Full Name: Lieutenant Aaron Marks USN (Retired)
Faction: Heavy Metal / Freelancer
The small robot rolled forward on its single wheel leading Aaron Marks further into the heart of Wilson’s Tower. Aaron was impressed with the clean simple lines of the place, but also the touch of human warmth throughout the building. He had expected Heavy Metal’s base to feel cold, and institutional, less human in some way. So far, he felt very much at ease.
“You must be Lieutenant Marks. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” came an oddly hollow voice from behind him. Turning quickly, Arron watched as a silver humanoid shape coalesced as if from out of nowhere. As Aaron looked on, the semblance of a mouth formed a wide smile in the otherwise blank face. It faded quickly. “Sorry if I startled you. Please forgive the lack of facial expressions, I find maintaining them to be quite exhausting.”
“Lieutenant Marks Sir, reporting for duty!” said Aaron, reflexively snapping a precise salute. Old habits hadn’t yet died away.
A hollow echoing laugh greeted him, “No need for that Mr. Marks. You’re not in the Navy anymore. Welcome to Heavy Metal!” said the silver-man, holding up a hand before Aaron could correct him, “Even a part time member is part of the team. I know you insisted on being free to do your own thing. I respect that.”
“Thank you, sir. Or should I call you Doctor?” Aaron asked, reaching out to shake the proffered hand. The grip was like a steel vice but there was no aggression behind it.
“Call me Mercury, if you like. Most around here do; we’ve got more than a few Doctors around this place. We should get going, M.O.D. is getting impatient.” Mercury said nodding ahead to where the little robot was spinning in place beeping softly and making anxious little beeping noises.
The small machine seemed like nothing so much as an excited child. Aaron was surprised when it asked a simple question in a voice not unlike a kid’s Spell and Say machine, “Ready?”
Mercury fell into lockstep with Aaron as they proceeded. The Supreme’s gait was unnaturally smooth and his metal body made no noise along the corridor. Aaron felt he should be uncomfortable walking into the heart of a computer’s fortress flanked by two robots, or androids or whatever they were, but there was something very human about them both he decided. He had agreed to be part of the team for the opportunity to help people. Secretly though, he had feared he’d be treated like another machine, another cog in an uncaring manipulative calculation. So far though, he felt more respected and welcomed than he had ever expected.
Finally, they came to a door labeled ‘flight lab’. M.O.D. began punching a code into the keypad. “You must be very excited?” said Mercury as the door slid open.
“Does it show?”
“Not really, you’ve got excellent self-control. But I’ll tell you, if I had a chance to fly this suit, I’d be thrilled,” chuckled Mercury.
The room was huge, easily the size of a large hanger bay, only taller, mostly empty except for a small workshop area just on the other side of the door. In the middle of the workshop was the suit, resting mid a high-tech framework of computer signals and power and fuel cables.
For months Aaron had talked about the design with C.O.R.E.’s disembodied voice. Long flights to and from Pulp City where C.O.R.E. had sought his advice in aeronautics, weapon load outs, and thousands of other minutiae. His first impression was awe, his second was that it looked like it belonged on a Saturday morning cartoon.
“We have kept the design purposely less aggressive to appeal to the citizenry. Public image is crucial to what we do. Rest assured the suit is more than capable of performing to your specifications,” C.O.R.E. said with his familiar synthesized monotone as he stepped around from behind the suit.
“Time to suit up,” said Mercury.
An hour later Aaron set down and walked over to the workshop area. The smell of jet fumes and cordite was rapidly sucked away by the room’s massive ventilation fans. M.O.D. rolled out and began to collect the scrapped drones strewn about the floor, occasionally having to extinguish small fires, all the while singing along to the pop tunes blasting from him Walkman.
It took Aaron a few moments to remove the suit. Mercury and C.O.R.E. waited with inhuman patience.
“Your assessment?” asked C.O.R.E. at last.
“She’s a sweet ride. That said there are a few adjustments that need to be made for me to sign off on it,” responded Aaron.
“The Lieutenant here is handed the most advanced flying exo-suit ever produced on earth and all he can say is it needs adjustments, ” chuckled Mercury.
“I’m not a Lieutenant anymore,” stated Aaron, matter-of-factly, “In fact, as of yesterday, I’m a civilian.”
“As of today, you are part of Heavy Metal,” countered Mercury.
“Then I would like to take the call-sign Tomcat. If I’m going to be a Supreme, I need a Supreme name.”
“I appraise a 79.67% approval rating of this nomenclature. Tomcat is acceptable,” replied C.O.R.E. as Mercury broke into his strange metallic chuckle.
“Come Tomcat, we have work to do. I calculate an 89.46% chance of a Necroplane Scourge assault in the next 32 hours. Your assistance will be required on the mission.”
“I’m in, C.O.R.E., you’ve got yourself a pilot,” replied Tomcat, as Dr. Mercury embraced him in a vice-like hug. He had a new squadron, new responsibility, and most of all, new purpose. He was ready.
Art and text © Copyright 2019 Pulp Monsters