Chapter 14: Initiation

"Ugh! I don't get it!"

"Yeah~ Me either…"

Sam turned his back to the computer screen. "I've replaced all his parts, updated his firmware, I even gave him a solar-powered energy cell that recharges when he rests. Why can't I get him to start?"

"Didn't you say that he's been turning himself on and off at will?"

"I wouldn't say at will." He took his time walking up to the stationary robot. "I think his systems have been rebooting but he isn't aware." He brushed away his brown hair, "Maybe…?"

"Are any of us really aware?"

"Okay, what's up with you?" Sam looked annoyed as he observed his behemoth of a brother.

Nix was sitting against a window in the lab. Looking outward with wistful eyes at the many bandits rushing to and fro. From the way he was sitting, it seemed like he wanted to look natural. But with a bright orange shirt and long grey cargo shorts, he shined brighter than the white tiles within Sam's lab.

Sam joined him staring out the window to see what he was so enamored by. He wasn't surprised to see his buddy staring at the boss. She was currently running drills with a large group of bandits. Standard training exercises composing of laps around the cave, teambuilding tasks, and of course sparing matches.

He shook his head in amusement, "You're hopeless."

"Shut up." Nix returned to staring at the source of his adoration. "I just don't get it."

"Get what?" Sam said as he took a seat back at his computer.

"This feeling."

"What? Love?!"

Nix didn't look back; his dead tone gave visuals to his voice. "I know what love is. But this love… it's so much stronger." He rubbed his broad chest, "I've never felt like this for anyone. Not even my mother."

"I… I-I don't think anyone should love their mother that much," Sam stuttered.

"You know what I mean."

"Why don't you just ask her out?"

"It's not that simple."

"I'm pretty sure it is."

"Then why don't you-"

"Aww… is poor wittle Nixxy-Wixxy scared of getting rejected?" quickly deflected.

Nix could feel Sam approaching from behind. His footsteps echoing through the empty lab. "I swear if you smush my cheeks, I will obliterate you." When he turned around, he was met with a single fluorescent yellow eye. The black streak representing a pupil growing and shrinking sporadically.

Nix jumped away, causing his chair to clatter to the floor and startle Sam. "Rico? You're awake!"

The bot did not respond to its mechanic. Instead, it moved towards the window Nix was just gazing through. The two humans watched on silently as the bot seemed to analyze the bandits outside. They took notice of how his head snapped along the path that Shelly was traveling. Then in a choppy robotic voice, he spoke, "Name - Unknown. Alias - Boss. Gender - Female. Ethnicity - Hispanic. Height – 5' 4''. Weight – Roughly 115lbs."

Sam applauded as Rico stopped speaking. "Bravo. He analyzed Shelly's specs in seconds."

Rico made a sweet whirling noise, "Update! Name – Shelly."

"And he can adjust on the fly."

Nix was a bit apprehensive. The analysis was so sudden and seemed a little intrusive. Especially calling out her height and weight. Rico made another notification sound. "Update! Shelly, Bust – 36''."

Nix snatched Rico's chrome dome up in his massive palms. A dark expression across his face, "Where are you looking?"

Rico remained calm. He turned his eye towards Nix quickly spitting out information. "Name – Nixxy. Alias – Nixxy-Wixxy. Gender – Male. Race – African. Height – 6' 8''. Weight – 360lbs. Bust – 57''."

Sam pulled down on the angry giant. "Careful big man. He doesn't mean any disrespect. Just gathering data."

With a bit of reprieve, he placed Rico back on his feet. The bot taking his time to readjust himself before turning to Sam.

"Name – Sam. Alias – Unknown. Gender – Male. Race – Caucasian. Height – 5' 9''. Weight – 188lbs."

Sam chuckled at the conclusion. "That is so cool!" Nix wasn't as excited. He noticed that Rico still hadn't measured Sam's bust. "Nix. Go grab Shelly. She has to see this!"

Nix grumbled something under his breath but trudged out the door. Meanwhile, Sam quickly rushed Rico back to his computer. Pulling up a document and casting the information to the giant monitor. "Okay so clearly you are operational. Maybe not fully operational but… we'll see what happens later." Sam quickly grabbed a pen and pad. "Now tell me. How do you feel?"

Rico took a second to feel his new body. He took notice of the strange cylindrical drum that made up his torso. He could feel small balls rolling around inside him. "My body feels taller. Height – 5' 8''. And the orbs inside are hard to measure. Weight – Approximately 200lbs."

"Good, good." Sam's scribbling became frantic as another question popped up. "And what about your past?"

