Hey! Apparently I'm not busy enough. I decided that, since discovering the reboot of Max Steel, I'd write some self-insertish fanfic, as there is a remarkably small section for this show and its predecessor (sad).
So hear it is! The story that is marked, in my Drive, as 'The Ultra Rambly Story'! Hopefully it's not that rambly.
Disclaimer: I do not own Max Steel, Max Steel (2013), Ultra-links, the universe I play in, or anything to do with this show. The only thing I own is my lovely little witchy OC and her two friends. :)
I hummed, dancing around my admittedly small room. The house was near downtown Denver, close enough that I could take an hour bus ride and be at the 16th Street Mall.
I was getting ready to head out. It was Halloween, and my friends and I were all going as storybook characters to hand out candy to random people on the street. I had pulled Little Red Riding Hood, so I was wearing a black knee-length dress, white tights, and a blood red cloak. The dress had a poofy underskirt, to help me appear younger, like the actual Red Riding Hood. "Granny's Basket" was already full of a half-bag of assorted candies, and I had another bag and a half tucked in my shoulder bag.
I hopped over the dog gate, checking that I had everything - phone, wallet, sketchbook, candy, and my laptop, all packed and ready to go.
My best friends were already at the mall, as I had to work a late shift and set up for the first night of the full moon the next day and couldn't join them.
My phone rang and I dug it out.
"Where are you, chica? It's almost seven and you said you'd be here half an hour ago," Esperanza complained.
Esperanza was 18, a year older than me, and worked at her dad's company as his secretary. She had her own apartment, and shared with the third member of our trio, Genevieve. Esperanza was an inch or two taller than my five foot three, and showed her part Mexican descent.
"Sorry! Set up took longer than I thought it would, so I'm just now attempting to get out the door," I replied. "Harder to do when someone calls me!"
"Tell her to just put on her damn boots and get out here," I heard Genevieve grouse in the background.
Genevieve, Gen to her friends, was a short 19 year old of decidedly Irish descent. She also loved kickboxing and made Esperanza and I join her classes. She often joked that we were related, as I was a Pagan witch who followed some of the Celtic pantheon.
"These 'damn boots' are why I'll be able to walk tomorrow," I sniffed as I walked to the door and pulled them out of the shoe rack.
They were hella comfortable riding shoes, designed to slip on and make sure your feet didn't hate you after a long day. I loved them.
I slipped them on and told my friends I was on my way after I turned off the bathroom lights.
My phone went back in the special pocket in the cloak and I headed towards the bathroom, hopping over the gate. I tried to keep my lights off, as I wasn't paying the electric bill.
I clicked the bathroom light off and started for the door for the third time, only to freeze as the power went out.
"Dammit!" I groaned, fishing my phone out and turning on the light.
Storms had been on the forecast, but we all had been hoping it'd just be cloudy.
I groaned again and went to take a step forward, only to slip on something and crack my head on the edge of the gate.
I winced as I woke up. I had a killer headache, and I dreaded opening my eyes.
"How much did I drink last night?" I sighed, twitching into a ball in an attempt to escape the nauseating pain.
"I don't know," a cheerful and half-familiar voice answered, "but it was enough you decided that a trip into the canyon was a good idea."
I cracked an eye open and hissed at the evil, evil light, flinching away and covering my head. "Ow."
"I can imagine," a new voice said dryly, half-familiar as well.
I carefully opened my eye and gingerly sat up when it didn't feel like someone was assaulting me with a two by four. There were three guys sitting at the foot of the bed I was on. Two looked young, one in a blue jacket, the other in a sleeveless lab coat over body armor. The third was older and had a chest plate with a crack near the left shoulder. Their appearances niggled something in my brain, but the blinding headache I had kept me from functioning anywhere near a normal human.
I did, however, catch one thing.
"Wait, canyon? There aren't any canyons near here…" I muttered to myself, attempting to rub the pain out of my head.
I nearly screamed as I hit a bump and my head exploded into a new wave of incapacitating pain. The three guys jumped as I let out a high-pitched whine and almost fell over.
"Are you alright?" the first speaker, lab-coat guy, asked anxiously, jumping forward to steady me.
I whimpered as the pain took its time subsiding. "No, no I am not, not at all, dios mio, ow, ow, owwww."
Blue Jacket shared a glance with Screwed-Up Body Armor, before stepping forward to point out some pain pills and a glass of water. "I'll go get an ice pack, I guess."
