Rich (Bombman) Kassidy
CHAPTER 4 - Lure the Prey
The Sinister Six were now his primary target. To accomplish the task of getting his vital message to the rest of humanity across, this roadblock would have to be removed, or at the very least, discredited. Willow began to obsess with every piece of information he could get his hands on about the new super robot team, from magazines to any newscast with so much as a thirty second story on the team. His tiny apartment began a veritable shrine to the team, complete with possible blueprints for the one time renegade Robot Masters. The main stream media had served him well, providing him with information that would have taken much more extreme measures and much more time than he had wanted.
In the weeks and months after the failure of his first “message” at the nuclear plant, he had come to know his enemy very well. He was at a complete advantage over his quarry- they had no idea he even existed. The only notion they had to go on were a bunch of disabled robots and a few chaff grenade husks left behind. Willow had planned his attacks very carefully, and wasn’t about to make any careless mistakes in his plans of attack on the S6. Little by little, along with the details on the team, Charles pulled his plan together. All he had to do is wait for an opening.
Willow now waited behind an inactive street sweeper within the massive parking structure. Blowing up a series of cars and trucks parked in front of the bank across the street was a sure way to attract the attention of anyone committed to justice. With luck, the Sinister Six would arrive instead of the cops, providing him with the showdown he had now desired for weeks on end. His eyes showed obvious signs of insomnia now, a side effect of many sleepless nights spent perfecting his chaff grenades and what he now affectionately called his “Electro-mop”. Any fat that had once clung to his body, which was sparse even before his janitor days, had long since burned off, leaving his body lean, but in danger of malnutrition. Sweat now poured from underneath his well-worn ski mask, dousing his pasty white skin, starved of the sun from his hermit like activities. Wringing his blackened hands on the trusty staff of his mop like weapon, he suddenly perked up upon hearing a familiar sound.
Peering from behind the large street maintenance device, he caught sight of his prey, first and foremost the one that spoiled his plans at the nuclear site, Elecman. One by one, more of the elite crime fighting team came into view, with the final robot, Bombman, coming into the picture. That one. That bright, cheery orange colored robot was the one that started this whole chain of events that one night that now seemed years ago. Willow make sure that one robot at least would know what it had done.
“I dunno guys,” the frost blue coated robot began “I think it might have been a bunch of pranksters this time. I mean, the bank hasn’t been touched, and the bombs didn’t really do that much damage. Believe me, I know a gag when I see one.”
“That’s one hell of a prank.” Fireman quipped, doubting his icy friend’s observation.
“Yeah, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say this was a call out…” the massive Gutsman stated, looking around his environment with increasing scrutiny.
It was at this point Willow would start stage two of drawing them into his web. Hitting his second line of detonation keys, the janitor- turned- vigilante certainly gave Gutsman all the more reason to believe his theory, as yet another group of vehicles’ gas tanks exploded with the help of some homemade bombs. This time, the objects in question blew up within Willow’s watching grounds within the city’s municipal garage.
Obviously hearing this commotion brought the six heroes sprinting into the garage, which was left unlocked in an almost inviting manner. Upon collecting upon the burning remains of what was once a dump truck and street sweeper, the team immediately agreed that had indeed entered a well-organized trap. Leering at every dark corner and crevice of the garage, the Six became determined to find their assailant before he could make his move.
“Dammit…” Ben growled. “Get the hell out here and show your face you chicken-shit!”
“Yeah, real subtle man.” Odin jested. “I’m sure he’ll come running out here with his hands in the-“
Before he could finish his thoughts, Elecman and the others suddenly became fixated on a single man that had become barely visible in the dim lighting and smoke filled garage. Wearing the tell-tale garb of a common janitor, one could mistake him for a simple maintenance engineer, but the black mask hiding all but his intense eyes covering his face told a different story. Even his stance said volumes about his intentions, which boded bad for the team fixated on the team.
“It’s about time you guys showed up.”, the masked assailant barked across the lot. “It took you guys a good seven minutes to get here. If I had any intention robbing that bank, I could have gotten away scot-free.”
“I assure you, we’ve caught our fair share of bank robbing scum!” Cut-Chan shouted back.
“I bet…but I’m not here to rob anyone.” Willow’s voice grew more ominous. “I’m here to begin the liberation of this country. Robots like you have already taken away the working lives of countless people like me. If this is allowed to continue, robots will be the only ones with work. What the hell are we supposed to do to keep food on the table.”
