"I think we're outnumbered," Alana whispered to Elliot.
"Yeah," Elliot said. He tossed Annabelle to the ground, and grinned in spite of the situation. "Okay big guys, you win. Rudy, drop your weapon."
"Are you serious?" Sheyenne cried, "You came all the way up here just to get us tossed back in the cell?"
"Quiet Sheyenne," Elliot said, "Rudy, drop your weapon."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes." Rudy did as he was told, tossing his Hand Cannon to the ground. The Bionics quickly moved in and picked up the weapons and attempted to crush them, but found themselves unable to and so had two units march off with them.
"Now instead of locking us up, I think it might be within your interests to bring us up to whoever's in charge," Elliot said confidently.
"For what purpose?" a Bionic asked.
"You don't think he'd be interested in meeting the Sheriff of Raven Gulch?" Elliot asked. The Bionics went oddly quiet as they processed this information. As Elliot had hoped his reputation was still a memory in their altered minds.
"Plus I have a Sonitas here, and three extra-dimensional people, one a synthdroid and two of them ARMs users. I think as a whole our group would be of great interest to whoever's in charge," Elliot finished.
The Bionics seemed to be processing his argument and at last some lowered their weapons, while others moved forwards to keep them all at gunpoint. "Your argument possesses some logic," one Bionic said, "You will be taken to the Planner."
"Nice name," Elliot said sarcastically.
"Before we get moving," Alana said quietly, "There's one thing I'd like to do."
"What's that?" Elliot asked. Quite suddenly he felt her grab him by the collar of his coat and pull him into a full, and frankly a rather passionate, kiss. Needless to say he was surprised, even when she pulled away, but quickly broke into a grin.
"I needed to do that," Alana said, "Okay, let's go."
"Told you the ladies love me," Elliot said to Sheyenne as they walked amidst the guards.
"You're really not very good at timing are you?" Sheyenne replied, "We're being taken to their boss, at you insistence, and you're talking about girls. I like that subject too, but I prefer to talk about it at the bar, not in the middle of a factory of evil robots."
"Cyborgs. They're a metal body constructed around an organic nervous system with the brain cybernetically altered to suppress emotions, thus the name 'Bionic'," Elliot explained.
"Talking will cease," a Bionic ordered and the group fell into silence as they were led through the facility, a maze of steel halls and elevators that carried them up and towards the center of the facility.
Finally they came to a pair of large, steel doors that opened for the Bionics who roughly shoved them all inside. Their escorts then turned away as the doors closed and left them in the room, which had plenty of guards anyways.
The room was pretty basic, just a rather small, rectangular box of steel. In the middle of the wall to their left was the main feature though, an indent with a dais on which sat a two tiered ziggurat-shaped computer with an egg-shaped glass case on the top. In the case with wires running from it through the case and into the computer was a brain. A brain with sections of it replaced with metal implants. Arching over the cyborg-computer was a large version of the crests on the heads of the Bionics, complete with a light suspended between the two ends of the crest.
"You're the boss I take it," Elliot said.
"The Sheriff of Raven Gulch," the cyborg-computer said, its voice slightly more grating than its minions, but just as electronic and emotionless. Its light flashed with each syllable as it spoke. "I was told you would be coming."
"Told I would be coming?" Elliot asked.
"Correct. It was a human male child of approximately your age bearing a black coat. He seemed to know you."
Elliot was perplexed; he'd never met anyone that really fit that description. A bit strange really. He had more important things to worry about at the moment though. A plan was beginning to form in his head, there was only the one crucial detail of executing it that he hadn't worked out. The Planner Guards that flanked the Planner and surrounded the room had rather more powerful weapons on them, and he doubted even he could survive more than a couple shots from them.
"So is this your plan or Thorne's?" Elliot asked.
"If you wish to inquire with me on something then you will have to be more specific," the Planner replied.
"He means turning people into these things," Sheyenne said, his short temper flaring up.
"Quiet down Sheyenne," Elliot said. "Bionic-Planner, I refer to the removal of the human nervous system and bionically binding it to a cybernetic body, and the doing so of this on a massive scale."
"The plan was invented by Thorne as his ultimate goal. It is why he had his crime ring in the first place. Thorne is no more however. He has been processed into the master of the Bionic race."
"Is he more mobile than you?" Elliot asked, "It's a bit of a stupid move really; trading out your bipedal body for a motionless computer and brain-case."
