The Ternary Code
Chapter 3 - Part 1
Gregory’s intense, blue-lit eyes glowed brightly as they stared back at him in the screen. Those burning, blue torches for eyes matched the teal and chrome finish he had. At this point in his life, the only thing he was proud of was his looks. Most bots that Sage designed had a reason to be proud of their looks. She had an obsession with creating bots with elegant forms rather than cater to the diverse desires that were out there. Gregory was no exception. His arms, from the shoulders on down, were chrome. His torso was teal, with darker teal outlining the housing for his power pack. His thighs were chrome, and then the teal gradated back as the color reappeared closer to his feet. “About ready, Boss,” he said, focused intently at his work. Then, an artificial voice echoed from an overhead speaker.
“Teleportation attempt number four commencing,” it said.
Gregory glanced up. Vixen scowled at a speaker as if it was the speaker’s fault that he had not been successful in the first three attempts. Vixen’s voice was smooth, eloquent, and intimidating. It was one of those commanding voices that, when you heard it for the first time, you knew that bot was powerful in some way or developed some notoriety for something. “Are we ready?”
Gregory nodded his head, small motors buzzing within his neck.
Vixen mussed the top of Gregory’s smooth head as if there could have been hair there, selfish amber eyes glaring down at him. “Everything is as it should be. Uniplexus is down, and we’ve remained undetected. If this works, there is literally no limit to what we can do.” Vixen slapped Gregory’s shoulder with a solid thud that knock him forward in his seat. “Speaking of things we can do, where is Sage?”
“I have not seen her since yesterday,” Gregory said unknowingly, “she was supposed to check in last night. Shall we go on without her?” Vixen looked up through the skylight above. It was his dream to be up there someday, with the stars. And Gregory feared that one day it would happen, just not the way Vixen was attempting now. If he could maintain the facade, and not let on that he knew it would never work, Gregory might get out of Vixen’s clutches yet. The machine was as ready as it has ever been, or so the burly mercenary thought. If this did work, Vixen would be the most powerful bot the world has ever known, before humans and after.
“Sage will miss this part of history. Begin.”
Gregory’s hands shook nervously as he reached to initiate the countdown. He knew deep within himself that Vixen’s efforts were in vain. Teleportation was not possible. Humans managed to get certain objects to transport from one portal to another, but they were never able to successfully transport themselves or even animals. It wasn’t the teleportation attempts that Vixen insisted on attempting that frightened Gregory, it was Vixen that terrified him. That soldier of a bot, with ballistic accessories mounted on his back, did it. “Boss, what if the same thing happens to us as happened to the humans?” Gregory asked, intentionally asking a question to which he knew the answer. It was either that, or Vixen would pick up on his fear and think Gregory was afraid of him, which he was.
Gregory saw a flash of malice in those glowing rusty-colored eyes. “Well, we’ll have a way to get out of here then, won’t we? … If it works.”
Vixen walked toward the machine, stepped onto the teleportation platform and strapped himself into place. He stood there waiting patiently for the countdown, but Gregory knew his patience was fake. He also knew the look of worry plastering Vixen’s face was for a different reason than lack of confidence. It was probably a good thing Sage wasn’t here. She would be too obsessed with trying to share a charge with Vixen that he wouldn’t get anything done. That happened quite often, and maybe if he did not give in to her so often, he would have figured that out by now. This was the fourth attempt, and they had nothing to show for it. Vixen does not fail often, and when he does, things become unpleasant quickly. He was gifted with some pretty amazing hardware, the kind for destruction and smoke. Instead of using it for how it was intended, he became what he is. Gregory knew this was going to be another one of those times when Vixen failed.
“Five ... four ... three ... two ... one,” said the speaker.
The pink particles that emerged from nowhere, as it seemed, swirled like a tornado around Vixen. Gregory could watch this a thousand times and still appreciate the beauty of this failed experiment. The glimmering particles spun faster and faster with every passing second. Through the torrent of wind that was produced, the fierce amber eyes pierced through, and Gregory could see his satisfaction. The manufactured storm went on and on and on, spinning around Vixen. But the faster and faster the particles spun, the tighter and tighter they sucked together, on track to eventually form a single orb. Mere seconds seemed like hours. Once all the particles converged in front of Vixen and it seemed like they could not compress any further, they slowed, flickered, and fizzled back to the place from which they came; a place which could not be seen or touched or heard. The result was as every other time, like every other failed attempt.
Vixen sighed a long sigh, stepped from the platform and whispered, “Mark it down. Find the errors, and let's not make those errors again.” Vixen’s gaze did not come away from Gregory, though. He lingered. “What’s wrong,” he asked accusingly, “Why are you shaking?”
Gregory was not aware he was. “I’m not shaking.”
Vixen smiled as he always smiled; that evil kind. “Not shaking?” He approached and put a hand on Gregory’s power pack. “Not shaking?” He questioned again. Gregory could feel himself trembling now. Vixen’s strong titanium fingers slipped into the hand hold on Gregory’s power pack. His other hand found itself against the power pack’s locking mechanism, and he flipped it to the unlock position. “Not shaking?”
“Perhaps a little,” Gregory said, trying not to think about what Vixen may have been thinking. Vixen’s hands were glossy, like Gregory’s, like Sage’s, like all the bots in his service. And Vixen, himself, was a deep, rich yellow sheen, much darker than Sage. Gregory could not avoid his eyes. Even when he looked down to avoid his gaze, the sheen from his glossy arms betrayed him, catching the red glow from his gaze. And through the reflection in those strong arms, Gregory’s eyes met Vixen’s.
“Not shaking?” Vixen asked again.
“Perhaps a little?” Gregory persisted again. Then, “Boss, don’t do that! Boss, no! Boss, don’t pull like that!” Gregory could feel his fan spinning fast, cooling him, or at least trying to.
“There they are,” Vixen said with a malicious grin, referring to the shaking. “Now, what happens when I pull this out?” He tugged firmly. Gregory came off of his seat in the same motion as Vixen’s tug. He came to his feet to meet him face to chest. Gregory’s hands grasped the brute tightly. He was still pulling steadily on the power pack.
“No!” Gregory screamed. The letters on Vixen’s chest pushed into his face. Then he could feel it. Not as much feel it as hear it. But that sound was something no bot wanted to hear. That sound of a flicker of power, the sight where everything you see shuts off and comes back on in an instant. He heard the power pack slide a few inches from its housing. “You don’t have to do this, you don’t. No one can do ... no one can do what you want to do!”
Vixen still remained calm as ever, “Are you shaking?”
“You should be.”
Gregory’s body jerked forward, even still closer to Vixen, and no longer could he see. The only thing he could process at that moment was the back-up power starting deep in his core. This is not enough to sustain me, he thought. Please! But his thoughts never made it to his mouth; his system had gone into standby mode. Barely lifeless on the floor, he could only image that Vixen stood over him with his power pack in hand. He knew his reserve power would keep him conscious for several minutes, max.