Hey, guys! You know what's an awesome show? Sym-Bionic Titan. And because it's so awesome, I wrote this oneshot for it. It's about Kimmie and Newton because I love that pairing oh yes I do.
Note: There are spoilers for Under The Three Moons! This takes place before Family Crisis, conceivably.
Seven Minutes With A Robot
a Sym-Bionic Titan Oneshot
"And then," Lili said, dropping her voice to a whisper to create suspense, "Jana threw her lighter at the wall, and the whole top floor of Dane's house was up in flames in a minute. But nobody at the party in the basement knew until…"
"Until?" Didi, Mimi, and Kimmie leaned in closer to their smug friend, expectant smiles on their faces. First bell had rung just ten seconds earlier, so the four Sherman cheerleaders, dressed for the afternoon's game in their green kits, were the only students that weren't shuffling along to their designated destinations. None of the day's dull, cloudy light reached the side of the hallway on which they stood, which gave Lili's grave descriptions an even more ghoulish air.
"C'mon, Lil, don't leave us hanging," Didi screeched, bouncing on her heels. "What happened to Dane?"
"And cut to commercial," Lili said, shaking her finger, "I'm done talking. You want to know what they did, go pirate it yourself."
"Oh, no. The last time I went to one of those bootleg sites, my computer exploded," Kimmie said, her authoritative tone burning a hole through her friends' light chatter. "You already have it DVR'd, so we'll just come and watch it at your house. We'll make a sleepover out of it."
"Uh, no, I'm grounded for another month, remember? My stupid dad found out about me and Jeffrey." She mouthed her next words with her hand. "Bluh bluh bluh, you can't date him until I check his criminal record, bluh bluh bluh!"
"Jeffrey Lyons has a criminal record?" Mimi trilled, grinning. The rest of the girls perked up immediately. High School Heights gossip was titillating enough, but Sherman High gossip was always better.
"Oh, just stupid stuff like graffiti and shoplifting," Lili said, rolling her eyes. "What-ever, Dad. Not every boy can be a little goody-goody."
"Or a big, creepygoody-goody," Didi stage-whispered. Kimmie's face froze, and the hairs on the back of her neck prickled. "Oh, Kimmie, that reminds me," she went on. "There's a two-for one sale on eggs at E-Z-Mart this week. The girls and I were thinking we could go in, buy two things of eggs each, then go over to the Lunises and…"
"No," Kimmie cut in. Her friends waited a second, confused, but she had nothing to add. She was hard-faced, and her lip was set at an angry tremble.
"Oh, don't worry, Kims," Mimi scoffed. "We've got Lance covered. I'll ask him out on the Promenade, and then you and Didi'll bust Lili out and go egg the freaks."
"We're not egging anyone," Kimmie said in a rough voice. "I've been telling you guys for a week, forget about it."
"Forget about it?" Didi looked thunderstruck. "Kimmie, he's an ex-boyfriend. Remember what you told me about Jake? Ex-boyfriends are trash, and Newton even more than he already was. He's lucky we'll only be throwing eggs."
Kimmie's lip trembled even faster. "This conversation is over," she spat. "Lili, what else happened on HSH?"
Lili looked confused. "Kimmie, are you-"
"High School Heights," Kimmie pressed on, folding her arms. "Parties, Jana, Dane's house burning. If you can't show us, then tell me more."
"Wha- oh, fine," Lili said, shaking her head. "So, the rest of the episode sort of goes on forever with all these kids running and screaming. Like, ten minutes of these random kids just running."
"Oh, HSH," Kimmie blurted. "What would we ever do without you?"
"Were they actually trying to scare us?" Didi laughed uproariously, and her friends followed her, with Kimmie laughing louder than all the others. "Maybe other kids might be scared, but not Sherman kids. I mean, who's afraid of fire anymore? There's no fires here, and everything gets knocked down."
There's no fires here anymore, and everyone gets knocked down. Such a phrase had come into vogue around Sherman about a month before Didi had whispered it. It was first used among the teachers, murmured in bedrooms and offices where no one thought the students could hear. But soon enough the students had captured it and taken it unto themselves, laughing and sneering about it in the hallways to disguise their own fear. No one could interpret it literally, but everyone knew what it meant, especially now, when cold meals were the fashion and arson rates had fallen by half inside a season. For all the attention given, no small problem was really worth its hassle any longer. Any fire that posed a serious problem was now only a symptom of a greater disease.
For instance, not four seconds after Kimmie had answered her friend's fears with a loud, wild laugh, a spark of blue lightning hit the row of lockers behind them, setting them aflame. And as the four of them turned around, they knew it wasn't just a fire. The fire was the least of anyone's problems.
