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Interlock: Interlock (Part 2)

by Mr.RMA

Mr.RMA (Who says I can't finish a two-part story? Everyone ever? Well, screw you guys I finally did!)
Jokes aside, the much-delayed conclusion to my main human Charms persona guy is finally here! Michael Tourniquet has just received the shock of his life as a robotic duplicate of himself has inexplicably shown up in his house. Unfortunately, this proves to be the least of his troubles, as a series of chaotic events culminate in Michael being forced to abandon everything he's ever known.
(Here's Part 1 in case you haven't seen it. Kinda important that you do if any of this is to make sense ^^; )
“Sir, I understand this is something of a surprise to you, but I’m afraid I can’t explain anything further unless I know you’re paying attention…”

Michael had kept his baffled expression up from the very moment this mysterious duplicate of his had set to cleaning up the mess on the floor, and then long after his task had been completed. Much as it was beginning to try on the doppelganger’s patience, he couldn’t really blame the boy; as far as he knew, this mirror image of himself had just popped up from nowhere and started calling him “master” for no apparent reason. Obviously he was in need of answers.

“I…I-I, uh…You…uh...” Michael stuttered in response, the shock still too great for him to form a coherent thought, let alone a coherent sentence. This was apparently enough for this identical stranger however, as he decided to take this as a good time to start accounting for his appearance.

“Mr. Tourniquet, my codename is Mr.RMA. I’m the latest model of the Automated Robotic Mechanized Attendants, or ARMAs for short,” he said, stopping there to let that information sink in a little.

“…You’re…you’re telling me you’re a robot? That’s…not possible…You’re too humanlike!” Michael found himself saying, cautiously stepping back.

“That was the idea. I’m meant to exhibit human traits in as realistic a manner as possible, and naturally, a human appearance was required to properly convey such traits believably…You thought so yourself when you created me, master,” Mr.RMA explained, this extra revelation merely baffling Michael further.

“…I didn’t create you…I couldn’t have...” he muttered, shaking his head as he failed to rationalize what he was hearing. “This is insane. There’s no way you can be a robot, let alone my robot! This is just some sick attempt at a joke, isn’t it?”

“I’m afraid not, Michael. This is no prank, I assure you,” RMA said, sounding sincere enough, but Michael was hardly paying enough attention by now to even care.

“Look, you’ve had your fun, now get out of here before I call the cops on you. I’m getting sick of this shit…” Michael responded, making his way over to the front door in order to show his intruder out. Unexpectedly, he found another visitor awaiting him at the other side. The man, apparently in his mid-thirties if looks were accurate, was quite tall, towering over even Michael, who was of an impressive height himself. He wore a buttoned up white coat with matching slacks, giving off the impression that he was a doctor or scientist of some kind. He stared down at the young man answering the door, a stoic expression on his face.

“Uh…can I help you?” Michael asked him, nearly as fazed by this encounter as the previous one.

“You Michael Tourniquet?” the man asked in a gruff, rigid voice that matched his stature to a tee.

“Y-yes…Mind if I ask who’s asking?” Michael responded, reaching a hand to the door as a wave of discomfort enveloped over him at the man’s question.

“It won’t do you much good, you’re not gonna be alive much longer to care anyways,” the man answered as he pulled out a silenced pistol from his pocket and aimed it squarely at Michael’s forehead. The shock of the sudden turn this brief conversation made was enough to freeze Michael in place, wide-eyed at the gun chamber now positioned directly in front of his skull. He had just enough clarity to helplessly await the fatal shot…but instead, he felt himself get tossed to the side, tumbling to the ceramic floor beneath him as he watched RMA grab the gunman’s wrist and fling it up as the gun went off, jabbing the fingers of his free hand into the man’s chest, causing the man to jerk his head back before crumpling down onto the concrete steps. His body jerked and twitched in reaction to the electrical current that had entered his system for a few seconds before he went completely still...His breathing had ceased completely.

Michael watched the gruesome sight in horror, having never had the misfortune beforehand to witness the death of a fellow human. This, combined with the realization that he had been seconds away from visiting the afterlife himself, began to make him nauseous, making him grip his stomach in pain as he forced himself to look away from the fresh corpse at his door step. RMA looked down at his human template, his concealed eyes shading the look of sympathy he expressed for the inexperienced boy.

“I’m sorry you had to witness that, sir. It appears the group targeting you has arrived sooner than we had anticipated…” he murmured, offering a hand to bring Michael back to his feet, which the emotionally disheveled human eventually took.

