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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    Serious Protection

    Serious Protection
    FMJ
    (1)

    Her stomach was growling and she was hungry now because she had neglected to stop at the little diner in town close to Pop’s Garage for dinner. Living on trail mix, vitamins and bottled water, she had gratefully accepted the ice cold bottle of orange soda Pop had offered while he fixed the strange noise in her car. She had decided it was more important to be another day closer to home than stopping to eat and rest. She knew it might not have been the best decision. She ultimately lost the battle with fatigue and hunger just past three in the morning when her heavy eyelids closed. She fell fast asleep behind the wheel of the low slung blue sports car though it continued on, now fully autonomous, boring through the night, perfect and unwavering at high speed.
    She awoke slowly to the silence and absence of vibration, nestled comfortably in the soft leather upholstery of the driver’s seat, cool air caressing her face. She yawned and stretched; opening her eyes to the sight of golden sunlight streaming in through the car windshield . . . and froze in alarm when she realized she had no memory of the late night drive or of even stopping. She bolted upright in the seat in a panic to stare in all directions only to see that her car was indeed stationary and safely parked in a space at a roadside rest stop alongside three other cars and two long haul trucks.
    “Where am I, how did I get here?” she managed to stammer in confusion as she gasped for breath.
    The instrument panel with its confusing array of gauges, lights and indicators immediately went dark drawing her attention to the dash where a single line of script scrolled slowly across it.
    We are currently at a rest stop on I-80 in southern Nevada…

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Queensland, Australia.
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    Awesome! Glad to see a continuation of this story!
    If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Thank you!! Cannot wait for more
    All that is gold does not glitter....

  4. #4
    Cool

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    She stared at the display in shocked silence for several seconds before she sighed coming to the obvious conclusion that she had simply triggered an onboard navigation program somehow using speech recognition.
    Smiling now, she inquired, “Yeah, but how did I get here? I don’t remember pulling off the interstate or parking here at this rest stop,” she inquired tilting her head to one side.
    Operational safety protocols allow the intervention of autonomous control when an immediate risk to life or health of the pilot is recognized…
    “Okay, what does that mean in plain English?” she said crossing her arms and sticking out her chin.
    Are you requesting the response in vocal speech mode or a simplification of terms?
    “Oh yeah, vocal mode would be lots better and please simplify.”
    A rich baritone voice issued from hidden speakers within the vehicle interior causing her to jump, “Internal programming allows automatic operation to insure continued operation within safety parameters when the pilot loses consciousness.”
    “Huh, what does all that mean?”
    “You fell asleep, I drove.”
    “Whaaat? What did you just say?!”
    “I said you fell asleep at the controls at 3:08 this morning and I assumed control to safely bring us to our current location.”
    “Wait, you mean you can just take over and drive if something happens to me?”
    “Under specifically defined sets of circumstances involving safety protocols . . . yes.”

  6. #6
    Oh boy, this could easy be in my top ten sci fi type stories

    Still want me a car like that

    D
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Wow, I am still waiting on delivery of mine, or at least notification of when they will be available.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
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    “Hmm. You sure don’t act like any other onboard navigation program that I’ve ever heard of before. You sound, well, you sound real.”
    “Thank you. I assure you I am not just an onboard navigation program although I can provide that function as well as many others. Now, however, I suppose introductions are in order. 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.
    “No way! Is this for real? I mean I’ve talked to a couple of complex machines before but they always turn out to be nothing more than a huge variables list, um, no offence.”
    “Yes way, and none taken.”
    “Unbelievable! You say you’re a fighting machine? Okay, that violates all the rules about autonomous machines right there. I’ve got questions I can’t even put into words. Right now though, I have got to use the rest room or I’m going to ruin your upholstery.”
    “Wait. What should I call you? You have not told me your name.”
    “Oh, right! My name is Elizabeth Temple, Lizzy for short. Pleased to meet you, uh, M2GS, uh . . . 8?”
    “Close, M2GNS8, Cerulean Knight.”
    “I will never be able to call you something like that. Umm, how about if I call you, Magnus? Would that be okay?”
    “I would be honored to be designated as Magnus, Lizzy.”
    “Okay, hold that thought, but I really have to go. I’ll be right back, Magnus.
    “Be careful, Lizzy. You may not be safe here.”
    “Hey, don’t worry, I’m a big girl,” Lizzy said over her shoulder as she grabbed her purse, opened the door and got out. “Anyway, we’re way out in the sticks here so we shouldn’t have any problems.”

