"Our Jackie

"Our Jackie! I'm stuck on a loose board!" Nana Spicer howled.

Jack Spicer left his robots to work and jogged half-heartedly down the dock to where his grandmother made a show of trying to force her wheelchair over a loose board.

"I gotcha, Nana," the albino teen said, forcing the wheelchair up and over the board. "Are you sure you want to come all the way to Austria? I mean, it's going to be a long trip and you'll probably be bored."

"You aren't sailing half-way around the world and leaving me to go rusty in that empty house!"

"Actually, it's more like three quarters of the way around the world," Jack muttered. "We're going across the Pacific, through the Panama Canal, and across the Atlantic. Less pirates that way."

Nana Spicer looked as though she was going to comment, but quickly hefted her cane and used the curved handle to lift the shirt of a handsome young Chinese man who was carrying a box along the dock. The box-carrier yelped in shock and dropped his burden. Jack flinched as he heard the tell-tale tinkle of broken glass from inside the cardboard.

"Nana! I'm so sorry; she's senile!"

"I remember what a good looking man looks like," Nana Spicer retorted, leering.

Jack blushed hotly and pushed his grandmother quickly to the end of the dock, where the sloop The Spice of Life wallowed heavily in the tide. It looked like nothing more than an extra-large sailing ship for the spoiled rich, but it was loaded down with the fruits of Jack's rather destructive imagination.

There was a rebuilt Moler to replace the one that had been left at Atlantis, some compact, travel-sized wormbots, explosives, and spare parts galore.

"You're going to get us beat up, Nana! Even in Shanghai, ancestor worship only goes so far!" Jack hit the ramp leading up onto the deck of The Spice of Life and abruptly lost momentum. The slim youth struggled to push his well-padded grandmother up the steep incline. He was saved from looking like a total ass when RoboJack 13 stepped off the deck, took the handles of the wheelchair and pushed Nana Spicer easily aboard.

"Yeah, well . . . I'm going to fix that," Jack muttered. He followed his robotic double aboard, then pressed the button to retract the gangplank.

As Nana instructed RJ 13 to deposit her on the foredeck so she could look out over the water, Jack went inside the cabin so he could get ready to cast off. The sun was shining, the seas were calm and the Pacific Ocean looked ready to live up to it's name. RJ 13 parked Nana Spicer, made sure to put the parking brake on her wheelchair, then went to the rail and waved. Two dock workers threw off the mooring lines. Inside the cabin, Jack fired up the engine and The Spice of Life moved away from the dock.

Jack felt himself start to relax as he felt the dip and sway of the ocean's swell. He liked the sea. It was the last great frontier on the planet. If he ever imagined finding hidden treasure, he always figured it for buried pirate treasure on some sweltery tropical island with lots of rum and scantily clad native . . . well, men or women. Jack had finally come to the realization that he wasn't picky one way or the other. At any rate, Austria didn't immediately spring to mind when he thought of buried treasure.

Jack piloted the large sailboat out of the harbor, getting used to the sluggish feel of the heavily laden ship. He idly wondered if the treasure would weigh down the ship too much on the return trip.

"Well, here we are, Master!" RJ 13 declared, leaning in the open cabin door. "Off on another adventure!"

Jack looked over at his robotic double, who had shed his long black overcoat for a pair of black jeans and a black T-shirt. The albino youth did double take.

"Where did you get that shirt?" He asked.

RJ 13 looked down at the T-shirt he wore, which bore the words 'Sex Machine' across the chest in blue letters.

"In a store," he said, shrugging. He had been sent down to Shanghai to prepare The Spice of Life for sailing a few days before. "I brought my adaptor kit, too. I'm prepared for Europe, Master."

"I never thought I'd invent a disgusting pervert," Jack snorted.

RJ 13 snorted and turned back towards the bow.

"Hey, come here a minute," Jack instructed. While his robot double turned back towards him, Jack engaged the auto-pilot. The albino youth slid off the stool and went to his laptop, which had been set up on a nearby counter and secured with bungee cords. With a few taps of the keys, his hard drive opened up. Jack pulled out a CD Rom and approached RJ 13.

"Open up your hard drive; I have a new program I want to install."

RJ 13 leaned back slightly, eyeing the CD with distrust.

"What is it?"

"How would you like to replace 'Sex Machine' with 'Ass Whooping Machine'?" Jack asked with a grin.

RoboJack 13 considered this.

"I'm pretty good with 'Sex Machine', actually."

Jack frowned.

"Open up before I change your opinion manually," he ordered.

RJ 13 considered this, grimaced and pulled up his shirt. Jack popped open the robot's chest and installed the CD. For a moment, the automaton grew still and a whirring sound came from his chest as he copied the information to his hard drive.

The robot's red eyes snapped open.

"Whoa. I know kung-fu."

"No duh, 'Neo'," Jack stated. "I've downloaded Northern Xiaolin Style Kung Fu into your hard drive. You're going to teach me kung fu while we sail to Europe."

"I'm going to be your master, Master?" the robot questioned.

"Let's not go there," Jack stated. "You're going to train me and teach me kung fu like no one else ever bothered to do. I'm sick of being a creampuff. I need to be strong."

RJ 13 considered this, then smiled.

"I'm glad, Master Jack," he said quietly. "It was good watching you grow up. Now I get to help you grow strong. It makes me proud."

The automaton bared his dental-enamel teeth in a smile.

"You're . . . . proud of me?" Jack asked.

Out on the deck, Nana Spicer yelled for attention. The shifting deck had the elderly matron with the sun in her face and she didn't appreciate it. RoboJack 13 left the cabin and went to move her to a more shady spot.

Jack considered what his robot had told him, then went back to the helm and stopped the engines. With the push of a button, The Spice of Life's sails unfurled. The albino genius steered the sloop sideways across the wind, as he'd been taught years ago and was rewarded with a soft 'whump' as the sails caught the wind.

The small sailing ship started to rock with the rhythm of the waves.

Jack smiled.

"You know what?" He said to no one in particular. "Screw the Heylin; there's a whole world out there and I'm gonna go get me some!"