The Rains Came
Korey shivered as a cool breeze blew across the large gravel roof of the theatre. He was sitting on the far side of the old air conditioner as he listened for the sound of anyone coming across the roof. He worried about his friends being caught when a loud crash echoed in the night.
“Korey, where are you?” Carlyle’s voice called out.
“I’m over here,” he replied, rising and walked over to his friends.
“Anything up here we can use to barricade the door?” Cyrus asked looking around.
“I take it they found out we’re here.” Korey said flatly as the bag over his shoulder started to wriggle around. He gave the bag a slap, speaking harshly to it as if it were a misbehaving child. “I swear Co-Host I’d put you over my knee and spank you if you had an ass to spank.”
“So now we get work.” Leon said as he pulled a tight bundle of very fine wire from the bag on his shoulder. “Where’s the tower I have to put the orb on?”
Carlyle pointed across the roof and up.
There were two spires near the front of the theatre. They were made of stucco and slate made to look like those found on cathedrals in Europe. The slate covered spire rose nearly forty feet in the night sky. Leon’s jaw nearly hit the gravel beneath him.
“How in the name of Bob Kane am I supposed to get up there?”
“What’s the matter, you leave your broomstick at home?” Korey offhandedly offered as the four of them walked over to the spire. Leon let out a low discontented growl.
“Hey look there, a metal ladder runs up the side of it; must have been for maintenance.” Cyrus noted, pointing to the ladder. Leon looked around with a pleading expression.
“Have I ever told you guys about my abject fear of heights?”
Carlyle gave him a not too gentle shove from behind.
“Go, and make it fast. I think company is coming any time now.”
Beau, Jason, Grant and Greg arrived back at the van, knocking on the van side door. Edie unlocked the door and they all climbed in. She locked the door behind her as they settled down into the worn upholstered seats.
“What’s up, you look like you’ve seen a ghost?” Greg asked as she sat down between Beau and Jason and bent over to pick up the slim laptop computer.
“All hell is breaking loose in Austin. The news has hit the AP wire.” She said grimly, turning the computer back on.
“…and the apparent invasion continues as we bring you live footage from downtown Austin.” A news reporter said hurriedly as he and his cameraman moved away from the spot they were in moments before a car slammed into the front of the building. “The governor has sent in the National Guard and as we speak, the President has mobilized troops from Fort Hood, Fort Bliss and Fort Sam Houston along with Air Force groups from Lackland and Laughlin Air Force Bases. The Naval Air stations at Kingsville and Corpus Christi are moblilizing as are forces from surrounding bases and other states.
“No one knows where these aliens are from or what their objective is besides mass destruction and terror.”
“Holy shit! The military can’t stop these guys.” Greg muttered as the pictures changed.
“We have no idea how many are dead or injured at this time, but if you can see behind me, several police and firefighters lay dead or wounded in the streets along with National Guard troops.” The newsman said quickly only to hear a loud scream and the picture went dead.
“Why?” Jason asked numbly.
“The Valdronians are using Austin as the example of what will happen to every other city and town in the world if we don’t surrender to them.” Edie said with a smoldering rage as she pulled up the feed from CNN. A weary and frightened reported was huddled in an alleyway as he gave his report.
“This is the most terrifying thing I’ve seen in all my years in the field. I’ve covered wars in third world countries that look like a carnival compared to the carnage and destruction I’ve witnessed here in Austin Texas in the past two hours. The only saving grace is that these beings have not left the downtown area, leaving the suburbs safe for now. I just passed a local TV mobile unit that was on fire, the bodies of the crew….horrible, just horrible. We are sending you footage of what we shot earlier, a word of caution; this footage is not for the weak of heart.”
There was film of a platoon of National Guard troops shooting along side a group of state and local police when they were rushed by the Valdronians and were tossed and torn apart.
“Oh, my…” Edie gasped as Beau put his arm around her shoulders.
The news desk broke into the feed.
“Apparently we’ve lost the feed. I hate to think we’ve lost a good field team. We will try to pick up more news on the terror that has been unleashed on the city of Austin Texas. It is a time like this we all wish there were a band of super heroes on their way to save this devastated city.”
“There is buddy,” Jason muttered. “Four of most unlikely super heroes you’ll ever find.”
“Korey, stay close to Leon to grab that cable as soon as he’s got things set up.” Carlyle instructed as he motioned to Cyrus to come with him back to the entrance to the roof.
“Wait, where are you two going?” Korey asked as the bag over his shoulder wiggled about as the little robot tried to free himself.
“I got a feeling and it’s a bad one that those goons are gonna figure out where we are any minute now. Cyrus and I will hold them off as long as we can. If they get through, use this and shoot as many as you can.” Carlyle handed a Valdronian hand gun to Korey who took it. He looked over to his left and could see the glow of the fires in the downtown area. The echo of the battle raging could be heard miles away.
