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Shotgun Betterments - a business beyond expectations

Chapter Text

She was getting mad. How dared he to shrug it off like that?

“But I did all the work!! Raymond and Jethro messed everything up!! It’s not MY FAULT they’re such idiots! I DESERVE to be Senior Deputy!”

Shannon’s wires were literally fuming, while Lord Cowboy Darrell watched it rather unimpassioned. There was a hint of a smile on his face.

“If so, I guess you’ll have to try a little harder Shannon.” Darrell said shrugging, having an arch smile on his face.

“That bibble has MY NAME ON IT!!” His robotic sister yelled, as two lesser Darrells were starting to take her out of his office with unimpressed expressions on their faces “No WAIT! You can’t just kick me OUT! I’m not done with this! AARRGH!”

He uttered a sigh and leaned back in his chair. “Back to the important stuff!” He soliloquized cheerfully, grabbing a crayon from the table, when he was interrupted by a familiar voice.

“Hello Darrell.” Startling a little, he accidentally drew a line on his paper

“…Dang!... Oh! Hi Cosma!” Darrell responded in a friendly way, seeing the reptilian woman on the videophone.

“Am I intruding?”

“We don’t have a meeting…” He replied unsuitably plain while putting one of his fingers on his chin “sooo…yeah, kinda.”

“I’m calling for a reason.” She explained calm yet firmly “You know we are very satisfied with what you did with this company.”

“I know! We are actually selling since I took over.” Darrell said smugly, pointing both his thumbs towards himself as the robot placed his feet on his office table.

“The most successful business concern on the market is V&V Industries at this point. Boxmore takes the second place…” Darrell didn’t feel that confident anymore all of the sudden. He got a tiny bit smaller in his chair. He opened his mouth to say something, but Cosma kept going.

“They have been market leader for years. We think there might be a possibility of a merging.”

„…Merging?!” Darrell put his feet back on the ground rapidly, sitting straight up in his chair…Why?? Boxmore is running perfect on its own! The sales are better than ever!...You…said that yourself!”

Cosma kept a straight face. His reaction was no surprise to her.

“There’s very good chance a fusion would increase the potential of this company a lot more.”

“Bu-uh!...” “I would urgently advice you to avoid potential competitions like these, IF you want this company to stay efficient, Darrell.” Cosma added with a particular emphasis in her voice that made it clear she wasn’t actually advising.

Even though he didn’t like that idea at all, the robot also knew contradicting Cosma could end up…messy. So he just crossed his arms, pouting, staring stolidly into space. The corner of his mouth twitched slightly.

“I arranged an appointment with V&V at twelve tomorrow.”

“…W-WHA?!-” Darrell stuttered dumbfounded, staring at Cosma big-eyed “But-! You-!!”

“Keep up the good work.” She added with a hint of a smile and ended the call.

Leaving him with these words, Darrell just sat there bewildered. He clawed the elbow rest of his chair, causing a bloodcurdling screech. He hit one of the buttons on his speaker. “Ernesto! Bring me my DESSERT!!” Lord Cowboy Darrell ordered indignantly.

Chapter Text

„What’s taking him so long?? It’s nearly lunchtime!” Shannon griped, putting her cell phone aside in an annoyed manner.

“Me nye meme ne nyeme.” “Yeah!” “Why worry sister? I’m clearly the winner of today’s competition!” Raymond replied snobbishly with a contemptuous smile.

She faked a laugh “In your dreams! You wouldn’t win anything with that failed attempt.”

He gasped with indignation

“How dare you insult my chef d’oeuvre!?...You’re just aggrieved because brother prefers me!

“No he doesn’t!” She contradicted irritated.

“I am Jethro!”

“What would you know Jethro??”

The siblings heard the speaker crackle, as everybody froze, not uttering another word.

„Okay Junior Deputys! Time to deliver the winner of today’s competition!”

The siblings were waiting eagerly, shaking in excitement for the result, any of them ready to leap with joy and rub their victory in the other’s faces.

“Y’all tried your best to win this baking challenge! But there can only be one winner, which is…” The tension grew unbearably strong in the room.

“…Jethro!”

“SERIOUSLY???” Shannon shouted furiously, jumping on her feet.

