Risen from the Ashes
by Sean (Dust), John (Ring), Avi (Pharaoh), AM (Drill), Geoff (Dive)
(Along a grimy alleyway, somewhere in St. Petersburg, a young woman flees from her pursuers. The sounds of pistons and metallic boots become noticeable, and three tall beings of silver come into view. In a panic the woman stumbles briefly and looks back in terror.)
Woman: No! Stay back! Keep away from me!!!
Cyber-Leader: Human female, you must not fear us. Your fear is an obsolete emotion that serves only to hold back your true potential. But with our assistance, you will be upgraded and never fear again.
Woman: I said keep away from me, you monsters! Get away! GET AWAY!
Cyberman 1: She continues to resist us, Cyber-Leader.
Cyber-Leader: Her resistance is minimal. Proceed to sedate her and prepare her for full cyber-conversion.
Cyberman 2: Affirmative.
(The Cyberman steps forward to the terrified woman as she tries to crawl away. It makes a sudden grab for her when a metallic hand smacks him backwards.)
Mystery Figure: Citizen, please flee the area. I am qualified to deal with this situation.
(Without hesitation, the woman makes a mad dash for it. Her savior turns toward the Cybermen; it is a white robot of fairly advanced design, more so than your average run-of-the-mill Robot Master.)
Cyber-Leader: Automaton. You have interfered with the mission of the Cybermen. Identify yourself.
Over-1: My designation is Over-1. Not that it matters to you, since you would obviously have no context of it, being pan-dimensional intruders and all.
Cyber-Leader: The Cyberman have been trapped in The Void for countless ages. But we have found breaches that have led to this world, which we few Cyber Legions have come to in order to rebuild our race.
Over-1: I’m afraid that is out of the question, for your ‘mission’ endangers the lives of innocent people. And I am programmed to protect them from such other-worldly menaces such as you.
Cyber-Leader: You are merely an automaton. A machine, pure and simple. You lack the elegance that comes with the melding of both man and machine. You cannot comprehend our desire to upgrade humanity, and are thus an obstacle that must be deleted. You WILL be deleted!
Cyberman 1 & 2: Proceeding with deletion!
(The two Cybermen march forward and raise their arm-mounted cannons at their target. Red bolts of energy fly out and hit their mark! Over-1 seems to be fairly damaged by the shots, but he regains his composure quickly, showing he is more than able to handle his opponents.)
Over-1: Impressive firepower. Perhaps I can show you my abilities?
(Configuring his left arm into a streamline buster, Over-1 fires a rapid burst of blue-plasma shots. They strike one of the Cybermen dead on, melting its chest plate and destroying the vital circuitry within.)
Cyberman 2: Warning! Opponent automaton possessed superior firepower! Armored defenses are inadequate, and we lack power in numbers!
Cyber-Leader: Affirmative! Logic dictates a tactical retreat! Initiate escape plan Sigma-Eight!
(The two Cybermen take an about face and start marching away rapidly. However, Over-1 is quick enough to follow and releases another volley of buster shots that takes down another of the cyborgs!)
Over-1: Two of three targets neutralized. Proceeding to the final target.
(Several meters away, the Cyber-Leader lifts off a sewer grate and attempts to escape underground. But Over-1 goes into a fast dash and leaps at the silver-monster! It turns just as Over-1 tackles him and both fall to the ground, each struggling to get a hold of one another.)
Cyber-Leader: Error! Error! This unit is not designed for physical combat of this magnitude! Error!
Over-1: Then stop struggling and it’ll make this quick. You’re not the only threat I have to deal with tonight!
(In a final attempt, the Cyber-Leader knocks Over-1’s hand away and grabs hold of the robot’s shoulder. A massive electrical shock flows through, causing him immense pain. Despite the agony, the white android manages to grab a hold of the Cyber-Leader’s head.)
Over-1: Grr, damn it! I should have finished you off like that other two! Time to fix that!
(He begins to turn the head side to side as the neck joints within begin to strain and break apart.)
(With a yell, Over-1 tears off the head of the Cyber-Leader, getting out of reach of the still-active current in its arm. It falls onto the rest of the body, creating a feedback loop that destroys what vital systems remain in the cybernetic monstrousity.)
Cyber-Leader: Error... Cybermen cannot be destroyed... so easily...
(The lights on the head dim to black, indicating the death of the Cyber-Leader.)
Over-1: That could have gone better...
(He winces briefly as some residual current goes through his body. Reaching up to his helmet, he activates a communications channel back to his base of operations.)
Over-1: Over-1 here. The targeted threats have been neutralized, but I’ve taken some damage. I’m going to require a quick repair job here; there’s still a few trouble points I need to get too...
