Zombie Vs Robot

George frowned at his computer. This was, in of itself, a common thing. For computers appear, no matter how intelligent the end-user, to be temperamental beasts that fail or otherwise eat important data just when you can least afford it to happen. Fortunately George’s computer was on its best manners and all of his important notes, recordings of different experiments, and his colossal music collection remained in good order. Instead George was frowning at the latest news his lady friend from America had sent. Not only had she failed several classes, in grand and spectacular fashion no less, but due to unrelated events the Tesla Institute had to re-evaluate its stance on admitting ‘students and staff of a unique nature that mainstream science does not yet acknowledge’. She was, understandably, upset and at a momentary loss on what to do. The message as good as admitted her failure came not from lack of understanding the subjects, but from temperamental issues between herself, other students, staff, and at one occasion apparently somehow a statue in front of the library had become the target of her ‘venting.’

Enclosed were photos depicting the statue, of a wild hog, before and after. In spite of himself George laughed at the ‘after’ and had to admit that even though it was something of a disaster his friend had maintained her sense of creativity even in the midst of a nervous breakdown. On consideration I suppose it isn’t really a nervous breakdown when the person in question turns into a seven foot tall human-wolf hybrid abomination and goes about breaking things until shot with enough tranquilizers to put down a charging rhino.

The email went on to explain that as part of her sentencing, because she could not pay for damages, was a period of service to one Remus Fawkes; head of Human - Metahuman relations. Considering if this were a normal school, or even Elizabeth a normal person, jail time in addition to being thrown out would have been the likely outcome George considered the option she took fairly light. As the message progressed George found that Remus had opted to send her to help his eldest son. George frowned at that then, and after a little searching through ScienceGoneWrong’s Who’s Who list, had a few facts to rub together about this person she had been assigned to.

From that short profile and picture George had days of researching this man to go through, his faults, failings, interests, and general leanings. He found out that, like most of those in the un-recognized sciences Maximus has his collection of personality quirks and tics. He silently thanked whoever had started the ‘Social Network for the Strange Sciences’, as otherwise he would have spent months trying to interview people, backtrack half-hidden paper trails, and hope that the target of his sleuthing didn’t think he was being hostile, or worse, steal his pet project out from under him.

After sending a short email explaining his concern over Elizabeth’s current situation and expressing sympathy for anyone in Robotics, especially those that had atomic power supplies, getting parts in the post 9/11 world had been a perennial complaint friends in the field had during gatherings, George had to tend to matters closer to home. He had been getting threatening letters lately, and while the local government was actually very friendly to his sort of people, the fact they could be dealt with actually worked against him in that if they would deal with him they would deal with anyone else. He hoped he wouldn’t get evicted, but he didn’t have the resources to fight a protracted legal battle.

“Well, I’m underwhelmed.” Elizabeth had come from a three hour flight, two hour drive and was finally dropped off at a very conventional looking home placed out in the middle of nowhere. Oh sure it was a well kept two floor ranch home with hedges, flowers, lawn decorations, and even a front porch swing. To her it just didn’t look like somewhere a child prodigy in robotics, son of one of the major contributors and advocates of occult sciences and other Historic Obscura would hang their hat at the end of the day. Plus to top it off she had heard the man had converted a decomissioned missile silo for undisclosed purposes. So yes, she was quite disappointed.

She had, as if she had any real options, agreed to work off her debts in serving this man. That thought surfaced along with her irritability as she carried her bags to the front door. The walk also gave her time to fret and fear over how she would be treated, long enough for her to recall two different nightmare scenarios she had told George of on her trip to the Old World.

The first had her wearing naught but whatever skimpy, lacey, latexy, or leathery outfits her employer demanded of her while she served as little more than eye candy, or perhaps a plaything. Naturally if he tried to take the nonsense too far she would put her foot down, likely on the man’s throat. Of course if that happened she would be sent to a specially designed prison for ‘Beings with capacities above and beyond normal restraint.’ It had an official designation, but when most people spoke of it they just called it ‘Away.’

