17: PHASE TWO
"Kids?" came the just as shocked remark. Hamegg's eyes scanned over each of them as he frowned. "What...what the hell are you doing all the way out here?!" Cora and Zane stepped forward, the stun slowly bleeding into rage.
"Us?" Zane seethed.
"What about YOU?!" Cora snapped. Hamegg's face became soft as he stared at the hurt faces in front of him.
"Now, now, kids-"
"You abandoned us!" Zane yelled. "How could you do that?! To Sludge, to Widget- to Grace!" the man shrunk down at the emotion swimming in the young boy's tone, not seeing any way out of the conversation by arguing.
"Are they alright?" he asked softly, only causing the teen to be more enraged.
"You would know if you even VISITED! What happened? You tried to kill Tenma but when your plan doesn't succeed you try and find another dark rock to crawl under?!" as the two stared in silence for a few moments Reno came forward.
"He tried to kill...Dr Tenma? What! Why!"
"Because he's a selfish, ignorant, self centered piece of-!"
"HAMEGG," Cora and Zane growled, teeth grinding. He glanced to them and backed down.
"Look...I'm sorry I left you like that, kids." His eyes fell, stricken with guilt. He plunked down on the squeaky couch. "When I took part in trying to destroy Tenma which almost led to the destruction of Zoran and Astro, I..." he sighed deeply. "Well, I couldn't live with myself. How could a sick man like me raise some innocent kids? It just couldn't be. I'm sorry. It was for the better."
Zane and Core glanced to each other, finally cooling down with a sigh. "We really needed you, you know..." Zane mumbled.
"Yeah and Astro forgave you anyway," Conner perked up. Hamegg raised his head a little.
"Really? He did?" they nodded. Hamegg shook his head. "That kid's too optimistic for his own good." Before any of them could answer Reno barged through the middle of them.
"HOLD UP!" he pointed to Hamegg. "Who's he, what's he blabbing about and how was he apart of the BlackBott attack?!" he asked clearly.
"That's Hamegg," Cora answered, sticking a thumb in his direction. "He used to run an orphanage where Zane and some of the others were raised. He took part in the BlackBott fight by creating Zoran."
"-Originally meant to kill Tenma." Ember added. Reno's eyes widened.
"You...YOU created Zoran?" he asked.
"Is that so hard to believe?" Hamegg muttered. Bruss shook his head, stepping forward.
"GUYS, not that it's nice to meet you again Hamegg, you know when you're not trying to kill everything, but we got a pretty serious mission we gotta take care of!" he said, snapping them back into the frantic reality.
"You're right," Cora said, turning to Hamegg. "Hamegg, we need your car."
"What? Why? What's going on?" the man frowned, rising from his seat.
"Haven't you seen the news?" Conner asked. Hamegg shrugged.
"No TV." Bruss' shoulders dropped.
"Wow. How do you live?"
"Hamegg there's a new Core out- a Black Core- and it's destroying everything!" Hamegg's eyes started widening as soon as Zane mentioned 'new Core'.
"That's...impossible." He said surely. "The only Cores to ever be in existence are the Red and Blue Core. And even so, the Red Core was an abstraction of the Blue Core."
"It doesn't really matter cos it's taken over all the robots in Metro City!" Bruss cried.
"And Astro!" Cora finished.
"Astro?" Hamegg asked. They nodded.
"He's gone crazy! We need your car because he's somewhere along the Surface!" Conner urged. "We gotta leave now before something really bad happens!"
Hamegg gave a solid nod, walking through them and out the house, leading them to the garage. Reno was still dazed, wondering how this could be the man who almost caused the death of Tenma. Hamegg punched a red button on the side of the wall and the rusty door slid up to reveal his blue car. They all crowded into the small space.
"I'll drive," Hamegg said, walking over to the drivers seat when Ember stopped him.
"No." She said. They all cocked their heads.
"What- it's MY car!" Hamegg snapped.
"What branch did you study in when you were a member of the Ministry of Science?" she asked. Hamegg blinked.
"Chemical science..." he said hesitantly.
"Then you'll most probably be of better use back in Metro City."
