Eclipse Star: Chapter 63
Recap: Last time, Chris recovered from a supposed suicide attempt, Joshua trains the group, and a request was made to check on loved ones. What sort of intrigue is in store for today? Find out, right now!
-We start today in a darkened room, the only light coming from the rapid flickerings of a TV monitor. Syrus sits rather close to the fixture, watching the replay of the Hex-Duo defeat over and over again.
-Octavious walks in.
Octavious: Syrus, what the hell is this?
Syrus: (Without looking away). I’m researching.
Octavious: Researching what? We know how the Hex-Duo were destroyed.
Syrus: That’s not the point of the research. I want to see the boy’s fighting style. Something about it is unsettlingly familiar.
Octavious: Right, I forget, you’re the great fighter and know everything there is to know about the intricacies of skill and valor and all that horseshit.
Syrus: No, something about this doesn’t make sense.
-Syrus skips to the scene where Chris leaps at Hex-Duo 6 (from the robot’s point of view), and boots him in the face with a shiny kick. Syrus freezes at the moment Chris’ foot sparks.
Octavious: (Trying to see what’s so important). So? His foot’s glowing.
Syrus: Manipulating of energy through feet isn’t something everyone knows. Mostly, it’s just a lot of flash and no substance. But this, (lets the footage continue to see Chris hurling his blast from the other foot, freezing it once more before the blast hits the “camera”), I’ve only seen one person do this besides the boy.
Octavious: (Sarcastic). Was it you?
Syrus: No, it was a man I was very close to before my service to you began.
Octavious: Heh, must have been a real dandy to use fighting moves like that.
Syrus: (Finally turning away from the screen). James was no one to make light of, and if you so much as sneer at his mention again I’ll kill you, my mission be damned.
Octavious: (Actually standoffish, then). Hahaha, you’re mission’s already damned, isn’t it?
Syrus: Hmh, so you’re right. (Turns back to the screen).
Octavious: Have we begun moving on with the next phase of our plan?
Syrus: There is no “our” in this plan. This plan is yours, just like those rangers of yours. My plan is to fight this boy when your plan fails once again.
Octavious: Oh yeah? You’re so sure this one’s going to fail?
Syrus: It is absolutely going to constitute an act of war, even more so than your previous botched efforts at public sympathy.
Octavious: And reviewing this footage is going to help you in the end?
Syrus: Yes. That’s what I do. I’m the fighter, remember?
Octavious: No, you’re the dog.
Syrus: Then let me off this leash.
Octavious: The first time you encountered these kids you didn’t kill them-
Syrus: Because it was a public tournament.
Octavious: And the second time you encountered these kids you didn’t kill them-
Syrus: I was stationed at a military base that exploded; my priorities shifted.
Octavious: And if I understand correctly you could have encountered them a third time after the Hex-Duo fight. What’s your smart-ass explanation for that?
Syrus: Well that was pure laziness of course.
Octavious: (Angry). I knew it!
Syrus: (sighs). I needed to properly study these reports to better understand what I’m up against. They’re getting stronger at an exponential rate and I didn’t wish to engage them before I knew how to correctly handle them. I’ve fought with Derek, Jack, Lindsey, Austin, and a number of the other members, but the boy, this boy, I haven’t faced one-on-one.
Octavious: And this recording is going to help you.
Syrus: Look at this. (Skips to the scene where Chris and Hex-Duo 6 are clenched up, right before the fight ends). Look carefully.
-Chris stares down the “camera” and flips over it, ripping its arms off.
Syrus: Did you see that?
Octavious: See what?
Syrus: Watch. (Rewinds the footage to the clench). Watch his eyes. (It becomes noticeable that Chris’ eyes dart to Hex-Duo 6’s right shoulder). His eyes flash to the machine’s shoulder joint before he performs a maneuver that takes advantage of an obvious design structure fault.
Syrus: So, he could see the flaw. I swear I can see his thought process going. He’s more dangerous than the rest.