Cyrus reached over his shoulder and pulled the heavy stick into his hands. A hidden button on the bottom of one of the ends extended the two foot rod into a six foot pole. He reached out and grabbed Korey’s upper arm.
“Nobody wants to die, least of all me. I’m the cowardly couch potato, remember?”
“You sons a bitches are all gonna die when I get outta here!!!” The muffled voice of Co-Host cried out in anger. Cyrus took the staff and whacked the side of the bag with it, speaking harshly.
“Shut the fuck up or I’ll turn you into a Roomba!”
“Nice one!” Carlyle smiled with a raised eyebrow as he and Cyrus quickly moved across the roof.
A clap of thunder was quickly followed by a soft rain that picked up in intensity.
Korey moved closer to the spire to find some shelter as he looked upwards.
“How you doing, Leon?” He called out.
“Fan-fucking-tasic! This is the last thing I need!” He called back as his left foot slipped off the metal step. He stopped to catch his breath. “I can’t do this!”
“Yes you can! You got to; you’re the only one that can set that crystal up. You’re almost there!” Korey encouraged as Leon once again made his way up the slippery metal steps. A loud crash came from across the roof as several Valdronians spilled out into the rain soaked roof. Carlyle and Cyrus wasted no time in engaging them in battle. The sprung out from behind the door housing and slashed and bashed their way though the first wave. A couple of the soldiers were able to get shots off across the roof but missed Leon and Korey. The Valdronians had superior weapons, but Carlyle and Cyrus had the element of surprise and speed on their side. With the communication system down, the machines could not report what was happening.
“Another wave will be coming any minute now.” Carlyle gasped as he picked through the smashed metal as he and Cyrus gathered as many of the weapons as they could carry. The tossed them in a pile in back of the door housing to keep other Valdronians from using them and for their use if needed, but both men felt more comfortable with their own weapons. They both faded back into the shadows to wait and watch as Leon finally made it to the top of the spire. A brilliant flash of blue lightning lit up his silhouette in the night sky.
Taking a deep breath, Leon held on to the railing in front of him as he reached into the bag with the other hand and pulled out the orb. A crashing rumble of thunder shook him and the orb slipped from his hand. He pulled it tightly to his chest as a football player nearing the end zone for a touchdown.
“Hurry up Leon!” Korey’s voice rose from the darkness.
“Next time the aliens invade, you climb the slippery metal steps.” Leon muttered under his breath as he reached up and placed the orb into a small crown of worn metal than had once been gold plated but now was dark with age and neglect. Leon wiped the rain away from his eyes with his free hand and took up the coil of silvery cable and dropped it down to the roof.
“Cable is on its way, I’m coming down. Get the Co-Host plugged into the other end of it!” Leon called out as he began his slow decent back to the roof of the theatre.
As the cable hit the roof, Korey scooped it up and draped the end of it around the back of his neck as he fumbled with the bag, trying to turn the round robot to the back where his USB ports were.
Leon was half way down when the second wave of soldiers hit the roof. This time there were twice as many, at least twenty-four. The echo of gunfire and smashing metal rang out to blend with the storm and the distant sounds of downtown Austin in distress. From his vantage point, Leon could see Carlyle and Cyrus were outnumbered.
“I gotta help them, Korey!” He called out as he raised his hand to call on the power he had available.
“No! You can’t waste your power! Marvin said you need every ounce of energy you have to power up that orb!” Korey called out as he fought with Co-Host to turn him in the bag.
“No buts, get down here, I need your help to get this port into this damn robot!”
Leon realized time was running out. He jumped from the steps and holding on to the wet railings, slid the rest of the way down and tumbled onto the cold gravel roof. He got up and went to help Korey as Carlyle and Cyrus did their best to hold off the attack.
“Damn it Carlyle, how many of these fuckers are there?” Cyrus hollered as he smashed the head off one of the machines.
“Three hundred and twenty seven of them here in Austin and another one hundred and six deployed around the world.” Carlyle grunted as his twin blades took out two more of the attackers.
“That’s not so much,” Cyrus gasped as he knocked down two more with the staff. “We can take them out in no time!”
“Hate to tell you pal,” Carlyle said as he and Cyrus were pushed back to back, the remaining Valdronians slowly circling around them for the final blow. “This is just a scouting party. There are millions of these bastards back on their home world.”
“Uh, then we are Custer’s Last Stand?” Cyrus gulped as he tightened the grip on the staff as the machines came closer. He looked over his shoulder to see Carlyle looking over his shoulder, a grim smile on his face.
“I ain’t planning on dying tonight, but if I must, I’m going out fighting!”