Rico stared past Sam. His eye twitching violently before an 'X' appeared in his yellow visor. "Data not found."

Sam mumbled, "Not found… or not accessible?" He paced Rico as he spoke openly, "The files I could access like your processer and conflict analysis date so far back. I honestly can't figure out what manufacturer made you."

The sound of the door slamming open stopped their conversation. Shelly stepped through the door with a queen's authority. Nix was following close behind, but his body seemed like it would blow away with a light breeze.

His eyes were currently focused on the wall in front of him, a single bead of sweat forming from his hairline and down his brow. But they took notice of how they would occasionally shoot towards Shelly. And it made sense. Shelly had ditched her usual baggy clothes for something a bit… tighter. A set of black compression shorts that hugged her lower half just right alongside a tight purple shirt. The amount of sweat she had produced while training caused her to shimmer in the artificial light. And draw more attention to her toned midriff. Along her right arm was the same yellow bandana Rico had seen her with around her neck.

Sam wasn't as crippled by her appearance, "Yo, Boss! You gotta see this."

Shelly walked up to the robot. "So, you're Rico. Name's-"

"Shelly. Also known as, The Boss."

"Quick learner." Shelly took her time observing the robot. She didn't have many questions for him. The only issue was his mysterious past. But Sam and Rico quickly explained their inability to access his memory.

"Eh… I guess it's fine. Long as you don't turn out to be some secret agent plotting to destroy us. Now," She turned to Sam. "Can he fight?"

Sam turned to the bot, "Can you?"

Rico's eye began to flash again, "Searching… Searching… Conclusion. Uncertain."

"Maybe I can help with that. Take a look inside that Combat Directive. You should see a program called, 'Bouncy Bullets'."

Rico's eye twitched, followed by a panel opening up on his right hand with a small gray cube extending from it. The cube transformed suddenly. Shifting and whirring as it turned into a large yellow toy gun. Equipped with a case atop the barrel that could house some goofy form of ammunition. Upon the gun's appearance, the balls in his stomach started to churn. A vacuum audible inside his chest sucked them into his arm. And from there, they were transported into the childish case atop the barrel.

Sam gave Shelly a giddy grin from his handy work. "Well… let's see if he can fight."

The group slowly made their way through the cave. Rico, being the observant newcomer, took his time scanning his surroundings. Noticing the massive underground structure that was the bandit's base. His visor was enamored by the soft purple light given off by the gemstones that sat overhead. And he couldn't help but marvel at how sturdy and well-kept the homes they stayed in were.

Their slow trek gave the bandits inside ample opportunities to ogle the oddity. Rico also took his time analyzing the varying bodies. There was no theme in the crowd. The people weren't predominantly white, black, tall, small, thick, or thin. They were a true melting pot of individuals. But maybe some of the flavors in this pot were too extravagant.

His mechanical pupil was currently focused on a very strange man. At least he must have been a man with his bone structure. He wore a pristine white tank-top with a generic-looking baseball cap covering his face. But with his enhanced vision he could see his bony face beneath the brim.

Rico made his in-depth analysis, "Name – Unknown. Age – Unknown. Gender – Male (Large Jawbone). Race/Ethnicity – Undeterminable. Height – 5' 0''. Weight – Accounting for a lack of muscles, 19lbs."

Almost as if he heard him, the skeleton sneaked a peek at Rico. Winking at him as he refocused on his guitar. The tune he was playing had captivated everyone within earshot. The only reason their group didn't stop walking to listen was because Shelly was pushing them onward.

"Alright, we're here." Rico refocused on Shelly's voice. He could hear a large group of people alongside clashing bodies, but he couldn't see anyone. It wasn't until he followed the eyes of the crowd that he saw them. A literal mosh-pit of bandits all battling wildly inside a giant hole in the floor. He could see wooden weapons in some of their hands while others were firing rubber bullets. It looked like they were at war with how passionately they were fighting.

Shelly waved for them to follow her. She moved to an open area where another prominent woman stood. This one had compression clothing much like Shelly. But her face was mostly concealed by a dark blue bandana. He remembered this woman, "Name – Ronnie. Alias – Unknown. Gender – Female. Ethnicity/Race – Unknown. Height – 5' 7''. Weight – 124lbs. Bust – 37.35''."

"Oh good. You already know her. That'll make this easy." Shelly motioned for Veronica to round up the bandits. Three claps of her hands and they froze like deer in headlights. She made a circular motion with her fingers and the battling bandits began to crawl out the pit. As the bodies moved out Rico was able to get a better look at its size.