Octavious: Because he can make his feet glow and he has good eyesight?
Syrus: (Finally annoyed). Will that be all for today?
Octavious: Actually, I’d appreciate it if you’d give my rangers a few tips. If they’re going to strike the city I want them as ready as possible, and it seems I’m not the fighter, so make them learn how to fight.
Syrus: Fine. I’ll be out in a moment.
Octavious: Right. Just don’t let ghosts get in the way of what you have to do. (Leaves).
Syrus: (Re-watching Chris’ shiny kick). Where did you learn James’ move…?
* * * * *
-Elsewhere, in the suburb of Brooksboro, Chris cautiously rounds corners on his way to the sight of his ruined home. He has a baseball cap pulled down low and a backpack slung over one shoulder.
Chris: Grandma, you had enough sense to leave before Syrus showed up, right?
-He finally gets to his old street. Once he sees what’s there, thing seem slightly confusing.
Chris: What in the heck?
-Chris looks up to see a massive skyscraper built where his house used to be. The building has no discerning logos and looks incredibly new.
Chris: When did this happen?
-Chris decides to take a peak, keeping his hat low. He walks across the street and up to the front doors. He looks around the block first.
Chris: Oh wow, every house here’s just gone now. That doesn’t make any sense.
-He walks through the sliding glass doors as they ‘shik’ open for him.
-The front lobby is wide open, showing the floors above all the way to the roof. There’s only a single desk with a receptionist sitting with a blank stare.
Chris: Okay… (Walks up to the receptionist). Excuse me-
Receptionist: Welcome to the Brooksboro Annex of Charles Robotics. We are here to assist you in your day-to-day needs.
Chris: Robots…Um, well could you assist me in finding help about-
Receptionist: I’m sorry, all representatives of the company are currently busy. Please reschedule by phoning ahead.
Chris: I just need to know where the previous owners of this…(looks around), house, have gone.
Receptionist: The Brooksboro Annex of Charles Robotics is the newest addition to the Charles Robotics family and part of the Brooksboro Restoration Project, helping to rebuild neighborhoods across the city.
Chris: Right, so where did my grandma go?
Receptionist: I’m sorry, all representatives of the company are currently busy. Please reschedule by phoning ahead.
Chris: (Sigh). Fine, I already phoned ahead. I have an appointment under Chris Collins about the whereabouts of Barbara Collins.
Receptionist: (She skips a beat). Could you please repeat those names?
Chris: Collins. Check for any record of a “Collins” living in this neighborhood before you built this building on top of it.
Receptionist: “Collins” does not-there are-I’m sorry, but all current-ERROR.
Chris: (Takes a step back). What the hell?
-The receptionist begins convulsing as her head shakes violently. She stops and looks back up at Chris, her eyes now red.
Receptionist: Security breech in the front lobby. All available soldiers report to the main lobby.
Chris: She‘s a robot?!
-Various doors open all around the front lobby, allowing wave after wave of Hex-Duo-looking robots to spill into the lobby.
Chris: Hex-Duo robots?! I destroyed you all!
-The main designs of the robots appear to copy the build of Hex-Duo 6 for the most part. They begin madly running at Chris as the receptionist’s head breaks open and turns into a flashing red light with a siren noise.
Chris: If someone doesn’t tell me what I want to know, this block is going to look exactly the way I last saw it.
-Chris starts charging a blast. The robots stop where they are and look at him.
-All robots throw their hands up and instantly fire beams at Chris, throwing him through the front doors.
-Chris lands across the street as the robots pour out of the smashed entryway. He gets up, relatively okay.
Chris: This all feels vaguely familiar to the last time I came home…
-He takes his backpack and his hat off and gets himself ready for a fight.
Chris: All I really needed right now was another robot fight, really.
-As Chris begins to charge a blast again, the robots throw their arms up once more.
Charles: Shutdown code One-Nine-Eight-Six!
-Instantly all the robot arms drop and the group slumps over, deactivated.
