Boy Droid: A Superhero's Story
written by Jason Galore on December 03, 2004 | contact me
number of views: 76957 | printable version (text) (PDF)
“What are your talking about, now?”
“Well, I mean, they’re both running around like ridiculous superheroes now.”
“It’s healthy for a boy to get outside.”
“I’m pretty sure I know what’s healthy for a boy, Yodeta. And its not that they’re dressing up and getting outside that bothers me, it’s that Mrs. Jo Hansen just called and apparently Turk and Ron Ron just ran through her garden screaming something about giant killer bees on the loose and that they were going to stop them with their secret attack shuttlecraft.”
“She told you all that?”
Doug, paused awaiting a retort. And he got one.
“Does that old bag have nothing better to do?” she shrieked.
“Oh, shut up, I don’t want to hear it. Leave me alone.”
Turk, eavesdropping around the corner, ran back inside his room and crawled into bed. He looked over at Ron Ron, recharging for the night.
“I think we should run away tomorrow, Ron Ron. We’ll go find Uncle Freddy. I think that would be a good idea.”
Mars Colony. 2349.
Ron Ron, a smashing sixty-third generation robot, leapt out of a tree and landed smack in the middle of a plum field, with a loud mechanical thud. His gleaming platinum body shined in the afternoon sunlight. He stood valiantly overlooking the expanses of the plum trees. Somewhere, his sidekick was lost. Alone. Vulnerable. And with the dreaded Exonerator on the loose, there was no telling what sort of madness was afoot.
He switched through his barrage of image settings, every spectrum was his toy. Suddenly, in heat sensor mode, he detected the presence of a being, just forty meters from his position. But was it friend or foe?
With silent motion, Ron Ron began his descent through the plum forest, its expanses an endless jungle. He stepped inaudibly and in a rapid motion that would make mere mortals shudder. In an instant, he was upon the being and it turned to him and smiled, “Hello, Ron Ron. Mrs. Jo Hansen went to her house to call my mom. We should get out of here.”
Turk was an undersized kid of nine. Blonde, dreaded hair, a lip piercing and a tight, form-fitting jumpsuit, the same dull blue color every other youngster on Mars wore.
The two walked side by side day in and day out. Ron Ron was Turk’s best friend and vise versa. If androids can have friends.
“I do not fear the Exonerator,” Ron Ron said in a digital voice.
“Yeah, I don’t fear the Exonerator, either, but my mom does have a tendency to get pretty scary when she’s mad.”
“Yes, I understand.”
Turk smiled, “Let’s head home.”
The walk home was the same as always, they passed by the smoke shop, where Mr. Millar and Dr. Hitch would play Othello all morning. They sauntered down Satriani Ave., where the bar was. Turk would stand on Ron Ron’s shoulders to peer in through the darkened glass. And finally, they’d cut across Phillip Circle and passed the library.
“Hey, Ron Ron, I wanna go to the library.”
Ginger was a small town, established in the 27th Century by bootleggers and carpetbaggers. As such, the library was chock full of stories from the bygone era.
Robots were not allowed inside. Turk made a nudge to Ron Ron and the automaton parked next to two other bots awaiting their young masters’ return.
The interior of the library was nothing new to Turk. He visited with his class at school and usually stopped in about once a month on his own. It was laid out like an old fashioned business office. A series of cubicles crisscrossed the single story building. One old lady, smelling of opium incense, sat at the desk, reading a monitor.
She glanced up at Turk. “Can I help you?” she muttered in a snooty voice.
“Um, I want to check out a story.”
“What did you want to look at?”
“Um, I’m not quite sure. Something with gunfights and bad guys and maybe a weird mutant or something.”
She stared at him for a brief time, her nose tilted up in the air.
“Try room twelve. I’ll send a good one down.”
Turk zigzagged down to room twelve and sat down in the reclining hoverchair.
The snooty lady’s voice came back on.
“This is the story of Sheriff Roethke, the fastest blaster in the Noach Desert.”
Turk’s eyes got wide as a holographic presentation burst to life in front of him.
He regaled at the exploits of Sheriff Roethke. Like when he saved the Terran Ambassador from the evil Dr. Clemens. How he wrestled a genetically modified super-mammoth to save his beloved Beatrice. And how he single-handedly captured the entire King-Holmes Gang during a holdup at the Bank of the Olympia.
Turk smiled as new ideas filled his head. Ideas that Ron Ron would absolutely love.
Late last week.
Nightfall, after Turk had shut down Ron Ron, Doug came in to put him to sleep. He sat comfortably on the side of the bunk and patted Turk on the head. The boy flashed him a smile and yawned with his dazed eyes.
