The team waited patiently as Samuel’s crew deployed some heavy equipment to clear a path through the wall of paper before it further collapsed. One of the excavators clanked into something metallic with its bucket.
Skip rushed up, waving his arms. “Stop! That’s the console! Don’t smash it!”
The excavator tracked backwards with a puff of black smoke. Skip frantically tore away shreds of newspapers to uncover the console. He ripped the tablet computer off its duct tape mount and looked at it. “Yes, we’ve still got power.”
“Where’s the bot, Skip?” asked Lumin.
“Zero damage! It’s just napping under all those scraps.”
“So much for your actuators,” said Lumin, sneering at Samuel.
Samuel looked offended. “Don’t look at me! It’s up the operator to spring the damn thing back up.”
“Everyone calm down, I got this,” Skip further revealed the console and found the Xbox controller. He hit a button and an explosion of shredding newsprint erupted a few yards away as Biz’s arm held the quantum vibro blade aloft; it’s glare making everyone recoil.
“Check this out,” said Skip, confidently. Biz hunched forward then stood up with a dramatic slash of his sword into the air. Although the robot managed to stand upright amid the sea of paper, the swing of the blade severed its other hand. A chunk of flopping metal fingers flew through the air and landed with a heavy thump in front of the team.
“Oh shit,” said Skip.
“Turn off the goddamn blade off!” yelled Lumin, squinting.
Skip thumped Biz’s stump against the shut off switch on the sword’s hilt and the thin, blinding light of the blade snuffed out with an echoing crack of electricity.
Bo and Spotswood couldn’t stop laughing.
“Shut up you two! That’s a week of repairs, at least,” said Samuel.
“Spotswood, Dozens–you two will be participating in a work share, helping Samuel’s crew reattach that hand. Congratulations,” said Lumin.
The pair wilted and went quiet.
Richard found the remnants of his hoagie laying on a headline referencing the first Gulf War. After considering the sandwich’s edibility he mournfully threw it into the distance. He stroked his beard and looked at Dezzie. “That sword of yours is vicious. It cut through that titanium frame like a hot knife through butter.”
“Quiet,” said Dezzie, disinterested. She was on her hands and knees, sifting through old newspaper sheets. “Help me find all the Wizard of Id comic strips you can; there’s nothing more Satanic.”
“You’re on your own,” said Richard. He looked at Lumin. “There’s no amount of shielding I could put around the nuclear core to protect it from that blade of Dezzie’s. You really should consider scrapping it. If Skip had fumbled his sword strike a little more we might all be glowing with radiation right now.”
“You might be right,” said Lumin.
“Wait, what?” said Dezzie, rising with an armful of papers.
“Finally, some common sense,” said Yasamin.
A bulldozer pushed away the last pile blocking the team’s freedom and they returned to the hanger. Skip shut down Biz as he left. The robot’s arms drooped slightly as it’s posture loosened. “Sorry about the hand, buddy,” he said over his shoulder, “but just remember almost every beloved character in Star Wars had a limb chopped off at some point.”
“Thanks for your good work, Samuel. I’m going to send a few cases of good beer to you and your crew as thanks for digging us out,” said Lumin.
“My pleasure, Lumin,” said Samuel. “Domestic is fine.”
“ONLY after the work day’s done,” added Lumin.
“Of course…we ain’t as sloppy as Skip.”
“Shut up,” said Skip, pouting.
Bo looked crestfallen. “No booze for us?”
Lumin puffed her cheeks and exhaled loudly. “Listen, you engineers have done well despite the challenges you’ve endured–and created–these past few weeks but you’re a long damn way from winning any praise.”
“That was praise…I heard praise in there somewhere,” said Richard.
“I’ve been good!” said Katerina.
“Well, you’re not an engineer,” said Lumin.
Samuel smiled. “We’ll save a few cans for you, Kat…Yasamin too.”
“Cool!” said Katerina.
“I only drink German beer, but thanks anyway,” said Yasamin.
Lumin looked at her watch. “Shit! I have to get going. Wish me luck!” She hopped back in the golf cart and zoomed off through the hanger. “Get this all cleaned up!” she yelled behind her.
“Good luck? With what?” asked Skip. Spotswood just shrugged.
Dezzie stared at her recovered Wizard of Id comics. “A pantsless purveyor of the dark arts communes with a treacherous vapor summoned from a well of souls; all while his stunted king looks on, oblivious to it all. For such darkness to be found in a daily paper is incredible…and there’s not a trace of humor to be found! So evil.”
“Ziggy doesn’t wear pants either, what’s up with that?” asked Spotswood.
Richard shook his head. “B.C.’s dedication to historical inaccuracy is way more evil if you ask me. Christian cavemen? Really?”
“Hmmm…interesting,” said Dezzie, as Buttercup snatched the papers out of her arm and began tearing them up. “Is that comic lying around here too?”