(Days pass by. Somewhere, a blonde woman in a lab coat, glasses and a familiar black fur hat stands, waiting in a hallway. A redhead paces in front of her with a stack of papers.)
Redhead: What is taking them so long? They have to let you talk.
Blonde: Calm down, Nástenka. The way you are worrying, I'd think you were the one giving the presentation. It takes a large amount of effort and time to even get a hearing like this. A few minutes in a hallway should be nothing by comparison.
Nástenka: Why are they having you wait so long? Don't they know how busy you are? You still haven’t brought Over-1 back to a hundred percent after-
(At that moment the doors swing open, an RPD officer walks out.)
Officer: They will see you now. Though the Chief will be running slightly behind schedule.
Blonde: You were saying?
(The pair is led into a conference room filled with various models of robots and humans, most in some form of dress uniform. Large monitors hang from the ceiling with even more various faces projected onto them. The largest monitor, the one reserved for the Chief of the RPD, remains blank.)
RPD Officer: As you can see, most of us are already present. And the Chief-
(On cue, the largest hanging monitor turns on and an over-sized yellow mechanism on squatted legs appears. A half-empty bag of chips dangles from one of its spindly arms.)
Crorq: INFIDELS! Though there have been some, ahem, slight delays, I, Crorq, the MAGNIFICENT, am ready for this little ‘meeting,’ as you may call it.
RPD Officer: Glad you can join us, sir. We were just about the get started with the presentation.
Crorq: Hmph. I don’t particular see the logic for me to be present for this when I have oh so much work to do, but since my presence was requested, nay, insisted, I suppose I must so courtesy and grace you with my participation.
(With a quick flash, he throws the chips into a small gap in his body monitors and proceeds to close it shut, crunching on the contents.)
Crorq: Now then- Proceed, infidels!
Blonde: Hmm. Very well.
(The blonde takes the papers from Nástenka and walks over to a podium and the redhead then walks over to a nearby computer terminal to operate a projector.)
Blonde: Greetings ladies, gentlemen, and other-gendered and/or non-gendered officers of the RPD. I thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to listen to my proposal.
(She pauses as the crowd quiets down.)
Kalinka: As many of you already know, my name is Dr. Kalinka Cossack, daughter of the late Dr. Mikhail Sergeyevich Cossack. I work for the RPD dealing with Abnormal, Supernatural, and Paranormal situations worldwide, through my department based in Russia. I will be going over our work and current staffing problems that we have. Next slide please.
(Behind Kalinka various pictures and diagrams of a white robot are displayed.)
Kalinka: This is Over-1. He was designed as a collaboration between my father and Dr. Light to deal with attacks caused by dimensional and temporal anomalies. He is my department's only regular field officer at this time. Over-1 is working in the field for about 140 hours each week dealing with disturbances. Next slide.
(The pictures behind Kalinka change to various diagrams and charts.)
Kalinka: This field here— *motions* indicates our average detected range of dimensional and temporal anomalies. As you can see, quite a lot. Next slide.
(The various diagrams and slides change. Numerous areas are now highlighted in red.)
Kalinka: And these areas are only increasing with time. In the past five years, our rate in dealing with the overall total has dropped from 87% to 56%. Over-1 has been continuously deployed to take on the greatest threats, with the rest being reported to the local RPD security forces. However, I seldom see any desirable results on the latter part.
(Officer bots can be heard mumbling amidst the chew of donuts.)
Kalinka: Such situations are always deemed “low priority,” if not dismissed outright. Furthermore, the severity of the anomalies themselves is seeing an increase. Next slide, please.
(The diagrams in the background change. Now there is not only some diagrams with numbers, but also various schematics and snapshots of unusual creatures and machines. Remains of several Cybermen on an examination table are also included.)
Kalinka: Today what we consider natural, would have been considered preternatural years before. Today's preternatural would have been yesterday's supernatural. And today's supernatural would have simply broken yesterday. Point is, things are going completely nuts, and in order to keep everything under control, I will require new field agents. Next!
(The background changes to now contain pictures and diagrams of eight humanoid robots. One is defined by a large bulb on its head. Another appears to be some green robotic frog... or is it a toad? Next one seems to have drills for hands and a drill for a head. The following appears to be a robotic version of an Egyptian pharaoh. After that is a robot adorned with ring-shaped decorations. The sixth has a large vacuum as its most noticeable feature. The second to last is the bulkiest of the group, sporting a head-mounted periscope. And the last seems to be the visage of a walking skeleton.)
