Smoke. Fire. Frantic yelling. Explosions. This is what Digger lived for. He was always looking forward to the next battle, even now with his life running low, near death, he couldn’t wait for the final blow to be struck. Unlike every other Deceiver, minus his fellow Builders, he didn’t have to worry about the inevitable curse of the Infesters. This battle had been particularly brutal. While he relished the fight, once this physical shell he inhabited became too damaged he looked forward to the final blow being struck, for it meant he was just that much closer to being re-downloaded into a new fresh body and getting back to the slaughter.
These humans and bots that made up the so-called ‘Snake Corp’ were no slouches in the damage dealing department, so when he found himself surrounded with no allies in sight through the haze of the heat and smoke of the brush fires, Digger prepared himself to deal one final blow before this end. His opponents though were being especially cagey. He didn’t like the vibe the situation was giving him, more so when a heavily armored bot in black unlimbered a launcher from a nearby truck instead of simply opening fire with the gun mounted on his shoulder.
“So you want to play with the new toys then, is it? Fine! Lets see just what it can do!” Digger yelled as he charged.
The tanky Slyder raised the launcher and pulled the trigger. Digger expected a final blast, followed by darkness. Instead there was a flash as he was hit by a huge electrified net, the shockwaves stunning him. His massive metal form crumpled to the ground as his enemies closed in on all sides, grinning down at him cruelly. Then and only then did his vision fade to black.
When Digger awoke he expected to be in a dimly lit Deceiver repair bay, surrounded by envious bots jealous of his unchanged physical form, unmarred by cruel spikes and wicked barbs, envious of his uncorrupted code. Instead he was flooded with light, strapped down to a massive metal table flanked by three bots. The one standing behind his head he recognized as Slyder, the one who had shot him. The other two took a few moments to place their names, but remember he finally did. Just as black as Slyder, Slyther with his hunchbacked missile launcher gazed down impassionately at him on his right while the purple form of Blades, unmistakable for the propeller protruding from his back stood at his left, arms cross over his chest. Digger began to test his bonds, the end of his digging arm snapping open and closed with a loud metallic clang.
“You sorry piles of scrap metal, if you don’t let me out of here I’ll make you regret it!” He growled menacingly.
There was the sound of electronics humming, gears turning and servos whining as a platform lowered down from high above him, a wild haired and even more wiled eyed human perched on its surface, rumpled clothing and a long white lab coat covered in stains draped over his thin bony frame. When he spoke it sounded as though the words were forced through his long, sharply angled nose instead of his mouth, full of yellowed crooked teeth.
“Oh no, my large orange friend, your our honored guest! I wouldn’t dream of turning you out into the cold. Not until you’ve shared your secrets with me.”
Digger strained harder against his bonds. The Snake Corp bots grabbed hold of him and forced him to remain still. The platform extended towards his head, bringing the sinister Doctor Mindtwist closer to him.
“I WON’T TELL YOU ANYTHING YOU SICK HUMAN FREAK!” Digger shouted as he struggled futility against all that was holding him down.
The mad doctor’s face twisted up into a most grinch-like grin. He reached down, placing his hands into a pair of metal gauntlets resting on a control panel, a series of wires trailing out of them. An array of snapping metal claws, whirling buzzsaws and sparking electrodes attached to the platform sprang to life, filling the cavernous laboratory with the buzzing of their electrical current. He narrowed his eyes at the unwilling victim of his latest experiment, feral smile still plaster across his fiendish face.
“I’m afraid I don’t need you to speak to find out what I need to know, though you may feel free to scream all you wish. I’m told this procedure can be quite painful…”
Pressing a button, ‘Votre Toast, Je Peux Vous Le Rendre’ from the opera Carmen filled the room, almost, but not quite, drowning out the sounds of Digger’s roars of agony.
The sun was beginning to set behind him as Captain Jack Starwin of Max Star’s Special Branch lifted the pair of binoculars to his eyes and cast his now magnified gaze upon the Snake Corp laboratory nestled amongst the hills of the South American jungle. A large swath of vegetation had been razed to the ground to open up space for the facility along with roads in and out. Convenient, since Max Star was planning on leading a strike team himself to level the place. That is, if Jack could gather enough intel. Max wasn’t about to risk himself and his people going in blind. He had observed the facility from the opposite side earlier and sent photos to their HQ through his wrist-mounted computer. Now he just needed to get a good view from this angle and the mission could be a go.