He left, leaving me with Lab Coat and Body Armor. I shakily reached for the water and the pain pills and swallowed the pills dry.
I sipped the water, waiting for my headache to quit hurting quite as much.
Lab Coat waited for me to set the water down before asking, "Can you tell us anything? Do you have amnesia?"
I gave him a weird look. "Why would I have amnesia?"
Body Armor answered. "Because you seem to have forgotten where we are. After all, we are near a canyon."
I snorted. "But there aren't any canyons near Denver."
Lab Coat's eyes widened. "You think we're in Denver?"
I looked between him and Body Armor. "Um, yeah. I assumed I was in some sort of hospital."
"No, no you're not," Body Armor said heavily. "What's the last thing you remember?"
I tilted my head back, wincing slightly as my new bump twinged. "Well, I was getting ready to go hand out candy with Esperanza and Gen when Esperanza called. She wanted to know where I was, because I had agreed to meet with them at six thirty and it was almost seven. I told her set up for my spells took longer than I thought, and that I was heading out just then. I had to go back to turn off my bathroom light, and then there was a power outage. I slipped on something in the dark and hit my head on the dog gate. That's the last thing I remember."
They both stared at me as I looked around, remembering my phone. "Wait, where's my phone? I had it when I went down! Gen and Ran are probably freaking out, especially if I didn't show!"
I quickly patted my clothes down, freezing for a second when I saw that I was still Little Red, then continuing the search for my phone. I was still wearing my bag, so I slid it off to do a quick check. Everything was still there, so I continued my search.
When I didn't find it on my immediate person, I slid off the bed to continue looking.
Unfortunately, the change in position almost sent me to the ground, and only Lab Coat and Body Armor leaping to my rescue kept me from ending up as a heap on the ground.
"Maybe you should hold off on the walking," Lab Coat suggested wryly.
I grinned sheepishly. "Maybe."
I settle back and fluffed my cloak around me, accidentally smacking against the secret pocket. Instead of flowing like I thought it would, it showed a distinctly rectangular shape and I stared at it.
"My phone!" I yelped and pulled it out.
I sighed in relief at the unbroken screen of my Note II. A quick check revealed my stylus. I hit the power button on the side and swiped my passcode, frowning at the lack of messages.
"That's strange," I muttered. "Usually I get yelled at if I don't text one of them every hour…"
I called Esperanza first, tapping my foot impatiently against the leg of the bed as the phone rang.
Finally Ran picked up. "Hello?"
I grinned at her familiar voice. "Hey, Esperanza! Sorry about missing last night. I hit the dog gate."
"Who is this?"
I blinked. "Wait, what?"
"I'm sorry," my best friend of five years told me, "but I think you have the wrong number and the wrong Esperanza."
With that she hung up. I pulled my phone away from my ear and stared at it in shock.
"What the actual hell?"
"Um, I know you're upset, but could you please quit ignoring me?" Lab Coat tried to get my attention.
It had been half an hour since Esperanza told me she didn't know who I was. In that time, I had curled up and refused to acknowledge Lab Coat and Body Armor's increasingly frustrated attempts to get me to talk to them.
"Could you at least tell us your name?" Body Armor sighed. "Your family's probably worried about you."
I uncurled enough to glare at him. "My name is Kathryn Callaghan. Can I go back to wallowing in self pity now?"
Body Armor shrugged. "No. We need to know what you were doing outside in the canyon."
I sat up fully and threw my hands up. "I told you earlier! I don't know! I certainly don't know why my best friend is pretending she knows me! More importantly, I don't even know where I am!"
"Copper Canyon," Lab Coat helpfully supplied.
I stopped and turned to him, fingers twitching. "Not. Helpful. Copper Canyon is a canyon in Mexico and a small residential area in Texas."
"No, we're in Copper Canyon, Arizona," Lab Coat corrected me.
I twitched, then pulled up Google Maps. "Funnily enough, Google Maps disagrees. See?"
With that, I held up my phone with the search results. It showed the results for the Copper Canyon in Mexico and the Copper Canyon in Texas, as well as various restaurants and streets with the same name.
Body Armor leaned in close and frowned. "Yeah, well, there's a Copper Canyon in Arizona, and that's where we are."
I facepalmed. "Whatever."