Kalinka: This is the robot master series developed by my father. Not only do I have experience with their designs, they also have the potential to be expert field agents who I believe, based on records you provided to me prior to this meeting, are currently under utilized, if at all. My proposal is-
Crorq: INFIDEL! You want to take control of robot masters that I, Crorq, command? Don't you know how overworked I, Crorq, the MAGNIFICENT, am?
Kalinka: I… understand, Chief Crorq, but hear my conditions: if in the exceedingly rare event that you actually need them for an assignment, they will answer to your command. However, during their off-duty time, I would politely request their employ.
Crorq: Humph. And what, despite your impeccable logic, makes you think that I, Crorq, would be willing to condone such a request in the first place-
Shakeman: Er, sir?
Crorq: INFIDEL! What is the meaning of this? Can’t you see that I am in a very important meeting?
Shakeman: Well, I just get some of the latest field reports and...
Crorq: Hold on a cycle, would you? Gentlemen, this shall only take a moment. No more, no less!
(The main monitor flickers off, leaving the boardroom speechless. Kalinka stands firm, yet she couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at the situation. It isn’t long before the monitor flickers back on, showing Crorq once more. Only more... subdued than before.)
Crorq: Ahem. Well, after discussing it with my assistant, I, Crorq, the MAGNIFICENT, believe your proposal might be... acceptable.
RPD Officer: Uh, very well then sir. Dr. Cossack, I thank you for your time and your presentation. If you would please step outside while we discuss your proposal in private. We will let you know when we reach a decision.
Kalinka: Of course. I thank you all again for listening to me.
(Kalinka and Nástenka are led to the hallway again and the door is closed.)
Kalinka: I think that went well.
Nástenka: Well? You were interrupted and not given a chance to field questions. They're not giving you a proper chance at all.
Kalinka: Crorq interrupting was practically in my plan, and they can't really ask questions without reading the full proposal first. It might be a couple of days, but they'll approve it in the end.
Nástenka: They are going to make you wait a few days? You can't sit around and just wait for them to decide! And what was that with Crorq cutting out like that? Does that strike you as odd?
Kalinka: Crorq may be a supercomputer, but even he has his quirks, no matter how benign or disgusting that are. We must have patience, Nástenka. Patience. For now, we have work to do.
(Four days pass. Kalinka is brought once more into the conference room with Nástenka following behind. Many of the same officers from before are once more present, including the Chief itself.)
Kalinka: I greet you all once more. I trust you have an answer to my proposal?
RPD Officer: It is after great consideration that we have chosen to accept your proposal, albeit with certain conditions. Please be sure to read over the details.
(The officer hands Kalinka a stack of papers)
RPD Officer: Basically, we are asking for copies of software along with the schematics of any hardware used for your anomaly detections. Within a year, we hope to monitor through RPD stations abroad.
Kalinka: Very well.
RPD Officer: We may still come to you as an expert in the field, even after this change has been implemented. Until then, we are granting you the requested level of access to the Cossack designed Robot Master series. They will be sent to your office later so you can ensure they are properly equipped and briefed.
(Kalinka bows to the officers in the conference room.)
Kalinka: Thank you. I ensure that you will not regret this.
Crorq: And if you would be so kind, make sure they haven’t suffered too much damage while on duty. I’m more than confident you can get them working at full capacity if required, yes?
Kalinka: Of course... Barring my father, rest his soul, I am the most qualified person to complete such repairs.
(Moments later, outside the conference room once more...)
Nástenka: You thanked them? They wish to replace you! Have you looked at the papers? They want to render you redundant within a year. And Crorq-
Kalinka: Within a year, they'll be depending on me too much for something else. I knew at least half the changes they made that they would make and the other half I could have guessed.
Nástenka: What are you getting on at?
Kalinka: They know just as well as I do that I can't keep up at the current pace even with a new field team. They’re setting themselves up to be ready for when I fall, and ensure there is no way that I can blame them for what happens.
Kalinka: Instead, I'll make sure this transition goes as smoothly as possible, and see about calling in some old favors or owing some new ones in order to make sure the system upgrades and changes of policy are implemented sooner than expected. Don't worry. This is only slightly more dangerous than the first time I was kidnapped.
(A few days pass. Somewhere in Russia, several crates show up at a laboratory. The daughter of Cossack makes sure they are brought in properly before beholding them.)
Kalinka: One crate for each Robot Master. Well, time to get to work.
(She takes a nearby crowbar and opens up the first crate. The contents are revealed to be that of Pharaoh Man... a burnt, twisted shell that still resembled Pharaoh Man. Which fell forward with a resounding CLANG!)
Kalinka: !?! What the in name of- sigh... So this is what Crorq meant? Bastard. If the rest of them are like this...
