JUNE 13TH Continues

June 14, 2006

Zapping Eagle Archer presented a problem. I briefly considered a villainous career, but this body had all the fighting power of a drunk sidekick. Plus I’d resolved never to fight a superteam by myself. Again. On the plus side this body was designed for maintenance and had some basic cleaning tools. On the minus side the oily gunk on my limbs proved preternaturally resistant. Thwarted, I opted to shave Eagle Archer. It was better, but still unpleasant. Some of that was the odd burning smell coming from his insect wings.

I looked for the base’s communicator planning to get help. Thumbing the Radio Shack button set up a screech, but seemed to work. “Hey…anyone…there’s been an accident in…the room that Archer was in…” I tried to make my voice as soothing as possible.

“GROBDILEHUIKsqeeee” came an immediate response. I oriented myself—I was still angry but really wanted to know who was in charge here. A man threw open the door within seconds. I assumed a teleporter, but the size of the base meant that most rooms were seconds away from each other. Except the garage. And the portal lab. And the showers.

I had a mixed impression of this first member of the team. He’d chosen a distinct outfit for crime fighting: a dark-blue suit with a lime colored shirt. He appeared to be aiming for the all-important bouncer demographic. I was surprised he didn’t wear a mask– most human looking heroes I know keep a secret identity. Then he opened his mouth.

“WHAT’S GOING ON? IS EVERYONE OK?” his voiced boomed across the room.

I took a guess. “um…yes…Yes Man? There was a little electrical short when Eagle Archer…”

“…CHRYSALIS ARCHER…”

“That’s what I meant, when he…she activated me. Some kind of static build up from…cleaning. But Archer seems OK, waking up any time now.” I gently nudged her head with my shoe. “Looks like it burned off that beard as well…”

“OK THEN! GOOD TO HAVE YOU ABOARD…UM…” His brow super-furrowed trying to think of my name. I had the feeling this was a common facial expression for him.

“…Robot Zero, and you’re standing next to me. I can hear you fine.” He’d moved to beside me—right beside me. Breath fogging my mirrored finish next to me. The scent of his hair oil began to play havoc with my sensors. A side note– my creator had decided that the key to human empathy was scent awareness, since smell is so tightly linked to memory. So I smell. A lot. Can’t track with it, can’t do a comprehensive analysis of it, but boy I can tell you which villain lacks hygiene skills.

“WHAT?” That furrowed brow again.

“You don’t have to shout, my auditory systems are A-O-K…” I tried unsuccessfully to lean back away from him; he just moved in closer.

“I’M NOT SHOUTING.”

“Okaaaay. My mistake—must need some recalibration. Anyway, maybe you could show me around. I’d like to see if I could use a phone or something to call…” This would explain the lack of secret identity.

“GREAT. I’LL SHOW YOU THE KITCHEN. WE OUGHT TO GET YOU CLEANED UP THOUGH.” He poked at the black gunk on my arm with a forefinger.

I took a step back, not easy in what was apparently their trophy case/storage room/flea market. “Kitchen? Um…I appreciate your interest in my cleanliness, but why the kitchen?.”

“SO YOU CAN MAKE ME A SANDWICH.” He flashed his perfect pearly whites.

Yes Man proved as susceptible to a quick taser to the stomach as Chrysalis Archer.


JUNE 13TH, 2006

June 14, 2006

The Adventure Continues! 

I hate all of you. Actually, I only hate those of you running around with mostly flesh on. I hate so much that when I turned off my Emotionator to cool down I was still hating. I’m hating so hard I burned it into my circuit boards.

Actually, I don’t have circuit boards per se—close but not that primitive, of course now I’m really behind the curve, but we’ll come to that.  I’ve put on a little soothing Kraftwerk and now I’m feeling better, not so hatey. I can get back to the reason that I’m upset. You see…may have noticed the significant gap between my first journal entry and this one. Let me tell you how that came to be.  

We were riding to intercept Warp Master who had been spotted making his way towards the Ignacio Flats Nuclear Power Station. After the last time we’d fought him, Prof. Professor had rigged up a scanner to detect his particular energy signature if he reoccurred. Scientists were testing an experimental weapon and ripped a hole in the fabric of space and time—again—and let the Warp master back in. We had a full complement on the Justice Hopper that day. I was there first and jumped in the co-pilot’s seat, but Dr. Boom suggested that I head to the back; he’d recently made some “adjustments” to the controls that might make them sensitive to my magnetic resonance. Uh-huh. Technobabble apparently trumps calling shotgun. Boom kept the seat clear until Lumina came in. This is the woman who leaks kilo-joules of energy when she doesn’t pay attention versus my “magnetic resonance.” I noticed that Boom had also adjusted the AC vents so they blew directly at the middle of the passenger seat. Anyway, besides those two we had Nukulator, Prof. Professor (with the pipe again, he’s got some kind of oral fixation), Mockraven and Archer Eagle. Dr. Boom paired everyone off and of course I got stuck with recon again. By myself.  