"What?! I'm not going back to those snobs!" Cora caught on.
"No, she's got a point. If you know a bit about the Cores then Dr Elefun could defiantly use some extra help. You don't have to be anywhere near Tenma." Hamegg stuttered.
"What, do I have to walk there?" he asked in disgust at the idea. Cora shook her head.
"No, the car we brought is only a short distance away over there." She waved an arm in the direction they had come from. "You can repair it and then be on your way, but we have to leave NOW."
They all awaited the mans decision with anxiousness. Hamegg lifted a hand to his chin in thought, his brow creasing.
"You owe us that much." Cora pressed on. That was it. That did it.
"FINE." Hamegg mumbled, picking up a tool box that was hidden in the corner of the garage. "But this time you bring me back my car on time! Hear me?" they all nodded eagerly and leapt into the car, Zane in the drivers seat. "Okay." Hamegg finally broke into a smile. "Now go get that idiot Astro!" Cora giggled.
"Don't have to tell me twice..."
Tenma held Z's hand as she lay in her hospital bed, grunting and moaning in pain. "You're going to be fine..." he tried reassuring her. She could only wince in a response.
The nurse walked up to him with hands behind back. "She's stable. We're not sure how long the labor will last though."
"And the safety systems aren't letting out?" Tenma asked. The last thing they needed was rogue robots tearing the unit apart. She nodded.
"Don't worry- you're both safe."
Tenma smiled, looking back to Z. "KILL ME..." she wheezed out, face scrunching in pain. Tenma squeezed her hand.
"It'll all be over soon, Z, don't worry."
"Hello? Is my baby in there?" Tenma darted his head around to Rose, standing outside the unit. As soon as her eyes laid upon Z she quickly pushed through the doors, handing a surprised Tenma Jump. "You left your puppy at home..." she mumbled before kneeling down beside Z.
"Hey mom..." she managed to get out.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
Tenma looked down to his phone in his pocket. He exited the room and flipping it out, holding a squirming Jump in the other. "H-hello?" he asked.
"Tenma, it's Elefun." Tenma's eyes widened.
"Elefun? How's the research going? Does the Black Core have any weaknesses?" he asked desperately. He heard a loud sigh from the other end and already he slumped in defeat.
"I'm sorry Bill..." he murmured. "I can't find any resource that weakens it even slightly. It just takes over..." Tenma slammed his fist on the wall.
"Dammit..." he gritted his teeth. Jump let out a whimpered, wagging his tail and licking him across the cheek in an attempt to cheer his master up.
"Have you heard anything from Cora and Zane?" he asked.
"No, not yet." Great. More lost hope. "Don't worry, Tenma." Elefun reassured. "They'll find him."
Dr Elefun sighed as he shut the phone off, throwing it on the lab table beside Zoran. He rubbed his temple, looking to the floating substance of Black Core. He swore it was taunting him. Staring him down.
He sighed, walking over to it. He had analyzed it to death. Every single fiber he could find. There was just no match with any enemies to it. It was the ultimate predator.
He got shaken out of his thoughts by a small subtle shifting of feet. He spun around with a frown. His eyes laid upon the lab table.
Zoran was gone.
"Z-Zoran?" Elefun frowned, spinning in a small circle before coming face to face with the spiked head of Astro's sister.
"HELLO DOCTOR ELEFUN!"
With a startled cry the man stumbled backwards, falling against the table. "Zoran?" he gasped. She grinned, nodding in amusement.
"Hey Doctor, how's it going? I was sleeping for a while, huh? Why am I in the lab? Why are you here? Why was I sleeping in the first place? What woke me? Is Astro here?"
"Zoran!" Elefun stopped her question rant. "A...alot has been going on since you left..."
"Like what?" she asked curiously. Elefun just looked over to the small window that adorned the corner. Zoran skipped over to it, peering outside.
Ruin. The city was in ruin.
She slumped against the wall, her bubbly behavior descending into one of shell shock. "How...?"
"There's a new Core, Zoran." Elefun went on trying to explain. "It started off just over taking Astro lightly, but its spread..."