Carlyle jumped forward, both blades swinging as he sliced through two of the remaining machines. The remaining eight Valdronian soldiers seemed confused by the aggressiveness of the humans. Cyrus punched three of them in the chest plates, sending them down to the roof as he pulled one of the Valdronian hand guns and dispatched the three with speed. They finished off the last of them when one of the last machines standing set off a concussion grenade before Carlyle dispatched it.
“Get that thing outta here!” He yelled to Cyrus who already had scooped it up and was tossing it when it went off. The force of the waves knocked Carlyle to the gravel while it blew Cyrus across the roof and over the edge, but he managed to grab onto one of the concrete gargoyles that lined the edge of the roof.
Korey and Leon saw what was happening and wanted more than anything to help, but they were having problems of their own as they dodged the incoming fire from the Valdronians while trying to find Co-Host’s USB ports in the small bag. Just as they made the connection, the concussion grenade went off. Korey shoved Leon to the roof, shielding him with his own body, his back turned toward the blast.
“I thought you were a devout coward?” Leon asked as the blast subsided and he got to his feet.
“I gave it up for Lent,” Korey grinned as he looked around to see Carlyle flat on his face and heard Cyrus’ cried for help. “You get started here, I gotta help Cyrus.” Korey removed the bag from his shoulder and handed it to Leon before he sprinted across the roof.
“Guess its do or die time.” Leon whispered as he felt the power rising from deep within him. He removed Co-Host from the bag and held him tightly between his hands.
“You rotten son of a bitch!! I’ll have your head for this!!!!” Co-Host swore as he tried to use his powers, but the power flowing through Leon’s hands blocked his powers.
Korey leaned over the edge of the roof and grabbed Cyrus by the collar of his jacket and found the strength to pull the larger man back onto the roof.
“Where’s Carlyle?” Cyrus hollered.
“You don’t have to yell, I’m right here.” Korey replied. Cyrus looked at him in shock.
“I can’t hear you!” He again yelled.
“Must be from the blast; come on and help me get Carlyle.” Korey said slowly and loudly as they both made their way across the wet roof. Carlyle was just coming around when he felt the hands pull him to his feet. There was a ribbon of blood coming from his forehead that ran down the left side of his face.
“Can you hear me, Carlyle?” Korey asked grabbing him.
“Of course I can, you jackass!” Carlyle snapped as he looked around.
“Cyrus can’t hear a thing, must have been the concussion blast.” Korey explained quickly.
“I could use some help over here, now!” Leon’s frantically pitched voice called out in the darkness.
“What about the machines?” Korey asked as they answered the call for help.
“Don’t know, but I think we’d better see what Leon needs first.” Carlyle said slipping his swords back into their sheaths. They arrived to find Leon nearly out of breath.
“I can’t do it. I’m not strong enough; it’s taking everything I got just to keep the Co-Host under control.”
“What can we do?” Korey asked.
“I’ve got an idea. Lend me your energy, it’s the only way.” Leon sighed as his strength was waning.
“Ha! Your bastards can’t beat me! I’ll kill you all!” Co-Host said in a triumphant voice.
“What’s going on?” Cyrus yelled. Korey quickly pulled him close and put one hand on Leon’s shoulder and the other on Cyrus’ who got the idea and put a hand Carlyle’s shoulder and he did the same to Leon forming a link.
“Let’s see if we can jumpstart this battery before the bad guys show up for round three.” Korey smiled as he felt warmth run through his being that spread to Cyrus and Carlyle. The first tug of power was a strain as they initially fought it, but all relaxed and let Leon take what he needed.
A blue glow came from his hands and encased Co-Host which sent his power running up the cable in a blue fire that quickly ignited the orb on the spire. Wave after wave of crackling blue power spread out over the city, shutting down all the power in the city.
Thunder seemed to crack the sky open as a massive blue bolt of lightning struck the fresh troops that had just come on the roof. They were disintegrated on the spot. Throughout the world, a similar scene played out wherever there were Valdronians and their machines.
Several minutes passed before one last surge of power exploded the orb sending the rest of its power back down the cable and into Co-Host, causing a small explosion that sent the four men flying across the roof.
All was silent as the rain began to let up and the thunder rolls were much more muted than before. The entire city seemed to be asleep for a time.
Leon was the first to rise to his knees before being able to drag himself back to his feet. He stood there for a minute or so, looking like a limp marionette. The clouds broke enough for the full moon to shine down and reveal where the others where. He managed to stagger over to Cyrus and dropped on his knees, exhausted next to him. The big blonde slowly opened his eyes and smiled.
“Can you hear me now?” Leon asked hopefully.
“What, is this a Verizon commercial? Of course I can hear you. I don’t feel so hot but I can hear you…hey, I CAN hear you!” Cyrus announced as he slowly pulled himself up to a sitting position.
A gruff voice was heard in the shadows.
“I gotta give that a Better Than Sex rating because it was!”
“You ok, Carlyle?” Leon called out.
