Colburn finished typing up her report. Kole would want to know what’d happened between the HLX-9 and the prospective pilot. Sure Kole is busy now, but he’d want to know the real story; not rumors. The worst part was watching the video. She had trouble deciding which version to include, sound or no sound. Oh sure, they were getting along just fine now. But earlier.
Hawker comically chasing the rookie around. That part could get a million hits on youtube, and CHris’s face sold it for sure. Then it turned ugly. She decided on the silent version. At least then you couldn’t hear Hawker’s voice and his hydraulics screaming. Couldn’t hear the sound of the rookie hitting cement. That angry face screaming at the tiny, helpless figure. Nothing picked up what the kid had said though. His face had been out of shot. Easy enough to see him grab the mech by the tongue though. She sighed, rubbing her temples. Was a damn good thing she hadn’t witnessed that happen in real time. She would have sent a lockdown command so fast…
..and made things worse. Kole was right. ‘Let ’em fight it out. If Celn hasn’t cracked by now, then Hawker tolerates him. They need to tussle. Growl and bark before they settle down. They’ll figure it out.’ She didn’t like that plan. ‘And what if Hawker really hurts the kid? More, I mean then he has already.’ Kole laughed! THe salt-and-pepper eyebrows of the veteran cop bounced as he laughed. ‘I’m sure Big Nine will. He’s 15 feet tall! Being close to that kind of power is gonna mean a lifetime of bruises and scrapes. Look at your hands, Colburn. Comes with the job.’ She looked at her hands again. Grime around her cuticles. Scars and freshly skinned knuckles. Injuries came with the job.
Abuse though? That could be a problem.
She responded to the request, her voice professional. “If medical clears him to wear it, Big Nine. He’s still damaged and I’m not over-riding the doc’s decision.”
Chris threw his shirt away, it looked awful. He’d needed three stops to make it from Hawker’s end alcove to the elevator. He put his hands firmly on the bar around the middle of the elevator, helping to support himself. THe elevator crawled up to 8, and he stumbled out. He made it to his room and collapsed onto the floor. Shoes off. Socks off. Pants off. The floor of the dorm had a smooth, linoleum surface. The coolness made his nipples perk up. He spread his legs, letting the pouch of his jockstrap get full access to fresh air. He spend almost an hour there, on his back. He did want to get off but.. that meant effort.
Eventually, he got up. A quick check outside revealed that no one else was in the main pilot area. Naked beeline to the restroom. The shower felt fantastic, and he spent a long time washing and scrubbing his aching body. The head and water made the bandages fall off. Some scabs came with ’em. “Ugh. You’re still a scabber Celn.” he told himself. When he came out, he had a towel around his waist and walking could be done. If he went slow.
Jane sat at the main table, looking at her phone. A half eaten sandwich sat on a plate, her pilot suit clung to her and highlighted her figure. She glanced up as Chris emerged. Then she did a double-take. “Holy fuck! What the hell happened to you?” Chris blinked at her. THen he shook his head. “Physical training.” She got up, walking around behind him. He wasn’t looking to bad with his shirt off actually. “No, your implant. There’s .. looks like over-voltage. What’d you do?”
“Can I put some pants on?” A pair of boxer shorts later, she kept touching him. “Ow. Ow. Ow. Quit it!” he playfully wagged his hands toward her.
“So.. what happened?” Chris knew he had to be down in medical in a few minutes. Just a t-shirt, gym shorts, sneakers. She stood in the doorway to his mostly-empty room. CHris dropped his dirty clothes in the laundry can by the door. “That doesn’t look so great.”
“75 or so cycles. Followed by an ejection.”
“Damn Chris. Ferd told us but we thought he was making it up. You getting it looked at?”
“Yeah. Gotta be in the land of antiseptic and gauze by 3.”
“Got any plans for tonight?”
“Does bed count?”
she laughed. “Look, a few of us are gonna order a pizza, some drinks. You don’t wanna go out around here; but Amazon can deliver anything.”
“That sounds good, actually. Outside of passing people by, I don’t see anyone.”
“We noticed! Thought you might be an anti-social kinda guy. Looks like you’re just getting worked raw instead.”
“Yeah. See you later.”
On the screen as Hawker watched, Chris Celn walked into medical. Got pointed back to where he’d been the day before.
Medical 05-D stood there today. It had chrome fittings and strange yellow lighting on it’s internal structure. “Remove your shirt, shoes and pants. Place your face into ring as you lay down on the table.”
Chris obeyed, laying down on what looked more like a massage table. He heard footsteps, and he sawy the lower half of 05-D and a pair of boots. Well worn boots. “Hello?” he inquired to the mystery person.
“Hello Clen.” spoke Colbrun calmly, “How are you this afternoon?”
“Worn out. Sore.”