The pit had a diameter well above one hundred feet. And the geography inside was comprised of random rocks, narrow passes, and the occasional mound to use as high ground.

In a matter of seconds, the pit was barren. All the bandits that were inside were now either standing around the edge or making their way back to the strange huts he assumed functioned as their homes.

Shelly took a position atop a small rock outside the pit. "Alright everyone shut up. I said shut up! Now I know you want to get back to fighting but I've got a treat for you. We've got a fresh recruit." Rico was startled by the roars of the bandits. "Hey. HEY! Let me finish. This new candidate is not just any recruit. We are having our first ever robot candidate."

Rico expected more cheers but instead, the crowd started to murmur. Sam whispered to Rico, "Don't worry. They'll warm up once they see you in action."

Rico didn't care about their opinion of him. He simply wanted to complete his objective. To have some fun. "Sam. What can I expect for this tryout? Target practice? Obstacle course?" Rico turned his back to Sam and observed the pit once more. With his guard down he felt several hands push him into the pit.

The fall was much farther than he expected. When he hit the floor, it felt like he had dented the plexiglass case he housed his orbs in. He quickly dust himself off, looking up to see what had pushed him. He could see the hundreds of eyes staring at him with glee. But for some reason, he didn't feel like they were laughing with him.

Shelly joined in the fun, "Now I think we all know the best way to test a bandit. A high-pressure situation." Now Rico understood why he felt nervous. It was because he had been programmed with knowledge of ancient lion dens. And he was the lamb.

"Since today's recruit is so special I think the bandits should decide. This is standard Triple S rules. Will it be trial by Strategy, Skill, or Strength?"

"STRENGTH, STRENGTH, STRENGTH!" they chanted. The crowd had made their decision.

With a subtle smile, Shelly waved the behemoth into the ring. He crashed into the floor like a small car falling off a building. When he stood back up Rico noticed something jarring. He seemed bigger than before.

"Well since Rico gets a gun. It's only fair you should have something too. Sam!"

"Ya hear that Nixxy. Shelly said you get a weapon this time."

"How generous." He snickered.

"So, what you want?" Sam was currently rummaging through his bag. His arm seeming to reach into infinity.

"The usual."

Sam snickered as he quickly pulled from his bag. "Yeah, I already knew."

Rico watched in slow motion, trying to gather what the weapon was. It seemed like a small silver cylinder. The cylinder was barely visible in his gargantuan hands. Rico could feel a pretentious protocol activating. His robotic voice gaining a new tone, "Do you think that rod will save you?"

Nixon cracked a smile, tapping a small button on the circumference of the rod. The stick extended out to half his height and a giant block shaped like a mallet formed at the end.

Rico reassessed his situation, "So your rod is a hammer? This does not change the result. You cannot win… Nixxy."

He chuckled at the blatant sarcasm. "You think you're smarter than us, don't you?" The bandits were still screaming for the fight to start. But the two combatants had long since forgotten about them. "You think I didn't notice. How you didn't measure Sam and Poco's bust. How you were so precise when measuring Veronica up close? I don't know whether it was Sammy or your original creator that made you like this but I've got a new program for you to install."

Nix dropped his hammer down with deadly force. The sheer power of the blow was enough to send a small shockwave through the ground, knocking Rico off his feet. From a seated position Rico looked forward. Nix's size caused him to cast a shadow over the mechanical creation. "Let's call it, a Respect file. And the name's Nix. Call me Nixxy again and I'll rip those toys right out your stomach."


It had been a long week. Or has it been two? He couldn't remember. He couldn't care. He just knew he needed to do something, change something. After looking at himself, maybe it was someone that must change.

"Colton."

He turned to the call of his name. The chieftain of the village joined the silence. He expected the elder to add something to the medium. Instead, they stared outward watching the sand settle. Atop their little mound of grass and watching the green meadow give way to dying yellow blades. A stiff breeze passed over them and the sand kicked up a small cloud.

Colt had been standing alone in the sun for quite some time. And just then… he swore he saw his mother's face in the cloud.

"She's a beautiful woman."

Colt was stunned by his random comment. He looked out into the expansive desert and watched as the cloud disappeared. His shock turned back to Bo, "You saw her?"

Bo was looking backward but turned to face Colt, "Of course?"

"I thought I was hallucinating."

Bo gave a powerful chortle, "If you are hallucinating then so is the entire village."

Colt's previous confusion was now full-blown stupefaction. "I'm sorry… who are we talking about."

"Jessie. Your sister?"

Colt put his head in his hands, "That makes so much more sense." Colt just sat there with a defeated tone as he tried to get his mind together.

