The Automatic Detective
There’s a lot of waiting in this job, and I can’t share news that isn’t really news at this stage. But something kind of cool is in development, and so I’d like to share this short story I wrote a few years ago. Consider it a cryptic hint of possibilities to come. Hope you enjoy it.
Sanchez had seen his share of supervillain lairs. It came with the job. There was one constant when it came to evil geniuses. The more elaborate the lair, the less dangerous the villain. The villains who built elaborate dome headquarters with their logo stamped all over it (and branding was something villains seemed to take very seriously) were inevitably pushovers compared to the science criminals who rented a nondescript warehouse. Megalith’s base of operations was of the warehouse variety, and it meant trouble.
Ideally, the High Science Crime Unit took care of these situations quietly. The secret to catching an evil genius without much fuss was to deprive them of their chance to show off. If they couldn’t throw the switch of their hard-built doomsday devices, they’d surrender without much of a fuss.
But someone—Sanchez didn’t know who but he’d sure as hell find out—had called out a squad of black-and-whites, and they’d surrounded the building. Their blinking lights reflected off the warehouse walls. Inside, Megalith was either hastily finishing up whatever criminal science he was creating or he was just waiting for the most dramatic moment to strike.
It put Sanchez’s fur on edge and a twitch in his ears.
“Has he done anything yet?” he asked a patrolman.
“Not yet, sir.”
Sanchez sighed. Another bad sign. A ranting science criminal was a distracted science criminal.
“Get ready to send in the autos,” ordered Sanchez.
The autos probably wouldn’t handle the situation. They rarely did. But they’d hopefully give the cops who couldn’t be repaired so easily a heads up of what to expect.
A hologram of Megalith’s giant head materialized over the police hovercraft. He laughed maniacally.
“Here we go,” said Sanchez, drawing his raygun.
“Fools! Fools! Do you think you can stop me? I shall be master of this world and this city shall be the first to fall!”
Sanchez gave the order, and the autos rushed forward. Hulking robots smashed their way out of Megalith’s lair. They made short work of the autos, crushing them without even slowing down. The cops fired everything they had at Megalith’s robot minions. It scratched up their paint jobs and not much else. The cops weren’t armed for this. Tactical teams were two minutes away. Might as well be two hours, thought Sanchez as he watched a robot pound a skimmer to scrap with a single blow.
Sanchez yanked a rookie back as a robotic brute batted aside the vehicle they were hiding behind.
“Get the hell out of here, kid! I’ll cover you.”
The rookie didn’t run. He was brave. But stupid. No reason for both of them to die pointlessly. They unloaded everything they had at the rampaging auto before them as it raised its fists to squash them.
But it didn’t. It stood there, frozen. Might have been a hiccup in its electronic brain.
“Now, my glorious mechanical army,” said Megalith’s holographic head, “destroy them!”
The auto before Sanchez didn’t move, but one of its brethren pushed past it to execute the order.
The immobile auto activated again. It grabbed the second robot and with a single punch, knocked its head off. Silently, it turned away and bashed in another of Megalith’s auto soldiers.
“What are you doing?” said Megalith. “Stop that!”
The malfunctioning rogue smashed another pair of robots.
“I said stop! Stop it! Stop it!”
The remaining autos turned their attention away from the police to the rogue. They piled on it. The battle was brief. They had numbers, but it was clear the rogue had more advanced tactical programming and better armor. It reduced the loyal robots to so much twitching scrap metal in short order.
It entered the warehouse, and there was a heck of a racket from inside. Several explosions that shook the district. The warehouse rocked but remained standing. Barely. The rogue stepped out, carrying Megalith. It dropped him at Sanchez’s feet and deactivated.
“Do you think this will stop me?” said Megalith. “I am the rightful master—”
“Yeah, yeah. Take him away, fellas.” Sanchez had heard it all before. There were plenty of guys eager to take over the world. So far, none of them had come close.
The cleanup crews went to work.
Sanchez puffed on a cigarette as he studied the immobile rogue robot, towering silently.
There was something in its opticals. A glint. A glitch. Something more.
“What the hell are we going to do with you, Mack?” asked Sanchez.