“Are you and mommy going to get a divorce?”
“I’d love to say no, Turk. But you know how these things are. You remember that your uncle was getting a divorce from his second wife and he was sending all those messages from the Lunar Base?”
“I think so.”
“Well, he’s coming to stay with us for a little while.”
“Yeah. He’s been working across planet and the construction job he was doing got finished and now he’s coming out here to look for work.”
Doug felt so worthless. Helpless. He had nothing to say to the boy. All he could think about was that report due tomorrow for the superintendent.
“Now I want you to get some sleep and tomorrow morning he should be coming in on a flight from up by Noromo.”
“He’ll have all types of stories to tell: about the creatures in the Olympic Sea and the giant robots working on Kennedy Island.”
“I can’t wait.”
“That’s right, now get some sleep.”
Doug hated himself.
He stood up and walked to the doorway. As the door slid open, he mad a swiping motion across the wall and the lights went down to a low dim.
“Sweat dreams, son.”
“Don’t let the bed bugs bite,” he replied.
The door slid shut and Doug walked down the short hallway to the living quarters. He paused briefly before entering and took deep breath. Yodeta was in the next room. She’d be as bitchy as ever.
“Douglas? What are you wasting your time on now?” She yelled from her throne.
Daddy, are you and mommy getting a divorce?
Uncle Frederick rolled in around seven in the morning. He looked ragged, an uncouth beard, frizzed. His eyes were bloodshot like he’d been drinking too much.
“Gods, that flight was insane. I had a layover in the Anajacinto airport. And I’m sure you’ve read the reports lately, it’s just full of queers and pushers. Not that that sort of thing is all that bad, but when I’m on my way to fairly straight-laced part of Mars like this, I need to get into the atmosphere. Y’know. So how’s it going, Dougie.”
He slaps Doug on the back ridiculously hard. That type of hard that somehow proves your manhood to someone else, even though it’s just outlandish.
“I’m doing all right.”
Doug looked around for Yodeta. She was still in the shower, using up their entire water ration, paying no attention to the fact that Frederick had just gotten here and probably wanted to clean up too.
“Got any work?”
“Yeah, I’m delivering information disks for inner party members.”
His eyes widen. “Oh, I bet that’s good work.”
“Yeah, it pays pretty well.”
Doug pauses with his mouth open for a moment. “I’m sorry, I just started. I don’t think they’d let me request anyone for employment. You know how bad the market is right now. I’m lucky to have any work at all, what with Earth at war and all.”
“Yeah, I know. Well, if anything comes up, let me know.”
“Sure thing, Frederick.”
“Freddy’s fine.” He gave Doug a blank, very serious stare.
Just then, Yodeta walked out from the other room, dressed up and smiling.
She put on a show for Freddy. She hugged him and offered him tea and scones and the whole thing. Freddy raised his eyes and followed her orders.
Turk came out and sat down at the table, playing with a cube puzzle.
“So, Turk,” Freddy leaned down and smiled at him, “Tell me, you got yourself a sitter bot?”
“Yeah, his names Ron Ron.”
“Oh, Ron Ron. Is that right?” Freddy strokes his beard and raises an eyebrow, “What’s he like?”
“Oh, he’s all right,” Turk seemed disinterested, continuing to play with his cube.
“Pretty boring, I’d imagine.”
“Yeah, pretty boring.”
Doug and Yodeta made eyes briefly.
“I’ll tell you what, I had a job programming sitter bots a few years back. I don’t know, would you like me to maybe upgrade his programming a little, make him a tad more interesting?”
Turk tossed his head back to stare at the ceiling and bit his bottom lip as if thinking.
“Yeah, that would be fraz.”
“I don’t know about that,” said Doug.
“Oh let him reprogram Ron Ron. He has the dullest personality anyway,” Yodeta flailed her fingers around as she speaks. Doug noticed this for the first time and it annoyed him. It annoyed him something fierce.
Turk smiled at Freddy, “Can you make him a superhero?”
“Yeah, like on the Hero Channel.”
“Well. Let me think,” he placed his hands on his belly and leaned back in the chair, “Like on the Hero Channel, huh?”
“Yeah. He could be a superhero and I’d be his sidekick and we’d go have adventures.”
Doug ran his hand through his hair and looks at Turk, “I don’t know about that.”
Yodeta responded, “I think it would be a great idea, Freddy. He’d keep his redundant programming, right. So, no possibility of getting the boy into any danger?”
The boy? Thought Doug. She just wanted him out of her hair.
