Chapter Two

You look like her.

"Make sure to check both ways before crossing the road, Hope." The elderly female cashier told the youthful girl who cradled a box of beer in one arm while several bags of groceries hung from the other.

"I always do, Ms. Potters. Thank you for all your help today. Say hello to Mr. Potters for me, would you?"

"Of course, darling. Anything for my little granddaughter!" Hope smiled happily before exiting the store, stepping onto the crowded sidewalk. She didn't see Mr. Lennox or his massive black pickup truck around so it looked like she was going to be walking home... in scorching hot sun. Just perfect. Well, there was no use in whining about it; Dr. Henry did say that getting a little exercise would be helpful - she'd just have to remember not to over do it and take short breaks every so often.

Closing her eyes and spreading her arms, Hope took a moment to bask in the warm sunlight. The beams of light seemed to just illuminate the world, melting away all the terrors and trials that she had to go through. These were the moments that kept her going. It was that tiny glimmer of hope that someone, somewhere, would care for her like this someday - someone who would be willing to take the time to fill her world with beautiful golden light.

She wanted to stay like this forever but she couldn't, of course. Her "father" was still waiting for his beer at home and if she didn't get it to him soon, she didn't even want to IMAGINE what he would do to her. When Aisha Summers had run from her husband, she hadn't taken her young daughter with her. How selfish. Hope thought to herself. Did Aisha simply flee in such a panic that she'd forgotten to bring her little daughter with her or had she - No. I can't think like that. There must have been a reason she ran without bringing me. I... I just wish I could see her once more, just once.

Silently contemplating her mother's actions, Hope mindlessly took a wrong turn into a shady dead-end alley. The stench of garbage assaulted her senses and the crunch of shattered glass sounded out from beneath her shoes. It wasn't until she heard a pained yowl from the end of the alley and the laughter or several teenage boys. Dropping the crate of beer, she dashed forward to try and save whatever animal the boys were harassing.

Peeking around a corner, Hope was shocked to see that it wasn't a stray animal or anything of the sort. It was a robot, albeit a feline shaped shaped robot. Damages were obvious all over its once sleek metal plates, some looking like stab marks and others like scorches from a high heat projectile weapon. The boys were all gathered around it, kicking it, spitting, urinating on it and tossing garbage on it. A single glowing red eye connected with Hope's own hazel eyes, somehow pleading for her to help. A cry for help, was a cry for help.

How many times had she screamed for someone to save her from her father? If someone had the ability to save her and they didn't, she couldn't fathom how she would react. Now she was the person who could help; If she didn't, who - what - would she be?

"Stop!" She shouted, rushing out and startling the boys into backing away. "Stop hitting him!" She screeched to a stop in front of the panther-like robot to take on a defensive stance. "Stop!"

The boys sneered. "It's just a girl." One of them, seeming to be the leader, snarled as he began advancing on her. Hope froze solid as she noticed a sort of predatory gleam in his slitted eyes, the same sort of glint her father had before- no...

Dropping back, the boy's face blurred into that of her father's - the narrowed eyes, the hateful glare. "Go away!" She finally screamed, dropping to the ground and curling up. "Go away!" Small hands found a small pebble on the ground, snatching it up to send it flying forward to smash into the boy's face.

"Ah! My nose, you stupid little-" He never finished his sentence as he found himself retreating from a heavy barrage of garbage and stones. "Crazy bitch! Let's get out of here!"

Hope let the stone in her hand clatter to the ground as the last boy vanished around the corner. It had felt good... no, beyond good, to finally unleash that anger on someone. After imprisoning the fiery rage in her soul once again, she turned to face the robot cat-thing. It was up on its feet again, wary red eyes tracking her every movement. "Hey, are you okay?" She questioned softly. "You probably don't understand me but I'm here to help you."

As she slid closer slowly, the robot seemed to tense. "You don't want me near you, do you?" Hope mused softly. "I just want to know that you're alright. Can you show me that you can move alright?"

After a moment of feeling foolish for talking to the robotic creature, Hope jawdropped as it prowled around in a circle, even pouncing a couple times to prove that it was fine. It seemed fine at first but all of a sudden, its back leg gave out and it clattered to the ground. Without thinking, she approached the creature only to be met by a fierce snarl.