Bo's white eyes went sharp, carefully approaching the situation. "Your mind is clouded, Colton. Perhaps speaking from the heart will help release the tension."

He sat there contemplating his choices. On the one hand, he could vent his frustrations openly to this random man like a free counselor. On the other… "Ma always said it ain't healthy to bottle it up. I've been thinking bout what you said." Bo signaled for him to continue. "Something about Synchronous and walking away?"

"Synchrony and how the world is changing around you."

"Yeah… that. I remember you said I had a choice to make. And by change, I guess you mean more monsters?"

"I prefer enhanced spirits," Bo commented thinking of Nita.

"Whatever. The issue is… I don't want to quit. I don't want to just roll over and let the world pass me by." Colt's knuckles turned white, "I'm the sheriff of the dunes! I'm not scared of a challenge."

"Seems you have decided, but you still feel turmoil." When Colt first arrived in the village his hair was standing tall and very smooth. Since his tenor in the village, he had lost the ability to care for it. It hung low now, leaving an overcast on his eyes. He remembered the first day that Colton complained about his hair's fate. The village laughed like giddy children that night. But that lively expression seemed to die with time. Perhaps he felt he had lost something. So he hoped he could help Colt find a solution. "Please, Colton of the Dunes, speak."

"It's Jessie." Bo was silently waiting. "She wants to be this big-time cop. Take over where I left off and make these amazing gadgets to get it done."

"And you fear that she will be in danger?"

Colt scoffed, "Guess there's a reason you're the chief."

The two allowed Colt's information to marinate in the air. The fire behind them giving a soft smokey scent to their solemn situation. They both could hear some commotion behind them. Bo spoke up, "So, will you tell her to stop?"

"No way. I couldn't crush her dreams. Not anymore."

"Then perhaps the reason you can't walk away from this new world is because you fear she won't be safe within it. At least… not without you." Colt couldn't respond. Not verbally. But the way his shoulders sulked was enough information for Bo. "To think… you see her as so feeble."

"What? I never-"

Bo stood up suddenly staring into the desert. "It's normal to feel this way about the youth. But I'm sure we both know," He looked back towards the village. Colt followed his gaze watching as Nita rushed around the village with two giant pots in hand. They were twice her size, yet she balanced them like paperweights. "Children these days are stronger than before"

"She's an exception."

"Perhaps… or maybe she was raised in the right environment." Bo began to walk back to the village. "I don't think you arrived here by mistake. The Gods have willed it."

'The Gods?'

"As you've seen, this village houses extraordinary talent. Talents that have been groomed through a diverse lifestyle." Bo turned back to Colt with a patient grin. "Maybe we can train you as well."

Colt could feel it. Something odd about that proposition. Something… dangerous.

"Tomorrow is the hunt. You should join us. It can be a perfect training exercise. Oh and perhaps you should abandon your modern weaponry. Our tools may be 'primitive' but you will find that they are very effective."

Bo left him with that statement. The sheriff now alone with a crushing decision to make. Would he crush his sister's dreams once again, could he possibly keep up with these monsters, or should he let the next generation take over? He could sit here and ponder these questions for hours… but for now he needed relief. Listening to the villagers, he thought it would be good to join in the fun.

As he stood, he instinctively placed his hand on his holster. The steel of his gun was warm from the sunlight. He had just met him. The chieftain that spoke so proudly and seemed to draw you in with his every word. Colt didn't even notice it until his ammunition hit the ground. He had emptied both his revolvers instinctively. He shook his head, trying to clear his foggy mind.

He collected the bullets but paused from reloading. Looking back at the village, he could see Jessie dancing with Nita, her hair was loose and a little frayed at the ends. He took a second to think about how long they had been there. Time wasn't easy to measure since they had grown accustomed to the village's strange standards. But watching her goof off alleviated the tension in his shoulders.

He slowly dropped the ammo into his pockets. Maybe it would be a good idea to roll with the waves.


System Analysis:

Damage: 37%

Rotary Stability: 79% Stable

Current Status:

"You're dead Tin-man!"

"Critical."

Rico narrowly rolled away from another giant swing. He had been getting better at dodging. But he was cutting it close. The majority of the fight consisted of Nix throwing his weight around while Rico desperately avoided the attacks. It was as if a boulder was being lobbed at him. For Nix, it felt like every other fight; a slippery shooter that he couldn't get his hands on.

But that's what he trained for.

Nix watched as Rico rolled to the left. He brought the hammer down and sent a little shockwave forward. The fracture created at the point of impact snaked forward cracking the ground below it. Rico found his foot slipping between the tremors, stuck in a very compromising position.