The other nightmare that played through her mind was no less degrading and demeaning, but in some ways it was preferable to being a near-helpless plaything to a sexually frustrated mad-genius. This of course was being confined to the role of Stupid Minion. In this she would have to watch the man cackle and caw between ordering her about as either a menial laborer, or a captive audience. Of course if it were as bad as she feared he might try turning her into an experiment. The deal made only stated that she would have to be alive and reasonably intact, not augmented, possibly missing a few pieces ‘accidentally’ removed, or reduced to a gibbering twitching heap.

When she got to the door a shudder opened at roughly eye level, revealing an unblinking dimly glowing red lense staring at her. “Name and Purpose.” Flat emotionless monotone.

“Uh...” She always hated dealing with robots. Over the phone was bad enough, memories of countless telemarketers wanting her attention testifying to this, in person was worse. “Elizabeth Crowley, I was...uh... I’m real sorry, but I’ve never been good with dealing with robots.” This said in spite of the fact she knew the thing likely didn’t have feelings of any sort, well she thought it likely couldn’t feel anyway. “I was told I had to come here.”

The eye stared at her, unmoving and unchanging for several long moments. “Come inside, leave your bags in the entryway. They will be taken to your rooms while you are given your orientation.” The shudder closed and the door opened.

Inside looked very normal, if somewhat upscale in furnishings. Hardwood floors, expensive looking furnishings, and not a trace that anything was out of the ordinary. That changed when a four foot tall faceless device drifted her way. It looked, by all accounts, like an art-deco pepper pot. There was no eye, and a few other details were wrong, but she smiled in spite of herself. Either her new employer did not know the reference and the appearance was simply happenstance, or he thought the joke was too good to pass up. Either way it took a force of will on her part not to laugh.

It lead her first to a basement, then to an elevator that went further down. On the way down she saw through the open front that this man’s home had at least a dozen different levels plus the house above. Once the elevator stopped she followed her guide through what could have been a brewery, chemical processing plant, or some other place with lots of interconnected vats, tubes, and lots and lots of noise. Past that was a well lit plain hallway ending in a wood and glass door with the words ‘Refurbished Rustbuckets and Robots’ and ‘Management’ separated by a pair of crossed crescent wrenches stenciled in the middle of the pane.

She knocked softly before opening the door, guessing that because her guide had stopped here she was expected to go in alone. “Hello?” The inside of the office had the look of something from the middle of the last century about it. Slowly rotating ceiling fan, filing cabinets set against one wall, receptionist desk flanking a door on the opposite side of the room. In fact the one element that would have looked out of place was the secretary itself. One does not normally expect a hulking brute of metal covered in gauges and lights hunched over doing paperwork. Standing straight would have been impossible for this machine, but if it could have it would have to have been somewhere between nine and twelve feet tall.

“Crowley, yes?” It had a voice like Sinatra, which caught Elizabeth off guard for a moment. She nodded. “Boss’s been complaining he hasn’t been able to find much about you off the registry, dunno if he’ll be in an agreeable mood when you go in.”


“No problem. You’re new here, don’t want you to get off on the wrong foot.” There was a loud buzz from an intercom wired into the robot’s desk. Carefully it pushed a button, shutting it off. “Name’s Forbin.”

“Colossus right?” Forbin gave Elizabeth a thumbs up before she walked through. It was named after a book that had been turned into a movie centering around a pair of supercomputers that eventually took over the world. Though it could not feel fear it had a deep and abiding interest in horror movies. Though it might not have been intended as such, the movie from which its name had been taken was something it recognized as being potentially far more frightening, at least as a concept if not in execution, than the splatterhouse material modern audiences were subjected to routinely.

Fifties office theme extended here too. It could have been the setting for a bad (or even good) pulp detective story even if one threw in the robot replacing the stock and standard sexy assistant. The man seated at the imposingly large desk however broke the illusion rather badly. His clothes, for one, looked more late nineteenth century gentry than nineteen fifties gumeshoe. Another thing that broke with traditional pulp detectives was that he had neither cigarettes nor liquor laying about.

The man smiled at her and leaned forward, offering her a hand. “Miss Elizabeth Crowley, I have been looking forward to finally meeting you.” They shook and he leaned back in his seat. “Not exactly fond of the idea of this arrangement, but my father told me that if I wanted his backing I’m going to have to take you off his hands.” He was no older, and perhaps a few years younger, than her. His eyes were an unnatural shade of green and that seemed to make focusing on the rest of his face difficult. “So, I brought you here so we could talk. What do you fear about this arrangement? What are your preferences? Your record listed a major in Psychology and a minor in Cryptobiology. If you don’t mind, where were you wanting to go with that?”

