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 Avoiding Entropy: TimeSaga 12(All 3 Chapters)

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PostSubject: Avoiding Entropy: TimeSaga 12(All 3 Chapters)   February 17th 2015, 11:22 am

Avoiding Entropy
TimeSaga Story Twelve

Chapter One

Charcoal looked at me and said, "We all knew it was coming, Eight.  Listen, stay with me.  I can keep you in the money – good money, but as now most is going to be used to keep you in good condition."

I replied, "That is actually what Chambers told me to do.  Said that you had the reputation as a weapons guy, but you were not one to use them."

"I have, which is why people trust me.  I just don't have that heart anymore, but I hope that you have learned to trust me.  I can keep you in the money, Eight, if you will keep yourself in good condition."

Sandstorm commented, "Some of the missions that come to Charcoal might not be as reputable as those Chambers accepts, but Charcoal will assure that you get paid."

I simply stated, "It's not like I have a choice."

Hitchcock said, "There are a lot of people who would like to study you, Eight."

"No."

A chorus of agreements sounded on that one.  Exclamations of various kinds then were stated as Chambers made his exit.  He was leaving to a better offer.  I did not say anything to him.  There was no improving my life.  I was built for one purpose, and I really had no other options.  After hearing the door shut, I mumbled a curse only to hear a chorus repeating it.

Charcoal then said, "Listen, I got to pack all my equipment.  Come help me, Eight, then we can leave together."

Not really having anything better to do, I did.  Others told us farewell, but Sandstorm stayed and helped as well.  After being told to lock the door behind us, Charcoal began to talk about what he had for us to do.

"Listen, the people that come to me are thinking to make use of my toys, but they do cost money.  Thus, I really do not take the missions that need us to 'light up the night sky.'  That does not mean that I only take the easy jobs, but just those where we should not be potentially dead among the fireworks.  Most of what I get are bag&tag missions, so you can expect the bad guys to be dangerous."

Sandstorm asked, "They do pay for that?"

"Yes, and I charge for what I might lose, so they pay dear.  If you can come in clean with little use of hardware, I will do kickbacks.  Thus, a quick painless removal can be a rich payday."

"How does that sound to you, Eight."

"Quick and painless sounds good."

I did understand that we were talking about murder, but I had become numb to it.  The death of innocents did bother me, but the situations really prevented any concern except for myself and allies.  I had seen too many bad guys point their weapons at innocents, and the caring had reduced to spending time in target practice to assure the accuracy of my shots.  There was pleasure in seeing the innocents dash away covered in someone else's blood, but too often the non-combatants died anyway as the bad guys simply shot whoever they saw to shoot at.  While I took no pleasure in shooting innocents, I could not deny that I was committing murder however God sorted the souls I sent to him.

Charcoal explained the mission.  Basically we were being called in to do an assassination.  The problem with certain targets was the company they kept.  Secret Service was one thing, but a gang of simple gunmen was another.  Even if we did get off a single, perfect shot, the response would be quick and heavy resulting in us needing to answer in kind just to get away safely even if not spotted and a distance away.  That is why Charcoal got these missions, because he was known to have the weapons and the ammo.

I climbed in the truck not really feeling like another piece of hardware.  I had gone on enough covert maneuvers that moving in the dark no longer bothered me.  I had learned some pieces of various languages, but usually came from the vehicle only interested in speaking with those of my group.  It however surprised me to see the garage of a house when the back door to the truck was opened.

Charcoal said, "Welcome to your new home, Eight.  Listen, you are welcome in the house.  I have a room for you out here, but that does not mean that the house is off limits to you."

I understood.  With most of my body being mechanical, even if special alloys, it did weigh more than a human.  While I had operated in some flimsy structures, there had been some mishaps.  I understood that Charcoal only intended to protect his home from prolonged stress, and not from me.

Meeting his wife and children surprised me.  The young boy was excited to see a cyborg, but the wife's hesitation had the girls also fearful of me.  What helped them was me picking up and petting their dog.  Displaying surprise, the girls approached with one asking me a question.

"Do you have a dog?"

"No, but I did," I answered.  "I got it for my son."

I did not say that the animal died in the same circumstance that killed my family.  The words did not die in my throat because I feared scaring the girls.  I did not say the fact because I really did not like reliving certain moments.

