Portal Breach: The Collision of Worlds :: v.4.0


    Defeat is Not in Their Programming

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    Jo Pistonne
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Tue Apr 05, 2011 4:00 am

    Jo re-emerged from one of the front rooms with her toolbelt strapped to her hips. She took a breath, readying herself, then prepared to make her way to the front room again. But she heard the Hornets descending down the stairs already, so quickly followed after them, arriving at her basement workshop where she had most of her machines set up. Proxy was already there, inputting commands into the machines and setting things up for her. Zurg was absent, probably still upstairs or already gone. It was just as well. Jo needed to have a clear mind for the task set before her.

    ”Put him there. Gently,” she told the Hornets. They complied, if clumsily, placing Lawrence's lifeless body upon a clear workbench. She shooed them away back upstairs and approached Lawrence, taking the opportunity now that they were alone to really take in all the damage.

    The gouge marks were deep, almost looking as if something feral had slashed clean through Lawrence. Iblis or Prix? No, the gouges were different. They were smaller, but still deadly enough to cause damage. Jo ran her fingers over a couple and shivered. Craters, Lawrence! Why did you have to go and get yourself into this mess?! She fought back the sudden emotion that rose inside of her, reminding herself that she had to work quickly and thoroughly to repair him properly.

    First, she made sure that Proxy had prepared all the replacements. Once that was done, Jo and Proxy set to work on Lawrence. Proxy removed what remained of his legs and his mangled right arm, then began to remove most of the butler’s damaged plating. Jo concentrated on the finer details. First, she fixed the coolant lines, then sucked up all the spilled coolant with a vacuum-like handheld machine. Then, she began to repair the wiring in his arms and legs again. This was harder than it sounded, for they were a necessity for the new limbs that were being prepared by her machines. It wasn’t just his nervous system that needed repairing, however. Jo knew that there were more cables that just the nervous system and coolant lines. These were more delicate and required far more precision than the rest. If they weren’t wired properly with his new limbs, then Lawrence would not be able to move.

    Proxy set about replacing Lawrence’s depleted battery with a temporary battery while he left the butler’s battery to recharge. He also prepared the skeletal structure for what would be used for Lawrence’s new limbs, instantly melding the pieces together with a blowtorch and with a hardwired precision that a regular mechanic could not match, yet somehow lacked the more experienced precision of one. Jo would see to that later.

    After several hours and most of Lawrence’s esoteric damage taken care of, the metal plates were ready. Jo and Proxy applied them to his chest, shoulders and limbs; Jo would connect them together with the wires and the previously-constructed skeleton while Proxy would meld them together. During the entire process, Proxy continuously scanned Lawrence to make sure every wire and every cable was being properly connected. It sounded like a simple matter, but it took a great deal of time to accomplish.

    But that soon came to an end too, and the last thing left was to repaint him, then check his vitals to make sure everything had been repaired to the utmost perfection.

    ”Everything is connected. He’s ready to come online,” Proxy reported.

    Jo nodded, limbs trembling with exhaustion and anticipation. ”Alright. Then all we have to do is start him up. And let’s hope he’s okay.”

    Jo flicked the switch and waited, holding her breath.
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Lawrence on Tue Apr 05, 2011 5:31 am

    Lawrence's boot sequence took a good minute or two to finish due to all the things his OS had to take account of, but once it did, he started to wake. His optics fluttered open and he stared at the ceiling for a few moments, not seeming to register the change in scenery or the two that had worked so hard to rebuild him, at least not at first. After another second or two, his recent memories all loaded, and the first thing out of his vocalizer was a whimper.

    The last thing the butler remembered was lying there on the floor of the derelict power station, cold and alone, broadcasting his distress signal with all power he could spare. There was no response for three hours, not even the footfall of a single Hornet, and he was starting to give up hope before his emergency shutdown overtook him. The shutdown was abrupt, cutting him off in mid-thought, and that despairing little whimper was part of that last thought.