Medical 05-C ran a number of passive scans, sending the data to the chief engineer as it spoke. It’s voice is decidedly female, and had a slight southern drawl. “Your injuries are healing. I estimate you might be able to do a full interface in as soon as 36 hours. However, that is just an estimate sweetie.” It places a complex sensor array over the implant, then ran a linkup. “Now, I’m going to do a re-certification test. We have your previous results. Medical 07-C requested that we ensure you at least made A level again.”
“If medical clears him to wear it, Big Nine. He’s still damaged and I’m not over-riding the doc’s decision.”
His optics darted to the side, glowing white apertures making their tiny movements. Brow plates pressed together. <Fine. I mean, yes ma’am.>
In medical, Colburn knew something was up, but was unable to put her finger on it. Hawker and Celn baffled her, frankly, but what went on between mech and pilot was between mech and pilot. She’d never linked up with an AI before, so all her knowledge of neurospace was what she read in the scientific literature or what the diagnostic screens told her when she had an opportunity to peer into that bizarre psychological melting pot as it was happening – in vitro, one might say. I’m an engineer, not a shrink, was one of her oft-used catchphrases based on one of her favorite vintage TV shows, and right now it was especially pertinent.
Hawker whiled away his time reading reports, listening to the police radio, and watching the news as it happened in real time.
A robbery on 12th and Broadway. Fitzpatrick needed backup.
Hit and run on Natoma. EMTs were en route to the scene.
Noise complaint on South Yates, another on Clark and 102nd.
Hands between his legs.
Hawker shuttered his optics and rubbed the side of his helm. <How’s it going in there?> he sent Colburn. Probably a mistake – it was just a matter of time before she got wise about this new ‘tension’ between the two of them. Chief Colburn didn’t suffer any fools, as full of laughter and practical jokes as she was. And though she was normally hands off when it came to pilots and their mechs – and Kole was especially Laissez-Faire – you didn’t want to anger the Mama Bear.
Medical 05-D spent fifteen minutes running light scans of Chris’s implants. Then it did forty running deep tissue scanners over the rookie’s skin and inspect the state of his nerves. It applied bandages and patches to the places where’d he’d been hurt during the day. Afterword, it doused Chris with another hypro spray of anti-inflammatories. It didn’t speak much, just investigating the damage. The mental scanner finally finished after an hour. Chris groaned from his position, and 05-D remember the complicated equipment off the rookie’s head and neck.
“You rest for a little while there.” It spoke, applying a thick topical salve around the implant. “You’re healing up good sweetie. I’m going to go speak with the chief engineer about our findings, and don’t worry. You’re A-class no problem.”
Colburn had been monitoring the testing, occasionally asking for the machinery to be adjusted by a few degrees. It hadn’t hurt much, and Chris had felt light headed through the process. “No problem doc.. I’ll stay right here..”
Chris Celn: Specialist Statistics:
Thought Shield – 86 percentile
Mind Blank – 92 percentile
Mental Barrier – 88 percentile
Intellect Fortress – 107* percentile
Tower of Ironwill – 65 percentile
“I want to know what nerd came up with those names. They probably played D&D while they were inventing the first implants.” Colburn shook her head. Medical 05-D and 07-C were examining the output of the long period test. After a full 8 minutes (forever at the speed which AI communicate with each other), they kept the 107 score.
“Chief Engineer Colburn,” 07-C spoke up in it’s clipped, smarmy tone, “We have finished the specialized scan of Officer Celn. The 107 score may not be accurate, as his current health problems may be increasing his resistance. We strongly feel that Celn’s other scores are accurate. In comparison..”
Lee Davidson: Specialist Statistics:
Thought Shield – 86 percentile
Mind Blank – 84 percentile
Mental Barrier – 87 percentile
Intellect Fortress – 83 percentile
Tower of Ironwill – 98 percentile
The two screens showed the two pilot’s comparisons. “We should consider the precinct fortunate that Celn was not tested past A-class. He would have been offered a position in one of the Federal Bureaus with that kind of mentality. While his willpower might be lacking, his other strengths will compensate.” 07-C explained.
Colburn considered what she knew. The final score represented raw mental power. The deep AI had somewhere between 80-90 in each discipline; depending on how the AI felt like taxing the connection and it’s processors. Chris would never win in a direct confrontation with the AI. Hawker would always remain in control of the mech. Lee could mentally pin down Hawker with ease, which explained why the robot would have considered the veteran an equal.
“Remind me,” she mused “just what would a theoretical Fortress of 107 do for our rookie?”
If anything, 07-C’s optical lenses seemed to shine with intensity. “Utter containment of self. Hawker could attack mentally with its full power, which is substantial, but Clen can hold within himself indefinitely. He wouldn’t be able to operate the mech, but he could force the Deep AI to a standstill. Technically, his other high score is another interesting twist. He could also hold down functions away from the Deep AI.”
Colburn examined the scores again. That 65 worried her. 65 is the minimum for an A-level certification. “How does hiding doing Chris any good? Big nine is a robot, it can’t forget it has a gun.”