“This…THIS IS PREPOSTROUS!” Raymond cried upset, while Jethro on the other hand enjoyed himself as the winner. He wasn’t exactly leaping, but spinning around masterfully. Then he left the others in a dust cloud caused by his track wheels. Shannon and Raymond were coughing.

“For the rest of you, try harder next time!” He finished the announcement.

“That’s done.” Darrell said with a hint of relief. He pushed a button on his desk, making everything that was on it disappear into it. All that was left was a cup of screws.

As the signal for lunch break blew, Boxmore’s entrance hall was quickly completely deserted.

Everyone had left to enjoy their break – everyone except Ernesto. Ernesto 8122 to be precise. He was the lucky one to stay at the information office during his lunch break today.

He sighed tiredly, resting his head on his robotic hand. Then, the purple robot looked around, making sure he really was alone. He pulled a book out which book shelf said ‘I am OK – how to overcome your self-doubts’. Ernesto opened the book and switched back into his previous position, when the entrance doors of Boxmore opened.

“Lord Cowboy Darrell Sir, your… appointment is here…” A speaker sounded.

“Send them in Ernesto 8122!” He responded as firm as possible. The CEO put his hat in the right place, having an expression of discontent on his face.

Trying to appear confident, Ernesto8122 was leading the guest to Lord Cowboy Darrell’s office. He wasn’t very convincing at it unfortunately.

Even though the corridors were pretty much deserted, Ernesto felt like everyone was staring at them.

Darrell heard a knock on his door.

“Come in.”

The dimmed room was illuminated by the light from the hallway as the door opened...

Chapter Text

Lord Cowboy Darrell was turning around in his chair, having a grass stalk in his mouth.

Half of his face was covered with his hat, so that only the lower half of it could be seen.

The guest crossed their arms behind their back, wincing a little bit, pushing a little lever on the helmet-like gismo which protected their head. 

“Welcome,” he raised his head “Mister – “

Darrell froze at the sight of the person in front of him, his expression turning blank with a hint of astonishment. It seemed that Mister was no Mister at all.

He watched the gismo turning into something that looked like a simple hair clip, ending up as a nice accessory on her dark blue braid. 

A smug played on her lips, still standing there as straight as a die with her arms crossed behind her back.

 

“…M-Miss”

“Vail.” She answered with confidence “Cassidy June Vail.”

“…Why don’t you…sit! Miss Vail!” He blurted, pushing a button under his desk. A chair appeared from the bottom.

Miss Vail collapsed into it, causing the chair to go back a little.

Darrell took the cup next to him, averting his eye. This was messing with his programming. The robot definitely didn't expect his appointment to be a female, one-eyed being. It was...super awkward . 'Stick to your plan.' He told himself, clearing his throat.

“Well, Miss Va-“

He interrupted himself, noticing with discomfort that his client was resting her elbow on the table, staring at him with prying eyes...pardon, prying EYE, and a smirk on her lips.

The slight startle she gave him caused a few of the screws to jump out of his cup. One of them landed on the table, rolling her way. Miss Vail picked it up, moving it to and fro between her fingers. “…You wanted to say something?” There was still a small smile on her lips as her gaze went from the screw back to the CEO.

“I believe ya got a deal for me.” Darrell said haughtily, putting his boots on the table with a thud. He put another grass stalk between his lips and crossed his arms behind his head.

The female leaned back in her chair, dropping her gaze on her metallic hand.

“Right.” She said with a crooked smile and raised her eye to him again “I should like to say, what you did was quite impressive.”  Somehow, the way she said it didn’t really add up with the wording. Lord Cowboy Darrell however kept staring straight ahead lackadaisical.

“It takes a lot to fire his own creator… his own….Daddy into the sun and take his place.”

Darrell swallowed, sinking almost unnoticeably deeper into his chair.  Almost.

He had to get rid of this scene, this memory which had been repeating itself in his mind since he was gone.

Or else it would spoil his plan.

He managed to fall back into his previous expression, saying: “You got that right.“

Miss Vail was browsing the office in the meantime. Her look rested on a big painting, hanging on the wall on her left.  She eyed it up.

“Did you do this?” She asked.