"This is only a step towards perfection," the Planner said, actually sounding angry.
"Why take a step when you can just jump like you made these people? Or is the terrible Ashwater Raider too chickenshit to do that?"
"Why are you antagonizing him?" Sheyenne whispered.
"You don't give me enough credit Sheyenne," Elliot replied.
"Imbecile," the Planner said, showing clear signs of anger, "You are at my mercy and you dare to mock me. I will show you pain beyond what you can imagine for your insults."
"And yet you're even getting angry, are you sure those modifications are in properly?" Elliot asked.
"The process is incomplete, but it is complete enough that I can prevent these troublesome emotions from being tainting the perfection of my minions," the Planner said.
"So theoretically emotions could be transmitted to them from that computer?" Elliot asked.
"That is correct. Now guards, kill them, but leave the Sheriff, he could still prove useful." The Bionic guards advanced, with weapons ready to destroy them and purposely leaving Elliot outside their firing range.
"Woah, woah, woah," Elliot said, getting in between them in the group, even as Rudy, Alana and Cecilia prepared to fight. "There's something you should know before you do this. You see, I've been pondering a little something that happened prior to my town's destruction. It took me a while to understand it and I've been thinking about it since I left."
"Enough of this," the Planner said.
"No, no, hang on for a second," Elliot insisted, "So I've realized it has something to do with portal energy, and as it would turn out there's still some residual energy around here due to a recent portal that opened nearby." With that purple energy crackled around his fingers before he blasted the Bionics with purple lightning that tore through each of them and caused them to shudder and collapse to the ground.
"Woah," Sheyenne said, sounding impressed.
"Only enough energy to do that," Elliot whispered to the group.
"Alright Planner guy," Sheyenne said, "You gonna surrender to us, or are you gonna make us blow your brain apart?"
"Excuse me," Elliot said indignantly, "Who's the leader here?"
"You were taking too long to say it."
"Do you think I would place all my protection in guard units?" the Planner asked. From the sides of his casing emerged a pair of barrels and they fired, striking Elliot right in the chest. He felt like someone was forcing a branding iron through him, only larger and hotter. He also felt the force of a crashing speeder smash into him and send him flying back against the wall of room.
"Elliot!" Alana cried, hurrying over to him. "Are you okay?"
"Yup," Elliot said drunkenly and getting to his feet, only to collapse again, "Nope," he amended. "Hey Alana, you're all fuzzy and spinning," he said and he fell limp into unconsciousness.
"Hi-Shield!" Cecilia cried, and a column of light flashed around each of them and vanished, leaving them with a faint glow around them; all of them that is except for Elliot.
"I wonder why he-" Rudy started.
"Wonder later!" Sheyenne yelled as the Planner aimed his cannons at them. They jumped aside and narrowly avoided being blasted like Elliot had been. With the protection spell they were as shielded as he was, but clearly the Planner's shots were designed to take out opponents with high durability. Two shots in a row from the cannons and any of them would be toast. And the cannons were mobile enough to shoot them anywhere in the room.
Cecilia was trying to chant a spell, but shots rang out if she stayed still too long. Rudy meanwhile had trouble aiming a shot and not getting blasted apart. The worst thing for him was there was no way to heal him if he was too badly injured. Alana wasn't sure what she should do. As part sonitas she figured she might be able to do something, but it also might injure everyone else. "Cover your ears!" she cried.
"Why?" Cecilia asked.
"Just do it!" The moment they did she let out a piercing shriek, a sound that hardly matched a normal scream, or anything besides white noise. It was louder than anything Shyenne, Rudy or Cecilia had heard before. It made their teeth hurt and their bones vibrate, and even with their ears covered they could hear it.
It did something to the Planner. It could hear in some way, and the sound stunned it. Alana finished her scream and the Planner was still in its case, the whole construct seemed to have gone into standby. "My turn," Rudy said, aiming his Hand Cannon and firing. The shell flew straight and true and exploded... but it only cracked the casing. The slight shimmer of energy showed that there was a force field around the construct, though the shell was powerful enough to still cause damage.
"Hi-Flame," Cecilia cried, sending whirling jets of flame twisting around each other to strike the casing. The impact caused a crack to appear down the center of the casing, but not destroy it.
"Enough!" the Planner cried, aiming his cannons at them, "This has gone on long enough. I am invulnerable to your attacks. Now surrender or die."
