Raylorian Dawn
Author: Othello Gooden Jr.

Chapter 9
Working out the bugs

Kayla sat at her computer while wearing SGY.  It was hooked up to her computer. On screen was another email received by Prof. Benton:


“Seems to me like you’ve improperly configured something… Not many people know how the Evanstons built their defense systems. Furthermore, today’s forcefield defenses are far different from the ones built by the Evanstonian pioneers! Their systems were a family secret! Anyone on the outside didn't know a thing unless they hacked into the E.I. mainframe. Have fun with the latter because it’s like trying to find a Pharaoh's treasure deep within the pyramids! Even if you do, cracking it is like trying to avoid the traps like those within them Egyptian monuments! This unfortunately, is way over my head. Google it and see what you find.”


P.S: You could go by trial and error but I don’t want you injuring yourself. Rumor has it that the KFE unit had few test subjects for their prototype-powered armors. The results were highly unstable and often fatal. Sometimes the subjects were maimed, if not scarred for life.”


Kayla groaned at seeing her teacher’s helpless email reply. She sat there for a moment in a daze and remembered something. His sarcastic humor mixed with history somewhat amused her in high school but this one time—it wasn’t so funny. Maybe it was because Kayla really wanted SGY to be functional. Also, the feeling of knowing those who were after her three years ago was still out there.


“Kimmy, can you come here for a moment?” Kimmy’s father called her from the next room.


“Yes, daddy!” Kimmy answered from her place from across the room.  She was playing with a toy anti-gravity racetrack. She turned the machine off by a switch on a box hooked up to it.


Kimmy got up and walked up to her father. He was dressed in a black and green tuxedo, sitting in a chair at his desk. On the desk were large papers rolled up like scrolls. Many of them were blueprints of E.I’s future projects. Only one of them was rolled out in front of him. The ends of the paper were fastened to the table by a magnet at each corner.


Kimmy peered over the schematics to see more.  The title of the project, “Gravity Wielder”, was in large black lettering above the detailed drawing.


“I found the problem we ran into the last time!” Her father said happily, as if he had discovered something. Kimmy took her eyes of the paper and turned her attention to her father. He had something in his left hand but Kimmy couldn’t see right away. It was completely hidden in his hand.


“Come here for a moment!” Kimmy’s father said, beckoning his daughter to sit on his lap. He opened up his hand to show his daughter a small chip. As Kimmy sat in his lap, he let Kimmy hold it. “You see these small switches on here?”


“Yeah?” Kimmy answered, looking closer at the chip, running her hand over each detail in its exterior. It was roughly edged like any ordinary computer memory chip. Yet it was the size of a single segment on one.


“There are three of them.” her father explained, pointing to the nodes on the back. Kimmy flipped the chip over to see.


Above each corresponding node were the letters “A”, “M”, and “O”. The node matching the “M” was in the middle. Above these three letters as another acronym… “KFE”.


“What are they?” Kimmy asked, looking up at him in confusion.


“Well,” her father laughed. “The first setting, ‘A’, is used in the robotic bodyguards we have outside. You know about our forcefield security systems?”


“Partially.” Kimmy sounded more interested. “Why?”


“The ‘M’ setting allows them to do that.” Her father answered.


“What’s the last setting?” Kimmy asked enthusiastically, pointing to the third setting.


“Everyone else!” Her father laughed at her assumed impatience. “This setting is used to for biological hosts.”


“So the first two are for machines and the last one is for us humans?” Kimmy asked, looking up at him.


“Yep!” Her father laughed. “A is for androids; M is for machines; and O is for organics.”


“You have a good memory!” he commended her while hugging her tight. He gave her small kiss on the cheek.


Kayla groaned at the reminiscence. She didn’t quite understand it all—the strange memories and the nightmares. Yet this one memory was now at the pinnacle of her “wall of weird”. Kayla still refused to believe what she remembered was a long and forgotten memory. Then the young woman began to reason—what if by some chance her Kimmy dreams were telling her something? Kayla recalled her conversation with Dr. Alexander earlier in the week.  The lady called her dreams and flashbacks farfetched. Kayla rubbed her scarred index finger, trying to remember what she knew from her dreams about how she got this scar. That’s when she heard a creak in the floor. It broke the girl from her trance. She swung her head around. There was Marion—peeping in on her!


