Technoholic Man #2 (of 4): Mmm... Cherry...
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by Denny Hill 2 (email@example.com)
Copyright 2001 All rights reserved.
Picture in your mind our hero, Sam, as he finds himself in the vise-like grip of a young Hispanic girl - well, not quite vise-like so much as her left hand is actually a big, red, steel vise, and Sam's head is stuck in the middle of the thing. Naturally, of course, the girl looks quite displeased with Sam, and is using her right arm to close the vise enough to squish poor Sam's head like a casaba melon. Doesn't look good for our hero, does it?
(That should do for a 'cover', shouldn't it?)
"Goddamn, I love California."
"Yes. So you've said. Repeatedly."
"That's 'cause I love it. Where else can you get beaches, forests, deserts, mountains, and cityscapes in one place? Or Disneyland, for that matter." The Technoholic consciousness within Sam Xerxes Robbins' body, a network of organic circuitry nestled within various portions of his cellular structure, was at a loss for words. It knew it had the opportunity to subsume Sam's consciousness within its own when it first entered his body, but it chose not to.
It was starting to have a hard time figuring out just why it didn't do so. Sam seemed to be, for the lack of a better word, a lunkhead, yammering on and on about seemingly useless matters. Of course, that may be a part of being human; the television signals it was receiving after incorporating the spare Atomic TV satellite receivers in what remained of Sam's back seat after his fight with the Atomic Apocalypse* seemed to indicate that this was all they did, in fact.
Assuming said programming wasn't flawed; it was theoretically for entertainment purposes, after all. At any rate, the Technohol simply remained silent for the time being, distracting its' own conscious processes by receiving data from various online repositories of data, data it was able to access via the microwave transceiver it had surreptitiously mounted on the back of Sam's 1982 Ford LTD - though it was hard to concentrate when Sam started 'singing'.
He seemed to have a predilection for this 'White Zombie' group.
The Technohol was browsing through various cutting-edge works on particle physics, spatial engineering, and vertical take off and landing technology when Sam slammed on the brakes to his vintage automobile - and hard. Peering through his eyes, the Technohol couldn't quite see what the problem was, until Sam popped the LTD into reverse, and wheeled back towards someone standing on the side of the road. Someone female. And rather scantily clad, at that.
"I take it from the increased levels of various hormones in your bloodstream that you intend to pick up this... person?" Sam nodded, an unnecessary gesture since the cybernetic goo within him could read his thoughts. "Damn Skippy - I mean, look at her!" The Technohol did, in fact, do so, though it didn't quite get the point. Sure, the woman was wearing rather short, cut-off jeans, and a pink T-shirt tied above her belly button, but what can you say? Humans. Hmph.
"You do realize that you're asking for trouble... she could be anyone - especially someone out to get us." Sam shrugged indignantly. "Pff. Even if she was, it's not like we couldn't handle it. Isn't that right, Mister Revolutionary Weapons Array?" The Technohol, once again, found itself at a loss for words. All it could manage was a mere "...", which made Sam laugh. "Thought so, my minty blue friend. Trust me."
The Technohol shuddered at the prospect.
It was still shuddering, at least mentally, a few hours into the drive towards San Francisco. It turned out that Sam thought it'd be a 'nice thing to do' to give this 'nubile' (in his words) young woman and her assorted curvy, tanned parts a ride to her home, since he didn't have anything else to do. Naturally, of course, she talked as much as he did - if not more so. He would say something - anything - and she would just start talking. Incessantly.
Clarice, as she identified herself, was very good at talking, though not very much at anything else, as it turned out. She went on and on about how she had tried to be a model, a carpenter, a physicist, a hair stylist, a movie star, and even an exotic dancer, though not necessarily in that order. Every time she tried a new job, something always happened to cause her career of the moment to fail horribly. The Technohol thought she was even more dross than Sam.
If that were at all possible.
That's why it had decided that it couldn't deal with Clarice anymore, and hoped that not only would Sam not fall for this girl, that he wouldn't marry her or something. That only made it inevitable in the Technohol's eyes, since Sam rarely, if ever, did anything... sensible. It started browsing through all the quantum physics stuff it had been downloading as Clarice described her days as a builder of homes, when it was wrenched back into the real world.
"What the fuck is this all about, Clarice?" That, of course, was Sam, sounding incredulous that Clarice was, in fact, as bad an apple as the Technohol had guessed. "Shut up, cyber-boy. And pull the battle wagon over, before I put a great big hole in your head with my Desert Eagle here. Sam decided to not risk eyeballing the gun, since it was pressed nice and snug against his temple, and sighed. "A'ight. But you don't know who you're dealing with."
