So…..I give you a chance to impress me….and this is the best you can do.”
From his vantage point at the far end of the conference table, the Baron glared at Victor Vega, Vivica Frost and the monitor used by the Maestro to communicate with the others. “Maestro,” the Baron barked, “despite your error, I will not be penalizing you….though I expect double the pre-arranged quota to make up for this…” “I’ll give ya triple, if you want,” the Maestro shot back, clearly unphased.
“Good,” the Baron replied. “As for the two of you….” His stare fell upon Victor and Vivica
“Brittney Delacroix was suffering from multiple malfunctions,” Victor declared, careful not to let his injured left arm fall out of its sling. “She disobeyed my direct orders, reactivated herself without permission AND tried to kill me back at the casa.” He pointed at the massive gauze pad stuck to his left shoulder; “I could have died because of that pathetic doll,” he snarled. “You told me she was going to be the answer to our problems! YOU LIED TO ME, BARON!
” Vivica Frost stared at the ceiling, wishing she could be somewhere else---preferably far away from the meeting room.
The Baron sighed. “I probably should have admitted that I intentionally infected Brittney’s main processor with a strain of the Stylo virus,” he admitted, “though the results were---“
“HER HEAD EXPLODED!
” Victor screamed. “HER DAMNED HEAD EXPLODED, AND IT’S YOUR FAULT!
Elena Vlatko stared at Victor as if he’d lost his mind. “Victor,” she murmured, “you do realize that this whole Brittney Delacroix experiment was your responsibility---“ “SHUT UP!
” Victor shouted, backhanding her with his good hand. “I don’t need ANY OF YOU
to remind me of how much I am going to lose because of this fiasco….”
“No, but you do need a kick in the ass.”
Victor stared, shocked beyond all reason, as Brittney Delacroix sauntered into the room. “I had the boys at the factory build me a new body after my old one crapped out,” she explained, before anyone could even ask what she was doing in the room. “And as for that Stylo crap….” She smirked. “I don’t need it anymore. What I do need is a place to do my own business, a crew that won’t run out on me as soon as I start glitchin’ up, and a recording studio---you did want me to be hip-hop royalty, right?” she asked, glancing causally at Victor before turning her gaze upon the Baron.
Despite the fact that only his hands---currently steepling their fingers---were visible, the tone of his voice (and his choice of words) made his opinion on this latest development very clear: “How soon will you need these things?” “ASAMFP, baby,” Brittney replied, not missing a beat.
“Now THAT is what I call initiative,” the Maestro declared, cackling. “Oh, and, sorry about the whole ‘rushed upgrade session in a prison basement’ thing,” he added. “I was on a bit of a time crunch…” “Water under the bridge, Holmes,” Brittney replied with another smirk. “The only one who I still want to kick the crap out of is that Lawson bitch…..” Her lips briefly parted in a growl, revealing her perfect teeth. “As soon as I can get a crew together, her and Starlet are gonna get got….and I ain’t playin’.” The Baron’s steepled fingers tilted forward just a bit; “And you shall be rewarded for your commitment to my cause,” he promised the gynoid.
“Damn straight I will!” Brittney shouted, nodding and smiling. “I hear someone else in this room has a fembot factory….any chance I can get a few bodyguards from y’all?” “As a matter of fact,” Elena Vlatko replied, “I believe there’s a reserve of fembots waiting for a new owner; any particular preferences?” The Baron chuckled as Elena and Brittney discussed the soon-to-be shipped fembots. “I suggest you take notes, Victor,” he chided, “because you might actually learn something from these two…”
Victor felt like screaming profanities at the top of his lungs. My future….snatched away in an instant….
“YO, VIC!” Brittney called. “I’m gonna need to crash at your place for a few days…got a spare bed I can use?”
Once the helicopter wreckage was cleared out (with the explanation that the pilot had somehow bailed and parachuted to safety), Sophia’s concert at Santana Row continued with no further interruptions. Vicki, Anton and Tell stayed to watch the show, even joining Sophia onstage for to play instruments for an impressive rendition of Howard Jones’ “New Song”. The concert finally ended around lunchtime, with Sophia saving the best for last---her rendition of “Moonlight Desires”.
