Domestic Bliss

Part 3

by Mara

The Dark Horse was buzzing with activity. Several dozen people were swarming all over the primary launch area in the belly of the great ship. In the middle of all the hubbub stood a twenty foot tall robot. It was a dark grey color with black trim, but almost seemed to sparkle when the light hit it at just the right angle on the sleek exterior.

This Big Guy had little resemblance to his predecessor. The main design was the same: a man-shaped suit with thick armor and multiple weapons. However, this Big Guy looked, for lack of a better word, bad.

Bad as in intimidating and daunting. Dwayne stood with his hands on his hips as he observed the organized chaos all around him. The BGY-12 looked more like a samurai warrior than anything else to Dwayne. It was built more heavily than the first Big Guy as well. It had a energy shielding system, stealth armor, and long-range missile launchers, along with all of the guns its designers could pack into its frame.

Dwayne wasn't too concerned with any of these facts at the moment. His mind was preoccupied with the mission before him. Thorton had briefed him and the Pit Crew and given them as much information about the strange and hostile aliens as he could. It hadn't been much.

Jo, Garth, Mack, and Ellery were busy making last minute adjustments to the Big Guy. Several scientists, including Dr. Poindexter, the original creator of the Big Guy, walked by. Poindexter stopped as he saw Dwayne.

"Commander," Poindexter said as he approached Dwayne, datapad in hand, "I just wanted to offer my condolences. We all loved Jon. He was an incredible man."

Dwayne gave the elderly scientist a grim smile. "Thank you, Doc."

Their conversation was interrupted as Ellery, the newest and youngest member of the Pit Crew, strode up to Dwayne. Ellery, a fiery Hispanic woman in her mid twenties, sported a grease-stained pair of overalls topped by an official BGY Project hat covering her long brown hair. Even though other women would look rather comical and even boyish in this outfit, Ellery always managed to convey a sense of mystique and even elegance. She was very serious and formal when addressing Dwayne or any other superior officer. She always called him Commander. This amused Dwayne somewhat, since everyone else on the Pit Crew called him by his first name.

Thorton had stuck her on the pit crew for her many talents. Dwayne, when first presented with her file, had been blown away with her experience. She had served a term with the CIA. and rumor had it that she had been floating around in USAF Special Services for several years before arriving at BGY Headquarters. Of course, the USAF could neither confirm nor deny her whereabouts for the last two and a half years. Needless to say, Ellery was a great asset to Dwayne's crew, even if she was a bit hard to get along with at times.

"Commander." Ellery gave a sidelong glance to Dr. Poindexter. "We've checked out all systems. They're at 100%." She turned and walked away.

Poindexter smiled. "Well, isn't she a bundle of joy."

"Always." Dwayne smiled back at the doctor, feeling a little better after the slight jest. "She really needs to chill out. She's wound like a spring."

"Commander," Ellery was a few meters away, tapping her foot impatiently. "We are ready to launch."

"And not afraid to voice her thoughts and opinions, I see." Poindexter shook his head in amazement.

"Yeah, Dwayne said. "Kids today." His statement made him think about his own children, safe at home with his mother and Dar. Dwayne sighed and headed towards the dark metal frame of the BGY-12. Hopefully, he would come back alive to see them and E again.

"Commander," Dwayne spun as a familiar voice called to him from the direction he had just come. It was Ericka. She smiled as she gave him a hug. "Come back alive, okay?" Tears hung in the corners of her eyes as she looked up at Dwayne. "I don't need two dead heroes."

Dwayne gave her a reassuring squeeze. "I WILL come back." He gave her a passionate kiss, not caring who saw them. Several whistles issued from the catwalk above. Dwayne knew one had to belong to Garth, his second-in-command. Dwayne pulled away and smiled at his wife. "I love you, Doc."

Ericka gave him a wry grin. "I love you too, Commander."

"Commander!" This time Ellery's yell seemed to be even more demanding.

Dwayne headed for the Big Guy as sirens began to wail. It was launchtime. Dark Horse crew and various BGY Project coordinators scattered as Dwayne situated himself in the new cockpit. It was a little more cramped than the BGY-12, mostly because a lot more equipment had been added to improve the robot's performance.

Dwayne strapped in and looked at the small picture of his family that had been taped to one of the cockpit consoles. He smiled as he flipped switches to bring his heads up display online. Suddenly all his controls were floating several feet in front of his face. Holographic images of weapons drives, core temps, and hull pressure filled his field of vision. He could see beyond this, however, to the numerous screens situated at the front of the cockpit. Using the heads up holographs, he activated motor control and pressed some of the gostly buttons. The brand new Big Guy began to clomp towards the also newly commissioned Legend. Big Guy fired thrusters and situated himself in the gigantic cockpit.

Dwayne switched his mind over into Big Guy mode. For the benefit of the crewmen and newsmedia on the top deck Dwayne gave a thumbs-up signal. Big Guy mimicked his gesture perfectly. "Ah, love that new car smell," Dwayne said into his voice-changing pickup. He mustered bravado and confidence into his voice that he definately didn't feel.

Dwayne once again manipulated the controls and the Legend effortlessly lifted off and headed for the clouds.

Mack's voice piped up through Dwayne's helmet. "Okay, cowboy. Easy as pie. Kill the aliens, come home alive, or the Mrs. is gonna kill me."

Dwayne rolled his eyes at Mack's comment. "Thanks, Mack, that helps me a lot."

"Commander, let's focus on the mission." Ellery's curt comment cut off any further joking. "We have serious business to do."

"Exactly," Dwayne said. "I have a debt to repay." Jon's face seemed to float along with his heads up display. "I don't intend to let them do this ever again."

On to part 4!

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