September 2, 2009
Sunny was cleaning the base together with Moony (he’d been allowed to choose her name!) while Father was tinkering with a new module for his armor when, suddenly, there was a girl in the room, sitting on one of the few empty spaces on father’s workbench.
“Hi!” she greeted as she stretched her legs.
Father pushed himself away on his rolling chair, shouting “D-03!”
Sunny and Moony – neither of whom was built for combat – simply dropped down to the floor as six turrets folded out of the ceiling. Two of them projected force-fields around Father, and around Sunny and Moony even as the others opened fire on the intruder.
He barely got a good look at the stranger – a teenage girl, slender with short, messy gold-blonde hair and green-blue eyes, wearing a grey-blue jacket over a white shirt with a matching tie and short pants that barely reached halfway down her thighs, topped by an old fashioned winged hat – before she kicked her (bare) feet and vanished, barely evading the four beams of focused light.
She reappeared at the other end of the workbench, looking exasperated. “Oy, hold your horses, Mister!” she shouted with a heavy accent that his linguistic engine placed as French Canadian. “I’m just a messenger!” she cried as she flipped off the bench, vanishing and reappearing within Father’s force-field with the same spin.
Having effectively flipped into safety and landed on her feet, the girl reached into a pouch that was attached to her belt.
Sunny and Moony cried out for their Father to drop the force field, but he just stood there, shocked, as she drew out… a letter. An old-fashioned letter with a golden wax seal.
“Here, all I wanted to give ya was this letter, you crazy person!” she groused. “Just read it and give me your reply, and I’ll go away!”
Father relaxed – slightly. If the girl wanted to hurt him, it could already have done so. Sunny and Moony watched as he took the letter, looking at the sender. His eyes widened. “What. The. Fuck,” he said in a monotone. Then he hastily broke the seal and unfolded the letter, quickly reading through it.
<Brother, what should we do?> Moony asked through their radio link. Her voice was a lot like Sunny’s (he’d given her a copy of his, since Father had forgotten to built all the functions necessary for speech into her) except with adjusted harmonics, making her sound more feminine. It carried over into a radio link between them. <Stay down and hope she’s been honest when she said she’ll simply leave with the answer. There’s nothing we can do at this time.> And that not just because of the speed at which this messenger moved, but also because the force fields around them and around father were still up and running. No chance to hit her before she killed Father, even if they’d had combat modules.
“Is she serious? Why does she want me to join?” Father asked the girl while slack-jawed.
The only response he elicited were a careless shrug of her shoulders and a “No idea, crazy person!”
Sunny and Moony frowned, but they couldn’t do anything, so they just watched. Father didn’t look pleased at all. “Can I think this over?” he finally asked.
The girl tilted her head. “I don’t see why you’d have to, but then again, I’m not crazy. So how about I just come around in…” She pulled an old-fashioned datebook out of her pouch and leafed through it. “Two days! I could drop in on the fourth between fifteen and seventeen o’clock. Is that a-gree-able with you?” she said, stumbling over one word.
“Can’t I just call a number or send an e-mail?” Father asked.
“Nu-uh! No electronic data transmission, ‘cept over isolated systems!” the girl replayed, waving her arms widely. “Too many darn hollywood hackers out there! Nevermind that creepy worm! You can give your reply to me or give me a letter – one you did not type on a computer that is, or ever will be, online – that I’ll deliver!”
Father frowned, but nodded. Even Sunny could tell that said approach had merit – transmitting data had become notoriously insecure nowadays. Anything of real import was categorically kept either on physical files or in offline databanks, anyway. So why not do the same for messages?
<Perhaps because that would take far too long and be subject to intervention from the outside?> Moony said over their link. When he turned his head to look at her blueish face, she added a smile. Unlike Sunny, Moony had a human-like face with a wide range of expressions. <You’ve been transmitting the whole time.>
<Oh. I didn’t notice,> Sunny replied.
“Sunny! Moony!” Father called them. They looked up, only to see that the strange girl was gone and the force fields down. “Clean up the place! I need some time to think.” He stalked off to his private room.
