Sinister Six: Economic Ruin

by Rich (Bombman) Kassidy

CHAPTER 3 - Quick Fix

The new nuclear power plant. It was a perfect first target. Run completely by automated machines and patrolled by the “Sniper Joe” series guard robots, Willow knew he could make quite the argument for keeping good old fashioned humans around if the mechanized plant “workers” suddenly stopped working, depriving the Texas town that it feed with precious energy. With his new weapons, he was capable of single handedly shutting down the plant and being well along the path to proving mankind’s superiority over its creations.

It had been just a few days since the break in at the lab, and the news was still yammering about it. Every time Willow went to the local diner for breakfast, the small TV mounted on the wall spewed a constant stream of overplayed facts about it, most of which was repeated over and over until you could almost recite the “latest news” along with the anchor. Ordinarily, a burglary like this wouldn’t even make a mention on the late night news, but a few facts about it must have scared some top level brass, because some big wigs and even a few government officials sometimes graced the news desk with their time.

Willow couldn’t help but smirk to himself whenever he woke up to it. He couldn’t help but thank the mystery man that blew that convenient hole for Chuck to just walk through. What’s more, they had no clue that there were two separate crooks there that night. Crook. As soon as he thought of that word, Willow knew he might never be praised for his efforts. He might very well be forever regarded as that word and nothing else. That was okay though, so long as he was successful in the end.

That night, Willow rode the city bus as far as he could to the outskirts of town. The plant was located quite a few miles away from the nearest building, as the city planners wanted to account for suburban sprawl. Can’t put a huge plant like that on prime land, right? This left Willow with a few miles of walking to which to review his plan of action to himself, which suited him just fine.

After almost two hours of walking, he had finally made it to the plant’s outer parameter. Willow observed for just under an hour the movements of the plant’s robotic inhabitants. He noted potential blind spots, hiding areas, and breaks in the guards’ patterns, as well as spotlight locations and ranges of movement. After silently observing all of this, he was ready to make his move.

Utilizing a pair of wire cutters, Charles found the one area of fence not electrified, which ironically enough was around a set of generators. Stupid design or not, it was the perfect spot for a break in. A few snips later, the ski masked former maintenance engineer was prowling the grounds, searching for the perfect entry point. Chances are, it didn’t exist, and so maybe some action would have to happen ahead of schedule. However, before that he wanted to find the lines of communication, which was easily tracked down by following a few wires. Keeping careful watch for the olive green-painted robots, Willow made it to the steel box that housed the said communication lines. Using a handheld laser torch that he had managed to hold onto for a few years, Chuck made quick work of the series of locks that held the gray box’s door firmly shut. Deciding to try out his latest toy for the first time, he pulled the four-foot staff from its resting-place on his back.

Looking very much like a high-tech mop, this weapon was made by taking one of the electronic stun grenades and making it into a hand held weapon. A cluster of exposed, thick wires at one end of the staff served as the transfer medium of the dismantled chaff bomb. In short, anything electronically powered that made contact with the wires would either be completely fried or severely damaged. His hopes with this homemade weapon were to conserve as much as he could the chaff grenades, which were in limited supply. Once they ran out, he’d have to try to recover as many as he could and attempt to build more later on.

Making his way through a now-unlocked back door, Willow now crept through the sparse hallways of the complex maze that made up the inside of the plant. Inside, the Sniper Joes were replaced by smaller robots that were mostly used for surveillance and construction. Although the Metool series of robots weren’t particularly threatening when fighting them one by one, if he were spotted by one now he’d most certainly be overwhelmed by a flood of them, as well as whatever larger robots happened to be nearby. Along with this annoyance, Willow would also have to deal with the traditional cameras and IR beams.

Reading the signs hung at nearly every corner, Chuck realized he was a long way away from the control room of the complex. He began to contemplate a change of plan. Originally, he had wanted to sneak in completely unnoticed, use the chaff bombs (which were set on a timer) inside the control room, and make a quick exit. If he did this completely undetected, he would prove to some degree that a completely mechanical task force wasn’t nearly the best choice. If this were proven, perhaps some of the jobs lost to these little robotic terrors could be brought back. At least the security officers would have a place.

But at this rate, any number of security measures might catch him before he even made it the control room. It might be quicker for him to simply run down the hallway, throw in the chaff grenades before the steel shutters completely enclosed the room, and run like hell. However, if he didn’t reach the control room in time, he’d have no way of shutting it down, and his mission would be lost right then and there. At this time, he realized he had no choice but to press on as carefully as possible, and finesse was never one of his strong points.

It was too late to turn back now. By now, they were probably on to the communication problem outside, and would in no time become wise to what was going on. Willow knew he had, at best, two minutes before security became too tight for him to continue. If he were going to find his objective, it would have to be quick. Snaking through the wide hallways, skittering from shadow to shadow, Chuck soon found himself facing the doorway to the control room.