“Yeah, it’d be perfectly safe; I’ve done it a thousand times. Never a superhero, but I’ll give anything a go.” Freddy chugged his breakfast shake and let out a big burp. Turk laughed, proudly displaying the gap in his teeth.
“I guess I’m outvoted on this one.”
“Oh shut up, Doug. It’s just an android.”
Uncle Freddy sat next to Ron Ron, tinkering with his insides.
“So what type of superhero do you want Ron Ron to be?”
“Well, I was thinking that maybe he’d be a great hero like Captain Supremacy or something.”
“Captain Supremacy, huh. I remember watching him when I was a kid. It’s still on, huh.”
“Yeah. Last week he fought against the evil Dr. Gruesome and his horde of maniacal beasts.”
“Wow! Did Captain Supremacy win?”
“Yeah, he almost lost when he was captured by Dr. Gruesome’s Still-Life Laser, but he used his uncanny ability to move at supersonic speeds to break free and then he pounded Dr. Gruesome good.”
“Yeah, it was fraz.”
“Can you grab me a 12mm cap remover? That would be fraz.”
“Yeah.” Turk dug through his uncle’s tools and pulled a long, thin object from the box and handed it to Freddy.
“So tell me about the sea creatures.”
“The sea creatures?”
“Yeah, my dad told me you saw some sea creatures in the Olympic Sea.”
“Oh, right. I was on a off shore gold dig when this giant Megamon Serpent appeared off our starboard side. Now I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen pictures of a Megamon Serpent, but their teeth are all ratty and nasty, dripping all types of goo all over.”
“How big was it?”
“Oh it was huge. It was probably a good fifteen decameters from end to end.”
“Yeah. I’ll tell you I was quite scared. And you’re talkin’ to someone who’s been from one end of the solar system to the other. I’ve seen the Gorgon Superiors on Europa. I’ve faced off against Yetis on Earth and even battled giant death robots on Luna, armed with nothing but my spacesuit and a pressure blaster. But these Megamon Serpents were something. They have spikes and scales and all the things that make serpents pretty scary.”
“Were you scared.”
“Oh, sure I was scared. But that’s not what you think about at the time. Me and a buddy of mine, Draven, we grabbed the sonic drill closest to us and we shot it. It blasted its tail right off and the beast sank back to the ocean floor. It was scary, all right. But we beat it and celebrated afterwards. The boss gave me and Draven a bonus that week as well.”
“Yeah, it was quite the adventure.”
Uncle Freddy closed up the sitter bot and leaned back. “All done.”
“You know, Uncle Freddy, I wanna be just like you when I grow up.”
Freddy smiled and shook his head. “No, you don’t. You should study and go to college and then you’ll have all types of adventures of your own. The one thing I’ve learned in all my travels, there’s no replacement for a good education. Coz a good education gives you the foundation that you’ll need for the rest of your life.”
“Well, my dad. He works and works and works and is never around. And my mom just goes out with her friends and comes home smelling funny.”
Freddy pulls out a flask and holds it in front of Turk’s nose. “Does she smell like that?”
Turk leans back in repugnancy. “Yeah.”
“Yeah, I thought so.”
“Do your mommy and daddy fight?”
Turk looks around over his shoulders as if someone was listening. “My mom told me not to tell anyone, but they fight all the time. They don’t fight, but they yell at each other all the time. Sometimes it gets so bad that Dad leaves for a day or two at a time.”
“Too bad. I’ve been there.”
“It’s an expression.” Changing subjects, Freddy switches on Ron Ron, “Let’s see how we did.”
The robot bursts to life and places his hands on his waste very heroically.
“So, Turk, what mischief are the evildoers up to today?”
“I hope you like it.”
Turk throws himself on top of his uncle.
“Thank you, Uncle Freddy.”
At the dinner table, everyone was silent.
Uncle Freddy had finished very fast, Doug was picking at his food, and Mom wasn’t eating. Turk was in the middle of stuffing a big piece of tofu in his mouth when Mom decided to speak.
“Y’know,” she said in a drunken voice, “you were late again today.”
Doug glanced over at Uncle Freddy who pretended not to pay attention.
“I was delivering a report to Party Member Packard at the Simian Tower and he was in the middle of a meeting, so I had to wait for awhile.”
Uncle Freddy burst in, “This is really good, Yodeta. Just like Mom used to make.”
“Thanks. It took me weeks to find just the right ingredients to program the food processor with a glare at Doug. I’m glad someone appreciates it around here.”
“Can’t you just let it be for a night?” Doug was as surprised as Yodeta that he said something.
Uncle Freddy set down his fork and patted his lips with a napkin.