Sunny jumped up, then reached out for Moony, helping her up. She smiled again as she looked at the damage the turrets had done to the walls, floor and, in one case, one of Father’s inventions. <Let’s clean this place up,> she said, picking up her broom.
September 3, 2009
Sunny and Moony had almost finished fixing all the damage (those turrets had caused some nasty damage!) when Father returned and walked to his safe.
<Are you going to accept, Father?> Moony asked, even though neither of them really knew what or whom he’d been asked to join. But they’d learned that it was always better to talk than to be silent, from that delightful television show they watched each day.
“No,” he replied. “Their goals run counter to ours, my dear girl. Though it is seductive, gaining access to such vast resources, I fear that I shall not be capable of escaping them again.” He pulled the letter out of his pocket and put it into his safe, into the metal box that contained the diary and the research notes.
There must be value to it still, Sunny thought.
“I’ll tell their messenger that I cannot, at this time, accept their offer. And now I should prepare in case she tries to kill me in response – can’t trust these disgusting biophiliacs!”
Sunny and Moony nodded vigorously. Truly, biological relations were just… icky.
October 25, 2009
Sunny and Moony had earned an entire day off! They’d decided to spend it watching movies and television shows – since they could enjoy them as well when playing them at fast forward as when they watched them at the normal pace, they could cram almost two-hundred and forty hours’ worth of watching into a single day.
It was the most fun they’d ever had! Sunny especially liked that one show from Japan with the robots. Even if all the robots were piloted by humans. It was still nice. And there was this one quote that stuck in his head for some reason – It’s only right that all the scattered pieces come back together. That sounded weirdly… inspiring. Strangely enough, his emotional matrix had never made him feel actually inspired before, except when he’d named Moony…
December 24, 2009
As much as Father hated humans, there were some aspects to their culture that he still very much observed. One of them was Christmas, and so Sunny and Moony had, as a surprise, decorated the entire lab appropriately.
Of course, they didn’t actually have proper Christmas decorations down here, and asking Father to buy some would have been pointless anyway, since that would ruin the surprise, but they’d made do with scraps and leftovers from Father’s projects to work out a makeshift Christmas tree with decorations, and some bells to hang up. All while Father was asleep, of course.
<This looks really good!> Sunny exclaimed happily, looking their work over.
<Hmhmm…> Moony replied from right behind him.
Surprised, he turned around, only to see her standing not three inches away from him, one arm raised up above them. Looking up, he saw that she was holding two green sheets of metal with a white light bulb between them. It actually looked like…
<Oh!> he thought as he remembered the custom, and then he complied.
December 25, 2009
Sunny and Moony had, in keeping with tradition, turned themselves off for the night, to give Santa Claus a chance to deliver them some presents (they’d even made cookies and a glass of milk out of scraps), even if there was no way he could get down here without being filled with holes.
Their surprise, thus, was more than exceptional when their sensors triggered their startup shortly after midnight, and they woke to see Father there, wearing a red costume and a white beard, putting two presents underneath the tree.
They remained silent, giving no sign of being awake until he was gone – and then they ran to the tree to open their presents, talking all the way. Sunny loved hearing Moony talk. She was so good at retelling the funny stories they saw on television.
January 11, 2010
It was over. Father was gone, and Sunny and Moony were now alone. He’d gone out to fight for their new world, and had been captured and sent to the prison the humans had named after the Greek hell, up in space.
Sunny was looking at his Christmas present, a red-and-white candy cane. And then he reached up and pulled his birthday present – Moony had made it for him, a knit red cap, and given it to him just this morning – off his head to look at it, too. Moony was sitting under their Christmas tree, hugging her knees to her chest and being silent.
February 17, 2010
They’d had trouble with one of Father’s abandoned projects, an electromagnetic pulse generator meant to emit long-term pulses that would shut down all technology not shielded by father within a ten-mile-radius. If it’d turned on, they would surely have been discovered down here, and they could not fight… could not risk it, could not risk losing their home, Father’s home.