    After a few more seconds, Lawrence blinked, this time noticing the now familiar ceiling of the Chop Shop's lower floor. More importantly, he noticed Jo standing at his side. Not even bothering to test his new limbs, he sat up abruptly and clung to the mechanic, a few more whimpers escaping him. He settled down after a while, but still held onto Jo as he almost whispered, "I-I thought no one was going to find me..."
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Tue Apr 05, 2011 8:34 pm

    There was a sigh of relief as Lawrence started to boot up and Jo bit her lip, wringing her hands upon her oiled rag. C'mon, Lawrence, c'mon... You can do it!

    And then finally... he awoke.

    His optics shuddered open and the mechanic breathed easier knowing he came online without a hitch. Good, good. He was online and that was all that matt--huh? Jo then found herself in a tight embrace. And in the butler's arms, too.

    "I-I thought no one was going to find me..."

    Oh, Lawrence...

    At first Jo held up a fist, ready to pound the robot upon his stubborn head, but upon hearing how upset and scared he was... She slowly lowered her arm and softened, wrapping her strong arms around him and keeping him there. "It's all right, it's all right..." She whispered to him gently, stroking his back in small circles with one hand while the other clung to his arm to reassure him. Oh, Lawrence. Why did you go back into another fight? Don't you know how much you cared to her? Don't you? The mechanic sighed and with a tiny smile she patted his arm, almost lovingly like he was her own creation. "Hey, it's okay now. You're back here where it's safe and whatever it was that got you won't hurt you here. It better not. I'll turn it into a can opener if it does." And that was no light threat, ladies and gentlemen.

    Once Lawrence felt better and comfortable she held his shoulders and tried to get him to look in her eyes. "Lawrence..." Jo's tone was soft but stern, and she placed a finger underneath his chin so that he would face her directly. "Why did you get into another fight so early? You know you were just repaired! You're not up to your usual capacity in so short a time span! What gives? It wasn't Iblis again, was it? Please, talk to me, Lawrence. I'm your friend."

    Hopefully she would understand the heart of the matter.
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Lawrence on Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:49 pm

    Lawrence felt Jo tense up as if she was going to strike him, and he started to brace himself, but then she settled down and hugged him back. That felt unbelievably wonderful after his recent ordeals, and he leaned into her embrace. Her words and all the other little things she was doing to soothe him worked wonders, quickly helping him to calm down and work through the lingering despair that plagued him. He could have stayed there for another hour or two to be perfectly honest, but he could feel the faint tremble of exhaustion in the mechanic's limbs. Jo had to have been working through most of the night, and for the sake of her getting some rest, the butler allowed her to pull away slightly.

    The robot may have escaped getting pounded, but it looked like he still had to face the music. Lawrence found himself not quite able to face her gaze, both due to his broken promise, and the fact that most everything truthful he could say would make Jo upset with Zurg. However, he would be foolish to deny just how spiteful he felt towards his master at the same time. So, for spite, and that he likely couldn't lie to Jo if he tried right now, the butler told her everything.

    Lawrence managed to look Jo in the eye, then started to speak. "I was attacked by NOS-4-A2 the night before last; he managed to completely drain me, and I didn't recover until the next morning. When I awoke, I found myself under quarantine, with His Evilness on the way to 'test' me."

    He paused a moment, that part still infuriated him. Traitor? Hrmph! In any case, that irritation managed to come out in his voice a bit when he resumed speaking. "It seems I am quite immune to that blasted energy vampire's control, but the Evil Emperor did not know this. His test ended with him calling me 'traitor'... of course I snapped, but that proved I was unaffected. I was still angry when he offered me a chance at revenge, at redeeming myself for my first failure, and so I hunted down NOS-4-A2 for him."

    Now the butler was a bit more angry at himself, both for going on a hunt so soon and for underestimating his opponent. "The damage you repaired was mostly from my second battle with NOS-4-A2 last night . . . that energy vampire was far stronger than I anticipated."
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:34 am

    It took a few seconds for Jo to recall just who NOS-4-A2 was. Wasn't he that cocky energy sucker who came into the sanctuary one night? Something about Jana or other? Of course, Jo hadn't been impressed with him and he had mysteriously vanished after that. Weird.

    But the mystery was solved now and NOS-4-A-2 back on the prowl... attacking Lawrence, of all robots! If Jo could have her way, she'd grab her toolbox, storm out right now, and bust the living daylights outta that sucker the second she found him. But she left such violent thoughts for later. Lawrence was her top priority now.