“Hey, Turk, why don’t you and I go watch the Hero Channel, I betcha there’s a really good show on.”
“Okay, I’m done anyway.”
Uncle Freddy grabbed Turk’s hand and tossed a spiteful glare at both his sister and her husband.
“What’s your problem?”
Freddy just smiled and said, “No problem. None at all.”
The two walked into the living room and flipped on the VidScreen. The room was decorated in out of date fashion. Very sleek, everything was black and white and shiny. Freddy plopped down on the couch and Turk crawled up next to him.
Suddenly, they heard yelling coming from the kitchen--
You don’t care one bit for that kid!
--and Freddy turned up the volume.
“Captain Supremacy, Defender of the Colonies!” the announcer said.
Morning came and Turk wandered out to the living room. Dad was asleep on the couch so he tried to be quiet.
He went to the kitchen to get some breakfast. Sitting on the kitchen table was a handwritten note from Uncle Freddy.
Sorry I couldn’t say goodbye. Got word from a buddy that there’s work out in Lake Argyre and I had to leave early this morning. Be in touch. Hope everything works out. Tell Turk, I hope Ron Ron is everything he needs in a hero. -Freddy
Turk sat down in a chair and sulked. Mom and Dad’s fighting made Uncle Freddy run off. What was next?
Just then his mom stumbled out into the kitchen, smelling like Uncle Freddy’s bottle again.
“Oh, you,” she squinted from the light as she looked around, “Where the hell’s Freddy?”
Turk and Ron Ron stumbled upon a survey team. They were positioned somewhere near the Merrikh Oasis, just on the outskirts of the Noach Desert. His mother had always told Turk never to venture into the Noach Desert. There were monsters there. That’s what she said. But Turk didn’t always listen.
After the initial recreation of the Martian ecosystem, scientists had been finding new and inventive ways to build a planet. One even went so far as to build an homage to his homeland of Norway in the Hellenic Sea with thousands of fjords created with plastic explosives. It caused irreparable environmental damage. But that didn’t seem to concern him. He was an artiste.
The survey team was digging up some area for new fertilization. They had all the essential tools out there. Giant cranes, tunnel rigs, and various sonic drills that towered high above the horizon. The artificial sun was beating down upon the crew in its midday torture. Even a man-made sun was too hot for manual labor. They did that just to keep the proletariat docile, that’s what Turk’s dad said. Of course, he delivered information from one party member to the other, making very small wages. Just enough to keep him on Mars and away from the festering collapse of human life on Earth.
Ron Ron and Turk stood on a ridge overlooking the dig crew. Maybe someone knew who Uncle Freddy was.
Just then the hard rocky soil began to tremble.
They could see the equipment in the distance shutter and collapse. Crewmembers ran in panic. A huge dust storm rolled through the valley. Suddenly, Turk was blinded. He fell and felt his knees crack against the hard ground, sending a harsh sensation shivering up his spine and to the base of his brain.
When the shaking stopped, Turk found himself at the bottom of a pit, dust washing down atop him from above. From out of the cloud, he could see the image of Ron Ron looking down at him from the surface.
“Are you okay?” asked Ron Ron.
“Yeah, I think so. But how do I get out.”
“Hold on.” Ron Ron disappeared.
“Ron Ron? Ron Ron?”
Suddenly, the sitter bot was slowly lowering down the crevice, a harness hooked to his waste. He stopped just centimeters from the ground.
“Going up,” he said in his robotic voice.
Turk grabbed hold of Ron Ron and the belt that was connected to something up top began to rise upwards.
Unexpectedly, there was an explosion from beneath them and the cavern began to shift. A large piece of rock shot out from the side of the chasm and railed into the side of Ron Ron. They reached the top and Ron Ron moved very slowly atop the ridge. Most abruptly, sparks began shooting from the damaged areas and his movement halted.
“Ron Ron. Ron Ron!”
“You must leave the area;” his voice had gotten much more computerized, “The crew has disturbed the geological makeup of the region and is causing some tectonic unrest.”
“I don’t want to leave. Everyone leaves me.” Tears streamed from Turk’s eyes.
Suddenly, a worker runs by and swoops up Turk, hurling him over his shoulder and dashing off with him, away from the ruins. Turk’s view of the hole and Ron Ron drift off into a smoldering oblivion until all he can see is the twisted metal, the burning rubble and the charred remains of workers. He lifts his head and glances at the man who lifted him from the rubble, believing so desperately it would be Uncle Freddy.
In fact, it wasn’t a construction worker at all.
It was Captain Supremacy, Defender of the Colonies.