If it was me I would have left Archer Eagle at home. I have a basic problem with someone who can’t decide what kind of super he wants to be. Mockraven gets away with it because he’s a mystic and they never maintain thematic consistency. Me, I’m a Robot—electro bolts, shock shields, a little bit of enhanced strength and toughness from my armored body and static flight. I mean flight based on static electricity, not that I fly in one place. In any case, that’s what I do and everything makes sense. Archer Eagle has wings and a bow. Sometimes he decides he’s going to swoop down and do some old fashioned punching, using his wings for momentum and agility. Most of the time he flies up into the air and fires off arrows into bad guys. He flies way off into the air. When he’s that high he has a hard time picking targets, so he uses explosive arrows to deal with bad guys.  

Or any of us who happen to be standing nearby.  

If he flies closer he can actually hit his targets but then he alternates between the stupidest trick arrows (Acidic Sponge Arrows, Inflatable Cat Arrows, etc) and actually putting real arrows through the bad guys. Then he apologizes and says that he got his real arrows mixed up with his blunt arrows and that he didn’t mean to put that guy’s eye out. My problem is that if you’re going to be a flying hero, be a flying hero and if you’re going to be an archer then get down here. He might as well have a sniper rifle or a mortar, which would have the same effect, but no, he has arrows and suddenly he’s a cool hero and number two in sales.  

In any case, we get down on the ground and break into our teams: Dr. Boom and Lumina (shock!), Prof. Professor and Mockraven—which actually amuses me since they hate each other, not in a friendly banter kind of way but more in a let me push you off into this vat or boiling acid way, and Nukulator and Archer Eagle—because you really want to put the least level headed and most heavily armed heroes together when you’re fighting in a nuclear plant. And me. By myself.  

Let me cut past all the middle part—hunting down Warp Master, battling his minions, desperately trying to prevent a chain reaction because something strangely like an arrow hit a control panel—and cut to the chase. We ended up near the core which the Warp Master was trying to absorb to power his ability to suck all of the surrounding county into the great beyond. Most of us were tied up with the transdimensional minions he’d managed to summon and something had to be done. I realized this and shouted “Someone has to get into the core and disrupt the energy field there!” 

I heard Prof. Professor cough and then suddenly all of my teammates were having a really hard time with the minions they were fighting. Now I’m completely on the other side of the battlefield from Warp Master, but I have to make my way across while they wrestle with these mooks that apparently became ten times stronger when I mentioned going into the core. Never mind that Prof. Professor has his gadget belt, or that Lumina can control energy or that Mockraven can, well do something, I have to fly across to stop Warp Master. As I do, Eagle Archer—who has flown out a hole in the ceiling and is firing randomly into the room shouts, “I’ll cover you” and then plugs me in the leg with a Allergy-Enhancing Arrow.  

I disregard all of this and fight the urge to flip Eagle the bird, and instead press forward. I know this is a suicide mission, that going in there means certain death, but I also know that lives are at risk unless I manage to do this. Warp master tries to bend time and space around me, but I set up a current field to block it, crack it up to 11 and fly into the center where I reverse the polarity and disrupt all of the energy, creating a contained explosion that tears apart the Warp Master and blows me into about a zillion pieces.  

Now, when I was destroyed, portions of my consciousness were downloaded into what I call my black box—as much as I can transfer. It isn’t a perfect process, the box itself has just barely survived my destruction the other times this happened. But I knew the risks when I went in—a pretty good chance that I’d be destroyed forever.  

I should probably back myself up more often at the base, but you know it takes so long and you have to sit there and sometimes you just don’t have the space. But that’s beside the point.  

I could have died. But I didn’t. Instead I rebooted in my back up body. They’d managed to salvage my black box and fit it into the reserve unit I use when I have to do major repairs to my primary body. I open my eyes and look into the less than enthusiastic face of Eagle Archer. Who has a beard. And insect wings. And is a woman. I desperately try to turn down the gain on my nausea inducers.  

“Um…Eagle…uh…Archer…” 

“Hey RZ, cool. You work.” 

“Um. Yes. You, ah, look different.” 

“Oh, this…temporary curse. The beard will fall out in a day or two.” She smiled which made it worse.  

Now I’m looking around. One of the really nice things about being in the Team Future is that the facilities are great. Even if Dr. Boom deducts a little from my earnings to pay for my electricity use, and internet connection, and any damage I might cause from my “dangerous mechanical feet.” This place, however, is a dump. There’s a pungent smell like—I run it through my scent analyzer—yup, men’s dormitory in humid summer.  

Its about that time that I notice a discrepancy alert in my systems. My clock is off, which is not unusual in that the black box is made to hold things in stasis. The internal clock on my back-up body has been running.  

2006.  

“Eagle…” I began.  

“Chrysalis.” 

“What?” I say.  

“MY new name is Chrysalis…” s/he answers back. “Nice name…” I begin to say.  

“…Archer.” And my punching protocol comes online but I shut it off in time.  

“Ok…do you know that it’s 2006, and that the last I remember is 1998. Did we have to go to some kind of older back up tape? And why are my arms and legs sticky?” I’m noticing black splotches of goop and bits of packing peanuts stuck to them. 

