Song: War in Me
Album: New Sacred Cow
Chapter 23: Keeping Track
Rabbit gurgled on the building oil in his throat. Peter sr. continued to investigate the pain in his arm while his son began to work on the piping in Rabbit's neck. Just like all the other times they tested his circuitry there was nothing wrong. Connectors were synched, no lose wires, a strong electrical current to every piece. What could be causing the pain?
Oops! Peter VI gasped out, a tube snapping under his fingers. Oil began to spray everywhere. Rabbit started losing pressure to his faceplate and photoreceptors. The light in his eyes flickered as his body convulsed. The automaton's arms trying to grasp at his wound, but he was strapped down tight, leaving only his hands to flail frantically. He was choking on the continued build up.
I told you to be careful! This is the most delicate area! Peter sr. quickly pushed his son out of the way, trying to repair the damage as thick lukewarm oil poured down his face and Rabbit's chest. They worked frantically, pulling in more tools to help stop the leak. A soldering gun, pliers, wrench. It took nearly fifteen minutes to seal the leak, and maybe another two to try and dry out the spilled oil from his gears. Everything is here. Their voice box, the main oil piping. He continued to lecture.
I know dad...
Its so tightly packed. You have to be very careful. Just one little nick and-
I know dad! Peter VI grumbled and stomped away. Banishing himself to the sidelines. I'm sorry... we've been working all day. I'm tired... it just slipped. Okay?
Rabbit can you speak? Peter sr. didn't address his son's question. His tunnel vision was the worst when working on the bots. He cared for them like his own children, oblivious to Six's jealousy. Rabbit coughed, spitting up what oil was left in his throat. Soon able to take in oxygen again. Rabbit? Can you-
y-y-yea... He continued to cough and cringe. He tried to rotate his shoulder and bring a hand to his pained arm. The stress seemed to just increase the pain he was feeling. ...F-f-five... my... ar-rm...
Peter raised his eyebrows and blinked rapidly. He addressed him as Five. Maybe calling him Pappy was a fluke as he started up? The stuttering was calming down, he was recovering. All except for his arm. I'm sorry Rabbit. He said softly as he patted the robots shoulder with an oil slicked hand. I can't find anything wrong with it. The circuitry is good. The programing was replaced. I honestly don't know why it still hurts you. He frowned and stared at the floor. He hated to give up on a task, admitting defeat. Especially when one of his boys were in pain.
Rabbit was quiet, his breathing starting to calm. His face and body relaxed. His eyes seemed able to focus again, peering out at the gallery before him.
Is it better now? Peter asked, taking note of Rabbit's growing ease.
It's... still there... No stutters, no glitches. B-but... not as bad. Rabbit nodded his head slowly, raising his eyes to Spine. And for the first time since his reboot, that jester smile crept upon his lips. It was such a relief, somehow his smile spreading to everyone else in the room. And Spine's was the largest of them all. He couldn't help himself, couldn't contain the sheer joy. He started to chuckle deeply, not even worth it to hide it. Spine? Are you... a-a-are you crying? Rabbit teased. Spine never thought he would miss that.
<<Yes...>> Spine nodded happily. <<I suppose that I am.>>
That's the second time today. Jon giggled, poking him in the cheek.
Technically its the third time. Hatchworth corrected with a raised index finger.
<<I didn't realize we were keeping Track.>>
I wasn't. Jon wiped the oil slicks off of Spine's face with his sleeve.
I was. Hatchworth interjected with a smart nod.
Are you crying over lil old- over lil old me? Rabbit started to chuckle again but had to pause. Clearing the leftover oil in his throat before taking a deep breath.
Definitely. Hatchworth nodded towards Rabbit.
Yea definitely... Jon agreed.
Peter V observed intently as the Robots chatted and joked back and forth. Watching for any more glitches or lapses in Rabbit. As time passed he seemed more stable, and his personality never wavered. But, from what he heard, Spine's didn't either. What would Rabbit know of the program in his vault? He hated to break their reunion. It had been so long since the 4 of them were in such high spirits. But the thought that even this could be a ploy by her, to ease them to trusting him again, rattled his nerves. He wanted the bots to be able to trust each other. Perhaps he could wait an hour or so, just let them enjoy each others company a little while longer.
And then Peter V said that I did an excellent job getting everyone home. Hatchworth rocked on his heels again.
Well that's great Ha-hatchy! Rabbit cheered, trying not to show how uncomfortable he was with the bars holding him down. Is Micheal alright then?
