Claire Greenfield sighed as she stood before the capsule in the secret military lab beneath the city. Before her, within the container, was the RTM-X1, a prototype new-age robot that had taken two years to be completed. It was shaped like some sort of alien creature, possessing claw-like feet, boxy hands and circular body with curious bulges where the larger components were installed. It was colored gold with dark chrome highlights. Upon its forearms were a pair of two-prong claws. The head resembled the basic shape of a human head but had a golden jaw with chrome 'teeth' and a retractable red 'cap.' Claire thought it looked beautiful yet menacing.
It was then that Claire studied herself in the mirror. She had brownish-red hair, a fine, pale complexion, light blue eyes, and what her last boyfriend had called 'the sexiest lips he'd ever seen or felt.' Even with her glasses and lab coat on Claire did think of herself as a fairly attractive woman, yet at times like this she just felt so ugly. They'd been ordered to disable and scrap the RTM-X1, or as she'd come to call it, 'Technomagus.'
“You deserve better,” Claire muttered as she touched the glass. She couldn't understand what the military was so afraid of. The robot did possess inhuman ability, but its weapons were non-lethal. The cap could retract to reveal a ray which could alter a living being's matter, but never do anything to completely destroy it. The claws did the same thing, only after contact the flesh would instantly heal as per a special regeneration stimulant the weapons carried. In fact, Technomagus had been designed for situations where it was too dangerous for humans and targets were needed alive. Claire decided they wanted something that could kill as well.
It was then that Claire had an idea. She glanced around saw she was alone in the room. The security cameras were on, but she knew she could always seduce the one monitoring the feed later and make alterations. She was very attached to Technomagus, and decided to hit the reactivation button. A moment later the console beeped, and suddenly the robot's head rose. Claire smiled.
Then came the part Claire hadn't anticipated. The RTM-X1 smashed though the door of the capsule using its fists, making the technician leap aside to avoid any shrapnel. “Uh oh...” she gasped as Technomagus emerged from the damaged capsule and turned towards her. Before she could react, its cap slid back and revealed the ray, which promptly fired as Claire raised her arms in a vain attempt to protect herself. The ray that had been fired was a paralysis one, which promptly caused the technician to lock in place, her jaw open in fear, her eyes wide. Next came a purple ray which struck the woman's forehead, not that she'd noticed as by now even her mind was frozen, unable to process what was going on at that current time.
The beam Technomagus had emitted had scanned Claire's brain and the machine quickly found out what was going on. Realizing it would be terminated, the robot's Artificial Intelligence decided it should be afraid and attempt to survive however it could, as it was programmed to do. Leaving Claire where she was, Technomagus accessed the map of the base and determined where it could exit and promptly where and how it would hide.
None of the security at the base were a match for Technomagus and his bulletproof shell, not to mention its various rays and its molecule-manipulation claws. Do avoid being cruel, he merely paralyzed all who got in his way, save of course for when he he attacked the security office. Even then he was just looking to by himself enough time to avoid a full search, as well as disable the security systems. It was no surprise that he escaped without even being damaged.
Upon exiting the secret base, the RTM-X1 quickly began to navigate the sewer system he'd found himself in. He would of ideally preferred to use the main entrance, which was hidden at the sewage plant, but too many people were there, and his chances of escape were a bit lower. Following a brief tour of the city's grimy underworld, Technomagus found himself right where he wanted to be. Nearby was a fashion boutique which had a spacious warehouse. Doing some probability, Technomagus determined it was most likely to have the excess space he'd need for his master plan towards his survival.
The back door to the shop was easy to force open due to Technomagus's robotic strength. Upon entering one of the four employees, a short female with short, gelled-out hair bleached blond wearing a pink tank top and white cords, came to inquire about the noise. The RTM-X1 was prepared and fired a ray, instantly causing the woman to cease resistance. The ray had effectively made her mind entirely submissive to Technomagus and his commands. “Call the other employees into the room,” clicked the robot's voice processor. His voice sounded almost human, though it had a radio-like clicking effect whenever it was activated and had a slight hum to it. The woman, determined to be the manager of the store, complied.
Moments later the three other employees, two women and a man, entered the room and Technomagus proceeded to make them submit using his ray again. The four looked normal, but Technomagus could see using his advanced sensors that their brainwaves were different. After scanning their minds with another ray, he decided upon his plan. The man and the female manager would act normal. However, RTM-X1 considered the other two women useless to his objective and gave them special orders.