Glancing around the corners quickly, Willow made a small error- a small Metool working robot spotted him and sounded its inner alarm, triggering the control room’s blast doors. Willow skidded across the hallway floor, pulling a chaff grenade from his side pouch. The small, baseball-sized bomb rolled underneath the thick, triple plated security door just in the nick of time. Not even waiting to hear the satisfying crackle of electricity from the grenade, Willow backtracked down the hallway as fast as his legs would carry him. Within seconds, the outside doors would seal themselves air tight, whether he was in or out of the complex.

As he ran down the hallway, the blast doors were shutting themselves much too fast for him to reach in time. In an act of desperation, he lobbed one of the chaff grenades towards the door, hoping they were electronically activated. Luckily for him they were, leaving him just enough space for him to squeeze through to freedom.

Or so he thought.

Just as he wriggled his way past the exit, a group of one dozen armed and ready Sniper Joes awaited him. With their egged-shaped arm cannons aimed squarely at his head, Chuck knew he didn’t stand a chance at this distance, even with his “toys”. It seemed like his run had ended before it really began. But, just as he seemed to be done for, Willow’s trump card played itself. The searchlights that were now focused on him, blinding him, flickered for just a second before succumbing to darkness. It was pitch black now, which seemed to startle even the dozen mechanical guards that threatened to end his mission. Not one to waste such an opportunity, Willow brought out yet another hidden weapon.

Willow slammed the golf ball sized capsule on earth beneath him, sending a shroud of gray smoke into the air around him. This was no mere smoke screen, however. Another one of the scientist’s unique gadgets, this smoke bomb was able to dissipate plasma and electrical based bullets, scattering even the most focus “solar bullet”. Willow was skeptical of it at first, but he now was experiencing it first hand as the guards opened fire upon him as soon as he made the sudden movement. Using the smoke shield as cover, he loosed a pair of chaff grenades underneath the Joes, causing them to shake and jitter as the localized electrical interference wrecked havoc on their delicate interior circuitry.

His last obstacle cleared, Willow bolted for his impromptu entranceway to make for a quick exit. It was hard to believe; a single man crippling what was supposed to be a state of the art nuclear plant ran entirely by the latest in robotic high security. Surely, this would add an exclamation point to his message later on he thought to himself as he gathered his dark overcoat that he left behind a tree. Heading home would take sometime, as no buses were due by the plant, and he would have to avoid the main roads in order to avoid any patrols that would surely flood this area once the authorities became wise to what had happened.

He couldn’t help but to allow himself a small grin of satisfaction for his job well done. Continuing his journey back into town, he occasionally turned to look at the plant’s silhouette, light less thanks to his handiwork.

That is, until what looked to be a beam of light came streaming down from the midnight sky onto the plant below. Willow had no clue as to what it could be. At first, he allowed himself the thought that it could have been a bolt of lightning, but with the sparse amount of clouds above him, this seemed unlikely at best. Could he have imagined it? He continued to stare at the plant’s inactive structure for ten minutes before shrugging it off as a figment of his imagination. Walking towards the city once again, Willow glanced one more time at the plant, only to receive yet another surprise for the night.

A wave of genuine surprise and anger rode over his face as he now looked at the plant, now fully functional and running. Willow twisted around to look at the city, which was as dark as the plant just a moment ago, now burning as bright with light as ever before. How could those stupid robots get the plant up and running in just twenty minutes? Most of the robots on the premises wouldn’t even be able to walk without severe repair, so it seemed impossible to him.

Willow now found himself running back towards the plant, knowing he was risking capture by returning to the scene of the crime. Eventually, he hid himself behind a tree just outside the fence to peer into the inner grounds of the complex. After a few moments of observation, a new set of robotic guards walked out of the same entrance that he had used to escape, only they weren’t alone. Accompanying them as they inspected the grounds and Willow’s fence work was a strikingly different robot. This one was tall- at least one foot taller than the Joes, and bore it’s own color scheme of red and golden yellow, complete with a large lightening bolt emblem emblazoned on his chest and forehead.

Of course. Willow completely forgot to factor in him. Elecman of the Sinister Six- the former energy controller robot. It was his job to make sure nuclear plants like this ran smoothly, so it was no surprise that he had the ability to revive this plant. Unfortunately for Willow, even more annoying than the plant being up so fast was the fact that the press would never get wind of it. It was as if he had never had been there, as if the twenty minute power outage was nothing more than a hiccup in the system. The only thing he had to show for it was heat from the authorities, which would now become aware of “some nut attacking power plants”.

For the second time, the Sinister Six have interjected themselves in his life. Clearly something would have to be done if he were to truly get the message across.


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