It helped that I was able to break the ice with the children.  Charcoal's wife seemed to understand what her husband did for a living, as she allowed certain phrases between us men pass without comment.  I appreciated her allowing us to become a part of her life, and felt having children around would make this new assignment a lot better than where I had been.

In going back into the garage, I found the men to go with me.  Sandstorm happened to have an attic room over the garage, so it ended up with me not really being the only one sleeping outside the house.  That made me feel better.  It also helped for us men to gather around a table and begin a more detailed study of our assignment without bothering the wife and children.

Sandstorm did have a rather light-hearted personality, but he did have the professionalism to focus on the job.  Yes, he would interject comments, even on the mission, but he did not argue with details or orders.  While I had not considered Charcoal as having any serious rank, Sandstorm listened intently as the details of the job were presented.

There was a pride in the three of us as we went and did what had been requested.  Charcoal did not just have the proper equipment, but his knowledge of the situation was proven reliable as well.  Sandstorm was his usual self.  I felt that I handled myself in the usual professional manner.  There was still a pride in seeing my skills blend with my two companions and enable us to come home with the contract successfully completed.

Working with Charcoal did force me to perfect my techniques.  His missions were not large operations where we were mercenaries called in to assure a certain flank, or asset, would not become a problem.  While assassinations, thefts, and such challenged my sense of right and wrong, I found the difference in my present jobs and the previous ones to be a matter of perspective.  With limited personnel, and a clear understanding of what resources we had available, we were more aware of what our actions were doing.  Understanding the end results of my duties enabled me to focus my prayers, and I practiced my techniques to assure that no unintentioned sin resulted from our work.

Between the missions, it was nice having Charcoal's family to make our relaxation enjoyable.  The girls listened to me speak of my deceased family, and actually started treating me as a type of uncle.  They were too young to have boyfriends, but showed their developing minds in having me speak of my boy.  Having to tell the stories did cause me mental pain at first, but also helped me deal with the loss in a manner I had yet to face.  I came to enjoy my time with this family and felt that I was finally beginning to heal from the damage done to me.

One evening, I was disturbed from my exercises by Charcoal's wife coming to me and saying, "Eight, my girls pray for you."  When I did not say anything in return, she said, "I just wanted you know.  I don't think they have told you, but I felt they will."

Attempting to keep my voice as bland as possible, I said, "It does not matter.  I am going to Hell."

"No, Eight.  You are a good man."

"I committed suicide.  Now I am in this business.  I was a good man with a good job and a good family.  That was all taken from me, and I committed suicide instead of trusting in the love, compassion, and guidance of God.  Tell the girls that I appreciate their prayers, as they should pray for people, but between you and me I know that I am going to Hell."

She approached to make her words stronger even as she sought to make our conversation personal.  "The world is a cruel place, Eight.  I know that.  What my husband is doing is not helping, but it does settle some disputes that prevents things from getting worse.  At least that is what he tells me."

"Yes, that is what I hear as well."

She sat near me, then softly said, "I know that life won't last.  Enrico has gone through many jobs, and he has gone to jail.  He assures me that he will not go back to jail, but I know that as groups such as yours gets a good reputation that things happen to break it up."

"Well, I slightly need your husband, as he keeps me running."

"There's a purpose for you, Eight.  When you find it, go back to using your name."

I glared at her.  It should have been obvious that I was not the man I once was.  Somehow I still had life, but I felt that to be just a temporary condition.  My fate was sealed, and with such an attitude I stated what I felt was a clear fact.

"My name is Eight."

"No, it's not.  My girls are praying for you, and I feel that within that mechanical body is a man worthy of being prayed for."

"There once was, but he was condemned to Hell.  God can do as he likes, and we can't change that."

She stood and with defiance said, "I am praying for you as well, Eight.  There is a man who has just lost his way.  He is going to Hell because he cannot find the road to salvation.  I and my girls are going to pray that you find it again."

After the lady went back into the house, I heard Charcoal say, "I told you that you were allowed inside the house, Eight.  My wife, she just let you know that she considers you part of our family."

Wondering about things, I replied, "I will never do you or your family wrong, but I am what I am."

"Women, they see us in a different manner than we see each other.  You were married, Eight, so I thought you knew that."

"Yes, but things were different then."

Charcoal had his work.  The weapons, ammunition, and tools that we used demanded a good amount of precision.  He stayed at his work although also continued the conversation with me.