    But as she listened, she began to frown, and her frown deepened with every word. And by the time Lawrence had finished, all Jo could ask herself was why? Why had Zurg sent Lawrence on such a mission? Calling him a traitor? He wasn't stupid, he knew that Lawrence worshiped the ground he walked on! How could Lawrence ever betray Zurg? How could Zurg even suggest a thing like that? There had to be more to this story.

    She squeezed Lawrence's shoulder. "It's alright now, Lawrence. You're safe here, and I didn't detect anything wrong when we scanned you. You're definitely not under that freak's mind control." She touched his cheek, then balled her hand into a fist and gave him a gentle yet firm punch in his shoulder. "And for cosmos's sake, don't ever do a crazy thing like that again!" she admonished. "Not even when Big Z tells you to. You let me handle him when he does something like that again, alright?"

    She might be sounding a little angrier than she intended. She was mad at Zurg, but not furious. She was mostly just upset that he had put Lawrence in danger like that when he should have known better. He clearly knew better, so why did he do it? Whatever the reason, Jo was going to find out.

    "I'll go have a talk with him now. And don't you worry about a thing. I'll take care of it, I promise." She straightened, suddenly feeling the full weight of the night's exhaustion on her shoulders. "Proxy, you stay here with Lawrence and change his battery. It should've recharged by now."

    Proxy nodded mutely, understanding that now was not the time for snide remarks. especially when Jo was tired and upset. But he couldn't hide the fact that he was pleased that Zurg was in for it... just not in the way he might imagine.

    As soon as she was sure everything was in working order, she made her way up the stairs and back to the front room, where Zurg was hopefully still waiting. "Big Z?" she asked, looking around. What time was it....? It must be early morning by now.
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Lawrence on Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:50 am

    Lawrence winced slightly at the punch, though he couldn't deny that he probably deserved it. He had only been able to nod in response before Jo left; the woman could almost be intimidating as Zurg when she put her mind to it.

    Speaking of Zurg, though a small part of the butler felt bad that his words had gotten Jo angry with his master, he mostly felt smugly satisfied. That was something he probably shared with Proxy at the moment, though neither were aware of the other's feelings.
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Zurg on Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:13 am

    Ugh, this suspense was killing him. Every so often (read: 10 minutes) the Evil Emperor checked the timecom. The seconds ticked by agonizingly slow, Zurg never a truly patient man at this point of his life, and to go by for an hour... two hours... three hours... It was murderous! There he sat in his chair, reclined and letting time go by, powerless to move it. By the time of the sixth hour in waiting he now appeared tired; stressed. These past hours were plenty enough to get him thinking. Plenty.

    How he failed, how he was incompetent, and how he was now being a burden again. How he endangered his best minion ever and nearly... lost him. Normally the Evil Emperor didn't linger on such thoughts, knowing full well that a man of his evil stature didn't think about "soft" things, but somehow... PB changed him. For better or worse, it changed him. He sat in that chair for over six hours, thinking, when he should have been back on Planet Z, living as if nothing had happened. That wasn't him anymore. It just wasn't.

    "Big Z?"

    It was time.

    Zurg couldn't hide his anxiety as he snapped out of his chair, jolted out of his pensive state. Upon noticing Jo's weary, exhausted self he tried not to feel guilty about dragging her into this, something out of her power and authority, and he stood up straighter. There was a brief grunt as he cleared his throat, and he spoke. "How is he." His tone was a stark contrast to the loud, demanding version of himself from earlier. It was probably because he was tired, having spent all late night and now early morning to think and reflect. Taking a step forward the Evil Emperor didn't let Jo know how worried and cautious he was of the situation. There was no question that Jo was going to have a few words with him depending on how much Lawrence had told.

    "I... I can explain, if you let me. But first, what do you know." Damage control. Not one of his stronger suits.


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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Wed Apr 06, 2011 1:26 am

    "He's fine." She croaked, then cleared her throat. "Not sure about his mental state, but his body's as good as new." It had taken a lot of work and effort on their part, but without Proxy it would have taken double the time. Good, old Proxy. She didn't know what she'd do without him.

    "I... I can explain, if you let me. But first, what do you know."

