Mighty Orbots was a short-lived cartoon that aired for only 13 episodes (one season) on Saturday mornings back in 1984. Compared to the typical animation style, this show really stood out. There was a tremendous amount of movement in each scene, the shading was incredible, and camera angles unusual. I would suffer through Superfriends and Scooby Doo just to watch it. After all these years, here is a fanfic of Rob Simmons, Orbots Commander, as a young boy. Enjoy!
To Build A Robot
"Stop shoving, Nate!" Rob said irritably, making a grab for his backpack as it started slipping off his bony shoulder.
Nate laughed at his little brother, his longish light red hair moving in the slight breeze, "If you're going to join the football team, you need to block better!"
Meggy Simmons, red hair pinned back from her face, but free flowing in gentle waves down her back put herself between them. The little 6 year old scowled at the brother that towered over her and shook a finger at him, "Leave him alone! Not everyone wants to go into sports like you!"
"All of you, knock it off." Ben walked by the three of them. Tall and gangly, the voice of the eldest of the Simmons brood cracked slightly as he talked, "Can't we walk home from the bus stop just once without having an argument?"
Nate made a face at Ben, "Man, you are no fun since you started high school."
"We all have to grow up sometime." Meggy said in her mothering tone as she grabbed Rob's arm and pulled him behind her.
"Speaking of someone who likes to boss people around like she's Mother." Nate said to her. Meggy stuck out her tongue at him.
Nearing the house, Nate took off at a run, "And we're watching the Interplanetary Basketball game!"
Ben suddenly sprinted forward, "Not if I get there first!"
Rob sighed as his two brothers disappeared into the house. Meggy cocked her head up at him, her young face concerned. "Are you okay? You haven't smiled much. School?"
Rob smiled a little, "Nate is right. You were born mothering everyone."
"Someone has to help Mom out with a house full of boys." Meggy said earnestly.
"School is fine. I aced today's science test."
Meggy jumped up the steps to the house, "You have to tell Mom! She'll love it!"
Rob was sure she would. So far he had been the only one to show such an interest in science. Nate was all about sports, Ben about following in Dad's footsteps in the Galaxy Patrol, and Meggy preferred to be a 'typical girl', whatever that was.
Trying to put his problems out of his head, Rob entered the house and kicked off his shoes. He heard Meggy's small footsteps run up the stairs. Figuring he might as well give his Mother a little good news, he headed through the house entryway, past the little-used parlor and towards the back room his Mother used as a home office.
His Mother's workroom was empty, but she must have recently been in the room as he could still smell the perfume she liked to use. Her workbench was covered with various robotic parts, tools and storage cards. The large computer next to the workbench was still activated, but the controls locked, a necessary precaution in a household of naturally curious kids. To Rob, it looked like she was in the middle of another project for Industrial Robotics.
Rob looked over the small lump in the middle of the workbench. He could identify a processor unit and joints where he assumed appendages would eventually attach. Sitting up on the chair on his knees, his hands on the workbench to hold himself up, he looked it over, wondering where the outer senses would go and what it was for. Or maybe she was just building a component for a much larger robot prototype?
Then he heard what had made his stomach roil in the past few weeks.
"I have to go! They need me!" his Fathers deep voice easily carried from the living room through the open door of the workroom, even though he wasn't yelling. Rob had always loved his Father's voice, with its deep rich timber. He only hoped once his voice started changing that it would sound a little similar compared to the higher voice he had now.
Idly, he wondered if Ben and Nate could hear the argument from the entertainment room. If they already had the game tuned into the holovid, it was unlikely. Rob tinkered with the tools on his mothers workbench, trying to ignore the argument, and yet at the same time not wanting to move away so he couldn't hear it.
"I know they need you! But I need you, too!" His Mother wasn't even trying to disguise that she was yelling.
"All I can do is the best I can do." Rob's Father answered back in frustration, but not as loudly as before. "I don't want our children to grow up on yet another planet ruled by some crime syndicate, slave lord, or heaven forbid, Shadow. Galactic Patrol is already short of recruits, much less experienced field personnel."
"I don't want that, either. But, they have to give you a little time off. I need help around here. Our children need to grow up knowing what their Father looks like. There has to be a balance!" Andrea said, also a little less loudly.
