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Interlock: A Proper Send-Off

by Mr.RMA

Mr.RMA Mr.RMA’s return to Earth from the bizarre and inconceivable Charms Universe leaves very little time for recovery, as he and Michael have the criminal organization D.R.I.L.L. right at their doorstep. As time passes, they come to realize the horrible reality of the situation: No matter where they go, their pursuers will eventually catch them. No place on Earth is safe, so they have no choice but to somehow take to the stars. Thus marks the beginning of a very different sort of adventures for the unwitting genius and his robot double…but not before they deal with an unexpected reunion…
A bright white flash, a light thud, and suddenly he was right back where he had left off, in the dank, shady hotel room he had taken refuge in with his master. It was their latest resting spot on this journey of theirs, one without a set destination and with no end in sight…well, aside from the one that was constantly lingering over them, haunting them, keeping them running. That fear of their approaching deaths was their motivation, and it was all they had to go on.

Mr.RMA slowly pushed himself up onto his feet, already feeling an invigorating boost after Michael’s signal began to pulse through him again. Spending a week’s time without picking that signal up was a painful endeavor, and to do so in a world as completely bonkers as the one he had just escaped from was just plain ridiculous. The inhabitants of Charms were a peculiar bunch, especially that Lyn character in particular…how she ever convinced him to clean her room like that was beyond him. He didn’t ponder over this for too long, however, as he needed to attend to his unconscious creator lying face-down beside his feet.

Michael had fallen into a sort of stasis when the rift between universes was opened to them, leaving him stuck in a void between the two due to the rift being impossible to cross by organic life forms. It had pained the android to know that this one potential chance of true freedom was impossible to take because of this limitation, but, there was still hope…that universe led to other universes, and there were other ways to get to them. Perhaps, someday, they’d come across a way for both of them to do so…

RMA knelt down and gently shook his human master awake, Michael letting out a light groan as he steadily regained consciousness, the automaton steadily helping him back onto his feet.

“So…how was it?” Michael asked, having already assumed he didn’t make the trip himself due to the circumstances.

“Crazy is the only term I can think of at the moment…Funny thing is they’re quite proud of that fact apparently.” RMA replied with a chuckle, still recalling all the inconceivable things he had witnessed; there were far too many to list. “Believe me, Mike, you should probably be grateful that you didn’t go. You probably would’ve gone completely insane trying to take all of it in.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know you’re just trying to make me feel better. You can cut the act, ARMA…” Michael muttered back. He sadly spoke the truth, as unreal as Charms had proven itself to be, it was still a more favorable location than where they were presently. There was safety there, with people who actually seemed to care for outcasts, so long as they were of the bearable sort. Aside from Michael, that strange world held the only people that RMA could even haphazardly call friends. Then again…what did it matter if a machine like him had friends or not? It wasn’t in his directive to have companions; he didn’t even have the capacity to truly love another. All that mattered in the end was the safety and welfare of his master, anything else that happened to come along was just a bonus.

“I’m sorry, Mike…But…we can still keep going. We’ve made it all the way to…”

His words were interrupted by a loud pounding noise at the door. Within seconds, RMA had run to the back of the room and punched a hole through the wall, quickly forcing Michael out through the makeshift exit he had just supplied. As the door behind them was finally blasted apart, they were already half a mile off before the D.R.I.L.L. operatives even knew of their escape. Such was the life of bot and boy nowadays. Run away, rest, and run some more. It was all they knew, and they had become quite good at it. Escape routes came naturally to both of them, and their adversaries, once consistently dispatched on a regular basis at the hands of the ARMA unit they were all so inclined to get possession of, weren’t often even able to get near enough to meet such a fate. They were true fugitives, through and through, and they wouldn’t stop running. No one would harm his master…no one would take his creation…and if they had to keep running for the rest of their lives to keep things this way, they would.

