The cruel, biting, bitterly cold wind immediately assaulted all exposed skin as Commander Tarkington exited the rover. His boots crunched in the dry snow as others in his battalion followed suit, also climbing out of the massive vehicle, which was something of a cross between a Hummer and a tank.
It was April in Massachusetts, and yet a snowstorm was in full stride, but that was not uncommon anymore, ever since "The Asteroid." That's what it was most commonly called, but it also went by "Earth Killer," "Devil's Rock" or just simply "The Rock." But whatever it was called, it was directly responsible for this permanent winter the survivors had to suffer. Tarkington and his men, however, were responsible for sweeping up and down their assigned section of the Northeast searching for anything that could be of use to the decimated armed forces of the United States of America (which was not actually very "united" these days).
Tarkington pulled down the thick hood of his coat, his thin white hair whipped around by the wind as soon as he did. It got a hell of a lot colder but he needed better visibility. He looked around. All he could see was white everywhere, only broken up by some rooftops and tree tips here and there breaking through the thick layers of snow and ice. Those trees must have been mightily tall and those houses at least three stories high.
"Anything?!" he yelled.
"Actually, sir, I'm picking up a signal!" said Lieutenant Pechman, looking down at his hand held scanner. He walked a few yards to his left and pointed down. "Right here!"
"What kind of a signal?" Tarkington said as he crunched over to his resident communications and electronics expert. "Is something down there trying to communicate with us?"
Pechman shook his head. "Not sure! Maybe. But I think it's more like a beacon." He punched the screen of his scanner a few times. "I think it is from some sort of electronic device. Cell phone, GPS, uh, maybe even an iPod or something. But it's unlike anything I've ever seen before."
"How is it possible for it to be any of those things after all these years?" Tarkington demanded. "No battery lasts that long! And I can guarantee you nobody's alive down there to maintain them."
"Even if they could plug them in!" chimed in Corporal Chambers as she walked into the conversation. She had a scanner of her own, but she was looking for heat sources.
"I'm just telling you what I see," Pechman said. "There's something down there. It's probably operating on extremely low power. It's a weak signal. Maybe that's how it's not dead, using only minimal power."
"Any heat?" Tarkington asked Chambers.
Chambers frowned as she looked. "Actually there's a little bit of heat coming from right down there where the signal is coming from. I don't know how but it's there."
Tarkington yelled into his walkie-talkie. "DigDug!" (That was the nickname of Lieutenant Douglas, who operated the large mobile drilling machine following the rover.) "We have some buried treasure!"
"Powering up the drill, sir!" said a deep voice in response. The driller roared around the rover and pulled up near them.
Chambers pointed to a spot while looking at her scanner. "The house below is partially collapsed. He'll wanna dig here! We can safely enter that section of the house!"
"Dig where Chambers is pointing!" Tarkington barked into his walkie talkie. It didn't take long for Douglas and his massive drill to tunnel downwards right to the front door of the buried house. Once that was accomplished the team, led by Tarkington, shuffled down to that door. Their Commander tried to open it.
"Wouldn't you know!" he said while struggling with the knob. "Locked! Not frozen, mind you, but it's actually locked!"
"Gotta keep those intruders out!" joked Private Sanchez, who was in the back.
"Step aside," said Corporal Luggen - and Tarkington did. He lumbered over to the door. He was the lucky one who got to wear the super-strength hydraulic suit. It made him a good foot taller than the tallest member of the team, who was Douglas, when he was wearing it. It whined and whirred with every step.
Luggen, who was actually fairly buff even without the suit, smiled and said "Knock, knock!" before smashing the door to pieces with one effortless punch.
"Candy gram!" sing-songed Sanchez as they filed in behind Luggen.
Pechman rushed ahead with his scanner. "The signal's coming from the right here, in this room!" Fortunately the section of the house he was pointing to was not the collapsed part, the mountain of snow and smashed wood ahead of them.
Chambers swallowed as she saw the frozen body of a middle-aged man, his eyes open staring at a television, sitting deep into the living room couch. She quickly turned away and went on.
"We have a popsicle here!" Sanchez called out. "I don't think he's charging any batteries!"
"The small heat source is coming from the room Pechman is taking us to," Chambers said as they all walked toward it. The floor of the hallway leading to that room was covered in some kind of green, frozen liquid.
"What the hell is this stuff?" Pechman said, looking down in disgust.
"Somebody must've spilled a gigantic lime Slurpee when The Rock hit!" Sanchez suggested. "Probably Ice Man back there!"
"I don't think they ever made five gallon ones," Luggen said, looking downward.
Once they all entered the room they finally saw what they were looking for.
"It's a robot!" Pechman said. In the middle of the bedroom stood an orange, frost-covered, five-foot-tall robot, resembling something right out of an episode of The Jetsons with little red satellite-shaped ears sticking out the sides of its head and yellow lamp-shaped eyes with bulbs in the middle. A little red light on the top of its head pulsated on and off about every two seconds.