“I will be, as soon as stop spitting gravel out of my mouth.” He grunted as he slowly got to his feet and staggered over to the others.
“Korey? Korey where are you?” Leon called out, his voice echoing against the eerie silence that enshrouded the city below. An icy fear clutched the trio as they staggered about looking for their lost comrade.
A faint but all too familiar voice cut through the darkness in a very off key, but recognizable song.
“Waaaasted away in Marrrgariiiitaville!!! Searching foor my loooost shaker of sallllllt…”
“Co-Host?” Leon wondered aloud as they followed the familiar voice to a corner of the roof where they found the little robot snug in Korey’s lap. The trio knelt down next to Korey as he slowly opened his eyes. Co-Host turned his face up to Korey and crackled a smile.
“Korey!!! Man when you throw a party, you throw a party!!! Woohoo, where are the women?”
“Huh? Oh, hey did we win?” Korey wondered, looking up at the concerned faces hovering over him.
“Yeah, I think we did.” Leon smiled, holding out a hand for Korey to take as he was helped to his feet. Co-Host was still in his other hand, chattering away.
“Gotta get some girls, you know with those big ol’ brestessess and…”
“Oh shut the fuck up, will you?” Carlyle said reaching over and pulling the burned out wire from his USB port. The robot suddenly shut down.
“What did you do that for?” Korey asked only to have Carlyle go into a tirade.
“Because that little son of a bitch nearly destroyed the fucking world, that’s why! I hope he never comes back on after what he did to me!”
Carlyle stormed off, heading towards the door, pulling his swords out. He stopped and looked over his shoulder.
“We still don’t know if Talos is gone, so let’s go find out.”
His grim voice struck a cord with all three. Cyrus managed to find his staff and gripped it tightly as he followed Leon and Korey down the stairway. On their way to the stage they tripped over each other a few times until Cyrus pulled a small flashlight from his jacket pocket and handed it to Carlyle.
Silently, they made their way through the darkness, none of them daring to breathe loudly, let alone speak. Logic dictated that since the orb had disintegrated the Valdronians on the roof, the same should have happened inside the theatre. Logic was fine and well in broad daylight, but in a pitch black building…needless to say it wasn’t at the top of the Crew’s priority list.
Finally, Carlyle found the door to the stage they had gone through to get to the roof. He held it open as the others followed. Korey was the first to find his voice in the gloom.
“So far, so good.”
“We’ve got to find Marvin.” Leon whispered.
“Wish we had some more light. No chance of any back ups working. This place has been boarded up for the better part of twenty years now. Cyrus lamented as Carlyle wandered off with the flashlight, and then motioned with it for the others to come. There was a dusty old black equipment cabinet painted black. A very ancient looking padlock held the doors shut.
“Think you can open it, Cyrus?” Carlyle asked hopefully.
“Piece of cake.” Cyrus stepped up to the cabinet and squatted down as he took a fine lock pick from his jacket. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for the lock to yield. Inside the cabinet were odds and end, old dust covered hand tools and several flashlights. Korey took one out and tried it but it was dead.
“Fat lot of good these are gonna do us.” He flatly said.
“Not like this, but perhaps Leon can shed some light on the subject.” Carlyle said with a smile, handing one of the lights to Leon.
“Think you got enough juice to get these things going again?” Korey asked hopefully.
“I’ll do my best.” Leon said as he held the flashlight tightly and closed his eyes. A faint hum of blue traveled from his hands to the flashlight which came alive with a soft yellow glow. Carlyle took out three more and they too came to life at Leon’s command. Carlyle handed the small light back to Cyrus. Leon swayed on his feet for a moment, causing concern amongst his friends. He waved them off saying he was just a bit worn out, which was an understatement after what he’d just done on the roof.
“Let’s fan out and look for Marvin and then get the hell outta here.” Carlyle recommended.
“What happened to the old saying, there’s safety in numbers?” Korey asked.
“It just became out of date, besides I don’t feel comfortable, there’s something wrong here. Let’s just find Marvin and get the hell out.” Carlyle’s voice betrayed the deep uneasiness he felt as the quartet scattered about.
Korey reached the center stage area when he found Marvin lying face down on the floor. The others quickly scrambled over and rolled the old man over. There was no sign of blood anywhere which made them all breath a collective sigh of relief, except for Carlyle.
“Marvin? Marvin, it’s Leon, can you hear me?”
“Yes I can, dear boy. You did a fine job up there.” Marvin’s weak voice said as the guys pulled him into a half sitting position, braced up by Cyrus.
“We gotta get you out of here. Are you hurt?” Korey asked.
“I think Carlyle was right, I am an old man and not up to this kind of thing. My heart is not what it used to be.” Marvin coughed harshly, making the others uneasy about his condition.
“We’re gonna take you to the hospital, you’ll be fine.” Cyrus did his best to hide his fear with a cheerful voice. Marvin reached out and took his hand and squeezed it weakly.