Just then, Blue Jacket stepped back through the door, holding the promised ice pack. "Why is it so hard to find one of these?"
I blinked at him, then gestured around me. "Med Bay. Most likely candidate for having ice packs."
He scowled. "Here."
I caught the gently tossed pack and gingerly pressed it to my bump, wincing at the flare of pain
before sighing at the relief. "Thank the gods."
Blue Jacket leaned against the wall by the door and joined the other two in watching me. "You're welcome."
I blinked at him. "Thank you. I'm Kathryn. My friends usually call me Ryn."
Lab Coat suddenly looked sheepish. "Oh, yeah. We didn't introduce ourselves. Lo siento."
I shrugged. "Está bien. Como es su nombre?"
He grinned at me. "Estoy Berto."
I couldn't help but smile back. "Hi, Berto. Nice to meet you."
Body Armor grunted. "I'm Commander Ferrus."
At that, my good cheer went straight to cold suspicion. "Uh huh."
I turned to Blue Jacket, my eyes gleaming. "Don't tell me. Your name is Max."
He looked stunned and nodded. I scowled.
"This is the worst joke I've ever heard."
I hopped off the bed, steadying myself and missing the stunned stupid looks on my three watchers' faces. I started pacing, ignoring the swish of my cloak.
"What are you talking about?" Body Armor, whom I refused to acknowledge as Forge Ferrus, asked me, confusion and distrust coloring his tone.
I flailed. "Copper Canyon, Berto, Ferrus, Max - this is ridiculous! Is this some sort of prank?!"
"What are you talking about?!" Max repeated, sounding incredibly confused.
I stopped and pointed at him. "There is no way your name can be Max McGrath, because that is the name of a character of a TV show!"
Now all three looked confused. I sighed and pulled out my phone again, going to Google Images this time and typing in 'max steel 2013' and flipped my phone around.
"This show. What are the chances that I wake up in an area with three important characters of this show?"
Once again, Body Armor leaned in, this time joined by Lab Coat and Blue Jacket.
"Huh," Blue Jacket said and leaned back.
Lab Coat reached forward and scrolled down, blinking surprise at what I assumed was his "namesake's" picture.
Body Armor grunted and scrolled down, only to raise his eyebrow and back away. "A TV show, huh?"
I nodded, eying him warily. "More of a cartoon, really. It's all CGI."
He grunted. "I don't believe you."
I nodded. "Okay. I'll go now then."
With that, I attempted to leave, only to be blocked by all three. I looked at them, annoyed.
"Right, right, can't see N-Tek, huh?" I scowled again and walked away from them to stare at the wall on the far side of the room morosely.
A large bag caught my eye and I went to investigate. A quick check inside revealed it was half full with several changes of clothes on top of a bunch of wires. I felt my eyes widen as I recognized the clothes as mine. The wires underneath were a charger for my laptop, my good headphones, my charging cord and wall socket for my phone.
I sat back and stared at it. "What."
"We found that with you," Lab Coat told me, walking closer. "We figured it was yours."
I shook my head. "I've never seen the bag, but the stuff inside is mine."
I hesitated. "Is there somewhere I can change? This is a costume, after all."
Lab Coat pointed to a door in the wall I was facing and I hoisted the bag over my shoulder and went in. A quick shuffle of the clothes revealed the standard clothes I wore to school, and I quickly pulled on my Autobot shirt and a pair of jeans. My feet went back into my boots and I folded the dress and the cloak in half and tucked it into the bag.
Now in more comfortable clothes, I scrubbed the little makeup I had worn off my face and left the bathroom. Body Armor was talking with a muscular black man who had brought in a computer. The whoosh of the door made them both turn to me, and with a nod to Body Armor, the new guy left.
"Who was that?" Lab Coat asked me, eagerly curious to see if I knew.
I took a step back. "If what you say is true, probably Jefferson Smith."
He beamed at me and I shuffled around him, eying him.
I placed the bag next to my shoulder bag and sat back on the bed. "What's that for?"
Body Armor pointed at me. "To show you the truth. Then maybe you'll tell us the truth."
I flipped him off, frustrated suddenly. "I have been!"
Lab Coat and Blue Jacket winced as Body Armor swelled in anger.
I flopped back and ignored him, pulling out my good headphones and plugging them into my phone to listen to music.
He growled and whacked my foot to "get my attention". I kicked him in response and sat up again. "Let's see this 'proof', then."
