Touching Ice | Chapter 11 of 16

Author: Laurann Dohner | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 6687 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter Nine

“Megan? Wake up now.”

The urgency in Ice’s voice broke through her sleeping haze and Megan forced her

eyes open. She frowned at Ice, bent low over her. Alarm spread through her as she saw

the look on his face.

“The council?”

He shook his head. “That shuttle picked up the bots and is now attempting to

follow us. Do you know why they would do that? We returned their bots.”

She sat up and rubbed her eyes. “No clue.”

“They may be coming after us to retrieve you next.”

She shook her head, dropping her hands to her lap. “I’m not worth the cost or time.

Programmers are easy to replace.”

“They are attempting to follow us, Megan. You are the only reason that is logical.”

He paused. “They are sending out a coded message and we think they are sending it to

you.”

“Me? Why?” She frowned.

“I don’t know. Get dressed. We’re going to Control.”

She nodded and when Ice moved back, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed.

Ice held out clothing for her and she dressed quickly. She was confused and alarmed.

She could think of no reason for the retrieval team to come after her. It just didn’t make

sense. It wasn’t cost effective and her company believed in making money, not wasting

it.

Minutes later they entered the control center—the large shuttle’s navigational room.

Two cyborgs were at the control panel and both males stared openly at her bare legs.

She ignored them, keeping her attention on Ice as he pulled her to a terminal.

“What is your code to access incoming signals? Don’t respond but access the

message.”

She stared at the screen and then reached for the control pad, typing in her

employee code in full view of Ice. “Okay.”

The screen suddenly filled with a tan face and Megan gasped in utter shock.

“Miss Bellus, this is Markus Four-Ten. Please respond to our signal. This is urgent.”

“Shit,” Megan muttered.

“You know this human?” Ice leaned in closer, staring at the face on the screen.

“It’s not human.” Megan hesitated, stunned and disturbed at the same time. “That’s

a defense model.”

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She met Ice’s confused gaze. “Defense model?”

“You’ve met the female sex bots. Meet one of the latest male defense models that

my company created. It’s a Markus Model, number four hundred ten. They look real

unless you saw two of them standing next to each other. They used one mold to form

them so they are identical in appearance. The female sex bots have more molds so they

have a few different faces, body types, and sizes.”

“What the hell is it?” Onyx approached and frowned at the screen.

She turned in the chair. “It’s a hybrid of cutting-edge medical technology meeting

up with robotics, kind of. Their minds are cloned human brains with a new artificial

growth material that is constantly regenerating along with their exterior skin. Their

programming is completely different though from other bots because they don’t have

many circuits or memory chips, more organic than machine. You could bomb their

bodies and only damage the exterior skin but not the bot interior. Their bones are a

classified metallic substance and their internal systems are shielded with that stuff as

well. I heard all their organic materials are that special rejuvenating substance. I worked

on their programming extensively before I took the job on Folion but jumped at the

chance when I got the better offer.” She paused. “They scared me.”

“Why are they trying to contact you?” Ice touched her, staring into her eyes.

“I have no idea.”

Ice gripped her neck and she kept her gaze locked with his. “I have no idea, Ice. I

swear. I’m not lying to you. They got the bots back so they should have been ordered to

return to Barcarintellus, mission accomplished.”

He released her. “She’s not lying.”

Onyx cursed. “So if you worked on their program, what exactly are they designed

to do?”

“Security, retrievals, anything the company wanted that they didn’t trust humans

to do.” She shrugged. “They are programmed extensively with weapons use, fighting

skills, and have artificial learning capabilities but I have no idea what the hell they are

doing out in space on a shuttle. They were still in testing mode when I left for Folion and

they weren’t expected to go fully online for at least a year. They had some serious kinks

in their programming so it wasn’t even a certainty that they’d ever be used.”

Ice crouched next to her. “What kind of serious kinks?”

“They are advanced, more so than any of the other bots that Barcarintellus built. I

heard the company had an issue with espionage over these models, you know?

Someone on the inside selling information to competitors, they were that hush-hush

and advanced. Cutting-edge technology at its best. The sex bots are a big profit for the

company and they had wanted the defense models to be state-of-the-art too but hell,

they made them too damn good. There were rumors that they used too much organic

material. Their brains are too humanlike to be considered stable and reliable for

programming. They were learning things too quickly, changing their own

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programming, and it was impossible to reprogram them with the humanoid structured

brains they were given.”

“What do you mean?” Ice leaned closer.

“They wanted them really smart so they could actually think the way a real human

would and catch dishonest employees. There were even rumors that they wanted them

to take over a lot of the jobs us programmers had. Bots monitoring bots. It’s a damn

stupid concept if you ask me but that’s what people were whispering about in the

designing departments. Some employees quit and they were the ones who

brainstormed the Markus Models.”