“Lord Boxman did.” He answered unsmiling.

The corners of her mouth were going up again.

“Mh-mh…not bad at all!” The female replied “a bit…tacky perhaps.” She added pertly while shrugging.

Lord Cowboy Darrell’s indignation emerged through an unintended squeak escaping his mouth.

Miss Vail chuckled, while he tried to keep his coolness.

The CEO put his arms back down on the elbow rests of his chair, his hands clutching the somewhat grotesque glass domes of the heads of past lesser Darrells. He faced her.

“I’ve never seen ya around before Miss Vail,” the robot said with a hint of condescension “Who are ya exactly?

“Well, you might want to have a look at…”The female began, reaching into her coat and rummaged for something. She eventually pulled out her identity card, better known as POW cards in the hero and villain scene, “…my POW card.”

 She moved it over to him in a nearly generous way, similar to giving a dollar to a beggar.

He darted a short glance at the card and whipped it up. Looking it over, a gleeful smile flitted across his face.

“I gue-“

“Are these guys like…dead?” The female asked. Miss Vail was staring in his direction with a pondering look on her face “I mean…could they…reactivate themselves and overthrow you? Really, if one of the other…Darrells took your place it wouldn’t even attract attention, right?” She snorted, while Lord Cowboy Darrell just stared at her stunned, his lower eyelid twitching slightly. His mind was similar to a bubbling cauldron at that stage; you could even hear the whistle. Although perhaps it was just the signal for ending the lunch break. 

 “Would be quite ironic actually-“

“SILENCE!!” The CEO yelled exasperated, putting his feet back to the ground. The female winced, but kept her smile.

“How dare you interrupting me?!” He shouted wrathfully.

Cassidy looked at him with an unfazed expression.

“Isn’t that what you just did?” She asked smugly.

“Sir!”, his speaker sounded, preventing him from blasting Miss Vail out of his office “There’s a costumer on the line who wants to talk to -”

Lord Cowboy Darrell hit the button and inhaled, when he suddenly stopped.

“Tell them I’ll be right with’em.” He said with a sly smile on his lips.

“Duty calls, Miss Vail.” Darrell said contemptuous, looking back at the female “Lesser Darrells!”

“Yes, Lord Cowboy Darrell!” Two highly motivated robots responded saluting, seemingly appearing out of nowhere. 

 “Show Miss Vail to the door, will ya?.”

Cassidy got up, stretching.

“Well, this meeting was most educating,” She said smirking, as the female threw the little screw in her hand up, catching it with her mouth.

Miss Vail linked her arms with those of the lesser Darrell’s. They looked a little surprised.

“I sure hope…scrunch...we can do this again some…scrunch…time!”

Lord Cowboy Darrell was watching with a cold, imperious expression while his lesser robots were taking Miss Vail out of his office. Or was she taking them out of the office? It didn’t matter.

The door clicked shut and Darrell dropped his head on the table.  He heaved a deep sigh.

That definitely didn’t go as planned.

“Sir…?” His speaker sounded again. The Call! The robot sat up, as he spotted something on his table that shouldn’t be there. He narrowed his eye.

“Lord Cowboy Darrell? Sir?”

“Put them through, Ernesto…”

 

 

She pulled the door shut.

“…What did you get?”

“The high and mighty type, almost autocratic, quick tempered, immature...somehow.” She told amused.

“There seem to be only two types of robots actually working in the factory. His own and another model called Ernesto. Oh and…” She interrupted herself, chuckling, “He has some serious daddy issues, that’s for sure.”

“Did you leave the prototype?”

“Of course.”

“Good. We need to know what that Lord Cowboy Darrell is made of.”

 

 

Chapter Text


"Psh!"

'...look at these lofty heroes, fancying themselves.' The female thought amused, as she entered the shop, looking around. She almost looked like them with the long, blue cape, her yellow body suit, black wig and the overknee boots she was wearing. Her face was half covered with a glasses.

'...Let's cause some mischief...' A sneer formed on her lips as she was heading for the magazines. On the way she nearly tripped over a small person. He carried a box in his hands.

"Hi fellow hero I've never seen before! Welcome to Gar's Hero Supply and Bodega! MayIhelpyouwithanything??" The kid asked eagerly, dropping the box.

