Lexel was still enjoying the sweet taste of victory as she and Zero navigated their way back to Tyrn’s shop. Zero had been simply amazing in the fight, not to mention saving her. She had been certain she was about to be another gone and forgotten face. Yet here she was now, her feet carrying her along and a huge beaming smile on her face. Lexel’s mood was so good she almost asked Zero what the odds were that things would turn out like they had; almost.
The neon lights that illuminated the night sky were slowly dimming as they bowed to the sun’s daytime dominion of the sky which made Lexel rub at her eyes absently. She couldn’t wait to tell Tyrn all about the night’s adventure and Zero’s exploits in the arena. Hopefully they could celebrate the occasion, at the very least the big guy would have to be proud of the work they had done on Zero; it had been a proven success all around.
As they walked back to the shop, Zero however had found himself never more concerned. The threat Mr. Graystone had mentioned had weighed heavy on him, and it was something he couldn’t ignore. So while Lexel seemed to relish in their new-found acclaim he focused his attention firmly on every inch of their surroundings as they went. He probed every pathway and considered each passing citizen carefully. Zero refused to lower his guard again, especially not now.
With the shop looming directly ahead of them, Zero’s sensors signaled a second presence inside. Instantly his weapons were primed and moved to place himself between Lexel and the scrap strewn yard. “Caution,” Zero warned with a whisper. “He is not alone at present,” the wary warrior explained.
Lexel had to shake her head and chuckle before she dismissed her friend’s concern. “Oh, come on,” she objected sternly. “We sent that gray-guy packing with his pet’s tails between their legs. They aren’t about to try something stupid like coming after us again so soon. Besides, Tyrn said he works on stuff for people in the neighborhood to help out. It’s probably just someone needing a part or a patch up job.”
“You worry too much, you know that,” Lexel confessed with a groan as she walked forward to pass the reluctant robot. But Zero was not about to allow his precious partner to blindly walk into another dangerous situation. Calling up the shop’s layout over his vision Zero marked the location of both detected people present and charged towards the closest exterior window.
The old glass already marked with weathered cracks shattered and surrendered to his forced entry to fall inside to the floor along side him. Two figures immediately spun around to face the explosive entrance, both wearing a stunned expression. Zero easily identified Tyrn’s bulky body and targeted his ready weapons on the second as he heard Lexel run through the doorway.
It wasn’t until she spoke that Zero recognized who stood before him. He knew the auburn haired researcher who now looked down at him with her mercury like eyes held behind slender steel framed glasses. “It is good to see you again too,” she said politely and Zero found himself hesitating before disarming his active weapon systems. “My name is Professor Honeywell,” the petite woman declared as she turned to introduce herself to Lexel. “I am so very pleased to find Unit Zero safe, but I fear I bring terrible news; the both of you it seems are in danger.”
“We have already met Mr. Graystone,” Lexel remarked to the declaration of impending threat. “Zero is more than just some tinker-toy built in a lab, and I am not about to let them take him back. Zero and I can deal with whatever they want to send after us.” Lexel knew Zero would like nothing more than to tear apart everything they sent after him anyway, especially Mr. Graystone if he could.
“No, you don’t understand it’s bigger than that,” Honeywell confessed. “While trying to find Unit Zero I was digging through everything and managed to get a glimpse into what is going on. It was you, Lexel that helped me find my own courage to stand up and take action. That is why I am here, somebody wanted the project to fail so they could appropriate the technology Zero represents and use it for their own ends. But they are willing to do anything to get it or destroy it so nobody else does. If they can’t remove Zero or capture him then I fear they will annihilate anyone and everything to erase the project. That means, me, you, everyone from where he escaped to who may have seen him at the games. I didn’t build a mechanical monster, if they can they will turn him into one or sacrifice countless others to ensure he doesn’t come back to haunt them.”
“Wait,” Lexel interrupted as a sick roll gripped her stomach. “You mean they might harm anyone they even think might have a chance of being involved? My mother, my friends, even the people in this neighborhood? Nobody could be that heartless, that is madness!”
Zero searched him and could find no fault in the professor’s logic; as usual it was a sound assessment. “I hate to say it, but the doc’s right,” Tyrn added. “Zero here is an impressive piece of work with limitless potential, and that is exactly the kind of thing that can make people behind the curtains nervous. People in power rarely tolerate puppets that defy control.”