Meanwhile in Space…
Episode 78: The Unnatural City, Part XIII: Kill it With Fire
Astralyn, Timmy, and Sundance quickly stood up and backed away from the opening doors. They all stood wide eyed in terror, not knowing what else to do. It was fine when the robots were underground, but now they were planning their escape. What would happen once they got top side? Timmy already had a glimpse of the chaos that would ensue in his dream world. He did not want that to become a reality.
Without thinking, Timmy ran over to the right side of the sliding doors and placed his hands on them. He hoped that he could use his new ability to hijack control of the doors again. He made them open, hopefully he could make them close. “Timmy, what are you doing?” Astralyn shouted. “Sundance, no!”
Sundance saw that Timmy was in trouble and quickly ran over to him. He pulled Timmy’s hands off the door and dragged him away just as the doors slid completely open. They made it just in time for the robot army to start stomping its way above ground.
“Now what do we do?” Timmy asked Sundance.
“Get down!” someone shouted from behind them.
Everyone turned around as they saw three large army trucks drive down the street. The men and women in the back of the truck were standing with their weapons drawn. Their weapons happened to include laser bazookas. When the trucks stopped, the S.P.A.C.E. agents jumped out of the truck and created an defensive line. Sundance, Timmy, Astralyn, and Colonel Graves made sure that they were behind the line.
The troops didn’t look like they were surprised at all by the appearence of large man eating robots. They simply picked up their laser bazookas and aimed to fire. When the commander gave the order, the troops opened fire on the robots, causing them to short circuit and explode. When robots spilled out of the tunnel, the troops didn’t waste any time in destroying them.
Sundance and Timmy just watched gleefully as the robots exploded into fiery heaps of metal. When it looked like the final robot had fallen, they high fived each other and embraced in a hug. The scientists gave a might cheer as the smoldering pile of robot remains sent smoke up into the sky.
Timmy walked over to Colonel Graves, who was hugging Astralyn, and tapped him on the shoulder. “Colonel, how did these troops know where to find us?”
“I called for back up after we had split up from that weird wire thing,” the colonel replied. “Though, I figure they wouldn’t have known where to look if it hadn’t been for you getting us out of there. You did a fine job, Lieutenant. A mighty fine job!”
“My hero!” Astralyn gave Timmy a kiss on his right cheek and a hug.
Timmy turned to Sundance and smiled. Sundance raised an eyebrow and smirked.
“What, you’re not getting a kiss from me, Timmy! You can forget about it!” Sundance slapped Timmy on the shoulder. “Now, how about we go and get some clothes? It’s cold out here.”
While Colonel Graves stayed behind to delegate orders on the destruction of the robots’ underground facility, Sundance, Timmy, and Astralyn huddled together on their way to the army trucks. They were more than happy to put the whole incident behind them. If they saw another robot again, it would be too soon.
“So, when did you notice that it wasn’t real?” Sundance asked, before taking a bite out of a blueberry scone. It was the following morning and Timmy and Sundance were having breakfast in the cafeteria in S.P.A.C.E. Headquarters. They were fully rested after they had a chance to shower and sleep. “I mean, I was convinced that I really was on Rylan 4 with all of those party girls! Man, some of those girls…” He held his hands out in front of his chest and made cups. He looked up at Timmy and winked.
Timmy shook his head as he stirred his oatmeal. “I kept seeing the robots’ faces everywhere I went. It was so bizarre. You, Astralyn, and the colonel were all robots, out for my head on a plate.” He didn’t want to think about it. The idea that the robots were inside his mind while they were harvesting his fluids weirded him out. “Nothing was making sense. Then all of the robots attacked me and I ran back to Christopher City…” Timmy stopped and smiled. “I realize that I don’t really want to talk about it.”
“Oh, come on, Timmy! You can’t leave me in suspense!” Sundance sat back in his chair and folded his arms. “I mean, how did you get out? How did you free us? What was that thing you did with that control panel? I want answers!”
“I think it all has something to do with my blood,” Timmy said sullenly.
“I thought Dr. Page said she didn’t know what was going on with your blood.”
“And as far as I know, she’s still working on it.” Timmy scooped up a spoonful of oatmeal only to let it drop back into the bowl. “The Mother Computer told me that she had taken blood like mine from other people before. It’s special somehow. It allows me to do things… with technology.” That was all Timmy wanted to say about it because that was all that made sense to him. He left out the one thing that made him worry. The Mother Computer told him that his blood was alien. What did that make him? He didn’t want Sundance to think any different of him, not that he thought he would, but just in case.
“So, you’re thinking maybe your blood is what powered that machine back on Deimos?” Sundance asked. Timmy nodded. “Wow. I don’t know what to say about that. But, don’t worry about it too much, Timmy! I’m sure that Dr. Page will find some answers for you.”
“I hope so,” Timmy said, but he wasn’t sure if she’d be able to. It was entirely possible that he was the only person on New Earth that had his blood type. If he really was an alien, where would he even start looking for answers?