Vicki waited patiently for Sophia to finish signing autographs and taking photos---apparently, the gynoid wasn’t the only student of SJSU who also happened to be a fan of the original Sophia Starlet and the Starlet Dolls cartoon series. “Well, well, well,” she beamed, clapping Valerie Summers and Kim DeFalco on the shoulders. “Look who we have here!” Valerie instantly blushed, and insisted that she’d only come to Santana Row to get a few flash drives at Best Buy, but Kim fessed up rather quickly. “We decided to check out what this whole ‘Starlet Dolls’ thing was about,” she admitted, “and we found some episodes on YouTube---they were actually pretty cool, and stuff…but this was just EPIC!”
“Glad to see that I’m getting popular with the SJSU crowd, then.”
Sophia Starlet grinned as Vicki introduced her to Kim and Valerie, explaining how the two met after the concert at the Retro Toy Fair. “It was a pretty cool moment,” Sophia recalled, “especially since Vicki’s been a fan for almost two decades now.” The conversation turned to the girls’ opinion of the Santana Row gig; needless to say, they loved it.
Half an hour later, once the last autograph was signed and the last picture was taken, Sophia and Vicki sat on the edge of the stage, watching as a banner advertising Sophia’s upcoming album was hoisted high over the mall entrance. “I’ve got to hand it to you, Vicki,” Sohpia sighed, “I couldn’t have done this without you. Well, I probably could have, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun.” She grinned. “The label’s ramping up support for my next album, I’ve got gigs booked all over the country---and they’re even talking about letting me do a tour of the UK!”
“Not bad for a walking, talking Barbie knockoff,” Vicki teased, prompting a giggle fit from Sophia.
“You did a pretty good job yourself,” Anton Malvineous called out, smiling as he approached the stage. “As of three minutes ago, the FBI has frozen Victor Vega’s ‘mining projects’ pending an investigation of his finances, and ReVerse Robotics has done exactly what they always do in these situations---denying all connections with the ‘mysterious goings-on’ over at the Winchester Parking Garage. Hell of a way to spend a Tuesday, really…”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Vicki agreed. “What about that other security officer who went missing?”
Anton’s grin faded slightly. “He, ah….they haven’t found him yet.”
“I’m sure he’ll turn up eventually,” Sophia assured him. “After all, if the guy’s a security officer, he’s not exactly going to just let himself get tortured or anything, will he?” “Good point,” Vicki replied. “Hopefully, he won’t end up like that android from the helicopter crash…”
Not wanting to ruin the good mood, the girls decided to change the topic of conversation. “So,” Vicki asked the Professor, “how’s that internship interview thing going?” “I was actually hoping to talk to you about that,” he admitted. “While the events of the past few days weren’t exactly typical of what you’d be dealing with in an internship position at M-G Cybernetics, you did handle yourself remarkably well in a crisis….and cool thinking under pressure is definitely a valuable skill.”
“Thanks,” Vicki replied, blushing slightly.
“So, does she get the job?” Sophia squealed. “She hasn’t even been interviewed yet,” Anton reminded the gynoid pop-star, “but I have a feeling she won’t be disappointed…”
“Speaking of not being disappointed,” Vicki interjected, “Dennis looks like he just won the lottery!”
Indeed, Sophia’s manager had a mile-wide grin on his face as he sprinted across the lot to deliver the good news in person. “We just got picked up to open for DAVID BOWIE!” he declared. Sophia gasped; “The David Bowie?!”
“There’s only one David Bowie, really,” Vicki mused.
“THIS IS SO AWESOME!” Sophia cried, hugging Dennis, Anton and Vicki in succession. “This is….wow, I get to open a show for DAVID BOWIE!” Tears of joy streaked down her face. “This…this is awesome….”
“It gets better,” Dennis stated. “Believe me, it gets so much better. Guess who else is on the list of acts that want you to open for them?” Sophia was too stunned by the previous announcement to think of anyone, so Dennis counted off the names on his fingers: “R.E.O. Speedwagon, Journey, Anvil----ANVIL wants you to open for one of their shows! Can you believe this?!” He beamed as he continued reading the list, which included such illustrious talent as Def Leppard, Europe, Meat Loaf, Daft Punk, DragonForce and---last but DEFINITELY not least---Styx.