Acting upon command, the first woman, an African-American with short curly hair wearing an orange t-shirt and blue slacks and a very trim figure, stepped forward and took up a simple pose. Both hands rested on her hips, her left leg bent at the knee slightly, her head tilted to the right a touch, her face neutral with her mouth closed. Technomagus then fired a new ray at the woman, engulfing her body in a reddish glow. When it faded her skin had become shiny, her eyes had glossed over, and she generally looked like a mannequin.
A moment later the other woman followed suit, as the manager wasn't considered skinny enough to be a mannequin and the man was, of course, a male and wouldn't fit in well in a woman's clothing store as a mannequin. The woman had light-brown hair with blond highlights, a narrow face and wore a long-sleeved red shirt with a nice pair of jeans. She placed her hands on her waistband, her thumbs hooked into her pants with her elbows bent. While Technomagus's computerized mind considered it to be only moderate on the scale of interesting poses for mannequins, he none the less accepted it and proceeded to turn her into one as well.
“Redress them and put them on display, then go about your normal lives,” ordered Technomagus. His two slaves complied. Next he considered his options. His new goal was to create a facility run by reliable drones, fellow robots, and eventually convert everyone in the city so he could have his own paradise, free from the threat of being deactivated. Unfortunately his hypnosis ray could be disrupted by a hypersonic emitter, which the military had access to. To ensure loyal servants the RTM-X1 knew he'd need to create robotic servants. Unfortunately his current abilities prevented him from doing that. He'd need a machine that could enhance his powers, and he knew of only one place where to get it. However, he'd need to ensure the place was undefended. Thus Technomagus began to form a grand plan to begin his quest towards domination.
* * *
“... And get this: they stayed the night at his place!” exclaimed Victoria Hamilburg as she walked with Lilly Anderson, the speaker wearing her superhero costume despite how casual the two were being at the moment. “I can't believe it! They only started dating a bit over a month ago, and Jess never seemed like the type to go that fast!”
“Well, if factor in his training classes, and the fact that he's a pretty handsome man for an older guy, I suppose that works out,” commented Lilly. “So your partner's love life aside, how's yours? You know Leon Jefferson was eying you in class the other day?”
“Really?!” gasped Vicky. “He's such a good student! The way he analyzed that case was just amazing!”
“Not to mention he's easy on the eyes,” added Lilly, surprised at her friend's list of priorities when it came to men and their attractiveness. “But either way, this is good news. Most guys have been nervous to even look at you since you started your little superhero thing. Maybe talk to him after class tomorrow or something, flirt a little?”
“Not a bad idea,” agreed Vicky, and the two chuckled slightly, nearly giggling. Victoria enjoyed when she and Lilly could act like typical college students, not worrying about super-villains and crimes as was demanded of her superhero self. Unfortunately it was right then that her instincts as Judgement Girl were forced to kick in, as screams came from the nearby alley. “Crap, I'd better check it out!” exclaimed Victoria, turning the corner while activating her beacon to summon Lady Justice. Luckily she was near and would probably arrive in a minute.
Around the bend stood what Judgement Girl could only assume was some sort of robot. It stood over a woman who'd apparently collapsed. The machine had a prominent pair of claws protruding from its arms, thus Judgement Girl feared it had just killed. In her anger Victoria put her hands to her hips and furrowed her brow. “Stop right there, you mechanical monster!” she shouted.
Technomagus looked up from the woman that he'd hypnotized into helping him. She was currently faking being unconscious as per his instructions, which had certainly helped his ruse. In response to the superhero's taunt, the robot's cap retracted and fired its ray. Caught by surprise, Judgement Girl could do nothing as she, along with her clothing thanks to a self-upgrade made by Technomagus, was transformed. Everything passed her initial layer of flesh, clothing and other body bits seemed to fade away while the rest became clear and transparent. In an instant Judgement Girl had been turned into a hollow glass statue.
Lilly, who'd been following Victoria, screamed when she saw what had happened to her friend. Looking up, Technomagus saw the girl. If he'd had eyes, they would of widened. A quick optical scan confirmed she'd make an excellent addition to his robotic utopia. The robot fired his ray again as Lilly turned to run, this time a hypnotic one. Lilly paused in the middle of attempting to run, her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open. She then promptly turned around and casually walked towards Technomagus, ignoring her statue of a friend.
If Technomagus had teeth they would have been visible due to a smile as the robot felt Lilly's face with his metallic fingers. The woman stood in front of him at attention, unwavering. “Sleep,” commanded Technomagus. Lilly's eyes instantly shut and her head and limbs went limp, though she stayed standing. The RTM-X1 reached out and turned the woman around, taking her in his right arm.