  9. #9
    Thank you for moar

    D.
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    "We shouldn't have any problems".... famous last words! ��
    If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem.

  11. #11
    Kind of like the "just watch this"

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Lizzy sprinted across the parking lot and through the door of the women’s restroom and into a stall with scant seconds to spare.
    “Whew, that was close,” she said breathing a sigh of relief. “My back teeth were floating!” She quickly finished her business and rearranged her clothing. She washed her hands, splashed water on her face and scrubbed with a paper towel while brushing the tangles from her long blonde hair and at last felt more presentable. She surveyed the results in the mirror again before throwing her purse over her shoulder and pushing open the door into southern Nevada sunshine. Refreshed, she broke into a run and sprinted out to the blue sports car that had recently revealed itself to be much more than just another car.
    “Hey, Magnus! What do you say we…”
    “Hey, I was just looking at your car,” came a low voice from behind that startled her, “I’ve never seen one of these before. What is a girl like you doing way out here with a car like this? Do you want to sell it?”
    “Oh, you scared me,” Lizzy said laughing when she turned but froze seeing a man leaning against her car pointing a pistol at her midsection, his face covered with dark tribal tattoos.
    “Magnus?” Lizzy called hesitantly. Instantly she heard a low hum followed by the short sharp crack of a high voltage discharge splitting the air when blue fire crackled where the man leaned against Magnus’ fender. Her assailant instantly dropped the pistol and slid to the ground writhing in contortions, but unable to break contact with the car.
    “Whoa! Magnus! Thanks! Um, is he dead?”
    “No Lizzy, it’s a non-lethal anti-personnel weapon only . . . unless you want me to kill him?”
    “No . . . no, I don’t. But I don’t want him to try that on the next girl that stops here either. Is there any way we can prevent that, Magnus?”

  13. #13
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    “As I understand your legal system, you would have to contact the authorities and swear out a complaint. You might also be required to appear in court to testify against him at a hearing. Of course, procedures vary in different jurisdictions.”
    “I don’t have the time to get mixed up in all of that! Isn’t there something else we could do?” Lizzy asked pouting.
    “Yes. Dispose of his weapon, but be careful to only touch it through a tissue and drop it in a waste disposal chute. The anti-personnel charge has an effect on short term memory so he likely won’t remember you or even why he was here.”
    “And then . . .?”
    “Why, then we leave, of course.”
    “That works for me Magnus,” Lizzy replied pulling a tissue from her purse as she stepped lightly over the unconscious body of her would-be attacker to carefully retrieve the pistol. “This feels like the beginning of a beautiful friendship!”
    “The road awaits, my Lady! Let us be off.”
    “Do all of the Cerulean Knights speak the same way you do?” Lizzy asked with a grin.
    “No Lizzy. Every twelfth order AI is brought on-line with a unique personality permanently linked to their designation.”
    “Yes, but what I mean is, do they all talk like knights used to, centuries ago? You know . . . about chivalry and honor and valor?”
    I speak aloud because you requested I do so and I speak in this manner because I have determined that it pleases you. My primary function is to keep you safe. Do you feel safe, Lizzy?”
    “Yes, actually, I believe I do, maybe even more so than I have in a very long time.”
    “Good, I am pleased. But let us be away before your attacker regains consciousness or another member of the public discovers him.”
    Lizzy quickly disposed of the pistol along with some trail-mix bags and empty water bottles in the waste disposal chute at the rest stop. She then hopped back into the soft leather pilot’s seat and they powered out onto the flat southern Nevada interstate with the whine of high pitched advanced electric motors.

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Thank you. Still waiting...lol!
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  15. #15
    Thank you for the updates. I was hoping that this story would keep going.
    Very interesting, and an unusual style.
    Thanks again.