"Nah, I'm just...browsing."

"Okay! I'm K.O. bye the way!" The little boy held his hand out like a drawn sword. She started to grin broadly, squeezing his hand.

"Woah! You must be super powerful!" K.O. exclaimed amazed, feeling a noticeable electric shock going through his arm "What's your name? Are you a new hero?"

She opened her mouth, before she closed it again, pursing her lips.

Cassidy had to admit to herself that it could've been prudent to think of a fake name before entering a hero store.

"K.O.!"

"Yes Mister Gar Sir!" He saluted.

"Quit keeping the costumers from buying!"

"Welp, thanks for the hand kid." She said with a smile and moved along.

"Uhm..." He looked blank for a moment, before he blurted a heartwarming "Glad I could help!" and returned to his duties.

 

Right next to Cassidy stood another hero, a skeleton. He was flipping through one of the magazines. The girl peeked at him, browsing. He put it back and wanted to grab another one, when she snatched it from under his...skull.

"Hey! I-"

"Oh! Did you want this?" She said fake-guilty, thrusting it into his hand "I'm terribly sorry!" The girl added with a crooked smile, touching his shoulder and walked away.

"...Thanks?" RMS answered confused, shuddering a little.

Cassidy spotted a pile of cans, neatly stacked on the top of each other. There was a blue guy standing beside with his back to it, using his powers to restock racks.

"Whoops!"

CRASH!

"Aw man! It took me like forever to stack those!" Rad complained as he swung around, seeing his work destroyed.

"Oooh!" She moaned, putting her hand on her forehead "Oh no! I'm so sorry I fell into your so neatly stacked can tower!" She said in a dramatical way. He sighed.

"It's cool...Let me get ya up." Rad replied, pulling her up.

"Thanks!" The girl said squeezing his hand with a grin and left.

"You're... welcome." He said and looked down at his hand distracted, moving his fingers slightly.

 

"May I?!" She pushed herself through a group of three heroes.

The villainess strode up to the chips.

"S'cuse me!" Cassidy uttered, actuating the sauce dispencer while Brandon's hand was still on the lever.

"Hey, watch-!"

"Sorry, those passages are so narrow!"

"...What passages?!" He babbled irritated, before he even could get really mad.

 

Cassidy was just on her way to the counter when an alarm started to blare. Some people started to panic, while some ran outside.

"Welp, let's see what we got today." The counter-girl said, skipping her.                                                                                                                                  Literally, she turned a somersault over Cassidys head and ran outside along with the other two employees.

The girl watched a box landing in front of the store. Three robots emerged from it.

 

"Prepare for your demise!!" Shannon shouted maliciously, pushing Raymond to the side, who growled in response.

"Ha! Don't tell me you're still fightin' over that bibble??" Rad scoffed.

"So Darrell hasn't appointed a Senior Deputy yet huh?" Enid added dry-witted.

They laughed.

 

"No Way!" Cassidy snorted with laughter, spitting out some of her chips. She was watching the whole scenario through the window.

 

"Aren't you guys getting tired of this?" K.O. asked.

"That's none of your benchwarmers' business!" Raymond retorted, attacking.

It didn't take much time until all three robots were defeated. Cassidy could have felt bad for them, but it was way too hilarious.                                                          Plus she was a Cyborg and sympathy wasn't really included in her databank.

The door opened.

"But seriously, what was that guys?? I basically took them out all by myself!" Enid said serio-comical.

"I dunno...I feel kinda...worn out." Rad responded.

"Sorry Enid..." K.O. apologized.

 

'Mh...Interesting.' Cassidy thought to herself with a smug. She threw the empty chips box behind her back and headed outside, before the female stopped herself. The Cyborg engraved something into the glas with her metallic fingers and left, sniggering derisively.

Chapter Text

"Hi boss!" he was greeted by another lesser version of himself, as he was doing his regular round through the factory. Lord Cowboy Darrell wore a contended smile on his face, his arms crossed behind his back.

The manufacturing worked flawless.

No registered complaints.

Everything was fine.

And to keep it this way, it was vital to check. Regularly. He did that once every day lately.