(A few hours later after cracking open each crate, Kalinka finds herself on the phone.)
Kalinka: Hey, is this the maintenance worker assigned to Cossack's Comrades? … No, the correct name is Cossack's COMRADES, not “Creations.” I don't care what Crorq said or if you think that name is more accurate.
Kalinka: Yes, I do know about the damaged ones, but that’s not why I’m calling. I’m asking why they seem to be lacking their transmetal upgrades.
Kalinka: Okay. So you are telling me that despite the RPD employing several laboratories dedicated to going through Dr. Wily's works they decided that it was too difficult to use Cossack's works and just revert them to match the specs in Wily's documents?!
Kalinka: I don't care if they used nonstandard parts! You should have been able to make something work or go for a minor upgrade or change! Not a complete downgrade!
Kalinka: Yes, I can see that you updated some systems. I'm real impressed. I never thought I'd have to spend half of a day undoing something that an idiot thought was a good idea. Did I mention Pharaoh may require a complete overhaul? Because yes, that is what is going to happen-
(The conversation went on for a while, but soon Kalinka was hard at work, getting her father’s machines back in order. Unlike Pharaoh, the repairs on most of the Comrades went more smoothly than she expected. Soon, she had eight nearly complete shells, and went over to the computer to check the status of their AI units.)
Kalinka: Most of the hardware for basic use and memory recognition is in place... Yet many of these AI files are full of holes. And the memory fragments are just a mess. I doubt I could full repair these on such a strict schedule.
(Tapping her temple, she suddenly got a flash of inspiration. Running over to a workbench, she cleans off the array of tools sprawled on it and places a box that was stored underneath. Opening it, dozens of various data storage units are revealed, all adorned with various robot master numbers.)
Kalinka: These were one of the last things to survive the old Citadel... father was always reluctant to make backups. He feared the copies would be cheap imitations of the originals…
(She takes out one of the mechanisms, and inspects it thoroughly.)
Kalinka: And even then they’re over fifteen years out of date... but if I combine the backups with the current damaged AIs... yes, it may just work, and this is well within the current terms of our agreement. Yes, these will work perfectly!
(Time passes as the blonde Russian performs the delicate task of AI fusion. As each graft takes hold, a glimmer of happiness grows in the younger Cossack’s eyes. But once the task was done, she regains her normal demeanor and prepares for the next phase of her work.)
Kalinka: Alright, from the looks of it, Ring’s AI seems to be the most stable right now. Once his download goes fine, I’ll concentrate on getting Drill Man back online. Computer?
CL-DOS: Why hello, Mistress Cossack. Is your project going well?
Kalinka: That’s what I’m here to find out. Proceed AI download of file DCN030.ai into the matching hardware slot.
CL-DOS: Confirmed. Processing... processing... five seconds to reactivation of DCN-030, codename, “Dive Man.”
(Kalinka runs to the screen. In a moment of oversight, she had incorrectly assumed the assigned file name for Ring Man’s AI. That one was labeled DCN029.ai, right above the one belonging to Dive Man.)
Kalinka: I haven’t scanned the integrity of Dive’s personality yet! Abort! Abort and proceed with download of DCN029.ai!
CL-DOS: I am sorry, but the download cannot be aborted, for it was finished five seconds ago. Proceeding with next download...
Kalinka: You have got to be-
Dive Man: GWAH!!!
(With a crashing noise, Dive Man’s repair pod is ripped open from the inside. The blue hulk of a marine robot master growls and flexes his arms out. Like the monster of Frankenstein, he starts to stumble toward the blonde Russian girl.)
Kalinka: Again, you have got to be kidding me.
(Undaunted, she reaches toward another bench and pulls out a shotgun; an advanced, armor piercing round shotgun, specially made for dealing with rampaging robots and anything else with a tough hide. She cocks the barrel and points it toward the shambling robot.)
Kalinka: I just spent a good amount of time putting you back together; don’t make me have to do it all over again, Dive Dick!
(Suddenly, the robot stops in his tracks. His monster-like facial expression softens into confusion. And then immediately turns into a smug grin.)
Dive Man: Dive Dick; now there’s a name I ain’t heard in... Well, however long it’s been!
Dive Man: Whoa, I wake up and I have a hot chick sticking a shotgun into my face. Not the fantasy I was hopin' for. But hey, I ain't complainin'! Thank you, God!!
Kalinka: ...Do you even know who I am?
Dive Man: The tight body and that gorgeous blond hair of yours are new to me, but that hat does seem kind of familiar, and with waving that shotgun around—oh fuck, Kalinka? Is that you...?
Kalinka: That’s right.