Rob had heard versions of this argument before, but lately they had become far more frequent. He hoped this was the signal that the fight was coming to an end. His hopes become even stronger when he heard his Father say, "I want it, as well. I'll talk with Rhondu about a few days off after this mission."
The voices quieted a little more, making it more difficult for Rob to hear. Swinging his backpack off the floor, Rob headed for his small room. Suddenly, he very much wanted to be alone.
The house had been one of the perks of his Father joining the Galactic Patrol. His room was small, but at least it was a space he could call his own. The house was large, but hadn't really been designed with a family in mind. The main level of the house held the general living areas; along with a formal parlor the kids were forbidden to play in. Then there were his Mothers workroom, and a recreation room in the back where the kids could be as messy as they wanted.
Upstairs had once held only two bedrooms and a big multi-purpose room, which had quickly been divided up into small bedrooms for the large Simmons family. Rob didn't mind having such a small room. It was a lot better than the small apartment he remembered from a few years ago where everyone had to share a room, which for him had meant sharing with Meggy.
Not that it had been too bad, but it had grown tiresome being told to clean 'his half' of the room all the time, and then finding his bed had been taken over with stuffed animals. Now he could leave his jacket over the back of his desk chair without automatically being told to hang it up in the closet.
Trying to get his mind off what he had walked in on downstairs, he started up his computer and began his homework. That kept him occupied for less than a half hour, and included finishing two worksheets for extra credit.
Rob heard a tap on the door behind him, and had just enough time to turn around from his desk before Thomas Simmons walked it. He was tall and muscular, with fair skin and a mop of closely cut blond hair. Of all the Simmons children, Rob had taken after his coloring the most. If only he had taken after his Father in build and confidence. Tired blue eyes looked at him, but his face held a smile, "I'm heading out."
"Good luck on whatever you're doing." Rob said as his Father walked to the desk.
Placing a big hand on Rob's shoulder, he looked over at what Rob was working on. "Amazing. I always hated homework, and you always have yours done before dinner touches the table."
Rob shrugged, "I like getting it done fast. Then I can do my own stuff."
"Take care of yourself. I'm hoping to be home in a week." He briefly squeezed Robs shoulder before letting go.
"You, too." Rob said.
He watched his Father leave. A minute later, he stood at the bedroom window, watching the hover car take to the air and head in the direction of the new Galaxy Patrol Headquarters building.
A day later, Rob wished he had followed his Father out the door for a better goodbye. His first clue that something was wrong came from his Mother's face when they came home from school. Ben and Nate had decided to argue about the game they had apparently watched the night before, but instantly stopped when they saw her.
She looked like she had been crying, and was about to break down again. The two older brothers retreated to the entertainment room and closed the door. Wanting to say something, but not knowing what, Rob hovered near his Mothers workroom where she had taken refuge. When it became apparent she had lost track of time, Rob looked through the kitchen for something to make for dinner.
Meggy, in turn, hovered near Rob while being unusually quiet. As he prepared dinner, she set the table and then quietly drew pictures on a computer pad, her eyes darting towards the entrance to the workroom, and then to Rob. Like Rob, she knew something was wrong, but not what.
As he quietly moved through the house to get Ben and Nate, he caught sight of his Mother sitting at her workbench, staring and fiddling with the same robotic parts over and over. He had to call her three times before she finally came to the table to eat, and even then she only picked at her food. Rob ate silently, wondering if he should ask what was wrong while Ben and Nate talked about something going on at school. Meggy stayed silent, continued to watch, but still managed to plow through her entire dinner of heated up fish and potatoes.
After dinner his Mother went back to her workbench, playing with the same robotic pieces. Ben and Nate quietly disappeared. Meggy helped carry the dishes to the kitchen, but then disappeared upstairs into her room. Rob looked in once, but left her alone when he saw that Meggy had her favorite stuffed animals sitting in chairs around a table, having an imaginary tea party afraid he might get roped into joining.
Rob stayed downstairs for most of the night, instinctively hovering near his Mother, hoping she would say something.
Then came the phone call. Rob had crept closer, close enough to hear the words "we found the remains of the spacecraft, but not Thomas Simmons. We are continuing the search."