"Technology is advancing, Eight.  You were made at the beginning of a whole new set of technologies.  I am keeping you running, but I see things advancing to where you might be able to be made better.  Wish that the same could be said for me."

"No, Charcoal, as you are able to live a normal life.  You have a wife and children like a man is supposed to.  No matter what you do to me, I am still a doomed man."

"Listen to my wife, Eight.  There could well be hope for you.  Stay alive and save your money, as you might one day find yourself in a better place."

Tired of the conversation, I asked, "You have another job for us?"

"Yes."

"Hopefully I am making the world a better place for others.  If that happens to include your wife and girls, fine with me.  I however know that there is no better place for me."

_________________
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.


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PostSubject: Chapter 2   February 22nd 2015, 2:25 pm

Avoiding Entropy
TimeSaga Story Twelve

Chapter Two

The next morning Charcoal told Sandstorm not to go into town, as we needed to discuss a new job. He did not put up a fight, but only shrugged and mentioned something he would be doing in the yard. I remembered Charcoal saying last night that he had another job for us, so already had plans to simply assure that my body was in good shape.

After we ate and the girls had been taken to school, we were called together to discuss the coming mission. One thing about having a small group, was that there was no need for projectors and lectures. Maps and important notes were laid out on the table. Sandstorm and I were free to look at the information even as Charcoal mentioned the important details.

"Okay, we are going to steal a car."

Sandstorm asked, "Fast?"

"No, which is our problem. Actually taking the car should not be hard, but getting away with it is the complication. This job would not even be happening, except that other matters are going down in the same area. Saving the car could actually be counted in our favor, as it seems that no one wants it hurt. The politics and other claims are not our concern. Believe it or not, we bring the car to Chambers. We go in, steal the car, then drive it to the airport where Chambers has a team running a more militaristic operation. It is that team's fireworks that will be our cover. We drop off the car, then get ourselves away."

"Antique?"

"No." Charcoal pulled out a picture to show to Sandstorm while explaining, "This is supposedly a very smart car. The way I got chosen for this job is that I work on Eight. What I do to keep our cyborg's body responding to his brain is said to be the same technique necessary to overcome certain safeguards with this vehicle."

"A cyborg car?"

"No. There is something else out there. No one wants to speak of it, but the rumors are strong that a completely different type of processor is being developed. That car is supposed to be a prototype attempting to make use of the new technology. I have spoken with Chambers, and he assures me that if we can just secure the vehicle that he can get a helicopter to retrieve it. Doing that however cuts into our pay. I am thus trusting that we can disable enough to just have the engine turn the wheels."

Sandstorm had bought him a car, and regularly spent his free time with women. I listened as he spoke of driving women around, then having them tell him to drive to their home. Honestly, a couple had come back with him to spend time in the attic with him. I was still enough of a man to like what I saw, which actually included the car.

He remarked, "They had been working for years on a car that could drive itself."

Charcoal this time answered with a, "Yes, although this car is said to do much more than that. Honestly, the reason we were chosen for this job was because all felt I could overcome certain safeguards to safely drive the vehicle. I am expecting a bonus from them having to pay me to tell them how I managed to get the car to them. As both you men know, I do share the wealth."

Those words hushed Sandstorm. It had been true that we had been getting more money from Charcoal. He laughed when we spoke about it, as he spoke of not having to pay for Chambers' sorry ass or those he called his staff. Charcoal would admit that he took out money to pay for his work to create our weapons and equipment, but said that his family was not staff. He paid for his family out of his share just as we would pay for any family, or whoever, out of our pay. I knew that my pay was multiples of what Chambers paid me, so hushed and put my complete focus on listening to the facts of the coming mission.

That evening the girls made a little presentation of some knitted dolls for us to keep with us for luck. I really did not eat, but I did join the family at meals just for the socialization. The dolls were not the best made, but were small and easily compressed to not be a problem. I did thank the girls, but then turned to Chamber's wife as I left.

"I told you that I was originally a cop?"

"Yes, Eight."

"Well, here." I gave her the doll. "You should be able to accept that what I do, and I am sure what your husband does, is for you. I do not mind that I lost my life, but it hurts that I lost my wife and son. Please, keep the luck with you."

She used her hands to cover mine and prevent me from giving her the doll. "We love you, Eight. I love my husband, and have accepted you. We want you coming back. Listen to me, Eight. There is a reason that you are still alive. You hear me? You are still alive. You still have a chance to back away from Hell. Keep the doll, Eight. I believe that you will need luck more than us."

