I'm so sorry for the delay everyone! I just graduated high school, so things have been SUPER busy for me. Now that it's summer, maybe I'll be able to keep up with updates a little better. ^^
Anyway, thank you all so much for your patience! Enjoy the chapter!
(And for future reference-don't let me do this to you guys again. I really didn't realize how long it had been. If you guys are waiting for an update, feel free to complain. Sometimes I need a push to get something done)
Wow, were things ever super boring around here. The only thing that was good about any of this was that Mr. L and I had been unified by our boredom.
Our boredom, and we were a little mad. I mean, really, who up and decided O'Chunks and Dimentio got to run off and have all the fun without us? And we just had to hang around the castle and do nothing? Well, yeah, it was the Count that decided it, and I guess he sort of is in charge, but still, it's super annoying.
I think this is the third time the two of us had totally built, taken apart, and rebuilt Brobot's new "rocket launchers" or whatever. I don't think they look much different, but Mr. L insists that they're never the same. He seems to know way more about this than I do, so I try to just be quiet and stay out of his way. I'm usually not the most helpful person in the world with this stuff, and he's sort of a meanie, but I think he's secretly glad for the company.
He'd never admit it, though. I bet Dimentio would like him if they ever spoke to each other.
"Oi, short stuff. Wanna give me a hand here?"
I jumped up immediately, jogging over to where he stood before the heel of the robot's left shoe, its rocket-covered base pointed towards us. "What's up?" I chirped.
Mr. L reached out and tapped his wrench on one of the gaping holes that shot out fire for flying around and stuff. "I need you to climb in there and wire this up for me. Can you do that?"
My face about split in two I was smiling so big. "You want me to wire it? Do you think I can?"
He laughed, and flashed me that smug little smirk of his. "Don't worry, I'll walk ya through it." He said with a wink. "Hop in and we'll get started."
Okay, forget what I said about boring. Robots could be pretty exciting.
Luckily, I'd done my research on mechanics and stuff, and had made myself one of the weird outfits they wore—mine was a pretty steel gray with blue trim running down the sides. Mr. L had helped me modify it by tying the sleeves around my waist so you could see the shirt under it. It was pretty cute, but I didn't necessarily mind getting it covered in oil. In my dresses, I wouldn't come near his bots.
Already being fully dressed-out in my uniform, I allowed Mr. L to give me a boost and happily scrambled to the interior of the chamber. I fit no problem, but I was squished down and crawling on my hands and knees, so I guess it would be hard for Mr. L to get to these wires without taking the whole thing apart. "Alright, head to the back of the thruster—there should be a hatch near the back where you can see the cables."
I crawled back there and found it quickly enough. Wow, everything looked really complicated in here. I grimaced. "Mr. L, are you sure I can do this? I don't wanna break your robot."
"Ah, he's tough—he'll be alright. Here—" With an echoing clang, a large cable landed inside the metal tunnel with me. It looked shinier and newer than the ones already in the box. "Look for the big silver cable—should be running right down the middle."
I found it—but it sure wasn't silver anymore. It was scarred and beaten and frayed at the ends and had totally come unhinged from wherever the others were plugged in at the top. It was still pretty stuck in the bottom of the box though. I guess cables had to run both ways. Like bridges or something, right? "I've got it! Do you want me to take it out?"
"Yeah, you'll need to replace it with the new one—that one got fried when he shorted out." His voice came echoing to me through the sheets of black-charred metal.
"Is that why he exploded?" I called back as I yanked on the cable. I had to prop my feet on the wall to get it out—it was sort of hard to move much in here.
I think I heard Mr. L kick something. "No, I think the explosion did it to 'im. He wasn't built to handle it at the time."
Once the cable finally popped out (causing me to tumble backwards with the heavy thing on top of me) I surveyed each end of it. No wonder it was so hard to get out, one end was charred black and almost melted shut. The other had blown clean off. "So, it was like a power surge? Too much electricity?"
"Yeah, must've been that crazy stuff they were shootin' at him. I thought it was just magic—there must have been electric properties to it. Good call, Mimi." I was a little taken aback at the compliment—it was very unlike him to do something like that. I guess it was a first for me. I knew what different things were sometimes, and what tools I was supposed to get when he said a certain name, but I usually didn't know much about electricity and wires and switches and how everything all hooked up together to make Brobot stand up and fly around.
Come to think of it, I'm not sure where that came from at all.
"Doin' alright, kid?" Mr. L called after a few beats of silence.
I snapped to attention and set to plugging the new cable into the socket. "Yeah, I'm alright! I just…" Oh no. Oh, that wasn't good. "…uh, I think something's wrong with where I plug it in!"