“Great…another one of these nut jobs again.” Gary whispered to Ben. “Hey you! What’s your name anyway?” he shouted to the masked stranger.
Now this stopped Willow’s thought process dead in it’s tracks. He wasn’t one for fancy names, and he couldn’t very well just announce his real name to the world. This wasn’t about taking credit for anything, after all. This was about making sure the future generations to come wouldn’t be trapped in poverty thanks to a handful of rich robotists and investors flooding the work force with their vile creations.
“…It’s not what I’m called that’s important…It’s what I’ll do.”, a compromise Willow made with himself. What would it matter anyways? If he could beat these things like he planned, they wouldn’t remember their own names, let alone anything he said.
“What? Lose?” Elecman taunted.
“Well, if you don’t have a name, well do you a favor and name ourselves. Now let’s see…” Bomb-Chick began an open-ended joke for Gary to surely follow up with.
“City Garage!” Iceman chirped, not missing a chance to inflict some annoyance on his opponent.
“What the hell kind of a stupid name is that?” Ben smirked at Gary, slightly amused by Gary’s completely offbeat name suggestion.
“I dunno…it’s better than calling him ‘It’s not what I’m called that’s important’, right?”
“But…that’s such a stupid name…” Odin weakly argued. He didn’t really care himself, but he was sure this guy wouldn’t want to be named after some random city structure based solely on the reason he chose this location as his point of encounter.
“Meh…It wouldn’t have happened if he gave some thought in-“ Ben bantered with his teammate until he was suddenly cut off by the newly christened “City Garage”.
“Enough of this!” City Garage screamed. “I came here to show you but one thing; that a human can overcome anything, even his own creations! If a robot can be killed, your so-called lives will be ended here tonight!”
And with that, Willow reached into his satchel with lightening speed and yanked out a pair of chaff grenades, hurling them at the center of his enemies. The Sinister Six scattered, with the exception of one, Ben, who wasn’t in clear view of Garage’s attack.
The two grenades hit the ground and immediately burst with a small cracking noise, but the sound came with a friend. A horrendous spray of dust shot out of the two baseball-sized bombs, quickly engulfing the defenseless Ben, who began to scream as the electrically charged dust wrecked havoc on his internal circuitry from inside. It was not unlike being struck by lightning from within a sandstorm, confusing the target as well as destroying them from the inside. Fortunately for Fireman and the rest of the Sinister Six, Dr Light had taken precautions for just such a form of weaponry, but nothing can completely safeguard against an air based weapon.
Fireman dropped to his knees under the extreme pain. Even after the cloud of smoke dissipates, the damage has already been done, and the circuits of the highly advanced Robot Master struggle to send in repair robots, but since the damage is so wide spread it’s not like dealing with a punch or a heavy object landing on the body.
“Ben!!”, Gary called out to his fallen comrade. “Are you alright?! What was that dust?”
“…*Huh*…*hff*…G-Gary…. *hah*…don’t touch….that dust…” Ben struggled to get that simple sentence out, and promptly lost conscious just as he finished. His auto-repair circuits had triggered their energy conservation, leaving no more energy for Fireman to continue.
Their first casualty taken, the Six regrouped and began to take the offensive. Cut-Chan wasted no time in mounting her first attack, attempting to get past City’s projectile attacks and find out if he could hold his own in hand to hand combat. Expecting it would come to this, Willow swiftly switched to his Electro-mop to meet Cut-Chan’s challenge. Armed with her deadly blades, Cut-Chan was the most suited for this kind of fighting, but dealing with a human opponent was rather tricky, in that they had all collectively agreed to never kill a human being if it could be avoided.
Using the reinforced staff of the mop, Garage blocked Cut’s first strike, which had undoubtedly been held back. Twisting his weapon around, Willow attempted to disarm his opponent, which would leave her open to an offensive move of his own.. Cut-Chan, however, wasn’t so easily put away, and retaliated with a boot to the stomach, sending Garage back a few steps. The over sized boot on most Robot Masters made a kick hard to miss, and even harder not to notice. Willow certainly noticed that kick, as he began coughing constantly, trying to catch his breath that was suddenly knocked from his body.
Not letting her opponent get any sort of an upper hand, Britt swept Garage’s legs out from under him, sending him sprawling to the ground. Blades in hand, Britt assumed a more threatening stance meant to show Willow just how utterly defeated he was. However, Garage wouldn’t let it end so easily, as he had a surprise for his would be defeat. Opening the palm of his hand, Garage revealed a chaff grenade that he had somehow sneaked out of his bag as he fell to the ground. As Britt just barely realized what had happened, she too became enveloped by the thick white smoke that so quickly took Ben out of the fight not more than a minute earlier.