"Never!" Sheyenne cried as a whip of energy struck the casing and shattered it, leaving the brain inside exposed to the elements. The others saw Sheyenne standing near Elliot with the sheriff's whip in his hand.
"No! What have you done!" the Planner cried, shortly before Rudy shot it with his hand cannon. It exploded into bits of grey matter and cybernetics, leaving the computer behind.
"Oww," Elliot groaned, stirring into consciousness.
"Elliot!" Alana cried, running over to help him up.
"I'm okay," he rasped, his throat felt sore, and there was a large, painful burn on his chest.
"Heal," Cecilia said, causing warm light to flow through Elliot and immediately he felt better, though the burn was still there, his insides didn't feel burnt anymore.
"Thanks Cecilia," he said, "And good job everyone."
"There's something strange about your whip," Sheyenne said, handing it back, "It feels almost like an ARM."
"Don't be ridiculous," Elliot said, holstering the weapon, "I'm not trained in the use of ARMs, and it's as sentient as the floor."
"Are you sure?"
"You're just missing Batour," Elliot said simply, "Now that we got this computer, we can execute my plan. We just plug me in and I can force some emotion into the Bionics, and it'll overload them and make them blow up."
"How're you going to plug yourself in?" Cecilia asked.
"There should be some wires around here," Elliot said, "If I can make them work like electrodes... or I could somehow attach them to my brain."
"You're kidding," Alana said nervously.
"No, but it shouldn't be necessary to do that." He fiddled with some of the wires that the Planner had been attached to. They had been attached directly to his brain, and were thus designed to attach to nerves directly, not to transmit through a skull. Still, with Alana and Cecilia's help he was able to re-fashion them into crude, but operational, electrodes. Cecilia used some extra crests to form the attachment points and Alana pieced everything together once Elliot had finished tinkering with it. Then they placed the electrodes across his forehead. "This is exciting," he said gleefully.
"What?" Alana asked, confused.
"I love technology, if I could become a cyborg without it ruining my good looks, I'd do it," Elliot said, "Then I'd... well it'd be cool." He took a deep breath and focused his thoughts into the computer system, trying to log into the system. 'New user: Elliot,' he thought, or said, into the computer.
'New user: Elliot is incompatible with this unit. Only biomechanical or mechanical subjects may interface with this unit,' a voice replied.
"What!" Elliot cried aloud, sounding disappointed.
"What is it?" Cecilia asked.
"It won't accept an organic subject," Elliot whined, "So not fair."
"Then what do we do? The destruction of a leader in a force like this will only cause one of the units to be re-assigned," Alana said.
"You're good," Elliot said with a grin, "Sexy body and mind, I'm liking it." At this Alana blushed brightly while Elliot pulled the electrodes off his head. "At any rate you're right. They have to be destroyed, and the prisoners need to be released."
"What about me?" Rudy asked quietly.
"What about you?" Elliot replied, confused.
"What if you connected me to the computer? I'm mechanical when it comes down to it, so it would accept me wouldn't it?"
"No," Elliot said, "It's too dangerous."
"You did it," Rudy replied.
"That's my own life at risk. I can't ask someone to do that."
"I don't care. You're not doing it."
"Just because you think you're smarter and better looking than everyone else doesn't mean you're the only one worthy of putting their life on the line," Rudy snapped, unusual for him, "You can't order us not to help if we want to, and you're not the only one who gets to be the 'hero'!"
Elliot's mouth hung open at this and he was sure he could hear Sheyenne silently cheering. He'd never had anybody talk back to him, nobody except criminals anyways. This had never happened to him before, and he wasn't sure how to respond. "Yes," he said after a notable pause, "A synthdroid should be compatible."
Rudy stepped up to the computer system where they attached the electrodes to his head. "What exactly are the dangers of this anyways?" Rudy asked.
"If it has defences they could attack you and wipe out your consciousness," Elliot explained, "And any sort of energy spike could be damaging as well."
"But since the previous subject was removed it should be perfectly accepting of a new one," Alana said, "It didn't seem to mind Elliot."
"That's true," Elliot agreed, "Alright Rudy, access the command system."
"Accessing," Rudy said, stating himself as a new user to the system, "Okay so I'm in, now what?"
"Think of something that makes you emotional. I don't care if it's an extremely happy memory, an extremely upsetting one, it doesn't matter. I want you to transmit to every Bionic unit within range. The idea is to use your emotions and transmit them into the Bionics. They've been cybernetically altered to suppress emotions so a large influx will fry them and make them shut down."