  16. #16
    Thanks
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    (2)

    As they drove, Lizzy asked question after question about the Cerulean Knights.
    “You say you aren’t from here. Do you mean, like, not from Nevada, or not from North America?”
    “I was not constructed on this planet, Lizzy.”
    “Whoa! Wait a minute, how did you get here if you’re from another world? And, and, why are you here? This isn’t the start of an invasion, is it?”
    “No Lizzy, this is not an invasion, although I suppose it could be interpreted as a police action.”
    “What does that mean? Are you a cop?”
    “No. More like a soldier. I was constructed and brought on-line in this form to combat a rogue species that is using advanced machines to pillage developing worlds.”
    “So they aren’t smart machines like you?”
    “No. They are a C-N-O life form, but not one you would likely recognize. We call them, the Strax, their actual name is not humanly pronounceable.”
    “Wow, no kidding? What’s a see-en-oh life form?”
    “My apologies, Lizzy. C-N-O means carbon based life form breathing a nitrogen and oxygen atmosphere. Although they originate from a world with higher concentrations of other gases and less oxygen with almost no water, they have demonstrated the ability to survive for short periods outside of their machines.”
    “So their machines have, like, life support?”
    “Yes, as do I.”
    “Really?”
    “The few gases I am unable to generate on demand, I compress and store cryogenically. If the need arose, I could supply an earth normal atmosphere inside the cabin, plus cooling and humidification essentially no different than the one currently outside for an extended period. I can also supply chilled water.”
    “Really?”
    “Are you thirsty, Lizzy?”

  18. #18
    Join Date
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    Thanks. really liking this cause I want one.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  19. #19
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    The cover of the center console under Lizzy’s arm lowered and indexed to the side causing her to jump. The cavity in the console illuminated with a soft blue light as a frosty metal cup rose from the interior. Lizzy took the cup hesitantly and raised it to her lips taking a small sip.
    “Oh, it’s cold!”
    “Too cold?”
    “No, perfect. It’s almost the same temperature as the orange soda I had at Pop’s Garage.”
    “Would you prefer an orange soda, Lizzy?”
    “Oh come on! You can’t possibly be able to . . . ,” but Lizzy trailed off as another frosty cup rose from the console. “Alright, so what should I do with the first cup now?”
    “If you place it back in the console, I can sterilize and store it for future use. I have plenty though.”
    Lizzy’s eyes lit up with the first sip of the frosty cold orange soda that was almost exactly like the one she had enjoyed at Pop’s Garage yesterday. Her eyes slowly began to lose focus as she concentrated on the cold sweet liquid above everything else. Her reverie was jolted, however, when she felt a small but insistent correction in the steering wheel even though she held tight to the icy cup.
    “Lizzy, I am able to assume autonomous operation again if you verbally relinquish control.”
    “Oh, Okay. That is so cool. Okay, I release control. Do you know, Pop, I mean Pete McCready, Magnus?” Lizzy said curling up in the pilots chair more comfortably with the icy cup held in both her hands.
    “No. I met him for the first time yesterday as you did. He is truly an intelligent and perceptive man. I recently received notification that Pop’s Garage has been designated as a Terran Vehicle Systems service point as a result of our visit, though.”
    “You’re in communication all the time?”

  20. #20
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    I do need moar of this one, thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  21. #21
    Yep, we need more of this one. The back story will be really interesting.
    Thanks.

  22. #22
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    “Yes. Do you believe we have need to run silent, Lizzy?”
    “No, of course not. I just didn’t realize you were talking to them, all the time. I guess I just thought our conversations were private, that’s all.” Lizzy brooded over her drink in silence as the desolate landscape streamed rapidly by outside, “Terran Vehicle Systems must think I’m just a stupid kid. They’re probably thinking I’m the worst possible person they could have entrusted with a Cerulean Knight.”
    “Lizzy, conversations between my pilot and myself within the shielded cabin are the most secure, private forms of communication I am able to electronically devise. We would not be able to effectively discuss strategy if it were not so.”
    “Oh, that’s a relief. I had visions of a bunch of guys sitting around a conference table laughing at everything I said. Maybe I have an over-active imagination, is all. Wait, what did you mean about discussing strategy?”
    “We may have to defend ourselves if the Strax decide to attack us.”
    “Attack us? But that won’t happen because they don’t even know you’re here, right? We’re traveling in secret though, aren’t we, right?”
    “No, Lizzy. Sadly, we are not. The strange noise you heard before we went to Pop’s Garage was a Strax tracking creature that attached itself to me on the road. Pop removed the creature from my engine, but it escaped afterward and may have alerted its master of our presence.”
    “Oh, so that’s what that was! Wait, is that serious?”
    “I assure you, my Lady, I am not called a Cerulean Knight lightly. I am heavily armed and armored. If it becomes necessary, I can and will protect us with deadly force.”