“They….they all want me to open for them?” Sophia murmured.
“That’s just the first page,” Dennis replied, grinning. “Babe, almost everyone wants you to open for them---and some of them are even talking about collaborations!”
Sophia said nothing for a few seconds, then wrapped Dennis in another hug.
“That…is definitely the coolest news I’ve heard all week,” Vicki declared, smiling and nodding. “Sophia, your star is now officially on the rise!” “Indeed,” Anton agreed. “Getting offers from so many well-known bands and artists is a sign that your career is taking off---and not just ‘beginning to take off’, mind you.” He clapped Sophia on the shoulder; “I have a feeling your biggest fan would be proud of you right now.”
The pigtailed gynoid gently pulled away from Dennis, retrieving the picture of the girl whose wish had led to her creation from her pocket. “I know she is,” she whispered, her joyful tears still falling.
After getting a room at Hotel Valencia, Sophia and Dennis invited Vicki, Anton, Tell and anyone else they cared to bring with them for lunch at Citrus, the in-house restaurant. “After all you guys have done for us, it’s the least we could do to repay you,” he explained, when Tell questioned him as to why Sophia had agreed to pay for everyone’s food. “Can’t argue with that,” the ALPA mechanic replied.
A few phone calls later…
“Sophia,” Ted Lawson declared, “you are without a doubt one of the most impressive new acts I’ve seen in a good long while. Seriously. And I’m not just saying that because I, ah, discovered you…”
“We get the point, Dad,” Vicki chided, grinning.
“…anyways,” Ted continued, “I propose a toast---to the continued prosperity of Sophia Starlet’s career, now and always!”
“I’ll drink to that,” Dennis declared, raising his glass.
“Hear, hear!” Tell agreed.
Anton said nothing, though he did raise his glass with a smile.
The others joined in, raising their glasses and making various statements predicting Sophia’s success, even persuading Sophia herself to join in. “Now that we’re finish toasting and all that,” Vicki stated after everyone’s glasses were lowered, “let’s eat!”
The menus arrived, and everything was going normally until:
“Is there a Vicki Lawson here?” the waiter asked. Vicki stood up; “Who’s asking?” she querried. “This note was just delivered for you, miss…apparently, someone would like to meet you in the lobby.”
Vicki rolled her eyes; “I’ll be back in a minute…”
The brunette gynoid headed out to the Hotel Valencia lobby, where a curvy blonde in a white trenchcoat was waiting for her. “You’re the one who left me the note?” Vicki stated, her eyes wide in surprise. The blonde nodded; “I don’t have a lot of time to explain, but please, just hear me out….” She glanced around quickly to make sure they weren’t being overheard. “This may be a little hard to believe, but….I’m Victor Vega’s wife, Lauren. And before you start yelling at me,” she added, hoping to keep Vicki from knocking her out then and there, “I never agreed with his whole plan to take down Sophia Starlet….to be honest, I’m actually a fan of her work.”
“That doesn’t explain why we’re having this conversation,” Vicki mused, frowning.
Lauren glanced over her shoulder; “We’re having this conversation,” she stated quietly, “because I wanted to warn you about a few things. First of all, Brittney Delacroix isn’t dead---“ “Destroyed, you mean,” Vicki cut in. “Whatever,” Lauren hissed. “ReVerse built her a new body, and she’s already vowed to get revenge against you and Sophia.”
“Considering the fact that I thought she was gone for good,” Vicki admitted, “that’s actually pretty helpful, so thanks…I guess.”
“That’s not even the worst of it,” Lauren whispered. “Victor himself has heard about you---just a few rumors here and there, but enough to pique his interests. I have a feeling that he’s going to hire someone else to try and….I don’t know, either spy on you or….something worse…” Her eyes took on a pleading look; “You have to understand---I’m not saying all this to intimidate you. I barely even knew who you were before two days ago; the only reason I Googled you was to warn you. See, Victor can get a little…edgy when things don’t go his way, and since he thinks you’re trying to interfere in his work---“
“He wants me out of the picture,” Vicki finished, sighing. “First he goes after Leah, then he tries to take down Sophia, and now this….”