Taking out his micro camera from a pocket on his olive green coveralls he plugged in a retractable wire to his wrist computer and placed the camera lens to a binocular eyepiece. After snapping a few photos he pressed the button that would connect to Max Star’s private satellite and sent them off. A few moments later he received the expected call.
“Captain Starwin, got you intel. Looks good. Have you noticed any unusual activity at the site?”
Jack shook his head. “Nope, nothing ever since that strike team arrived with that big orange bot earlier today. Place has been locked up tight ever since. Nothing in or out.”
Max Star smiled on the tiny screen. “Thats great news! So do you recommend the mission is a go?”
Jack was about to answer to the affirmative, but he felt a slight trimmer in the ground he was crouched on. The chittering of the insects stopped. Another tremor, stronger this time. Birds in the distance suddenly took flight, fleeing from some unseen entity. The sound of snapping tree trunks echoed like approaching thunder through the valley.
“Captain. Jack! Come in, are you receiving?” Max asked, concerned at the lack of response.
“Hold on a second,” Jack murmured as he reached for his binoculars, “somethings coming this way.”
Raising his field glasses to his eyes, Jack peered across the valley, zeroing in on the disturbance, difficult to see anything due to the long shadows the setting sun was casting. When it finally came into view, Jack slowly lowered the binoculars, not needing them any longer. He raised his wrist computer up, though he couldn’t tear his gaze away from the sight before him.
“You know Max,” Jack rasped, his throat suddenly dry, “on second though, you might want to cancel that attack. I don’t think its going to be necessary anymore.”
Doctor Mindtwist was humming along with an aria when suddenly, finally, the scanners on his control panel turned green. He had found what he was looking for. The anomaly.
“EURIKA! At last!” He shouted triumphantly, cackling maniacally. “You gave me quite the run around, my large shovel-handed friend, but you couldn’t hide it from me forever! I suspected that you and your friends would have a fragment of odd data in your code, one which allowed you to stave off the Infester curse. This bit is incomplete, but theres enough here for me to work with, worry not.”
As the mad doctor produced a floppy disc from his coat pocket and inserted it into its slot on the control panel, Digger closed his eyes and ceased his struggling. He had held out as long as he could, but while his body was strong and could withstand nearly endless punishment, this human’s foul science had been too much for him to withstand indefinitely. What would his brothers-in-arms think of him? He was captured, tortured, held down so securely he couldn’t even end himself to keep from them what they wanted. For one of the very few times in his long existence, Digger began to feel a nearly foreign emotion: despair.
It was in this rare moment that Digger detected a faint pull, one that he was quite familiar with. Startled its its presence for a moment, he soon was filled with a sense of giddy optimism at the immanent prospect of sowing wanton destruction. He sat up as much as he could, the three Snake Corp bots, having relaxed their guard, jumping into action to once again hold him down.
“You know what, you insignificant speck? Your about to become very much acquainted with what that stray bit of code is really meant for…” Digger growled with murderous intent.
Doctor Mindtwist had only time to raise a shaggy eyebrow at the comment before alarm klaxons began blaring, red lights flashing in their domed cages. He stabbed a gnarled finger at the intercom button.
“What is the meaning of this interruption!? I am in the process of some very delicate work!”
The sound of a technician’s voice issued forth from a speaker grill, tinny with distortion and laden with faint static.”Sorry sir, but we’re facing an enemy bot attack!”
“How many?” he asked.
“One” came the reply.
The doctor balked. “One? Just one!? Is that all? This facility is supposed to be equipped to deal this sort of nuance!”
The technician’s voice wavered with fear. “Well, sir, its a pretty big bot! Really big! Bigger than anything I’ve ever seen before…”
Digger began to laugh, a rough, grating sound that set the doctor’s teeth on edge. The three Bots holding him down exchanged hesitant glances, a sense of foreboding hanging over their heads. There was a deep rumble as the ground shook and the walls of the massive, cavernous laboratory vibrated. The sounds of gunfire and explosions could be heard, muffled though they were through the walls of metal and concrete. The platform the doctor was standing on shook with such force he was forced to grab onto the hand rails for support.