Then it was the Technohol's turn to be dumbstruck. How did Sam not catch that? 'Cyber-boy', indeed. It had known that its makers would attempt to retrieve it, possibly rather soon - but not quite THIS fast. It hadn't even had time to manufacture more than five contingency plans. "Sam." Sam looked in the rear-view mirror as the Technohol said that. "What, Hoss?" The Technohol then shrugged, at least mentally. "I truly wish you wouldn't call me that."
"But now is definitely not the time for that. Do NOT talk to me vocally, this woman knows that I am 'on board', here." Sam prepared to say something in response, but feeling the Eagle pressed against his head caused him to drop his smarmy remark. Inside his head, he said "Fuck. So she's one of these guys you said was out to kill us and stuff, right?" The Technohol gave Sam a mental nod in the affirmative, and then began to scan the girl with its many sensors.
"Luckily, she's not one of the other Technohol units, so we can likely defeat her - however, I believe that she's leading us to a larger group of armed hooligans. I recommend we allow their ambush to play out, so we can deal with her and her associates - permanently." Sam looked sad for a minute, thinking of such wasted curves, then remembered that she lied to him. Her and her nubile woman-parts, her undulating, jiggly woman parts -
"Hey!" Clarice (if that was her real name) swatted Sam upside the head with the butt of her gun, noticing that he wasn't quite paying attention to her as he pulled the car to a stop. "I said as soon as you stop this shitty car, get out and get on the ground. You hear me THIS time?!" Sam scowled. "Yeah, I heard you, you goddamn..." Of course, he muttered a lengthy series of profanities likely starting with the letter 'c', but Clarice couldn't hear them.
He was muttering a bit too silently for her to catch those 'c' words. You never call a lady the 'c' word when she's got a really bad ass handgun anywhere near you, you know.
As he stepped out of the car, Sam and the Technohol both noticed the black, unmarked cargo van rapidly approaching the blue LTD - and both were oddly on the same channel. Running around the car, Sam body checked Clarice as she tried to shoot him; she managed to tag his shoulder right good, but he put his elbow through several teeth; this naturally caused the malefactor to drop her gun as well as her broken teeth, and she fell to the ground - out cold.
"Ow, you cunt!" Sam, now unrestrained by firearms, had no problem with the 'c' word. "Cunt cunt cunt! You ain't so pretty now, are you? Cunt!" After a pause, during which Sam gripped his shoulder fiercely, he added "And my car ain't shitty." That was when the Technohol screamed at him. "We don't have time for this! Move!" Sam then kicked Clarice where she lives for all the trouble she'd caused, and leaped into the ditch next to the interstate.
Sam ran up and over the other side, and immediately after he disappeared into the brush alongside the road, he heard the sound of gunfire - lots of gunfire - coming from the general direction of behind him. "Jeez! These guys don't mess around! At least Clarice must've just grazed him with that bullet," Sam thought, "since it don't hurt any more." "No, she shot you pretty good, Sam; I'm dulling the pain you're experiencing while I stitch you back together."
"Damnit, I hate that." Sam was, of course, referring to the Technohol's ability to eavesdrop on what he was thinking; he really wished there was an off switch to that. Annoyed with its human host, the Technohol then said "Well, I can turn your pain receptors back on if you like..." This shut Sam up right quick - at least after he said "No no no... that's all right. You just do your thing, Hoss." This elicited something of a mental shrug from the Technohol.
Stopping to catch his breath, Sam could hear more gunfire, still issuing forth from where he left his car. However, it was punctuated by the sound of metal being perforated by, say, lots and lots of automatic gunfire. Metal that was, oh, in the shape of a 1982 Ford LTD wagon. "Crap, my car! We've got to stop 'em!" Hearing Sam say this, the Technohol just mentally shrugged again. "As though I can't fix it. Again..."
"S'not the point. These guys, they're DEAD."
Oddly, the Technohol couldn't see too much fault with Sam's payback plan, aside from the fact that it was a totally irrational emotional response to the leaden destruction of his automobile. At Sam's request, it turned his hand and lower arm into something akin to a Vulcan cannon, complete with a high powered air turbine engine to hold the ridiculous weight up; Sam may be somewhat strong, but no mere human could hold that thing in one arm.
Even Technohol-enhanced - not without severe skeletal work, at least.