Well, twice today. There was no such thing as being too diligent, right?

Arriving back at his office, Darrell closed the door behind him. He sat down, turning around in his chair with a bored look on his face.

As his gaze went to the drawer of his office table, curiosity was growing in his eye.

No! It was best just to leave it in there, along with that card. The robot turned around, staring through the open blinds of his window.

He didn't want to deal with that company in the first place. Even if spoiling things with the most successful business concern on the market meant getting roasted by Cosma, which certainly wasn't a pretty thought.

He WAS successful! He didn't need any other companies to be...efficient.

He was Ace-High on his own and no one would tell him otherwise.

But there was no way the head of V&V would want a merging after that meeting anyway.

So his mission was accomplished. There would be no deal. The case was closed.

 

TicticticticticticTICTIC...

Darrell drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair restlessly.

"Mh!" He leaned back, trying to abandon that subject out of his head. The robot wasn't very successful with that method, unluckily.

'Must. Fight. CURIOSITY...' The more he tried not to think about it, the harder it became to resist.

He started to sweat, clutching his arm rests.

'Must...KNOW WHAT'S INSIDE!' The CEO wheeled around in his chair, yanked the drawer of his office table open and got out a small, metallic box.

It looked slightly banged up...

There just had to be a way to open that thing, some sort of mechanism, a switch to make it do....whatever it was supposed to do. Lord Cowboy Darrell pulled it, he squeezed it, he repeatedly banged it on the table...

"Why ain't it workin'?!" Frustrated, he stopped chewing on the box, spitting it out. The robot crossed his arms with a grim face. "Stupid box...! he muttered under his breath, as said thing started to glow.

Darrell ducked, hiding behind his chair.

Peeking out from behind, he got sight of something that looked similar to a glorb, floating above his table. It was just plain grey though.

The CEO approached slowly, narrowing his eye. Reaching his hand out, the substance moved towards him, glowing. Darrell pulled it back quickly, as the orb-like matter reverted to its original shape, stirring a litte on the surface. He starred at it big-eyed.

"Mhhh...shoulda...?" Lord Cowboy Darrell made a pensive face "One more try cain't hurt!" He told himself with the naivety of a child, shrugging. So the robot reached out again with eager.

When his finger dived into the matter, the orb began to glow again. He watched in awe while the substance started to consume his hand. It felt...funny. He drew it out looking at its stirring surface.

This was surprisingly...absorbing. And for some reason quite entertaining, too.

He darted a short look to the left, then to the right, a grin forming on his lips. Lord Cowboy Darrell was thrilled to bits. The robot looked down on his glowing hand, which was completely covered with the matter now. He moved it back and forth. Darrell felt quite...powerful with this.

"NYE-HEHEHEHEHE!!" He laughed maniacally, playing around with his new toy.

This unfortunately, lead him into shooting the substance at his office door accidentally. The orb etched itself into the door, remaining as a big hole.

"...Darn it."

A familiar face emerged from the other side of the hole, peeking through carefully.

"Sh-Shannon!" Darrell quickly grabbed the box, hiding it under the table. He swallowed. They were just staring at each other for a second "There was ay...bee."

"Brother, are you -" Raymond arrived on the scene, interrupting himself as he saw that nasty hole.

"Ou-kay...Is it gone?" Shannon asked, still a little bewildered.

"Yup."

"Good!" She forced herself to smile, as they both vanished from the picture.

 

Darrell looked down on his hand, wondering if there were any more spare doors.

Chapter Text

WHAT?! 

He needed to replay the whole thing to be sure that he didn't mishear anything.

"Since you're absent at the moment, I'll leave this message.

I spoke with V&V. They're working on a project they want show you, so I made another appointment at 12. It seems you made a good impression. Well done." 

Lord Cowboy Darrell gazed at the monitor.

"Good...impression...?! BUT-" he consulted a watch.

DINGDONG

"Howdy Senior Deputies! Today's Challenge is to wreck...the Coffee Shop!" 

"GASP! I must get ready!" Raymond leaped out of his bath of roses with a graceful rotation.

"The Coffee Shop?!" Shannon repeated disgusted, sticking her tounge out. 

"GOODLUCK!" 