“Incorrect. Celn can make Hawker forget. He could hide a target. Mask his personal feelings. He could force the AI to forget it’s very past, altering how it makes decisions. Subtle and exceptionally powerful. He cannot win a fight with Hawker, but he cannot be mentally dominated. Literally, Hawker must quit the interface if he wishes to dominate Celn. Which he’d have to do by incapacitating the human. It will be interesting to observe their union over time.”
Colburn sighed. “Which already happened, the quitting part.”
“Yes. He’s recovering well. He suffered no ill effects from the testing. Surprisingly resilient.”
“Can he use the wireless?” Colburn asked. She wished the kid could get a Saturday night off.
07-C and 05-D conferred for 48 seconds. 05-D answered as 07-C rolled away, moving to where a number of injured officers would be brought up in three minutes. THe gangs were getting worse.
“He sure can! But no direct interfacing with Hawker until he’s fully recovered.”
Colburn entered the small room with Chris, she glanced at the fish-eye camera that took int he full site of the cubby. The rookie is pulling on his clothes. “Well kiddo, got a request from Big Nine.”
Chris paused, the shirt halfway over his head. “A request? That’s a first, usually it’s marching orders.” Then he finished assembling himself.
“Yup. He’d like you to wireless up tonight. I think he misses you.” she added with a smile.
“Yes ma’am. I’ll get it on. Anything else?”
She grinned wider. “Nope. Relax for the night. Preston will message you when he has time for you on the range tomorrow.”
Chris moved out in a hurry. The chief engineer sighed, glancing at that camera one last time. If Hawker ever went off the rails, things would be perilous. She went off to her office and started running simulations with those new numbers.
The wireless pinged, establishing the connection between pilot and mech. A tentative link. Throughout the afternoon Jane, Ferdinand and the chinese pilot Tsung had a fine time. Pizza, drinks and much needed socialization. As 11 rolled around, they all stumbled off to bed. Tomorrow would be work again, and no one wanted a hangover. Chris didn’t stumble though. He is quite familiar with pasking how drunk or high he is.
That bed looked fantastic! He took off his clothes, pulled the sheets back and relaxed. Phone alarm set to 0800. He doubted that Preston would want him there before 9. Preston…
The thought of the large marksman close by made his shaft twitch. It had been fun, the way the man had gotten up behind him. Corrected the rookie’s stance and grip.
But his mind instantly went to Hawker for tonight’s personal time. The way that mouth felt on his arm. What would a kiss be like? That huge mouth on his own? Taking in his neck, his chest. What would oral be like? God, that tongue would be amazing!
Chris stroked and rubbed his shaft, his left hand cupping and squeezing his sack, the collar quite forgotten.
Hawker holding him in those hands, his arms and legs restrained with fingers. Leaning down, licking up into him. That tongue pressing and wiggling its tip into his backside. Those teeth biting at him, leaving impressions…
He imagined a massive shaft sprouting from that codpiece! Three plus feet of dick landing on him with at thud! Hawker had done pushups over him. It wasn’t hard to imagine the mech thrustinging instead. Pushing the heavily weighted schlong over his smooth chest! Building, up and calming down, hydraulics pumping and pulsing until.. somehow.. the mech penetrated him! “MINE!” the voice as it claimed him..
Chris stifled a happy moan, cumming hard. Shots splattered onto his smooth chest, and he furiously milked hismelf, dreaming it had been Hawker’s load. He even cleaned up, tasting his own cum, thinking of the mech pressing the cum-fountain spurting glans all over his face. He wiped up with his boxers, pulled up the sheets and fell asleep. In the darkness, the wireless link of the collar flashed, dutifully broadcasting through the night.
Hawker would have been called a shut-in a lot more often if he wasn’t a mech legally owned and operated by Chicago PD. Thankfully, this meant that no one would give a second thought to the fact that he’d holed up in his office for the rest of the day to think, and think, and think some more.
He’d watched Chris while he underwent his testing, even hijacked the security camera to zoom in on the results on the screen. The mech had the capabilities to remotely infiltrate most computer systems, precinct 42’s notwithstanding. But stayed in his lane and didn’t directly dive into server doing the data processing. For an AI trying to be as human as possible as a matter of courtesy and professionalism, doing something like that would be rude at best, and illegal at worst.
This was data he hadn’t seen before, though. All he knew was that Celn had A-class specialization, and that they were compatible. The kid’s sheet was all eights and nines – and Hawker was feeling all sixes and sevens. He’s got higher stats than Lee? That was impossible. No, Hawker, just improbable, he corrected himself. The odds were slim, but so was Chris Celn.
He listened to Colburn and the droid, stroking his chin. So that’s what had happened. It wasn’t just wetware, it was his wetware. Even without the decades of experience that Lee had, Chris had unknowingly seared a vision from his mind into Hawker’s memory banks as real as what had been tucked away in the black box. The change was permanent – the only way Hawker even remembered differently was because he still had his own memories of watching the memory. Talk about Infinite Mirror.
