Tyrn worked long into the night, the rising rays of the sun his first real measure of how long he had been hunched over his bench. By his side the whole time was Lexel, determined not to miss a single moment. With a groan Tyrn stretched his back and heard the little cascade of crackling pops that typically reminded him he was pressing his limits again.
“You hungry little miss,” Tyrn asked Lexel while he replaced a screw. “Your friend will need some time to recalibrate his limit switches and adjust his motor control circuits. If you’re hungry I can fix us something to eat.” The notion of a hot meal sounded delightful to Lexel’s growling belly. It seemed like she hadn’t eaten in forever and realized it must have been plainly written on her face by Tyrn’s new-found chuckle.
As Tyrn set his tools down Lexel glanced down at Zero laid out on the table. Her metallic mutt hadn’t been moving much during their little procedure, which worried her. “Are you going to be alright, Zero,” Lexel gently whispered. Sapphire and silver etched eyes looked back up at her, for once she didn’t even think of them as his optical sensors. “Come on now, you technical spewing chatterbox; you never pass up a chance to talk my ear off. Here is your chance, so go ahead and detail me the status of your systems. Tell me all about how your transistors are twisted in some terminal in your tail. Just talk to me Zero,” she pleaded.
“System maintenance in progress,” Zero answered in an even more robotic tone then normal. Panic gripped Lexel like a vice squeezing at her chest. “What have you done to him,” she screamed at an empty doorway where Tyrn had passed only seconds before. “If you have killed Zero I will make you pay dearly,” Lexel warned, vengeful venom dripping from her voice.
Tyrn reappeared briefly, now with a pan in hand and stirring something inside it. “How do you like yours,” he asked her, seemingly unaffected by her threat. A brief pause punctuated his point before he turned returning to his cooking. “I already told you we need to give your friend some time to reset some systems. You must be exhausted as well as starving, poor thing, well we’ll eat and then you can catch some rest yourself.” As his voice drifted through to her from the other room Lexel found herself feeling so confused. She really was so very tired, almost more so than how hungry she was.
Everything seemed very distant as Tyrn pressed a plate of food into her hand and guided her to an old cot in the corner. She ate the majority of her food quickly, nearly burning her tongue as she did so. Her eyes had grown heavy, her head thick and she couldn’t quite make out the words Tyrn was speaking as she let the soft cot cradle her. It was something about staying or safety and she thought she heard the words rest or awake.
When Lexel did come to again she discovered the sun was already high overhead and burning brightly. Tyrn’s words mingled in her head and she tried to puzzle over them. Had he told her to be gone when she awoke, had he warned her it wasn’t safe to stay? She couldn’t tell everything had been just so fuzzy before sleep had claimed her in its titanic tackle. But one thought immediately became an urgent priority; Zero’s status.
Lexel threw herself to her feet and raced over to the workbench to investigate her intrepid friend’s condition. But Zero was no longer laid out upon the table among the other tinkered bits. As she quickly scanned around her to look for him she finally spotted the steel-clad sentinel patrolling the shop’s perimeter. He was up and moving again! Lexel shouted with glee at the miracle and nearly toppled the high-tech test subject in a charge ending hug.
“I see you have completed your own internal maintenance as well,” Zero greeted her. “It is great to see you up and moving again,” Lexel said with a squeal. “So, how is everything; any permanent damage?” As she asked the question she was already looking Zero over for any lingering signs of injury that she could see. Mostly all that caught her eye were scuffs, scrapes and scratches to his exterior.
“It seems my recent and somewhat extensive repair work has proven to sufficient enough to affect my recovery. All of my own internal diagnostics indicate that I am completely operational. However I have been reviewing our recent encounters and estimate that the chances of our continued success currently are virtually non-existent if we do not find a way to upgrade my offensive capabilities.”
Lexel couldn’t argue with Zero’s assessment; the very same thing had crossed her mind last night as they worked to repair his damaged body. They had made it only this far using quick wits and making creative use of Zero’s built in tools. Even his thrust stabilizers, while giving him a speed boosted edge had a limit and if they entered the arena relying on the same tricks they were already defeated. It was a simple truth that couldn’t be denied.
“I was thinking about that, and I may have some ideas after watching your repairs last night. But I’ll need some help from Tyrn to manage them; we can use some of the available parts here even,” Lexel offered. “The catch though is that I don’t think we will find any kind of heavy artillery in a scrap yard. However, if anything else has worked for us so far it’s the use of simple things when teamed with a little imagination.”
“Ready to get to work, Partner,” Lexel asked with grin. Zero’s circuits warmed as he happily agreed. “Would you like to play a game,” Zero chuckled as he made his answered reply a humorous one. Together they giggled as they began to scour the scrap yard for possible parts.