This is an amateur, non-commercial story which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of those holders. And so it goes.

Jeepers Creepers

"Sheriff Carter," Fargo said with considerable pride. "I give you…your Jeep."

"Great," Carter said after a moment. "But why is it in the test lab instead of the garage? You told me that the damage it from the warehouse thing wasn't enough to replace it…"

"Very true. But after some discussion…and to be honest, your vehicle replacement record raised some red flags in Washington… I got our brain trust together and came up with a solution. Watch this." He retrieved a control panel from his suit pocket and pressed the first of a series of buttons.

To Carter's horror, a huge block of concrete plunged from the ceiling on a direct collision course with his vehicle. At the very last second, though, it hit some sort of invisible field and bounced harmlessly to one side. The Jeep was utterly unscathed.

"Isn't it great?" Fargo cried. "We outfitted your Jeep with a bumper-to-bumper sensor array and plugged it into a level-two AI. Any time the array detects something that might cause damage to the vehicle, the AI activates a low-level force field to protect it!" Fargo cleared his throat proudly. "I call it the Disaster Avoidance Proactive Heuristic Network Enterprise, DAPHNE for short. I was running out of Buffy names," he added as an aside.

"This sounds almost too good to be true," Carter said, skeptical.

Fargo smiled. "We've tested this thing up one end and down the other, Sheriff. Watch the stress test." He pressed a second button on his control. The Jeep was assaulted by flamethrowers, high winds, hail and metallic debris in succession. The demonstration lasted five minutes, and at the end of it Carter's Jeep still stood unscathed. "In addition, we fed the AI data on all your prior incidents, so it can determine possible hazards based on the current situation. This Jeep will survive anything you throw it. What do you think?"

"Well," Carter said slowly. "It sounds great in theory…"

Fargo dangled the keys in front of him. "Wait till you see it in practice."

Carter accepted the keys and walked over to the Jeep, reaching out to open the driver side door. There was a slight crackle of energy as the force field suddenly emerged, blocking his attempt. "Fargo," he called. "I think you've got some bugs in the system."

"Really?" Fargo hurried over and opened the door with ease. "It seems to be working fine now, Sheriff. Maybe it was a momentary glitch from the stress test. Anyway…enjoy." Carter took one step forward…and was immediately blocked by the field.

"Fargo…?"

"This shouldn't be happening." Fargo quickly connected to the Jeep AI and ran through the diagnostics. "Uh-oh. We didn't figure on this."

"What?" Carter asked, exasperated.

"Well…" Fargo looked positively sheepish. "Remember when I said we fed the AI your vehicle history? It looks like it's viewing you as the most hazardous factor to its safety."

"Oh, you GOTTA be kidding," Carter protested.

Fargo held up his data pad. It was rapidly filling up with the repeated phrase 'THE DESTRUCTOR'. "I should have known better than to let Zane assist with the AI programming," he said apologetically. "Look, this may take a little while, but I promise you we'll get this fixed. In the meantime, we did manage to requisition a backup Jeep for you, so go ahead and take it for the time being…oh crap."

Carter sighed. "Do I want to know?"

"Nothing, nothing. It, uh, overheard me just now and it's calling out a warning to its 'brother'." Fargo grinned sheepishly. "Anyway, the Jeep's out on the lot, and we'll call you when we get the bugs out of this one."

"Yeah, right," Carter muttered as he headed toward the exit. "That'll be the day…"