Time played its usual song and dance and days passed, then weeks started to pile up, and then the months eventually followed suit. They would travel for miles at a time, moving from state to state. Sometimes they’d neglect to stop altogether and RMA would simply carry Michael for a few hours as the boy slept. It would take a toll on the robot’s battery at times, but he managed to keep running on whatever power source he could find and absorb. They were never in the same place for very long, and this proved to throw D.R.I.L.L. off course, as the real brains behind the group could never bother to focus on the duo themselves with all their personal projects taking top priority. The grunts were always the ones in pursuit, paid drones, far less strategic, far easier to evade. They could never keep up in the wide open spaces, and in more public, populated terrain, they would have to resort to being stealthy with their attacks, which they hardly ever pulled off with even a hint of succession. RMA was dedicated and he was diligent, always alert, never letting anything get past his sights. His existence roped Michael into this, and it was also going to be what got him out of it, so long as he was still functioning.

And yet, while he was so determined just to keep Michael alive, he never wavered in his quest to find another way to get to those other universes. As more and more time passed, it was becoming increasingly evident to him that there was no place for them on Earth anymore. No matter where they went, those goons were always somewhere waiting for them. It was only a matter of time before their leader decided to get serious and start attacking them with full-force, and RMA could only defend against so many aggressors at once. He hated his limitations even more than he hated his enemies, but there was nothing he could do. He was a machine, not a true living being that could gain strength over time. In that course of time, all he would do is degrade, and then, when he was just a rusty bucket of wires and bolts, how was Michael going to keep going on his own? D.R.I.L.L. would eventually find out how to repair him and get him back up and running, but they were going to kill the creator one way or another in order to properly do so. The clock was ticking; time would run out eventually, the only thing that wasn’t guaranteed was how it was all going to end. Things weren’t appearing to work out any differently any time soon, to RMA’s dismay, but, this abruptly changed on one particular day…

RMA and Michael had been crossing through Illinois by this point, and the Chicago skyline was just starting to appear, breaking through a thin veil of morning haze. Michael had walked through the night this time, the two having managed to get some rest the day before in preparation for another long trek. As the city got closer and closer, a common question was once again in need of answering: go through, or around? Going around the city would take longer, and would leave them more susceptible to danger, but going through the city would leave them vulnerable to the normal hazards of urban life, which was at times, even worse than what D.R.I.L.L. could offer. It was often very difficult a choice, as both risks were not to be taken lightly, and in a location as notorious as the Windy City, this was especially the case. As they were nearing the outer edge of the metropolitan area, they had to make a decision right then and there, and it appeared they were about to come to a consensus of going around when RMA suddenly froze in place, his mouth agape as a foreign, yet strangely familiar signal rang through his ears. Right about the time when Michael was about to ask him what the problem was, he turned and grabbed the boy by the front of his shirt.

“We have to go through…” He spoke, his tone a mixture of excitement and anxiety.

“W-what? Why? What’s your deal?” Michael asked in response as he pushed himself away from RMA’s grasp, thrown off by the unexpectedly paranoid nature his android was exhibiting.

“I’m getting readings of a signal coming from deep within the city…”

“So? It’s Chicago! There are signals flying everywhere! You probably just caught a radio frequency or something.”

“I highly doubt that…this signal isn’t like anything from Earth to the extent of my knowledge…You remember what happened the last time I picked up something like that?”

Almost immediately, Michael had the exact same shocked expression his robot had just had on his face. After all this time, when they were just about to give up…was another rift about to open? Without a word, the two made a mad dash for the massive metropolis, an exhilarating, fresh jolt of hope carrying them forward. Within minutes, they were surrounded by the massive buildings of the urban jungle, dodging cars and avoiding curious looks (the latter of which was a common occurrence due to their similar appearances, though they’d often pass this off as being twins) as they followed RMA’s readings of the alien signal that was leading them deeper and deeper into the city, through shaded alleyways and beaten up streets. While Michael in particular didn’t wish to remain in this more run-down part of town for very long, he figured it’d probably be for the best if this rift appeared in an abandoned, or at least underpopulated street corner to avoid any unwanted attention. Nonetheless, both of them stayed alert as they continued onward.

As they pressed further, RMA came to a sudden stop, holding his arm out in front of Michael.

“Is this where it’s coming from?” The human inquired.

“No…But we’re being followed.”

Michael tensed up at this news. He hadn’t seen anyone trailing them this entire time, but, RMA had a distinctively more acute ability for sensing this sort of thing. “How long have they been tracking us?”