“You make a fine Theif, but a bad liar, Cyrus.” Marvin replied.
“Let’s get out of here. Something in here is making my skin crawl.” Carlyle grumbled as he paced a few feet away from where Marvin lay. He no sooner pulled his swords out when something cold wrapped around his throat.
From the darkness came Talos, dented and looking worse for wear as he raised Carlyle to his eye level. Sparks flew from his body as he snarled.
“So the dead do rise from the grave in this world. You have betrayed us and for that I will crush your throat and stomp until your body is nothing more that a puddle beneath my feet.”
“What good will that do, Talos? You have lost, the gateway is closed forever. At least have the good sense to do as I and die with dignity.” Marvin weakly spoke as the machine tightened its death grip of Carlyle’s neck to the point where the swords dropped from his hands. Looking around frantically, Korey found Eventide at Marvin’s side. He put Co-Host down on the floor and picking up the heavy sword, he let out a frantic cry as he charged the towering machine, running the sword through its midsection. Talos immediately dropped Carlyle, who without hesitation retrieved his swords and flung himself into the air brining both blades down on Talos’ head and cutting him down the middle to where Eventide was. Korey pulled with all his might and released the great sword as Carlyle pulled Zor and Zam from Talos and backed away to watch the once great Lord Talos shutter and collapse, shattering into a billion tiny flecks of metal.
Korey stumbled over to Carlyle, dragging Eventide behind him and pulled Carlyle into a hug.
“You just took ten years off my damn life!”
“All in a night’s work.” Carlyle croaked, trying to get his wind back.
“Let’s get out of here.” Leon advised as a flood of lights came from the back of the stage area.
“Where are you guys?” Beau’s voice boomed out with a multitude of flashlights as the others followed him.
“You guys were supposed to stay in the van away from here!” Leon scolded but changed his tune quickly, “But we’re glad you’re here. We gotta get Marvin to the hospital, his heart…”
“He’s gone, Leon.” Cyrus’ voice cracked as he felt for a pulse and found none.
“Get him in the van, we can do CPR on the way to the hospital,” Leon said with urgency to the group frozen about him. He felt his blood boil as he yelled at everyone.
“Get the fucking lead out and move!”
“Leon, it’s no good, he’s gone.” Cyrus pleaded quietly.
“No! He can’t die, I need him!” Leon yelled in rage as he dropped down and tried for several minutes to revive the old wizard, but to no avail. Finally Korey stepped forward, handing Eventide to Carlyle. He knelt down next to Leon and put his arms around him.
“It’s over man, he’s gone. You gotta let him go.” Korey advised quietly.
“No, I can’t loose him now. He was still training me, I can’t do this alone; I need him. He was a father to me.” Leon’s broken voice express his heartbreak as Beau and Jason came and helped Cyrus lift Marvin and take him to the van. Greg stepped forward and picked up the charred shell of Co-Host and melted into the darkness. Leon wept for his friend as Korey did his best to console him.
“We gotta go. It’s not gonna take long for the police to figure out where that power surge came from with all the choppers in the air.” Carlyle advised flatly, but quietly.
“You heard the man, we gotta boogie.” Korey said getting to his feet and helping Leon up. They walked to the back of the stage to the waiting van. Carlyle brought up the rear, but stopped and turned to look back into the blackness of the theatre.
“Could never make this into a movie, no on would ever buy it.” He grunted before turning back to leave with the others.
There’s No Place Like Home
Amidst the confusion and disbelief of the world in general over what had happened and the mass onslaught of another invader, the United States Federal Government, the city of Austin slowly picked itself up from the wreckage caused by the unknown enemy. Most people assumed it was an alien invasion from another far off planet sent to destroy Earth while more academic heads pondered the possibility of treachery from a foreign shore.
No one would ever know the truth that leaving a little robot plugged in to a wall socket during a thunderstorm triggered the horrific events and that four movie critics saved the world.
No one would believe it.
As the grim task of caring for the dead went on for several days after the attacks, the man responsible for giving heroes what they needed to fight was laid to rest in a low key service three days after the assault.
Many people from the literary circles of Austin came to pay their final respects to Marvin T Crankshaft, who died peacefully in his sleep; at least that’s what the doctor said. Only the Spill Crew and friends knew the real story, and according to Marvin’s dying wish, that story would never be told.
Two days after the funeral, the friends gathered at Marvin’s house. They sat in the living room, much quieter than they normally would be when together. Leon stood in front of the large picture window with the curtains drawn. There was a sizable pile of brightly gift wrapped boxes at his feet.
“Thank for coming,” Leon began in a soft voice. “Yesterday, Marvin’s lawyer called me to his office and told me that I am the sole heir to Marvin’s estate.”
A rumble of well wishes came from the group.