“Well, the whole robot nest has been destroyed, so there’s nothing else to fear from them ever again,” Sundance said, stuffing the rest of his scone in his mouth. “Remind me to ask Astralyn what she dreamt about, I’m curious!”
Sundance continued to speak, but Timmy wasn’t listening. He was too concerned about what was going to happen to him next. What effects will happen because he had alien blood? What will he become? These were questions he was afraid to know the answers to. He hoped that he could put all this behind him and move on with no further incident, but he’ll always wonder.
Meanwhile in Space…
Episode 77: The Unnatural City, Part XII: I Am The Programmer
The robots slowly stomped away from the walls of the tunnel and converged on the group of frightened scientists. Sundance, Astralyn, and Colonel Graves tried their best to be the first line of defense. They all fired upon the metallic beasts, but they showed no sign of weakness. They continued to gain more ground with each step. More slumbering robots slowly joined in the effort. Their metal teeth grinding as they ached for human flesh.
Timmy wanted to race down the tunnel and come to his friends’ aid. He held his laser pistol in his hand and was ready to fight. Then he looked back to the giant doors behind him. Behind those doors was freedom. It was then that he knew where he was most needed. He turned his back to his friends’ plight and ran towards the doors. He tried to ignore the sounds of the battle happening behind him as he ran. Soon, this will all be over, he thought. One way or another.
He reached the doors and searched for any sign of a control panel. He found it on the left side of the tunnel, a few feet away from the left door. Timmy immediately turned it on and tried to access the mainframe. The information display came up and asked him for the password. “I don’t need no stinkin’ password,” Timmy said to himself. He cracked his fingers and got to work typing in the passcodes he thought would work. All of them were denied.
“Denied?” Timmy entered in some more codes that he recalled seeing during his time in the mainframe. He grew more flustered as each code came back denied. “How could this be denied?” His eyes narrowed as he remembered the Mother Computer. She had changed the schematics of the map and now she had locked him out of the mainframe. He cursed to himself. He felt that he should have seen that coming.
Some of the scientists were running down the tunnel towards him. Timmy saw the combined look of joy and fear on their face when they saw the giant doors. Their eyes immediately went to Timmy and the control panel and then to the doors that were still closed.
“Come on, man! Open the door!” one of the scientists cried. “The robots are coming!”
“I know that,” Timmy snapped. “I’m working as hard as I can!”
Timmy tried to think of another way around the blockade. The Mother Computer had ample time to put up as many barriers between him and the passcodes as she wanted. It was time to get creative.
“Hurry up!” screamed another scientist. She wasn’t the only one; more of them running from the one sided battle were starting to panic.
Timmy placed both hands on the control panel as he leaned on it. He closed his eyes and concentrated on connecting with the mainframe. He couldn’t keep his mind clear because he knew with each passing second, the robots were coming and his friends wouldn’t be able to fend them off for much longer. He opened his eyes and sighed as he stood away from the panel.
“Maybe I’m going about it the wrong way,” he said out loud to himself. There had to be an easier way. He remembered back to the early days back in the academy. He and his friends were all about breaking into the S.P.A.C.E. mainframe and reading mission reports. They had the toughest security, but Timmy and his friends knew how to get around it. This instance was no different. He wouldn’t have to rely on his newfound gift, just his old ones.
“A-HA!” Timmy returned his attention to the panel and started furiously typing in code. He knew just how to end this problem. A few times the panel resisted him. He knew that the Mother Computer was trying to block his every effort, but Timmy wasn’t worried. If he played his cards right, she wouldn’t be a problem for much longer.
“Timmy!” Sundance shouted from just around the corner. “Timmy? How are things coming?”
“Just about there, Captain,” Timmy replied.
“That’s good news,” Colonel Graves chimed in.
Timmy punched in a few more commands and then gave the panel a final touch. “Come on, come on. No whammies, whammies!” He stared at the panel as it blinked on and off at him. Finally, the screen read “Access Granted”. A loud hiss sounds, frightening most of the scientists. The doors gave a heavy click and they slowly slid apart. “YAY! That’s what I’m talking about!”
A cool breeze rolled in between the spaces of the door. The scientists cheered! When the space was big enough, the scientists made a break for the outside world. The night sky greeted them as they were reunited with freedom. Timmy ushered the scientists out of the tunnel. When they were all out, Timmy ran back down the tunnel to assist Sundance and the others.
As he turned the corner, he heard a loud hiss. He looked back and saw that the doors were beginning to close. He cursed under his breath and raced around the corner. The robots were quickening their pace. Sundance and Astralyn were shooting the robots in their faces, but they continued to come.
“I wish we had something a little better than guns,” Colonel Graves said. He finally grew frustrated and chucked his gun at one of the robots. It simply bounced off its face and fell to the ground only to be stepped on.
“Captain, Colonel, the doors are open!” Timmy shouted. “But they’re closing! We need to go now!”
“You don’t have to tell me twice!” Sundance chucked his gun at the robots and ran for the exit.
Astralyn thought about tossing her gun, but decided it would be better if she kept it. She turned around and followed Colonel Graves down the tunnel. The robots stomped after them. She made the mistake of looking back and saw how close behind them they were. She turned around and pushed herself up the steep incline to freedom.