Upon his trapping, the crowd screamed for Nix. "Break him! Rip his circuits out! Snatch his servos!"

"Um… don't rip his circuits out?" Sam said with a nervous chuckle.

Inside the pit, Rico was struggling to remove his lodged leg. He could hear it. Giant steps getting closer by the second. In a desperate attempt to flee he fired a bullet in the direction of the sound.

"GAH?!"

The rampaging body suddenly halted. Taking a step backward from the bullet. A single yellow bouncy ball rolling beside him. Rico inspected the orb. It felt rather heavy, especially with how small it was. Rico tried to analyze the sphere, but he couldn't identify the reason behind its weight.

"YEAH!" Sam was the only voice now. The rest of the bystanders were stunned. "I knew it! I'm a genius!"

Shelly chimed in, "Wanna share with the class?"

"Okay so… his gun looks like a toy right? And I had this sick idea that he should have ammo that looks like a toy. But how do I give him goofy ammo while still making it effective? Easy… I-"

"He put lead inside the balls."

"NIX! That was my big reveal."

"Whatever," he mumbled while he rubbed his cheek. The ball didn't hurt. It wasn't like he had broken his jaw. But it felt like he was a boy again, fighting some punk kids in the streets. After blowing a frustrated breath he pushed onward. Taking his time as he dragged the mallet behind him.

Rico's pulls got more urgent. Desperately trying to escape Nix's aggressive push. 'Time needed for escape: 34.2 seconds. Nix ETA: 23.7 seconds. Escape options limited. Best choice. Removal of leg.' Rico tried to toy with his feet. 'Leg's unremovable. Final option: Preserve cranial unit.'

"Rico! Shoot him!" Sam shouted.

Rico's eyes began to sputter. 'New escape option available. Stall for time.' Rico focused his barrel on Nix's head. Shooting off a line of five bullets that peppered his skull. Nix's head recoiled with each shot, taking another step backward. When the bullets stopped, he continued forward. This time with his hammer raised overhead.

'Nix ETA: 10.3 seconds. Time for escape: 15.4 seconds. More time required.' He quickly shifted more spheres through his torso, the raucous rattling emanating from the glass dome drawing the attention of the bystanders. Another precise stream of bullets made their mark on Nix's face. But he wasn't delayed as thoroughly this time. He stood directly above the robot. 'Nix ETA: 0 seconds.'

Nix dropped his hammer to the chagrin of Sam and most of the bystanders. Many groaning at the sight of Rico's body crushed under Nix's mallet. Sam peaked through his hand, letting out an audible sigh of relief that shocked the crowd. Shelly and Veronica were not surprised. He pointed to the pit, "He's fine~"

The crowd was flabbergasted to see Rico stumbling further away from Nixon. The bot struggling to find a stable footing in the jagged environment. Once again the crowd burst with cheers, eager to see the conclusion to this bout.

Rico finally found a sturdy rock to stand atop. Taking his time to find a solution. 'Bullets fire rate: 5 spheres before needed to reload. Velocity: 12.3 m/s.' He looked back towards Nix. The not-so-gentle giant slowing standing up, fighting the floor as he dislodged his hammer. He turned to Rico with a pointed expression, rubbing a little bump forming on his cheek.

'Nix damage sustained: Minimal. Solution to victory: Defensive Strategy. Enticement required' Rico pointed a finger towards Nix. "You are big and slow. Your range is sub-optimal. I will defeat you with speed and range."

Nix cracked a sneaky smile, "Really?"

Shelly nudged Sam, "For an artificial intelligence he isn't that smart."

"It's his first time fighting, he'll learn."

"Learn what?" a voice suddenly said behind him.

Sam jumped at Poco's random appearance, clinging onto Veronica who smushed his face away from her. "How did you get there?"

"Well, there was this big crowd… so I walked to it." Poco took a look into the pit. "That's the robot, right? Rico?"

"Yep, that's him."

Poco watched as the bot continued to run around the arena, dipping and dodging Nixon's mallet. "What's he doing?"

The sound of metal colliding with plexiglass was followed by Rico colliding against the wall beneath them. A few sparks flying from his arms alongside painfully expensive noises. Shelly snickered, "Learning his lesson."

Rico sputtered out an analysis. "Damage su-sustained: 67%. Danger rap-rapidly approachi-ing. Opponent's speed is deceptively fast." His voice was fluxing up and down sporadically. He saw Nix running towards him. His speed starting initially slow but steadily picking up speed. Rico made the comparison to that of a locomotive engine.