He rubbed his arm where I hit him and turned the computer so I could see only for me to go, "Uh… I can't read that."
I got weird looks from all three of them as I pointed at the screen. "It looks like wingdings and hieroglyphics had a baby that got whacked with the confusing stick."
"What alphabet do you normally use?" Lab Coat asked before Body Armor could say anything.
I pulled out my sketchbook and flipped to a blank page, writing down the romanized alphabet. "Ta da."
Lab Coat looked at it and said, "It's safe to assume it follows the pattern - abcd and so on, yes?"
I hummed in agreement and handed over my pen. He took the book and quickly wrote next to my alphabet. When I took it back, I saw a new alphabet had been written next to it - and it was similar to pigpen coding.
"Oh, that makes everything a lot clearer," I said, my eyes wide.
"How so?" Blue Jacket asked me.
"It's similar to a code style I used to use to pass notes with my friends," I answered absently as I used my new key to start decoding what was displayed on the computer.
My eyes widened as I read. It essentially was just a map, but it clearly showed that there was indeed a Copper Canyon in Arizona. It also showed that the only Kathryn Callahan had died at 60 three years ago in Seattle.
"You spelled my name wrong," I pointed at the screen. "It's A-G-H-A-N, not A-H-A-N."
Lab Coat walked over and tapped some of the holo-buttons, causing a loading box to pop up. I went back to translating, which were very much so edited files for Roberto Martinez, Forge Ferrus, and Max McGrath.
I turned and looked at Lab Coat, a deadpan look on my face. "You were born in Spain. Of course."
The computer beeped and I turned back, translating immediately. Lab Coat gasped, and I turned to look at him, confused, before I went back.
As I worked, I felt my eyes widen. "Holy shit."
"What?" Body Armor asked. "What is it?"
I read off my translated paper. "Kathryn Callaghan, born December 31st, 1997. That is my birthdate. But… I'm not dead."
Blue Jacket and Body Armor looked at each other. Lab Coat spoke up next.
"Kathryn Callaghan died April 15th, 2003. She was hit by a car and broke her spine in three places."
I stared at the paper, confused beyond belief. "Okay, that didn't happen. I remember it clearly. The car just grazed me. It broke my arm and gouged out a good portion of it. But it didn't hit me."
Blue Jacket frowned. "Wait, you remember an accident that killed you? Maybe you're a ghost!"
I made a face at him and held up my right arm to display the three faint lines. "Yeah, totally."
"Those are really faint," Lab Coat said doubtfully.
I rolled my eyes. "Coconut oil reduces scarring. I hate what these scars stand for and the memory they bring back, so first my mom then I have been applying it all these years. It's pretty cool what it can do."
Body Armor sighed and rubbed his forehead. "How can we convince you that all of this is real?"
I tilted my head and offered, "Steel. If this is real, there's a smart aleck floating AI around here somewhere."
"Steel?" Body Armor seemed surprised.
I shrugged. "Yeah. N'Baro Aksteel X377. He's an Omega Class Bio-Parasitic Subjugation Warrior."
There was a swirl of blue from the symbol on Blue Jacket and out came Steel. "You know who and what I am?"
My face went pale and my mouth dropped. "¿Qué coño?"
I lay back staring at the ceiling. "Well, fuck."
"You said that already," Lab Coat - Berto, because after seeing Steel, I really couldn't deny it anymore - said, amused.
I propped myself and stared at him, unamused. "Don't you have a robot to go tamper with? So, you know, he doesn't break next time you go into battle?"
Max snorted. "CY.T.R.O.? That thing won't break."
I pointed a finger at him. "Running gag. That thing breaks essentially every time it goes out. It is rarer for it not to than it is for it to."
Berto scowled. "Aw, man."
Forge shifted. "We aren't leaving until we understand why you're here."
I shrugged. "I'm in favor of massive hallucination, you know?"
"Hallucination?" Max sounded confused.
"I take offense to that," Berto scowled.
I sighed. "I'm sorry, but, from my perspective, it makes the most sense. I whack my head pretty hard and wake up in an alternate dimension that consists of a world I regularly watch on Netflix? Highly unlikely."
"Maybe your experiences before are the hallucination," Berto suggested.
I eyed Forge. "I can start reciting classified information, if that helps. Even things you don't know. For instance, Makino is blue."
Forge paled as Max frowned. "Who's Makino?"