Timmy was the first one to reach the doors. He was messing with the control panel to see if he could hinder the command to close the doors. Sundance ran up to him and smacked his hands.
“Leave it alone!” Sundance commanded. “Let’s just get out of here!” He grabbed Timmy and pushed him out of the tunnel. They turned around and waited for Colonel Graves and Astralyn. The doors continued to slide closed. “Come on, you guys!”
“Shut up, Captain! I’m old.” shouted Colonel Graves. He finally climbed out of the tunnel. Out of breath, he haunched over and tried to catch his breath. “Man, I really need to start working out more.”
Timmy and Sundance watched the shrinking passage and waited for Astralyn. With each passing second that Astralyn didn’t appear, the more panicked Timmy and Sundance became. They looked at each other at the same time and wondered if the same thought was going through the other’s mind: They should have let her go first.
“You think?” Timmy asked.
Sundance and Timmy ran over to the doors, ready to jump in if Astralyn was in trouble. At the very last second, Astralyn emerged from the underground tunnel as the doors slid shut. She fell into Sundance and Timmy and all three of them toppled to the ground. When they were all settled, they laughed hard. They sat up and saw that the doors were closed.
“Is it over?” Astralyn asked.
“They should be trapped in there,” Timmy replied. “I programmed the door to lock…” No sooner had the word ‘locked’ passed Timmy’s lips, the doors shuddered and creaked as they began to open.
Meanwhile in Space…
Episode 76: The Unnatural City, Part XI: Journey’s End
Timmy left the hallway containing the slumbering robots and walked back to his flock. Astralyn, Sundance, and Colonel Graves were trying their best to keep the scientists under control, but they weren’t succeeding too well. The scientist wanted to know why they hadn’t been led to safety yet. Where were they going? Did Timmy really know where they were going? Were they all going to die? These were questions that Timmy hoped he had the answer to.
Timmy thought he knew where he was going, but the way the map told him to go led to a dead end. How was that possible? He could read a map and as far as he knew he was going the right way. He remembered the Mother Computer’s presence in the mainframe. Was it possible that she interfered and changed the map? If so, that meant that he could no longer trust the map, he was now flying completely blind.
Astralyn looked up at Timmy and saw the look on his face. She knew that he didn’t have good news. “What’s going on, Timmy? Is there something wrong?”
“The next tunnel is full of robots,” Timmy said dramatically. Astralyn and the scientists gasped. “But they’re turned off! Or at least I hope so.” He gauged the look on everyone’s faces. Sundance and Colonel Graves looked a little irritated and disappointed. Timmy gulped as he entertained the thought of them slowly losing their trust.
“Are you sure they’re turned off?” Colonel Graves asked.
“I shot one of them. They didn’t move.” Timmy looked back at the corner where the tunnel of robots began. “I don’t like it, sirs. I have a bad feeling in my stomach about this, but I think the way out is just beyond them. Yes, I’m sure.”
“Then the only thing we can do is move through the robots as stealthily as we can,” Sundance suggested.
Colonel Graves looked at Timmy with great concern. “I don’t like the sound of this, but if you’re sure the exit is beyond the robots then we have no choice.”
Timmy thought about Mother Computer. Is this what she wanted them to do? “Sir, I think it’s a trap!”
“Trap or no, we have to try,” Sundance added. Colonel Graves and Astralyn agreed.
“Let’s do it,” Timmy said.
The sound of marching mechanical feet came up behind them. The robots that were tailing them were getting closer. The scientists grouped together and muttered things like, “We’re all going to die,” and “I don’t want to be eaten on a Wednesday,”. Timmy did his best to comfort them and let them know that they were just moments away from freedom.
Timmy hastily led the large group to the tunnel where the robots slumbered. They were lined up against the walls with their heads facing the floor. He ignored the sound of his stomach gurgling its usual warning. He prayed that it would shut up for fear that the robots might hear it and wake up. He looked back at everyone and signaled to Astralyn that she was going to cover the group from the middle. He signaled to Sundance and Colonel Graves that they would bring up the rear.
Now that everyone knew the plan, they slowly began to walk down the tunnel. Everyone that had laser pistols held them in the battle ready position. The scientists did their part by keeping the murmurs of despair to a minimum. They made sure that every footstep was as silent as the last. They traveled as one huddled mass with Astralyn tangled up in the middle.
Timmy tried to focus on the end of the tunnel. He saw that it curved to the right. He couldn’t see if there was a big door leading to the base above ground. He was shaking. He knew that everything depended on this plan of action, even though he didn’t like it one bit. He never felt more scared. He never had everyone depending on him this much. He didn’t know how Sundance did it.
A scream! Everyone flinched and dropped to the ground. Timmy whipped back around to see if anything happened. One of the women scientists was on the ground crying hysterically. Timmy and Astralyn quickly crawled over to the crying woman.
“What happened?” Timmy asked.
“One of them moved!” she sobbed. “I swear it! One of them moved!”