“…Listen…just tell me what the hell that guy wanted from me…Seriously…why was he about to blow my brains out?” Michael asked in as calm a tone as he could muster, though it still managed to come out as little more than a whimper.

“The fact of the matter is he came here for you because you, in turn, created me, as I said before…We don’t have much time before his comrades stop by to see if the job is done, so I’ll have to explain this all rather quickly…About a week and a half ago, by some…unconventional means, you managed to inadvertently awaken a section of your brain that has been dormant within you for likely your entire life. It would appear this side of you is something of an unequaled genius as, for one reason or another, you set to work on creating the artificial intelligence currently housed within my programming, perfecting it and subsequently building two humanlike chassis’ for it… all in the course of those ten to eleven days. While undergoing the testing procedures for the first one, you decided to display the fruits of your labor to a scientific group you found online in hopes of stirring up a technological revolution of sorts. Unfortunately, said group turned out to be a far cry from what you initially thought they were, and now that they know of the technical marvel that you have constructed, they wish to take it from you and learn enough about it in order to acquire the knowledge of how to build one of their own and, in the process, label themselves as the creators of the AI in your place…which, along with a few other technicalities, requires your elimination.”

This was all supposed to inform him, but it only succeeded in creating a swarm of new questions for Michael. “Look…no offense, pal, but if it’s a cool lookin’ robot or my life, I think I’d be more than willing to hand you right over to them…” he began to say, only to see RMA already shaking his head at the option. “…I can’t do that, huh?”

“I’m afraid not, sir...Those other technicalities I mentioned would get in the way of that course of action. Look at your right hand and you’ll see what I mean,” he responded. Michael did so, spotting something else that certainly wasn’t there before he blacked out; a veiny sequence of green and red markings that went from his finger tips and down to his forearm.

“What the hell is this?” He asked, the marks strangely perplexing to him, unable to avert his eyes from them…feeling a bizarre sense of…pride…from just looking at them.

“That is the failsafe you created to keep your units under your control. You see, I am obligated to follow your commands exclusively, and that is what guarantees such obedience, and more importantly, allows me to refuse any particularly…dubious requests from others. So long as you have that device connected to you, I will not function at my optimal capacity for anyone else, and that device can only be removed from you if you’re dead…I’m sure you can understand what that implies for those who wish to embezzle my technology.” He did, it meant he needed to be bumped off for this machine of his to change hands properly. The thought made every one of his hairs stand on end. For so long he had hardly been even worth noticing, and now he was the one thing on the minds of an entire organization…Attention was definitely not always the most desirable thing it seemed.

“…Where are we supposed to go?” he asked, even though the reality of the situation hadn’t fully settled in for him yet.

“There is no set destination, Michael…you just can’t remain here. Pack your essentials, and then we must carry out the procedure,” RMA told him as he grabbed the body of the man at the door and began to drag him further into the house.

“Procedure?” Michael repeated confusedly as he started up the stairs to his room, grabbing all the essentials he could think of bringing, feeling too dazed, confused and frightened to consider any other options.

“Yes, we must make this look like you did not survive this scuffle, or at the very least, it must appear you were abducted, with a slim chance of anyone finding you alive.”

These words finally stopped Michael in his tracks as he made his way downstairs with his loaded backpack. “Come again?”

“Hold out your arm,” RMA instructed, carefully grasping the human’s forearm when he hesitated and jabbing a single finger into his wrist. Michael flinched at the sharp sting as the robot drained a portion of blood from him and proceeded to spread it on the floor in a way as if to make it look like the boy had attempted to run off after getting injured. “I apologize for that, sir, but this is required to make the scene more believable. These things must be precise,” he explained. “The penetration I made into your wrist should be small enough as to refrain from having you lose any more blood, so, don’t worry about that.” At this, RMA seemed to pause for a second before making his way down into the basement. The sound of papers rustling, metal clanging and various other sounds of collision emanated from the room below before the robot returned. “I had to complete the reconstruction of your basement before we could leave. You did most of the work, but you didn’t have the chance to finish. Now, we must hurry, we’re already cutting this dangerously close,” he said before grabbing Michael’s arm and dragging him outside, leading them quickly through Michael’s small suburban neighborhood, RMA keeping himself in a hunched position as he ran in order to keep any potential onlookers from recognizing his similarities to the boy he was pulling along behind him. Fortunately, few people were outside this afternoon, and nobody seemed to spare a passing glance at the two runaways as they dashed their way into the thickly forested creek that was nestled beside the suburb. Slapping away branch after branch as they slid down into the chasm leading to the dry riverbed, RMA only came to a stop as the two hid beneath a red steel bridge.