Dive Man: Damnit, ya coulda warned me that ya were gonna grow up ta be a full-blown hottie, ya little hell raiser, you! Speaking of which, do ya know I’ve gone to Hell and back?
Kalinka: Given you just came back from the dead after being offline for over fifteen years, I’m not surprised.
Dive Man: That long, huh? Hah hah, man! The old Doc’s probably got grey hairs a dime a dozen by now!
(An uncomfortable silence falls over the repair after Dive’s comment. Kalinka shows no emotion, but merely looks off to the side in an uneasy manner.)
Kalinka: Father’s been dead for years, Dive.
Dive Man: Well... damn. Er, did he at leas' go out peacefully?
Kalinka: How peaceful does getting turned into red paste sound?
Dive Man: Oh. Well, uh, shit, I’m not good at this touchy-feely crap. Uhh...On the bright side, I'm sure God sent him to a way nicer place than I went to.
Kalinka: Save it. I grieved, I moved on-Wait what was that last part?
Dive Man: Huh? I was just sayin' there's no way God would let a guy like Pops go to Hell. Not after all the good shit he's done in his life, ya know?
*Kalinka stares at Dive like an octopus just crawled out his mouth.
Kalinka: ...Someone in the RPD better have a funny story as to why one of my father's robots inexplicably has a religious streak. Because I KNOW this wasn't in the back-ups!
Dive Man: Hey, ya'd be the religious type too, if God personally snatched ya up from the jaws o' Robot Hell!
Kalinka: I really don't think that's how it happened.
Dive Man: Wanna bet? Last thing I remember before ya switched me back on was watchin' Mormon after Mormon turnin' all the Vodka in the world into grape juice 'n givin' it to the poor! And I was powerless to stop it!! For fifteen years!! If that ain't Robot Hell, than what would ya call it?!
Kalinka: ...I'm sure that's hell for you.
Dive Man: But just as I lost all hope, the skies parted, I was bathed in a warm, heavenly light, 'n God swooped down 'n pulled me outta that hellhole! God, Sis! I couldn' make this shit up!
*Dive Man spontaneously drops to his knees, his hands clasped. Kalinka takes several steps back and keeps her hands on her shotgun.
Dive Man: Praise be ta yer glorious name, oh mighty God!! Thy will be done!!
Kalinka: ...As I was saying, Dad's death was mostly his fault, or so I’ve been told.
Ring Man: He’s really gone, then.
(Dive and Kalinka turn suddenly toward Ring’s repair pod, which has already opened and revealed the ring-throwing robot master.)
Kalinka: When did you activate!? Please don't tell me that your AI has been converted to Buddhism. I've had enough surprises already.
CL-DOS: Oh, I saw you were busy, so I didn’t bother to tell you that Ring’s AI download finished five minutes ago. I just activated him once it was all done, to save you the trouble. Would you like me to continue?
Kalinka: Computer. Safe mode. NOW.
CL-DOS: Sigh... very well. I guess I’ll just model fractals while you finish up your business.
Ring Man: It weird... I don’t feel like any time passed at all. And Dive... did you get smaller?
Dive Man: Eh? Hey yeah, where’s mah armor?
Kalinka: Your minds may have been out of commission, but your bodies were still in service. Except they couldn’t get the transmetal armor to function correctly, somehow, and had it removed.
Ring Man: Who’s “they” if I may ask?
Kalinka: My currently employers, of course. The Monsteropolis Robot Police Department.
Dive Man: The hell!? We're working fer those asswipes!? After all the shit they put us through!?
Kalinka: Times have changed, Dive. The past has gone, the future has become the present, blah blah blah, look, there’s a whole explanation for all of this. But I still need to get the rest of you operational first.
Dive Man: Agh, fine. God must have a reason for us ta be Crorq's paid bootlickers. Guess I'll play 'long.
Ring Man: Uh...Yes. That sounds reasonable. Is there anything I can do to help?
Kalinka: Why, yes there is.
(Kalinka walks over and places the shotgun into Ring’s surprised hands.)
Kalinka: Make sure Dive doesn’t break anything until I’m done, okay? And whatever you do, don't buy into his 'born again Christian' talk, okay?
Ring Man: Uh...
(As Kalinka goes back to work, Ring Man looks at the shotgun, then back to Dive.)
Ring Man: Um, this is a bit awkward.
Dive Man: Do ya even have the balls ta shoot me, l'il man?
Ring Man: I’m not sure if I’m even equipped for that!
Dive Man: Ha! Poor bastard. Hey, wait a minute...
(Dive Man turns away from Ring Man and starts reaching in between his legs. His eyes bug out and he shouts out loud.)
Dive Man: GOD DAMN SON OF A BITCH!