"Or blow up," Alan added.
"Yeah I was leaving that part out for a reason. And if that happens it'll just be a gooey mess."
"What's something that makes me real emotional?" Rudy asked aloud.
"Simple," Elliot said, and before anyone could react he had his lips on Cecilia's, who was so shocked that it took her a moment to react. When she did she pushed Elliot away furiously.
"What the hell are you doing!" she yelled furiously.
"Provoking an emotional response from Rudy," Elliot replied, quietly enough so Rudy couldn't hear. The synthdroid looked like he was barely containing his anger, and that was a sign of success for Elliot. "Transmit Rudy!" he cried, "And hurry before you figure out what that was and calm down."
"How could you-" Rudy started.
"Just do it!" Elliot ordered. Rudy transmitted his rage and fury at seeing Cecilia, his girlfriend, treated so disrespectfully, not to mention Elliot's constant ordering him around. Almost immediately the entire factory seemed to tremble and cries of Bionics crying out as emotions flooded through their brains echoed through the halls. "And unlock all the cells," Elliot added quickly, "All the prisoners need to be able to get out, and then set the place on a ten minute self-destruct."
"Done, done, and done," Rudy said. A siren began blaring and the lights flashed red unison. An electronic voice announced the ten minute countdown across the facility and encouraged everyone to evacuate. Rudy pulled off the electrodes and immediately punched Elliot across the face, sending the younger boy right into the ground.
"Okay I probably deserved that," Elliot muttered as he got to his feet and clutched his cheek. "Look, I was just trying to get you emotional."
"And you couldn't think of another way?" Rudy asked angrily.
"Not right then," Elliot said, "I'm sorry, both of you, but we have to move. Now!"
"We need to find Batour!" Sheyenne cried.
"Oh yeah," Elliot muttered. "And I need Annabelle back."
"Don't worry, I remembered to check where our stuff is," Rudy said, "Come on, follow me."
"But we only have ten minutes," Elliot protested as they dashed through the corridors.
"I ignored you and set it to twenty minutes instead," Rudy explained, "I also found that all the walls are capable of projecting holographic directions, so I made some for the prisoners to help them escape."
"How's that ego holding up?" Sheyenne asked Elliot teasingly.
"Shut up," Elliot replied. They came to the room with the confiscated equipment. Not much seemed to actually be confiscated, and it was easy to find Annabelle, Batour and the Hand Cannon. Once the three boys were re-equipped they made for the hangars, once again following Rudy's directions.
The halls were a mess. The exploded Bionics left preserving liquid, shredded brains and burnt metal. They ignored it, moved to the elevators and then they were going up. Elliot couldn't help feeling worried about the prisoners, but he doubted he had time to check on them. The elevators stopped and they moved through the corridors to the hangars, with ten minutes left to spare.
"Finally!" Elliot heard Lyla yell at them as they entered a hangar that was almost as much a mess as the halls. She was running towards them from a small, sleek aircraft that looked like it could only hold three people. "What the hell is going on? All of those things just suddenly had seizures and exploded."
Elliot ignored her and looked around the hangar. It wasn't particularly different from any other hangar, and nearby was the control box that would open the hangar doors. There were numerous aircraft scattered throughout the place as well, more than enough for them to escape. "Lyla you pilot one plane, I'll pilot another," he said, "Sheyenne and Alana are with me, Rudy and Cecilia are with Lyla."
"Who're these two?" Lyla asked, pointing to Rudy and Cecilia.
"We can talk later, this place is going to blow," Elliot said, "Everyone get into one of the aircraft, I'll go open the doors." Everyone hurried to their locations while Elliot opened the hangar doors, showing a runway of sorts with a light far at the end.
With that done Elliot hurried back to his plane and checked to make sure everyone was present. Then he started to vehicle and they shot down the runway, with five minutes left until the facility exploded. They shot out into the air and Elliot almost immediately looped them around to the front of the facility where he was glad to see a large crowd of people moving away from the mesa as fast as they could. "You with me Lyla?" he asked into the mini-comm.
"Yes, we're fine here, and it seems so is everyone else. Now let's get clear before this place blows." They set course for Ashwater and Elliot made a note to come back later for his speeder and Sheyenne's other clothes. The sound of explosions behind him heralded the end of the Bionic facility and Elliot focused on bringing Alana home.