Author's Notes:Action Man is the property of Mainframe Entertainment, Inc. And in that universe this story takes place in Season 1 before Dr. X uploads into Brandon Caine (episode "Into the Abyss"). Cybersix belongs to TMS Entertainment.
Summary:Cybersix learns what it means to be human. (Crossover with Action Man).
The Human Factor
Grinder rolled his numb head and moaned. "Uh... Killer aim..." He was lying on an examination table, slowly coming back to the world of the conscious, then suddenly recalling how he'd gotten here...
Big Air was all set. Grinder went into town to pick up supplies. He thought he saw someone in the shadows, a woman in a dark cape and hat, and he saw Asazi. Asazi was after the woman, and he tried to intervene only to be knocked unconscious...
Grinder took in his surroundings - a large room. Beside him on another examination table lay the woman. Neither of them were restrained.
Grinder dropped his legs off the side of the table and carefully sat up and eased onto his feet. "Hey..." he said softly, leaning toward her. "You okay, miss?" He lay a gentle hand on her left arm and saw the tattoo. Cyber 6.
"Easy, easy..." Then, a dizzy spell hit him. "Oh, bugger..." He felt a strong hand on his shoulder, holding him steady, and he cracked an eye open. "I should take my own advice, eh?"
"Here," came a musical voice. "Sit down." She guided him to the edge of her own bed. "You're the one who tried to help me tonight."
"Yup. That's me, Grinder Sinclair..." He held a hand to his forehead. "Where does that girl get her hardware? Knock-outs R Us?"
"She wasn't after you. Someone gave her my bio specs. Those darts were meant to take me out. There's no telling what effect they might have on normal humans."
She wrapped her arm around him. "We should get you out of here." She got to her feet and helped him along as she led them to the door.
"That tattoo I saw..."
"I was created by a Dr. Von Reichter. That's the designation he gave me."
"Von Reichter..." Grinder repeated. "Doesn't ring any bells. He wouldn't be connected with Dr. X by any chance?"
"Guess we're both left in the dark then." He pushed the button by the door. "The green-haired sheila who shot us was Asazi, an expert assassin who usually works for Dr. X, a pain-in-the-neck whack job who's after a very close friend of mine... Funny. The door shoulda opened by now..."
"I'll open it." She braced her fingers in the crack in the center.
"Now, hold up. No sense straining any... superhuman muscles." He yanked off the panel and fiddled with the wires.
Cyber Six watched him to make sure he didn't succumb to another dizzy spell. Dark eyes darted past him. "Someone when through a great deal of trouble to put us here. Why hasn't anyone shown up?"
"Maybe they didn't dose us as high as they thought..."
"Maybe... I don't know. Something just doesn't feel right."
The door slid open.
"There. Piece of-"
"Whoa!" Cyber Six leapt back a good six feet, black-and-red cape flying.
Grinder looked up.
A ten-foot-tall robot stepped into the room, but it was the driver that took him by surprise. "Brandon!"
"Grinder, look out!"
The robot pivoted on its hip and knocked the mechanic down with a heavy arm.
Cybersix dropped into fighting stance. "Leave him alone, you overgrown bucket of bolts!"
A grotesque old man in a lab coat and the slinky green-haired woman, Asazi, glided in, confident in the robot's protection. "I'm afraid that won't be an option, Cyber," the older man spoke. "You see, now that you and Mr. Sinclair have become acquainted I'm going to use him to keep you in check."
"You think twisting his arm every fifteen minutes is going to put me in a cooperative mood?"
"Yes, because if it didn't Doctor Reichter wouldn't have destroyed all your brothers and sisters... I know something he probably never told you, Cyber Six... Your human factor."
"What are you talking about?"
"I can make you fully human, Cyber Six. I can make it so you no longer need Sustenance. All I ask for in return are Doctor Reichter's secrets... his key to humanity's future."
To be human... To truly be able to love Lucas... To no longer be alone...
Cybersix relaxed her stance. "First things first... The darts you shot us with. Can you offset their effects, get him back to normal?"
He smiled and bowed. "Of course."
"Do it, and I'll lead you to Von Reichter himself."
His smile broadened.
* * *
Lucas Amato was a tough guy, even took boxing, but one punch from that green blur and a pile of debris and he was down for the count. He moved tentatively, and the rubble only settled more heavily.
"Hey, I think there's somebody in there!" a woman shouted. "Hang on, pal. We'll get you out."
"The Meridiana police are on their way," a guy answered. "What do you think happened here?"
"Three guesses," a somewhat deeper voice replied.
"Here. I found his hand," the girl announced. "You think you could...?"
"I'll give it a try," the deeper-voiced man said.
A board was lifted off Lucas to reveal a brown-haired, blue-eyed man with a tough jaw and a scar on his right cheek. Beside him was a red-head with short hair in numerous pig-tails, eyes also blue, in a sleeveless gray sweatshirt with the words "Gravity Sucks."
"Don't move," she said. "Help's on the way."
Lucas squinted his eyes at the man. "You look familiar..."