The raw potential of his new pilot impressed him, piqued his curiosity, and based on their interactions earlier, fired his interest. Physically, there was no contest between them. Hawker could pitch entire trucks the length of a football field while Chris would likely need help lifting an axle an inch off the ground. But his subordinate could, apparently, run circles around him in neurospace. This presented a fascinating situation: the AI at a mental disadvantage in neurospace, but at advantage everywhere else. There was nothing he could do in a mindscape without Celn’s acquiescence – nothing he could force. And yet, the fact that the kid permitted him to call the shots there…
Hawker felt it like a trickle of warmth the moment Chris had hooked himself into the wireless. He saw with his primary optics, his secondary panoptics, his tertiary sensor nets, and now, like a set of quadranaries, through Chris’s eyes too. Not literally, of course – the connection was a one-way mirror into how his mind was interpreting his own thoughts and surroundings, but it was more than enough for the AI to make good sense of.
So, the show started.
He was with Celn for the evening of television and junk food. He was with Celn as he and the other pilots gossiped and told bad jokes – and a few damn good ones, he had to admit. Hawker made the mental note to get to know Ferdinand a little better; he was a decent guy. Moreover, everyone was treating Chris well, which was all he could ask for. In fact, he was enjoying a little bit of celebrity around 42.
Chris was relaxing. Brain waves, heart rate and blood pressure slowing, muscles losing some of their tension. His legs still hurt a little, but the mech sensed that he was trying to ignore it until the next day, when he’d really barely be able to move.
But with that relaxation, that calm, Hawker was beginning to pick up on another emotional state, bubbling quietly under the surface. Eventually 11 o’clock rolled around, and the mech was about to witness first-hand what that state was.
Hawker got a sense of laying down, suddenly. And then… images of Preston? The man at Chris’s side, his big arm around his shoulders, hands on his. Thighs brushing against each other unintentionally. Hawker cocked a brow back in the office far downstairs, feeling that heat building in him again. But this… wasn’t what he was expecting. The giant mech felt vaguely disappointed, not wanting to admit to himself just why. Haptic sensors ached, servos strained like compressed springs, and Hawker vented. He was about the leave their connection, turn away from that one-way mirror so that the kid might have a little privacy when –
Hawker watched as he came up. Up, up. Chris imagined him to be enormous; a towering, imposing, silhouette all feet and chest and hands. He was kissing Chris now. Denta raking across soft, sensitive flesh. Lips covering half his face. The images flashed faster. His tongue was dragging down his spine, now, then buried between his ass cheeks.
Suddenly his cock was out. It happened at the same moment that Chris imagined it, thick and heavy on his belly. Hawker felt Chris’s erection, felt his hand on his shaft, felt the sudden surge of pleasure course through his veins.
Hawker looked down. His own shaft, a little different than how Chris was imagining it: black and sleek; skin-like; about 32 inches long, 8 inches in diameter at the base, with a neat slit at the end. On the top near the hilt, someone’s idea of comedy: the words ‘NO STEP’ in white.
He radiated heat now. He wrapped his fingers around himself, leaning back against the terminal and spread his thighs a little. A grunt of pleasure as he stroked once, twice. Thumbed the head. Held himself at the base and felt the cool air against it.
In Chris’s mind, Hawker held him. Menaced overhead like a dangerous, unstoppable shadow. A surge of hydraulic fluid straight down into his cock stiffened him even more. In Hawker’s mind, Chris looked on, torn between fear and want. Hawker would have to use gentle force, or would maybe cover his mouth to prevent any protest as he slowly pushed a massive finger up into him. Or maybe… Chris would be in his cockpit, trapped inside his body. The little human would squirm against his insides, but there’d be no escape as the cockpit seat parted and out slid a more manageable probe. The mech would be both in him and all around him. Hand on his chest, hand on his dick as Chris whimpered for mercy, for approval, for permission to come.
“Mmm.” The mech rumbled deeply as he pumped faster. Chris was crawling all over him now, his hands grasping at his massive shaft and unable to wrap fully around it. His size would dwarf him, but that wouldn’t stop his pilot from giving it the old college try. He’d lick around the head, stick his tongue down into the hole. Rub himself against the whole length of it for lack of being big enough. And at last, when his processing centers had had their fill…
“Unh! Fuck!” Hawker ground out several more obscenities as he came, hips thrusting into the air as his fluid shot out onto the floor, smeared across his fingers, dripped down his still-hard shaft. About 2 quarts of it, all told.
The mech bumped up his air cycling, trying to cool down. His cock depressurized, retracted back into that armor block between his thighs. He looked down at the mess on the floor and realized that there were no rags in here. “Dammit.”
He didn’t move, though. Chris was done, he could see now. Settling down for a good night’s rest.