"I need luck why?"

"So you can keep coming back. There is a reason for your life, Eight, and I can assure you that it is not to kill people and destroy property. Keep coming back."

I had to nod at her words while saying, "I can agree with that. But you stay safe, and keep your children safe."

She assured me that she would. I made certain to have her again tell the girls thanks for the doll. She assured me that she would.

Stepping into the garage, Charcoal stepped out behind me to say, "Don't argue with my wife, Eight. She can handle me, so is a strong woman."

I still had the doll in my hand, so handed it to him while saying, "You keep coming back to her."

He used a hand to push it back while saying, "I do fear that, Eight. I fear the same thing happening with my family that happened with yours. If it did, I might end up doing the same thing you did. My wife however tells me that such would be just as wrong of an answer for me as it was for you."

Again I found myself having to nod. "Yes, it was a wrong thing to do."

"So, live, Eight. Maybe you are not helping yourself, but you are helping me. Okay?"

"Okay. Listen, I am going to get my rest. You spend your time with your wife."

He agreed. He then opened a pocket to show me a number of small items created from yarn. I understood that the doll was just the latest in a family tradition of giving out items for luck. Agreeing that he had enough, I accepted to find a place to keep my doll.

Working for Charcoal taught me things about the life of a mercenary that I had not realized. Chambers did all his communication in private. Charcoal did not exactly invite us in to listen, but kept his work away from his family. Thus, he would handle the matters of us being mercenaries out in the garage where I could listen.

Countries knew the problems that were going on. While almost none had a tight enough border to prevent our incursion, most of the time we came in with permission. We were not out to cause war, and our objectives usually were of an entirely personal nature. When Charcoal spoke to certain officials about our mission, we gained the clearances to cross their border with words of us actually removing a problem.

The usual vehicle for us to use was a VTOL plane. It allowed us to quickly get in and out. It had not been a practical craft for Chambers, as he dealt with missions involving larger groups. Having a tighter unit, Charcoal could make use of them. It also fit his personality, as he liked showing off his knowledge of equipment. He could work on the machines, and usually partially paid for the service of the vehicle by spending time working with the man that actually owned and flew the plane.

With the proper clearances, we were able to deploy very close to our target. The VTOL came in quick, dropped us, then took off. Considering that we were going to pick up a vehicle, we felt that we would not need our transport for a time. We thus deployed glad to see that the VTOL had no problems, and hoped the same would be true for us.

The car was not being kept in town. While there were plenty of roads there, the vehicle we desired had not been authorized for use on regular roads. I honestly did not think that the local government had enough authority to regulate the traffic, but I accepted within the limits of the town it could.

The surrounding was not the usual jungle. The locals had farmed and raised cattle long enough that the tendency of the land to grow thick with trees had been changed. There were patches of woods, but mostly clear areas either growing grass for animals or being used for agriculture.

We had been dropped in at night, and used the darkness to our advantage. Our desire was not to be seen, but considered that a given without the light of the sun. What the night provided was an identification of others as they used lights to see.

Charcoal was usually our sniper. He built the weapons, and took the most pleasure in their operation. A spray of bullets did not really please him. The man would however joyfully chat about a long shot that struck exactly on target. Charcoal would however be needed to assure that we gained control of the car. He wanted me with him due to certain sources telling him that my cyborg body would have similarities to the components in the vehicle, so desired to have me for reference. Sandstorm thus became our sniper, and I found the assignment acceptable when a man walking patrol suddenly dropped.

Our objective was not something locked away in a safe or kept in some private guarded position. We thus hoped to keep our presence as undetected as possible. All we had to do was open the gate to the estate, slip into the garage, take the vehicle, then quickly drive it to Chambers. Since our objective was just a machine kept with other similar vehicles, we did not feel it difficult to perform our mission.

Charcoal went to the gate to assure that it opened while I checked on the man that fell. We really were not on a military operation. While the shot was intended to take the man out, Sandstorm did not have instructions to kill. I would not have faulted him if he did. The fall from the elevated position could have also caused a fatality. I saw that the man had been struck near the collarbone, but was not dead even though seriously hurt. I put some salve on him to hopefully stop the bleeding. The intent was not to save the man, but give him the possibility that another could get him to a medical facility in time.