I smiled cheerfully. "Bad guy that eats planets. Really mean too."
Forge interrupted me. "That's more than they need to know!"
I sighed and flopped back. "You do realize that, by not telling them, you're creating potentially hazardous situations in which they compromise your security by attempting to find the truth by themselves… right?"
Berto poked me. "What I want to know is why CY.T.R.O. keeps breaking."
I said lazily, "He gets shoved onto rock spikes, smashed, goo-ified, bodyslammed, used as a mace, and swatted around. General wear and tear, especially when you work with a superhero."
Forge interrupted both Max and Berto's exclamations. "I still don't believe you. There's no proof what you say, and as for what you know, you could have hacked into our files."
I sat up again and looked at him. "The best thing to prove I'm right, and for that, I need to know what's happened so I can orient myself. Who have you faced so far? Max has Steel, so that means THI isn't under Dredd and Naught's control anymore, but I can't really tell much more than that."
Max shrugged. "I've faced Toxzon."
I looked at him patiently. "How many times?"
"Twice," Forge told me.
I nodded. "Elementors?"
"Earth and Fire," this time it was Berto. "Why?"
I waved a hand. "Not important. Was Butch a hero already?"
"Yeah. What does that mean?"
I grinned. "That means sewer monsters!"
Thirty minutes later, after giving vague details about what happened, which led to an argument between Forge and me ("We need more than that!" "I can't tell you more!" "Why not?!" "For the same reason you aren't telling Max and Steel everything!" "...Fine!" "Fine!"), I was being led around by N-Tek by Berto and Max. Forge was following along, making sure they didn't show me anything too classified.
I leaned close to Berto. "¿Es él siempre esta paranoico?"
He snorted and responded, "Sí. Y él habla español."
I blinked. "Mierda."
"Exactly," Forge said, sounding satisfied.
I hastily changed the subject. "Why don't you have, like, any inspiring art or something? The walls are very… white."
"We do," Berto told me. "There's a holo-statue of Max's dad near the ground entrance."
"It's pretty cool," Max said, grinning. "Wanna see it?"
"I don't think that counts as art, per se, but lead the way," I shrugged.
And so they did.
The holo-statue was very impressive.
"Holy crap, that's a big hologram," I stared up at it, wide-eyed. "Also, you look like your dad, Max."
Max smiled proudly, but deflated when Forge muttered, "If only he had his personality."
I snickered. "Beautiful. Hey, what day is it?"
Berto poked me. "November first."
"Oh. Cool," I said, perking up. "That means I can set up the talismans tonight and activate them tomorrow."
"Talismans?" Forge asked.
I nodded. "I'm a pagan witch. I'm also fairly certain the protections I had set up didn't cross over, so that means I need to set up new ones."
"Can I get some of those?" Berto asked. "There are a lot of dangerous things out there."
At that, I paused. "You never leave N-Tek. Like, ever."
Berto pouted and I sighed. "Can I leave now? There's no point in me staying here and I need to work on getting back."
Max leaned against the wall. "From the way you were talking, I thought you'd be excited to be here."
I sat on the floor, wincing at the soreness of my legs. "Well, yeah. I am a fangirl. But this is a bit too close to Mary Sue-ishness for me to be comfortable."
Max and Berto joined me on the floor as Forge came over to lean on the base of the holo-statue. "'Mary Sue-ishness'?"
I nodded. "Yeah. It's a fanfiction term, used to describe two-dimensional 'perfect' girls. The male equivalent is either Gary Stu or Marty Stu. I prefer Gary Stu, myself."
"And how are you close to being a… Mary Sue?" Berto asked, hesitating.
I wrinkled my nose. "How it usually works is some perfect character falls into a story, or is already there, and meets up with a main. She and this main fall in love, or, if the author's feeling angsty, deny their love and drag it out into waaaay too much angsty pining, which is awful. She's perfect, has superpowers, and-slash-or amazing fighting abilities that are completely inaccurate for her age and description. A Mary Sue's hair is blond, black, or some 'natural' color that is completely not. They're ridiculously beautiful, can usually sing and dance perfectly, know everything, and are capable of saving hardened warriors with a flutter of their impossibly perfect and long lashes. In short, they're el diablo."
All three looked mildly terrified and I snickered. "Don't worry though. I don't think we'll have to deal with any right now. As for me being a Mary Sue, well. The only thing that lines up so far is falling into the world. I can't fight, I'm so plain I'm borderline ugly, and I can only sing and dance decently."
