Deacon’s car sputtered down the highway toward the dense forest where he saw the falling object crash. The trees were high and filled the area until it blocked the sun causing an instant darkness; at seven o’clock it was pitch black. The only thing that aided him for light was the car’s headlights.

He veered off the road into the grass that surrounded the forest. The car kept firing off a loud noise from the exhaust and any animal in the vicinity will instantly dart off away from it, obviously thinking it’d be a gun of some kind.

A faint orange hue shined from the dark forest among the dense trees, but thankfully the flame seemed to be subdued preventing any wildfire from happening.

The curious man parked his car by the “entrance” of the forest to make the rest of his trek on foot to avoid any accidents. He stepped quietly toward the crashed object with his smartphone flashlight shining the path in front of him. As usual, it was littered with scrapped cars and other automobiles that people decided to abandon after they were beyond possible repair.

The place where machines were left to die.

Each step grew closer to the orange hue and every inch made the light brighter than when he first arrived to the site.

A loud screeching noise caused him to hide from whatever was there. Deacon’s heart began to pound hard against his chest almost like it wanted to turn tail and run away from the sound.

“What the hell was that?!” Deacon tried to catch his breathing as quietly as he could to avoid detection from whatever was beyond the trees.

His phone rang with its chime that notified him about getting a text message. The innocent sound was louder in the woods than it was in his living room. He quickly drew out his phone to silence it, but the message that appeared gave him pause. His face was shown through the light of his screen as he stared at his phone with his eyes and mouth wide open.

The message read: Who is there?

“Who saw me?” Deacon crouched to blend in with the trees as well as he could.

He sent back a message asking for his name.

Nothing. Things began to horrifyingly turn.

Again, the sound of metal screeching gave Deacon the chills while he tried his best to avoid the person or thing that was there.

“What did I get myself into?” Deacon whispered to himself. “I should’ve just ignored it and went to bed.”

Another message buzzed into his phone: Help me.

“Help you?” Deacon read the message then narrated his reply, “I don’t even know who you are. How did you get my number?!”

He waited for a response; the paranoid young man looked over his shoulder to avoid any unnecessary surprises.

Another message appeared: Walk toward me.

Every fiber of his being wanted to turn the other way. Just run as fast as he could then drive off forgetting every single thing that has happened so far. That’s what he thought about; instead he followed the message and assumed it was from the crashed object. His footsteps quickly marched to the object in order to see who needed his aid.

Another metal screeching sound woke the birds that were nesting above the trees. A large group of wings flapped quickly to escape from the disturbance. The screeching was slower than the other noises before it. The smell of burnt wires soon began to emerge from the trees.

“Is it a ship?” Deacon wondered. “Definitely has to be a ship.”

His guess was soon discovered to be wrong when he found the origin of the shooting star that crash landed on his routine.

A message buzzed again: Help me.

The screeching noise sounded again followed by two red lights.

“Oh damn, oh damn, oh damn!” Deacon quickly retreated back to the trees to avoid the red eyes. “It’s one of them! Those Shadow Cannon soldiers!”

His phone buzzed again, but the scared young man chose to ignore it while he thought through his options. Nothing looked good to him; each review of his scenario resulted in him getting killed in some way that he would rather not repeating out loud.

He let out a sigh then slowly walked out of the trees toward the machine.

“Are you the one sending me these messages?” Deacon held up his phone.

The robot nodded while it held its arm over its chestplate. The impact may have did some minor damage to it, but something else gave it the gaping hole that it was now tending.

“You do know that you’re bad guy, right?” Deacon slowly walked up to the large robot. “Helping you is pretty much a death sentence.

The robot whirred softly and nodded again.

Deacon’s phone buzzed: I won’t tell if you don’t.

“Humor. This robot knows humor. Just my luck.” Deacon scoffed, “I can’t believe I’m going to ask this, but can you show me your wound?”

The machine slowly moved its hand away from the sparking hole in its chestplate. The hole wasn’t clean through the robot, but it still looked bad enough to cause any future issues that could affect its basic motor functions, such as exterminating an entire city.

“Well, I don’t know what you got into fight with, but looks like it won.” Deacon said while he shined his phone’s flashlight around the hole to see what was salvageable. “There’s nothing I can do about it right now without my tools. Do you mind waiting here? Then again not like you have a choice.”

The robot nodded with an affirming whir.

Deacon’s phone buzzed: Please hurry.

“Well, I’ll try my best. Just try not to blow anything up.” Deacon sighed. “If I help you, will you leave this town and not kill us?”

Another message got to his phone: Yes.

“Alright then. Just give me about an hour.” Deacon checked his phone to make sure he was right about his trip estimate.

