of these enigmatic creations of mankind, he unknowingly becomes involved in a program to create autonomous superweapons intended to fight the next war.
Now was time for me to try out my well-rehearsed chivalry. They say it’s dead, but the attitude works.
‘No, you were trying to help me. I really should have been sedated back there, and I know it. I’d probably be all right by now and not have to deal with the muscular problems later if I’d just taken a little nap.’
She looked up at me, her expression searching for something in my words.
‘And I, well, I just wanted to say thanks.’
Janet smiled at that, the same smile that had made me feel better earlier when I was nervous. ‘Yeah, all right, you’re forgiven. I take it your partner pulled you out unexpectedly?’
‘What was your clue?’ I asked.
‘The part when Jeremy said, “Fuck it all, I can’t even see him now. Janet, dope him up because he’s coming out unexpectedly.”’ Janet made a funny-sounding deep voice as she said it, which I took to be an impersonation of Jeremy.
‘But you don’t know how close you came to receiving your own bruises,’ she warned, and her face hardened.
Still, I was on a roll now and knew it.
‘Yeah, thanks for that, or rather, not doing that. Why didn’t you try to jab me again?’ I asked.
‘I couldn’t find the syringe quickly enough,’ Janet said, nodding.
‘Can I make it up to you?’ I asked.
She raised an eyebrow. ‘Like how?’
I thought about it. I probably looked kind of stupid, standing here, chatting up a para while both my arms hung from my shoulders like dead flesh, except for the occasional spasmodic movement.
‘I don’t know, send a pizza, take you out for lunch, something to apologise?’ I suggested.
‘I don’t know, this is a pretty big bruise,’ she said, looking at the side of her arm. ‘I think maybe a full dinner apology is in order.’
That wasn’t what I expected, but it sounded better than what I had in mind.
‘Sure, but ah, not tonight, okay? I need to, ah, recover,’ I said. I felt like an idiot now.
Two other paras looked at me, gave each other a look, and then wheeled the cart around behind the ambulance and started loading it into the rear door.
‘Here’s my card. Call me,’ said Janet, and she held it out to me.
I looked at it and back at her. Didn’t she realise I couldn’t take it? The edge of her smile slowly lifted, and I realised she was getting back at me as best she could right then. After letting it sink in, she flipped the card vertically and dropped it into my shirt pocket.
‘Don’t plan on pizza. I expect a decent apology,’ she gently warned.
‘I’m kind of new to town,’ I said.
‘Then I’ll pick the restaurant and you can pay,’ she said, smiling, as the back of the ambulance started to close. ‘I think your partner is waiting for you.’
I turned to look at the half-closed door of the ambulance then, and saw what she was referring to. I could just make out Jeremy, with an annoyed look on his face.
‘Yeah, all right. Well, I’ll call you once I’m recovered,’ I offered.
‘Do that,’ Janet said.
‘Yeah, I’ll see you then.’
It’s difficult to walk off nonchalantly when your arms are effectively spastic and paralysed. It’s even more difficult to get into the cab, and it’s impossible to close the door. I was just angling to attempt to look even more stupid and pull it in with my foot, when one of the paras came around and closed it for me.
‘Thanks,’ I called out of the window, not game to stick my head too far out without my arms working.
‘Don’t wait too long,’ I heard Janet’s voice, as Jeremy pushed the accelerator and the ambulance started forward, causing me to bump my head on the door frame.
‘Did you just pick that lady up?’ Jeremy asked, as I pulled my head back into the cab. He didn’t sound impressed.
‘Janet?’ I asked.
‘No, the ghost you saw in your fucking dreams,’ Jeremy sarcastically responded. ‘Of course Janet.’
‘Ahh, yeah, I think she picked me up actually,’ I said. ‘I owe her a dinner it seems.’
‘Dinner? You’re shitting me. You’ve been here what, two weeks? All that in training, and now you come out here first day on the job and you pick up the para chick, just like that?’
‘It kind of seems that way,’ I said.
I almost fell over into Jeremy’s lap as he turned a little harder than expected into the next street.
‘Damn, you’ve got balls, is all I can say. Let’s see how long you last.’ Jeremy started to whistle as he made his way onto an on-ramp.
David Kitson has worked in corporate and government environments as a security analyst and technical network architect, as well as a print and TV journalist focusing on video games and technology news. His love of science stems back to a childhood spent climbing trees and building rocket launchers. He lives in Western Australia with his wife and four children.
David will be awarding an eCopy of Turing Evolved to three randomly drawn winners via Rafflecopter during the tour.