Darrell collected the papers and markers off the floor and formed a messy stack of it. 

The robot slumped into his chair. Even thinking about the fact that this cocky female would be here any minute dragged him -

"Knock knock!" Cassidy shouted jaunty as she stuck her head into his office.

"Miss Vail." He said, making no effort to hide his frustration.  

"Lord Cowboy Darrell!" The cyborg took a big step inside his office. "It's good to see-"

The door closed behind her, followed by a click of the doorlock. 

-you again!" She finished with a twinge of confusion, as the shutter went down, diving them into a dimmer light. 

"I'll make this quick." The CEO said, folding his hands.

"Do I get to pick how you eliminate me?"

Lord Cowboy Darrell looked irritated. He couldn't tell if she was joking.

"I'm talkin' about this so-called deal." He said emotionless "I don't know what you've told yer boss...but I'm busy with my own projects here at Boxmore," 

They heard a desperate scream from the outside, followed by an explosion. 

Parts of Shannon's lifeless body broke their way through the roof and landed on his table. Cassidy looked blank. 

"I see..." she said with a smirk.  

"To be clear," He leaned back "I cain't be bothered with other companies and the shenanigans of their high falutin' management assistents. So you'll cancel the thing.

Though..if yer so keen to be destroyed I think I could squeeze ya in next week." Lord Cowboy Darrell added smiling mischieviously.  

"Of course I could do that." Cassidy said indifferently "I mean if my influence as a...management assistant goes that far. I just hope it won't get you into any trouble."

"What?" Darrell's smile faded away as he frowned.

"I wonder what Cosma will say when I tell her that Lord Cowboy Darrell declined a deal with the most influential company on the villains market. Or that he's wasting his resources to make his fellow robots attack the plaza for fun."  

Miss Vail said that with the most devilish smile. He was wordless for a second. 

"Are you...extorting me?!"  Darrell said darker in tone.

"I'm just saying, sir." There was a contended look on her face, as she took a tiny devise out of her coat. It turned into something that looked like a floating skateboard.

"We can work with or against each other." She hunched her shoulders "It's your choice after all!" 

Cassidy left through the broken roof cackling maliciously. 

 

So that's how she wanted to play. Fine. He could use unfair practises just as well. 

Maybe they were the biggest company. But if this was a game of some sort, it'd be his game. 

'Ya'll wish you never made that deal with me.' 

Another crash disturbed his evil plotting. 

"Did I win the challenge??" Raymond blurted.

Chapter Text

„Don't strain yourself Cassidy."

The scraggy figure of a man emerged in the corner of her eye. Even the spite in his voice wasn't enough to get her out of the cage of sluggishness.

"Can't you see I'm too bored to quarrel?"

He snorted derisively, "Perhaps you wouldn't be so bored if you finished your tasks for once." his eyes fell on the stack of paper next to her.

"Really Jeffrey? These tasks are literally the reason for my boredom!" She threw her hands in the air, stirring up some of the papers "I'd even play the maid to for a bit of change. " The cyborg added annoyed, placing her head on the table again.

"It's called CARE TAKER." He snarled "And you cannot even take care of your own mess. The only thing you do is causing it." Jeffrey sneered.

"So that means without me," Cassidy's lips formed a sly smile "there would be no mess for you to take care of. Jeez! Where'd you be without me?"

Jeffrey stopped sweeping. He turned around, his sunken face taking on a rather unsettling expression.

"You want to know where I'd be without you?"

"Actually, it was more of a rhetorical question, my smelly friend!" She replied whimsically.

"Without YOU...I wouldn't be standing here watching my boss wasting high level positions on his bratty daughter, while others are busting their –"

"Jeffrey." A formal salute from Mister Vail, expressed through a short nod kept him from ending the sentence.

"You can finish this later."

Jeffrey followed his bosses order without another word, darting one last withering glance at Cassidy, who seemed to be in high spirits all of the sudden.

Mister Vail closed the door quietly.

"Hey pops! What brings you up here? I thought you were busy in the lab!"

"You'll be pleased to know that I got a call from our latest objective." He said approaching the girl with his arms crossed behind his back.