-Chris looks hesitantly at the man responsible for the deactivation, having just appeared from inside the building.
Charles: You’re Chris, right?
Chris: That’s right.
Charles: But down the energy beam and come inside. I’d like a word with you.
Chris: Why would I do that?
Charles: Because I can tell you that your grandma’s safe, that’s why. Now come in here.
-Charles walks back inside as Chris looks confused. He drops his hands and runs after Charles, picking up his backpack and hat first.
Charles: We’re heading down to the lower levels. Follow me to the elevator.
Chris: I don’t entirely know about this.
Charles: The only place I can be sure you’re not attacked again is my office, now follow me.
-Charles walks into the elevator and waits. Chris hesitates but decides he doesn’t have a better option, so he walks into the elevator, a glass structure built into a clear elevator shaft.
-Charles nods and presses a series of buttons, causing the doors to close and the elevator to shoot down at a rapid speed.
-Charles closes his eyes and seems to go to his own world.
-Chris latches on to the handles and presses himself to the walls, hating the sudden drop.
-The elevator stops and the doors ding. Charles looks over and sees Chris a bit ruffled.
Charles: What’s wrong?
Chris: I’m not a fan of heights.
Charles: (Smiles). That makes two of us then.
-The two step out of the elevator to a plain concrete hallway that leads to a plain concrete office.
-Charles motions for Chris to sit as he does the same.
Chris: So where’s my grandma. Did you kidnap her or something?
Charles: No, but I assure you that she’s safe.
Chris: Where is she?
Charles: She left before you and your group showed up a few months ago, right before someone blew up the house.
Chris: That someone was Syrus.
Charles: That’d be impossible. He was delivering the remains of Hex-Duo 6 to me at that time.
Chris: (Extremely bothered). What remains? All the Hex-Duo robots were destroyed.
Charles: True. I’m very curious how you destroyed my robots.
Chris: Your robots?
Charles: They were built by Charles Robotics, I happen to be Charles, they’re my robots. So how did you bust all nine of them up?
Chris: Ten. We busted ten of them up.
Charles: No, I’d know that. Hex-Duo model number 7 is still active at this moment, last seen during the Octa-Ranger disaster Octavious insisted on.
Chris: He’s one of ours now, so don’t bother asking for him back.
Charles: That’s fine, he seems to be doing rather well with y’all anyway. No, I just want to know how you knew about Hex-Duo model number 6’s shoulder-joint defect.
Chris: What defect?
Charles: Well the shoulder joints were one of the main places I didn’t have the time or the funding to build properly, so they were a definite weak point in the design. Their integrity buckles the further back they’re pulled. The only other weak points were the eyes. They were just made of glass. I’m surprised you didn’t try just smashing it through the eyes with a pole or something.
Chris: It was a happy coincidence. I don’t care about those robots anymore; I just want to know where my grandma is.
Charles: You realize I can rebuild the Hex-Duo robots. You’ve seen that Hex-Duo 6 is the standard casing for all solider-class robots right now? There are more robots just like those being built at this moment.
Chris: And if I killed you right now, would that solve all these problems?
Charles: Control goes to Octavious in my death, and killing me here and now only manages to make it impossible to get away without every available robot in the complex coming down on you at once. Besides, I’m not even here. This is just a robot body as well.
-Charles taps his head, making a “clang-clang” noise.
Chris: I am so freaking sick of robots.
Charles: So your grandmother.
Chris: So where is she?
Charles: I don’t know where, but I know that she wasn’t in the area when the explosion went off. She was given a tip to evacuate as soon as possible.
Chris: Who sent the message?
Charles: I did.
Chris: How did that go?
Charles: She had some choice words for me, but she listened eventually. Visuals place her time of departure roughly ten minutes before you arrived.
Chris: You had surveillance cameras fixed on my house?
Charles: We have surveillance cameras fixed mostly everywhere at this point, but mostly at your house, yes.