(Dive's eyes go wide as he covers his mouth. He looks up to the sky smiling nervously with his hands out.)
Dive Man: Uhh...Sorry, God. Old habits die hard, ya know? Please don't smite me fer heresy.
(A few more hours pass. As Kalinka finalizes each AI program, she downloads it into the proper robot master and brings them back online. Soon, Ring and Dive are joined by four others.)
Drill Man: My head still hurts... is that normal?
Skull Man: Your pain receptors may require recalibration. I recommend you disable them for now until Miss Cossack can correct the problem.
Drill Man: Yes...I'm sure that's EXACTLY what you'd want me to do, isn't it...?
Skull Man: But it can help.
Dust Man: I still don’t see why I still have red eyes. You couldn’t have fixed that before bringing me back?
Kalinka: Blame the computer. She seems to have a mind of her own.
Skull Man: ‘She?’
CL-DOS: You robot masters are such a colorful bunch. And you, there, in the back? Why aren’t you saying hello to your old friends?
Bright Babe: Oh, uh, I’m just getting use to being back after so long. It’s a bit disorienting.
Ring Man: How’re your memories, guys? Mine seem mostly intact.
Drill Man: Well, there are gaps here and there... though some things remain that I’d wish I could forget.
Bright Babe: Please don’t remind me about that.
Dive Man: Well sis, nuthin' blocks out bad memories more than a bottle o' Jack! Want some shots?
Dust Man: Isn’t it too early to be drinking?
Dive Man: Hey, after fifteen years o' damnation and forced sobriety, I think I've earned this! If it's God's will that I get completely shitfaced again, then who the hell are we to argue with the Divine Plan?!
Dust Man: ...Wait a minute...Dive Man found God...? What??
Drill Man: I know. It’s a bit surreal, to be honest. It almost makes me think there's something fishy going on...
Dust Man: ...Well, the important thing is, we’re back together, after all this time. You think Jade’ll remember us?
Ring Man: Jade? You mean Pharaoh Man?
Drill Man: Of course! That’s what he liked being called, you know. We all have those nicknames, to show we’re not your normal robot masters.
Ring Man: Oh yeah. Weren’t you called Am?
Drill Man: It’s pronounced “A-M,” but yes.
Dust Man: I remember calling myself Sean. And Bright over here was Jet, if I remember.
Bright Babe: Hee hee, yeah, got it in one go!
Skull Man: This unit’s given designation at the latest was “Hunter.”
Dive Man: Maybe ya should change it to something cooler, like “Jaeger.”
Skull Man: That is the German word for “Hunter.” There would be no difference based on what language is used, Dive Man.
Dive Man: Eh whatever, Jack Skellington. And stick to callin' me Geoff, will ya? Or better yet, St. Geoff.
Skull Man: That will not be likely.
Ring Man: Well, I’m John.
Drill Man: Really?
Dust Man: It’s a bit... plain, right?
Ring Man: What? I think it suits me...
Bright Man: Don’t worry; I like your name, John!
Ring Man: Oh! Uh, thanks Jet. That’s, um... really sweet of you. Really.
Dive Man: Heheh, smooth, Johnny.
Kalinka: Alright, Pharaoh’s online and coherent. Say hello, Pharaoh Woman.
(Dive Man spits out his drink, directly at Bright Babe.)
Bright Babe: ACCCKK!! HEY!!
Dive Man: Whoa whoa whoa, WO-Man? Kalinka, why the hell are ya givin' poor Jade a sex change?!
Drill Man: I agree. That's a valid question, Kalinka.
Kalinka: I’m sorry, but none of the Pharaoh backups contained any trace of his personality or memories. It’s like they weren’t readable during the original copy process.
Bright Babe: Oh no...
Dive Man: Damn. So much fer a warm reunion. Okay, so who do we get stuck with now?
Pharaoh Woman: Ah, I have risen from my rest! My people shall now rejoice!
(Everyone in the room stares blankly at the newly awakened pharaoh robot master.)
Pharaoh Woman: Um... aren’t you all supposed to be rejoicing? Guys?
Kalinka: Are you alright, Pharaoh?
Pharaoh Woman: Oh? Um, um, of course. I was crowned Pharaoh by … uh, Ra to rule and protect. I am blessed by the … um, Egyptian gods, and thus, I shall not fail! However, changes must be made to this mortal frame.
Kalinka: What sort of changes, “your majesty?”
Pharaoh Woman: O royal vizier… cast your gaze upon this, this… buster arm. What would I do if a visiting dignitary were left-handed? Trying to shake with my right would be disrespectful, and handing them a buster could be misunderstood amongst the populace… Also these, er, eyes. They could scare the children of my land! I am a benevolent queen, to be loved and respected, NEVER to be feared!
