Chapter 121

                Of all the things Titan had seen the robots do since arriving in Brewster, talking had never been among their bag of tricks. Hearing the robot angrily yell at him in recognition was enough to take even Titan by surprise, which was why he was a few seconds slow in raising his arm to stop the giant metal fist flinging itself toward him. He did manage a half-block, not that it made much difference, as the blow sent him spiraling through the air until he crashed into a nearby wall, leaving a sizable dent in the dense material.

                If the talking had been a surprise, then the robot moving him was a downright shocker. True, he hadn’t been properly braced for the attack, but he still should have been able to compensate for such a strike. It hadn’t even felt that strong, really. At least not compared to attacks from some of the more powerful Supers he’d brought down through the years. Yet he’d gone sailing like he was still fresh out of the HCP, and that was no small feat for anyone to accomplish.

                “Do we know each other?” Titan asked, hurriedly rising to his feet and getting into a proper fighting stance. A surprise attack was one thing, he’d be damned if he let this metal bastard toss him around so easily again.

                “I know you. Ever since you appeared, the game has been tilted. You are an unbalanced resource, and must be removed from the board. Father searched the enemy archives for every bit of data and video about you, Titan, then he gave me strength and knowledge so that I could destroy you.” Again, the robot charged, not even messing up a syllable in its rant as it dashed across the floor. Another punch, this one on track for Titan’s head, but the metal opponent no longer had the advantage of surprise.

                Titan grabbed the fist as it drew near him, spinning the arm over his shoulder as he aimed to throw the robot into the wall. It tried to counter instantly, showing that perhaps the speech about knowing his moves hadn’t been a bluff, but the trouble was that every counter it attempted relied on taking control of the movement or breaking Titan’s grip, and the strength difference between them was just too much for it to overcome.

                A loud cracking filled the air as the robot’s torso smashed into the wall, eclipsing Titan’s dent with one of its own. Rather than lie there, or try and break the firm grip he still had on its arm, the robot kicked its legs against the wall. It was a small motion, and at the angle where it lay leverage was almost impossible, which was why Titan was all the more shocked as they both went spinning through the air. In his moment of confusion, the arm in his clutches slipped away, and suddenly they both landed to the ground several feet apart.

                “You’ve got one of those gravity distortion things,” Titan said, understanding finally setting in. “That’s how you sent me flying before.”

                “One of the many tools I was equipped with to bring you down.” The robot couldn’t smile; its facial features weren’t constructed in such a way to accommodate expressions. All the same, Titan could swear there was something like a grin on its face as he watched his handprint on its arm slowly undent. Great, this one had the self-repair capacity too.

                “You are an improper variable, Titan. The abilities you possess alone are imbalanced, but far worse is the effect you have on other enemy resources. Small threats became larger, and non-threats became tremendously unbalanced assets in their own right. The common link at the scenes was you. You can sway the tide of engagements, and so I was made especially to counter-act your presence.”

                “Yeah? They should have put more pistons in your arms then, I can barely even feel your attacks,” Titan replied. Something wasn’t sitting easy with him. This robot had to know that in terms of power, it was massively inferior to him. Yet it didn’t seem rattled in the slightest. If anything, it was cocky. That was strange enough, who built dickishness into a simulated personality? But obviously there was some hidden card yet to be played, and the robot seemed to think it would turn things around.

                “Not even with all the resources Father has collected was he able to fashion a creature to match your strength,” the robot agreed. “But not every engagement needs to be won by force. And not every punch is just a punch.”

                His feet were off the floor before he had a chance to so much as grab for the ground, not that it would have helped as he rose rapidly into the air. Titan groped and spun, trying to wriggle free of whatever force was holding him captive. The trouble was, there didn’t seem to be anything to fight against. It was like the strings keeping him anchored to the ground had been cut, and now he was just drifting in place with no method of moving forward.

                “Though this last engagement was lost, Father gained a tremendous amount of data in the battles. I am the first of the next line. Rushed and imperfect though I may be, I was still gifted with the newest innovations Father could conceive of. In this case, he was inspired by the way you all crawled about in his mighty destroyer units, so he began producing insect-sized units that could be easily planted on an enemy. Normally, they would burrow into the skin, destroying the resource from the inside out. In your case, however, they serve as precise targeting locations, allowing the room’s gravity distorter to manipulate your local field just perfectly enough to remove you from the battle.”

                Titan whipped his gaze around, catching sight of a small, ant-sized speck of metal as it moved between the burned away sections of his shirt. As he did, he also took notice of the room again, this time with fresh eyes. All the moved and broken furniture, which he’d assumed was cleared away for a slug-fest, only now he understood the real purpose. The robot had taken away anything he might use to grab and navigate with. This room too, with its high domed ceiling, had probably been selected for the task. Even the robot’s appearance, bulky and muscular, had been meant to lure him in with melee expectations. The whole thing was a giant trap, and he’d stepped right into it like a damn rookie.

                “So, what now?” Titan asked. His mind worked furiously as he tried to figure out what to do next. The projectiles he kept for such occasions were still in a compartment on his belt, but with how resilient these robots were there was no guarantee that even a perfect throw would take his opponent down. He needed to think of something, and soon. “You going to use me as a punching bag until you build up enough strength to do some damage? If you’re supposed to destroy me, this is a pretty piss-poor job of it.”

                “Oh, have no fear; there are some new weapons Father wants to test that you’ll make an excellent guinea pig for. But that comes later. And as for destroying you, a captured enemy asset is a neutralized asset. That will do until a permanent solution can be found. In the meantime, we both know you’re not the only enemy who is attempting to assail Father’s base.” The robot turned, looking down the hallway where Deadlift would be still waiting on a signal from Titan to move forward.

                “I’ll handle you after I’m done neutralizing the rest of your fellow assets.”