He used this comparison to his advantage, sitting in wait for Nix to get as close as possible. As the giant grew closer, he brought his mallet to his side. Dragging the mallet against the floor kicking up rocks and gravel along the way. He could hear the approaching fissure over the roaring crowd as they awaited the final blow.

Nix's foot slammed into the floor at Rico's feet, cracking the rocks beneath it. His swing dug into the stone below and erupted from the ground like a volcano aimed at Rico's glass chest. But just before it could connect Rico rolled away. Nix's swing didn't slow, he swung with deadly force upward, lodging his mallet into the wall.

The force of his swing was powerful enough to send a ripple through the wall. The cracks formed crept upward until they left a fracture in the ground above the pit. Many bystanders slipping between and grabbing onto others for assistance. Shelly and her top fighters jumped out the way, laughing at the amount of effort Nix was putting into the fight.

Shelly peaked down below, "Relax Nixxy. It's just an audition." She looked down to only see his flattop shake back and forth. A frustrated grumble being heard under the commotion. Shelly's purple dreads flipped to Sam, "I think he's gonna break your toy." Sam just gave a nervous chuckle.

Rico was recovering from his narrow escape. Quickly focusing on Nix and preparing for another attack. He was surprised to see Nix struggling with his mallet. Yanking and tugging to dislodge it. "Opportunity: ACQUIRED!"

Rico rushed forward, the balls in his chest being vacuumed into his gun. He sent another stream of bullets into Nix's back. The bullets falling off but causing the monster to flinch. He turned around only to eat another surge of bullets to the face. He clutched his nose checking to see if it was broken, then from his flank came another set of shots.

Rico continued this onslaught of ammunition, jumping from one flank to another chipping away at Nix's body. From above, Veronica was on her knees observing the battle with deep intrigue. Sam and Shelly were also stunned. It was rare to see Nix on the defensive like this. But with one false move Rico had turned the tides. Poco was smiling as usual; but with the look in his eyes, he seemed a bit too happy to see Nix losing.

In the pit, Nix's temper was rising. The onslaught of rubber balls was getting to him. He could feel the bumps and bruises growing. And occasionally he would feel a heavy metal hand collide with him. His massive mitts would swat at the air hoping to smack Rico back, but he only caught the air.

Above them, many of the bystanders were being knocked down randomly. Rico took notice of how some of the bullets that missed their mark would bounce off the walls and collide with some unfortunate bystanders. Rico used this to his advantage, bouncing bullets off the wall ahead of Nix so they would smash against his face. Nix's rage grew and his grip tightened.

Sam noticed this change, silently chewing on the edge of his bag. Veronica quickly stood away from the edge. Poco stood beside her, preparing a song on his guitar. Shelly just shook her head, "Por el amor de Dios. He's gonna break the ring like this."

Rico didn't take notice of this change. His focus was on maximizing the damage. Emptying another case of ammo into Nix's frame. He paused to reload his gun, giving Nix an opening. His grip shifted on the handle. An underhanded grip that allowed him to put more force upward.

With a deep grunt, Nix pushed up. Ripping through the stone wall causing the pit to rumble. The roar he made scared the bystanders and made Rico lock up. That alongside the giant fissure that opened in the rock wall. He followed the cracks as they rose like fireworks. His eye landing on one of the glowing rocks illuminating the cave. Then a dark silhouette blocked the light. The square hammer taking his sight and aiming for his life.

He reacted as quickly as he could. Jumping back to avoid the crushing blow. But he was too late. Nix's hammer dropped, connecting with his left foot. Though no one could hear his metal bend. They were more focused on the giant fissure that Nix left behind. Causing the ground to quake and the rocks above to sprinkle on the crowd.

When the initial shock of the impact settled down they could hear Rico crying out in pain. Repeating the phrase, "Ow" over and over again as he desperately crawled away with his mangled leg clutched. A few balls slipping out of the appendage. Poco noticed this, "Are those balls?"

"Yeah. Where do you think they come from?"

"I thought he was making them."

"No the balls are stored in his legs. The bottom of his feet actually opens up, allowing him to suck up balls on the floor to refill his ammo. You haven't noticed how he's running all over the place?"

"I just thought he was running from Nix." Rico's pained screams continued, "Did… did you give him pain sensors?"

"Yeah." Sam absently responded.

"Why?"

"Why not?"

Poco looked into the pit. Watching as Rico rolled around desperately trying to flee from Nix. "Seems like an intentional design flaw."

"Pain is very important in peril. It helps the mind understand when it has gone too far and needs to adjust its strategy."