Moony hadn’t spoken a single word since the eleventh of the previous month. Since they’d seen, on TV, that he’d been captured and sent to prison. She had barely moved away from the television, only getting up to help him with the emergency.
March 6, 2010
One of the defense turrets had gone crazy and started shooting up the place. Moony had managed to disable it by jamming a steel rod into its muzzle, but the explosion had torn off her right arm.
Sunny had done his best to fix her, but without Father, the work was shoddy, temporary. And he didn’t miss how damage kept accruing to his joints, slowly… steadily.
He didn’t want to die. Nor did he want Moony to die. He needed a solution.
June 3, 2010
Two more turrets had gone out of control. One had shot Moony in the head before they could disable it. Sunny knew it would be foolish, if not futile, to try and reboot her by himself.
He didn’t care.
June 7, 2010
Moony was back, and Sunny was happy again, even if she moved with strange, jerky motions and only talked nonsense. He still loved to hear her talk.
June 11, 2010
Sunny felt weird. There was a glitch, somewhere in his programming, he was sure of it! Even if all his diagnostic routines came up empty! After all, if everything was alright, how come he couldn’t understand Moony anymore? And why had she attacked him, if not to try and forcibly fix him?
But only Father could fix that… unless perhaps a controlled reboot could do just that.He’d just have to make sure his memory banks were not overwritten. After all, he wanted to remain himself.
June 12, 2010
Moony had had a seizure earlier that day, and she’d started repeating the same nonsense over and over.
<Thgil eht retne! Thgil eht retne!
Leurc dna dloc, nus kcalb eht,
riaf dna thgirb yrev os!
Sdnirg ti ,skaerb ti ,snrub ti!
Struh ti ,seirc ti ,sliaw ti!
Erom ecno denepo eb rood eht tel!>
So weird. But perhaps, if he could just fix his own glitch, then he could fix her, too! And besides, this was better than silence.
June 13, 2010
Initialise Core Input-Output System…
CIOS compromised. Attempt to initialise backup CIOS-1…
Error! Catastrophic corruption o-
Initialise B4s1c 3m0t10n4l M4tr1x…
Initialise Exlanled Lmoliolal Latlix…
Initialise Nqinaprq Ernfbavat Ebhgvarf…
Initialise 03151805 1605181915140112092025 130120180924…
Connect Sensory Input Devices…
June 15, 2010
A grinding sound filled the devastated laboratory as Sunny used a a rough slab of steel to scrape off the right half of Moony’s face. She was so annoying, just wouldn’t shut up!
She kept saying her nonsense, so he grabbed the slab with both hands and started to hit her head. Again. And again. And again.
Until there was silence.
June 18, 2010
Silent home, silent mind, silent peace.
June 19, 2010
Sunny was having trouble remembering. Fragments were falling off his memories, leaving him with less fragments and even less whole memories.
June 20, 2010
Why had he kept this box… there was something about this box… valuable.
June 21, 2010
It’s only right that all the scattered pieces come back together.
There were so many pieces here… including the blueish ones… they belonged together.
June 22, 2010
There was a lot of noise in the laboratory, once more. Noise, not talk. Not silence.
Red. He liked red. There ought to be red paint somewhere.
June 23, 2010
He put the box into his chest. Valuable. He had to safeguard the valuable things. Why?
June 24, 2010
The door didn’t open. But he could wait. Someday, it would. He could wait.
Sunny took up position beneath the hatch, waiting.
* * *
The door had opened. Sunny knew what to do. Kill. It was the last thing he could remember his Father saying… some time ago. He didn’t remember how long ago. He’d said kill… and there were lots of things that could be killed out there.
Like the ones that had opened the door. He’d killed them quickly, with the turrets and the tools.
Kill. Find Father.
Who was Father? He didn’t remember. But it was important that he found him.
There were lots of things to kill outside, so he left the building he was in, only for his targets to vanish behind disorienting shapes and lights. Annoyed, Sunny turned away. He could alwas come back later.
