Ghost in the Machine

Part 4

by Mere (mbmincey at

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 poop?"

"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 the news."

"But shouldn't I report to the Dark Horse or something?"

"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 creator.

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 impact crater.

"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 later.

On to Part 5!

Back to part 3

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