Kalinka: ...I've dealt with much worse. *glares at Dive Man*
Pharaoh Woman: R-really? I mean… most excellent. You shouldn't have a problem addressing these issues!
Kalinka: I’ll try to fix up all of you properly, but first I have one last robot master to revive.
(Going over to the computer, she examines the last remaining AI file... and frowns.)
Kalinka: I now understand why Crorq didn't fight more over this. That bastard has gotten more subtle.
Dust Man: Meaning?
Kalinka: Well, I would have used one of the Toad backups father made, but it seems they either weren’t created or they were taken before the box was last sealed. I had to settle with the AI program provided as is. And it was in worse shape than Dive Man’s...If that's even possible.
Dive Man: I dunno about that. I feel just fine!
CL-DOS: Funny. I feel like that all of the time. Small world, isn’t it?
Kalinka: Computer, just load the file and be done with it.
CL-DOS: Oh, I already started for you. Expect a lovely surprise in 3... 2... 1.
(Toad Man’s repair pod opens and the newly awakened robot master-)
Toad Man: Hey, where is my hat?
Kalinka: Your hat?
Toad Man: Yeah, I need my hat. Also when is lunch?
Kalinka: Listen, Toad Man. I just brought you back online to test online, and I still need to do repairs and upgrades on all of-
Toad Man: Never mind. Found some grub.
(Toad picks up a wrench and shoves it in his mouth.)
Kalinka: Give that back.
Kalinka: Because otherwise I need to get a new wrench.
Toad Man: Can you get me a soda while you’re up?
Ring Man: Yes?
Kalinka: Could I have my shotgun back, please?
(Many, many hours later...)
Kalinka: Now that you all are in working order and have the random articles of clothing and/or minor aesthetic changes you obsess over for some reason-
Toad Man: This is the hat that shall pierce the heavens! And get me the ladies. Not necessarily done in that order.
Dive Man: Those are two different things for ya?
Dust Man: Sorry for insisting, but first impressions are kind of important and I don't want people thinking I'm not stable because they look at red eyes and think it makes me evil or my eyes or bloodshot. I don't even like the word bloodshot. It makes me think of blood and how it-
Dive Man: I ain't apologizin'.
Ring Man: Apologize for what?
Dive Man: Ah, I’m sure the team's already workin' on a grievance list. The important thing is, by the grace of God, our family's back together again. *glances at Pharaoh Woman and Toad Man* Give or take.
Dust Man: ...I'm sorry, Dive. But this new religious streak is really making me uncomfortable.
Drill Man: I know how you feel. *leans in and whispers into Dust Man's ear* You know that's not the real Dive Man, right? I feel it in my gut.
Kalinka: ANYWAY, when you are not working for Crorq on something unimportant, you will be working for me on cases having to do with anomalous situations.
Ring Man: What makes that different than normal?
Kalinka: Less busy work and more villains whose nature could be described as alien.
Toad Man: So we are fighting guys from space?
Kalinka: No, their nature is alien as in unusual and not something that would be found on Earth.
Toad Man: Like people from space.
Kalinka: Moving on, I specialize in dealing with temporal and dimensional anomalies mostly, but I'm working on expanding my field more now that I have you guys.
Drill Man: I thought that was so you wouldn't be overworked.
Kalinka: You either appear overworked or redundant, and redundant means you’re picking up fast food for Crorq. Low priority situations that are either going to be false alerts or trivial I'll let the RPD handle. You guys will be starting with more mid range and hopefully I'll be working you guys up. You'll also help with a few other tasks that make sure this place keeps running. And it’s not just me that needs your assistance. Now, let me introduce you to my team.
(Kalinka gestures and Nástenka leaves her desk and walks over.)
Dive Man: Hot damn, now that’s a fine piece of ass!
Drill Man: Dude, quiet! Show some respect for once!
Kalinka: This is Nástenka. She is built from an unused secretary/bodyguard design my dad had. She'll be helping me primarily.
Nástenka: Greeting, comrades. I trust you will all be well-behaved and not cause further problems for Kalinka.
Pharaoh Woman: Do not worry! We are all blessed and I will surely ensure that-
Toad Man: That I, Captain Flippy Toad of the Comrades, shall whip these poor lost souls into shape, to prepare us from the horrors that lurk from beyond the stars!
Dive Man: Okay, lady, what’s to stop me from throwing this guy into a trash compacter?
Nástenka: I've been warned about you and been given permission to shoot you if you act up.
Dive Man: Rawr. Feisty, arncha?
