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  1. #81
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    Was it another car like Lizzie's? Many questions...Thank you FMJ.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  2. #82
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    Thanks, FMJ...

    ...sounds kinda like Lizzy is going on the warpath...

  3. #83
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    5

    “That’s the second time in as many weeks; both times the cars were torn to shreds with no survivors and no witnesses,” Pop said to himself. “And in my experience, cars don’t come apart like that in an accident. There is definitely something else going on here.”

    Pop’s break was interrupted when a white car marked with a gold shield on the door rolled into the driveway coming to a stop under the edge of the canopy. Pop reluctantly left the comfort of his rocker to go talk to the sheriff because the usual short conversation centered on information about a certain model, year or color car he was trying to locate.
    But this time, Pop was surprised to find the sheriff outside his car waiting patiently beside it. Pop kept his hands visible.

    “Welcome to Pop’s Garage, sheriff. Can I help you?” Pop asked curiously.

    “Are you Pete McCready?”

    “Yep, but everybody calls me Pop.”

    “Good morning, Pete. I’m Sheriff Browell,” the officer said somberly extending a hand.

    “This doesn’t sound like a social call,” Pop inquired hesitantly.

    “Have you heard anything about the accidents that happened on the interstate south of here?” Sheriff Browell continued.

    “Yeah, I was just looking at a newsie about it as you drove up.”

    “The one with the video?” the sheriff asked quietly.

    “Yeah,” Pop replied unsure what the sheriff was driving at.

    “Did anything in that video strike you as unusual, Pete? I mean, from a mechanical standpoint, have you ever seen damage like that before?”

    “You’re talking about the shape of the pieces of sheet metal, I take it?” Pop asked.

    “Yes, I was wondering if you saw those,” the sheriff replied.

    “It kind of reminded me of what comes out of an industrial shredder,” Pop replied seriously.

    “Pete, could I get your opinion on something else?” the sheriff asked as he opened the trunk of the police car to gesture within it.

  4. #84
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    What's in the trunk??? Inquiring minds need to know! Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  5. #85
    Thanks for the hit!
    Now we're wanting more.

  6. #86
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    Ok now...lets walk around to the back of the car so we can see, too!

    Thanks, FMJ

  7. #87
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    5

    Walking to stand beside the sheriff, Pop protested, “Look sheriff, no offense, but I’m hardly qualified to give a professional opinion about ...ah...,”
    Pop’s voice trailed off as he turned to look into the open trunk. Looking first to the sheriff in confusion, Pop slowly reached into the trunk to pick up two heavy metal diamond shaped pieces.

    “These came from the accident?” Pop asked incredulously.

    “Yes, and watch out for the edges. They’re as sharp as a knife,” the sheriff added holding up a bandaged hand.

    “This looks like engine block,” Pop said examining the piece in his left hand, “and this one might be transaxle; see that sheared off planetary gear race on the side?” Pop said in amazement. “This couldn’t have happened in an accident, these edges look like they were machined!”

    “We found over a ton of those pieces spread over a quarter mile of roadway along with what was left of the female driver. Now, Mr. McCready, in your opinion, what on earth could possibly do something like this?”

    Pop gaped, “I...I don’t know, sheriff. I just don’t know.”
    Last edited by FMJ; 08-05-2017 at 11:16 PM.

  8. #88
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    12

    (9)


    The preemptive strikes Lizzy and Magnus conducted against the unsuspecting and unprepared Strax pods were both decisive and effective.
    Four complete Strax pods, 24 machines in total, were utterly destroyed in one week as the Cerulean Knight and his vengeful pilot systematically hunted and killed the black machines without mercy.
    Magnus resolutely maintained that no element of a Strax pod shall survive intact to return and inform their superiors of the details of their defeat. The veil of secrecy must be maintained for as long as possible to allow the covert operation being conducted on Earth by TVS to function.

    “Any more targets on tactical, Magnus?” Lizzy asked comfortably curled in the pilot’s chair.

    “None, my Lady. It would appear that we have successfully driven the vermin from this area.”

    “None at all? And here I was really in the mood, too. I’m truly disappointed I tell you.”

  9. #89
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    Now Magnus has done it! Lizzy is bloodthirsty now! Thank you FMJ.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  10. #90
    Think how handy a weapon like that would be.
    Thanks, now it's time for more!

  11. #91
    FMJ thank you for the new chapters, looking forward to more.

    Wayne

  12. #92
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    14

    “Shall we review the battle log, my Lady?”

    “Yep. I guess that’s the next best thing if nobody wants to play today,” Lizzy said turning to sit straight in the pilot’s chair. “Let’er rip, Magnus.”

    The combat restraint extended from the sides of the pilot’s chair to enfold Lizzy’s body in its familiar protective embrace as the shield extended to enclose her head lighting up with a myriad of tactical displays. Lizzy snuggled deeper into the soft leather of the pilot’s chair to find the most comfortable spot.