“Quite a while, since we passed through Wacker Drive…I just didn’t want to bring it up unless I was certain he was actually coming after us.”

“It’s just one guy? That doesn’t sound like D.R.I.L.L.’s usual strategy…”

“It’s not a D.R.I.L.L. operative…it’s a civilian…” RMA responded, his voice shaky, as if he just had a revelation, and not one he felt his master should come to realize himself.

“A civilian? Why would some random guy just be tailing us like this for so long?”

RMA let out an uneasy sigh. “…He’s not exactly random…”

“What’re you talking about?”

“Mike, it’s probably just for the best that we ignore him and keep going. There’s nothing beneficial about you directly encountering this individual…”

“But why? Why are you being so secretive all of a sudden?”

RMA turned and gave Michael a sharp glare, green light glowing brightly through his sunglasses. “Just listen to me, Mike! You don’t want to run into…”

“Holy shit, I wasn’t just imagining it…”

The deep, gravelly voice that cut RMA off was a familiar one to Michael…a very familiar one. Turning around, he saw a short, somewhat pudgy, dark skinned man standing before him in a black suit and white shirt, his briefcase resting beside him as he stared directly at the boy. His face was stern, cold, and aged to a depressing degree. Most people would probably assume he was emotionless from the look of it, but Michael knew better. He could see the red veiny cracks in his father’s eyes, the glimmer of tears being held back, shimmering off the man’s glasses. Nothing was said at first, for a while they could only stare back at one another, a harrowing disbelief shared between them.

“I didn’t see you at the funeral, boy…” Howard Tourniquet managed to murmur in order to break the silence. Michael was still left speechless. Of all the places in the country, in the world even, his father had to be on business here, and somehow, even in a city this big, he still managed to find him…

“…H-hi…dad.” He managed to eventually sputter, feeling himself shiver at the fear of not knowing what the hell to say or do from here. When he ran away from his old life, he did so without informing anyone else, even his family. They searched, and they searched for a very long time, but, they eventually stopped searching and forced themselves to accept that their youngest child was dead. That was nearly a year ago, but the stress, the emotional wear and tear on Howard’s face, made it seem like it was more a decade’s time.

“Hi? Is that all you have to say for yourself? You disappear without warning, you worry us to the brink, and then you make us believe you had been abducted by some psychopaths and left for dead, and all you have to fucking say is HI?!” Howard ran up to his son and briskly slapped him across the face, only to immediately wrap him up in a tearful embrace afterwards. Michael could feel his own eyes begin to water up as he hugged the old man back, the stinging feeling of the slap overpowered by the emotional impact of seeing a family member again after so long.

“…I’m sorry…I couldn’t tell you guys. It was for your own safety…” He said as they broke from each other’s grasp.

“What do you mean? What could possibly be so horrible that you couldn’t tell us about it?”

Michael merely let out a sigh, knowing there was hardly another way around it. “ARMA? You mind coming over here?” He called over to the robot, who had kept his distance from the encounter until then. Hesitantly, he approached, giving a tip his fedora towards a now dumbstruck Howard.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Tourniquet.”

“W-what…what is this?” The man asked in disbelief.

“It’s a robot…in my likeness…that I built.” Michael answered rather sheepishly with a shrug.

“So it is…and just how, may I ask?”

“It’s a long story and I don’t even remember all of it, but, I’ll try to sum it up for you…” Michael said, proceeding to retell that fateful morning when he accidentally woke up his unused, unknown intelligent side, and how he spent that proceeding week (coincidentally the one where both his folks were gone on vacation) building the ARMA units, only to lose consciousness as his normal side regained control, forgetting the entire ordeal and having to deal with the repercussions of his achievements in the form of a criminal syndicate out to kill him and take possession of the machines and their advanced AIs themselves. “These guys are serious about this, and I didn’t want them to come after any of you to try and get you to force out any information. It was just for the best that you thought I was dead and gone…I’m so sorry I had to put you all through this…It isn’t fair…” He said, eyes firmly on the ground, as he couldn’t bring himself to look his father in the face after he had caused him and the rest of his family so much grief.