"Alex Mann... Action Man. You might've seen me on TV, Master Vision Network."
"Oh, right... Those speedup-"
"Yeah. I'm sorry. I don't usually go for extreme sports. Soccer's plenty of excitement for me."
"I know the feeling..."
"Uh, guys?" The woman pointed a trembling finger to the shadows behind another younger-looking guy in a blue vest and white long-sleeved shirt.
"What is it, Fidget?" Alex turned.
The younger guy followed her gaze to a pair of glowing eyes. "Aii!" He ran over to them and cowered behind Alex.
Lucas squinted again as a large black panther stepped quietly into view. "Data 7! It's okay, guys. He's a friend. Did you find Cybersix?"
"Cyber who?" Fidget asked.
"It understands you?" Alex inquired.
"Yeah. He's really a... Well, long story. Cybersix is a friend of mine. We were out and about and this crazy woman jumps us, dressed completely in green - even her hair was green. Never seen her before in my life."
"Asazi," Alex breathed.
"You know her?"
"You think she got Grinder?" Fidget worried.
"Without a doubt."
"N-nice kitty..." the younger man stuttered, then his head snapped up. "Someone got Grinder? Well, we better get him back! Someone's gotta fly Big Air for the stunt tomorrow or we'll have to cancel!"
The young man squeaked and ducked back behind Alex.
"Relax, Rikki. We'll find Grinder and be back in time for lunch tomorrow."
"I'm more worried about being on tonight's menu..."
Fidget leaned forward, hands on her thighs. "He's even meatier than he looks..."
"Fidget..." Alex reprimanded.
She tucked her hands behind her back innocently. "Did I say that out loud?"
Not feeling anything broken, Lucas found the brick wall behind him and climbed to his feet. "So you know this Asazi character. What does she want with Cybersix?"
"I don't know," Alex answered. "I don't even know who Cybersix is."
"She's a... She's a mystery to me too."
"So you don't know her that well."
"Hey! I trust her with my life, which is more than I can say for a couple of people I just met on the street."
"You know, a simple 'thank you' goes a long way," Fidget remarked.
"Look, we're all on the same team here. If Asazi's involved then Dr. X can't be too far behind. My guess is that's who's after your friend. ...And that's who has Grinder." Alex turned to the panther. "Can you lead us to them?"
The cat looked to Lucas for permission.
"We can find them on our own," Lucas stated.
"So could we." Alex eyed Rikki for confirmation.
Lucas sighed. "All right..."
* * *
The partially-bleached dark spike-haired Caribbean head turned. Brown eyes opened a crack. "Hey there again, luv."
"Hey..." Cybersix cracked a smile. "How are you feeling?" She ran delicate fingers across his red head-band into the sun-dried hair.
"A little bit on the woozy side still, but look! I can see colors!" He reached up and touched her face.
"Sweet," she said lazily.
"You look good when you smile. Has anyone ever told you that?"
"Lucky ol' bloke. What's his name?"
"Lucas," she told him and felt the sparkles in her eyes. "Lucas Amato."
"Hey, now, not that it's any of my business, but are you two getting serious?"
"You're right. It's not." She shoved his hand away and turned her back on him, teeth grinding, fists clenched.
"He doesn't know... about what you are."
"He doesn't know about a lot of things." She ran a hand through her bangs, recalling the reflection of her alter ego in her bedroom mirror, the man who worked side by side with Lucas, the friend he knew. And then there was the mysterious woman he'd come to be attracted to. Two sides of the same coin, one and the same yet impossible to piece together without betraying a friend's trust. Nor did she see any reason why she should take the risk. She wasn't like them. She wasn't human. No matter how much she felt like she was. No matter how much she yearned to be...
She felt fingers around her wrist. "Maybe he should know. It's obvious you love him."
"Sometimes, we have to hurt the people we love in order to protect them."
"And if you truly care for him you'll tell him something, even if they're just little pieces. Not knowing is the hardest pain to live with. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, especially the one I trust the most."
"You don't understand. I can't live in his world. I'm not human."
"You smile. You cry. All seems human enough to me, luv. What more is there?"
She stared into his eyes, uncertain of what to say.
He held her shoulders in both hands. "Being human isn't about what you're made of, luv, it's about who you set out to be. If you've set out to help your friends, then by all means help them, help them to understand you, or it's just gonna come back and bite you."
She lowered her eyes. "What have I done?"
* * *
"Data 7?" Lucas wondered.
The panther grumbled, circled the deck of the shipping boat once more and turned his gaze skyward.
"He lost the scent," Alex announced. "Rikki?"
"I still have a signal, a couple miles out." He pointed, eyes glued to the device in his hand. "That way."
Alex followed his finger. Ocean. They had either taken a boat or... He lowered his gaze to the giant H they were standing on. Helicopter. He lifted his watch to his mouth. "Fidget, are you getting anything?"
"Nothing on radar." Her image came back on the tiny screen. She was holding the throttle of Big Air. "Must've gone by boat."
"Trust me. He's up there," Rikki said.