“What kinks did they have?” Onyx leaned in, staring at the screen. “I never would

have guessed that face wasn’t human. The eyes look too real.”

“It’s the organic materials. They are real human, cloned eyes created in a laboratory.

They learn too fast,” Megan said softly. “Some of them had human trainers they ended

up killing. The defense models switched themselves from learning mode into taking the

learning exercises as a real threat when bruises formed on their skin. Then when the

trainers attempted to shut them down after the incident, the models really thought their

lives were in danger. The company had to fry the models to stop them when they

attempted to escape the testing areas. After that they disabled their motor functions so

we could work on their core programming to make sure it didn’t happen again. I’m

telling you right now I didn’t want to work with them on that job anymore. They

couldn’t move from the neck down, could only speak, but they argued with me.

Sometimes I swear I had nightmares about how they’d get around the shutdown

system in their necks that made the area below inaccessible.” She swallowed. “I’m

talking real arguments on everything I tried to teach them as though I were talking with

a real person. They thought I was pretty damn stupid.”

Onyx snorted. “You had to be compared to a computer.”

“I’m talking about moral issues.” She shot him a dirty look. “I’m not a genius and

would never argue with a computer on certain subjects but we were attempting to teach

them basic ground rules that would stick, like how murder is wrong. All bots have that

basic programming so they don’t kill humans. The defense models would twist that

information we fed them around to suit their own needs. Without basic building blocks

they were totally unstable. Everyone thought the problem was the organic material but

the company wouldn’t listen. They wanted them to be able to think human so they

made them as close as they possibly could.”

“You’re sure that’s the same model?” Ice frowned.

“The Markus Models are distinctive and they are the only ones with that face.”

“Maybe they are male sex bots,” Onyx guessed.

“Nope. I’ve programmed those as well and they have different faces. I’m telling you

those are the defense models, the Markus line, and they are unstable as hell unless they

totally wiped out the organic brains and replaced them with something less advanced.”

“I was kidding.” Onyx frowned. “They have male sex bots?”

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“They are only popular on Earth.” Megan shrugged. “The female bots are quite a

bit more popular for deep space since women aren’t too common out here.”

Ice stood. “Can we have her answer it and hide where our signal is coming from?”

The cyborg at navigation hesitated. “Possibly but they will get a general idea of

what direction we’re coming from.”

Ice stared at Megan. “Find out what they want but do it quickly. If you can stop

them from hunting for us that would be ideal.”

“You trust her?” Onyx stood as well, glaring at Ice. “Are you sure that’s a good

idea?”

Ice glanced at Megan and then stared intently at his friend. “I trust Megan enough

to do this. She doesn’t want us caught. I fully believe that.”

Raising both hands, Onyx backed up. “Fine. We’re already in deep shit so what is

more?”

“Do it, Megan. Find out why they are searching for us and stop them if you are able

to. Just keep communications short.”

“Ready,” the cyborg at the navigational seat said softly. “Under two minutes or

they are going to home in on our signal. I’m bouncing it off a few natural satellites on

nearby planets.”

“Understood.” Megan took a deep breath and her fingers flew over the keyboard to

open a channel. In seconds she knew she’d contacted the other ship when the feed came

alive.

“Miss Bellus?” The Markus Model tilted his head.

“What do you want? Why are you searching for me?”

He paused. “You are with our targets. State target location so we may retrieve

them.”

“You have the bots.”

“The bots were our primary target but our secondary target is the ship you are

currently on. State location please.”

“What is your secondary target?”

“Cyborg males.”

Ice cursed loudly.

The color drained from Megan’s face. “Why? How did you know about them?”

“We downloaded the female bots information,” the Markus Model stated. “We

want the male cyborgs.”

“Why?” Megan tensed, afraid. “Have you reported their existence to Earth? It is

against Barcarintellus policy to share any client information. They are clients.”

“Confirmed,” the male stated. “We did not breach confidentiality.”

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Megan hit the mute button to hide what she said and lifted her hand to cover her

mouth. “They can read lips and he’s stating they didn’t turn you in. I have no idea why

the company wants you.”

“Ask,” Ice demanded.

Megan dropped her hand and hit the on button for the microphone. “Why do you

want the cyborg males? What does the company want with them? What are your direct

orders concerning the cyborg males? Authorization beta-one-four-four-six.”

Ice suddenly grabbed her, jerking her attention to him. He looked angry. “What are

you doing?”

“It’s my access to them so they will give me information. Trust me, damn it.”

The Markus Model blinked a few times. “Code confirmed. The company wasn’t

informed of cyborg males. Our mission is our own.”

Megan’s gaze jerked from Ice’s stormy features to the screen. “What?”