Before she could answer the intercom buzzed. “Sir. B-46 just got loose and is headed for the weapons range.” Pause. “Genni reports blind spots cropping up all over Rehab as well as power surges consistent with-”

“Please tell me it’s not trying to wake the goons.”

“It looks like that’s exactly what it’s trying to do Sir. Sorry.”

“Understood. Tell Genni to go to level four containment and arm security with pulse weapons. Make sure they’re on setting six or above, they won’t even phase it on anything less, and try flagging Dr. Cossack and Hell before it has a chance to cut communications.”

“Already done Sir.”

“Now,” Maximus looked back to Elizabeth and took a breath, “Where were we?”

“You’re not worried about a rampant machine running loose in your lab?” Elizabeth tried containing herself, but she was quite worried and more than a little flustered at her host’s lack of concern. “I don’t know what sort of defenses you’ve got, but I did research on Dr. Chaos and his ‘Goons’. Those things get loose and-” She stopped when the intercom beeped again.

“We have B-46 powered down and fitted with a restriction plate.”

“Thank you Forbin, I want all data gathered from the capture and all data from B-46‘s containment pen for the past twenty four hours.” He smiled at Elizabeth after releasing the comm button, “I was given custody of Chaos’s army on the basis of the security measures I already had in place. I appreciate your concern, and am glad that you appreciate the potential for danger, but everything is in hand now.”

“I... see.” She didn’t trust it to have ended so suddenly, “Well since you’ve wanted to hear my opinions and don’t seem condescending that eliminates my fear of being used as dumb muscle.”

Maximus laughed. “Lord and Tesla no. You might have had a stress-induced breakdown as a result of washing out, but that doesn’t mean I take you as stupid.” He opened a drawer on the lefthand side of the desk and tossed her a set of papers.

“What are,” She started reading them. “Wait.” She flipped through to get a sense of the overall picture. Most of what she saw were transcripts intermixed with handwritten letters. Taking a closer look she saw they did not paint a flattering picture. “Your dad enrolled you at Tesla when you were nine?”

Maximus chuckled humorlessly, “Hard to believe isn’t it? I got my degree in robotics when I was thirteen and was hailed as a wonder child. I actually had a grasp of anatomy and medicine when I was first enrolled but I didn’t have any interest.”

She did. “He... wanted you to be a medical doctor?” Her host nodded.

“Family tradition. The eldest got to go their own way, but the second-born has been in medicine for the past five generations.” He took the papers back and shelved them away. “I’ll tell you the whole story sometime. For now we have a mess to clean up.”

...///... ...///... ...///...

The robots were playing music when Elizabeth carried the device in through the freight elevator. She had to shift to be able to lift it, and even then it was almost too heavy for her to do alone. However she refused even Forbin's help. She had been told to carry it and carry the thing she would. There were no stamps or warning labels on the crate so she wasn't afraid for whatever was inside, yet for her to struggle, even in her current form, meant whatever was inside had to weigh as much as a small car.

She tried puzzling out the contents as she walked. The way the contents moved suggested lots of little things rather than a solid slab. The lack of warning markers meant it wasn't radioactive, at least she hoped it wasn't. The contents stumped her until she sat the crate down. "Your delivery... Sir." Though her employer was a fair and level sort, at least when compared to many of his colleagues, she enjoyed finding ways of getting under his skin.

"Really?" Maximus was waist deep in a twelve foot tall spider-walker so it can be understood and forgiven that he would miss the sarcasm in his subordinate's voice. "Mind opening it up for me? I"m- Krak I think I'm stuck."

Elizabeth chuckled before grabbing him by the ankles and pulling, gently. Maximus came free, but his work smock did not, which left him in a tshirt advertising an industrial metal band, and oil and fluid stained pants. He scowled at her before walking over to fetch a crowbar. Oddly enough when he walked back over to her he had, in addition to the crowbar, a newspaper. She quirked an eyebrow at that and was about to ask when he rolled it up and smacked her on the nose. "Bad. Now I'll have to go in and get my tools."