“Hey, I saw what you’re doing,” Marion yelled. “You can’t hide that from me!”

Kayla quickly ran to shut the door after disconnecting her suit from the port.

“Hiding what?” Kayla heard Earl yell from his place in the kitchen downstairs.

Kayla quickly opened the door, pulled Marion inside her room, and shut the door again.


“Alright, I’ll let you in on this.” Kayla quickly said above a whisper, gripping Marion tightly. “Promise me you’ll keep this only between us two—he’s the last one I want to know, got it?”


“Yeah, okay.” Marion looked up at her nervously.


“What are you two doing up here?” Earl said between breaths on his way up the stairs. “And what are you hiding Kayla?”


“She’s uh—” Marion hesitated as Kayla looked into her eyes with contempt. “Got food up here!”


“Kayla,” Earl paused to catch his breath. He continued in a scolding tone, “what I tell you about taking food up into your room?”


“I’m being real careful not to drop anything!” Kayla said innocently.


“But you know how jealous your sister gets!” Earl reminded. “That’s why I said you couldn’t bring food up to your room either.”


“But I’m sharing it with her!” Kayla faked her cheerfulness.


“Alright!” Earl added cautiously as he slowly headed down the stairs. “As long as she’s satisfied with that!”


“Yessir!” Kayla replied.

“I am!” Marion answered.


”Good!” Earl exhaled before he hit the bottom the stairs with a thump. He headed into the family room and plopped down in his chair in front of the TV.


Kayla sighed in relief.

“Uh, Kayla?” Marion called to her in fear.


“What?” Kayla answered softly as she looked back to Marion. She was trembling.

“Y—you’re hurting me.” Marion whined in pain.


“Sorry.” Kayla let go of Marion’s shoulder but suddenly raised an eyebrow at her and continued, “Wait a minute—I wasn’t holding you that tight, was I?”


“Yes you were!” Marion’s tone became louder, annoyed at Kayla denying her super strength. Marion rubbed her paining shoulder, grimacing as she groaned, “I felt like I was being clamped by steel! Have you been weight lifting—or how about Yoga?”


“Yoga?! No—I ain’t that stupid!” Kayla shook her head at Marion’s mentioning it. “You know daddy would have a fit if I was!”


“What's this suit you got on, anyway?” Marion asked, curious.


“It’s not finished yet.” Kayla shook her head. She moved back to her computer and hooked her SGY up to it again.


“What’s it supposed to do?” Marion asked.


“You remember how LIA’s RA-9k robots work?” Kayla asked, looking to Marion who went to pull up a chair beside her.


“Yeah, with that forcefield thingy that protects them from bullets?” Marion said in confirmation. “Is your suit supposed to be like that or something?”


“Come on, Mar,” Kayla laughed. “You know the bare minimum isn’t good enough for me!”


“Right!” Marion nodded. “So what’s it supposed to do—but first, what did you call it? Oh I know—Kayla’s Suuupahhh Butt Kickin’ Armor! AKA: the K.S.B.K.A—Cha-Ching!”


Marion gestured a cash register opening with her arm while looking downward with a grin.


“You remind me of Mr. Williams!” Kayla said with a smug on her face and laughed.

“How?” Marion asked, curiously.


“The day I finished Taizosu,” Kayla answered with another laugh. “He tried to name MY robot!”


“So what do you call your suit, then?” Marion asked again.


“I call it,” Kayla began. She shortly picked at the sleeve of her suit while smiling as she said, “SGY.”


“The SGY?” Marion looked confused. “It’s an acronym for something.”

“In English—Power Shell Armor.” Kayla explained.


“So where did you derive its name from?” Marion asked, her interest in Kayla’s suit deepening.


“In Japanese.” Kayla answered.

“Which is?” Marion pressed.

“Are you sure you can pronounce it?” Kayla warned in a joking tone.


“Ha!” Marion laughed. “After taking a full year of it last year in MCLT, I should—hand it to me!”