Howard, though still perplexed by what he had just learned, still managed to calm himself enough to place a hand on his son’s shoulder. “You’re right, it’s not…But it’s even more so for yourself than it is for us. Yes, we had to deal with losing you, and that’s something no parent should ever have to deal with, but you had to abandon the only life you knew without so much as a final goodbye because it would’ve been too dangerous for us. That’s a helluva lot of suffering in itself…”

Michael didn’t know how to respond to this, the grief still eating away at him. Fortunately, or perhaps, unfortunately, he didn’t have the time to say anything back, as RMA spoke first.

“I apologize if I’m being rude for intervening here, but, we’ve got ourselves some trouble…” He said, pointing a metallic finger in the direction of two steadily approaching men in white lab coats off in the distance. Michael’s eyes widened as his survival instincts immediately kicked in, having faced this issue many a time before. D.R.I.L.L. would always have their foot soldiers in those stereotypical smocks as a sort of uniform. Not the most protective, but, far easier to explain any blood spatter with. If there was any doubt that these weren’t just medics on break, it was quickly tossed aside when one of them proceeded to draw a handgun from inside his coat. Without delay, RMA stood in front of the two potential human targets and sent out a stream of green electricity from his left hand, the discharge reaching the gunman’s hand right as he was pulling the trigger, causing him to misfire as he recoiled in pain, the bullet harmlessly hitting the side of a nearby rundown building. As the shot echoed through the alleyway, RMA sent another blast of electricity to knock back the aggressors, incapacitating them long enough for the trio to get away.

“Come on, we’re only a couple of blocks away from where the signal’s being sent. We have to hurry before more of them arrive.” RMA said as they ran in the opposite direction of the felled grunts. Michael took out his own pistol, a unique sort of firearm mainly specialized in downing a particular type of enemy, but, if they were in a pinch, it would perform just as efficiently as any conventional handgun.

“Dad, you keeping up?” Michael concernedly asked his father as they ran towards what appeared to be their final destination: a large, abandoned factory building, standing on its own over a rocky field with small patches of grass popping up here and there, and graffiti sprayed all over the walls of the concrete structure.

“I’m old, but I’m not decrepit yet, boy! Don’t you worry about me.” Howard answered back with a light cough. While he was certainly not holding them back for the moment, it was easy to see that his stamina wasn’t going to hold out for long. Thankfully, they were already at the entrance of the factory before his breathing got too heavy. “…Alright, so I’m a bit too old to be runnin’ like that again…” He managed to say between gulps of air. Michael chuckled and gave him a light pat on the back before turning his attention to RMA, who was rubbing at his temples as he attempted to concentrate on the signal, its readings off the charts, an indicator that the rift would soon be opening, and thankfully, without another D.R.I.L.L. bastard in sight.

“So, this where it’s gonna be?” Michael asked, somewhat rhetorically.

“Yeah…Mike, can I have a word with you for a sec? Somewhere a little further away from…uh…our guest?”

Michael wasn’t so fond of where this subject was likely to be headed, already having to silence the smart half of his brain telling him what he could only hazard to guess was exactly what RMA had in mind. Nonetheless, he still did as he was asked, knowing he’d have to face the question sooner or later.

RMA took a quick look over to where Howard was standing, still catching his breath, before he turned to face his creator with a solemn expression. “You know how much danger he’s going to be in…”

“Yeah…but…what if he just doesn’t say anything? Maybe they won’t realize he knows about all this!”

RMA just glared back at him. They both knew that wasn’t an option. Something had to be done, or else their months of isolation would have gone in vain.

“…How do you plan on going about it…?” Michael eventually asked after a heavy sigh.

RMA proceeded to pull out a small tablet from his inner jacket pocket, tossing it to Michael. “A single dose of flunitrazepam should make him think this was all a dream. You got any water left on you?”

Michael slipped his backpack off his shoulders and rummaged through it, eventually finding a single bottle remaining. “Yeah, I’ve got one left.”

“Good…he looks thirsty, so, even if we leave beforehand, he’s bound to drink it at some point…”

“I can’t believe we’re drugging my goddamn father…with Rohypnol of all things… I’m gonna be frickin’ sick…”

“It’s the safest option. Otherwise we’d have to take him with us, and then your mother and your sister would be without their main provider for the rest of their lives…You understand where I’m going with this? Your family can’t afford another loss. Just get this over with, and he’ll be safe again…”

Michael stared blankly at the tablet in his hands. “He’ll be brokenhearted again…he’ll be without his son again…” He shut his eyes tightly, struggling to make a decision… or rather, unwilling to make the one he knew was right.