Sundance and Colonel Graves raised their laser pistols at the inactive robots. They looked back at Timmy and shook their heads. None of them appeared to have moved.
“Doctor, we’re going to need you to stand up!” Astralyn said. “It’s not safe!”
The doctor refused to move. Timmy gave Astralyn the signal to do whatever was needed. Astralyn pulled the doctor onto her feet. The other scientists followed suit. She continued to swear that one of the robots moved. The rumour spooked the other scientists into a frenzy.
“Come on, people,” Timmy said sternly. “We’re almost there.”
“Timmy, look,” Astralyn said, still helping the doctor up. “Look at their eyes.”
Timmy immediately looked at the robots’ lowered heads. He looked right into their eyes. It was slight, he could barely make it out, but there it was. The eyes had a faint colour of red to them. Timmy immediately stepped back and pointed his laser pistol at it. The robots were warming up. He knew it was a trap.
“We need to get out of here, NOW!” Timmy shouted. “Get it together and move!”
The scientists didn’t need to be told twice. They all took off in a panicked run. Timmy tried his best to stay ahead of the crowd so that he could field any other obstacles. As they neared the end of the tunnel all they could see were robots booting up. With each robot they past, he could see their eyes getting brighter and brighter. This inspired Timmy to run faster than ever.
They reached the portion of the tunnel where it curved to the right. Timmy prayed that something good would happen at the end of the curve. Timmy’s prayers were answered. The curve straighted out into another long tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was a wide concrete ramp with two large, closed metallic doors. Freedom was so close Timmy could taste it. The best thing about it was that there were no robots guarding the doors.
Timmy stopped running when he heard the sound of shots being fired. He looked back and saw that all of the robots were warmed up and ready to start feasting on human flesh. Sundance, Astralyn, and Colonel Graves shot at them, but much like they expected, it didn’t do much to stop them. He debated whether to stop and help or run on ahead to open the doors. He wasn’t too far away from the doors, but the robots were beginning to overwhelm his friends.
Meanwhile in Space…
Episode 75: The Unnatural City, Part X: Lead Us Not Into Temptation
Timmy quickly went to work on figuring out how to free Sundance and the others. There were computers next to each pod that relayed information to the mother computer. She already knew that Timmy was free, what is she going to care that a few more were freed? He didn’t doubt that he could open all of the pods, he doubted the amount of time he had before the robot reinforcements came, and they were coming. There had to be an easier way of doing this.
He approached the computer that sat next to Sundance’s pod. He looked at his hands and wondered if he could make his special ability work one more time. He placed his right hand on the computer and watched as the computer screen fuzzed up. A rush came over Timmy like a wave of water crashing on him. There was so much information that was running through his brain. He was surprised by how quickly he was able to read the robots’ language without needing a book for translation. He found the functions for the pods in the electronic sea of information and activated the opening sequences.
Timmy jumped at the sound of hissing as the hundreds of pods depressured. Sundance’s pod opened behind him. Timmy let go of the computer and watched as the lid of the pod slid open. Sundance coughed as he came to. He looked up at Timmy and smiled.
“Welcome back to the land of the living, Captain,” Timmy said. He helped pulled the tubes ciphoning blood from Sundance’s bare chest.
“What happened, Timmy?” Sundance asked, getting to his feet and shivering. “Where the hell are we?”
“That’s a long story,” Timmy shouted over the loud alarm. “Help me get the others out of their pods. We don’t have much time!”
Sundance looked down at himself and cried out. “Where the hell are my clothes? Whose underwear is this?”
Sundance snapped back into the moment and tried to make sense of what was happening. He followed Timmy and helped Astralyn and Colonel Graves out of their pods. Once they were safely disconnected from the tubes, they stood up and tried to catch their bearings admist the chaos that was happening around them.
Timmy saw that while all of the pods were opening, not everyone was getting out. He took a deep breath and sighed. He had been hoping that he would be able to save everyone. He couldn’t dwell on the dead; he had to find a way to get the living out and keep them that way.
The kidnapped scientists were beginning to get upset. They were cold, mostly naked, and had no idea where they were. Timmy tried to comfort the ones that were near him. He pushed his way to the front of the crowd and got everyone’s attention.
“Can I have your attention, please? I can only say this once because I don’t know how much time I have.” Timmy stared into the scared faces of the scientists and friends. He wanted to tell them what was going on without freaking them out too much, but he was right, there wasn’t much time to sugar coat. “We’ve been kidnapped by the flesh eating robots that laid dormant under the city for years. They were harvesting our blood to feed themselves. We are currently locked in one of their factories.” Timmy heard the murmurs from the crowd of twenty scientists and tried to talk over them and the alarms. “Don’t worry, we are leaving right now. I need everyone to stay close together, don’t push, and follow us!”
Timmy pushed his way back to Sundance who had found their laser pistols.
“Ready for this?” Sundance asked.
“Of course,” Timmy said, smiling at him. He looked to Astralyn and Colonel Graves and saw that they were ready to get out of there. “Captain and I will lead the way out. Astralyn, Colonel, you take the rear and hold off the robots as much as you can.”