“No—we this is the first chance I’ve had to reboot you.” 

“First chance in eight years?” 

“Yeah, well…we didn’t find your black box until a kid who was touring the plant sent it back to us. Then there was some argument about who would pay for the shipping. Then everyone started to get worried about the Y2K bug and whether you would go rogue if we switched you back on, then we had the Mystery Armada which took us off planet, then everyone lost their memory when Glaxor squeezed the cosmos to get reality juice to power his Event Horizon Arsenal, then we started to have the franchising and you got packed away. Your crates went a couple of places before it ended up here and I was able to get you started.” 

“You’ve picked up some technical skills—I’m impressed.” 

She looked a little confused. “No—but your on switch was hard to find. And a little unpleasant to get to.” My back up body doesn’t have a shudder function, which was a mixed blessing at this point. “Oh., and…” she said reach over and scraping away a stray piece of foam from my knee, “…we had a spill in the storage area. I wasn’t sure what to use to clean you up.  

I put aside the unpleasant image of her running her hands all over my chassis and tried to make the best of it. “Oh well, I’m guessing that the roster has changed in the team since I was gone. I’ll have to call in some favors to get a more effective body set up—unless you already have one…” She shook her head no. “…In any case, I’ll be glad to get back to the Team Future.” 

“Actually we aren’t part of the Team Future anymore.” 

“They disbanded?” 

“No—there were change ups and switches and then some misunderstandings and I ended up joining Frontline.” 

“Really? They have nice government support and equipment; that will be good.” 

“Um…not so much. We aren’t with Frontline: International. They branched out.” 

I saw my stress meters going up. “Which branch are we with?” 

“Frontline: Midwest. We cover from Iowa to Ohio. But not Chicago.” 

“Chicago has its own superteam?” Perhaps I can join them I thought, a nice small team in a major metropolitan area, a chance to get some headlines.  

“No, Chicago got taken over by supervillains. We have to steer clear of there or they’ll wipe the floor with us.” 

“So…who… is…on…our…team.” My vocalizer was working overtime trying to push this through my clenched steel jaw.  

“Me, Yes Man, Meta-Woman, McGuffin, Kim Reaper, and…Cybertron.” 

“Cybertron?”  

“Yeah, he’s…uh…a robot…he’s really cool.” 

“So let me get this straight. You left me in a box for eight years because everyone was too lazy to flip a switch. Then I got sent down to a minor league superteam sent to defend Indianapolis. And then it turns out you already have a robot on your team? You do understand that I sacrificed my life to stop Warp Master from irradiating an entire state?” 

“Yeah, but you…you know…you’re a robot. It isn’t like you really died. And you’re up now. The deal is that I found out Team Future just got a robot butler, so I was thinking…” 

My back up body has a high powered stunner for emergencies. This I liberally applied. Repeatedly. And with Prejudice.


JULY 16TH, 1998

June 14, 2006

Being the Journal of Robot Zero, the world’s premier mechanically based superhero who has zero-percent body fat. He kicks ass exponentially.   I’m not sure what that last part means. I’m working on a slogan.  

Hey! I’ve been thinking—or processing—(a little joke there)… 

Actually, I hate that joke. 

I’ve been thinking that I should create a hard copy of some of my notes, adventures and thoughts. After all I am the first robot superhero, and a working demonstration that anyone can make good if they try. So this is my first entry which I hope will provide a behind the scenes look at what it is like to be a robot on a team full of…um…non-robots.  

We got the numbers in from licensing and sales today for the Team Future Merchandise. At least I didn’t end up with the cliché of having the lowest sales. That honor went to Mockraven. Apparently he’s been adopted as a super mascot among certain communities, not unlike Tinky-Wink. His sales went up in some areas but down in others when Fallwell suggested he encouraged a super-alternate lifestyle. I’m not even sure what that means. Part of the problem is that Mockraven likes to be mysterious—I mean, what does that name mean? When we ask him, he looks around, arches and eyebrow and then poofs away with his magic cloak. At least I think its magic, but I don’t know. It is purple and I was told purple meant magic. I remain skeptical.  

Now Robot Zero on the other hand, with my name—given to me by Dr. Boom when I joined—you know what you’re getting: a robot. The original robot superhero. I know you’re thinking—wait, “Zero” sounds more like an empty set, or a loser or even a sidekick. No, really it’s more like “Patient Zero,” when they’re trying to trace back an infection to find out where it started.  

When you put it like that it doesn’t sound as good.  

In any case, I’m not worried about the rankings for sales. I’m just glad to be a member of the team. Besides, most of the money goes into a fund Dr. Boom set up to cover my repairs. Mind you, everyone else gets free medical coverage. But I don’t care, I mean I’m sure extra screws and wires cost just as much as Nukulator’s radiation treatments for his atomic acne.  

Really. I’m sure.  

In any case, we just got a Troub…I mean “Danger” Alert call and we’re heading out. Something about the Warp Master and his minions. I want to see if I can get a seat up front this time in the Future Hopper.