    “Our first and second Strax contacts recorded in the battle log are only six and ten seconds in duration, respectively. However, when I slow the playback to fifty percent of real-time, the six successive flares of my rail-gun launching kinetic rounds is clearly visible in each with predictable results,” Magnus baritone voiceover continued as multiple pieces of flaming debris arced out the camera’s field of view.

    “Ooo, pretty.”

    “Yes...well...the, ah, third contact, however is significant not only due to the length of engagement at almost twenty-five seconds duration, but specifically because of the way the Strax killer machine responded to the concerted attack on the pod seen here again at fifty percent real-time.”

    “Hmm. He peeled out of the formation while in both of the other contacts; they stayed together,” Lizzy said thoughtfully watching the graphic replay.

    “The single remaining Strax killer then attempts a weak flanking maneuver through an unusually slow approach vector I intercepted with the final rail-gun kinetic round here,” Magnus concluded as the actinic launch flare in the replay subsided and the black machine erupted in flame to pin wheel from view.

    “Magnus, if a Strax killer machine wasn’t running full autonomous, would it be slow to react? Did we score a live Strax in that killer?” Lizzy asked thoughtfully.

    “Quite possibly, my Lady, but verification becomes impossible when all Strax machines have immediately self-destructed when disabled or damaged.”

    “Is that the end of the battle log, Magnus? I thought we had at least one fast pursuit kill on a Strax pod yesterday... or was it the day before?” Lizzy pondered looking at the cabin ceiling.

    “My Lady. I have just received a priority message from TVS. We are being directed to return to a TVS service point for maintenance.”

    “Really? Where to, Magnus?” Lizzy asked brightly as the battle restraint retracted and she sat up in the chair with renewed interest.

    “We are directed to return to Pop’s Garage for an armament upgrade and refueling, my Lady.”
    Last edited by FMJ; 08-07-2017 at 08:59 PM.

  13. #93
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    Alright! Wonder what Pop is looking at in the cops trunk? You know how to keep us coming back for more, thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  14. #94
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    Has the Strax recruited some human "good life"?

    New armament? Maybe some kind of EMP gun to disrupt Stax programing? Statis bubble to keep them from self destructing? Energy dampener to stop all activity? Or other extreme, anti-mater shells for the rail gun?
    Last edited by Freebirde; 08-08-2017 at 06:16 PM.
    The difference between being smart and being wise:
    Being smart is learning from your own mistakes.
    Being wise is learning from the mistakes of others.
    My life has given others many opportunities to be wise.

  15. #95
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    10

    Quote Originally Posted by Freebirde View Post
    Has the Strax recruited some human "good life"?

    New armament? Maybe some kind of EMP gun to disrupt Stax programing? Statis bubble to keep them from self destructing? Energy dampener to stop all activity? Or other extreme, anti-mater shells for the rail gun?
    Wait, wait! Let me write those down! I can see it's going to be hard to keep some of you entertained.

  16. #96
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    10

    “New weapons at Pop’s Garage, huh? Honest, friendly, low key and no surprises. When do we leave?”

    “I took the liberty of laying in our course as we spoke. ETA is approximately one hour and forty-three minutes by your command.”

    “Engage,” Lizzy said as she pointed forward with two fingers.

    “Engage what, my Lady?”

    “Oh, never mind. Something from an old, old 2D show called Star Trick, or maybe Star Track or something like that. Let’s just go,” Lizzy said holding her chin in her hand and looking out the side window trying to hide a grin.

    “If my Lady would care to explain...,” Magnus offered in confusion. “A directive to engage a non-specified system after a course is laid in is hardly...,” Magnus continued.

    “No no, it’s okay,” Lizzy interrupted trying to choke back an attack of the giggles. “Just forget it, okay? It’s really not important.”

    Lizzy thought, “Note to Self: Never confuse a powerful, heavily armed, intelligent machine that spends every moment of its existence protecting your life.”

  17. #97
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    We're just trying to guess which way the story line is going boss. lol

    Very wise advice in that last line...Thank you FMJ.
    Last edited by ted; 08-09-2017 at 02:41 PM. Reason: add a line.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  18. #98
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    5

    (10)


    “I don’t know what will happen next around here,” Pop muttered under his breath as he broke the phone connection on his headset to return to the service bay and the problematic water pump replacement job.

    First, there are weird accidents on the interstate and then Sheriff Browell shows up with a bunch of impossible pieces from a wreck wanting my opinion.
    I’m elbow deep in the repair of what has to be a custom mod because nothing fits and now Steve, the Special Delivery driver calls to tell me he has another one of those weird metal shipping crates on his truck for me and this one requires retina ID scan verification, of all things.