Michael wrapped his arms around his legs as he squatted down to catch his breath. It was bad enough that he wasn’t in the best shape for a young man his age, but all the extra weight of his backpack was just making it all the more difficult for him, and that wasn’t the only baggage weighing him down at the moment either. By all accounts, he had just been evicted from his home, the only home he had ever known in his entire life, and on top of that, he had just had a brush with death, and to make things all the better, he was more than likely never going to see his family again. This was proving just a bang-up day…

“Master, on your feet... and stay behind me… I’m afraid we’re being tracked,” RMA said softly as he helped stand Michael back up and gently pushed him back a little, sternly staring ahead as the quiet sound of feet stepping on stone grew consistently louder, until two silhouetted figures came into view, one draped in the same sort of lab coat that the gunman from before had been wearing. Beside him was a large, bulky, jet-black, humanoid machine of sorts, walking in a somewhat human fashion, but very clearly in a mechanical sense. Michael tensed up at the sight of the coat, but what was truly shocking most of all was the identity of the man wearing the coat, a familiar face, smirking wickedly as he ran a hand through his bright red hair.

“Taken up building robots too, Mike? Well ain’t that just the greatest coincidence!” Ray said with a mocking laugh accompanying his words. “Seems you’ve got a few vanity issues though; this tin can looks just like you!”

Michael hadn’t seen Ray smile in years, but this was not at all the pleasant surprise he would’ve hoped it would be. This smile was twisted, malicious, dripping with cruel intentions. His eyes seemed to glow red the way they glared at him with pure contempt. His machine seemed to move in step with him, awaiting orders, awaiting a target. From this distance, he could tell the robot lacked any facial features aside from two blank, rectangular, white slits, which he could only assume were its eyes. Its hands were large, hulking things that looked like they could crunch a skull without much effort at all. It looked about ready to prove that theory to him first hand, the way it stared at him, unreadable, unfeeling.

“Ray… what… what the hell is this?” Michael asked in disbelief. Everything had seemed so surreal before, but now it was beginning to feel downright nightmarish.

“Just my own creation, that’s all. Took me about three fuckin’ years to get this thing running, but hey, I’m no quitter, and you’d better believe I was stoked when I finally got it right. ‘Course, the higher-ups didn’t give a shit about any of that, ‘cause a certain supergenius decided to go and build an even better machine in less than two weeks. You could probably guess that, well, that kinda pissed me off, kinda made me wanna find the guy who upstaged me and tear his trachea out while I beat his face into a bloody pulp. Well wouldn’t you know it? It just so happened to be you, the very guy my boss told me to keep watch on all those years. Funny how things work out like that, two birds with one stone really. I mean, after all, I’ve come to hate you about as much as all those others in that shitty school. Your mangled corpse will be a great start to the little killing spree I’ve got lined up.”

“Killing spree? Ray, what the hell are you even talking about? Is this some sick joke? I thought we were friends!” Michael said, shivering at the sound of Ray’s frightening explanation.

“You’re living in the past, Mike. I haven’t been your friend for a long time, and if you weren’t such a delusional prick, you would’ve figured that out for yourself. Those three years away from all this changed me, I found out who my real friends were, and let me tell ya, they think I’m special, Mike. No one else did, and they’re giving me the chance to prove the rest of you wrong. Doesn’t matter to me at all what lengths we go to in order to prove that. But you know, I’ve been runnin’ my mouth for way too fuckin’ long now, I’ve got a graduation ceremony I need to massacre in a few days with this big guy here, and I’ve still got a lot of planning out to do, so, let’s give him his first kill, shall we?” he said as he took out a small remote control from his coat pocket and pressed a few buttons on it, alerting the robot beside him as its white eyes went red. It flexed its large metallic fingers for a moment before advancing on Michael. RMA stepped forward, further blocking the larger, more primitive robot from its human target.

“Call off your machine, sir, or I will be forced to eliminate the both of you,” RMA said, his cool, expressionless face a stark contrast to his creator’s.