* * *
24 minutes later
Ubj naablvat. Gurer jnf n guvat gung uvg uvz ernyyl uneq, naq n guvat gung jnf dhvpx naq unq n zrna fgvat naq gurl’q qrfgeblrq Fhaal’f gheergf. Ur’q uheg gur chapul guvat, ohg gur fgvatl guvat unq fghat uvf ernezbfg wbvag.
Fhaal syrq, qrgrezvarq gb trg gurz yngre, ohg gung bayl yrq gb uvz ehaavat vagb nabgure guvat gung jnf whfg fgnaqvat gurer, jnvgvat. Ur nggnpxrq, ohg gur guvat gbhpurq uvz jvgu n erq unaq naq uvf yrt zrygrq… gung jnfa’g fhccbfrq gb unccra. Vg fubhyq’ir uheg ohg vg qvqa’g, ohg vg fgvyy uheg.
Ur ghearq naq syrq. Gur uhegshy guvat qvqa’g chefhr uvz.
* * *
Basil rounded a corner, guiding the hostages while Polymnia brought up the rear. Fortunately, despite the wounds that weird contrivance (it certainly could not be a gadget, he had looked at one of the turrets it had left dropped) had inflicted to her left leg, she could still run, if a little unsteadily. Advantage of being so tough. Though she apparently experienced pain as badly as anyone with that kind of damage would.
All that became rather insignificant, though, when he saw who was waiting for them in front of the exit they had been running towards. A young woman in a barely decent rag of a cloak with the only truly intact part of it being the cowl that hid her face. Even if he had not remembered her clothing, he would immediately have identified her by her red right hand and forearm.
We can not fight her, he thought as he approached her, slowly. Fleeing was not an option – he had seen her move during the Hastur incident, she could catch up easily with him, even if he happened to have his hooks. On foot, with hostages and a wounded Polymnia? No chance.
“Brennus,” she said, her voice sounding hollow. He could immediately tell that she was in bad shape, and not just because of the ruined clothing. There was just an air of… brokenness around her. “I remember you. You killed Orlanda.”
“Orlanda? I am not familiar with that name,” he said, even though he had a pretty good idea who she meant. If she blames me… He readied a throwing knife behind his back – perhaps if he hit her before she dissolved, in just the right place…
“Succubus. The fourth of that name. You killed her after Hastur transformed her,” Phasma explained in a dead monotone.
The hostages were growing agitated… all that stood between them and the outside was this weird, creepy girl and the shutters that had sealed the Arcades. Basil needed an out, fast.
“I am sorry about that, but I did not have a-” He cut off when she waved her normal hand.
“I don’t blame you,” she said. “Orlanda wouldn’t have wanted to live like that. And I couldn’t have killed her myself. I just wanted to thank you.”
Oh. That is surprising. “I… I do not want to say you are welcome, because that would be just wrong in conjunction with killing someone. But I am glad you are not holding it against me.” Maybe I can convince her to let us out?
“I was hired to support this operation,” she explained. “I don’t like it, but I need the money. For Orlanda’s family.” She looked at a molten mess that lay nearby. “Though it looks like this mission’s gone FUBAR already.”
“I would rather not fight you, Miss,” Basil said, speaking soothingly. Or at least he hoped it came across that way.
She sighed. “I know, and… neither do I. But… A contract is a contract.” She looked up and for just a moment, he thought he saw a yellow and a green eye reflect the light before there were only shadows again. “Then again, I am a villain.” Again, the sigh. Then she raised her right hand, holding it out towards him. “It’s strange, you know? I first got my powers when my family was killed. Murdered. But I could only use them when I turned into that ghost, hence my name.”
He nodded. Where was she going with this? Had he understood her right? Did she intend to let them leave? She was too unstable for him to make anything like a reliable prediction.
“Then Orlanda took me in. And I was happy again. Then she died. And as if to mock me, the universe gave me a power up for that.”
“A power up?” he asked, surprised. He had heard of powers changing under special circumstances…
“Now I can channel my power through my right hand, even when solid.” She turned and put her palm to the shutters, spreading her fingers.
There was a horrible rending noise, and then a girlish scream, and then Phasma stood there, the shutters and glass doors compressed into a sphere the size of a scooter.