Chris: What’s your interest in her anyway?
Charles: I knew her from a long time ago. The important thing is that she’s not here but she’s okay.
Chris: Well damnit, because I have no clue where she’d go.
Charles: Good. That probably keeps her safer.
Chris: So what’s the trade-off I get for learning this?
Charles: I already asked: How did you know about Hex-Duo model number 6’s shoulder defect?
Chris: And I answered: It was a lucky break, no pun intended.
Charles: Puns are always intended.
Chris: Not always.
Charles: Syrus brought to my attention that you clearly looked at the shoulder joints before dismembering Hex-Duo 6.
Chris: My eyes were probably just darting around and that’s what it looked like.
Charles: Strange, because it really did look like you knew what you were doing.
Chris: Are we done here?
Charles: I want to ask one more thing.
Chris: And it is?
Charles: Wherever you and your friends are hiding, and I don’t want to know where that is, but wherever that may be, just stay there.
Chris: I’d gladly do that, but if something more happens between us and the Demon Regime, we’re going to have to act.
Charles: I realize it’s tempting, but consider that Octavious isn’t in a very stable mind-frame to do something sensible at the moment, say in a week or so.
Chris: What? Look, I get that you clearly work for Octavious but don’t really “work” for him, that’s obvious, but what do you really gain by telling me to be alert for an attack in a week that I should avoid?
Charles: Because you’ll probably only piss Octavious off more if you stop it. Plus, he’s made me work without sleep for the past two months preparing this next one and I’d rather not have it turn out to be an exercise in futility.
Chris: And you think if I’m there then it won’t work?
Charles: Of course, that’s how I build them.
Chris: I don’t quite get what that means but I don’t think I’m supposed to.
Charles: You’re pretty perceptive, aren’t you?
Chris: I just notice more than people give me credit for sometimes. So where do I go now?
Charles: Back to wherever you’ve been hiding, hopefully to stay put for an extended period.
Chris: How do I get to the surface?
Charles: The elevator will take you back up.
Chris: And what if I decide to blow up this facility, maybe to help reduce the chance of “something” happening in a week or so?
Charles: I don’t think you should do that.
Chris: Why not?
Charles: Because it will lead the Demon Regime right to you. I was able to hold the alert from giving away your location with a minor error to the systems but that isn’t going to hold up a second time. You get spotted and the info goes directly to Octavious and his army. I’m not stopping that bunch. I can’t.
Chris: More importantly, why even stop the robots this first time?
Charles: As I stated, if you fought right now, you’d expend a lot of units, making the full-scale attack severely lacking and cause me to have wasted my time. I was okay with the Locust Virus being a waste, and the Hex-Duo robots weren’t something I was proud of, but this time it needs to happen. The sooner this is all over…well the sooner this is all over.
Chris: I’ll consider the option for a by on this fight.
Charles: Please do.
-Chris walks to the elevator with Charles.
Chris: Your robots attack me again, I’ll be fine. I can handle that. They attack my friends or someone else, then we have a problem.
Charles: Stay as far away from the city as you can for as long as you can.
Chris: I can’t and won’t make promises to someone who’s most likely an enemy, however nice he may be at the moment.
Charles: Then you really are perceptive.
Chris: Next time we meet, assuming I’m forced to deal with robots or anything else from your company, I’m not talking nice, either.
Charles: Then I’ll do my best to stay out of your hair.
-Chris takes one last look at Charles, says goodbye with a flick of his hat, and takes the elevator back up, leaving Charles behind.
Charles: Well that went fairly well.
-Charles shuts down, slumping over.
-In another location, the real Charles removes a visor, rubs his eyes, and walks down a hallway to another room.
Syrus: (Still not looking away from the screen). Did he take your advice?
Syrus: Will the Hex-Duo army kill him?
Syrus: Tell Octavious I’ll be late speaking with his rangers.
-Charles nods and leaves the room as Syrus continues watching the footage in slow motion.
-To Be Continued!