They watched as Nix slowly rose. Pebbles that had been launched upward now raining around him. The glare on his face giving him the image of a monster that just broke from its prison. Poco looked back to Sam, "It's gone too far."

Sam bit his lip, "He's right. Boss we can stop."

Shelly didn't respond.

"Shelly?"

"Not yet."

Veronica joined in Poco and Sam's surprise. Rico's repairman looking flabbergasted, "Not y- I'm sorry?"

Shelly turned to them. A pleasant smile on her face, "I said not yet." She returned her gaze to the pit, "He's not done."

Nix was slowly walking towards the robot. Listening as Rico spouted gurgled nonsense trying to find a solution to his situation. He took his time, picking him up by his skull and observing him. "I told you, I'd teach you some respect."

He pointed Rico to the crowd. His yellow eye frantically scanning their faces. These people didn't seem the least bit concerned for him. They were enjoying the spectacle. These monsters took joy in watching his pain.

His metal hands ripped and snatched at Nix's burly knuckles, trying to break his hold. But Nix's grip just got tighter. "Last time I held someone by their skull I got… injured. I won't make the same mistake." He could hear Rico's metal bending, "Don't worry… Sammy will love rebuilding you."

Rico could feel the glass in his visors start to crack. He couldn't make any noise. His CPU desperately looking for a solution. He could see a few of the bandits looking away from the slaughter. That gave him an idea.

He could feel his body rotating while his head stayed still. Nix noticed it as well, Rico's body had turned without moving his head or legs. Rico used this new position to latch onto Nix's face. Opening his mouth and firing a bullet down his throat.

Nix broke into a choking fit dropping Rico directly onto his bad leg. The robot yelped in pain but quickly made his retreat, allowing Nix to battle this new threat. With a wad of flagellum Nix finally spat out the ball and his rage grew. He could see Rico hiding behind a formation of rock walls. He slammed his mallet to rev himself up trudging up to where Rico was hiding.

When he hit the turn, he saw Rico resting against a rock. Pushing himself up and fiddling with his foot. Through his cracked visor he could see Rico's eye was pointed like an angry glare. The robot tapped his head causing his eye to blink sporadically. Once he was settled in, he pointed his gun towards Nix.

Nix shook his head, "We both know that won't stop me." He rested his mallet on his shoulder, "If you want I can spare you. Sammy always whines when I break his toys. All you gotta do is admit you're weak."

Rico slowly turned his gun towards the nearby wall. "Submission is not within my protocol. Activating advanced combat sequence. Code name: Trick Shot."

The balls in Rico's stomach began to glow. A motor humming inside him as the balls spun around at blurring speeds. Nix got a little nervous readying his hammer to block the next attack. The glowing bullets were sucked up into his gun, quickly being replaced by another set of balls.

The orbs in his gun's toy compartment were visibly larger than before and the light-show gained a few coos from the crowd. Nix wanted to move forward but his body felt tense.

"Nixon." Rico's voice was clear, gone was the previous glitch from his injuries. "You have not paid attention. My bullets bounce off walls. My new creator Sam created them for enhanced combat opportunities. And this mode provides me with a drastic increase in range, power, and fire rate. Now observe your surroundings."

Nix did as he was told, noticing that he was between the pit wall and a giant formation of rocks that acted as another wall.

Rico continued with a professional tone, "You are a large man in a narrow hallway." With that, he pulled the trigger and his gun's barrel morphed to accommodate the enhanced bullets. Spewing out a stream of gigantic bullets that bounced off the walls wildly. Nix watched as the first stream made a wall in front of him. When they made contact with him, he put up his arms; he could feel these balls embedding themselves into his skin. A few balls missed him only to ricochet back and hit him from behind.

Once the first wave of attacks was done Nix peaked out from behind his arms, but a new wave of bullets was heading his way. He was forced back into defensive blocking again, and he swore there were more bullets this time.

Shelly noticed it as well. "Sam, how is he shooting so much?"

"He isn't. The bullets that don't land square on Nix bounce back either hitting Nix or landing at Rico's feet. And thanks to the literal wall of bullets, he can reload, charge up another volley, and plan his next attack." Sam looked down with a smile. "In a way… I made Rico to perfectly counter Nix. He has the body to eat damage for days but if he gets too comfortable, Rico can stack up huge amounts of damage that even he can't handle. And thanks to Rico's weird geometry knowledge he can fire shots from dangerous angles. Nix can't challenge that with raw power."

Inside the pit, Rico felt confident. He had Nix on the ropes, the giant was forced to defend his face knowing that bullets of this size would damage even his thick skin. But Rico could feel the energy draining from both their bodies. One of them would have to give.