    Before Pop could complete the invoice for the water pump repair, his headset rang again and he answered a little too quickly allowing a bit of the frustration to enter his voice.

    After a short pause, Mabel inquired, “Hello, Pete. Did I call at a bad time? Are you in the middle of something?”

    “No, no! Sorry, Mabel. Just things kind of piling up around here is all, but I’ve always got time to talk to you. What exactly is on my favorite bookkeeper’s mind?”

  19. #99
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    7

    “Well, this is Thursday and I’m just calling to confirm our regular fried chicken dinner over the garage books get-together. I can reschedule if tonight is a problem though, Pete. You know that.”

    “Tonight will be perfect, Mabel, but I have to confess that it did slip my mind that today was already Thursday because the pace lately has been driving me crazy. Heh, fortunately, it was a short drive.”

    “Ha! That’s my Pete. See you tonight,” and Mabel broke the connection.

  20. #100
    Still very interesting! Thanks FMJ. Wonder how much money suddenly showed up in Pete's checking account while that box was being shipped to him?

    Always looking forward to another installment.

  21. #101
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    He thinks it is interesting now...Just wait till he sees Lizzy again. And I think I smell the hint of financial independance in Pete's future. Thank you!
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  22. #102
    Thanks for sharing your story with us FMJ.

    Wayne

  23. #103
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    10

    As Pop pulled an ice cold grape soda out of the antique soda cooler and walked out to his wooden rocker under the canopy for a break, he heard that distinctive high-pitched whine of a certain engine as it quickly decelerated for the off-ramp.

    At the end of the ramp, the engine RPM surged and the hollow echo became a scream as it launched through the tunnel under the interstate and quickly decelerated to turn into the drive of the garage.

    “Here we go again,” Pop thought as he parked his bottle of grape soda on the floor beside the rocker to go meet yet another confused owner of a low-slung exotic blue sports car that inexplicably came here for some needed service.

    He was all set to recite the standard line that had served him well through the years, “Welcome to Pop’s Garage, how can I help you?”

    This familiar litany served to put new customers at ease and made returning customers feel at home, but he never made it.

  24. #104
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    10

    The driver’s door popped open before the machine even came to a complete stop and a familiar blonde haired girl jumped from the vehicle to sprint to where Pop stood with a broad smile on his face and leaped into his open arms.

    As Pop gently untangled himself from the enthusiastic greeting, he said with a smile, “Well, we meet again, miss..., um. I’m sorry; I guess I never did get your name...”

    “Elizabeth Temple, Pop. Lizzy, for short.”

    “Well, Lizzy, I usually don’t get such an enthusiastic greeting, even from returning customers, but how can I help you?”

    “Oh, Pop! So much has happened; I don’t even know where to start.”

    The crunch of gravel startled Pop as the exotic blue sports car rolled to a smooth silent stop beside them and Pop gaped in open amazement as Magnus’ rich baritone voice issued from the open door,

    “I believe introductions are in order.”

  25. #105
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    Jack Pot! I'm a mechanic where's my hug? LOL! Sounds like he has seen a few of Magnus' compatriots. Thank you
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  26. #106
    FMJ thanks for more of your story

    Wayne

  27. #107
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    7

    Pop’s mouth fell open in surprise, but he recovered quickly.

    “I knew it! I knew there was more to this than I was told,” Pop said as he walked to stand beside the machine. “You’re a full AI, aren’t you? Probably a high order one, too.”

    “My designation is M2GNS8. I am a fighting machine of the class known as a Cerulean Knight and I am a twelfth order artificial intellect.”

    Lizzy gaped as Pop’s question finally sunk in, “Hey, wait a minute! You already knew he was smart? You’ve already talked to him?”

    “Well, yes and no. Yes, I knew he was smart because he coached me with an on-board diagnostic to help with his repair when I only asked aloud what was wrong and no, I haven’t heard his voice until now.”

    Their discussion was interrupted when a gleaming ancient Lincoln rolled into the driveway with a woman behind the wheel.

    When the old car rolled to a stop, the woman stepped out to survey the assembly with a confused expression.

    Pop spoke up, “Mabel, this is my friend Lizzy, a returning customer of the garage. Lizzy, this is Mabel, my long-time friend, expert bookkeeper, my confidant and general coconspirator.”

    Lizzy laughed at the introduction and extended a hand to Mabel in greeting but Mabel brushed the handshake aside to gather the girl into her arms for a hug.

    “Shaking hands is for politicians, any friend of Pop’s is a friend of mine. Welcome to Pop’s Garage. Are you hungry? I hope I brought enough fried chicken and potato salad. Pop’s got cold sodas.”

    “Really? Fried chicken? I’m starving!”

  28. #108
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    4

    After dinner, Mabel insisted on taking Lizzy home with her for a proper bath, some new clothes and pampering. At first she politely refused, but after speaking at length with Magnus about their safety and security, she agreed.