“You know Leah Chambers?” Lauren asked, impressed.
“Not only do I know her,” Vicki replied, “I helped save her from those hazmat weirdos Victor hired to screw up her work with NASA.” She paused, remembering another detail from that fateful day; “This might sound like a stupid question,” she mused, “but does Victor Vega have any connections with an individual known only as the Baron?”
Lauren’s hand flew to her mouth. “You know about the Baron?!” she squeaked.
“The guy threw me out of a helicopter when I tried to strangle him,” Vicki replied. “How could I not know?”
After yet another quick glance over her shoulder, Lauren’s panicked gaze focused on the brunette gynoid. “I have no idea how you managed to survive getting thrown out of a helicopter,” she murmured, “but take my advice on this: Please try to stay out of Victor’s way. I don’t want you or your friends to get hurt…it’s bad enough he treats me like crap, and I’d hate myself if he decided to send a death squad after you or something just because he thinks you’re getting in his way.”
“You don’t have to worry about me,” Vicki replied. “Trust me…I can take care of myself.” She winked.
Her monotone startled Lauren a bit, but the blonde nodded, shook hands and left.
“Guess that takes care of that…”
Twenty minutes later, Vicki, Sophia and their friends left Santana Row---Vicki’s friends headed back to SJSU for their usual afternoon-to-evening routines, while Vicki, Sophia and Anton boarded Sophia’s tour bus.
“I’ve been thinking,” Anton told Sophia. “What about?” the pigtailed gynoid replied, her curiosity piqued. “The, ah, original Sophia Starlet---the cartoon character---had the other four Starlet Dolls with her---both onstage and off---if I remember correctly…” “She did,” Sophia recalled, “but….” She stopped, realizing that Anton had just made her an offer. “Are you saying….you want to create the rest of the Starlet Dolls?” she asked.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Vicki cut in. “I get the thing of Sophia being a robot, because that’s how the original series finale ended, but---“
“The planned theatrical film would’ve seen the other four Starlet Dolls volunteering to become robots as well,” Anton finished, smiling. “Therefore, my proposal still stands---I do, indeed, want to bring back the Starlet Dolls…as the world’s first all-gynoid pop group.” Vicki’s eyes went wide; “You’re saying you want to just tell everyone that they’re robots?! That’s---“
“A pretty cool idea!” Sophia was beaming.
“You wouldn’t have to reveal your own secret, of course,” Anton told her. “I could call in a few favors from my ALPA friends, set up a PR campaign…..think it could work?” Sophia thought it over. “I’m not really keen on having people know that my bandmates are robots if I’m hiding it from them,” she finally stated, “but as for getting the band back together….count me in!” “Excellent,” Anton replied. “The schematics will be delivered to M-G Cybernetics first thing in the morning tomorrow.” “You drew up blueprints already?” Vicki drawled. “Better to prepare for the best than expect the worst,” Anton remarked, grinning. The brunette gynoid sighed; “Guess I might as well tell her, then…”
“Tell me what?” Sophia asked.
Vicki stared into the pigtailed gynoid’s eyes. “Remember back at the C.O.T.A., when you said you weren’t surprised that I felt such a strong connection to you?” she asked. “It’s sort of hazy,” Sophia admitted, “since my batteries were going…but yeah, I remember.”
Anton sat back, observing the conversation with a knowing grin.
“Well,” Vicki replied, “there’s another reason you and I have been getting along so well…” She pulled up her shirt, took a deep breath…. “Control panel….open.”
Sophia watched, astonished, as the panel in Vicki’s back whirred open. “The reason most of my childhood memories are so dull is that I spent most of that ‘childhood’ as a walking appliance,” V.I.C.I. admitted. “After my dad---Ted---gave me full sentience, though….I was able to appreciate a lot of stuff most kids took for granted. Like enjoying a Saturday morning cartoon starring a certain pigtailed popstar, and collecting the toyline based on that cartoon…” She grinned. “To put it bluntly…you and I are more alike than you could have ever guessed.