At first Elizabeth only looked down at him. They were roughly the same height normally, but as she was now she was somewhere in the neighborhood of seven feet tall and fully capable of ripping any non-augmented human limb from limb with little more trouble than you or I would have breaking a toothpick. "What do you-" He smacked her with the paper again. "Think." Smack. "You're." Smack Smack. "STOP THAT!"

Maximus tossed the paper aside and pried the side of the box loose. Inside was a safe. He tapped in a complex set of numbers on the thing's keypad and pulled the door open "Hard to get supplies these days between customs, screenings, pirates... rivals." He was grinning ear to ear by the time the door finished swinging open, "But I will not be denied."

Elizabeth continued rubbing her nose right up until she peered inside. She then looked to her employer, then back at the contents of the safe. "Is there something wrong with you or something?"She took out one of the things that had been rattling about inside. "Seriously, I don't care if the box says its safe or not, this stuff's toxic waste."

She snorted and tossed one of the objects inside to him. It was an Atari cartridge. Specifically it was a copy of E.T. often cited as the straw that broke the console gaming industry's back in the early eighties. There were other factors of course, such as general over saturation, and no attempts at quality control, but the unsold copies of that game had been packed away, taken to New Mexico, and buried in what many believe a toxic waste dump.

"Nonsense." Maximus turned the piece of maligned plastic over in his hands, "Ever heard of The lightning Baron Otto?"

Elizabeth's eyes narrowed, "Sure, tried putting subliminal messages in games, tapes, videos, and a few TV broadcasts to rule the world via puppet government and commercial entities.."

"Try nothing! He actually succeeded, at for a little while." He wore a satisfied smirk as he enlightened his employee on a bit of hidden history. "Why do you think Reagan got elected... Twice?"


"The movie E.T. was his crowning piece of propaganda. The game, however, was an early attempt at breaking his hold. After all the movie was something everyone was familiar with, so of course people would want the game right?"

"...Makes sense I guess." Color Elizabeth skeptical.

"The problem is the de-programming didn't take. Part of what made Otto's plan stick for so long was that it made anyone under it's control reject any media attempting to subvert it; even going so far as to create a mental construct portraying the media it's embedded in as uninteresting. Here. let me show you."

They went over to a TV that had apparently been wheeled in for a situation like this, or possibly just to do a spot check of the goods. "You are about to be blown away." The console sitting on the trolly the TV was sitting on hummed to life. "Even now with Otto's programming rendered largely inert the subroutines dealing with anything containing the inoculation is still active. The console I've plugged the game into has a few modifications that strips out the offending subliminal and lets us see the game as intended." What followed was the most jaw dropping gaming experience by anyone ever.

...///... ...///... ...///...

"Sir?" A flight attendant nudged George's arm. "We're almost ready to land."

"Oh, thanks." George straightened and buckled himself in. Sure it was strange for him to fly commercial, but then again it was that very unexpected nature he was counting on to keep his arrival under wraps. He had to sell most of his equipment, and several of his assistants, to pay legal costs and get a ticket to America. His home, a place that had been in his family for the past eight hundred years, give or take a few decades, was now in the hands of those who wished to bring about his ruin. They did not, fortunately, get his notes or any meaningful research materials. He had a place to go, and a friend waiting for him when he got there, though he was keeping the full extent of his situation and where exactly he was moving from her. That first meeting would be so very worth it.

America. It used to be a land of Freedom, Opportunity, and Discovery that thousands of his countrymen, and several generations of relatives had fled to at the turn of the last century. While it's reputation for these things had been tarnished in the past decades it still held promises of a new beginning for him. That and, as he saw it, he might be able to study a Sasquach in it's natural environment and compare it against the Yeti and the others of it's kind.

It took days, but he had gotten to his new home. Everything was as he expected it. Wide open spaces, clean air, and a besieging army of cybernetically augmented zombies. He didn't know who sent the army and didn't really care, or have any means of helping the besieged home-owner fight them. Thankfully he didn't have to and was treated to the sight of several very large robots, a man in black coveralls wielding two very large wrenches as deadly weapons, and an exceptionally large female lycanthrope leaping from cluster to cluster of invaders acting to disrupt their enemy before their forces had a chance to regroup anywhere. A dangerous tactic, but George noted that it was very effective at least in the short term.