    Lizzy formally introduced the Cerulean Knight, M2GNS8 to Pete McCready and confided in Pop his private designation as Magnus.

    Pop nervously paced the length of the service bay during Magnus’ revelation of the details of the Strax menace on Earth with only a few comments.

    But when Magnus disclosed TVS was not actually a vehicle manufacturer, but the front organization for a covert operation backed by off-world military that built the Cerulean Knights specifically to fight the Strax, Pop sat down hard, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed.

    “You’ve already said that your builders have a vested interest in preventing the Strax from reaching the energy in our water to protect their own worlds. But I don’t understand the necessity of putting that girl’s life in danger for a twelfth order AI to run an obviously military program to hunt and kill alien machines.”

    “Generally, as a twelfth order AI operating off-world, I must request permission to perform my function.

    But specifically, as a fusion powered instrument of war, my living pilot must grant the permissive allowing me to fight and fulfill that mission.”

  29. #109
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    Learn another reason for a human, needs authorization to act. Thank you, I'm a likin this story!
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  30. #110
    Really enjoying the story , please keep it coming as you are able.
    Cheer up: The less you have the more there is for you to get.

  31. #111
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    Why was Lizzy in such a hurry to get home at the beginning of the story? Or was she trying to get away from something? Will Mabel get the story out of her? If Mabel is the type of small town matron that I think she is, by morning she will know more about Lizzy than Lizzy's momma.
    The difference between being smart and being wise:
    Being smart is learning from your own mistakes.
    Being wise is learning from the mistakes of others.
    My life has given others many opportunities to be wise.

  32. #112
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    12

    For sure! After all, she does own the beauty shop and gossip is her stock and trade. Heh, remember that time Mabel convinced those two MIB agents to let her into the...um...ah..., no, I guess not. Well, you'll have to take my word for it, but it was a hoot!

  33. #113
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    LOL!
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  34. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by FMJ View Post
    For sure! After all, she does own the beauty shop and gossip is her stock and trade. Heh, remember that time Mabel convinced those two MIB agents to let her into the...um...ah..., no, I guess not. Well, you'll have to take my word for it, but it was a hoot!
    I remember, the preliminary report was 27 pages. There were some changes after that.
    The difference between being smart and being wise:
    Being smart is learning from your own mistakes.
    Being wise is learning from the mistakes of others.
    My life has given others many opportunities to be wise.

  35. #115
    Thank you. I know I couldn't simultaneously write several stories the way you do. Great work!

  36. #116
    Thank you FMJ for more of this great story,

    Wayne

  37. #117
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    5

    “But why Lizzy? What purpose does putting her life at risk serve? Why not some professional soldier? Someone trained and skilled in the arts of war,” Pop asked again.

    “The selection process of a pilot is not haphazard. Cerulean Knights were not constructed to resemble cars to simply allow them to travel Earth’s roads unobtrusively, but also to allow them to physically appeal to a certain select characteristic trait exhibited by humans.”

    “And what characteristic trait is that?” Pop asked in interest despite his misgivings.

    “The love of an inanimate object, a machine.”

    “That’s not fair. You’re playing on that girl’s emotions!”

    “The female of the human species can be nurturing, caring and compassionate to the point of intuitively sensing and providing for the needs of others and yet exhibit the exquisite rage of a terrible force of nature when the objects of her compassion are placed at risk.”

    “But why must that particular female be your pilot when you fight those deadly machines?” Pop asked honestly taken aback.

    “Lizzy is more than you know.”

    “How so?” Pop asked pausing to look up at the machine.

    “Lizzy is young, but she is intelligent and sensitive. She is genuinely concerned about the safety and welfare of her fellow human beings. She has grieved openly for the slain. But, as a successful human Cerulean Knight interface, Lizzy and I already have twenty-four confirmed Strax kills to our credit.”

    “T...twenty-four?” Pop stammered incredulously.

  38. #118
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    4

    “Confirmed. After she witnessed first-hand, the evidence of the Strax viciously killing her human acquaintance, she developed a certain cunning, a flair if you will, for the wild hunt. She has even begun to anticipate their actions.”

    “That little girl in the other room with Mabel? Lizzy has...is...,” Pop trailed off when he was unable to connect the words with the images.

    “I believe bloodthirsty is the word you sought, and yes. She is, quite.”

    “I...I see,” Pop replied quietly.

    “May I ask you a question, Pete McCready?”

    “Of course, anything,” Pop replied, surprised by the request.

    “How familiar are you with old, old 2D shows?”

  39. #119
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    Old, old shows? Night rider? Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  40. #120
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    Christine? Lol!!!

    Or perhaps a different 2d show...

    Regardless, a great story. Thank you for sharing.

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