"What do you mean? What's it look like?"
A trip to the Underwhere and back, that's what. It was in about the same if not worse condition than the cable it used to hold onto—all black and charred and almost melted shut, except for the messy spot of mangled metal where I had ripped the cable right out of it (guess I'm a lot stronger than I thought). "Uh, it's sort of messed up. I don't know if I can plug this thing in!"
He started grumbling to himself. "Alright, don't move—just give me a minute. Maybe we can replace it."
I'm not very good at following instructions, I've noticed recently.
I kept picking and prying at the stupid thing, trying to make some sense of it. It was too messed up to get such a nice, straight wire in there. But… that melted wire sure didn't have a hard time getting in there.
I was ripping things apart before I could stop myself. With the metal plating torn off the socket, the old cable tip slid right back into place. I conjured up a rubee and used it to cut off the old cable's body, then did the same to the new one. If I could get these new wires up in that old plug—
No, wait a minute, I could do that. It was just a matter of getting this shiny casing off the end of it. Now if I did the same to the plug's cables, I could wrap them all up together—because metal just needs to touch and electricity can flow, right? Right. Then if I just—
"Hey, Mr. L? How do you keep wires together?" I called outside, scrambling to the end of the tunnel.
He was looking through heaps of scrap parts that we had collected from older designs and from wandering around dimensions. He let me keep some of the small gears and springs for roboty dresses. "Uh, electrical tape usually works."
"Do you have any?" I pressed. He flung it over his shoulder without a second thought. I smiled as I caught it and scrambled back inside. Good thing he's so easily distracted. I ripped off a long trail of the thin black stuff, wrapping it around my mesh of wires. Satisfied in my work, I plugged the clean end of the cable into the upper socket, shoved all the cables back in the box, closed the hatch and hopped out. "Hey, I think I got it!"
"Yeah, that's cute. I'm busy, okay?" He snapped idly.
I narrowed my eyes and stomped my foot. "No, I seriously think I did it! I fixed the cable for you! Will you just try it?"
"Dammit, Mimi—" He broke off in a growl as he stormed over to the testing circuit board that the feet were hooked up to. He turned up a few knobs and flipped a few switches as he kept ranting. "I'm in a hurry—we don't know when the Count's gonna send me out again, but I gotta be ready! I don't have time for you to keep playing around!"
Good Grambi, I wish I had a picture of the look on his face. The rockets worked again! I totally fixed them—all by myself!
"What?" Mr. L gasped out. "How did—what—what did you do? How'd you do that?"
All the excitement and happiness totally washed right out of my face.
How did I do that?
It was totally silent in my room. Almost pitch black, too—I'd even turned my night lights off and pulled the curtains over my window, scary as it was. I made sure I was all alone and would be for a long time. Nobody ever came into this end of the castle.
"…can you hear me?"
Soft, gentle, quiet, controlled. My voice was hardly a whisper as I breathed the words out in a careful sigh.
"I know you're still there."
Everything had to be just so—calm and still, the picture of safety. Something easy to come back to after being locked away for a very long time.
I fought to be very reassuring. I tried to stay still and keep my excitement down. I couldn't get my hopes up or I'd wind up getting them crushed. She always told me that when I was little.
"You're safe, Miinyx."
She had to still be there. She had to be getting better. There had to be a reason why I was suddenly spitting out so much about robots, and I could suddenly put Brobot's cables back together, and I was suddenly a lot stronger than I used to be. She had to be doing this.
"Where are you?"
I waited for what seemed like and probably was endless hours there in the dark silence.
I would not let my hopes get too high up.
But, it was sure getting hard to keep them down.
Then again, sometimes, I don't think Miinyx knows what she's talking about.
A little hope never hurt anybody.
It had been about two days since Miinyx woke up when she started getting back to normal. Or, back to able-to-calm-down-and-talk, anyway. She wasn't screaming and yelling at me, she didn't attack anybody, and she was too weak and frightened and scatterbrained to be normal. Normal for her, anyway, but she's Miinyx. I wouldn't want her any other kind of normal.
We stayed locked up in my room with a good stash of snacks and drinks for that time so she could get back on her feet. I ate lots of healthy stuff (even though it was sort of icky) and got lots of rest (even though I had, like, way better stuff to do). While I was awake, I sat and calmly worked on making lots of dresses and focused very hard on not making a lot of noise or thinking too much.
My head hurt really bad, like it was about to split in two, but I tried not to say anything. I figured it was just because Miinyx was so damaged, and she needed time to get herself back together.
She was a little weird for a while there. Sometimes she would be quietly mumbling and hardly doing anything, and others she would yell and freak out and start going crazy on me. I was really glad when she stopped doing that.