Kalinka: Yep, going exactly as expected. Next... wait, is Over-1 back from his previous assignment yet?
(A loud CLANK! is heard as a white robot enters the room. At his feet is the twisted form of another Cyberman.)
Toad Man: Oh gods, it’s already begun!
Kalinka: Toad Man, SHUT IT!
Toad Man: :x
Over-1: Hello, you must be the CC. I look forward to working with you and wish you the best of luck. I unfortunately must go and deal with an outbreak of demon squirrels piloting wooden mecha from the moon of an alternate Earth where Dr. Light and Dr. Wily were necromancers in Nebraska.
(And just as quickly as he entered, Over-1 leaves.)
Ring Man: Was any of that true?
Kalinka: Yeah. It’s sad that that is only the third demon outbreak he's dealt with today and not even in the top ten for weirdest event this week.
Drill Man: Ouch. I feel for the guy.
Dust Man: And the Cyberman dying on the floor?
Kalinka: They’ve been popping up from time to time. Hopefully this live one will prove more useful than the last twelve he’s brought me.
Dust Man: Uh, not that I should be asking, but-
Kalinka: Then don’t. Now, for the final robot in my employ. Please come in, Gunker.
(A large robot enters the room and regards the Comrades.)
Gunker: These little baby robots the new helpers? They are so tiny.
Dive Man: Hey, who are ya calling 'tiny', Mongo?!
Gunker: He think he is so big. It is funny to me.
Dust Man: He kind of reminds me of Duo.
Kalinka: Gunker was one of the last projects my father was working on. He is based on the designs of Duo and other extraterrestrial based machines.
Drill Man: So if he is more muscle why isn't he in the field?
Gunker: Small pointy man is also funny! He think Gunker is simply for smashing. Smashing is Gunker's hobby!
Kalinka: Gunker's large frame is because he is a storage device capable of defending itself. Aside from your backups, every design my father ever worked on is stored on Gunker. Even things he never finished and things he never used. I've also started uploading all of my work to Gunker and I doubt I'll see him half-filled by the time I die.
Gunker: Gunker so vast. Gunker dwarf most bots in size and mind. Everything is so tiny to Gunker.
Kalinka: Now that you've met everyone, I'll let you guys situate yourselves and determine rooms while I try and get some work done and ignore your yelling.
Ring Man: Wait, this place has rooms?
Gunker: Yes, tiny robot man. Many rooms outside of laboratory.
Dive Man: Well, God has decreed that I take the biggest room 'n the two next t' it.
Gunker: You take second smallest room, for biggest is for Gunker.
Pharaoh Woman: Nay, I shall claim the greatest room, for it is my divine right.
Dive Man: Like hell ya are stinky.
Pharaoh Woman: How dare you, insolent mortal! I… I do not smell! D-do I?
Dive Man: Mummies smell. Yer a robot mummy. Therefore, ya smell. QED, bitches.
Toad Man: I want the best room too, ribbit!
Dive Man: Shut up! Damn, where’s that shotgun when ya need it?!
Bright Babe: Things never really change do they?
Ring Man: Guess not. I better grab a room before they are all wrecked.
Skull Man: I concur.
Dust Man: Maybe I should pick a closest to the exit... or the repair bay... or...
(Soon everyone leaves the room, leaving Drill Man with Gunker.)
Drill Man: We're together again and Kalinka decides to do paperwork and say something that gets everyone fighting. She must be sick of us already. Why bother with bringing us back when you can get replacements?
Gunker: No, I think she is quite happy. It’s fairly quiet and orderly around here with most going out of their way to help and accommodate her. She finally has her dysfunctional family again. It is messy and chaotic, but it is hers and she wouldn't trade it for anything. Not that she'll ever say it mind you. But not admitting to things like that probably comes with being a Cossack.
Drill Man: What?
Drill Man: You just used personal pronouns, complete sentences, and sounded intelligent!
Gunker: Ha, ha, ha! You so small and funny to Gunker. Gunker always intelligent! Gunker's sentences always complete. They fill room just like Gunker! Gunker too big for pronouns. Pronouns small and for small people.
Drill Man: But, you just...
Gunker: Gunker have big schedule too. Gunker can not sit and wait like tiny, pointy robot.
(Gunker walks off, leaving the drill master with his thoughts.)
Drill Man: But, you... You just … And...
Cyberman: You... will... be... deleted...
Drill Man: Cram it, Tin Man.
(And so soon the day will again be saved thanks to Cossack's Comrades.)
AM as Drill Man Sean as Dust Man Geoff as Dive Man
Jet as Bright Babe Hunter as Skull Man
John as Ring Man Avi as Pharaoh Woman Flippy as Toad Man