Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter
“Fix the robot!”
“We’re trying, ma’am, we’re trying.”
“Try harder! That’s my husband out there!”
Marian was hysterical. Beyond the high doors of the mansion she could hear the battle raging. Countless shots were being fired, and the woman knew most of them didn’t belong to the single bodyguard still out there with her husband. The other two, plus the state-of-the-art Roboguard, were for some reason with her, safely behind impenetrable doors.
“Mike, what happened out there,” she demanded.
Mike, a giant with a surly face, looked up from the wall of security monitors he was trying to revive. “Hard to say, ma’am. Neither of us got a visual on the assailants before Robby there knocked us in here.” He glanced with disgust at the four-hundred pounds of motionless steel lying on its back.
“Why did he save me?” Marian asked, this time directing her attention at Jim, the guard working on the robot.
Jim and Mike exchanged uncertain looks.
“Jim,” Marian said with more urgency. “Why did the Roboguard save me?”
“Your husband, ma’am,” Jim said. “He insisted we…change the programming.”
“Bastard,” Marian muttered under her breath. Tears sprang into her eyes. “You had to be a hero, and now look who needs to be saved.” She shook away the grief and seized control once more. “What’s the status on the robot?”
Jim shook his head. “Fried. Took a bullet to the brain.”
“I’ve got a visual,” Mike said.
Marian was there in a heartbeat, and skipped the next upon seeing the monitor. It was as she had feared. Her husband sat on the ground, leaning against the wall, pressing his hands to a bloodstained spot on his chest. Hal, his only remaining bodyguard, seemed worse for wear as well, but was still on his feet, dripping blood but ducking, reloading and firing like the one man army he had proved to be.
“Can you open an audio line?” Marian asked.
“No such luck.”
“Of course not.” Marian cursed. “Can you override the security lock on the door?”
Jim approached her from behind. “Ma’am, we have no idea how many of them there are. We hardly have the firepower.”
Marian turned on her heels and, in blind fury, slapped the bodyguard across his face, hard enough to make him stagger. “Coward!” she screamed. “Your friend is out there, dying. The love of my life is out there, dying, and you worry about firepower?” She stamped over to the Roboguard and, with a strength she did not know existed in her, yanked off the heavy assault rifle attached to its shoulder. “Open the door, Mike,” she ordered, propping the gun tightly underneath her arm.
“Ma’am, the recoil,” Mike started.
He did. And as the doors swung open, Marian charged, yelling for Hal to get out of the way, opening fire at the band of men who stood gaping at the sight of the infuriated woman. Marian fought through the heavy recoil, barely controlling the rifle. It created more chaos than expected. The hail of bullets sent all men who did not fall running for their lives, not even bothering to fire over their shoulders anymore as they sought out cover. Mike and Jim were quick to bring the others to safety, then covered Marian’s retreat. A fresh volley from the assailants planted itself into the armored plates of the door, just as it closed.
Marian dropped beside her husband, her body already aching from the stress it had endured, and took his pale face in her hands. He looked at her, a faint smile forming on his lips. “You’re alive.”
“And you’re an idiot,” she said, no longer able to control her tears.
“That makes two of us then. An assault rifle?”
Marian laughed, and looked over at the bodyguards. Despite his injuries, Hal still wouldn’t give himself any rest. Following Marian’s example, he stripped the Roboguard of all its weaponry, depositing rifles, grenades and knives into the hands of his two embarrassed-looking partners, letting them know in full detail how they would be sent back to the academy. Indefinitely.
“Will I be okay?” Marian’s husband asked.
Marian turned back to him, ripping off a piece of her jacket and pressing it to his wound. In the distance, she could hear the sounds of sirens. “Yes,” she said. “Yes, you will be.”