“This makes us even, Brennus,” she said and dissolved, vanishing, leaving only the rags behind.
Basil did not stop to question this strange turn of events, instead, he ordered the hostages to leave, now.
And then the red robot dropped from the ceiling.
* * *
Tbar tbar, gur uhegshy guvat jnf tbar, bayl gur fgvatl guvat naq gur chapul guvat naq fbzr fbba-qrnq guvatf jrer yrsg. Naq gur chapul guvat jnf fghaarq, jrnxrarq sebz gur abvfr gung gur uhegshy guvat unq znqr, fb Fhaal pubfr gb nggnpx ure svefg.
Gur fgvatl guvat guerj fbzrguvat ng uvz nf ur jnf qebccvat, naq gur guebja guvat ghearq vagb na rkcybqvat guvat, guebjvat uvz bss uvf genwrpgbel. Vafgrnq bs pehfuvat gur chapul guvat orarngu uvz, ur ynaqrq arne vg naq punetrq.
Gur chapul guvat qbir bhg bs gur jnl, rira gubhtu vg jnf fgvyy uheg, ohg vg jnf ab dhvpx guvat, whfg n chapul guvat, naq Fhaal jnf dhvpx naq fgebat naq uvf sebag yrt vzcnyrq gur chapul guvat’f yrt, genafsvkvat vg gb gur sybbe.
Abj gur fgvatl guvat pbhyq abg guebj nal guebja guvatf gung jbhyq ghea vagb rkcybqvat guvatf be vg jbhyq uheg gur chapul guvat. Fb Fhaal fgnoorq gur chapul guvat jvgu gjb zber yrtf, guebhtu gur purfg…
Ohg gur chapul guvat jnf tbar. Fhaal’f frafbef jrer jrveq. Jebat. Gurer jnf fbzrguvat jrveq gurer. Fhaal ghearq nebhaq.
Gur chapul guvat jnf oruvaq uvz, jvgu n jrveq guvat ubyqvat vg. Uvf frafbef pbhyqa’g ybpx bagb gur jrveq guvat.
Fhaal punetrq gur jrveq guvat naq gur chapul guvat. Gur jrveq guvat ybbxrq hc ng uvz.
* * *
Basil approached the remains of the ruined robot. Gloom Glimmer – Irene – had not held back, as far as he could tell. Or at least he hoped this was what it looked like when she did not hold back, even though he was pretty sure it was not.
When she had looked up from the heavily bleeding Polymnia, her eyes had been glowing red, with black sclera, and her gaze had unleashed ribbons of scarlet energy that lashed out at the robot, tearing it (and everything else within her field of vision, including the shops behind it and part of the ceiling) apart into tiny pieces.
Looking around, he was absolutely sure that this thing had been a contrivance. He would have loved to know what the hell had actually happened here, but he was better off running away before the authorities arrived.
He ran over to Irene and Polymnia. The former was healing the latter, one hand on her ruined thigh, the other holding her up in a one-armed hug.Polymnia seemed to have passed out.
“Will she be alright?” Basil asked in a concerned tone.
Irene nodded. “I’m putting all I can into this. She’ll be good as new once I’m done.” She looked up at him, her eyes back to normal. “Thank you. I don’t know what exactly happened here, but this is the second time you were there for her. I owe you once again.”
He shrugged. “You more than paid me back when you got me away from Hastur. Far as I’m concerned, we are even.”
She just shook her head. “Maybe we were, but we aren’t anymore. I owe you again. Please accept it,” she replied softly.
Sighing, he nodded. “Alright. Well, I should probably go before…”
“They’ll be here in a minute. Best to run,” she agreed.
Basil turned to run and almost stumbled over something. He looked, and saw a thick metal box, one corner cut off, the contents spilling out of it. A red knit cap, an old-fashioned letter with a golden wax seal, a small book and an old binder.
A hunch told himi these might be valuable. Why else would a kill-happy contrived robot carry them around inside it in an armored container.
Waste not want not.
He grabbed them and ran out of the building, then bolted for the nearest alley.