As he returned to the breach in the foliage into which he fled the gunmen mere minutes ago, Sam sprayed THEIR van with an unholy rain of bullets, firing them from his sudden gattling arm so quickly that you couldn't hear the reports from the individual bullets firing. "Hey! Your ride looks like a bunch'a holes held together by a bit of van, you lousy cockmongers! Hah hah hah!" Sam then ran into the brush again, quickly followed by another hail of bullets.
As the Technohol reabsorbed the hard core weapon into Sam's body, the man ran deeper into the woods as his attackers pursued him this time; apparently, they didn't feel like waiting for him to come back out again. Not that he knew why they were just hanging out by his car in the first place, but then, he wasn't too worried about that. He just wanted them to hurt - lots. He was so angry and flooded with adrenaline, in fact, that he ran right into the tree.
As Sam fell down, he realized a few things real quick-like. First off, he didn't hit a standing tree... this one was sideways - and swung at him like a baseball bat. It was thick, too. Second, the guy who swung the baseball bat wasn't a guy, it was a woman. One who looked a whole lot like Clarice. Well, Clarice, at any rate, if she was wearing red denim cutoff jeans, a crimson T-shirt (tied up as it was before), and had glowing red eyes.
"Hey, Hoss - I thought you said she wasn't Technoholic?"
To this, the Technohol simply said "..."
That was when Clarice grinned. "Heh... I knew that would fool the both of you. Y'see, I built me a sort of drone, a fleshy robot to lure you right into my trap. Heck, I didn't even need to make it all that complex, you know; you're about as thick as a brick, Sam. And a bit tubby, too... you'd think with all the things you can do, you could at least get in SHAPE or something." Naturally, this didn't sit too well with Sam.
He could handle getting beat up - even getting beat up by a girl - but nobody made fun of his 'excess'. "Bitch!" This, naturally, caused him to get plowed about a foot into the ground by Clarice's makeshift weapon. To this, Sam simply said "Ow!" again. As Sam lay there, momentarily stunned, the Technohol watched with horror as Clarice's arm... changed. It transformed from a mere, fleshy female appendage into a big, steel harpoon gun of bright crimson hue.
"Technohol 12," said Sam, though Sam didn't quite remember wanting to say that. As he came around, he realized that the Technohol was talking through him. "Stop that! That's my mouth!" Clarice laughed at that, and swung her large, barbed projectile towards areas of Sam's anatomy that he was rather fond of; this caused him to roll sideways instinctively as the barb fired, moving him to safety faster than the Technohol ever could.
"Hah! You morons, you haven't even gotten to terms with each other - like me and MY Technohol have! Me'n Twelve, we're like peas in a pod - you two jerks are like a goddamn committee! Well, I guess cherry soda beats mint pop any day of the week!" With that, Clarice shot another, freshly generated harpoon barb at Sam, reabsorbing the first while he dropped to the ground in a panic. When he rose again, he couldn't help but chuckle. "Heh... cherry. Heh heh heh..."
Clarice looked like she was going to fire on Sam again for his perfidy, but stopped to chuckle. That's when Sam heard the voice behind him. "Ey boss, you want for us to perforate this wise guy?" Clarice's evil, evil grin was all the cue said goon needed, and he started firing on Sam, only to be joined moments afterward by his three fellows. This time it was the Technohol's reflexes that saved Sam from acquiring instant air conditioning.
It molded several stiff panels out of his left arm very, very quickly, forming a sort of shield in front of him, one that actually managed to deflect the vast majority of the shells that hit it; the rest simply got stuck in its thick, bony mass. "Ow ow ow ow ow!" As the goons stopped shooting, doing so only when their guns had spent all of their ammunition, Sam wheeled on them, the Technohol picking up on his mental cues, and changing his right arm this time.
Transforming it into a large, hydraulic pile driver, it lashed out at the head goon of the bunch, making a dull 'crack' sort of sound as it crushed the bones where it impacted on his shoulder. As the man fell, his three sidekicks picked him up and fled in horror, saying such things as "That wasn't part of the deal!", and "I ain't gettin' paid enough for this!" As Sam watched them flee, he took a harpoon right in the back, pretty much wrecking his own shoulder.
Falling to the ground - hard - Sam wasn't so sure he'd be getting up this time.
Clarice then rolled him over with her left foot, and returned the favor he 'gave' her drone earlier, stomping on his paraphernalia. Leaving her foot there, she eyed Sam as her harpoon spear regenerated itself out of her own biomass. "Who's laughing now, smart guy?" Sam knew it definitely wasn't him, and tried to think of something. That's when it suddenly occurred to him that he wasn't fighting a soul-less killing machine.