As Britt succumbed to the same pain and subsequent unconsciousness, Garage hadn’t escaped the encounter unscathed, as his hand had suffered severe burns from the grenade that discharged in it. Gritting his teeth, he didn’t have much time to recover, as an enraged Gary was soon charging towards the man that had now caused pain to two of his friends. Not wanting to let Gary have all the fun, Odin soon followed, preparing his deadly electrical attacks. However, the levelheaded Erick called out to the reckless Elecman.
“Elecman! Don’t attack him with your power! Killing him will only prove his point that robots are only good for ruining human lives!”
“You forget, Erik”, Odin stopped in his tracks to reaffirm a point he had constantly preached about to his comrades, “we’re so much more than either mere humans or robots.”
“Dammit, Odin, we don’t have time for this crap now!” Gutsman shouted back. “Just don’t kill him!”
“Oh, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about me.” City Garage growled, standing in front of a smoking Iceman. During Odin and Erik’s banter, Willow had taken advantage of Gary’s emotionally out of control attack, using the electrically charged end of his staff.
“Can I kill him now?” Odin wryly asked his bigger friend.
“No!” Gutsman screamed.
“Geez, no reason to go all psycho. I was just telling a joke.”
“I mean, look out!!”
Gutsman pointed to a small bomb that had found it’s way to Odin’s feet, releasing the nasty smoke they had all began to dread. Already starting to feel the sting of the powdery discharge, Odin refused to go down without a fight, beginning to charge his Thunder Beam.
“No!! Odin don’t! You’ll blow us all sky high!” Gutsman pleaded with an enraged Elecman. But, it was too late. The force of the electronically charged dust colliding with the amazingly powerful Thunder Beam created a force equal to a medium sized bomb going off, sending Odin into the hapless Gutsman. With Odin carrying the dust cloud with him, Erik himself had also become afflicted with the horrible effects of the hellish smoke. The two heroes, of which Odin had already been knocked out with the effects of both the chaff grenade and the explosion, landed in a heap on the far side of the sprawling garage, which was now beginning to look like a war zone.
Barely clinging to his consciousness, Gutsman pleaded with the last remaining member of his team.
But Fushi refused to leave her friends behind. They had never encountered such a force, but she wasn’t about to give up. Part of this whole super hero gig was to stick to your guns no matter what, even if it meant defeat.
However, she might not have to fight. Through the smoke from the explosion, she could see the figure of another figure lying on the ground far away from the explosion’s epicenter. Not even City Garage could have predicted the actions of Odin and his destructive Thunder Beam. Motionless, the sight of City Garage’s possibly dead body scared Fushi, who didn’t know if she should move to see if he was dead, or check on her friends first. City Garage’s body made this decision for her, as he began to stir, struggling to his feet.
Since he was standing a mere fifteen feet away from Odin when the bomb-like event went off, he was caught in the blast as well, which sent his body hurtling through the air. Suffering from not only his hand wounds, but now he appeared to have some fractured, if not broken, ribs from the impact. Spitting up blood, City Garage hesitated, but began limping towards his final target, his goal now within reach. If he defeated this last opponent, this last robot, he could prove that a single human being will forever be superior to his creations. Not willing to let his dream slip away, he ignored the pain and soldiered towards Bomb-Chick, who refused to assume a fighting stance to take on this desperately injured man.
“…Why? What can you possibly prove by hurting yourself and us?” she pleaded.
“…*hack*…Pain?….What the hell does a robot know about…pain?” he retorted.
Fushi considered her options. In his present state, the concussion of one of her bombs would surely put him down, but it might do too much and kill him. She could take that risk, or take an even bigger one…
“…Plenty. I’m not a robot. We’re not robots, at least not in mind.”
This stopped Willow in his tracks. He had wondered what Elecman was going on about as he defeated Iceman.
“I guess you could call us cyborgs, but I dunno if that’s entirely true or not.” Fushi tried to explain.
“Cyborgs? You mean…you’re human under all that metal?” Garage questioned. He doubted this, but was willing to let the robot speak. If anything, it would allow him time to assess his battle strategy.
“Not really. Y’see, we volunteered for this. We wanted to do something good, to keep the world safe from all the destruction that was going on around it. With these bodies, we can do amazing things, but there are something’s we can’t do that we took for granted…”
“Wait…who in their right mind would volunteer to be put into something like that?”