"Well I'll be damned," Tarkington muttered. He approached it. "Do you think maybe this thing still works? I wonder what it can do."
Chambers noticed another body, a young man in a desk chair in front of a computer, a miserable expression frozen on his long-dead face. He was partially covered in some of the green liquid they'd seen in the hall.
"Well, let's find out," Pechman said, pressing the touch screen of his scanner several times, "I think I can power it up. Looks like this thing was set up to be controlled via a bluetooth device of some sort. I've hacked the password. It was, uh, 'DAMN.' D-A-M-N."
"Let's do it!" Tarkington said. "This thing could be useful!"
Pechman firmly pressed his scanner one last time. Suddenly, the robot's eyes lit up. Inside of it fans started whirring, hard drives started crunching, and power supplies started whining. It turned its head to the right, and then to the left, as if assessing its visitors.
Pechman slowly walked up to it. "Um... robot? Do you speak? Are you... intelligent?"
The robot's mouth creaked open. The rest of the team looked upon it in wonder. For a moment everybody stood still in anticipation.
"Your eyes..." the robot said in a very slow, electronic, reverberating voice "... are..."
Pechman leaned in closer. "Are--?"
"...big pussy," the robot finished.
Pechman's face wrinkled in puzzlement. "What?!"
"BLEEARRRRGHHHHHH!" Suddenly the robot spewed about a liter of green fluid right in Pechman's face.
"Aw god dammit!" he yelled as he stumbled backwards, wiping it from his eyes. "What the hell?! What is this shit?!"
"What the hell kinda robot is this?" yelled Tarkington.
It turned its head toward the Commander. "Your boot is penis! BLEEAAAAAAAARRGGHH!" It spewed more of the strange green oil-like liquid at Tarkington. He dodged some of it as he quickly moved aside.
"I guess it's the kind that spits really dumb insults and green shit!" Sanchez said. "This stuff smells rancid!"
"BLEEEEEEEEERRRGH!" The robot spewed a stream over Pechman's head, arching right down to Sanchez's face, who subsequently began blurting out colorful responses. And then, just as Pechman finally got his eyes completely wiped off, it spit some more at him. "BLEEEARRGHH!"
"I hate this god damn robot!" he yelled. "I mean, who in their right mind would create THIS?!"
"This guy I guess!" Chambers said, nodding to the frozen young man in the chair. She looked down at her device. "Gavin David Richardson. Records say he's a graduate of MIT. I looked up the residents of this address. He fits the bill."
"Your cunt is hairy picnic," the robot said, turning to Chambers. Then he fired a stream at her. "BLEEEAAARRGHHH!" She squealed as she tried, and failed, to dodge it.
"This metal bastard is foul!" Sanchez yelled. Then, pandemonium ensued, as the robot continued to blurt out nonsensical and expletive-filled insults at everybody, also taking turns spitting the green liquid at them.
"Oh... NOW it's ON, muthafucka!" yelled Luggen as he looked down; some of the stinking green oil had gotten onto his super suit. He looked back up straight at the robot. "Your bucket-ass is MINE!" He lurched toward the robot.
"Your farts love gay feet," the robot said, rolling backwards.
"You know what, this thing is useless!" Tarkington said. "Destroy this god damn robot!"
"With pleasure, sir!" Luggen said, cocking back his right arm, the enhanced hand clenched into a fist.
The robot spit some more of the green stuff at him. "Your mother is frozen labia!" It backed away some more.
"Ain't NOBODY talkin about my mama like that!" said Luggen. "Even if it doesn't make any sense!" He lunged his fist forward and punched the robot, sending him flying backward and bouncing off the wall. It put a huge dent in its midsection, but didn't destroy it.
"What?!" Tarkington said. "He should be a pile of bolts!"
"Must be made out of titanium or something," Luggen said. He lurched forward to attack the robot again.
"Be careful, Luge!" yelled Chambers. "This structure is unstable. It could totally collapse!"
"I'm gone totally collapse this god damn robot!" Luggen said.
"F-f-frozen... llllllllabia," the robot said slowly as it began to tilt to the left.
BAM! Luggen punched its head off. It went bouncing around the room. Meanwhile its body slammed into the back wall. A low rumbling filled the room. "It's COLLAPSING!" Chambers yelled.
"Get out!" Tarkington commanded. "Everybody out quickly!"
Everybody, except Luggen, scampered out. Unfortunately for him the suit that made him super strong also made him slow. He turned to run out, too, but before he could the ceiling caved in on him. The snow, ice chunks, and debris surrounded him and buried him up to his head.
"Umph!" he grunted as he tried to move. It didn't hurt, as the suit had protected him well, but not even it was strong enough to break him out of the powerfully thick debris-filled packed snow.
"LLlllllaaaaaaabia," he heard a muffled voice say from below.
"GOD DAMN ROBOT!" Luggen grunted.