In a moment of awe, Nix dropped his guard. Slowing lifting up his hammer and raising it above his head. Rico watched as ball after ball pelted his face, blood leaking from his nose and bruises visible across his skin. He looked like he just went five rounds with a professional boxer. But his face was determined. Though his eyes were closed he was sure of where Rico was. His hammer aimed at him.

More balls ricocheted at breakneck speeds, causing Nix to recoil but his grip was ironclad. A dark glare caused by his massive eyebrows blocking any visual of his eyes.

They could hear him taking a deep breath, his chest expanding. It gave Rico chills and the crowd thrills. Another massive attack was coming. Rico tried to aim the next wave of attack directly at Nix, but the bullets just fell against his massive body. His eyes shot open, bloodshot.

Rico tried to shoot again but his gun stalled. Sam shouted down, "Rico you didn't read the file carefully. I put a note that the Trick Shot protocol might overheat from extended usage."

Rico desperately banged against his pistol, but it was jammed. He looked back at his opponent. He wasn't smiling but he seemed pleased, "You finished?"

Rico felt something he didn't know he was programmed to perceive… fear.

"STOP!"

Nix's body locked up, Rico stopped struggling, and the crowd fell silent. Shelly signaled for Nix to do something. The giant man grumbling before pressing the button on his mallet.

It shrunk again, allowing him to put it into his shorts pocket. He stretched out a hand to Rico, the bot backing further away. Nix rolled his eyes and snatched Rico up, putting him on his back and making his way to Shelly.

He observed the crevice he made and climbed up carefully. Once topside a few random bandits went up to congratulate them on a splendid match. Rico was given to Sam who suddenly pulled out a screwdriver, soldering tool, and metal plates from his bag. And Poco thought he was magic.

As Rico is being patched up by Sam a few bandits run to watch the repairs. Singing their praises about how awesome it is that he could even keep up with Nix. He heard stories of the other recruits that had to fight him and how they couldn't make him budge. A few asked if he could train them how to use a rubber gun like his. Rico's eyes were jumping to and fro trying to observe all his new fans.

Sam snickered as he finished off the patchy job. He would fix him properly later. For now, he helped Rico to his feet, walking him over to where Shelly was. Nixon was sitting beside her, his bruises being touched up by one of the medics. When he saw Rico, he pushed one of his nostrils shut, blowing out a huge puff of air and shooting out a wad of bloody mucus. A light flush of color was appearing on his cheeks which the medic gave him a cold towel for. But Sam knew that it was likely caused by Shelly's proximity to him.

When Shelly saw Rico arrive, she quickly grabbed something out of Sam's bag. Pulling out a dark purple vest. She also retrieved a needle, string, a thimble, and a decorative patch from the bag. She passed them off to another bandit who quickly disappeared.

"Fantástico!" She turned back to Nixon, "Haven't seen this big lug on the back peddle like that in years." Nix scratched his short black high top, looking away in embarrassment. "Sam… you've outdone yourself." Sam held his head high, nudging for Rico to get excited also.

The bandit came back with the vest. Shelly held the vest high, showing to the crowd the patch with their symbol. A standard cartoon skull with long dreads like hers. She moved to Nix whispering something in his ear then passing the vest to him.

With a reluctant sigh, he moved to Rico. The robot still apprehensive about being so close to him. He quickly turned Rico around, putting the vest on forcefully and turning him back to the bandits. Rico found the vest fit him like a glove, tailor-made to his body.

Shelly walked up and took his hand, raising it high for everyone to see. "This is Rico. The first-ever robotic Gem Bandit!" His eye twitched into a big black X again. He quickly smacked his skull, blaming the cracked visor for issues with his eye's led display. Now he had a nice semi-circle representing a warm smile at a successful initiation.


A/N: Yo I'm back... another chapter down. A lot shorter this time. What 7k words? Pretty tiny. Hope that doesn't upset anyone. It's been a while. But if you fav and follow it will be easier for you to catch the next chapter. Now let's do some responses.

Queenbookerly: Girl you are always here to give me a response. The Retropolis gang has begun but who knows who else might join. I mean... Rico is a gem bandit in this story.

So Rico is initiated, Colt is asking questions, and we don't know what happened to Jacky and the rest of the miners in the cave. Maybe the next chapter might mention them? See ya in Chapter 15: How Did That Happen?

Till then... thanks for reading another one of...

Sammy's Silly Scripts

SIDE NOTE: YOU COWARDS! Let me make my Respect-dot-exe joke you cowards!