“Well…the thing is, none of us actually remember doing so, but the man that did this to us is a good man, I think. I mean, if you were given an opportunity to take part in something that could potentially save hundreds of lives a year, would you do it?”
“…Yeah. Yeah, I would. But…that’s a bit extreme. I mean, what about your families? Don’t they worry about you doing all of this?
“I…really don’t know. We’re not allowed to speak or communicate with them in any way. I actually think it’s for the better, because I don’t want to keep them worried, or worse yet, put them in any danger. That’s why our true identities are kept secret from the public. We leak all kinds of information into the media to keep the real story out of it. Feed them one story and they’ll think it’s gold right?” Fushi explained.
Gradually, Willow started to sympathize with the Sinister Six. Underneath all of that metal and exuberant paint schemes, they were people. Only, they couldn’t be allowed to be seen as people. They couldn’t talk to any of their old friends or even go out in public without endangering the lives of those around them. It was so sad, really. In many ways, they were much like him. They were dedicated to saving lives, whereas he had dedicated himself to saving the quality of those lives.
“…All I want to do is make sure my child has a place in the world. I don’t have a real place right now, but if I can’t, then I want my son to. He doesn’t deserve to be put out on the street before he has a chance to prove himself.” Willow explained to Bomb-Chick as he pulled the ski mask away from his face, exposing the look of a tired, middle aged man. Fushi had been taken back by City Garage’s opening up and honesty. His words were full of love for his family, not hate for the robots. This was a man who had become confused somewhere down the line and lashed out at an obvious scapegoat. In truth, he could be any man pushed to the edge.
“We live in an awkward age, I think. Mankind is struggling to coexist with its technology. I don’t think we were meant to advance so fast, but for whatever reason, we are. I think someday we’ll find a way to live with our machines, but until then we can’t fight it. Fighting technology never really solved anything, but instead you should fight the people who use this technology for their own selfish means.”
Willow had now found himself at a crossroads. Was all of this planning and fighting in vain? Had he just become another terrorist without him realizing it? This…person in front of him spoke the truth in a way he had never thought of it before. It took a sheep in wolf’s clothing to explain it to him.
“You’re…you’re right. I shouldn’t be fighting robots for the sake of fighting robots. Somewhere, I think I lost myself, I became too wrapped up in my own ideals and lost sight of the big picture. I’ve….” May have lost my place in society, but I shouldn’t have blamed one thing for it.” Willow had finally come to an understanding and a newfound sense of what was right and wrong came into focus.
“What are you going to do now?” Fushi questioned. Had she truly gotten her point across?
“I’m…I’m going to keep fighting. It’s too late for me to re-enter society, but I think I can be of more use helping people by stopping the technology wielded by true villains, whether they’re mechanical or human in nature.”
Fushi let out a sigh.
“I was kinda hoping that you’d give up the vigilante thing, but so long as you’re not going to do anything too rash then I guess I haven’t much say in the matter.”
Police sirens finally blared, announcing the arrival of the police proper. It had been over twenty minutes since Willow blew up the first set of cars outside the bank.
“Huh….late as usual. Nice to know you can count on ‘em when you need ‘em.” Willow quipped. “Looks like both of us had better get the hell out of here.”
“What about your injuries? Will you be-“
“I’ll be fine…and so will your friends. What will you tell them when they come to?”
“I’m sure I’ll think of something.”
With that, Fushi slowly raised her hand, gesturing for a handshake from City Garage, which he obliged. Willow had now lost interest in fighting the Sinister Six with what he knew of them now, but he would never be able to fight along side them openly.
Willow then ran off, affording himself a final salute to his new comrade.
“…Hnnng…. Fushi…What happened?” Gary asked, barely regaining consciousness in his world of pain. Fushi came over to help the blue clad arctic robot to his feet.
“He…got away. But I don’t think we’ll have to worry about him again.” Fushi stated, a small smile ended her sentence as she gazed out into the street where Willow had escaped. “I think…he learned his lesson.”
Fushi sat on her bed later that night, going over encounter with City Garage. Or rather, with Charles Willow. It was good to see her brother again, even if he couldn’t really recognize her or be told of her new position in life. She had recognized him as soon as he pulled the ski mask from his face, and was startled at how old he had gotten. She wondered how many years had really gone by since she had left her family behind, even before volunteering for this job. She wondered if the day would ever come when she could tell them the truth. She began to remember all the little parts of what it meant to be human, to have a family…and she missed it.