They all relaxed at that point. I stretched up and rolled my shoulders, shaking out the muscles and popping my joints. Forge gestured for three of us to follow him and we stood. He led us down a series of twists and turns and I sighed as I instantly lost my way. It would take many hours of roaming to set up a mental map for me to use to navigate.
We finally stopped inside the com room.
I waved absently. "Hi. I'm Ryn. You two are Jefferson Smith and Kat Ryan."
The pair of them gave me weird looks. I smiled cheerfully at them then turned to Forge.
"Why are we here and can I blow something up?"
Max snickered as Forge groaned. "No, you can't blow something up. We're here to give you a communicator and figure out what to do with you while we wait for your information to be either proven wrong or right. In the meantime, you need to go to school, as it's state law."
I frowned. "Really? I'm a senior, I'm almost done. Can't I just hide here?"
Forge and Berto shook their heads. I nearly whimpered at Berto, then turned to Max.
"Help me out here!"
He smirked at me and said, "Nope."
I groaned. "Noooooo…."
Forge gave me a sadistic smirk. "And since we don't have records for you, you'll have to be a junior instead of a senior."
My eyes widened. "If I didn't know what the ultimate evil was, I'd think you were."
There were snickers from Jefferson and Kat, making me jump. "Hell's bells, I forgot you two existed. Although…"
I tilted my head to the side to contemplate what little I knew about the two of them, then shook my head and refocused.
"Communicator first, right? Why won't my phone work? For all appearances, it calls numbers from the local 'verse."
"Still, I want to check that," Forge told me, then rattled off a phone number.
I shrugged and dialed it, jumping as...something in the com room rang. Jefferson touched a couple buttons, answering then hanging up.
I entered the number under "Nellie*", then looked up at Forge. "Anybody else I need to add?"
"Add me," Max told me, giving me his number.
One text later, and I was peering over his shoulder to see my simple "Hi" appear in the alphabet they used. "Well, that's helpful. I'll just have to keep people from seeing my phone, I guess."
Forge grunted, then gave me another number. "That's for emergencies only. It's my number, but don't call me unless you actually need help."
I mock-saluted him, then went to tuck my phone back in my pocket. Berto lunged forward and grabbed my hand.
"Chica, ¿pensaste en serio que no me iba a dar mi número?"
I grinned sheepishly. "Supuse que no le gustaría que, sobre todo desde que nos conocimos, literalmente, esta mañana."
I paused. "That was this morning, right? This places screws with my time sense."
I received amused nods and a phone number from Berto. A thumbs up emoji confirmed I had the right number, and with that, Forge moved on.
"You need a place to stay," he announced.
I raised an eyebrow at him and said, "Give me five hours and an escort to make sure I don't go somewhere I'm not, and I can stay here without you ever seeing me."
"Really?" Max said, impressed. "It took me a couple of weeks to get the hang of this place."
I shrugged. "It's an ability born of necessity. I used to live in a small town and needed to know my way around so I could get places on my own. I've gotten used to constructing maps in my head that help me navigate places. Takes me a while though."
Forge looked at me suspiciously, while Berto seemed almost hopeful. "We can give it a try, but you'll still need a place to stay during the week. If you have friends, they'll eventually want to see where you live."
Max spoke up then. "We have an extra room. It's kinda small and Mom was talking about turning it into an office, but I don't think she'd mind."
"Thanks for the offer, Max," I smiled at him, "but how would you explain my sudden appearance?"
He stood there, stumped, and I shrugged. "It's only Saturday, right? We have some time."
Half an hour later, after being given a rundown of the rules and the security code to my temporary bunk, I met my escort outside the com room. He was one of the masked grunts and didn't talk much as I said hello, so I shrugged and started down the hall.
Max followed me, amused and wondering how the maps I made mentally functioned. "So, five hours, huh?"
I checked to make sure the hallway was empty, then turned around to talk to him. "Yeah. Normally a more complete map takes much longer, but I'm only going to focus on the paths I need to know right now. Forays into the rest of the wilderness known as N-Tek will have to wait until I'm more comfortable moving around."
Max nodded. "So what are the 'paths you need to know'?"
I frowned at him. "Air quotes are so 2003. And it's rather simple. I need to be able to go to and from the cafeteria, my bunk, the entrance, the com room, and Berto's lab. Everywhere else is currently irrelevant or I can ask for directions."