“Please, I’m not here to gloat, far from it. A day before the battle, he recorded a DVD with messages to all of us. I’m gonna play that now.” Leon turned to face the large screen TV and pushed a button on the remote. Marvin’s smiling face came on and he spoke.
“My friends, friends being a weak word for I feel that your are more like my own children. As you are aware by watching this I have not survived the battle, please do not morn me. I have had a long life and look forward to meeting once again with those I lost from my home world.
“I could not leave this life without thanking each one of you for your sacrifices in saving this world. Each one of you has come away from this ordeal with a new love of freedom and wears the bruises and scars to show for it.”
Leon nodded, still feeling the ache and exhaustion of his exertions and looking at Cyrus, Korey and Carlyle and the many battle scars they word proudly.
“I have gifts for each of you, something to remember me by in the off chance you can stop for a moment on a fine day and take a moment to remember.”
“How could we ever forget?” Korey asked somberly.
“First, for our brave friends who came to help with our plans, Jason, Beau, Grant and Greg. I know you feel that you did little, but what you did was monumental in helping us defeat the Valdronians and for that, I wish to thank each of you. I only wish these gifts were more personal but I hope they will be welcomed to your collections.”
Leon pushed the pause button and handed each of them a package that contained several classic and collectable comics.
“These are incredible, I can’t accept these.” Beau’s bewilderment was shared by the others.
“Please, Marvin wanted you to have them. I helped him pick them out from his collection. You got the best of the best for the best.” Leon said as he started the player again.
“Something special now, for the lovely Edie; you have no idea how much joy it gave me to have a woman in the house again. I remember reading in your Bible once, Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. That kept running through my mind and I found the perfect gift for you, my dearest Edie.”
Leon stopped the recorder and handed Edie a large wooden box with a silver bow wrapped around it. She opened it and gasped in shock as she showed the others the set of bracelets, hair clips, ring, brooch and necklace made of soft brushed gold in a floral design of the Art Nouveau area and studded with small rubies throughout.
“It belonged to his wife and he wanted you to have it. The estate has had it appraised and insured in your name.”
“That’s some major bling- bling girlfriend!” Greg grinned.
Edie closed the lid and did her best not to cry.
“Crazy old man.” She sniffed.
Leon once again turned on the player.
“I have seen pain in my long life but never have I seen courage that equaled it until I met Carlyle. I am sorry that we will not have our re-match, young squire but you have proved your worthiness to be called a warrior. Please use the talents you received wisely and justly. Remember our talk of my friends who want to help you, please let them. You are too rare a being to waste in anger and hate.”
Leon handed Carlyle a long box that revealed Eventide and a white envelope. Carlyle looked puzzled.
“Marvin wants you to be the custodian of Eventide and the envelope is self explanatory.”
Carlyle bowed his head and took a deep breath, putting his hands on the blade of the sword as it lay in its case.
“I didn’t want this, none of this.” He muttered. Korey patted him on the back.
“I know. We all know that. You took the brunt of this and that’s just not fair.”
Marvin’s voice came back on, calling attention to Cyrus.
“Cyrus, it pains me deeply that I will not be able to help you in your search to find your birth parents. I have no doubt that someday you will achieve your goal, but in the meantime, I hope this little token will not only ease those pangs of sadness you have, but you will think of me from time to time. I only wish I could have been more of a friend to you.”
Cyrus took the box handed to him and opened it to find a carved wooden box about six inches high. There was a small gold key that when turned made the wooden panels open like a flower. Inside was a glass dome with a misty image of a young man kneeling by a rocking chair. A young woman sat in the chair rocking a tiny baby. Cyrus could not make out the faces, but he knew the scene.
“It’s that dream I keep having. The man and woman with the baby…and the music, that’s the music I keep hearing in my dream. How did he know?” He sat, mesmerized by the scene until the music stopped and the box closed itself up. “This is so amazing. He made this, for me?”
“He sure did buddy. I didn’t know about it until right before we left here to go to the studio.” Leon smiled.
“Ok, ok, now I know we’re saving the best for last, so lay it on me!” Korey crowed, trying to brighten the mood in the room. Leon groaned as he turned the recorder back on.
“Last, but far from least is Korey. Young man, you can try the patience of a saint and I know that since you’ve tired mine. You are arrogant, boisterous and so full of your own shit; I just don’t know what to say!”
Everyone in the room roared with laughter, except for Korey who crossed his arms over his chest and humped.
“I realize I cannot entrust your with any magical items for I know you would certainly find a way to twist the power contained in such an item to your own bidding.”
“Yeah, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make these damn sunglasses see through things, like women’s clothing.” Korey muttered, taking the glasses out of jacket pocket and examining them.
“So, I have decided to leave you the money to have your little friend Co-Host rebuilt. I know how close a bond you have with the little fellow and he cannot be blamed totally for what happened, since someone left him plugged in all alone during a storm…”
“Damn, I forgot about that…” Korey said quietly as Leon handed him a box and an envelope.