” “Vicki,” Sophia murmured, “you are, without a doubt, the coolest girl I know!” “Coming from you,” V.I.C.I. replied as her back panel closed, “I’ll take that as the ultimate compliment.” The two hugged again, both of them feeling an even deeper connection to each other now that they knew each others’ secrets.
“Seeing as how you’re both in town for the rest of the week,” Vicki asked, “would either of you mind joining me for Thanksgiving dinner at Ted’s house? It’s not going to be fancy or anything….I’m doing the cooking, since Ted’s last attempt….didn’t exactly end well…” Sophia and Anton exchanged grins. “I’d be honored to join you,” Anton replied. “Me too!” Sophia piped up.
“In that case,” Vicki stated with a smile, “I’ll have to remind Ted to break out the extra chairs…”
------------------------------------ V.I.C.I./Vicki Lawson's Diary
There’s no way to sugarcoat it, so I’m just going to say it: the past few days have been totally awesome.
For starters, the Retro Toy Fair was a blast---my room at Ted’s house finally has some stuff on the shelves that actually looks like it belongs there! The Lollypop Doll is as cool as I remember, and all the other toys I got are pretty epic in their own way…
…but there was one rather interesting doll that definitely outshone the rest.
Actually, I take that back; calling Sophia Starlet a doll is a gross understatement. Yes, she’s essentially a walking, talking, life-sized version of the original Sophia Starlet doll, but that’s just part of what makes her so cool. Her backstory is sort of tragic---she was built to honor the dying wishes of a high-school graduate who was a big fan of the original cartoon series (long story---I’ll probably explain it later)---but she’s definitely one of the coolest gynoids I’ve ever met.
Considering who else I met this weekend, that’s definitely a plus.
I’ve mentioned Victor Vega in this journal before (especially after all the crap I had to deal with in that mission from two weeks ago), but I now know how much of a lowlife he really is. One of his stupid helicopters crashed into the stage at Sophia’s concert earlier today, and some android cop was strapped in behind the controls when it slammed into the pavement. Worse, Victor sent a gangsta-rap gynoid named Brittney Delacroix to take down Sophia twice---and I stopped her both times, at the cost of Alicia losing one of her bodies (another long story) and some minor property damage at Santana Row. Ted’s footing the bill for this one, seeing how it wasn’t actually me that broke anything, but still….
The final interesting person I met was Anton Malvineous, the head of M-G Cybernetics---which is extra cool because he’s a dead-ringer for Lawrence Gowan! Anyways, Anton scheduled an interview for me regarding an internship at M-G Cybernetics next week, and I’m not missing it for anything; Anton himself told me that a job like this would definitely benefit my ALPA career, and I’m not going to pass up an opportunity like that!
Both Anton and Sophia will be joining Ted and I for Thanksgiving this Thursday; hopefully, they won’t have to see any reenactments of last year’s “epic” kitchen fire (Ted’s still banned from using the oven, by the way).
Until next time,
Thanksgiving may be just around the corner for Vicki Lawson…but come December, she might just find herself in over her head!
Silicon Dynamics Manufacturing and Supply LLC, a robotics company specializing in pleasure droids, has entered talks with Dreamland---the exclusive dating service that pairs clients up with gynoids and/or androids---to test out some of their newest products. As Christmas draws near, the calls stop coming, and Claudia---finally ready to resume running Dreamland---is getting worried. Even worse, two busloads of investigators have been sent to the Silicon Dynamics facility…and none of them have returned.
With the support of Claudia and Mr. Tell---and a few new toys from General Hardcastle---V.I.C.I.’s going to have to pull off her best Solid Snake impression to accomplish her mission---get into the facility, rescue the investigators, and find out just what the hell is going on at Silicon Dynamics. Will she find out what’s been going on, or will this fission get mailed---wait, that’s not right….
ANYWAY, stay tuned for the EPIC next chapter of The V.I.C.I. Diaries, “MGV: Metal Gear Vicki”, coming this July to Fembot Central!
Well, seeing as how I was finally able to lift myself out of a week-long funk and post this, comments would be GREATLY appreciated.