Didi, Mimi, and Lili didn't waste any time thinking – they screamed and scattered, fully expecting that their captain was behind them. Kimmie let out just as loud a scream as they did, but also turned around to look, a mistake that froze her to the spot. The entire upper part of the hallway was gone. A large, brown creature was squeezing through the hallway like a moving wall, cramming itself over lockers, posters, and, given the opportunity, anyone in its way. Its features were crushed flat against its body. At the moment Kimmie looked, it was moving blind, but when its eyes were opened, it let out a roar, and more blue lightning shot out of them, frying anything it hit.
She had only hesitated for a second, but even still, when she started running, her delay put her far behind the rest of the retreating crowd. She ran not knowing where she was going, her eyes only on the next available opening to dart down. Over time, the crowd disappeared safely into other halls, but wherever Kimmie turned, the blue lightning followed her, singing walls and toppling flaming lockers. But the creature itself, large and constrained as it was, could not move as quickly as the lightning. Soon enough, once Kimmie had snaked her way through half the school and dropped to her knees, panting, in a clear hallway, neither the monster nor the lightning were anywhere in sight.
Kimmie's whole body was shaking, but deep down, she knew better than to grow complacent with her escape – she could only rest for a short time. After ten seconds' crouch, she stood up, forcing herself to believe that she still had energy. She took a quick look around the hall to figure out where she was. It was not a hall where she had ever had any classes, and there were no outside exits. The closest turnoff was a small thru-hallway to her immediate right, so she turned to see if it was a safe route to continue on. What she saw instead of safety made her jaw drop.
The opposite end of the thru-hallway was sealed, blocked by the monster's writhing brown form. This removed the hallway as an escape, but at the moment this was the last thing the limits of her belief were concerned about. There were three – three – with five seconds' thought she hardly knew how to describe them as a group – machines at the end of the hallway. She knew the large, bulky purple one – he'd been on a news report just the other day at breakfast – but the other two, the lean golden one and the blue…creature, she had never seen. They were all attacking the moving form – the purple machine with a smooth, translucent sword, the yellow with a thin blue beam, and the blue with its fists. Her mind jumped a thousand different directions, and in its confusion, she forgot to run.
"It's no use," the purple machine said in a tinny, distorted, but very clearly frustrated voice, removing his sword. "The armor's too tough for our weapons. We need to form Titan!"
Titan? Kimmie didn't have time to absorb that before the yellow machine replied, swiveling to face the purple. "But we can't do that here!" This one's voice was also distorted, but higher, and more feminine. "The Titan will crush the whole school, and this creature is doing enough damage."
"Right," the blue creature said. This one sounded more like a robot than any of the robots, as its voice was flat and monotonous. "We need to lure it out of an exit, and then form Titan once we have it in a safe location. It's relatively small, so we should be able to-"
The blue creature turned slightly, and then swiveled quickly to face Kimmie. Kimmie balked, and took a step back, but even at that distance, the creature's centerpiece, something like an eye, was fixated right on her. The eye widened slightly, as if it were trying to see more of her.
"Octus, what is it?" the purple machine said. It and the yellow machine turned to look where Octus was looking, and balked visibly, their headpieces swiveling between Octus and Kimmie. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me. What do you think you're doing?"
"You have to keep running!" the yellow machine yelled. "It's not safe here!"
Kimmie opened her mouth, but her throat was too dry to produce anything more than "What, what, but what-". Just as she had given up with that, a flash of blue lightning crackled behind her, frying a bulletin board. She whirled around to see that, in the time she had been stopped, the creature had turned the corner into her hallway, and was firing bolts of lightning left and right.
"You see?" the purple machine yelled. "Why is she just standing there?"
"Because she doesn't know how to think," the yellow machine replied. "Stop looking at us and go! We can't do anything unless you're outside! Octus, we-"
"The creature is approaching at top speed," Octus said, cutting the yellow machine off. It was still staring at Kimmie, and its monotone was slightly more high-pitched with these words. "Without the lockers in this hallway…"
"What – oh, no, Octus, don't –" Whatever the yellow machine was going to tell Octus not to do, it paid her no heed. It ran away out the thru-hallway opening, slipping through just seconds before it was sealed. Within four seconds of speed-running, it caught up to Kimmie, scooped her up into its arms, and darted through the nearest doorway, which turned out to lead into a small broom closet. It set Kimmie down on a bucket of floor polish and slammed the door shut just as the creature's roar shook the hallway. There was a crash, a loud thud, and from there a low, consistent scraping sound against the metal door.
Even with said scraping, the tiny room was eerily quiet. Kimmie sat with her head on her knees on the large bucket, rubbing her arms to rid herself of the tingling feeling that remained from when Octus had been holding her. She was staring wide-eyed at Octus itself with something between wonder and terror. Its hands – if Kimmie could call them hands – were still pressed tight against the door, and he made no move towards her. Kimmie, in turn, was equally unwilling to attract his attention.