"About time!" She said with a smug "Hey wait...how did the call get past me?" Cassidy looked confused.

"I redirected the calls to my phone so you would have the chance to finish your paperwork." He explained sober-minded "Are you done?"

"Not...yet." She said hesitantly, eyeballing her unfinished work. Cassidy believed to detect the slightest bit of disapproval behind his glasses, but it was hard to tell for sure.

"So...you wanna tell me what he said?" Cassidy asked, folding her hands innocently.

"You'll pay him an early visit tomorrow. I want you to go inside this factory." He took something out of the breast pocket of his coat "Any information you get will be saved on this chip. Do you know what you have to do, Cassidy?"

"Certainly!" The cyborg answered with a mischievous grin.

"This might revitalize your motivation as well." Mister Vail said as he turned to leave "Tomorrow starts operation infiltration." His mouth twisted into a faint smile.

Chapter Text

‚Welp, that was easier than I thought. The security around here sucks.' Cassidy thought self-pleased as she lay her eye upon the bustle beneath with astonishment.
All these robots looked like ants from up there. The cyborg pretended to squish them between her fingers with mischievous pleasure, but it shouldn't last for long.
Cassidy could feel the vibration of the hit with one of the platforms going through her cybernetics, as she lost her balance.
Alarmed, she grabbed for her board, preventing her from falling into the deep.
She was struggling to get up again, when she noticed the incomplete version of a Darrell coming across her way "No...NONONO!"

After crash landing in a box, Cassidy opened her eye warily. While one of them was buried under said box, she was surrounded by Darrell's, staring at her completely baffled.

 

"Now don't get me wrong, it just doesn't seem necessary to -"

"I decide what's necessary Ernesto! I ordered -" Lord Cowboy Darrell's attention was dragged towards the riot to his right.

"Isn't that...?" Ernesto scratched his head "Should we...do something?" the purple robot turned towards the CEO, who watched the scenario with a little, contended smile.

"They got this." He shrugged as they headed back to his office.

Meanwhile at the Bodega:

"RAD!ENID!K.O.!"

"Yes Mister Gar sir!" They responded straightaway, saluting.

"How did THIS get THERE?" He asked in a low, threatening voice "Radicles!"

He grabbed the alien by the collar, who responded with a whimper and blurted:

"B-but Enid broke a whole box of swords the other day!"

"Rad you idiot! What the heck!" Enid shot back at him angrily, when Mister Gar put Radicles very close to the inside of the front window of the bodega.

"You...suck..." The alien read the engravement out, starting to chuckle. He was cut short by Gar tightening the grab of his collar.

"Why did none of you notice that?!" He yelled.

"We're sorry Mister Gar..."

"You better be! You need to pay more attention! ... I gotta make some calls..." He murmured angrily as he stomped to his office.

"I wonder who did this..." K.O. said with slight concern in his voice "I mean...no hero would do this to the bodega, right?"

"I dunno K.O." Enid said unfazed "But I do know that I'll end YOU if you ever rat me out again!" she added raising her voice and poked the alien in his ribs.

"Hey! I...panicked, okay?!" Rad defended himself.

"...And it couldn't be one of us!" K.O. kept thinking.

"Don't sweat it kiddo...He'll just have it changed." Enid said, trying to get his thoughts off the topic "We better get back to work."

"Yeah, before he gets even angrier...c'mon twerp! Help me with these stacks." Rad said.

Back at Boxmore:

"Ugh!" Cassidy was dropped on the bottom rather ungently, as the two robots left the office.

"Looks like you got yerself in a little trouble, Miss Vail." Lord Cowboy Darrell looked at the slightly charred female with a big, sardonic grin.

"Just a slight miscommunication!" She got up, wiping the dirt off her clothes "It was no big deal."

"Funny ya mention it," he made a chair appear right under her, so that she was forced to take a seat "Why don't ya tell me about that big project yer workin' on?"

"With pleasure." That was when she spotted something interesting right next to him on the table "But first...what's that button for?"

Darrell darted a glance at it. He narrowed his eye. Was this a trick question? Another one of her random interjections to distract him! But it wouldn't work this time, he – looked staggered, seeing her finger on this button.

"Watching your inner monolog was getting kinda boring."