“I think its high time I made my departure” he muttered to himself, prematurely ejecting the disk and shoving it in his pocket. “Such a shame I wasn’t able to get the whole code fragment, but I’m sure I have enough to work with.”
The doctor was about to launch into a truncated farewell speech to Digger when the large rolling doors at the far end of the laboratory exploded inward as a massive yellow foot kicked them in with a thunderous crash. His eyes nearly bugged out of his head as he saw that, though the massive doors were large enough to emit even their largest bot, Reptile, with ease, the shutters barely came to this bot’s waist. A colossal fist smashed in a section of the roof, the titan demanding entry.
“GIVE ME MY ARM!!!” a cacophony of voices boomed as one, the volume of which shattered any remaining unbroken glass throughout the entire facility.
With a thin, reedy scream Doctor Mindtwist threw off the control gauntlets and began mashing the button to take his platform to the roof as though his life depended on it.
“Here I am Master! Ready to rejoin my brothers and unleash Destruction!” Digger shouted joyously. Slyder, Slyther and Blades shared a single look, then as one abandoned their post, firing their weapons ineffectually over their shoulders as they beat a hasty retreat. Straining with all his might against his bonds, without the strength of 3 opponent bots holding him down, Digger finally gained his freedom. The massive form forced its way further into the room, then kneeled down, thrusting the empty socket of its unladen shoulder towards the ground as Digger jumped up and felt his insides unfold as he unleashed his code and made the connection.
Jack Starwin gaped in awe at the sight before him. He’d heard reports of a huge Atlantican gestalt bot, but this one looked much different from the few blurry photos that had managed to cross his desk. Mutely raising his camera, he numbly began to snap photos, requests to respond from his commanding officer falling on deaf ears as he bore witness to the untold destruction unfolding before his eyes.
The titan straightened back up, its missing arm now attached and bellowed so loud the trees all around him began to shed their leaves. A helicopter on the far side of the facility lifted off, drawing the attention and ire of the Avatar of Destruction. Though it smashed through the heavily reinforced structure with ease, it still was just slow enough that the helicopter managed to gain altitude and make a clean getaway. The same couldn’t be said of the three Snake Corp bots that came spilling out the back entrance. Having wasted precious time forcing their three bodies at once through a portal designed only for one at a time, they scrambled up from where they fell, Blades expending precious energy and effort to fold his body up into the form of an earth helicopter to try and outrun the giant like its predecessor. He wasn’t able to gain enough altitude in time and was swatted out of the sky like a fly by a massive orange hand.
Having the same idea but being confined to the ground, Slyder and Slyther altered their forms as well in a desperate bid to put distance between themselves and the instrument of their demise. Their respective tires and treads sprayed dirt and gravel as the body of Blades crashed down around them. They had only managed a few yards before a titanic foot IMPACTED the ground upon which they sped across. Slyther was flattened into a crumpled wreck, while Slyder being on the outer edge, was merely clipped. The shockwaves flung him through the air, tumbling end over end as he unfolded, arms and legs wheeling in midair as he made his decent. Fortunately for him, his black paint job allowed him to hide in the deep ravine he had tumbled down into, the titan’s attention once again drawn to the escaped helicopter. Releasing one final roar of rage and frustration in the direction of its escaped prey, Destructor turned and slowly stomped away down into a distant valley, the last bits of the setting sun glinting off of its heavily armored hide as they both disappeared beyond the horizon.
Jack Starwin, Captain in the Democracy’s military and reconnaissance outrider in Max Star’s special branch finally came to his senses enough to register the voice that had been begging for his attention over the past several minutes. Looking at Max Star’s expectant image on his wrist-mounted computer’s miniature screen, he knew the rules of combat had changed yet again, and not in their favor. A quick glance at the digital readout of his mini camera told him that it was completely full.
“Sir, I have vital intelligence. I’ll RTB as quickly as I can. I don’t trust sending any of this over satellite.”
Doctor Mindtwist pulled the floppy disk out of his pocket and began to cress its surface lovingly as though it were a dear pet.
“So thats what the fragment of code was really meant for…Better even beyond my wildest dreams! Even with only an incomplete copy, this bit of code in utterly invaluable! I must begin work immediately…”