    Her shoulders sagged just thinking about what Lawrence had said. She felt too tired to argue with him, even if she was upset with him and the way he had treated Lawrence. She slid into the chair behind the front counter with a heavy sigh. "Enough," she said. "He told me about NOS-4-A2 and how you sent him after him. Because you thought he was infected. Because you called him a traitor."

    She looked up at him, eyes glazed over and oil-stained hands running through the knots in her hair. "You know Lawrence better than me. Do you really think he'd ever betray you? Really?" She didn't think so. So what was Zurg playing at? She hoped he understood the gravity of the situation. Lawrence could have died. Those who said that robots could not die didn't understand that when a robot's memory was wiped, it wouldn't be the same even if the robot was brought back online. No... they were people and if it was wrong to send a person out on a mission like that, then it was wrong to do the same to a robot.
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Zurg on Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:15 am

    Nnngh, that tone... Zurg would have taken yelling over it! At least he could handle loud words, not this... this... this soft talk! This talk of disappointment! I hope Lawrence feels better about himself, his smug self.

    The Evil Emperor watched Jo have a seat herself and didn't speak up. He instead listened and and chanced a few steps forward, but still keeping his distance. Who knew what Jo was capable of when exhausted and tired. She would probably hit him with a wrench, or worse, give him the cold shoulder. Anything but that! Her question was rather deep, however, and Zurg felt like he needed to fiddle with something. Something to keep his mind focused. Felt like interrogation and he didn't like it one bit. "I miscalculated." A simple reply to a situation that was layers complex. Of course, this was hardly simple and Zurg wasn't doing anyone any favours by keeping these defenses up. Out with it already! It would be a faster death this way.

    Musing Zurg picked up something, anything, and he began to toss it back and forth between hands. "No. No, I did not think Lawrence would betray me. Not after the detailed analysis report from SIR. No, betrayal was not seen as a possible threat." So why did she wonder how that came about? Well, that was a good question, wasn't it? The Evil Emperor had some explaining to do. "I had to see if Lawrence was... still capable of carrying out his duties. Trauma. NOS-4-A2 attacks illicit extreme trauma in its victims, and I had to make sure Lawrence was not one of them. You must understand." It wasn't a compelling argument but it would have to do. Augh, how to continue! Don't get angry, control your temper. You always had a nasty temper these past few decades. Easy.

    "I didn't think Lawrence had been infected, either. He was thoroughly scanned the moment he had been taken into my custody. There was no chance of an outbreak, not with the level of Lawrence's firewalls and automated defense systems." Augh, that was weak, as well! Weak, weak, weak! A corner of Zurg's lips was starting to upturn now, and he was slowly losing his patience with the situation. He shouldn't be subjected to this. Not him. He was the Evil Emperor! He was... He was... "Just say it already, Jo." Zurg wasn't one to beat this around the asteroid any longer and he wanted a straight forward approach. He could take it better than this long, drawn out process! "Say that you're disappointed in me, and that I should have known better. I know, I know. I messed up."

    At this he threw an arm madly into the air and began to pace, keeping his focused gaze upon the floor. That way, if he got too mad, he wouldn't melt anything.

    "I had underestimated the situation. I had underestimated NOS-4-A2, overestimated Lawrence, just screwed up in general." It was a new record that he had kept his cool for this long but his blood pressure was rising and that was hardly a good sign. No amount of zen practices would keep his cool for very long. Thinking, Zurg placed the random object from before down and stopped. Stopped and turned to face Jo at last.

    "Are you mad at me?"

    Cosmos, he sounded so... whipped! Bah, Zurg would work on that later.


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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:37 am

    Jo listened, staring at him through bloodshot eyes. Or maybe she was just looking right through him. She felt so tired after spending all night repairing Lawrence that at first she almost couldn't understand what he was saying. But she caught on soon enough, and it was evident from what he was saying that he hadn't planned things out right. Yeah, he had messed up, alright. He had taken a gamble, a risk, and nearly paid for it with Lawrence's life.

    Jo sighed and rubbed her eyes, yawning. Placing her hands upon the counter again, she eased her chin upon her elbows. "You should have known better..." She poked at the grub-like carving she used as a paperweight that Zurg put back after tossing in his hands.