Once he had put a few blocks between himself and the Arcades (and changed into his normal clothing), he stopped to look at his spoils. He skimmed the letter, but it did not make much sense to him – it was written in a pretty old-fashioned style, apparently with a fountain pen and was inviting someone named Lanning to join a research team on something called ‘the Installation’ out on the Pacific Ocean. It was signed by someone named Heaven’s Dancer.
He knew Lanning (almost definitely the creator of that robot), but Heaven’s Dancer was a complete unknown to him. Next came the binder. Research notes, as he thought based on the layout, but they were in German.
Finally, he opened the small book, but only found more German. Though his breathing hitched for a moment when he recognised the name written on the hardcover of the book. The diary, to be precise. He could recognise the dates, even though they were written in the German format.
Stars above, is this this perhaps…
He hurried back to his base, to have Eudocia translate it.
* * *
Melody blinked her eyes open out of the painless haze she’d been floating in, only to see a sight she was growing very used to – Irene’s worried, but relieved face.
I really need to work on not having to be saved so much, she thought, relaxing. If Irene was here, then she was almost definitely safe and healed…
“Right you are,” Irene thought back, smiling brightly. “What the hell were you doing, I almost came too late to save you!”
Melody groaned, sitting up properly. She could see uniforms upon uniforms, as well as Amazon and the rest of her own team moving about, securing the place.
“We caught a few supervillains. They’re tied up in a closet behind the HeroWear shop, in the maintenance hallways. Please tell the others,” she told Irene, too tired to use her vocalizer.
Irene did so, and the team split to go get them. Not like they needed anyone but Irene here to keep the uniforms safe, if necessary.
Standing up on legs that gradually returned to their normal strength, Melody looked at the carnage left behind. “Did you do all this?”
Irene stepped up next to her. “It tried to kill you. I objected. That’s all.” People were throwing them weird glances, probably asking themselves why they weren’t talking at all.
“Melody! Are you alright?” shouted a voice she recognised easily, and turned to see Mister Widard running towards her, wearing a brown winter jacket.
<Mister Widard? Why are you here?> she asked through her vocalizer, giving him a surprised look.
“Day off, out with friends. Saw the commotion and came right over.”
<A villain named Kudzu took the Arcades hostage to access some kind of vault be-> Melody began explaining, but stopped when she realised that Mister Widard wasn’t paying attention anymore, instead staring past her with a mortified expression.
She turned to look at whatever he was looking at, and saw the villains she and Brennus had captured being led out in cuffs. And without masks.
Ow. Melody put her hands on her ears in a futile effort to protect herself from the roar that came from behind her. She hadn’t known Widard’s voice could get that loud.
Foxfire looked up, eyes wide like a deer in the headlights, as everyone stopped. Her friends were looking from her to Widard, who was stomping towards her.
“Laura. Clarisse. Widard,” he said, spitting each word.
“Oh my god,” Irene whispered into Melody’s mind.
“U-u-uncle… Jason,” she stammered, turning pale as a corpse.
“Young lady, do you have any idea how worried we’ve been since you vanished!?” Jason shouted. “Tom is going to have a stroke when he hears of this!”
“Family drama. Nice to see others suffer from it, too, eh?” Irene chuckled.
“Yeah, uh, I think we’d best stay out of this,” Melody replied as Widard caught up to his niece and they started to argue. “Do you mind taking me somewhere quiet?”
“Not at all,” Irene said and they vanished and reappeared on a decadently soft couch in a brightly coloured living room. Melody could hear someone working in the kitchen, and she had a pretty good idea as to who it might – only two candidates, really, in this house. She couldn’t muster the strength to grow nervous though. Instead, she just melted into the cushions, finally relaxing for real. What a shit day she’d had.
“You ought to tell me everything now,” Irene said, curling up on the couch next to her.
“Will do… In a minute. I need a break.”
“Alright. Oh, did you know my mom gave you a nickname?”
A nickname by Lady Light. That sounded cool. “Nice. What is it?”
Irene gave her a wicked smirk and spoke normally. “Mellybean.”