"That does make sense," Steel piped up, separating from Max for the first time in a while. "Those are the basic locations you need, and it is easier for you to only memorize the paths you need to know, instead of trying to learn the whole base at once."
To my credit, I only jumped a little. "Jesus, were you recharging or something? And yeah, that's the basic thought behind it. Shall we?"
With our mute guide following behind, the three of us set off on an adventure.
Four hours later, I staggered into Berto's lab. "Ow. Me duele todo."
Berto turned around and looked at me. "¿Por qué?"
I slid down into a sitting position. "Max and Steel decided it would help me learn the paths if they stole my phone and ran away. Using TURBO energy, of course, so it was twice as hard. Quiero matar a los dos."
He joined me on the floor. "That's unfortunate. Has Commander Ferrus figured anything out?"
I smiled, grateful for the subject change. "Not that he's told me. Although I haven't had my phone for three hours, so…"
With that, I pulled it out to check and, upon finding nothing, turn up the ringer. "Nada. Ringer's on though, so I should be good."
Berto nodded. "Good. Wanna stay here? I have some things to do, but you're more than welcome to stay."
"Cool," I said. "I don't think either of those terrors know that I know where your lab is, so I'm more than happy to stay and keep you company."
I stayed on the floor as Berto got back up and went back to work.
I sat there, letting my overworked muscles twitch their way back into some semblance of non-pain, then carefully started stretching.
Berto hummed as he worked, checking over something that was too small and too much work for me to decode. It looked to me that he was mainly checking some sort of code for errors, as well as working on the code for something else entirely.
I stood after finishing my stretches and wandered down into the large open area beneath the large computronic workstation. CY.T.R.O. was down there, powered down and gleaming. I stepped closer and wandered around, looking but not touching. There were various other projects scattered around what was obviously a work area, but CY.T.R.O. was my focus for now.
I fell on my ass as CY.T.R.O. powered up, looking to see Berto grinning at me. "He's cool, huh?"
I nodded and stood. This time, as I made my circuit of CY.T.R.O., I took note of all the things that hadn't been activated and thus were hidden.
"So what all does he have in his arsenal?" I asked, attempting to peer at the upper part of the bot.
Berto turned it around and positioned the arm so it formed a ledge for me to stand on so I could continue my inspection. "There's not a lot of spare space, so for now he can only carry one thing at a time. I was hoping to fix it, but I'm not sure how."
I looked up at him. "I could probably help with that. It's just a matter of rearranging the components so there's enough space to add a retrieval system. Then all that needs to be done is add an electronic tag to each of the items in there so the system knows what to grab."
Berto frowned. "I've tried that. There isn't enough space."
"For you, maybe. Sometimes puzzles need fresh eyes, and all this really is is a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle."
A determined gleam entered his eyes and I yelped as CY.T.R.O. began to move over to a low work table, letting me get down before laying on it. "Let's do it, then!"
Forge found us there an hour and a half later, arm deep in CY.T.R.O., covered in grease and dirt and arguing over the best way to do the retrieval system. Some shuffling and rewiring had revealed a lot of spare space in the bot, and now we were trying to decide whether a magnetic retrieval system or a rack system would be better. The magnetic system would allow for more weapon storage, but could potentially mess with the electronics in CY.T.R.O., causing him to crash when he was needed. A rack system would be more durable, but could get jammed if CY.T.R.O. took too much damage.
I was in favor of the magnetic system, while Berto wanted the rack.
"Berto, a reinforcement of plastic would protect the electronics, and still give us more space for weapons," I said, exasperated.
"Yes, but the rack system would be easier to set up," he argued back.
I attempted to swipe my dirty hands on him as I growled, "Easier doesn't mean better. What if it jams while in battle? Whoever was gonna get that weapon would be defenseless!"
"Am I interrupting something?" Forge asked by the doorway.
I sighed. "No, not really."
I slid off the workbench and grabbed a rag to get some of the grease off. "CY.T.R.O.'s Berto's, right? Which means upkeep, maintenance, and upgrades are up to him."
Berto joined me on the ground and eyed me. "You aren't planning a prank, are you?"
I smiled. "Nah. Just got really into it and forgot that what happens to CY.T.R.O. is up to you and I'm just helping out."