Alex saw the seriousness in those brown eyes. "Okay, Fidget, bring her down. We're gonna need a lift."
"We're going up?" Lucas inquired.
"Cybersix and Grinder were here. Your cat was right about that, but they're not anymore. Dr. X is taking them someplace, likely another one of his secret labs. What's out that way?"
"Just an island... with jungle."
The panther growled.
"What is it, Data 7?" Lucas asked.
Data 7 looked to Alex and jerked its chin in the direction they would be heading, eyes narrowed.
Somehow, Alex felt he understood. "Have you been there before, Data 7?"
"That doesn't make any sense," Lucas argued. "There aren't any native panthers in those jungles, to my knowledge."
"Data 7 isn't an ordinary panther. ...But that doesn't seem like Dr. X's handiwork... He goes for improving humanity not giving animals human intelligence. There must be someone else in there."
"The real mastermind behind all the weirdness going on in Meridiana," Lucas concluded. "And you think Cybersix is involved."
"More so than we may think."
"How does your ol' buddy Grinder fit into the picture?"
"I don't think he does. For probably the first time in his life I think he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time..."
Big Air descended to a clear area on the docks, propellers turned skywards.
"Better let me go first," Rikki volunteered. "Don't think Vinnie and big cats get along."
"Fidget's iguana," Alex answered.
* * *
"Cyber Six, what is it?" Grinder held her arms gently, sitting up in bed.
"Dr. X and Von Reichter are competitors - or so Dr. X told me. Dr. X wants to improve the human race; Von Reichter just wants some mindless super-soldiers to help him rule the world. Dr. X promised to make me fully human if I led him to Von Reichter. We should be there in a few minutes. I'm sorry, Grinder. I just wanted so badly to believe..."
"We've gotta stop the chopper. If those two mad scientists come face to face I don't e'en wanna think about the consequences."
The engines whined down.
"Too late," Cyber Six said. "We're here."
* * *
They opened the helicopter doors to the sound of roaring rushing water.
"Quite a ways for a dip, mate," Grinder remarked.
"You said we were looking for an old mansion," Dr. X wheezed.
"We are," Cybersix defended. "It should be here."
"All I see is a dam," Asazi stated, arms akimbo.
"A damn shame." The corners of Grinder's eyes crinkled at the pun.
Dr. X faced him. "You had a hand in all this."
"Actually, he didn't."
"Alex!" Grinder cheered.
Alex stood some ten feet in front of them, a black panther at his side.
"Data 7!" Cybersix greeted.
"Since Cybersix's escape, Von Reichter relocated his operations," Alex continued. "You're in the right place. You're just not... in the right place."
"Mr. Mann, you have caught me in a foul mood."
"So what else is new?"
"Asazi," Dr. X called.
Cybersix was quicker, pushing Dr. X aside, and kicked the crossbow from Asazi's hands, grabbing Grinder by the upper arm. "Run!" she ordered.
Grinder hesitated for a moment but ran to Alex.
Cybersix ducked a high kick from Asazi, dropping to one knee, punched her in the thigh, and sent a high heel into her chin with an audible crack.
Asazi stumbled onto her hands and knees, delirious.
Cybersix turned as black darted past her to land on top of Dr. X.
"Six!" Grinder shouted in alarm.
A palm rammed her chin, snapping her head back. Cybersix was down.
* * *
"We've gotta help her!" Grinder cried, but Alex was still busy picking the locks of his handcuffs.
Asazi was getting to her feet.
An ultra-light jet dove past them, knocking Asazi back to the ground.
"Yee-haw!" Fidget screamed in delight.
Alex smiled, and the handcuffs came undone.
Alex and Grinder ran to their friends' aid.
The helicopter started up and a Trilobyte exited and zapped the black panther.
Data 7 leapt back.
More Trilobytes poured out of the chopper, gathering Dr. X and Asazi.
Data 7 grabbed a mouthful of dark cape and pulled Cybersix out of harm's reach while Dr. X, Asazi, and the mechanical bugs vanished into the chopper and shut the door.
Alex and Grinder watched in silence as the helicopter climbed into the air.
Fidget's voice came over Alex's watch. "Should we follow?"
"No," Alex said. "No. We'll get another chance." He looked to Grinder. "I hate it when he does that." He jabbed a thumb at the 'copter as it faded.
"Feeling's mutual," Grinder replied.
Fidget swooped in and landed Little Air in its place.
Cybersix dusted herself off with her hat and stood before Alex and Grinder, Data 7 at her side. "Thank you. For all that you've done."
"All in a day's work, luv."
Cybersix smiled tiredly. "You were right, Grinder. From now on I'll be more forthcoming with Lucas. If you and your friends hadn't been visiting Meridiana I could very well be one of Dr. X's pawns right now. Whether I like it or not I need friends... because, after all, some part of me is human, and humans need companionship."
"It's a tough road ahead of you, Six," Grinder said. "But you'll make it."
Alex extended a hand. "If we could ever be of assistance..."
"Actually... Could you get me a couple of tickets to your show?"
Alex smiled. "Sure."