“Hey, Mike? What’re you doin’ over there?” He heard his father call out to him. With a deep breath, he slipped the tablet into the bottle, watching it dissolve into the liquid before turning around with a forced smile.

“Uh, nothing much, just getting a water out for ya. You look like you need it!” He said jokingly, though inside, he was far from laughing as he handed the bottle over to Howard.

“Heh…hate to say it, but, I gotta agree with ya there!” He answered with his usual warm, elderly grin as he placed a hand over the top of the container to twist off the cap, only to stop doing so upon hearing the distinct sound of shouting in the distance.

Three more of those D.R.I.L.L. grunts had arrived, all of them with pistols drawn, aimed squarely at the trio before them.

“Give the boy and the robot to us, sir, and we’ll leave ya alone. They’re the only ones we want.” One of the goons demanded as they edged closer, their index fingers hovering mere millimeters from their triggers.

RMA and Michael were getting in their usual fighting positions, but Howard suddenly held out his free hand in front of them, tossing the spiked water back to Michael.

“Son, mind if I take a look at that gun of yours?” He muttered, eyes stuck on the three lab coat-wearing criminals.

“Dad, you can’t be serious… Can you shoot?”

“Boy, I’ve kept myself in practice since ‘Nam. Trust your old man on this one.” He sternly retorted, his voice abruptly turning militaristic at that very moment. Michael pulled out the firearm, preparing to toss it as soon as Howard gave the signal.

“Robot boy…give me a little distraction so I can get a clean shot, would ya?” Howard added towards RMA.

“With pleasure, sir,” RMA responded, stealthily pulling his left shirt cuff, a small dinging noise sounding as his electrical energy was focused towards his hand. Howard gave a nod as the entire scene went completely quiet, aside from the unsettling sound of the wind whirling past them, with everything and everyone appearing to freeze in place.

“Step back NOW, or we will eliminate you as well!” The grunt shouted. Howard gave a smirk before a snap of his fingers gave the signal. Michael tossed the pistol to him at once, RMA immediately firing a massive electrical discharge towards the three gunmen. The distance was greater this time, but the larger jolt was enough to send two of the grunts tumbling to the dirt in convulsions...And yet one managed to remain on his feet, taking aim as Howard did the same.

A single shot rang out; Howard wobbled…

…and the grunt was on his back, a large, growing red spot forming over his chest.

Michael looked on in disbelief as his father turned around triumphantly, tossing the gun back to his son. “That’s a Tourniquet’s speed on the draw right there,” He said, crossing his arms. Michael had never seen the old man look so powerful in his life.

“Oh my god…Dad, that was amazing!” Michael shouted ecstatically.

“Your aim was dead-on, sir, a direct strike to the heart. Admirable to say the least,” RMA added with brief applause before suddenly flinching. The signal was at its strongest point; he could tell the rift was about to open in mere seconds. Without a word, he ran inside the factory, Michael and Howard following closely behind. As they reached the center of the abandoned building, a bright flash engulfed the entire area, forcing the two humans to shield their eyes. The light slowly began to fade, but, as it did, the rift was already gone…and in its place was a massive space freighter, obviously not of this world. The three looked at the vehicle in awe as the pilot, a slim, bearded man who looked to be in his mid-thirties, leapt out of the cockpit. He was wearing an oil-soaked grey shirt with black overalls and worn black combat boots, not what one would expect out of a futuristic space pilot, but, obviously the pilot’s appearance wasn’t the first thing on the minds of anyone at that moment. The pilot glanced at each individual before setting his eyes on RMA with a smirk.

“You must be that ARMA fella! Got your transportation request a while back, but I was havin’ a little trouble finding a way over here. Your planet’s a damn tricky one to get to!” He said, his voice carrying a sort of mild southern drawl to it. RMA stared blankly at the man as a particular memory from his time at Charms began to replay in his head. He had filed a request for transit from Earth to any other destination, just out of pure curiosity, not at all expecting to actually get a taker, and yet, here was one right now, months after, when he had all but forgotten about the request!

