“But I don’t want to take over the world,” Ace said meekly.
His master didn’t seem to hear Ace for he continued pulling strange devices off of shelves and out of drawers, naming them as he went. Ace watched the pile of strange machinery and weapons grow larger as each new object was set down in front of him.
“Your typical ray gun,” Arcel said, plopping a bright blue weapon in front of Ace, “and this over here is a motion triggered explosive. Don’t worry it’s not activated. Ah, this, my dear boy, is a dematerializer!”
“But I don’t want to take over the world,” Ace repeated, slightly louder.
“That's what evil scientists do,” Arcel said, dropping a strange cog-like wheel in front of Ace.
“I don’t want to be an evil scientist.”
“We’re sometimes referred to as mad scientists,” Arcel said, missing the point, “Well, if you’re not interested in the fine arts of weapons, I can show you around the chemical station or the genetically altered animals.”
Arcel grabbed his apprentice’s arm and pulled him out the large metal doors to the outside. The yard was full of glass boxes with strange plants growing in each one. Chain link fences and cages stacked high held animals of all shapes and sizes, along with some people as well. A dirt path zigzagged through the exhibits and an electric fence bordered the grounds. Through the fence, Ace could see the city far below them. Arcel always said mad scientists should live on high, forest-filled mountains where lightning often struck.
Arcel dragged the boy along, pointing and explaining vivid colored plants with eyes and trees with feathers. He introduced Ace to captive humans with animal ears and animals with human ears. Scales traveled up some of the fuzzy creatures’ bodies while others had seven to eight arms. Ace flinched as a clawed hand swiped through the bars in one of the cages, trying to gouge his eyes out.
Arcel stopped a few feet away from a long stonewall stretching the length of the yard. A small orange tabby cat with four ears was curled up on it. It’s ears twitched and it opened an eye, looking annoyed. Arcel knelt down, looked to Ace, and said, “Now, Ace, what every evil scientist needs is a companion. Sometimes apprentices aren’t enough, don’t you agree?”
“Yes, Arcel,” Ace lied.
Satisfied, Arcel turned his gaze back to the cat lying on the wall. “Here, girl! Come here!” He whistled, “Heeere.”
The four-eared cat raised her head lazily, swished her tail, and put her head back down, uninterested. Arcel scowled. “You’ll need a better one. A loyal companion, like a machine! Yes, with no mind of it’s own, how could it act out?” Arcel got up and scooped the cat off the wall, “Yes, a robot companion. Wouldn’t you like that?”
Ace bit his lip, “Yes, Arcel.”
Ace was only five when his parents passed away and Arcel took him in. Arcel has been like a father to him ever since and he finally decided it was time for the child to take over the family business. Ace just couldn’t tell him no.
Arcel headed back to the lab with Ace trailing close behind. He dropped the cat on one of the shelves where she glared at him and began licking herself, knowing full well that humans are covered in germs. Arcel motioned Ace to sit down, and then began pulling out scrap metal from their various homes. He assembled them together, replaced a piece or two, used glue here, used a nail there, welded this, melted that, reassembled them, added more pieces, took some out, and made the table a mess with the clutter. It wasn’t until Arcel was nearly done that the mechanical creature looked like something that wasn’t a pile of trash.
When he completed the task, Arcel inserted a battery in a small area and closed the lid over it. He backed up and looked proudly to Ace. “Well?”
It sort of looked like a tin can on wheels with a box thing for a head. Everything else was beyond describing, even it's little arms. “Well…it’s…uhh,” Ace stuttered.
“What do you want to name it?"
Ace jumped back in shock when the robot backed up and turned to Ace. It tilted it's head and waved. “Can it, uhh… well, can it see?”
“Of course!” Arcel patted the bot on the head. It started to make a whirring noise and Ace could swear it was purring. “It would be a crime to rob an innocent robot of his sight.”
The mechanical companion looked to Ace again, then rubbed against his arm like a cat. Ace backed away and the bot fell off the table. Arcel scooped it up again. “Well? What name would you give it?”
Ace cringed as Arcel handed him the robot. “What would you call it?”
“Hmm,” Arcel thought for a moment, “Bucket.”
“Nice ring to it, matches it’s physical traits. Yes, Bucket would work just fine.”
Bucket blinked at Ace and he patted it on the head like Arcel did. "He's cute."
"Mad scientists don't do cute," Arcel replied, "There's still so much for you to learn and there's no time to waste. Someday, Ace, you and Bucket will take over the world."
Arcel turned and walked away. Ace looked down to Bucket and Bucket gave him a stare that Ace could swear said, "But I don't want to take over the world."