Ghost in the Machine
by Mere (mbmincey at hotmail.com)
He let Pierre chew on that, leaving the boy to fume as he
flew down to Dr. Slate's lab. Rusty found her at her computer,
talking into a headset. She seemed tense which made Rusty tense.
Something really bad must be happening.
"Slate to Pit Crew: Please respond." He swooped down behind
her, hovering over Dr. Slate's shoulder as they looked at the
scrambled static on her monitor. "This is Dr. Slate, over. Does
anyone read me?"
"What's the poop?" Rusty asked. Dr. Slate twisted around to
see him, brows shooting up.
"The skinny, the lowdown, the word. Y'know, the poop."
"Don't say poop, Rusty." Dr. Slate admonished. "And to answer
your question... I don't know yet. I received a signal, but I
haven't been able to get ahold of anyone." She turned back to her
computer, trying to improve the signal but not making much progress.
"Pit Crew come in. Legend One.... Oh, forget it."
Finally fed up, Dr. Slate started typing, her fingers flying
over the keys super-fast. Rusty figured she'd make a pretty good
robot, seeing as how she could do that. "Go see if anything is on
"But shouldn't I report to the Dark Horse or
"No, not until I contact Big Guy or the Pit Crew. I'm not
sending you out there without knowing what's going on."
Rusty sighed. *Shoot.*
"Oh, all right...." He flew back towards his room, shoulders
drooping. He would be better help if he went to the Dark Horse.
*But nooooo, I have to stay here like a coward. If it were
Big Guy, he'd just go in guns a-blazing.*
Rusty found Pierre still in his room (and touching his
stuff!), drawing on his Big Guy poster with a black magic marker.
Big Guy had a big mustache and pointy beard, with a word balloon
making him say 'Guess what comes out of my butt.' Rusty stared in
dismay, bringing his hands to his cheeks. "What are you doing?!?"
Pierre spun around, startled to have someone suddenly behind
him, and then grinned. "I was just coloring...."
"You... you ruined it!!!" Rusty snatched the marker away
from Pierre, completely at a loss as to why he would do such a
thing. Big Guy was the greatest and all he ever did to Pierre was
save his life!
"Boo-hoo. Somebody call the waaaa-bulance. I've defiled the
Big Guy shrine."
"I don't care what Big Guy said about you! You're... you're
just evil, Pierre!"
Then the floor suddenly shook, a terrible crash coming from
downstairs, and they both struggled to keep balance as a large
crack climbed up the opposite wall. They glanced at each other, the
realization of what was happening sinking in like an anchor as the
floor of Rusty's entire room started to crumble and give way. "Not
good," Rusty said before the floor was no longer under their feet,
but crashing down. Pierre screamed as they fell and Rusty rushed
towards him, grabbing him awkwardly by the ankle just before he went
splat on the, rubble covered floor Dr. Slate's lab.
"Omigod, omigod, omigod!" Pierre cried as Rusty placed him
down gently as possible. He ran out of the lab, tripping and
stumbling over the debris on the way. He was safe. Which left Rusty
to find the person he was most concerned about.
"DOCTOR SLATE!" He searched her lab. Most of it littered with
broken pieces of concrete and all his possessions. Broken toys
didn't matter right now though. Dr. Slate did and when he didn't see
her anywhere he let out a loud sigh of relief. She must have got up
and went while he was upstairs. The first thing he had ever been
afraid of in his brief existence was something happening to his
The sound of thrusters burning behind him made Rusty whip
around to see Big Guy right outside the massive hole in the wall
that somebody had decided to put there and a huge smile came to his
face. "Big Guy!" Rusty exclaimed, relieved to see his partner was
here. Big Guy would take care of everything. "Big Guy, there was
some sort of explosion and--" Big Guy released the proton cannon in
his left wrist and aimed it right at Rusty. "....Um, Big Guy?"
"The one and _only_" he said coldly. "Now who's hankerin' for
a spankerin'?" The familiar sound of the cannon warming up allowed
Rusty a split second to dive out of the way of the blast as it went
through the other wall. Rusty ducked and rolled, trying to
comprehend why this was happening.
"What are you doing?!?" Rusty demanded. He wasn't sure if
this was Big Guy or not. Big Guy had malfunctioned before, but then
he'd also had evil twins before too. Neither sounded very good, and
whoever he was he was going to hit the nucleoproton pump if he
wasn't careful. They'd all be dead meat and scrap metal then.
*Better get 'im away from here. Away from all the people....*
Rusty heavily charged his hands and made a shot at Big Guy's
eyes as came after him. Big Guy would have a hard time fighting if
he couldn't see Rusty reasoned, and it wouldn't damage him too much.
Direct hit! Big Guy stumbled backwards and fell right out of
the hole in the wall!
"I nailed him! Uh, I mean, sorry...." Rusty flew towards the
hole, looking down as it began to rain outside, water lightly
tapping on his head and rolling down off his cheeks. He didn't see
Big Guy anywhere. "Big Guy....?" Rusty called out worriedly. What if
it really was Big Guy and he'd hurt 'im?
Rusty gasped and zipped out of the way of Big Guy's foot as
it ground into the lab floor, tile cracking like eggshells. Rusty
quickly flew up into the sky, maneuvering behind Big Guy and prepared
to fire on his utility hatch. If he could breach Big Guy's hull he'd
have a chance. Big Guy was softer on the inside like he was.
No dice. Big Guy spun around fast, his face damaged but
rapidly being repaired.
"Whoa. No way." Rusty said in disbelief. "Your face is
growing back...." His brief pause proved to be a huge mistake. Big
Guy hit Rusty with a massive fist, pounding him into the side of the
Tower and leaving a dumbstruck Rusty smashed into a big, crumbling
"Yeah, now if I could only do something about that burning,
itching sensation...." Big Guy said, watching as Rusty plummeted
twenty-nine stories down then leaving another crater in the Earth.
"They sure don't make 'em like they used to, eh, little buddy?"
Don't worry. I'll show what happened to poor Jo and Mack
On to Part 5!
Back to part 3
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