Pedestrians walking on the sidewalk past the alleyway probably would have heard something along the lines of this:

"Hey, don't give me that kind of backtalk!"

"Don't you snarl at me, kitty!"

"What kind of face is that?!"

"No scratching!"

"Or biting!"

Hope stood up, a little worse for the wear, but smiling at the sulking pantherbot. She'd finally managed to get it to sit down and behave so that she could try and see what was wrong with its mechanics. It wasn't damaged persay, it was just clogged up with a lot of organic debris. She wouldn't have been surprised if it had been running through a swamp a couple hours before and decided to bake the mud dry in the sunlight.

Speaking of sun... a quick glance up at the sky caused Hope's heart to sink in complete horror. The moon and the stars were already out, not even a hint of the sun anywhere on the horizon. "No... no, no, no!" She panicked. "It can't be nighttime already! I should have gotten home right away! Oh god, he's going to kill me!"

Snatching the beer off the ground where she'd dropped it, she raced off down the main street toward her home without another thought to the being she'd left in the alleyway behind her. That being's thoughts however, were quite focused on the young girl, its curiosity perked. Scaling the brick wall next to him effortlessly, it set off after the human who'd helped him.

Hope crept up the battered grey steps of the lonesome, decaying house. The crate of beer was clutched tightly to her flat chest, as if it could of protected her from all the horrors contained within this modern day Pandora's Box.

She winced as the door hinges squealed loudly, shredding the peaceful silence of nighttime. The stars twinkled above brightly, their light spotlighting a frozen girl standing on the steps of an isolated house. After a moment of waiting, Hope continued on her way, creeping silently into the house. Or so she thought.

"Where the fuck have you been, you little bitch?" A voice snarled angrily from the living room. Hope froze, her foot in midair. No... not again. Slowly, ever so slowly, she turned to face the man who was biologically deemed father.

"I bought your beer and a few groceries we'll need-" Hope screamed involuntarily as a beer bottle whistled by her ear to shatter against the wall in a waterfall of glass.

"DID I TELL YOU TO BUY THE DAMN GROCERIES? DID I?" He shouted as he stomped forward toward the terrified girl.

"N-No, you d-didn't, D-dad!" That was the wrong thing to say. The moment that last word tumbled from her mouth, Jack Summer's eyes narrowed in anger. Hope quaked as she saw her father's muddy brown eyes coalesce into murky pools of pure obsidian hatred.

His next words were calm, a deadly calm that scared her more than his anger did. "What did you call me?"


"Come here."

Shaking in her leaden shoes, Hope dragged herself over the the devil incarnate. Her mind was screaming at her, pleading with her not to go to him but she couldn't. She herself couldn't quite understand why she couldn't refuse his demand but... CRACK!

Pain flared up across her cheek as the girl blinked. Jack's hand was still upraised, ready to strike his daughter once again. Uncomprehendingly she stared at it while absentmindedly tracing the red mark that was left upon her cheek. "You..."

The man charged forward unexpectedly, bodyslamming Hope through the brittle plaster wall of the house and out onto the splintery front porch. Another dark brown beer bottle seemed to materialize in his hand before shattering upon contact with her face. The fragile skin beneath it parted like heated butter to a knife, red lifeblood trickling across her pale cheek. Fist after fist smashed into her head as Jack blindly continued to rage. She looked so much like that bitch, her mother. She'd LEFT him. She hadn't even bothered to explain why, just upped and left. It wasn't enough to just leave, no, that whore'd taken ALL of his money with her. Jack knew there must have been another man. There had to be.

And this little brat... she looked exactly like that bitch. And she would pay.

AN: Sorry about not updating in forever. I've got the next few chapters all in progress but work has been crazy. I aim to have the next chapter out by next week at latest. I'm not great at writing fight/abuse scenes so please bear with me. Fixed up a couple grammer mistakes as well.

Btw, if it seems strange that she's not afraid of a certain pantherbot, there's a reason to that. Hope sees it as a sort of kindred spirit because her first image of it was it being beaten on and bullied by the boys. It's not going to be explicitly stated but Hope has an interest in engineering and a basic understanding mechanics so she's able to figure out what was wrong with the bot's leg.