He just got off to his pilot’s private thoughts, he realized. Got off to images of terrorizing him again. Barking orders, bruising skin, choking, maybe even eyes wet with tears. Hawker imagined holding him in the embrace of the cockpit harness when all was said and done and calling him a good boy.
It all was so… inappropriate. Goddamn incestuous, even. What the hell were you thinking? he scolded himself, knowing deep down that this was exactly why he’d requested the collar be worn.
It had felt so goddamn good though. Hawker was still buzzing from spying on Chris, practically invading his thoughts and getting himself off to them without consequence. Did the kid know? No, otherwise Hawker would have felt it. Chris had forgotten that he’d left the proverbial camera running, and Hawker was taking advantage.
That’s not how a cop worth his salt behaved.
Hawker was suddenly angry with himself. You’re weak, Chris had told him. Well, maybe it was truer than either of them knew.
No. Captain Hawker would be the bigger man. He would set things straight. And before they linked again, he would confront Chris, no matter how awkward that conversation was going to be.
With a growl he left the room in search of a damn towel.
As he shut his eyes, Chris wondered about Hawker. He’d felt something from the machine. Some kind of romantic connection. Lust.. yeah. How the hell was he going to explain a fetish for his superior officer? Would Hawker go all proper on him?
“Wrap your arms around it rook! Get your face in there boy! Sir yes sir!” Oh god. Now that was just silly. Hawker probably didn’t have a dick. Poor robot. He loved the big bot anywhere. THey’d figure some way to be happy together. Those were his last thoughts as he drifted off into rest.
The dreams though. They tell AIs to stay out of the human subconsciousness. If the waking mind of an organic is a mess, the the un-logic of dreamstate can be literal nightmares to an AI.
Chris had just fallen into blackness.
Dream Hawker held Chris by his hands and feet. Stretching him like taffy. Licking over his nude body, biting him. Chris moaned. It opened wide, bringing the nude pilot to it’s mouth.
“You’re mine now boy. Mine forever. And you’re gonna love it!”
His face got swabbed by the tongue. Teeth over his neck and chest. Lips slurping around him. Hawker swallowed.
Then he was in the pilot’s chair, the restraints holding him tight. A thick cock pushed into him, stretching and opening him up wider and wider. Hawker teased him, reaching into the chest cavity and nudging his cock with a huge finger.
“Good boys cum on command!”
The neck interface smashed up behind him, and everything went dark.
Sometime around 2 am though, images began to float up. Chris spent over an hour arguing with his boots in the police academy. The footwear steadfastly refused to stay tied! Chris would time them tight, super tight, then when standing in formation.. “Celn, why are your boots untied?” Chris looked down, and sure enough the laces were everywhere. Then he’d kneel down and the laces tangled up in his fingers. A task he should know how to do in seconds is just impossible! His fingers fumbled, and he alternated between shouting at the laces and weeping.
At 0415 things started up again. The sun was so small, so distant overhead. Hidden behind clouds. The cold.. it bit. Chris felt like his blood had gone solid.
<NO!> Chris screamed at the dream, the strange experience of replaying a memory and not being able to stop. He knew what is coming. Dread, horror filled his stomach. <NO! no.. stop.. please no…> he pleaded.
So.. cold.. the Chris of the past exhaled. What should have been a right cloud of steam was a weak puff of vapor. He was in an alley, somewhere in Chicago. When he stood, snow and frost slid off his jacket.
<..no.. wake up.. no..please.. don’t.. don’t look..>
He put his hand on a dumpster and flipped the lid back. Inside should have been Joe and Slow Pete, huddled for warmth. Chris had been on lookout. It should be his turn, a chance for heat but..
They were blue. Solid. His friends. Joe.. Joe’d been with him in grade school! Pete.. Pete didn’t deserve any of this. He’d just always tagged along…
<.stop.. don’t.. move.. move your hand..>
There was a blanket. He took it. Some molly in Pete’s pocket. Joe liked the needle. Chris got the package of powder. Not much. Maybe he could trade it for something hot?..
<LOOK UP! MOVE MOVE YOU FUCKING FROZEN MORON!> the helpless, current Chris screamed at his past self.
The Dumpster’s lid swung down. Metal. Sharp. On fingers. Fingers that’d been too long in that arctic chill. Past Chris just stumbled off, leaving most of the digits on his left hand behind.
<Stupid.. so stupid..>
The sun was low in the sky. Wasn’t possible, but things had gotten colder. So cold your exhaled breath would freeze and fall. His blood made small, red drops in the snow. So pretty. The molly crunched between his teeth. Lips split from the cold chewed. He eyed a hobo huddled under a mess of blankets. He fingered the blade with his right hand. Wouldn’t be any different than before…
As he got close, the hobo turned to reveal a man far too healthy to be out in the cold. A man in full winter gear. A man with an automatic rifle and a badge.