Berto continued eying me, obviously wary of my sudden change of mood. I shrugged mentally and turned to Forge.
"What's up, Commander?"
Forge snorted. "It's nearing the end of dinner time and no one could recall seeing either of you for several hours. I'm just making sure you haven't killed our resident genius and made off with the body."
I scoffed. "Necrophilia is so not my style. Although, now that you mention it, I am hungry."
Berto nodded. "We were absorbed in our work. Come on, I'll buy."
"Thanks," I yawned and stretched. "I'll pay you back sometime."
"Consider it payment for the help you gave me."
Forge followed us out and to the cafeteria. Right before we went in, he grabbed my arm.
"I may have come up with a solution to your predicament," he told me, "but I need more information about this coming 'event'."
I nodded, let the doors close behind Berto, and told Forge what he needed to do as a precaution.
I joined Berto at the end of the line, smiling in response to his frown. "Where did you go?"
I looked up at the menu, realized how pointless it was, then looked back at him. "The commander needed to talk to me some time soon, so I told him then was as good as anything. He had some ideas on how to get me in school and explain my presence and wanted to know if there was anything about me personally he needed to know."
"Was there?" Berto asked me, a little suspicious.
I looked at him steadily. "Yes. I regretfully had to inform him I am an assassin from the moon sent here to kill all the bunnies."
Berto immediately scowled and punched me in the arm as I snickered. We were next in line, so he stepped up and ordered as I went to hunt down a table.
The only one with any kind of clear space was with Max and Steel.
I stopped in front of them and put my hands on my hips. "Steal my phone again you two, and I will make your lives a living hell. Remember, I know where you sleep."
They glanced at each other and nodded as Berto came over and the two of us sat.
"Oh, ho ho," Steel said gleefully. "Are you two dating?"
I casually reached out, grabbed him, flipped him over, and hit the mute button. "There we go. Much better. And no, Steel, we aren't. We just met."
I let him go and chowed down on the tacos Berto had passed me, ignoring the stunned looks of my table mates and the increasingly frantic emojis Steel was flashing at me.
I lay in my temporary bunk and stared sightlessly up at the ceiling after escaping the cafeteria and setting up my hastily prepared talismans in the sight of the moon.
It had been one hell of a day. Waking up and finding myself somewhere I wasn't familiar with… it was like the beginning of a bad fanfic.
I knew I had a friend in Berto and Max, though Max had apparently decided 'annoying little brother' was a better role, at least for the time being.
Forge didn't like me or trust me. Knowing him, he thought I was some sort of spy. Only time would tell him if I was telling the truth, and it wouldn't make him like me.
Oh, he might grow to tolerate me, but with the way I came into his life, he would never trust me.
I grinned up at the darkness and rolled over, falling asleep.
Welp, that's the first chapter. Lemme know what you think. Feed the author reviews - she writes faster!
Translations of my (admittedly bad) Spanish (I used Google Translate):
chica - girl
dios mio - My God
Lo siento - I'm sorry
Esta bien. Como es su nombre? - It's fine. What's your name?
Estoy Berto. - I'm Berto.
¿Qué coño? - What the fuck?
¿Es él siempre esta paranoico? - Is he always this paranoid?
Sí. Y él habla español. - Yes. And he speaks Spanish.
Mierda. - Shit.
el diablo - the devil
Chica, ¿pensaste en serio que no me iba a dar mi número? - (Roughly) Girl, did you seriously think I wasn't going to give you my number?
Supuse que no le gustaría que, sobre todo desde que nos conocimos, literalmente, esta mañana. - (Roughly) I guessed you wouldn't want to, especially since we literally met this morning.
Me duele todo. - Everything hurts.
¿Por qué? - Why?
Quiero matar a los dos. - I want to kill them both.
Also if you're underage, please don't use these to swear in Spanish. '_ I'd rather not get angry reviews. (Of course, I'm going to use these. Yay, hypocrisy!)
I will go ahead and disclaimer - if you don't recognize it, chances are I made it up. That means - I don't know where Berto was born; I don't know what the conversion for the alphabet they use is (though pigpen cipher is a real thing - google it!); my Spanish sucks so the vast majority of the Spanish you see above is Google Translate; and whatever little things you noticed that aren't exactly canon.
Also, this is the longest chapter I have ever written. 21 pages. Holy shit.
I can't promise they'll all be this long, but they all will at least be ten pages of story. ^^