"Average speed, two meters in five seconds," it said finally. Its headpiece flashed as it spoke. "A slower speed than initially calculated. She could easily have outrun it."
It turned to face Kimmie, if its triangular apparatus could be called a head. When Kimmie did not move to respond, Octus turned away and went on. "I made a mistake, L-uh, Manus! I didn't think she would – Why does that matter? We will be freed long before the creature reaches the outside. I'm giving you a map of the school now. Punch through walls and I'll- no, no, Il- uh, Corus, I know, but it doesn't matter! Would you have left her to die?"
Octus's headpiece stopped flashing. It made a low sound that resembled a sigh, and turned again to face Kimmie. She had not moved since the last time it had looked at her. It turned all the way around, so as to be polite, and stood in silence for just a second before speaking. "Ah, sorry about that," it said. "I'm sure you're confused. But…" It paused for a beat. "I'm not going to hurt you." It paused again for a response that never came. "I'm not. Really."
There was another silence. Finally, Kimmie closed her eyes, and her entire face relaxed. "Okay. I…I'm not afraid of you," she said, mustering up all the authoritative tone she could.
"Then why did you close your eyes?" Octus said, a hurt inflection sneaking into its voice.
"Because…" Kimmie gave up finding a reason that would satisfy Octus, and opened her eyes. She tensed, but stood strong. "Okay. Okay…"
"I'll promise as many times as you need me to," Octus went on.
"No, no, what difference would it make?" Kimmie grumbled. "Either way, I'm trapped in here…whatever, I'll just starve to death anyway."
"We'll only be trapped for a short time," Octus said quickly. "The creature is approximately 950 meters in length, and only just wide enough to fit in these hallways," Octus said. "It is having difficulty moving through the school. My, er, companions are working to chase it out of a door, so as to incur the least amount of damage. But I am afraid we are trapped in this room until the creature passes us by."
"Right," Kimmie said, looking determinedly right at the robot. "And there's no other way out?"
"There is a ventilation shaft just to the right of you, but neither you nor I would be able to fit through it. But…" Octus's eye flashed, but when it spoke again, its tone was forlorn. "This closet is located in the middle of this building, surrounded on all sides by the creature. I could punch through the ceiling, but I do not have the capacity to break the structure and protect you from the falling rubble at the same time. Or do I? I won't risk it."
Octus was still again. Kimmie could not see any emotion on his headpiece, so she assumed that he had none to give. She relaxed somewhat, letting her feet fall to the floor. The noise of the creature continued on behind the door. She saw no reason to speak. She hadn't expected any of the robots to be able to speak at all, just as Titan had never spoken, so she figured as long as it did not say anything unnecessary, Octus would remain within her comfort zone of acceptable robotics.
"You haven't asked what I am yet," Octus said suddenly, throwing Kimmie off. "I would have thought you wanted to know. Of course if you don't, that's also…you don't have to know."
Kimmie twitched. Not only could the robot talk, it could try to hold a conversation. She closed her eyes again, but opened them again quickly. "Would you tell me if I did?"
Octus paused for a second. "Probably not."
Kimmie twitched. A hot curiosity was filling her mind, mixing with her fear. "You mentioned Titan," she said. Her leg began to jiggle. "Forming Titan. Can you tell me what that means?"
Octus was silent for a time after she had spoken. "There is only so much it is safe to compromise," it finally said. "The Titan is a fusion of my abilities and the abilities of my two companions. That is all I can say."
"Can you say why?"
Octus was again still – eerily still. "No."
"Can you tell me why these things keep attacking Sherman?"
Kimmie grabbed the sides of the tub in frustration. "It just makes no sense," she said mostly to herself. "If monsters are going to attack, why here? And as soon as they show up…" She looked up at Octus, and blanched. "I don't have to go into Witness Protection or anything, do I?" she said very fast.
Octus took a step forward. When Kimmie balked, he stopped moving. "Ki – er, what is your name?"
"There is only so much it is safe to compromise," she said sardonically.
Octus's eye flashed. "My name is Octus," it said almost sadly.
"I heard," Kimmie said, looking ashamed, but still riled. "That's kinda weird. You don't look much like an octopus." Octus made a low, rough sound – was it laughter? Kimmie couldn't tell. "I'm Kimberly Meisner."
"Kimmie, I would never – I have told you nothing that will put you in any danger."
"Then why am I trapped in a closet by a lightning-shooting turd with the robot that's supposed to stop it?" Kimmie found herself saying in anger.
"My mission is to protect," Octus said definitively. "You will be safe in three minutes' time as long as you vacate the premises, at which time my companions and I-"
"But what are you protecting if you ruin everything?" Kimmie blurted. "Okay, so you kill the – the things – but – how call you call that crater protected? And I couldn't go to MallOmega for almost a MONTH because that purple – your companion trashed it! Everything's shaken. And people are…are..."