When the call ended, Rob caught a glimpse of the Galaxy Patrol logo on her computer.
His heart sunk. His Father had gone missing while on his mission. Rob didn't even know where he had been sent. He wasn't sure his Mom would know, either. So much of the work Galaxy Security did was top secret, with how big of a problem Shadow was becoming.
The next day after school, Andrea Simmons set her four children down at the table and told them "Daddy is lost right now" and that Galaxy Patrol had their best people looking for him.
From then on, Meggy went back and forth from clinging to her Mother to continuing her stuffed animal tea parties. His Mom went through the day-to-day actions, but jumped every time the vidphone rang. Ben and Nate became even more subdued. Nate took refuge in even more after-school sports, and Ben joined another study group.
Rob did what he could when he could, but he could tell his Mother was getting overwhelmed between working in her robotic studio, the hours she was required to be at the home office of Industrial Robotics and taking care of the house. Despite their efforts, the kitchen became more and more cluttered, the rugs needed vacuuming, and the various small things slipped by.
By Friday still no word had come. As he and Meggy walked into the house from school alone, it was to be kissed quickly by their Mother as she ran out for an emergency meeting at Industrial Robotics.
Rob turned on music while he prepared dinner for him, while Meggy chattered away at the kitchen table about the new friend she had made in class. Rob was glad to hear her happy.
As they ate Meggy observed, "You didn't do your homework tonight."
"You didn't yesterday, either."
Rob took a drink of water, "Are you keeping track?"
Meggy shrugged as she speared a piece of diced meat, "You always do homework right away. Is it because Dad is lost?"
Rob wondered how much he should say, and chose to keep it simple, "Mom needs help around the house right now. Her company has really been working her hard."
Meggy thought about that for a moment, and then pushed a stray strand of red hair out of her face, "Yeah, I guess so. Too bad we don't have a house-bot. Bridget says she does. They don't have to clean hardly anything!"
Which would be nice, Rob thought to himself as he was cleaning the kitchen. With six people in the house, something always needed cleaned, dusted, put away or washed. Their family was hardly rich, by any means. The only robot they had around was an old outdoors robot for cleaning the high windows of the multi-story home. And more often than not it didn't work.
It was ironic his Mother designed the things, and yet they couldn't afford to have a helper in the house.
Trying to catch up on the vacuuming, Rob stopped at the door into his Mothers robotic studio. Turning off the vacuum, he looked at the workbench, with the various tools and materials strewn over it.
If they couldn't buy one, why couldn't they make one? Just because his Mother was so busy didn't mean he didn't have the time.
A minute later Rob hovered over the workbench looking at what was there with a new eye. Opening and closing various drawers and cupboards he found more treasures. He had studied some of the drawings of robots before, but now that he wanted to build one himself, he was at a loss of where to start, but excited about the prospect.
A base first, the skeleton, he decided a short time later after seeing a simple schematic drawing sitting on one corner of the workbench. Everything built up from the skeleton.
And he needed a place to build it. He didn't have room in his bedroom, but the basement might have somewhere quiet where he could work.
Rob then went off on a scouting mission of his own. He ended up stacking boxes and placing a board between them in a dark corner of the basement. He found a clamp light in a box, and clamped it to pipe above the newly made workbench.
Then he started collecting parts for the skeleton including tubing from one of the cupboards.
By the time his Mother came home, Rob was well on his way towards making his own robot.
Over the weekend, he studied plans and techniques on the internet, making quick computer sketches. His first attempt at soldering some of the skeleton together failed miserably, causing the welded ends to stick out from each other at a strange angle.
Taking it back apart, Rob tried again and again. The state of the house grew worse, even with Meggy's best efforts to enlist the help of the two older brothers. Rob knew if he could just get his robot built, it wouldn't stay that way for long.
Then came the call they had been waiting for.
"Daddy isn't lost anymore!" His Mother announced in a loud happy voice.
Meggy jumped up and down, and ran upstairs to announce the good news to her stuffed animals. Ben and Nate high-fived each other, and then promptly got into a fight when Ben told Nate that he'd no reason to worry all this time.
Rob pushed his fists down into his pockets and hunched his shoulders, glad his Dad had been found alive and well, but upset that his return would probably result in another fight.