    "I'm not mad at you. I'm just disappointed." She got up slowly and walked over to him. "Big Z, you don't usually mess up like this. I know you." She grasped his hand and tugged on it gently, urging him to make eye contact with her. "What's really wrong? It isn't like you to not fully think things through."
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Zurg on Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:14 am

    So she was disappointed. Zurg sighed and even so much as let his shoulders sag. Well, so much for that ingenious idea. Next time he knew; you have a problem, you take care of it yourself. That's what Nana said all the time, and she was normally very wise. Stupid planets... He clenched his fists upon thinking about Planet Z and almost didn't hear Jo speak up. Her voice was almost too soft to normally hear through all his thinking. "I know, I know... I should have known better -- I should have. I must have gotten too carried away and I..." Oh, stop it, Zurg. You had more pride and self-worth than this! Snap out of it! The tugging feeling helped a little and he found it difficult to look her in the eyes. But he eventually managed to and slowly brought them back down.

    "I've just been in this rut, that's all." To actually have a man like Zurg admit there was a problem was pretty influential indeed. He never spoke about his personal life so easily. "I thought Lawrence going off to get his pride back would have done him some good, but I hadn't thought NOS-4-A2 could put up quite a challenge. As for what's wrong?" That was the question he couldn't rightfully answer at the moment. Something had been bugging him, yes, but... he didn't know. And he didn't want to think about it. Directing his eyes to the direction where Lawrence was taken he inquired something. "Is he online? Capable of seeing visitors? I imagine he's spiteful towards me. Perhaps I should go in there and settle it myself. No reason in keeping festering wounds sloppily covered."

    But that would Jo's call, not his. If she had paid attention he was subtly asking for her advice on the matter. A sense of privilege for the mechanic.


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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Jo Pistonne on Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:36 am

    "It's alright," she said softly, rubbing her thumb along his knuckles. "We all make mistakes. I'm just glad Lawrence made it out alive." She was feeling the burn now, but she knew this was important. She had to boost his morale a bit. Even given the present circumstances. And now that she had somewhat reassured him, the admonishing would come soon enough.

    "But don't you dare do something like that to Lawrence again." She tugged on his hand again. "If you do, I'm not going to be as understanding. I care about him as much as you do." Blast him for being so foolish. Blast them both!

    Jo considered Zurg's request. "He's online, but I got this bitter vibe from him. He seemed pretty hurt that you considered him a traitor." That was dumbing things down, but she knew Zurg would be aware of what she meant. "I think if you apologize and tell him what you told me, you should be fine. Leave out some of the finer details maybe, but just be honest with him. And show him that you appreciate him and his efforts. Some positive encouragement can really go a long way."

    Sagely advice having been given, she gripped his upper arms and rubbed them. "Let's go down there and see how he's doing, hmm?"
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Zurg on Wed Apr 06, 2011 3:57 am

    Ugh, how could someone be so caring and then so intense the next!? This role reversal certainly didn't make the Evil Emperor feel any better. Who scolded him when he was bad? Wasn't that point of being evil? No one to reprimand you because you didn't care? It was like that instant back upon Planet Z, when he was under planetary arrest. Except now Jo was him and he was Jo. Zurg just wanted nothing more than to distance himself from everything and slowly integrate back when he felt better. He didn't want to mingle with anyone at the moment, but...

    He didn't make any verbal promises and instead tried to take his hand away from Jo's, uncomfortable in more ways than one. If he was going to do this then he was going to do it upon his own terms, not anyone else. And thinking as such he pulled away from her touch and went to it. A job had to be done and as Evil Emperor he had to see it through. Whether he liked it or not, he supposed. Just... being near people wasn't helping the mixture of emotions he felt and he wanted to talk with Lawrence. Alone.

    The moment he reached the room that contained his minion the Hornets snapped their heads to him at once and remained deathly still. Zurg's gaze was the one he normally wore; cold, stoic, untouchable. It was the gaze he wore when both disinterested and disturbed, and seeing the crowded bodies around the Evil Emperor at last spoke. "Leave us."

    The order had been given and the Hornets marched out proudly. The request had also been extended to Proxy, and Zurg would not speak until the robot was gone as well.