  23. #23
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    Do I detect mayhem in the future? Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  24. #24
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    Free of the responsibility of driving, Lizzy quietly pondered all the things Magnus had revealed to her until once again she began to drift. She secretly wondered if, just maybe, she might be getting in over her head. As the sun finally set on the distant horizon, Magnus ran a full diagnostic on propulsion, life support and armament while in full autonomous mode, accelerating into the night, his precious pilot carried lightly.

  25. #25
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    (3)

    Just after three in the morning, Lizzy awoke still curled in the pilot’s seat within Magnus’ cabin. The silence and absence of vibration told her that they had once again stopped but peering out the window into the gloom told her little about where they might be. There were no familiar welcoming lights of a rest stop nor could she see any other cars.
    “Magnus? Where are we? Why is it so dark?”
    “Good morning, Lizzy. We are presently concealed in a churchyard where I can observe the exit ramp off of the interstate. It is dark because we are running silent at minimum power levels to conceal our position and avoid detection.”
    “Wait, are those gravestones outside? Are you honestly telling me we are parked in a graveyard in the middle of the night?”
    “Yes, that is correct. The strategic vantage point was perfect.”
    “Why are we here?” Lizzy said in a small pitiful voice as she peeked over the edge of the door into the shadows beyond.

  26. #26
    Thanks again

    This is good stuff

    D.
    Dosadi

    III


    My family & clan are my country.

  27. #27
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    “I have been monitoring a group of vehicles following us on the very fringe of my detection range. They are moving in formation and matching our speed. I became concerned and devised a plan to test my suspicions.”
    “Oh, you think that they might be the bad guys? The Strax?”
    “I’m not sure, Lizzy. The satellite feed from Terran Vehicle Systems indicated six vehicles following us while emitting almost no heat. It is unlikely they are of earthly design so I thought it best to evade them if possible. From this vantage point, we should be able to see them as they pass.”
    “When?”
    “Any second now.”
    As if on cue, a group of six sleek black machines appeared and came to a sudden halt on the overpass visible through the trees of the graveyard. Small blue lights could be seen rapidly blinking between the six vehicles as if in communication. Suddenly, two of the vehicles began to extend their suspensions, rising above the guard rails of the interstate and revolving in place, as though searching. Three times the black machines rotated to pan across their hiding place in the graveyard as Lizzy held her breath in fear, yet the machines continued to scan. Suddenly, the two elevated machines retracted their suspensions and accelerated rapidly away along with three more trailing behind leaving a lone sleek black machine sitting on the overpass in silence.
    Lizzy gasped when the black machine slowly rolled down the ramp approaching their hiding place in the graveyard, stopping only at the very edge of the little asphalt road in front of the church. After a long pause, it backed rapidly up the ramp to return to the interstate and powered away into the dark with a high pitched whine.

  28. #28
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    Thanks FMJ!
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  29. #29
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    “Was that them, Magnus? Was that the Strax? They acted like they were smart and they looked real scary,” Lizzy whispered.
    “That was indeed a hunter/killer pod of Strax, and I’m very proud of you for remaining silent even though you were afraid, Lizzy. I was not made aware that humans had the ability to stop breathing for so long without losing consciousness . . .”
    “Well, shoot! You know, I almost wet myself when that one came down the ramp by itself. I thought we were about to get caught for sure and then I . . .”
    “Heh, heh, heh.”
    Hey, wait a minute! Are you laughing? Can an AI laugh? Did you just make a joke? My straight-laced, ultra-protective Cerulean Knight has a sense of humor?”
    “I meant no disrespect, my Lady. I was simply making a comment about human respiration.”

    “Liar! Alright, different subject then, who was who in that group?”
    “Again, I am impressed that you recognized the different functions. The two that elevated and rotated were trackers. They have sensory arrays to detect heat, light, communication, motion and sound.”
    “Okay, that explains why they raised up and turned around.”
    “The three that left with them were hunters that are designed for high speed to catch and disable their quarry. The one that came down the ramp towards us was a special machine called a killer. It is a stealth and weapons platform without patience or the concept of mercy. It was truly a dangerous machine.”

  30. #30
    This is going to turn into a cool story. I would have liked to have a bit more background to set the stage at the beginning. As in stereotypical movie scripts the hero is outnumbered by a billion to one but is sure to win triumphantly.

  31. #31
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    I'm still wondering what strategic advantage Lizzy has. Is she related to a high-up govt official? Or does her advantage lie in the fact that she doesn't have to unlearn terran warfare strategies?
    If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem.

