Ex Machina

From the Story Arc: A Day in the Life...

Previous Story in the Arc: Spring, 1954 by Petrograd (Tuesday, February 15, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: Paragon, You Are Safe!! by Petrograd (Thursday, February 23, 2006)

(posted Thursday, February 09, 2006)

King's Row - Paragon Store-n'-More, 3:22 AM

Archie sure was gonna miss this place. He'd been the only one inside this unit since he'd stumbled across it a month before. All the other storage units on his block were full of old furniture, or records, or kids toys, nothing too exciting. But this one... oh boy, this one...

The records in Leo's office said it was on extended rent from Freedom Corps. "Estate In Situ MIA Clause," or something like that, but they were footing the bill. The entire unit was full of bulky shapes under plastic tarps, thrown about in no particular order. He liked to look through the stuff when he got time. Most customers would've complained, but no one ever checked this unit, and the lock was an old rinky-dink FC issue one. Al the other units were standard faire, but this one, this one had some cool stuff. One night, on his break, he'd found an old Rikti death-ray, torn up and cut into sections. Another time, he'd almost tripped over a downed 5th Column flyer bot. Under an old workbench in the back he'd found a stack of framed photos from WWII or something, full of jet fighters and kids in uniform that reminded Archie of his academy days. It was crazy.

Yep, this unit had provided many a night's entertainment, until Archie had blown it. Archie had a liking for the bars in the Row, and he must had too much and let something slip, because for a week streight the Hellions had been trying to get into the Store-n'-More. The cops and heroes sorted them out pretty quickly, but the last friday a whole squad of Council grunts had busted down the gate in a truck and ripped up a buncha the other units. Then, a buncha guys in jetpacks came in and blew their way into the back of the unit next to it. Leo was pissed, the cops were pissed, and Freedom Corps finally wised up.

The Corps had said it might as well be an "Arsenal," said it needed to be in a vault or in an incinerator, and they sent down a couple choppers in the middle of the night to make it happen. Archie was only really there to "supervise," make sure they didn't bang up the other units, make sure they didn't miss anything important. To him, it just was just gonna make his job that much more boring.

The Corps teamsters were pretty streight though, union, like Archie. They didn't go near the other units, and they hadn't messed anything up until they got this big silver case off the back wall. Thing looked a 60's refrigerator or something, and it took all four of em to carry it. They almost had it in the 'copter when one of em tripped, and down it went.

Archie had never seen teamsters move so fast when the smoke started pouring out. Thing cracked streight in half, and fog, now that he looked at it, was shooting out the sides real fast. It went on hissing for about a minute and a half before it was out of gas, and the teamsters gave it a "5 minute break" before they went at it again. The four of em had it in the back of the chopper when they started running again.

Soon as they were all hiding, one of em booted Archie towards the flier. He wasn't too sure, but he had his flashlight, and his "Hero-Call" panic button, so he was a bit more qualified than them to investigate.

Right as Archie stepped into the flier, the darn thing spooked him too. Now it was clanking, or banging, or something. Archie stepped around it, keeping his distance, looking for an off switch, when, by golly, it said ".. tu voya mat," and the whole top ripped right off of it.

Archie raised his flashlight, covered his face, and jabbed for his hero button, ready for anything. The panic button blinked red a couple times, then something in the box blinked green. Archie was jabbing it again when the robot stood up.

Looked like something out of a 40's cartoon, all silver and red, and it even had a cape. Its one big red eye turned towards Archie, who was hiding in case it was a laser.

And then it stretched just like it was taking a nap...

And it was mumbling to itself... "Da, three days survived cryostasis, a new record... beorgois MIT academics are to be seeing who is wearing pants now... Ah, distress beacon is flashing... what can I to be doing for fellow worker? And why is being night... without snow?"

Archie apparently thought it'd be a good idea to feint then.