“Oh, right!” He exclaimed as it all came back to him. “I apologize if it was a strenuous trek for you. We greatly appreciate you coming to pick us up, even with all the difficulties!” He continued.

“Not at all! Anything for a tournament entry!” He responded happily, though merely confusing the robot in the process.

“Uh, I beg your pardon, but…tournament entry?”

“Yeah, you know, the Birth in Blood tournament! You had filed your request for transportation over to the arena, and I just happened to be sendin’ merchandise over there, so, my shipping co. decided it would help our image a little if we brought along a participant with us as well!”

RMA nodded along to the explanation, though he wasn’t exactly the most enthusiastic over his apparent mistake. However, before he could say anything more about it, Michael had stepped in.

“You couldn’t have picked yourself a better participant, my friend. This guy right here, he’s a beast! He’ll tear the competition to shreds. It’ll be a sight to see, we can guarantee you that. He’s striving to reach the top!” He said, firmly patting the droid on the back with each sentence.

“Glad to hear it! You fellas can get into the passenger seats through the cargo hold in the back. Just give me a holler when you’re ready to lift off!” The pilot responded, giving a thumbs-up to both of them before climbing back into the freighter’s cockpit.

“You go on, ARMA; I’ll be there in a sec. Just gotta deal with one more thing,” Michael said, turning and looking back over to Howard, who was still staring at the vehicle in absolute amazement. RMA gave an understanding nod in return before turning around and making his way towards the back of the ship. For a moment, he thought he saw something quickly disappear into the vehicle, but he passed it off as just a bird of some sort who would quickly fly back out before they lifted off, paying no more mind to it as he disappeared into the ship.

Michael took another glance at the bottle of drugged water with a frown, knowing he had to see this through as he approached his father.

“Hey, dad, I know this is all really cool for you, but, you’ve gotta be really parched after all that action back there. You really ought’a take a drink before you tire out on us!” He said, once more handing him the bottle. Howard turned to his son, his look of astonishment fading into a far more serious one.

“You put something in that water when I wasn’t looking, didn’t you?” He asked, his arms crossed again.

Michael was about to object to this, but, unable to lie to his father any more than he already had, he simply sighed and gave a despondent nod. Yet, as he removed the cap and prepared to dump the contents, Howard quickly yanked the bottle away from him.

“Anyways, you’re right, I’m parched,” He said with a somewhat sad grin.

Michael knew right then and there that his father understood the issue just as much as he and RMA did. As depressing as it was going to be for him, believing his boy to be dead once again, it was for his safety, his wife’s safety, and his daughter’s safety. He still had to look over them, provide for them, and be there for them, now more than ever in this time of grieving.

Michael began to tear up again as Howard gave him a final hug of farewell. “You look after yourself, boy…and that robot of yours. If you guys stick together, I don’t have a doubt in my mind you’ll be alright...” The old man said. “…And even if I don’t know it…I’ll be watching you from afar every night, watching you have your adventures out there…I’m real proud of you, Mike…I love ya…Mom and Aubrey love you too. Don’t you ever forget it.”

“…I won’t dad…I love you guys too…”

After another minute or so passed, they finally broke their embrace and Michael made his slow way to the back of the freighter. As he walked into the cargo hold, he turned back to his father one last time and gave him a salute, Howard immediately returning the gesture with a bright smile on his face and a stream of tears running down his eyes. Michael shouted over to the pilot that they were ready before disappearing further into the ship to join RMA as the cargo hold closed up. Almost immediately after the sound of the engine began to emanate, another bright flash engulfed the factory, accompanied by a distorted whirring sound. The ship was gone when the lights and sounds faded off, and Howard was alone. Turning around with the bottle of water in hand, he made his way for the hotel he was staying in. He was about to have his best dream in years.
  1. Shiny Pyxis
    Shiny Pyxis
    ohmygosh waiting like a week or two or seven for this was so completely worth it, Arma ;; I loved reading the interaction between Michael and his dad, it's so heartwarming and makes me feel all fuzzy inside~


    ... but yeah, this was great eeeeeee <3333
    Nov 21, 2013