“Jesus!” the man looked horrified at the sight of the mostly frozen, 17 year old vagrent. “Kid.. how th’ hell are you alive?”
Chris sat up bolt upright in bed. Covers off and he made it to the trash can! He coughed, shuddering. He stared at the wrappers from the socks he’d bought. Bile hung in the back of his throat. He spat. When his head stopped swimming, he counted each of his fingers, one through ten. He felt over the surgical scars on his left hand. Once he was satisfied that he wasn’t dieing on the streets, he got dressed.
In the bathroom, he brushed his teeth, He flossed. He ran his tongue over his teeth. They were all there now.
The collar! He thumbed the disconnect button. He pulled the collar off.
Back in his room, he stuck it on the charger without thinking. He laid back down, and tried to sleep.
Mercifully, the rest of the night was a whirl of color and noise.
“Morning Ferdinand!” Chris looked over his phone. Range at 0930, plenty of time.
“Eeeeey! Ya know, for a pilot you really suck at video games.” He gave Chris a playful nudge.
Celn was busy taking sips of a protein shake. “Yeah well, didn’t play many as a kid. Don’t have the reactions you do. I can’t believe all three of us couldn’t take out Tsung!”
Ferdinand laughed, getting a bowl of Lucky Charms. “Dude, she’s a killer. She does Avionics too. She can run mechs like you, A-Rated. I think the only reason she, or any of us, didn’t try for Hawker is that.. well.. we all knew Lee. Wouldn’t have felt right.”
Chris nodded. “Yeah. Well, guess getting my ass handed to me by a girl is just what I’ll have to live with. No different then anything else!” he chuckled too. Felt good to belong somewhere.
“Your neck looks better. No collar today? You didn’t sleep with it did you? You -know- how AIs get about dreams.”
Chris blinked. “Fuck! Thanks. Must’ve taken it off last night.” He went into his room and came back out. “Yeah. I think the big guy likes to watch over me, ya know.” he thumbed the reconnect button.
As it synced back up, “I do think he cares. Just hard for him to not be tough. I’m fine with him in command.” His phone buzzed. “Damn, gotta get to the range. See ya!”
Hawker had thrown the towel onto the floor and used his foot to mop up his mess. The fluid was inert, clear, tasteless, odorless, with the viscosity of differential gear oil. Mostly water. The mech had to find this out himself because Colburn, and her superior at the time, would tell him nothing about what the bizarre, off-schematic equipment was. They still haven’t. Hawker long ago came to a few conclusions for himself. He traced its origin to an unmarked, 5-gallon tank low in his pelvic block. The ease with which he was able to remove it made him suspicious – as though it were an ammo can of sorts. A payload. And his cock? The weapon. There was no telling what had once been loaded up in there during the war, which is surely when these ‘upgrades’ had been installed. He tried not to think about it.
He was going to call it a night. He really was. But Chris started dreaming, and… well, he’d already been tempted into sin once tonight, what was one more?
The images this time were bizarre. Fantastical. The colors were all wrong, and things were distorted. He was licking Chris like a predator licks its prey before sinking its teeth in. Normally he had no sense of taste, but he did here, and the AI was suddenly overwhelmed by the sensation of salty sweetness as his dream-self took Chris’s head into his mouth and down he went. Shoulders, soft belly, hard little prick. Hawker felt a fullness in his gullet and throat as the human wiggled against his unyielding insides, then fullness in his chest. The mech didn’t even have an esophagus – but he had to make sure, now. In his office, he felt along his thickly plated throat, then down to his chest, tracing along the seams where the cockpit opened. Hawker suddenly wished he did have one so he could do that very thing. In his crotch, heat was building again.
But a headache was starting, too. The illogical vividness of the dream was taxing his processors.
Celn was in him, still. Strapped in tight, unable to escape from the giant body all around him. Another shaft angled up into him, forcing him open. The intensity of the kid’s pleasure translated into static at the edges of his optic feed and his haptic system going into ovedrive. Even through the ache in his CPUs, he wanted Chris; hungered for him. The sense of power he was feeling from this – from reaming his helpless pilot while he was inside of him – threatened to overcome again.
Then, garbled, wordless words: MINE. He felt them more than heard them, and this had the effect of increasing his discomfort. Pleasure mingled with pain, and not in a good way. Hawker became distantly aware that he was cycling air, but it was only when the visions faded that the mech could break away.
And break away he did.
“Fuck!” he murmured once he was free. He’d always been taught to avoid being linked with a human who was experiencing predominant theta brain activity. REM was an AI’s worst nightmare: an unreality dictated by illogic, where things are not as they should be, and things that should not be, are. Up could be down one minute, and left the next. Purple could be green. The whole place could be devoid of all sound and characters could speak in smells.
Hawker clutched at his black helm and winced at the pain. He cleared his caches as quickly as he could, but that only helped somewhat. Deep Field 2 was as best equipped to protect itself from dreaming humans as possible: abstract thought and imaginations played a huge role in buffering against the fatal errors that could brick most lesser AIs for days after their physics engines failed to make any sense of the dream world.