#

Deacon arrived back at his house with his car sputtering to a complete stop and headlights lighting up the garage. He rushed to his workstation where he had some various tools from his projects that he never bothered to complete like a vacuuming robot, some app that would keep tabs on a pet, and a motorcycle that ran on social media likes. The only things he felt that were needed was a USB cable, a plasma saw, a miniature welder, and some splice connectors to aid him with the wounded robot.

“Damn.” Deacon grabbed a bag from under his workstation. “I really hope this is all I need.”

Hopping back into his car; he sped off toward the forest to see what he was able to accomplish with his limited materials.

#

The sputtering car stopped once again at the forest where the robot still sat with its hand holding the wound. Without wasting anymore time, Deacon exited the car and ran to the machine with his tool bag in tow.

“Alright I need to connect this plug into your hard drive, where do you have it?” Deacon pulled out his USB cable from the bulky bag.

The robot whirred then pointed at the back of its neck where the port was located.

The young man connected the USB port to the hard drive and his phone to view the contents on it to diagnose any issues that occurred when it got wounded.

He looked at the main folder that said “Project Ragnarok”, a name that didn’t give him any comfort, but opened it nonetheless. Using his fingers, he scanned through the various folders and libraries to locate any code that can give him a sign to where the damage was mostly popping up.

“Well, Mr. Ragnarok,” Deacon sighed while he looked at his phone. “You look like someone had a field day with you. You’re code is so buggy thanks to your friend who shot you.”

His phone buzzed: Ragnarok?

“Yeah, that’s what it said on your source code. Basically it means ‘End of the World’ in the Norse mythology.”

Another message: World… end?

“Yeah, I guess Ragnar can work. Sounds less… world end-y.”

Ragnar shrugged in a half-agreeing tone.

“Luckily for you.” Deacon pulled out his plasma saw. “All you need is a band-aid.”

Deacon searched for some scrap metal around the forest and with the wide selection of cars it wasn’t going to be much of a challenge. Holding his plasma saw and showing a large smile, Deacon began to cut off pieces of automobiles that he felt made the cut as a patch for his patient.

After close to an hour, he managed to grab himself a vast collection of would-be patches for Ragnar. He dragged each of them back to the machine and laid them out on the ground for him.

“Take your pick.” Deacon used his flashlight to show Ragnar the selection of metal, ranging from the rusty, dystopian look to the polished white perfection.

Ragnar took his time to make his pick, but soon chose a bright red matte look to compliment his gunmetal shell.

“Alright then.” Deacon pulled out some splicing connectors to put back the wiring that was split apart from the damage. While he peeked inside he noticed a high-caliber bullet lodged inside the wound. After some use of his elbow grease, he managed to pull it out.

The bullet was about as wide as his palm and as long as hand. The shooter meant business when he fired at Ragnar. The wiring was soon organized after another hour of trying to match the pair of damaged wires, easily making his whole night complicated.

“Now hold this over the hole.” Deacon pointed at the red panel that Ragnar had picked with his other hand holding pair of goggles.

Ragnar followed the order and planted the panel over his wound while Deacon welded it on to the chestplate. The light was bright enough to light up the surrounding darkness with some quick strobes of brightness. Deacon’s hand moved slowly as he moved his miniature welder to get every inch of the panel attached to the chestplate.

“Good as new.” Deacon smiled. His goggles blocked his eyes, but he was exhausted from the work. He reached for his phone and cable again to make sure the hardware in Ragnar’s chest was working with the code written in his hard drive.

The phone screen loaded with the folders that he originally opened and saw some of the buggy code vanishing when he compiled it again. That would’ve been the end of it, but more messages appeared on the console saying that some of the functions were not being read.

Deacon grew curious and tapped onto the console message to pull up the folder. The code read well, but most of it was missing. Whatever was there as Ragnar’s main function was erased. The missing code wasn’t affecting Ragnar or its basic movement, so Deacon was okay with leaving it be.

“Alright looks like I’m finished here. You remember our deal, right?” Deacon unplugged the cable from the large machine’s head.

Ragnar stood up from the ground and stood up easily towering the young man. The height looked like an easy twelve feet. The robot looked down to stare at Deacon leaving him with an uncomfortable feeling.

“I’m going to assume that you remember our deal.” Deacon nervously chuckled. “You know, the one about you not… killing… us. Bye.”

Deacon quickly walked to his car and reversed out of the forest then sped off back to the highway that led to the city. He looked at the rear-view mirror and saw the two red eyes still fixed on him as they grew smaller from the gaining distance.

“What a creepy robot.” Deacon said to himself with a shudder going through his body. “The last thing I need is this guy sneaking up to my house in my sleep ready to kill me.”

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