“Okay!” Kayla laughed at her sister’s overconfidence. “It’s called the Sentan Gijutsuryoku Yoroi.”


“Sentan Gijutsuryoku Yoroi, eh?” Marion said it in a semi-Japanese dialect. “Which translates to the Advanced Technological Strength Armor!”


“You got it right!” Kayla laughed. “Impressive.”


“Thanks!” Marion smiled. “Why not call it the ATSA?”


“There you go trying to name my suit again!” Kayla laughed and with emphasis on her suit's possession. “The ATSA doesn’t sound too bad—though it reminds me of a type of Hard Drive!”


“Wouldn’t its powers be stored into something like one?” Marion pondered over the idea, reasoning with her older sister.


“Yeah but—wait a minute.” Kayla stopped and leaned towards Marion with a curious look. “How did you know?”


Marion shortly laughed. “If superhuman strength isn’t within SGY’s programming, then I think—”


“At least the strength amplification code works.” Kayla interrupted with a nod. “But the core of the suit programming doesn’t—mainly the reflector.”


“What’s wrong with it?” Marion asked.


“The forcefield emulator pulls too much power from the host!” Kayla said as turned back her computer’s screen. She looked through SGY’s programming for any errors using the program compiler’s error checking function. “I almost burned myself the other day trying to get it to work correctly!”


“Did you email any of your past professors for any help?” Marion asked. “Prof. Williams is retired, right?”


Kayla shook her head as she answered, “Died of brain cancer a year ago. So I had to email Prof. Benton.”


“Benton?” Marion gasped, surprised at hearing his name. “My Intro to Advanced Robotics teacher?”


“Yeah.” Kayla nodded. She was sitting there turned sideways at Marion until her computer beeped.  Kayla quickly took her eyes off Marion and redirecting her attention to her computer’s screen. The error checking finished but showed no errors. Kayla shortly laughed, hopelessly. She shook her head in defeat.


“What did he say?” Marion asked impatiently as Kayla seemed to ignore her presence.


Kayla turned back to Marion and motioned an airplane flying over her head. Marion started laughing her sister's gesture. Kayla cleared her throat, trying to hold back her laughter but failed. The two laughed for a few moments together. Kayla turned back to her screen.


“Benton told me that Evanstonian technology was a family secret—no one could duplicate their designs perfectly.” Kayla finally said after a short silence, slightly depressed of her teacher’s words.


“So you basically have a suit with a few bugs in it! You use to do this kind of thing for a grade! Remember that one time when Williams had us rewire and reprogram a robot that was messed up beyond all recognition?” Marion looked at her sister, appalled at hearing Kayla’s sudden capitulation.


“But it was using technology easily understood!” Kayla argued. “Evanstonian technology is alien to most of mankind.”


“Blargable!” Marion folded her arms, looking at Kayla in dismay.

“What?” Kayla laughed at hearing the made up word.


“Nonsense in other words!” Marion said with clarification. “Madam Zyra, those terrorists GUB, and even Giordano’s mafia utilized it, why can’t—”


“Their gadgets and weaponry don’t even come close!” Kayla interrupted, waving her hand at Marion. “Remember that their suits only do what mine does now—give the user superhuman strength. If they found out how to make the forcefield—”


“What about the WNFE?” Marion stopped.

Kayla looked at Marion with a blank stare. There was hopelessness in her eyes.


“Machine hosts only.” Kayla said bluntly. “That’s how Taizosu was able to defend itself. Even then, his wasn’t as good as what E.I.’s were known to be!  He and the other military issue robots were basically on the same level when it came to weaponry and defenses.”


“That’s a lie!” Marion yelled. “He outdid LIA’s robots!”

“But enough of them could overpower him.” Kayla explained after another sigh.


She closed her eyes. Remembering how her beloved robot died always brought sadness to her heart. Kayla quickly opened her eyes before they welled up with tears. She started scanning through the programming code manually for errors, trying to hide her sadness from her sister by looking at the screen intently.


“So where did you get the parts for this thing anyway?” Marion asked after a brief silence.


“You know the free cybernetic-ware MCLT gives away at end of each quarter?” Kayla looked at her with a small grin.