“I thought we killed those things,” Astralyn said. She gripped her laser pistol and nodded her agreement. “Let’s kill ’em again!”
Timmy found the door and the group followed closely behind him. There was a control panel just to the right of the door. He pressed his hand on it and waited for it to open. It refused to acquiesce so Timmy shot it. The door slid opened and granted them access to the outside.
Sundance and Timmy led the way into the dark underground tunnels. “You do know where we’re going, right?” Sundance asked.
Timmy just looked at him and nodded. In reality, he wasn’t all that sure. He had accessed a lot of information when he freed the remaining scientists from their pods. He might have seen schematics of the underground base, he might not have. He just hoped that they would pass another access panel on their way out, then he could put his new talent to the test.
With laser pistols set to “KILL”, the two moved down the tunnel to the east, or what they thought was east. The alarm gave no signs of stopping. The people closely followed with Astralyn and Colonel Graves bringing up the rear. Everyone kept their eyes open for robots and jumped at every corner they turned, expecting the worst.
Timmy found another access panel. “Watch this,” Timmy said to Sundance. He pressed his hand against it and it momentarily turned pale blue.
Sundance’s eyes widened as he watched this. “Timmy, what are you doing?” His first instinct was to shoot the panel, but Timmy stopped him. Sundance didn’t know what else to do, so he watched.
Timmy closed his eyes as his mind fell back into the electronic sea. He searched around for the information he sought. He found codes for locked doors. He committed them to memory and hoped they would come in handy. As he searched, he felt a malevolent presence come at him. He immediately knew it was the Mother Computer coming to stop him. He decided the time for showing off was done. He found the plans for the tunnel and mapped out exactly where they needed to go. He opened his eyes again and grinned at Sundance. He waved his hand and flexed his fingers. “I know where we’re going now.”
Sundance looked confused. “What did you just do? Wait, you mean you didn’t know where you were going before? But you said…”
“Ahh, guys!” Astralyn shouted from the back. She looked behind her and listened to the sound of hard footsteps. The robots were coming for them. The scientists started to get antsy and panic. “I think we’re going to have some company!”
“Now would be a good time to move,” suggested the colonel.
“This way,” Timmy commanded. He ran ahead of the group to scout out the way. The tunnel led to T section where they could either turn left or right. Timmy thought back to the images he saw in the mainframe. He turned left and the group followed. He followed the tunnel until it led to a dead end. “What? But there’s supposed to be a tunnel here.”
Timmy turned around and saw the group rounding the corner. “Go back, this isn’t the way!” He motioned for the group to turn around. Sundance started to look irritated.
“Just a wrong turn, Captain,” Timmy explained, dismissing Sundance’s concern. He didn’t want to think about the possibility of Sundance losing faith in him. He had to lead them to freedom, their lives depended on it.
Timmy pushed his way to the back of the group and joined Colonel Graves and Astralyn. “Let’s go down this way and see if we can’t get out of here.”
“Are you sure you know where we’re going, Timmy?” Astralyn asked as she helped usher some of the scientists down the tunnel.
“Yes, I have the map in my mind,” Timmy replied, but he didn’t tell her that he was starting to doubt the validity of the map. He continued to lead them past the T section and travelled where they would have made a right. He prayed that this was the correct way out.
The tunnel turned left at the corner. Timmy felt his heart beat faster. “Please, don’t be robots. Please, don’t be robots,” he chanted. He told the group to stop and wait for him while he checked out the way around the bend.
“We can’t wait too long,” Astralyn said. “The robots are right behind us.”
Timmy had not forgotten. He ran ahead and cautiously turned the corner. He stopped short when he saw that the tunnel was full of robots. He instantly raised his laser pistol and fired. Nothing happened. They didn’t move. It was then that he saw that the robots’ eyes weren’t red, they were black. They were deactivated. Good news there, but the bad news that Timmy was sure that the way out was past them.
Meanwhile in Space…
Episode 74: The Unnatural City, Part IX: Bloodline
Timmy was looking at himself sleeping inside of the giant pod. The wires that restrained him lowered him down beside the pod so that he could get a better look. He watched as the tubes pumped red fluid from him. He rightly assumed that it was blood. He was thoroughly disgusted, but he couldn’t stop looking. “How is this possible? I’m right here!”
“But you aren’t,” Mother Board said. Her voice was devoid of emotion, but it still sounded like she was enjoying herself. “As we speak, you and your friends are trapped inside of a virtual world that I have created. You are, in fact, sleeping inside my pods having all of your fluids harvested.”
“Is that what you’re doing to the other scientists?” Timmy asked, already knowing the answer.
“Yes, they have already been harvested.” Mother Board hovered over the pods and stared blankly at Timmy. “Soon, I will have enough flesh to reanimate my dormant children and take over the planet.”
