Season 1:4 ‘The Mess You Left Behind’

by P WIlliam Ross

And how do we explain the lack of bodies, or the pile of bullets?”

“Now what?” Mach shouts from across the warehouse.

I walk over with Dragonette and Ingot to meet up with the other two.  We never set a goal for the mission outside of recovering the stolen materials.  None of us had suspected the guards would be robots.  Ingot looks down at the scrap heap and then shrugs.

“I guess we could take a few parts back with us,” she says.  “Otherwise we might just want to call the cops about the stolen stuff.”

“We might not want to let on about the whole robot aspect of this,” Dragonette says.

She had a point.  The cops are expecting to recover these stolen parts from a low level organized crime operation.  Dad always stressed the importance of keeping public suspicion to a minimum.  Any scenario can be blown out of proportion at the fingertips of a seasoned journalist.  This would be our first lesson in damage control.

“Alright.  Let’s get these scraps and any other unrelated tech into a shipping container,” I say.

“Sure, and then how do we get it home?” Jason asks.

He had a point.  We could just strap it to his back and have him walk halfway across the country.  After his little performance I think he deserved it.

“Maybe we could hide most of it for now.  Out in the desert somewhere and take a few samples back with us.”

“If you carry it, I could try alleviating some of the weight,” Ingot says to Jason.

We load up one of the smaller containers with all of the robot parts and the two computers they brought with them.  Ingot changes the frame of the container so it props itself up enough for Jason to get underneath.  He hoists it across his shoulders and lifts.  It rises from the ground and the frame reverts to normal.  Jason’s muscles bulge under the weight.

Ingot opens a hole in the wall of the warehouse for Jason to pass through.  We trudge out into the desert until the warehouse is out of sight.  With a heave, the container is set onto the ground.  A cloud of dust kicks up from the impact.

I’ve never really seen the moon before, not like out here. The last streetlight we saw was maybe six miles behind us. A nest of stars crowd around the moon and cast a pale light down into the desert. Sand particles dance and flow through the air like sprites in the moonlight. The red container rests on the sand. It feigns blending in with the surroundings.

“Someone’s going to notice a red shipping container,” Dragonette says.

“I’ve got an idea.  Get the parts out of there for a few minutes,” Ingot says.  Jason is still catching his breath.

“I didn’t know I signed up to be the team’s pack mule,” he says.

Come on, just help us.

Can’t you lift it with your mind or something?

I shake my head.  My telepathy only lets me manipulate the thoughts of others.  There are two or three metas which are telekinetic, but I think they operate out of Asia and Europe.  We’re not the best team for crowd-control scenarios.

Ingot focuses on the container once it’s emptied out.  The metal screeches and bends as it forms into a new shape.  After fifteen seconds, we’re staring at the beat up chassis of a red van.  There’s definitely enough space for all of the parts.

“Grab one of the robot heads and a computer,” Ingot says.

“And then lets get out of here,” Mach adds.

I stay back and watch Mach and Jason load the parts into the rusted out van.  At this point I’m exhausted from the highs and lows of the fight.  None of the others seem to be worn out.  Despite his complaints, Jason has never been fatigued in his life.  Now’s as good a time as any to call the police and apprise them of the situation.  I take out my cellphone, but there’s no service.

Back at the warehouse I find a landline to dial out on.  The others stow the parts in the trunk of our rental car.  Mach and Jason joke about fighting the robots while Dragonette and Ingot watch.

“Police will be here in fifteen,” I say after grouping up with the rest of them.

“Do we wait here?” Ingot asks.

“Well, they’ll probably want a statement or something,” I say.

“And how do we explain the lack of bodies, or the pile of bullets?” Jason asks.

“I think you absorbed most of them,” Dragonette says.

“Just leave the talking to me, you guys go clean out the warehouse.  Melt the bullets into a stapler or something,” Mach says.

It turns out he’s a management consultant in normal life.  Or he used to be one for a year before this.  I trust he’ll be able to handle the cops, and it means I won’t have to answer any questions.  Mach waves to us before we trudge back into the warehouse.

Cleaning up is easy.  The bullets are melted down into two staplers and set in the side office.  Dragonette breathes fire up at the ceiling so Ingot can warp the structure back into shape with ease.  Jason and I sit against a steel support pillar.  Mach bolts into the room to let us know the cops have shown up before he speeds back outside.


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