“Get the suit out of the way, big guy, but don’t wreck it too much, the boss wants it intact,” Ray commanded as he went to pull out a silenced pistol from within his coat. “One way or another, you’re gonna die here, Mike, I’m making damn sure of that.” He raised the gun up to take a shot, but RMA was quicker on the draw again, holding a hand out and unleashing a blast of green electricity from his fingers, zapping Ray’s gunhand, forcing him to drop the weapon, though RMA couldn’t keep the attack up, as Ray’s robot threw a massive punch toward him, forcing both RMA and Michael to dive out of the way. As Michael scrambled back up, he was unable to dodge the next punch, this one coming from Ray, forcing him to stumble back as his former friend dove after him.

“You son of a bitch! I’ll kill you! I’ll do it! You’re fuckin’ dead!” Ray shouted, grabbing Michael’s throat, pressing his thumbs into his larynx. Michael managed to push Ray away before he could choke him completely, coughing and gasping for breath. At the corner of his eye he could see RMA brawling with the giant robot, the two machines’ differences put on display as vividly as they could be. Ray’s robot fought stiffly, mechanically, while RMA’s moves were fluent, eloquent, human-like. Both sides traded blows, Ray’s machine taking each attack without so much as a flinch, whilst RMA continually dodged the bulkier opponent’s broad swings. Michael couldn’t stand back to witness the showdown for much longer however, as Ray quickly went to charge at him again, but this time, Michael wouldn’t have any of it. The sadness and horror he felt over being betrayed by the one person he thought he could trust, the one friend he had, was suddenly replaced with complete and utter rage. As Ray lunged at him, he lunged back, throwing a punch squarely at Ray’s jaw as Ray’s fist connected with his stomach. Both of them stumbled for a moment before colliding with each other again. Ray’s gun, nestled in the stony riverbed, eventually caught the sight of both combatants, and they scrambled to reach it first as the sound of metal hitting metal continued to emanate from the altercation behind them. Michael’s hand reached the handle of the pistol, but Ray managed to slap it away, launching it directly between the two robots.

RMA had been attempting to analyze his opponent’s fighting patterns as to figure out a weakness, realizing that simple combat tactics wouldn’t so much as put a dent in this mechanized landmass. He would have to find vulnerability, and he believed he had found it in the back of the machine’s ‘neck’. It had been protecting that spot in particular during this entire fight. He was going to have to find a way to get behind it to reach that weak spot. Knowing going around it wouldn’t work, he decided to test out another function of his, running up to the enemy robot and leaping upwards as flames burst out of his shoes, propelling him up and over it. Landing behind the machine, he could see a small slot at the back of its neck, leading him to believe this was in fact the location of its power source. He hastily shot a blast of electricity into the slot before the robot could turn around, and it appeared his calculations were correct, as the machine suddenly froze in place, the sound of popping fuses and sudden erratic movements hinting at its short-circuiting.

At that very moment, Ray had managed to grab the gun, too obsessed at this point with finishing off Michael to notice his machine breaking down until the sound of beeping emanated from its chest. “Ah, shit…” he muttered as RMA quickly rushed over to Michael and tackled him to the ground, covering him as the sound of a massive explosion rang out, the intense blast running right over the robot and his master. When they both got back up, all that remained of Ray’s robot was a pile of scrap metal… and Ray was nowhere to be seen. All that remained was a few pools of blood where he was last seen standing.

“That’s that, then…” RMA murmured, looking over to Michael, who was staring blankly at the wreckage. “Are you alright, master?” he asked, concerned with the look on Michael’s cut, bruised face.

Michael said nothing for a moment, before eventually muttering “I’m fine… I’m just fine…” He wasn’t really, at all, and the crestfallen tone of his voice was an easy giveaway.

“I’m… terribly sorry that all this had to happen to you, and so quickly for that matter… I’m afraid though, that we’ll have to rest later. That explosion will attract people to this sight, and we can’t have anyone knowing you’re still alive,” he said, walking over to where Ray’s pistol laid in the riverbed, tossing it over to Michael. “That should offer you some extra protection. If we run into any more pursuers from this organization that will definitely prove useful.”


Michael and RMA had made it to the other side of the creek when Michael finally couldn’t take it any longer and fell to his knees. He felt like crying, but he couldn’t bring himself to let out any tears. He could only stay kneeling like that, staring at the ground beneath him. RMA said nothing, simply standing by, allowing the human to have a moment before eventually offering a hand to him.

“Try to keep your head up, master. I know things seem rather grim now, but, in time, things will get better, you just have to be willing to believe they will,” he said as Michael hesitantly took his hand, getting back up to his feet as they resumed walking.