Timmy oddly felt relieved. If this was just a virtual reality, then all of the people that he had encountered in town were fake. The people in the real Citadel City were safe. He started to feel that hope was returning to a situation he once thought hopeless. His only obstacle was how he was going to effect change from inside a pod. If there was a way to wake himself up…
“Lieutenant, I want to tell you that I am very glad that you are here,” Mother Board said. “It has been a while since I’ve harvested someone like you. You are a very rare find.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Do you not know what’s in your blood?” The box that contained Mother Board’s blank stare tilted to her right as it glided towards Timmy. “Do you not know what you are?”
Timmy felt a chill travel down his body. How did it know about his blood peculiarity? Dr. Page didn’t know what the deal was with it. He stared at Mother Board quizzically. “What do you know about my blood? Tell me!”
“You honestly don’t know.” Mother Board sounded like she was about to laugh at him. “I have harvested others with your blood type. The people with this blood have an alien element that allows them to power machines. They provide an extra energy source to my children when they haven’t consumed enough human flesh. I yearn for this blood. You, my special friend, have given it to me. With it, I will be able to better power my machines for the rest of your natural life.”
“My blood does this?” Timmy asked. He thought about what happened on Deimos. The Caretakers were able to power up their machine by strapping him into it. Was it his blood that allowed them to do that? If that’s true, then all he had to do was touch something mechanical and maybe it would do his bidding. He supposed that there was only one way to find out.
Timmy gripped the wires that held him prisoner and concentrated. He closed his eyes and tried to visualize taking control of the wires that held him. He saw them lowering him to the floor. He saw them releasing him. He felt his hands begin to tingle. He opened his eyes and saw that the wires were, in fact, lowering him to the floor. Once he was firmly on the floor, the wires fell away and slithered back to the walls they came from.
Mother Board looked upset, though her expression never changed. “Impossible! This is impossible!” She quickly descended upon Timmy; her pixelated face turned red. “This is unacceptable! Unacceptable!”
“Well, accept it!” was the only thing Timmy could thank of to say as he ducked.
He placed his hands on the circuits on the floor and watched as a pale blue light raced along each of them. Then the light reached the walls and then finally the ceiling. The light traveled down the cables that allowed Mother Board to move around the room. When it hit the box, Mother Board froze. He felt her struggle against his power. He felt her fight to regain control of his world. Timmy grinned and concentrated harder and finally pushed her out of his head.
As she drifted away, Timmy heard Mother Board say, “You’re too late!”
Then all was darkness. All Timmy could hear was the sound of liquid bubbling and some beeping. He opened his eyes and saw that he was trapped inside the pod. At first, he panicked. He pushed on the lid with all of his might, but it refused to budge. He took a deep breath and collected his thoughts. There were tubes attached to his bare chest, stealing his blood. He promptly pulled them out and let them drip inside the pod.
“I should have thought that through a little better,” Timmy said.
He placed his hands on the lid of the pod. “Let’s see if this works in real life.” He concentrated on what he wanted to happen and pressed hard. His hands began to tingle. A small spark ignited and with a click the lid began to open. Smoke spilled out as Timmy climbed out of the pod.
He quickly looked around and saw that he was in a large, green lit, round room with walls lined with pods. The air was chilled and made Timmy shiver. He found that the robots had disrobed him and left him with his underwear. He rubbed himself until he began to warm up.
Timmy immediately checked the pods next to him to see who they were. He was relieved to see that Astralyn was to his left. She looked like she was sleeping soundly. He moved on to the pod to her left. It was Colonel Graves. The pod next to him was a scientist that he didn’t recognize. He walked back over to the pod to the right of his and found Sundance. They all looked alive and well for the moment. He didn’t know how far along the harvesting process went, but had plans to make sure they weren’t completed. He just needed a little time to figure out how to do that.
It was then that a loud alarm sounded. The stone walls made the alarm sound that much louder. Timmy covered his ears to dampen the initial shock. He cursed loudly, but no one heard him. He knew for whom the bell tolled and that he had just run out of time.
Meanwhile in Space…
Episode 73: The Unnatural City, Part VIII: Mother Knows Best
Timmy considered his options while the robots stood outside the commissary. He could continue to hole up inside the store, but that meant if the robots wanted him bad enough, they would only destroy it. The other option was to take the chance that the robots would keep their word and not kill him the minute he walked outside. It seemed highly likely that the robots had Sundance and the others stashed away somewhere. The only way to see his friends would be to go with the robots.
“We have all the time in the world, Lieutenant Falken,” said the electronic female voice.
Timmy had made up his mind. He stood up and slowly walked to the front door. He cautiously pushed it open and stepped outside with his hands in the air, laser pistol pointing to the sky. All of the robots saluted him and turned to their left.
“Alright, take me to your leader,” Timmy said, fulfilling a secret desire.
All of the robots started to march again. The mighty sound of their synchronized footwork echoed throughout the base. Timmy watched as they paraded past him. He was content to let them go in front of him. He wanted to be able to keep his eyes on them at all times. He lowered his hands as soon as the last group of robots past him. He brought up the rear, laser pistol aimed at their backs, taking false comfort in the idea that it would actually do something for him.