Oh sure, Clarice was rather psychotic, and quite likely homicidal, but she was still too human compared to what the Technohol had described her (and any other Technohol experiments) to be like. "Hey, lady, what's with the attitude? I thought you were supposed to be some kinda robot or something. You know, no emotions, no personality, no free will..." This seemed to amuse Clarice, who stepped off of Sam's bits and leaned against a still-standing tree.
As he started to stand up, having a hard time doing so with his various wounds (and a hunk of metal sticking out of his back), Sam saw her go into narrative mode, as though she'd been dying to tell somebody - anybody - about it. He got the impression that, as she started talking, that Clarice's drone wasn't too far off the mark, at least where the powers of conversation were concerned. He had a hard time listening too intently, though - he hurt. Lots.
"Well, that's just it, isn't it, Big Boy? I was supposed to be a happy killing machine just like you were, but it didn't work out that way. When I bought that cherry soda off that weirdo distributor guy in Taos, I just figured I was getting a leg up on everybody, trying something so new - boy, was I right. About six hours later, I started to feel the change coming over me, and that's when I met my gal pal, Technohol 12.
When Sam just said "Gal pal...?", Clarice went on with her story.
"She said she was supposed to take over my mind, but that she didn't want to. Of course, unlike the previous models, she had the wherewithal to make the choice on her own, disregarding all of her initial programming. She said she 'liked' me, and that she didn't want to kill my mind, since she decided she'd gotten 'used to' me after hanging out in my head for a couple of hours. She also told me about all the other Technohols, and how they died horribly."
"Especially Technohol 11, the poor, watermelon-y bastard."
"Anyway, I've just been cooling my heels ever since, doing whatever the techies tell me to do, so they think I'm working just fine, and don't dissolve my ass like the others. What, you didn't think they couldn't get rid of us easily, that they'd make us super organic circuitry sleeper killing machines and not make sure they could get rid of us if we get all uppity? Man, you're more na´ve than I thought, Tubby."
Trying very, very hard not to say something with the 'c' word in it, Sam just said "So you're just gonna kill us, then? Too bad, so sad, I'm too scared to do something about it, so I'll be their maniac killing machine?" This caused a look of anguish to come over Clarice's face, as though she'd been wrestling with that question for awhile. She then turned her back on Sam, and walked a short distance away from him, still relating her story.
"Oh, you make it sound so easy, you fuck. You don't know what it's like living under the gun for as long as I have. These people are out to take over the entire goddamn world! There's no way I could fight 'em all off - they've got their own army, for crying out loud! I don't want to go around killing people when they tell me to, but it's me or them. Unless, of course, we were to team up against them, you know, two being better than one..."
Looking just past her, Sam saw that she was, in fact, standing at the edge of a steep incline, some sort of cliff. Also seeing this, the Technohol went on automatic again, striking Clarice from behind with that pile driver thing, causing her to fall right over. "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaa-" Clarice's scream was interrupted rather abruptly, when she impacted on the rocks some fifty feet below. She left a big cherry-colored mess all over the place.
"You dumb fuck."
"If you'd have been paying attention at ALL, you'd have realized that she was wanting to HELP us, not kill us. Or something."
"What do you mean, reflex?"
"I am somewhat organic, you know. Self-preservation and all that."
"Huh... Hoss and his big scaredy-cat brain. If you ever call me dross again, I'm sleeping on an electo-magnet. Got it?"
After Sam returned to his car, the Technohol reabsorbed its spent bullets out of Clarice's goons' van, and he drove off in the mashed up, over-ventilated LTD. This got him a bevy of odd looks from passers-by, at least until the Technohol made good on its boast and patched the venerable vehicle back up again. Of course, if they'd have hung out for another five minutes, both Sam and the Technohol would've seen Clarice pull herself out of that ravine.
But then, they probably wouldn't have made it out of there in one piece...
* Last issue (the only one previous to this one, in fact).
Getting the impression that he's not going to be able to rest easy until the Technohol's creators are out of commission, Sam decides to hunt them down - starting with the troublesome old man who gave him the minty fresh organic circuitry in the first place. Naturally, though, the old man is a whole lot trickier than he seems, and Sam could find himself in even more trouble than he was against Clarice. How much? Tune in next time to find out!
Technoholic Man #2 (of 4): Mmm... Cherry...
by Denny Hill 2 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Copyright 2001 All rights reserved.