    Once they were all alone, perfectly alone with no one else around, the Evil Emperor closed the door if there was one and thus began the long, awkward silence. The silence between overlord and minion. "So." Not much of an opener but it would do for now, given the purpose, and Zurg proceeded to walk around Lawrence with his hands behind his back, eyes to the various things around the room. Anywhere other than Lawrence. "I see you're back and fully operational. This is good. Jo had done a good job, yet again." Nothing particularly strong in what he said; just words to pass the time. Meaningless words. But even he couldn't hide behind such weak defenses forever and at last he turned around, those red eyes boring into Lawrence's blue ones.

    "I hear you are bitter, discontent. Is this true?" The need to be in control was in effect. As Lawrence's overlord he couldn't outright speak the words Jo thought were necessary to say. No. It would compromise his authority and power regarding the minion. In due time, in due time. For now, the Evil Emperor waited for what Lawrence would say next.

    Depending on the butler's words, it would determine how this discussion went.


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    Lawrence
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Lawrence on Wed Apr 06, 2011 7:34 am

    Proxy had since finished replacing the temporary battery with Lawrence's original one, and now the two robots (oh, and the squad of Hornets around the door leading upstairs) were more or less waiting for Jo to return. But ohoho, it was quite a surprise when it wasn't Jo, but Zurg himself that approached from upstairs. The butler wasn't expecting the Emperor to see him so soon, but that was all right, he could work with this.

    Lawrence sat there on the workbench and crossed his arms in front of him, watching the Emperor shoo the Hornet guards and Proxy from the room. As he watched them all file out, he took a moment to consider his strategy. These sorts of matters needed to be handled delicately, and losing his temper now would be the act of a fool. However, he did not have to pretend that he was happy with things, he just had to be subtle about it.

    Zurg's attempt at small talk was both awkward and empty, so the butler ignored it for the rubbish that it was. He didn't interrupt, as he recognized stalling when he saw it. Inwardly, Lawrence was pleased; if Zurg didn't care, he wouldn't be bothering. None of that showed in his expression, though, which was just as neutral as ever as he watched his master putter around.

    Finally, the Emperor's faintly glowing eyes locked with the robot's optics, and the time for stalling was over.

    At the question, Lawrence's optics narrowed ever so slightly, likely so subtle a change that those who didn't know him wouldn't notice. Likewise, his tone was steady and even, though there was a faint edge to it. "You called me traitor, and sent me on a suicide mission." A pause, much like the ones he would often use on Nefarious. "Sir."

    That was all the butler said, all that really needed to be said, and the next move belonged to Zurg.
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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

    Post by Zurg on Wed Apr 06, 2011 2:16 pm

    Oho. The Evil Emperor's yellow pupils contracted sharply, almost to the point of a full-on flare up. No, no. Keep your cool. This could be handled calmly. Right. As a veteran galactic overlord Zurg didn't give Lawrence the satisfaction of seeing the despot's temper peek. Yes, he was annoyed. Yes, he was considerably irate. And yes, he felt threatened. A man of his position did not simply apologize. And to a minion, no less! Why, it was unheard of in the Evil Emperor's line of work! Can you imagine the windfall of an evil overlord bending over backwards to their minion? Of course not. That didn't happen.

    And Zurg wasn't about to let it happen, either. If this were Dr. Doom, Lawrence wouldn't so much as dare voice his opinion without so much as a whimper. If this were Vlad Masters, Lawrence would have so much as fallen into that awful Ghost Zone. And if this were even that bumbling nitwit, Nanthax, Lawrence wouldn't have even had the opportunity to speak -- he would have been a smoldering crater in the ground. But, no! Lawrence wasn't dealing with either of those fine, nefarious gentlemen. He was dealing with the Evil Emperor Zurg, Scourge of the Galactic Alliance, and now... nothing more than a big, incompetent softie.

    Softie. That's all this place turned him into. All the relations with people, the hanging out, the laughing and playing, and even Jo; all turning him into a laughing stock. And now? He was actually letting a minion speak to him as if they were equals. Equals. Zurg's blood pressure rose sharply and if he hadn't a shred of respect in his miserable, old body he would have made this place a statement. It was time to step up to the plate and claim his title once again.