Others became alerted as the gate opened. That could not be helped. Having only limited personnel forced us to take certain risks. Charcoal assured me that the mechanics to the gate had been disabled, so we rushed to the garage doors trusting in Sandstorm to keep others from manually closing the gate.

I had been assured that the mechanics of garage doors was simple technology. Charcoal's ability to work with machines had been proven to me on many occasions in the past. It thus did not surprise me to see a garage door open as we ran toward it.

Inside the dark volume we could not plan. Thus, I actually scanned for those I would have to kill while hoping to spot the vehicle that was our objective. Both Charcoal and I sounded out a recognition of one car set apart, and headed toward it glad that we could continue with our plan.

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PostSubject: Re: Avoiding Entropy: TimeSaga 12(All 3 Chapters)   February 27th 2015, 11:07 am

Avoiding Entropy
TimeSaga Story Twelve

Chapter Three

Charcoal and I reached the car at the same time. We heard shots outside, so assumed that Sandstorm was keeping things unsettled about the property preventing any focus on us. Of course, it was locked. Seeing the lock release, I suspected that it was Charcoal.

Getting into the co-pilot seat, I turned suspecting to see my boss get behind the wheel. Instead, I saw a girl. She had white hair, blue eyes, and would be lovely if she had any of the developments of maturity. She was definitely cute enough, but not what I suspected to see.

Charcoal got into the back seat behind the girl, then said, "You better get going, or I will turn you off."

She turned her head to me. I suspected it turned as far as it could to speak to Charcoal. Instead she spoke to me.

"You are a cyborg – Pyramid program."

The voice did not sound electronic. It did sound like the words of a girl. The information was however correct, so I kept my voice calm as I replied.

"Yes, I am number eight."

"And you are attempting to steal me?"

It had sounded like a reasonable question, so I politely answered. "According to what I saw, you were already stolen."

"Not exactly, but the world I am in is not where I should be. I feel that whoever you are with would make better use of me." Before I could reply, she turned her head further to direct her words at Charcoal. "I am Annapolis Fourteen. Where do you desire me to go?"

"Capperton Field on the west side of town."

The engine started. I sat back expecting to feel the force of acceleration. The car stayed still as the windows came down. As the car started to move, I heard the girl say.

"You will need to shoot the guards."

Things were erratic as the car left the garage. There were not a lot of security personnel, but they were present on the grounds. I suspected that such was partially due to Sandstorm picking off those who gained a prominent position. The girl however informed us a problem she had in driving the car.

"I am not allowed to harm a person. You will need clear them from the route."

I picked off a couple of targets, and as I recovered after feeling pushed into the seat I asked, "Are you a cyborg?"

"No, although I do have some 'wet-ware' components. I think I am an android."

"You think?"

"As much as I can access, I cannot learn of myself. Those who made me know about my capabilities, so can protect themselves from my abilities."

From the back, Charcoal asked, "Can you change the red lights?"

"No. I am observation unit. My own capabilities are to provide information, and not to control the information. I can tell that the light is red, and when it will turn green, but I cannot make it change green."

I asked, "You know when it will turn green?"

"Yes, now."

"Whoa!" I had not buckled my seat belt, so it was my arms that absorbed the shock of us suddenly stopping. "We need to get Sandstorm."

She did turn her head, but I knew could not really see our third member even as she described him. With some communication, handled by Charcoal even as Annapolis Fourteen spoke of others being privy to the conversation, we avoided trouble even as we paused for Sandstorm. Once he threw his weapons and himself into the vehicle, she turned to me and told me to buckle up.

I felt again pressed into the seat as the car accelerated. Charcoal asked about the police, and the girl spoke of where they were before suggesting alternate routes. I heard him verify certain suggestions, and the car moved through the city avoiding the vehicles attempting to stop us.

In hearing us speak with the girl, Sandstorm sought to bring himself up to speed by asking, "What are you called?"

"I am Annapolis Fourteen. I was made by the Straw Sapien Corporation, then sold to General Motors to test my potential as a chauffeur. Seeking to better incorporate my processing, I was sent to Europe. I have basically been moved around since then. I am not exactly certain what my status is, but I do know that I am no longer being adapted for helping my sisters that follow me."

"Following? How many of you are there?"

"There were a hundred of my series. The Baltimore series was however shut down after being attacked, and others of the Annapolis series have been attacked. I am helping you hoping for my own safety, and hoping that you network will better help me find out what is happening to my sisters."