<<He's doing fine.>> Spine answered quickly so no one else could. <<His cast is coming off this week.>> No reason to bring up any of his other problems. Not now at least.
Spine told us a story about you. Jon exclaimed. It was awesome and cool. About a sorceress and a monster. He continued to re-tell the story enthusiastically, though not quite as beautifully as Spine had. As he spoke Rabbit's attention began to waver. His eyes turning towards the floor. He started to tighten his lips, his brow burrowed. Spine noticed it immediately, as well as Peter.
Hey... I was talking! Jon pouted.
<<Rabbit?>> Spine asked again. The worry creeping to his face, dismissing Jon's whine.
Yea I'm... I'm here... Rabbit sighed, still not turning his gaze from the ground. I'm trying ta r-remember... The program. 2671. He nodded slowly as it began to playback. It deleted my arm... the arm that hurts.
We gave you new programming... Peter V pointed out.
...Its different somehow... it hurts deeper... Rabbit's face twinged in pain. He tried to rotate his arm, clenching that fist. Even thinking about the pain made it grow again. He tried to block it out. Forcing his eyes wide as he continued to stare at the linoleum floor.
Do you remember what happened next? Peter prodded. Placing his index finger against his lips as he listened intently. This was what they needed to know. What only Rabbit could tell them.
Rabbit thought hard. I deleted it. He nodded, but still seemed puzzled. It was gone... and then... then she...
There was no sound, but visually it looked like something snapped inside of him. His eyes glazed over with a bright electrifying blue light, his mouth gaping in a soundless scream. His body convulsing under the straps. Peter immediately jumped to his side, trying to figure out what happened. His shaking hands reaching for Rabbit's switch when he heard a hard crash of metal behind him. Jon and Hatchworth began to screech.
DAD THE OTHERS!
He turned around quickly. His son standing over the bots, bouncing nervously to each one. Hatchworth had fallen to his knees, resting his forehead against the tile with his hands firmly clenched over his ears and howling in pain. Jon had his hands wrapped around his own head and burying it in Spine's shoulder. Trying to block out whatever was effecting them. Spine fell to one knee, baring his teeth through the pain. He wanted so badly to cover his own ears but he refused to lose his grip on Jon.
Don't touch them! Peter pulled his sons hands away from the bots, just imagining what happened to Micheal happening to him.
Well what do we do! Dad? DAD WHAT DO WE DO?!
This pain. Spine knew this pain. It was more intense this time around, but that's because it was what she did to Rabbit. But this wasn't fresh, this wasn't present. This was like a replay. Rabbit was unconsciously streaming it.
DR. WALTER! THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH QWERTY! Brianna's voice screamed over the intercoms. I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!
For a brief moment Peter V froze. The bots were in pain, screaming. His son frantic and screaming. Now Brianna scared and screaming. All asking him. What do we do? And he didn't know. For once he didn't know.
<<The. Wi. Fi.>> Spine forced the words through clenched teeth. He was surprised he could even get the oxygen in his system to form the words. But with all the screaming it seemed like no one could hear him. He had to muster the strength again.
EVERYONE JUST SHUT UP! You could hear the panic cracking in his voice. It was rare for him to yell, and even rarer to panic. The intercom continued to buzz loudly as Brianna waited for instructions. Peter VI had his hands over his mouth terrified. He had never seen the bots like this before, or his father without an idea.
Spine gripped Jon tighter as he trembled against his back. He forced his eyes open, expressing that bright green glow that caught Peter's attention. The engineer turned to him quickly, expectantly.
Brianna! Peter jumped to his feet to the intercom. Shut down the wifi!
The whole system!? She shrilled over Qwerty's frantic wailing.
SHUT!! IT!!! DOWN!!!!
In those seconds of waiting the noise seemed intensified. Every mechanical being attached to the wifi suffering through Rabbit's replay. The entire Walter Manor screaming in agony. It made the very walls shake. Then suddenly silence. The bots in front of them collapsed completely to the floor.
Hatchworth laid on his chest, arms spread against the floor with his eyes half open. Panting heavily as he tried to recover, trying to understand what had just happened. The Jon wrapped his arms tightly around Spines neck, sobbing into his shoulders as his body trembled. He was just too sensitive for such things. Spine had fallen to both knees. His face tight like a stone as he tried to hold it together, internalizing the pain. This was exactly what she did to Rabbit.
His eyes shot open. <<Rabbit!>>
The Peters came to the same conclusion, turning towards the source. Turning off the Wi-fi may have ended the connection with the other bots, but Rabbit was still trapped. Replaying and suffering through the most painful moment of his existence.