In the two days it took for Thomas Simmons to return home, Rob continued to put all his time and effort on the robot. But, try as he might, he wasn't much past constructing the skeleton by the time his Father arrived home.
The first thing his Father did was give them all a great big hug. His face was tired, but happy. The only thing he said about his mission was, "Turned out to be a lucky break. I accidentally found an illegal mining operation supplying Shadow and others. We have it shut down now. And now I get to enjoy two weeks home with my family!"
Rob gratefully helped out in the grand house clean-up, and didn't complain when it included weeding the desert landscape near the house. He figured Ben and Nate more than made up for him.
And still he worked at his make-shift workbench whenever possible. It was only a short time until his Father went back to work, and his Mother would feel overwhelmed again. If he could finish it, then the time his Father spent away from the family next time wouldn't be so hard on his Mother.
The skeleton that sat motionless in front of him. Maybe he could program it to help outside sometimes, too. But that would mean he would need to make it a lot more versatile.
Rob sat back and looked at the skeleton again and wrinkled his nose. There wasn't enough room to add more arms and still have room for the processor. Maybe he should just stop right now and take it apart and adapt it. The old house needed all the help it could get. He might as well design something that could do as much as possible.
"Robert Thomas Simmons, what are you doing with my tools?"
Rob froze at his mothers voice ringing out from behind him. He had been so focused on the project, he hadn't heard her come up behind him.
Rob gave a small silent sigh and put the tool he had been holding back down on the workbench. With his head down, he turned to face her.
Andrea Simons was already directly behind him, looking over the workbench, with the various missing tools strewn over it. "Oh Rob, you used the tubing! Do you know how long it took to order that? What were you thinking?"
"I was just trying to help." Rob muttered as he felt the tips of his ears growing warm.
"Rob, I swear, sometimes you are so focused on only what you want..."
Rob looked up, suddenly angry, "I wasn't being selfish! I was trying to help! We need help around the house, and Dad just can't be here with what all Shadow is doing. Not to mention the others in the news." He dropped his head to look at his shoes again, "It was only going to be a small robot. To help around the house and stuff. Then you and Dad wouldn't have to argue..." Rob's voice faded away, and he bit his lower lip.
She sighed, and Rob could imagine her counting slowly to regain her temper. "You should have come talk with us if you were feeling this way. We don't expect or want you to feel as though you have to solve our problems."
"I was just trying to help." Rob mumbled as his ears burned even more. He would be grounded for sure for this.
Then her voice softened. "You have a knack for this. It's a little rough, but you definitely have the shape down."
Rob looked up from his feet.
"If you really want to do this, then let's do it properly." She continued.
Rob's jaw dropped at this sudden change, not sure how he should react. It was a moment before he was able to ask, "How?"
"We'll do this right. And that means planning properly before you ever start the construction. Then there is much less chance of a big mistake later on that can ruin the entire robot. You need to know exactly where you are headed." She said.
"But they don't even teach this stuff at school yet. And you have to work all the time." Rob said, protesting even though he wanted to learn how.
"There isn't any reason you can't join me in my workroom after school. It's not like I ever have to worry about you not doing your homework later." Andrea said, and then held up her hand when Rob's emerging grin, "But there are rules. Remember I'm still working. You can watch, you can learn, you can ask questions when we aren't in the middle of an emergency. You would essentially be an apprentice, so you will need to behave like one. If I get really busy, you will need to study quietly at my desk. Agreed?"
Rob could no longer contain his grin. Even if they did design rather boring, limited-intelligence robotics, at least he could start learning! "No problem Mom, I know how to amuse myself if I have to. I can actually watch them being designed and constructed?"
"If this is something you are interested in, I don't see why not."
Rob spontaneously hugged his mother around the middle, closing his eyes for a moment. "Thank you."
Andrea hugged him back but immediately let go when Rob did.
"Now that we have that decided, would you mind giving me the parts back that I need to finish my project? And you can explain to me exactly what kind of robot you were trying to design. Once you have properly designed your robot, we'll see about buying the specific parts you will need."
Rob grinned as he looked at his mangled contraption. Soon, he would build something a lot better. Soon, he would build a proper robot.