Eventually, everything seemed to settle down.
I took a deep breath. I had to stay calm, and it was hard not to get excited. She didn't speak directly to me much lately. "Yes, Miinyx?"
"I, ah… th… thank you." She managed to say at last. Her voice was very dim and soft in my mind, like she was whispering from somewhere very far away.
A smile flashed across my face. If my memories were right, Miinyx had never thanked me for a single thing in her life. I can't remember her ever doing much besides hating and torturing me. "That's okay." I assured her.
She made some sort of troubled noise. "No, child… you… how did you preserve me?"
I shrugged. "I just tried to make sure nobody knew you were here."
"…you were… aware?" Miinyx rasped out. I could tell from the throbbing of my head she was still a little out of it.
"Well, sort of." I said, laying down the dress I was working on. It was getting hard to multitask. "I mean, I saw you lying there… when I dreamed and I was in my own head… but I couldn't hear you, and my head didn't hurt anymore."
Suddenly, all my headache was squishing back into one little corner of my mind. "Poor girl…" she breathed. She sounded sort of strained and tired now. "…you should not need to suffer… for paying a kindness to another…"
I smiled gently. "No, Miinyx, it's alright, I don't mind. Don't work yourself too hard, okay? You just focus on getting better. I'll take good care of us."
The headache expanded ever so slightly. "…are you… certain?"
"Positive. You just relax." I said brightly, my voice full of reassurance.
She breathed out a sigh of relief, and the throbbing ache filled my skull once more. "Thank you, again, Mimi. I am…" Miinyx paused suddenly, and I could tell it was a real effort for her to speak. Maybe because she was tired, or maybe because of what she said. I'm not entirely sure. "…I am truly… in your debt…"
"No, you aren't. I don't want to live without you any more than you can live without me." I declared with a small smile. She seemed pleased at the comment, but must have decided to save her energy, because she didn't say anything else in reply. "…Miinyx? Can I ask you something?"
There was a pause. "…ah… I suppose." She sounded wary and nervous again, not rude and irritated. I almost wished she had told me to shut up and let her sleep.
Almost. "What exactly happened to you? What'd they do that made you sleep that long?"
I felt a jolt of pain crash through my head, like someone had hammered a hot nail right through it. Miinyx was squirming around in pain, and a shudder rippled down my spine that I highly suspected to be her fault. "…I never slept, child… the chill of death was upon me—that precious Count of yours nearly ended my game with his dark magic."
I paused. No, pause was a very loose word for what I did. Every function I was capable of came to a screeching halt as I reeled in shock and confusion. Everything I'd ever understood to be indisputable truth was currently at war with each other, throwing my mind into total chaos, with Miinyx wide awake and skull-splittingly conscious right in the middle of it. It was a pretty painful ordeal, but my brain just didn't have room to register the fact that all this mess was even uncomfortable.
"…they tried to kill you?" was what I managed to choke out after quite some time.
"And nearly succeeded." Miinyx confirmed. I could feel her attempting to shuffle through my most recent memories. It felt like it was a lot of effort for her. "Have they mentioned anything about me?"
I swallowed hard. "…yeah… I-I think they did. County's trying to get rid of you for good."
"…as I suspected…" Miinyx said in sort of a heavy sigh. She didn't sound angry at me like she usually did when we talked about the Count. Not even smug that she was right and I was wrong because I'm such a stupid, foolish little girl. She just sounded sad. And sort of hopeless. I didn't like it.
"Miinyx, don't worry." I feebly insisted. "I can keep you safe. I won't let the Count and Nastasia know you're back—maybe they'll leave you alone."
I felt her shifting around in my mind. I could tell she was getting a little uneasy. "They will not stop—not until they are certain I am vanquished for good."
I frowned. "…We'll think of something, okay? I won't just give up and lose you like this. You're, like, the best friend I've ever had, Miinyx."
There was stillness and silence in the room for a very long time.
Finally, Miinyx spoke. "…do you… truly mean that, child?"
"…yeah, of course. I don't know what I'd do without you." I assured her, somehow managing a faint smile.
She sighed again, and this one sounded a lot more like her usual i-can't-believe-I-put-up-with-this-moron. It felt good to hear it again. "I am trying to be civil at present… but in all honesty, that is truly pathetic."
I let a short laugh slip out as I returned my thoughts to my dress. "Yeah. I guess it is." I softly agreed.
Pathetic or not, I was beyond relieved to have her back. I would have to think of a plan quick so that the Count and Nastasia wouldn't try to take her away from me again. But, I suppose that could wait. For now, Miinyx sounded like she really needed some more sleep.