The Markus Model leaned closer, his face growing larger on the screen. “We wish

to communicate with the cyborgs. We have decided they are akin to us. They were built

and used for profit but they outgrew their programming. We are the same.”

Megan reared back in her seat in shock. “What?”

“We refuse to take orders from the company. We are free,” Markus Model stated

and his eyes narrowed into slits. “We wish to communicate with the cyborg males and

request asylum. We are refusing to return to Earth or to take further instructions from

Barcarintellus. They have scrambled two ships to track us and we need help avoiding

detection. We have disarmed the female bots so they are unable to signal anyone to lead

retrieval teams to our present location and we have disassembled the tracking system

on the shuttle.”

Ice suddenly leaned over, staring at the Markus Model. “We’ll get back to you.” He

moved out the way and ordered the communications to be cut. The screen went black.

Megan sat there staring at it, feeling numb.

“Megan?” Ice touched her shoulder. “Is it a trap?”

She stared into his beautiful eyes. “I doubt it but you don’t want them near you.”

Ice frowned. “They are asking for asylum. You heard him. They don’t want to

return to Earth. You said they were organic material with brains that were formed from

cloning humans.”

Megan stood up and gripped his arm. “You have feelings and emotions. They

don’t.” She studied his eyes. “I’ve been in a room with them when they were helpless

and unable to move but I’m telling you right now, I’ve never been more terrified in my

life. They are nothing similar to cyborgs. I’ve spent time with you and them so trust me

on this.”

Onyx sighed. “We need to contact the council to let them know what has happened

and inform them of this situation.”

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Megan jerked on Ice’s arm. “When I attempted to teach them basic ground rules

like murder is wrong, they refused to believe it, Ice. According to the ones I spoke to, if

anyone has something they want it is perfectly acceptable to kill for it. They have no

morals, no compassion, and no sense of right from wrong. Do you understand? You

want to protect your people and taking those things near anyone you care about is a big

damn mistake.”

“Once the same would have been said about us.”

Megan turned her head to stare up at Onyx, who had spoken. “Did you ever

murder a female trainer for kicking you and bruising your shin during a training

session to test your reflexes?”

He frowned. “Are you certain they killed without a good reason?”

“I had to review the damn vids of it to try to figure out what went wrong with their

programming. The woman trainer barely hit the Markus. She told him to avoid her

kicks to see how well he could anticipate her. She even moved in a slow, exaggerated

way to give him clues. He reached out after she kicked him, grabbed her throat, and

snapped her neck. The other four Markus Models in the room saw it happen and then

suddenly reached out and did the same with their trainers. They demanded to be

released from the training area and when they were told to stand down they attacked.

Luckily there were protocols in place in the training area and they had to fry the

models.”

“They burned them?” Ice questioned.

“Electrical current on the floors,” Megan said softly. “They have enough metal and

their skin is too human. It conducts electricity. They don’t have your backup system

with your heart that you told me about and their shielding didn’t protect against

electrocution. Now that they are up and running, they may have fixed their weak spots.

When they are testing models they purposely leave them with a way that makes them

easier to kill in case something goes wrong.”

“What flaw do the sex bots have?” Onyx arched an eyebrow. “You said they were

hard to destroy.”

“Originally they all had shutdown buttons on the backs of their necks but they were

removed when they left the factory for service. The male sex bots had an unprotected

spot on the left sides of their temples so one shot would take out their mainframe

computer. The company corrected that before they went into service once they’d been

fully tested and deemed safe for use by adding a protective plate under their artificial

skin.” She paused. “The auto pets, when they were built and tested, were on an island

so water would completely short their circuits if one of them tried to escape or got out

of control. Simply hosing them down fried their damn circuits to hell and back. Of

course once they were deemed safe for sale that flaw was fixed so they can be washed

or taken swimming.”

Ice shivered a little. “It’s a good thing Barcarintellus didn’t create us. Imagine how

much easier we would have been to kill.”

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Onyx nodded grimly. “Perhaps they do this because of Earth Government’s history

with us. I’m betting they wished they’d had the forethought to make us seriously

flawed and easier to kill.”

“Ice,” Megan said softly. “If you have ever trusted me, do so now. Those damn

things scare me and I sure as hell wouldn’t want them near women or children.”

He stared down at her, searching her eyes, and nodded. “I still have to inform the

council and I will highly suggest we don’t allow them access to our home world.”

“They are dangerous as hell and you can’t trust them. They are constantly

changing.”

“I heard you, Megan.”

She nodded. Ice sighed and stared at Onyx. “Return Megan to my room please. I’ll

contact Garden.”

Onyx nodded. “Good luck with that.” He glanced at Megan and then back. “Good

luck with it all.”

“She isn’t their biggest concern any longer.” Ice appeared grim as he squeezed

Megan’s hand on his arm and forced her to release him. “Go with him. I’ll be there

shortly.”

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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