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Celeste and Bobby Fischer

"If our target doesn't show up soon," I said, moving Celeste's queen back where it was supposed to be, "I'm going to take a can opener to your eyelids."
Black and white squares reflected on her chrome pout. "Let's start over. I promise to be good. Same stakes?" Her expression melted into the smile she wore when eviscerating people.
I'd taught Celeste too much smack talk. "You have all the grace of Deep Blue with the personality of Bobby Fischer," I said. Still no motion across the street. My superiors would probably object, but they weren't here. I re-set the chessboard.
Celeste made a dismissive gesture and a standard opening. "Bobby Fischer was an android, too."
"Bull." I matched her opening.
"He was! Traveled back in time because the chess circuit wouldn't let an inorganic intelligence compete." We exchanged pawns and she brought out her knight. "All that freaking out about mind control devices? It was the unshielded television equipment; the electromagnetic fields were scrambling his brains."
"Famous people don't get away with being robots." I pinned her knight.
She brought out her bishop. "Thomas Jefferson was artificial, too. You can imagine what he went back in time to do."
"I'm not going to believe you met everyone just because you're a time-traveling robot from the future. And that's not a legal move."
She reared back. "I have the rules to this game programmed into my brain."
"Both of your bishops are on white squares."
She raised her eyebrows in a bad approximation of surprise.
"Forfeit or move it back. It was there, next to the pawn, in case your photographic memory is having one of its 'glitches.'"
A fluid shrug, a grandiose motion of the wrist, and she moved the bishop to a legal square. "Just keeping you on your toes," she said.
"Some people think it's more challenging to win within the rules."
"Yeah, Bobby said that, too." She leaned back and frowned at the clock. "I think he was being sarcastic."
Any more sass and the bosses might decide they didn't need human spies. Maybe she had met Bobby Fischer. She was still vulnerable to the Queen's gambit. "Check mate. No more re-matches; I get to shoot the bad guy."
Ah, actual hurt in her artificial features. She dashed the pieces from the board and dropped back in an artful sulk. "Deep Blue was more fun than you."
I checked my weapon and got into position at the window. "Deep Blue couldn't banter."
"Neither, despite my best efforts," she said, "can you."
Check f'n mate.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, February 28th, 2019
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