The HLX-9 would be fine, though. He just needed some rest. An opportunity for his system to sort itself out. Yeah, that was it. Sort everything out.
He trudged out of the office and over to his maintenance slab, leaning back into the machinery and triggering its connections. With a neat series of hisses and clacks he was clamped in. Panels along his back and head slid open, revealing ports. He ignored the ones along his shoulders, and told the computer to stick him with his own neural plug to begin the long task of debugging, and forced himself into a low power mode.
Somewhere, though, at some point, the machine-sleep lifted just enough to see things. Hawker was… cold. The light was dim, and things smelled of old sweat, must, and burnt rubber. Jesus Christ it was cold…
When Chris woke, Hawker did too. He grunted and lurched at the suddenness of it, like he’d been wrenched from a deep slumber with ice water to the face. Nausea. Find something to puke in. Gotta – !
Hawker remembered that he had no stomach, that the sensations were from Chris.
The pain this time was less. His own primary CPUs being shut off was part of it, but there was something else that set them apart from the wet dream earlier. Something about the images, the words, the feelings were so much more real.
It struck the mech that he’d just experienced a piece of Chris’s own black box: memories recorded so vividly that they were preserved in their utmost detail. There was little imagination here – the sequence of events had seared itself into his young mind.
Still, Hawker lifted up his hand to make sure he had all of his fingers.
Such a powerful thing, the human mind. For decades, it’d been a great philosophical brouhaha. Lots of ink spilled about it: who was really in control? The human, or the machine? It’d all been humans writing for human audiences. Deep Field 2 was only 15 years old, the original Deep Field only a decade more than that. Hawker had long known the answer, though: humans most certainly had control, and especially where the thinking and feeling AIs were. Because as soon as you could feel, you could get sentimental. Loyal. Invested. And Hawker was nothing if not all of these things, as cold and smug as he was.
Then, like that, the link ended. Chris had removed the wireless.
Did he know that Hawker was eavesdropping so closely?
Either way, the mech knew he had other things he wanted to discuss with his pilot now.
With that, he returned himself to an uneasy low power mode.
Chris felt like he’d done a marathon. His legs were made of lead. And every moment he could spend sitting, he would. When he got to the firing range, he sat down in one of the plastic chairs. Preston gave him a look.
“What the hell happened to you rookie? Lose a fight?”
Chris had bruising, bandages on his arms, those little steri-strips in places on his ears. Looked like he’d fallen down a flight of sharp stairs. “No sir!” He struggled to his feet and saluted. “Yesterday was leg day. And I decided to make out with the floor a few times, on account of it being leg day.”
Preston didn’t appear thoroughly convinced. He got close and examined the kid. Wearing a collar. Hands okay, forearms banaaged. Road rash on his cheek. Weird as all hell markings around the implant. “What’s that collar do, exactly?” came his rich baritone.
Celn leaned to the side, tiredly. “Transmits vitals to Hawker. Technically we can think to each other. And if I concentrate..” he closed his eyes for effect. Truthfully, he could piggyback into the mech’s sensors at any moment. Just like Hawker could read him. Only the rookie is far less voyeuristic. At least, so far. He opened his eyelids “..The HKX-9 is in it’s Gantry, preforming high-end maintenance of it’s upper processing systems. It’s like talking to a drunk right now.”
“Can he look through your eyes like that?” Preston pressed the question. Cops are always curious and suspicious.
“I.. I guess so? I’m not sure if I’d even notice if he did. Legs ache enough that he could probably eavesdrop and I’d be thinking how much I’d like to get back in the shower and soak.”
“Uh-huh. You need to keep that turned off when not in training. That’s like walking around the station with a body camera on. Could compromise a case. Any AI or police robot’s data logs..” he trailed off, arms crossing as he looked down at the battered rook.
Chris winced. He knew the law. “Yes Sir. .. are admissible as evidence in court.” he finished the sentence. He triggered the termination, then pulled off the collar once it shut off.
Preston looked long and hard over the rookie, a second time. Poked at his back, on the kidneys. No cry of pain. He sighed. “You look like a battered housewife Celn. I’m concerned.”
Chris fondled the collar in his hands. He liked Preston. The man is built and acted like someone CHris would’ve asked out. If he didn’t have his mind on a bigger romantic target. FInally , he spoke up.
“He’s big, Sir. An argument can mean I get hurt. Even a poke to the chest leaves a bruise.”
“Do you think it wanted to hurt you?”
“… Wanted, sir?
“You heard me officer. Did it want to hurt you?”
Chris needed to sit down, so he did. He stared at Preston’s shoes as he thought.
“I have a good shine on my boots greenhorn. But if I wanted them to answer me I’d have asked ’em.”
“I don’t think so sir.” “Why not?” “I think he wanted to kill me.”