“I just hope they get better soon… I don’t know how much more shit like this I can take,” Michael replied, though it appeared RMA had suddenly focused his attention on something else.

“I’m afraid we’ll have to deal with one last issue before we can move on…” RMA said as Michael turned around to see what the android was staring at. Standing there, in a ragged brown suit and white undershirt with scruffy green slacks was… himself. The sunglasses similar to RMA’s clued him in that this was yet another android, and, if his memory served him correctly, this was supposed to be the first ARMA unit…

“Glad I was able to catch up to you, little bro. I was worried you were gonna go off and abandon me,” the android said, his voice slightly obscured by what sounded to Michael like white noise of some kind.

“Master, allow me to introduce your failed first attempt… I believe you codenamed him RawrMA… I was hoping we wouldn’t have to deal with him, but it seems that was wishful thinking on my part,” RMA growled, once more stepping in front of Michael to face his ‘brother’ directly.

“Now you know that really hurts me, Arma. You didn’t wanna see me before you fellas went on your little trip? How would I be able to tear you apart into tiny little pieces if I didn’t stop by to see you off?” RawrMA said with a giggle, pulling out a large knife from within his jacket.

“Put it away, RawrMA, we don’t have time for this,” RMA said, clenching his fists tightly. He was still somewhat fatigued by the earlier fight with Ray and his robot. He really didn’t want to deal with a far more advanced threat after that.

“Well you’ll just have to make time, bro… or even better, how ‘bout I make it for you!” RawrMA shouted as he ran up and plunged his knife down towards RMA’s chest. RMA managed to catch the blade before it could penetrate him, but he struggled to push RawrMA’s arm away. Their strength was equal, and they seemed to be at an impasse. The knife simply hung there, inches from RMA’s chest, steadily inching closer as RawrMA started leaning further toward him, allowing his weight to cover the remaining distance. RMA tried to think of the best course of action, unable to get a read on his malfunctioned counterpart… though he soon found he didn’t need to, as RawrMA suddenly crumpled to the ground, deactivated. Michael stood behind the collapsed android, a stoic look on his face, one that seemed more robotic than the actual robot’s expression. RMA could very easily surmise that his master has shifted back to his intellectual side from this look alone.

“It might just be beneficial that we ran into him on our way out… Allows me to make a few quick modifications,” Michael said as he knelt down and pulled out a screwdriver in his pocket, opening up the defective android’s chassis and swiftly going to work on its circuitry. “I can’t fix the glitch in his personality, not with what I have access to, but, I can at least keep him from going around and killing anyone he sees. It’s likely he’s going to be following us wherever we go, incognito of course… Hand me your sunglasses,” he said, holding out a hand. Without question, RMA handing his sunglasses over, his blank green eyes fully exposed. After a few quick modifications, Michael handed the accessory back over to RMA, who proceeded to put them back on. “I installed a tracking device on that. You should be able to detect RawrMA whenever he’s close. That way he won’t be able to get the jump on us if that patch doesn’t work out as well as I hope.”

“Very well, master,” RMA replied with a nod, glancing once more at the other android, his disdain for him hidden behind his shaded eyes.

“He will reactivate in a matter of minutes. For now though, I think I’ll leave the rest up to my sentimental side. It is tiring maintaining my energy this way, and I will most definitely need that energy for the coming events,” Michael said before slouching forward, closing his eyes for a moment, before opening them again as he awoke with a jolt. “W-wait… did…” he looked at the unconscious robot before him, and then up to RMA, who merely helped him back up once more.

“Don’t worry too much about it, Michael, let’s just say your intellect managed to pull through once more,” he said, patting the young man on the shoulder as they finally continued with this sudden journey they had found themselves in.

“So… where do we go from here, Arma?” Michael asked.

“We just keep walking, Michael, that’s all we can do for now… and it’s Mr.RMA… not Arma.”

“Who’s the master here?”

“…You are…”

“Then I can call you Arma if I damn well please, right?”

“I… suppose…”

“Right, then come on, Arma, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover!”

Perhaps that brief humorous exchange was simply Michael’s way of covering up the grief still eating away at him, or perhaps he was truly beginning to accept his new fate. In any case, Michael had been flung headfirst into a very different sort of adventure, and he could at least take his creation’s advice and take whatever he would encounter from here on in with his head held high. After all… he was finally getting that chance to see the world, even if it wasn’t how he had imagined.