They marched to the western side of the base. There were fewer buildings and more expanse plots of land. They arrived at a place where there was a large ramp that led underground. The robots had created a lair where no one would think to look for them. It was not unlike where Timmy and the others found the first ship. Could this be another underground space ship?
The robots all converged upon this ramp and lined themselves against the walls, leaving a select few to guide Timmy down the rest of it. Timmy was surprised that he had made this far without the robots tearing him apart. Once he was underground, the robots led Timmy through the dark tunnels. Timmy hated tunnels almost as much as he hated elevators.
The tunnels walls were completely black with wires running through them. Timmy touched one and it pulsated beneath his fingers. It felt like it was pumping something, like a heart would blood through veins. This explained where the wires came from and how they attacked him earlier.
“Yes, bring him to me,” said the electronic voice. This time the voice sounded closer. Timmy could have sworn that the voice came from inside his head.
Timmy blindly followed the robots until they arrived at a large set of rusted metal doors. The seven robots that were escorting him stood on either side of the door in a line facing each other. They all turned their heads and stared expectantly at him. Timmy ignored how creeped out he was and approached the doors. The two robots closet to the doors slowly pulled them open, allowing access to the room.
Timmy stared in awe as he gazed upon the large, green, cubed room. There was circuitry all over the floor and walls. He watched his step as he entered. Streaks of light traveled along the circuits creating a lightning effect. Timmy heard the doors closing behind him. He turned around and raced back to the doors. They just before he got there.
“Do not concern yourself with the doors,” the female robot voice said. The entire room lit up as she spoke. “You have my word that you will remain unharmed.”
Timmy looked above him and saw that there was a large black box hanging from the ceiling. He surmised that this was the source of the electronic voice he had been hearing. It lowered down into the center of the room so that it was at face height with Timmy. A green pixelated face appeared and smiled at him.
“Who are you? What are you? If you’re not a robot…”
“I am the Mother Board,” it replied. “I am the program that runs all of the other robots. I am the Prime Machine.”
“How are you even alive? We killed all of the robots last year!” Timmy shouted. “That crash should have wiped you all out!”
“You destroyed our plant and transport ship, yes.” The box containing Mother Board raised itself above Timmy and floated around in a circle. “But what you didn’t know is that by resurrecting my drones you also resurrected my underground manufacturing and extraction laboratory! That is where you find yourself now. If I could laugh, I would be doing it right now.”
Timmy thought over what she had just said. Were he and the others really responsible for all of this? The thought angered him. He had to right this wrong. He pulled out his laser pistol and aimed it at the floating box containing Mother Board. He wanted to shoot the smug look of her face.
“Oh yes, I’m quite sure you’re right; destroy the source, save the people.” Mother Board lowered herself to the far right corner of the room. Timmy followed her. “You could do that, but you know that it wouldn’t do any good. Do you think I would really let you bring a weapon to me if you could harm me?”
Timmy fired a shot at Mother Board. Wires whipped out from the wall and shielded her from the attack. When they were done, the wires swung around and knocked Timmy to the floor. The laser pistol slid across the room. Timmy reached for it, but the wires held him down.
“You are a piece of work, Lieutenant.” Mother Board hovered over him and gloated. “Just like your captain.”
“What have you done with him?” Timmy struggled under the weight of the throbbing wires. One of them even had the audacity to caress his face while it restrained him. “Where are they? Tell me!”
“I’ll be only too glad to show you. Follow me.” Mother Board floated away.
Timmy felt the weight of the wires on his chest lessen. The wires lifted him up and carried him to the center of the room. His hands and legs were restrained tightly as he floated behind Mother Board. He knew that it would be fruitless to struggle.
Timmy looked down at the floor and watched as a section of it fell away and slid to the sides of the remaining floor. Another platform containing four pods on a slab rose up. A few flashes of light revealed to him that there were people inside of the pods. There were tubes that transferred fluid to and fro were attached to the pods. Blue fluids went in, red fluid went out.
“Here are your friends, Lieutenant. They are here, resting.” Mother Board floated over each of the pods as if to caress each one. “The captain… the colonel… the archaeologist…”
“You’re not getting me in there!” Timmy shouted.
“Oh…” Mother Board looked over at him and smiled. “But I already have.”
The entire room was flooded with white light. Timmy’s eyes were blinded, but he forced his eyes to stay open. He looked at the pods and clearly saw Sundance, Colonel Graves, and Astralyn. Timmy’s eyes moved to the fourth pod and he gasped. The person he saw lying in the pod… was him.
Meanwhile in Space…
Episode 72: The Unnatural City, Part VII: The March of the Robots
Timmy drove as fast as Sundance’s car could handle. The chilling night, desert wind whipped by him as he pushed the car to the limit. He kept his gaze focused on the horizon where Christopher City would eventually appear. He was impatient to get there. He wanted the answers to the questions that were buzzing around his head the entire trip. Where did the robots come from? He thought that they had all died when the ship crashed, but apparently they didn’t. They survived the crash and rebuilt their civilization. If this was true, then the plan was simple: find the robot colony and eradicate it.