"WHERE'S ASTRO." Elefun was shocked at the seriousness of the small robot's tone. To change so suddenly just from mentioning her brother was in trouble...
"He's somewhere along the Surface." Elefun turned to the computers, getting the map from before up on the screen. Zoran narrowed her eyes, studying it carefully. "Bruss, Ember, Conner, Zane, Cora and Reno have already gone off to find him. Don't worry Zoran, he's going to be al-"
He stopped fast as he turned to face Zoran...yet she wasn't there. He craned his head around the lab with a furrowed brow. "Zoran?" he called. No answer. He heard a few doors outside the lab quickly open and shut with a small click. "ZORAN-!" he began to chase after her, but decided it wouldn't do any good. He bared his teeth, knowing excatly where she would be heading.
Simon had made up his mind. He never wanted kids. NEVER.
He winced as Astro picked up the sleek sofa in the centre of the room with one arm, giving it a careless examine before throwing it across the room. Simon fumbled through his pockets, looking once again for the lost remote. How could he have lost it already? Just when an out of control super robot is in the same room as him? He cursed, dropping to his knees to inspect under a cabinet.
After hearing a loud smash he looked up just in time to dodge a large slab of the wall headed for his head. "EEEK!" he quickly ducked and scrambled away. Astro's glare slowly crept into a devious smirk. Simon quivered. "R-r-robot laws! Y-y-you're not supposed to h-hurt me!"
"Oh please." Astro seethed in his echoing voice. "I don't have to listen to anyone. Especially something as pathetic as you." He smiled, looking around the room. As he walked over to the small fire place Simon reached out his hand under another small cabinet, gritting his teeth. "I'm sure you'll be much more tolerable with a flattened head."
He heard Astro chuckled and a loud crunch of concrete as he ripped out the chunk from the wall. Simon let out a small whimper until he finally felt his finger tips touch the edge of the remote.
Before Astro could throw the fire place at Simon's head, he quickly spun around, pointing the remote at him and pressing the button eagerly. Astro immediately paused, abruptly dropping the debris and standing idle with new found irritation on his face. Simon stood up with a long sigh. He flinched to Diabolos strolling into the room.
He glanced around.
With a sigh he brought two fingers to his temple. "You couldn't even prevent a single teenage robot which you had control over anyway from braking something?" he hissed, eyes becoming slits. Simon stuttered but got pushed aside before saying anything. Diabolos smirked at the non reacting Astro, looking to the door way as one of his inventions rolled out.
It was a sleek moving frame with many latches and cuffs leaking out of it and was one of his favorites for it had the power to retrain anything. It rolled over to Astro, hovering over him as four cuffs shot out and latched themselves around Astro's ankles and wrists, as much as the robot growled in response.
"Good. Now come." Simon wasn't sure whether he was talking to him or his machine, but they both ended up following him into his large lab anyway. Diabolos strode over a large wall that broke off the room, walking over to a control pad and typing in a combination key. With a whirr of machinery and gears the door slid upwards slowly.
Simon felt his mouth drop open. What was concealed within the large storage block was a monstrous machine. It's ebony shell glistened from the glow of the lab, covering its gladiator body like a coat of amour. It stood towering up to the high roof, at least fifty meters. It would scale up to a twenty story building.
Simon was just about to faint. Astro grinded his head up to look at it with dark eyes but still barely had a reaction.
"W...w-what is that, S-S-Sir?" the Professor placed his hands behind his back with a proud smile.
Hamegg twisted a wrench on one of the loose bolts in the engine, leaning all the way over the bonnet. He grunted, connecting some wires here and there before standing back and wiping his forehead, despite the cold from the night.
"That should be enough." He mumbled, walking over to the drivers seat and pressing the start engine button. The car coughed a few times before giving out with a poor chug to Hamegg's dismay.
"NO! Common you hunk of scrap metal!" he angrily threw his wrench at the exposed engine.
To his surprise the car lifted off the ground and swirled up the dust sending the man to brake into a smile. "That's what I'm talking about!" he leapt into the drivers seat, accelerating towards Metro City. "Alright, now to save the city for a change..."