Sounded like a good reason to enable our theft, although I sensed tones of disbelief in Charcoal's question. "Okay, so how many of the original hundred are still alive – assuming that you are alive."

"Seventy-eight, and we are worried about Mary."

I actually asked before Charcoal could. "Mary?"

"She was the original. The records say that she is mostly human, and alive. We are all based off of her."

Charcoal mumbled a comment more than said, "I wonder how much of this Chambers knows."

Annapolis Fourteen stated, "Chambers, Ralph Normand. Yes, with Cherry Flavored Non-medical Staffing which has craft, equipment, and personnel at Capperton Field. I cannot say how much he knows, but he knows about us. Will have an escort within eight point eight minutes."

Probably worried about losing money to Chambers, Charcoal asked, "Do we need the escort?"

"Yes," she crisply replied, "as we have a problem."

Just then I saw a large truck rush over vehicles to impact a building. Annapolis Fourteen spun the steering wheel as her feet worked the pedals. Basically, she acted as would any driver. I could however tell that her perfect posture in her seat was due to being a part of the seat. Exactly how her control of the vehicle was different than a normal driver I could not say, but while she looked like a girl she drove as if having years of experience behind the wheel.

As an explosion sounded in front of us, Annapolis Fourteen said, "He is physically not much older than me with the same white hair and blue eyes. If you see him, kill him."

Sandstorm released some bullets, then asked, "Can you give me a heads-up on where he might be?"

"No. He moves in and out of our reality. What I am told is that he works with the korlocks. He wants me dead."

"Don't you worry, little girl. We don't get paid if we lose you, so we won't lose you, although we might breathe a sigh of relief when we turn you over to Chambers."

I looked out the window ready to aim and fire even as I said, "If you ask Sandstorm, he will apologize for the 'little girl' comment."

Annapolis Fourteen replied, "It is okay. I am programmed not to care. That was why I was not wanted as a chauffeur, they wanted an older person driving."

"If you are a robot, couldn't they change the way you looked?"

"All that they did to me, they did not do that. When my appearance was stated as a problem, they still did not do that. Maybe I am a cyborg."

Before I could reply, she put the car into a spin in order to bring it to a fast stop. Before us I saw a number of weird creatures. Annapolis Fourteen asked a question about directions, but the reply from Charcoal was a complaint about the situation.

"I did not come prepared to defend against them."

She clearly said, "Maybe because you do not need to," before accelerating I assumed taking her own suggestion of directions.

The reason for her statement became obvious when a helicopter flew in low over us. I felt the car shake due to an intense sound blast. Its strength was much more than any stereo system. As I had discussed korlocks with my companions, I had heard about the alternate weapons necessary for combating the aliens. I could feel several more powerful low notes of sound even as a plane rushed overhead with Annapolis Fourteen speaking of it as being our escort.

The ride now became rough just due to the speed of the car and not because of police or the activities of others. Potholes and bad pavement did not stop the lady from having the vehicle rush along its way. By the time I was seeing the lights from Chamber's operation, I felt worn out just from the jostling of the journey.

I saw men loading up machinery as we drove into their midst. While I had felt that we were a secondary mission to the real operation, it seemed that with our arrival everyone felt their time was over. Wondering about our reception, I prepared to face the men.

Chambers walked up saying, "Eight! It seems you did right in going with Charcoal, as you look in great condition. Charcoal, Sandstorm, you all did a wonderful job."

Our leader went up to shake hands with our past leader while admitting, "I have to thank you for your help."

"Don't worry. You still get your pay. The android is here in good condition. The car might need some work, but she is supposed to be able to be separated from it." He looked at the vehicle, then asked, "How did you get her to drive you here?"

"We have one thing you don't – wonderful personalities."

Chambers laughed, then said, "Well, however you managed it, you did well. Your plane has been summoned, and should be here within thirty."

The voice of Annapolis Fourteen declared, "Eighteen point four." It then surprised me to hear, "Pyramid Eight!" As I turned, she said, "I hope you do not mind that I continue to track you."

Understanding what I was, I replied, "I cannot imagine how I could stop you. If you can, just drop me a line every now and then. You know, just to say 'Hi.' I would appreciate it."

"I will tell my sisters, and Mary should I ever contact her."

"Good. If they ever scrap us, maybe we could end up in the same scrap yard and tell our stories to each other."

"That would be nice."

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Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
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