“Freeze, tin can!” roared Lady Justice as she turned the corner, coming to a stop beside Judgement Girl. The older superhero had looked concerned when she'd glanced at her sidekick but still carried a brave face none the less.
Avoiding the opportunity to point out the irony of what was about to happen, Technomagus fired another blast, this time a paralysis ray. Lady Justice had been pointing at the robot with her right index finger, her arm outstretched and her other arm out at the ready. Her knees were bent as was her back, and she generally looked ready to leap into action, her face showing determination. This was exactly how she remained after the ray struck, locking her in place.
Technomagus was most satisfied now. His primary targets were incapacitated as he'd desired, plus he'd gained a valuable prize. Lifting up the sleeping Lilly, Technomagus hurried away, leaving the window-like Judgement Girl and the immobile Lady Justice in the alley.
The hypnotized woman followed but was commanded to sleep a moment later, collapsing once more, to awaken later with no memory of what had occurred.
* * *
“Uh oh,” muttered Elsa as she examined the map of the city. “Judgement Girl's signal is gone, and Lady Justice shows no signs of movement. She hasn't moved an inch in the minute I was taking to look for her sidekick. I think we've got another situation on our hands.”
Groaning in annoyance, Nathan walked over to stand beside the scientist. “So I'm guessing one of them was turned into something while the other was either knocked out or frozen somehow,” he speculated. “Considering we know more than a few villains capable of such feats, I'd say it's a very likely scenario.”
“Don't worry, we can still track Lady Justice,” Elsa reminded the martial artist. “Maybe grab a temporal re-aligner along with a molecular restoration unit. Those should solve whatever sticky situation those two are in.”
“So once again I have to go save the day,” muttered Nathan, voicing annoyance. “I swear, we're turning into den mothers.” However, as the Silent Dragon went to grab the devices Elsa had suggested he obtain, there was suddenly a pounding sound at the lab's door. Elsa stood, her body alert, while Nathan whirled to face it. A moment later Technomagus's fists came tearing through the door, his cap already retracted. Before ether person could do anything, the robot fired a paralysis ray. Elsa had been in the process of trying to duck behind a console, her face frozen in fear as she was caught in the motion of bending over. Nathan's eyebrows were raised in surprise, his arms out in front of him in a sort of fighting pose. Both were instantly immobilized.
Having left Lilly back at the boutique, Technomagus had raced over to Louiselle's lab before Lady Justice could recover from the ray, which had been set to wear off in a few hours. The machine lumbered past the two frozen humans, neither of which even registered his presence anymore as their consciousnesses had faded. Technomagus paused before Elsa, emitting a beam to scan her mind. Determining which machines he would need, RTM-X1 quickly grabbed them, having the good fortune to of only required a few small ones that could easily be carried in one trip. Leaving the motionless duo to collect dust, Technomagus left the lab.
Upon returning to the boutique, Technomagus placed his latest acquisitions in a safe place and called the other two members of the building's staff to lock up. Following this they returned to him and he proceeded to use his claws to turn them into mannequins. Both had been standing at attention and instantly transformed, their skin becoming hard plastic. Now assured of no interruptions, Technomagus went to work, attaching the devices to the capsule that Lilly no resided in, still asleep.
A few hours passed. By the time Technomagus's machine was ready, the ray had no doubt worn off on Lady Justice, meaning the machine had only an hour or so until those at the lab were also free. Luckily the capsule was ready. Almost feeling some sort of anticipation, Technomagus hit the button to activate the machine.
Instantly electrodes flared within the capsule and Lilly was struck by electricity. She shook a bit but her eyes remained closed. Next Technomagus fired his ray at the capsule, also hitting another button which caused wires to emerge within the capsule. The ray bathed over Lilly and she, clothes and all, changed into a black chrome statue. However, her hair continued to glow and there signs of motion from her limbs, indicating she was still able to move. The wires attached to the transformed woman as her hair and eyebrows finished changing, becoming a sort of golden thread.
A few moments later the machine died down as the process was complete. The wires retreated from the creation, the electrodes stopped working. For a moment Lilly stood there, her eyes closed. In a flash the eyes opened, revealing not typical pupils or eyeballs but computer lenses which showed signs of life. The capsule opened and after fidgeting for a moment the transformed Lilly emerged from it. Even her shoelaces were black chrome and it was impossible to tell what was her halter top and what was her normal skin. She stood before Technomagus, her metallic surface shining brightly.
“Welcome, my queen,” said Technomagus as he offered the new robot his hand. “I am Technomagus, your creator. And you, you are my ultimate creation. You are... Cyberlady.”
Continued in Evil Wears a Chrome Jacket