“Also, I have had the privilege of meeting many famous people in my time here. This is a small token of how much I truly care for you, Korey.
“So now, my dear friends until the Ancient Ones allow us to see one another again, I bid you the fondest of farewells and ask that you look out for each other. You have been brought together for a reason. Never turn your backs on that. Good bye.”
The screen went black and everyone sat in a numb silence for a few moments until Carlyle gave Korey a nudge to open the box. Inside was set of color sketches from some early work on the Disney classic Snow White, signed by Walt Disney himself. The three sketches were framed in mahogany wood that was carved in the style of the woodcarvings from the movie. Korey was dumbfounded by the gift.
“Man, I’ve heard rumors in my animation classes that there were some of these sketches but there was no proof the existed,” Korey looked over to Leon who pulled the disk from the player and put it in a case. “These things belong in a museum.”
“No man, he really wanted you to have them. You see, in the years I’ve known Marvin I’ve told him a lot about all of you, that’s why he gave the gifts he did,” Leon sighed as he dropped down into a chair. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I could use a drink.”
“Make it into dinner and I’m in.” Edie smiled, slipping off her earrings and putting on the ones from the set she received.
“I never could say no to a woman who wears rubies.” Leon grinned.
The next day Carlyle boarded a bus heading east to Huntsville Texas in the Piney Woods region. Outside of Huntsville was a school of martial arts that housed a monastery founded over a hundred years ago by the immigrant Chinese railroad workers. This was the help Marvin has spoke to him of, so with his weapons safely packed in a long gym bag he headed off for a month and that will be a story for another day.
A month had passed since the defeat of Talos and his army. Life was beginning to return to normal in Austin. The Spill studio was once again buzzing with activity as they were preparing to go back to recording their first review with all four members.
“Hey hey, look whose back!” Leon’s voice rang out as he rushed over to greet Carlyle as he walked through the door. Everyone stopped what they were doing and crowded around.
“I’m so glad you’re back! I’ve missed you, Carlyle!!” Cyrus lumbered over and locked him in a bear hug.
“That’s nice Cyrus…but I…can’t…breath!” Carlyle gasped. Cyrus let go of him and apologized.
“It’s ok, I missed you guys too.” He said with a smile. Korey threw an arm around his shoulder with a big grin.
“Damn, it’s been awful without you. Everyone on the site is freaking out even though you left that message saying you were taking time off. Lots of conspiracy theories cropping up that you quit, we had a fight…”
“What else is new? We always have a fight. I’ll put up a blog later. I just got in late last night so if I’m dragging my ass, bear with me, ok? Carlyle said with a wave of his hand.
“Yeah, with all this crazy shit going down, next thing you know we’ll be heading to the North Pole to save Santa Clause from some demented toy maker.” Korey half laughed.
“Really? That is so awesome!!” Cyrus cheered with delight.
“Fine, when do we leave?” Carlyle asked seriously.
“Will you two calm down? Next thing we know, you two will be roaming the streets of Austin in those getups Marvin cooked up.” Leon sighed, shaking his head as Edie came up to him and gave Carlyle a kiss on the cheek.
“The reviews have been looking kind of lopsided with poor Leon over there with no one to sit next to.”
“I never realized there was a draft on that side of the room until you left.” Leon chuckled.
“Hey, you haven’t heard about the Co-Host, have you?” Korey asked, steering Carlyle toward the storage area.
“Well, considering I’ve been locked away in a martial arts monastery with no access to the outside world for a month, then no, I haven’t heard about the little monster.” Carlyle said in a very matter of fact manner.
“Now Carlyle, we all agreed before you left that we were gonna give the little guy a second chance, after all it wasn’t totally his fault all of this happened.” Leon reminded his friend as Korey opened the door and the four of them entered.
The room had been cleaned and tidied up from the throw away mess it was before. On the back wall counter the newly repaired Co-Host was busy working on a laptop when he turned to the door and saw the guys enter.
“Hey, hey hey!!! Me amigos!!!! Look, look Korey, I got all those old reviews cataloged, just like you asked and Cyrus, I’m gonna try to finish that list of comics you want sometime today, and….”
“Whoa there cowboy! Slow down! You don’t have to fry your circuits, take a break.” Korey said to the robot, and then turned to Carlyle. “Little dude’s been back only a week and he’s busting his robotic ass!” Carlyle went over to the counter and picked up a stack of paper coming out of the printer.
“I see. I’m very impressed, Co-Host. It would seem that you’ve turned over a new leaf.” Carlyle put down the papers and smiled.
“Carlyle!!!! My buddy, my pal!!!! Oh I’m so happy you’re back!!” Co-Host rolled over and tried to snuggle up to Carlyle.