“Mmmkay. But what about—”


“The KFE chip Mariana gave to me years ago—she said that she found it somewhere lying in the Murphy’s home.” Kayla interrupted, hesitating in her words as she tried to remember.


“The Murphys could be related to the Evan—”


“Don’t start jumping to conclusions, now!” Kayla interrupted loudly in alarm to her sister’s faulty assumption.


“You shouldn’t have a problem there anyway, Kay.” Marion said, reemphasizing her confidence in Kayla’s abilities. “If its one thing my sister can do better than anything else, it’s reverse engineer a foreign electronic!”


“Thanks, Ryn.” Kayla said with a smile as Marion got up from her chair. She headed for the door.


Marion stopped short of the door's threshold and began looking around for something. She pointed at four screws in the wall next to Kayla’s walk in closet.


“What?” Kayla asked, attentive to her sister pointing at something.


“What happened to your mirror?” Marion continued to look in that direction, still pointing.


“Well, in the midst of SGY almost cooking me alive—Let’s just say—my broken mirror is related to the problem I’m still having with SGY.” Kayla answered after a nervous laugh.


“Oh.” Marion shrugged. She started to walk out the door. She stopped again and at the threshold of Kayla’s door with her hand on the doorknob. Marion looked back at Kayla sitting at her computer now typing.


“What?” Kayla asked impatiently, turning to see Marion still standing there.

“So how long have you’ve been working on SGY?” Marion asked in a quiet voice.

“6 months.” Kayla answered while continuing to type.

“Who also knows?” Marion closed the door behind her slightly.

“Just you and Uncle Landie.” Kayla shortly answered.


“Mariana did say something to you the night before she said goodbye.” Marion quickly turned to exit Kayla’s room, shedding a few tears of joy. She closed the door behind her.


Kayla stopped typing for a moment after hearing Marion’s words.

“She did.” Kayla muttered. “It gave me the strength to carry on.”


Kayla suddenly lounged back in her chair and ran the error check again.  She looked through the finished report one more time before disconnecting her suit from the computer. Kayla set back in her chair again, closed her eyes, and entered a daze. In her mind, Kayla tried every possible scenario in making the KFE work. The last setting on the KFE Kayla thought would solve her problem. As for the flashback Kayla had about the KFE, she wanted to dismiss it. The more she fought against following her flashbacks, the more problems Kayla encountered. By the time she realized it, she had fell asleep in her chair with her suit still on. Her mind concocted another dream.


A pipe exploded above them, spraying sewer water in every direction, drenching Conner and his family below. Conner quickly moved down the path with his wife, Michelle, and sister-in-law Laina with Kimmy in her arms.  After entering another part of the long tunnel, Conner turned around and took out that microchip from a pocket within his sewer water saturated all-black suit.


“Kimmy, I want you to have this!” Conner said, slightly in panic.

“What is it?” Kimmy asked. She began shivering from ice-cold water raining down on her.


Gunfire was heard in the distance followed by soldiers hollering. Many of them were screaming in their last breath. Explosions shook the ground, making Kimmy feel uneasier. The tremors made ripples in the water. More pipes then exploded after another blast. The water level quickly rose to Kimmy's waistline.


“Hold out your hand,” Conner said, rushing. “We don’t have much time!”

As Kimmy opened her hand, Conner dropped the silver computer chip in her palm.


“Keep it close to your heart, Kimmy.” Conner said, rolling up his daughter’s arm toward her chest. Kimmy then dropped the chip on the inside of her shirt. It stopped near to her heart area.


“In case your able reverse engineer this thing one day,” Conner added. “Don't give it to anyone and tell no one of its existence!”


“No one?” Kimmy stuttered, still freezing from the cold water that continued to drench her.


“Except for your family.” Conner sighed. “If you find any of us left living.”


Kayla woke up to the sound of a large explosion. She flinched forward, scrambling to an upright position. She looked around the room—her heart racing. Kayla glanced at her computer's clock reading “11 PM”. She shook her head at her dream as she went to take her suit off. Afterward, Kayla shoved her suit back in the closet.  She came back out in her pajamas. Kayla got in her bed and went to sleep.


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