    "I think what you just stated was rather easy, if I must say so myself -- which I have." The Evil Emperor remarked coolly, calmly. He was anything but cool and calm, but you didn't last long showing your true emotions for long. Careful, careful. Just like a patient game of holo-chess. Build up to the finale and then crush your opponent. How delicious~! Zurg let his eyes flicker at being called "Sir", and the Evil Emperor resumed walking around in a leisurely stroll. "You know what I do to people who fail me, Lawrence? I'll tell you."

    At this he released a little chuckle, one having been bottled up with a tinge of rage, and the Evil Emperor rubbed his hands. "I normally strip them of their possessions, hoist them up in a humiliating pose, and dip them --slowly-- into acid. It's quite therapeutic to hear their screams. Makes my day all the more better, wouldn't you agree?" And then Zurg was suddenly at Lawrence's face, his arms straddling the butler's body. It was a gesture of control --his control over Lawrence-- and the Evil Emperor wasn't about to let his best and brightest minion think he could walk all over him. Not on Zurg's watch. And Jo wasn't here to have a say in it. "But you already know all about that. Nefarious was your previous boss; he seemed like a typical megalomaniac, didn't he?" As quickly as he had invaded the robot's personal space he left it, going back to his pacing around. "But unlike Nefarious I'm not a complete quack. I will admit my mistakes when made, sending you out after NOS-4-A2 was one of them. I underestimated the situation. Rare of me, actually."

    Now here came the part Zurg absolutely dreaded: that aforementioned admittance of his mistakes. He growled, not at Lawrence, but at something picking at the back of his mind. What was it? Who knew; only the Evil Emperor did.

    "I don't think you're a traitor. Spiteful, maybe, but not traitorous. I wouldn't have accepted you if I had thought so at the very beginning." Contrary to what some thought, Zurg was actually brilliant and cunning when he wanted to be. The key was just that; when he wanted to be. And right now he wanted to be. The assault upon his new outpost and his newest minion sent a message: his forces weren't as sturdy as he thought. Things needed to be cleared up and settled, and once again it was up to him to end the matter once and for all. Just like old times, old times. The responsibilities of a ruler, evil or otherwise, just never grow old. Unlike him. "You are, to date, my best and brightest minion I've ever had, Lawrence. Losing you would have been a costly mistake, and not one I want to make. I apologize, sincerely." Ah, you softie. Portal Breach was ruining you, wasn't it? And one with terrible mood swings, too. Wasn't the Evil Emperor resentful minutes before? Huh, just one enigma the universe would never solve.

    Turning to face the robot, Zurg kept his usual scowl but those who knew him would realize he was just musing. It was his default facial expression, not a look of disgust. "I had thought you were ready to take on the energy vampire as to the last of my knowledge NOS-4-A2 had been severely weakened upon reconstruction. I was wrong. We now know that this was not the case and the machine is ever deadly as I last recalled. I had... assumed." Not something he was proud of doing, but he was only flesh and bone, after all. At least he was owning up to his faults, unlike others around this deplorable joint. Still pacing, eyes shifting to and fro with each thought and conclusion that came to mind, the Evil Emperor decided on a fitting course of action at last. It may not have been the best, but it was the right path and it was the path he was going to tread. "Someone attacking my minion is unacceptable. Not only does it damage my minion, but it is also a direct attack upon myself. I don't take such blows lightly. As your overlord I hereby relieve you of your duty to track down and hunt NOS-4-A2. You are not ready."

    Lawrence may object but the Evil Emperor's mind was absolute on the matter and he would not budge. The butler should be grateful that Zurg even apologized and held Lawrence in respect. So, what was the Evil Emperor going to do about the energy vampire, then? Well, he'll tell you.

    "I will hunt it down myself." What? Zurg actually mangling someone for attacking his staff? Consider the man possessive and vindictive. "I will hunt it down and bring NOS-4-A2's reign to an end. I should have done that back in my world, and I will not make the same mistake twice. I won't. If anyone is to kill my son it will be me, and only me."

    His son.

    If Lawrence wished to speak now was the time as the Evil Emperor had briefly fallen into a lapse of brooding silence, his cape producing the only noise as he paced back and forth.


    _________________
    In unity, before the Nine, I softly speak in #669999.
    But, in One's animosity, I hold command in #99FF00.

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    Re: Defeat is Not in Their Programming

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