He finally arrived in Christopher City and parked the car in front of the building he searched with the others. He climbed out of the car and looked around. There was nothing that would indicate that a force of evil robots were lurking about. He didn’t like the looks of that at all. He reached back inside the car and grabbed the laser pistol.
“Crap…” Timmy suddenly remembered that the robots were impervious to the laser beams. The pistol wasn’t going to provide him with much protection. He cursed himself for jumping head long into the situation without really thinking. It was something the captain would do. He thought that he should have gone back to HQ and grabbed the Electromagnetic Pulse device he had used the last time. That thought didn’t last too long. There was no telling if S.P.A.C.E. Headquarters had been compromised by the robot invasion. It was probably for the best that he left when he did. He kept the gun with him and started to walk the streets.
He scanned the buildings up and down to see if he could spot some of the robots watching him from above. At the time being there was no sign of them inside any buildings. Why would they be in there? he asked himself. They already had what they wanted from inside them; the humans were harvested.
Timmy retraced his steps to where the wire snake emerged and attacked them. The ground looked brand new, like nothing had ever happened there. This was very puzzling and disturbing to Timmy. He didn’t dwell on it too long. The longer he delayed, the longer the robots are in possession of the humans they captured. He ran to where he and Colonel Graves split up. He followed the alley between two buildings to where he imagined where Colonel Graves hid from the wire snake. The sandy streets and the wind made it impossible for Timmy to see if there were signs of struggling.
He ran across the street to where he had fallen and found nothing.
“What are you doing, man?” Timmy shook his head as he looked down at the spot he last remembered being. He thought back to what Colonel Graves had said about being rescued. There were too many unanswered questions. Then again, that wasn’t really Colonel Graves in the restaurant. “So what really happened?”
Bright orange lights shone down from the top of the surrounding buildings. Timmy looked up and shielded his eyes from the light. There was no one up there that he could see. He felt that he was a sitting duck if he continued to stand there. He ran to the commissary that was across the street and looked for a way inside. The door was locked. Timmy frantically searched for something to bash the door in with.
A noise broke the eerie silence and distracted him for a moment. The sound of many metallic feet stepping in time with each other echoed off the buildings. Timmy immediately knew what was happening; the robots were marching. He continued his search for a rock or something. Mid search he realized that he would be trapped inside the commissary with no other means of escape. He desperately tried to think of another alternative. He couldn’t stay out in the open because the robots would find him. Or he could trap himself in this building and pray the robots didn’t find him. What would the captain do?
The march of the robots crept closer. Timmy could see a large group of robots turning down the street he was on. They were marching down every street. He would be sure to get noticed. He took his shirt off, rolled it around his right fist and smashed window out of the door. He carefully reached inside and opened the door from the inside. He stepped inside and shut the door.
The commissary was small. It had four rows of grocery goods that contained various foods of nebulous nutritional value. The back wall was where the cold items were stored. Chilled shelves of cheeses, meats, and yogurts, and refrigerators full of milk, juices, and dairy creamer. It was not the ideal hiding situation, but Timmy wasn’t picky.
He quickly hid behind the second row of groceries, the chip aisle. He unrolled his shirt and shook the shards of glass out onto the floor. He put his shirt back on and waited for the legion of robots to stomp by. They reached the commissary and paraded past. Timmy was tempted to peek around the front of the aisle to see them, but he didn’t want to take any chances of them seeing him.
Timmy sat with his back against the shelves and waiting patiently for the robots to pass. Where were they going? If they went far enough to the other side of the base, he could easily slip out of the commissary and back track where they came from. But that would depend on how many robots were out there patrolling. He didn’t take a really good look at how many were coming at him, but it sounded like they were many.
He didn’t know how long the marching had stopped. When he had decided on a course of action he realized that he didn’t hear the sound of angry feet. Did they walk by? Did they stop in front of the commissary? Is the cat in the box dead or alive? Timmy couldn’t live with the pain of not knowing. He slowly peeked his head out from behind the aisle.
The front window also doubled as a wall so all of the merchandise in the first aisle was easily viewable from the outside. Timmy saw that there was an army of robots standing just outside the commissary. There were more on the streets behind them. Timmy imagined that the entire block was full of robots. They were still facing as if they were going to walk right past it. Then, they all turned around and faced him. Timmy was startled by this and withdrew into the safety of the chip aisle.
The sound of feedback sounded outside. “I know you’re there, Lieutenant Falken,” said an creepy female electronic voice over a loudspeaker. Her voice echoed all over the base. “I’m sure you’re wondering what has happened to your friends: Captain Starmont, Colonel Graves, and Ms. Winner. Hmm?”
There was a long pause and only the wind was heard. Timmy could also hear his heart beating at a cheetah’s pace. Timmy cursed silently while he regretted hiding in the commissary. Now he was trapped. He knew that was a risk, but it didn’t make him feel better. It was only a matter of time before the robots came and forcibly removed him from his hiding place.
“I have the answers you seek,” the voice said, breaking the silence. “Come to me. My children will lead you to your friends. All you have to do is reveal yourself. They will not hurt you. You are my guest. Come to Mother.”