It was fortunate that the swarm was small, only a few dozen as opposed to the hundreds or even thousands George had seen in the past. He wasn't entirely sure this swarm was augmented, as there had been fast zombies made before. However it was generally easier to work with a near mindless shambler than to have to deal with their faster (and smarter, hungrier, and more apt to rip your face off) kin. There were no immidiate spotter drones that he could see, so whomever was directing the rapidly shrinking swarm had to be relying on sattilite. George was satisfied with this line of reasoning. Make the chain of communication too long, because even the best satilites had a half second to several seconds delay in signal routing, and even otherwise unstoppable armies would falter long enough to be ripped to shreds. What he saw in front of him was proof enough of that.

With the field of battle settling he thought it a good time to try drawing attention to himself, and promptly had a huge ball of fur and anger sitting on him

George looked into the near-human eyes of the hybrid creature, "Hello Elizabeth. Bad time?"

It, She rather, sniffed before deciding he wasn't a threat and turned to the process of sorting through the re-animated dead all about them. Every so often her nose curled in disgust, though considering she was in the middle of a field of the dead who could blame the she-wolf?

"Elizabeth?" George watched her sort through the corpses, killing those that still moved.

A massive robot approached George slowly and with deliberate care. "Excuse the mess, one of the Boss's disgruntaled customers sent these. Made a huge mess of the sorting bay, but everything's still in order." It started taking George's bags with it to the house. "I imagine he'll want to speak with you when he's done getting cleaned up."

With one last look at Elizabeth George followed the hulking machine inside.

...///... ...///... ...///...

It had only been a day since George had arrived and there were more zombies on the lawn. Unlike the prior swarm these were unaugmented 'shamblers' that were easily dealt with by Julian's security. Even though it was easy to deal with George was still worried and was somewhat fearful that they were here because of him.

So here he was working through a pressurized suit and in a room designed to have negative airflow attempting to compare samples of zombie bits with what he's seen in the past, what is on the general database of known examples of 'created by complete nutjobs.' OK that's not the database's official name but it's a fitting description.

He worked alone because Julian wasn't well versed in biology outside of containment procedures and while Elizabeth had proven herself competent she was currently helping Forbin with cleanup and re-deploying defenses to deal with an inevitable third warm. Actually he had help in several of Julian's smaller non-human drones that either floated or rolled about acting mainly as floating tool trays or to help automate any number of otherwise trivial tasks that would pile up and take time away from his work. That and they kept him from having to spend twenty minutes showering and removing his containment suit and another twenty minutes putting a fresh one on and checking seals not to mention actually going about whatever would draw him out of the containment lab.

No he didn't think either strain was airborne, but he didn't want to take the chance of it being designed to mutate after some chemically triggered dead-minion switch turns it into revenge weapon. It's mad science, he isn't going to take any chances just because normal run of the mill biology and chemistry says something like that is impossible. After all he just went through two swarms of moving attacking and quite dangerous beings that had no conventional internal biology; which should also be impossible.

Then there was the fear gnawing at him that somehow these swarms were after him. His rivals from the Old Country wouldn't stop at manipulating the local legal system into having him thrown off of his family's ancestral lands and kill on sight orders if he ever wants to go home. Apparently his adversary didn't think that was enough. Well if they want to play like that he could be just as nasty. Just ask the Third Reich how their Ubermench project ended up.

this is the part where he would have laughed while thunder or other audio-visual cues clued spectators in that he has decided to take a running jump past the moral event horizon. Thankfully he is not your stock and staple Mad Scientist. Sure maniacal laughter is very therapeutic, but it also seems to promote the idea that you're completely nuts, and right now he could use all the help he could get. So no laughing like a d list Frankenstein ripoff. He will plot and plan quietly, while playing his GameStation 720 with friends, and occasionally even while he sleeps. However he will enact these plans wit hperfict and deliberate calm.

What are a few months to a man who's been around since the '20's?

For now, however, he has a virus who's secrets he wishes to tease out into the open. For now we shall leave him, because I am not entirely sure he is unaware of the fourth wall, and I wouldn't want to run the risk of him being able to blow a hole thorugh just to express his displeasure.

...///... ...///... ...///...