Kimmie panted from the effort. She looked up to see that Octus had moved away from her. She found herself wondering whether Octus was so unfeeling, if it was affected by her words – a wound that Octus twisted the knife in when it spoke again. "That is a question I have long pondered, but the monsters do not follow my analysis. We have tried our hardest. Our mission is to protect."
"Ah-" Kimmie tried "No, forget it. But, no. I just…I don't understand. And don't like it when people keep secrets from me. When they think I can't handle them. Like you, thinking you had to tell me I'd be okay. Maybe I was scared, but…but so what? There are no fires. Everything gets knocked down."
Octus didn't speak. Slowly, it held up a hand to reach for her, but hesistated. Kimmie did not encourage it. "Sorry," she said instead. "I'm just kind of sensitive about that."
"If I can keep as few secrets as possible," Octus said, "I will admit I am…curious as to your meaning."
"Oh, it was silly." Kimmie frowned, but with sadness, not anger. "Nothing you'd understand."
"Hold on," Octus said. His eyepiece began to flash. "Manus, I have approximately 1.3 more minutes before the exit is clear. Okay, good. Keep it in the parking lot. No, nothing." His eyepiece stopped flashing. "Try me," Octus said.
The robot's informal tone surprised, but also encouraged her. "There was this boy…wow, I sound silly already…anyway…no, that's not how I should start. People think I'm stupid. That I can't do anything but be a cheerleader. And…I used to think I was stupid, too. I hated myself for it." She paused. "And Newton…well…I thought he believed in me. I don't know why…I was terrible to him, before…but he told me, what was it he said…"Your brain is 1100 cubic centimeters, just like everyone else."" She laughed, but it was a sad laugh. "He was so funny…and whenever I was around him I felt safe."
With her face fallen, Kimmie didn't notice that Octus had come even closer – and there was no way to tell what, at that moment, it was thinking. "But then…there was this one secret he kept from me. His eyes would go all weird, and he'd just…vanish. And he'd never tell me why. If he believed in me so much, why didn't he think I could know what was going on? Because I couldn't understand –" She looked up to see Octus. "Wow…that was…sorry."
Octus placed its hand on her shoulder. It was soft to the touch, but also fluid, smooth, and not at all the temperature of a human hand. "I was not trying to affront you," he said. "Our enemies are forever trying to find us, and I do not want to make you a target."
Kimmie's eyes went wide, and she smiled – smiled wider than she had the entire time. "Well, that takes care of that. I just wish he'd said something like that to me."
Octus's eyepiece flashed. "Kimmie, close your eyes for a moment."
Kimmie closed her eyes. Octus removed its hand from her shoulder, and Newton stood up straight, looking down at her from his full height. He analyzed her; her heart was beating quickly in confused anticipation, and the remnants of tears still stained her cheeks. Then he turned off all his analysis, anything that obscured his view of her. She was still as beautiful as the last time she had spoken to him, not as a robot but as a tall, square human, and with this thought he also considered what, if he told her to open her eyes, she would think of him now.
Then a failsafe took over his emotional thought. Lance, Ilana, Mutrad, Galaluna. The mission. Telling Kimmie any more would be compromise. So said the programming, at this point and time.
"One day," Newton said to himself. "But not today."
The rumbling, scraping sound of the monster ground to a stop. Octus opened the door, which fell outside off its hinges, and put its arms around Kimmie, directing her to stand. It held her hand and led her outside through the door, stopping when they reached the middle of the scorched, ruined hallway. "You can open your eyes now," it said.
Kimmie opened her eyes and cringed, holding her hand over her eyes to obscure the sun. She took a quick look around, smiling. "It's…it's over!"
"The exit is just down the north stairs," it said. "The creature is no longer blocking it."
"I- wow. Thank you." Kimmie smiled up at the robot. He wished, wished desperately, that he could smile back.
When Kimmie did not make any move down the stairs, Octus had to act. It rose halfway up the hallway, and turned to face the window. "Keep safe," it said, and then, as an afterthought, "Please."
Before Kimmie could say goodbye, if she had ever wanted to say goodbye, Octus flew down the stairwell ahead of her. Within seconds, he was out the door and out of sight.
Now willing to follow his lead, Kimmie ran for the stairwell. But, before she could reach the stairs, she was arrested in her tracks by a loud, bright flash, and soon enough, Kimmie could see the bright blue Titan, or rather only the upper half of the Titan's calves, running away from the window, and through as little of Sherman as possible, with steps that made the earth shake.
Two days later, when the county superintendent was browsing the education budget for more arts programs to cut to fund Sherman High's reconstruction, he was surprised to find that twenty million dollars had been donated to the county, in particular to Sherman High, with the stipulation that they be used for "Emergency Repairs." There was no record of the transaction, and the benefactor did not leave a name.
Okay, I hope you liked that! :D