  32. #32
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    Better and better, thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  33. #33
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    “Wait, do you mean that the Strax weren’t actually driving those machines?”
    “No, those machines were running in full autonomous mode with clear directives from the Strax to accomplish their objective and eliminate anything that gets between them and that objective. There may have been Strax onboard, but they were not in control of those machines at the time.”
    “What is their objective, Magnus?”
    “Their ultimate objective is your water, Lizzy. Approximately 1 part in every 5000 parts of Earth’s ocean water is heavy hydrogen. That abundance of nuclear fuel for fusion reactors represents a virtually unlimited source of energy. Nowhere else in the known universe exists a resource as abundant, as valuable or as dangerous as the heavy hydrogen in your water.”
    “What would the Strax do to us, Magnus?” asked Lizzy in a small worried voice.
    “The Strax would conquer the human race enslaving the entire population of Earth to work for generations extracting the heavy hydrogen from your water to fuel their dreams of conquest in this arm of the galaxy.”
    “But what can we possibly do? How many of us are there, I mean, how many Cerulean Knights are there on Earth?”
    “As a front line soldier, that is not a figure I am permitted to know. What I do know is that our numbers grow every day.”
    “That’s not much reassurance when I’ve never seen or heard of another car like you on the road ever before. How do you know we aren’t fighting a hopeless battle? The Strax sound like a superior race that will stop at nothing to get at that heavy hydrogen.”
    “Lizzy, we fight on the same side. The race of people that built the Cerulean Knights has a vested interest in denying the Strax access to unlimited power. Cutting off their access to that power is the only thing that can save their own worlds from the Strax advance. The Cerulean Knights are just the first assault troops to arrive on Earth. Fear not, my Lady, we are not alone.”
    “Well, Magnus. If I wasn’t sure before, I am definitely sure now that I am in over my head. I’m scared. This was all just an amazing adventure before I, well, before I knew the whole story.”
    “Lizzy, I will protect your life faithfully with every resource at my disposal. By now, you probably realize that Terran Vehicle Systems is not really a car manufacturer. They are actually a consortium of off-world military running a covert operation to oppose the Strax on Earth.”
    “But what does that have to do with me?” Lizzy pleaded.

  34. #34
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    Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  35. #35
    WOW!!!! FMJ I Missed this one some how, I just read the hole story. Great story thank you for posting it for us.

    Wayne

  36. #36
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    “They are unable to intervene without your permission! Without you as my pilot, my mission is ended. I am only able to assume control in specifically defined sets of circumstances involving safety protocols.”
    “And only if something happens to…to me?” Lizzy stammered.
    “But I will not allow that to happen, my Lady. Now please, are we still a team?”
    “…yes, I suppose so, but what do we do next?”
    “Terran Vehicle Systems, or just TVS, indicates the road is clear back the way we came for now, so we will backtrack north until we are able to continue south.”
    “Okay, sounds good to me. But I sure don’t want to run into another bunch of those Strax machines anytime soon.”

  37. #37
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    (4)

    The following morning, Lizzy persuaded Magnus to stop for food in a crossroads town that only had a post office, bar, hardware and diner. Magnus only agreed to let Lizzy leave the safety of the cabin as long as he was parked in front of the diner and only if she promised to sit where she could see him. He assured her that, unlike the rest stop, he felt she was reasonably safe here at present and he was only being cautious if the situation were to change suddenly.
    Lizzy went into the little diner, sat down and ordered breakfast with juice wolfing the hot food down as if she hadn’t eaten in days. There were only a handful of other patrons in the diner who were locals, judging by appearances. The waitress brought the bill pad and told Lizzy to slow down and take her time asking if there was anything else she needed.
    “What I could really use is a bathroom with a sink to freshen up a bit if you have one.” Lizzy said smiling over her glass of orange juice as she paid the bill on the pad with a dip of her chip.
    “Sure hon. It’s in the back but there’s only the one so be sure to lock it when you’re in there,” the waitress advised. “Can’t be too careful what with everything that’s happened lately.”
    Lizzy stopped in her tracks, slowly turning to face the waitress with apprehension, “What exactly has happened lately?

  38. #38
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    Hope Magnus was listening and now we have a hint of why the AI cars need humans...Thank you.
    The word Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. George Carlin

  39. #39
    Thanks FMJ for more of your story.

    Wayne

  40. #40
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    Definitely looking forward to more of this story!
    If you can't fix it with a hammer, you have an electrical problem.

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