The ventilation in the room rumbled, air currents pushed around little wisps of gunpowder.
“Considering what an HLX does for the military, you telling me you’re Superman Celn?” Preston went with humor, a big smile on his face. Big Nine trying to kill a pilot? Not a chance.
Chris smiled back, a half smile. “He.. he’s worried. Worried that I might compromise him. Worried that I wouldn’t be Lee.”
“So… he’s worried you aren’t Special Forces? That’s not trying to kill you. He’s building you up by breaking you down. And you’ll be as good where it counts when I’m done with you. Put the collar on and lay on those sandbags. Gonna teach you to love that rifle.”
Preston felt conflicted. He got the rookie back on the rifle. Hawker prefered it, so the kid needed to use it like it grew out of his hand. Throughout the session he noticed how the rookie would flinch if touched where there are bruises or surface injures. There’s.. enough that he has to keep touching ’em. No place where the kid isn’t aching. On the other hand, he could remember what boot camp was like. How badly he’d looked during those hellish months? Had they been any worse off then Clen is? At least the kid had a warm bed and no drill sergeant waking him up at 0500. As he knelt there, showing Chris how to properly reload as efficiently as possible a thought kept coming back.
The greenhorn is so small.
Lunch. The sneaky meal delivery system still happened. Whatever Chris ordered, he’d receive a healthy and surprisingly tasty meal that’s obvious been prepared separately from the batch food processing. And a Protein drink. After lunch, he decided that’d he at least try and be appreciative. He made sure he put the cafeteria tray the right way in stack to be processed. And the utensils in the correct buckets. He even made eye contact with the camera that observed the room, “Thanks, tasted really nice.” Someone was treating him special.
Of course, that special treatment backfired later. On his way to see Hawker in the motor pool, he’d hit up the vending machines. His card was rejected at the snacks, and the soda machine kept dispensing bottled water. And charging him for each one. Leaving all but one next to the machine, he went into the cavernous and mostly peaceful motor pool It is Sunday after all.
From the way he’d heard humans describe hangovers, it sure felt like he had one by the time he came-to at 0600. He took his time disconnecting, took his time unclamping himself, putting the full weight of his body back on his own feet and hydraulics. He vented a long sigh, rubbed at his face, and stepped away as that single klaxon went off and the panes of caution-striped plexi parted.
There were humans about. Those same three from earlier in the maintenance bay, working on a few more squad cars. A couple pilots doing some diagnostic work on their MRAV. A janitor sweeping.
Hawker hijacked the motor pool’s sound system and the cavernous space was suddenly filled with piano. The mech was in the mood for Chopin. Everyone looked up from what they were doing, looked around, then eyes rested on him. They said nothing. He could have put on Norwegian death metal and they still probably would have said nothing. After all, the rumor mill was churning.
Did you see Celn? What the hell’d he do to piss of Big Nine?
I know Hawker is still torn up about Lee, but taking it out on the new pilot… that ain’t right.
Is it just me or has he gotten scarier? Maybe the Sarge needs to think about putting him out to pasture.
Nocturne in B-flat minor Op. 9 No. 1. The notes were quiet, calming, inoffensive to his still-sensitive quantum pathways. It would be a long morning.
When Chris put the wireless back on, Hawker tuned him out – he had to – and Chris’s mind became background noise as he slowly went about his routine tasks. He kept a log about his progress with Chris, submitting it to Kole and Colburn.
Log #2109 for October 20th, 2054.
Celn arrived at lower motor pool on time. Began fitness routine, exceeded expectations. A disagreement arose but was satisfactorily resolved for both parties. Instruction continued until 1309 hours, whereupon he was dismissed for the rest of the day. At 1500 Celn was received by medical for further monitoring of the state of his implant. I requested night wireless access, which Chief Engineer Colburn approved.
Notes: Celn continues to impress, but he still has a lot to learn about being a pilot. And we have much to learn about each other.
All of his logs were phrased with as much personality. Short and to the point. Sure, it left glaring omissions, but… Hawker didn’t see any use in recalling, at length, what the verbal lashing had been about. Moreover, it wasn’t going to happen again. The mech had decided to try his damnedest to work with Chris, not against him. They were a team.
If one of them was suffering or slacking, they both were.
Chris would surely be coming back down after his time with Preston, which meant he had just that many hours to figure out what he was going to say. Why didn’t it feel like he had enough time?
When Chris stepped out of the lift, one of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances was playing. It must’ve been a surreal scene, being surrounded by concrete, grime, and military equipment only to have such animated orchestral music filling the air as though it’d always belonged in such a place.
Hawker was waiting for him in the massive doorway of his office space, arms folded, optics on the floor. Off in the corner, Chris might’ve noticed the oversized mechanic’s rag, red against the grays.
“In here, greenhorn. We need to talk.” His voice was a little ominous, a little strained. But it was clear that a good part of him didn’t want to do what he was about to do.