“Let’s not get mushy, ok?” He turned back to Korey. “So, what happened to his porn program? He seems too squeaky clean.”
“Well, one the techs got inside they found the damage was minimal. They were able to save most of his memory. His personality was intact but since he came back he’s been a model citizen. I’ve started to bring him home at night again.” Korey explained, going over to Co-Host and patting the top of his shiny head. “Fact is, we’ve got a long weekend coming up and I’m taking Co-Host with me to Galveston for a beach weekend.”
Co-Host looked up at Korey and his eye brows went up as his green eyes seemed to glow brighter.
“Really? Oh wow! That is so great! I can’t wait; I gotta pack my carrying case!” Co-Host gleefully rolled across the counter and into his case. The guys turned and walked to the door as the little robot rattled on.
“So much to do…can’t forget my sunglasses, yeah those are hot; the babes love me in sunglasses and maybe some porn, ho, ho yeah! Korey can read those while I’m out cruising with the hot chicks! Hotcha mama, this is gonna be so great!”
Leon, Korey and Cyrus left the room, leaving Carlyle to close and lock the door behind them.
“What the fuck? Carlyle, why the hell did you lock that door?” Korey called from the other side of the door. Bending down, Carlyle retrieved his twin sword from a low counter under a stack of magazines.
“What’s the ruckus? Carlyle! Gee I’m glad you’re here, we can talk, man to machine!” Co-Host gibbered as he rolled out of his case. Carlyle smirked as he slowly walked towards the counter, flipping the swords in the air and catching them with ease.
Co-Host trembled as he saw the shine of the blades and the deadly glint in Carlyle’s eye.
“The time has come to talk of many things,” he said in a glow grumble as he stood before the counter, his arms hanging at his sides. “of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings and how a mother fucker named Co-Host 3000 made me bow down to him and call him ‘master’.” With the speed of summer lightning, Carlyle brought the twin blades up and down to bear on the countertop, each blade embedded on either side of the robot.
Co-Host let out a girlish scream that was heard on the other side of the door.
“Carlyle? What the fuck are you doing in there? Open the door!” Korey demanded as he tried to knock the door down, only to end up with a sore shoulder for is trouble. He turned to Leon.
“What do you expect me to do? Blow the damn door down? There are people here who don’t know about things.”
“Korey! Save me, save me!!! This Texas Cracker has gone nuts!” Co-Host cried out in terror.
“Call me a Cracker, you little bastard! I’m hardly poor or ignorant.”
“But you’re White and a native Texan so two out of four ain’t so bad, amigo!” Co-Host said trying to sound happy.
“I’m gonna slice you in two, scoop out your guts and use the shells for popcorn bowls!!!” Carlyle hollered as the sound of clashing blades rang through the air.
“Cyrus! Do something! Pick the damn lock!” Korey demanded, shoving him towards the door. Cyrus pulled a small packet from his pants pocket and tried to pick the lock.
“Damn it, he’s put ball bearings in the lock. Sorry Korey, no soap.”
“Carlyle, do you have any idea how much money I just had to spend to get Co-Host fixed?
“Do you have any idea how much money I’ll be spending on therapy if you don’t let me get my pent up aggression out? Get outta that box you son of a…ouch! He bit me, the little fucker bit me!”
“I think the Co-Host 3000 has the situation well in hand,” Edie smiled as she herded the Crew away from the door. Korey tried to linger, but Edie grabbed his arm.
“This won’t take long; I think it will be a draw anyways. Those two idiots are pretty evenly matched.”
“Carlyle! You prick! You just sliced up my new copy of Playboy!!! I haven’t even read it yet!” Co-Host hollered.
“You haven’t got the brains to read the articles; you just look at the naked women.” Carlyle argued,
“That’s art, you dick head!”
“Metal douche bag.”
“That’s it, I’m telling Korey. Korey!!!!! Carlyle’s being mean to me! Put down those swords. You know Carlyle; I think you’re over compensating for a poor sexual performance issue with those damn swords of yours…”
A few moments later, the storage room door was kicked down and Carlyle came storming out with a rage in his eyes and nearly foaming at the mouth. He marched up to Korey and pointed to the storage room with one of the swords as he said in a voice dripping with acid.
“No one, but no one tells me I have performance issues.”
Korey couldn’t help but break into hysterical laughter which was so contagious it swept through the entire studio. Co-Host rolled out of the storage room and looked up at Carlyle.
“Really dude, I think it’s high time you put away the cutlery and shack up with some fine ass lady for the weekend. You’d be surprised what a nice pair of breastesses can do for a guy!”
Carlyle let the sword drop from his hands and hung his head.
“I give up! First he’s running my mind, now he wants to run my sex life.”
“Trust me dude, you need someone to run it for you and I’m just the robot for the job! I suggest we start with an all night club run and some real hot strip clubs….”