"STOP that!" Darrell snatched it from the table.

"So this is how you attack the plaza!" Cassidy said with sudden eager, as she saw the box falling from the skies "...Lemme push it again!"

"NO! I push this button! Now tell me about this project!" The robot retorted sharply "...Or I throw ya to my lesser Darrell's!" he added with a maniacal grin.

While she was watching the fight between the robots and the heroes, an idea popped into her mind.

"Say," her mouth twisted into an evil grin "have you ever tried another tactic?"

She could basically see the gear wheels working behind his eye.

"Another...tactic?" He repeated nearly scandalized, as if it was disgraceful to think about that. And yet, it woke curiosity. Darrell came a bit closer, putting the button back on the table.

"Like what?"

"Like a super weapon combining the powers of every hero around the plaza." She answered with dark delight.

Lord Cowboy Darrell gave her an askance look.

"I'm sure Cosma wouldn't like that idea at all." He said with contempt, crossing his arms.

"This is different," Cassidy said with a crooked smile "you'd use the plaza to test our new weapon, so it's for business purposes. It's like killing two birds with a stone! Only with heroes...and weapons."

He didn't like to admit it, but this idea sounded half as bad. He didn't trust Miss Vail and her weird...ways, but perhaps there was a use for her after all...

"What da ya say?" Cassidy asked, reaching out.

...And if anything went wrong, he could just blame it on her...

"Deal." An evil grin flashed his face as he shook her hand.

Chapter Text

A certain name made Darrell sit up in his chair. He raised his eye to Ernesto.

“I’ll take care of him right now!” he said, urgently picking up the telephone.

His snap decision caused Ernesto to be at a loss for a moment, since it was messing with the automated task of perusing the list of costumer’s complaints.

“Oh,” He uttered perplexed and lowered his papers “Well, as you wish. I guess I’ll just …come back at a later time then?”

“You do that Ernesto.” He said, assuming a firm attitude. Lord Cowboy Darrell watched his brother leave and turned to the phone in his hand. His self-confidence seemed to have gotten a lot smaller all of the sudden.

‘Okay…that might be a little weird, but… he’s on the list, right?’ he thought trying to stifle the unpleasant feeling that came up with the task.

He couldn’t just ignore a costumer, after all –  it was his duty as a CEO to keep all of them satisfied, so he was basically just doing his job.

Darrell braced up and dialed the number in. It was just a business call, nothing more.

 

The Professor appeared on the vidphone. Since he was dressed in full lab rig, Darrell was obviously interrupting in the middle of his experiments. It didn’t make him feel very professional, yet he inhaled to speak.

“Hello Professor Venomous! This is Lord Cowboy…Darrell. You…remember me, right?” The robot said, unable to fully hide his self-consciousness.

“Here’s that liquid fertiliza you wanted, Boss!”

“Thank you, Fink.” Venomous darted a glance at Darrell, then giving his full attention back to his experiment.

“I’ve read about that on the newspaper…”  His words were followed by a short moment of awkward silence. In the meantime, Fink pulled herself up the table to get a better view which quickly backfired on her. She slipped and landed on the ground.  “Ou!”

“Why are you calling?” He asked calmly.

“I …noticed your listed as dissatisfied. It says that there’s a shipment you never got.”

“Ah yes…Boxman’s shipment. I already forgot about that.”  He simply said.

“Well, since I’m in charge now, I wanted to indemnify ya for the trouble.” Darrell said, regaining his self-confidence.

“To be honest, –“ Both their attention was dragged towards the clanking noise caused by Fink in the background. She nearly broke some glasses during her making faces at Darrell behind Venomous back.

“Fink please…” Venomous said to his minion with slight annoyance “Why don’t you go play some videos game?”

The rat was gone in a flash, leaving nothing behind but a cloud of dust.

“I…don’t really have a use for that anymore to be honest.”  The Professor continued.

“Perhaps…there’s something else we can do?” Darrell asked. There was a strangely desperate undertone in his voice as he clutched his arm rests tighter.

“Sure, just… pay me off or something.” He said with a shrug.

Darrell swallowed nervously. If he didn’t ask now, Venomous would just end the call and he would probably never get a chance like this again.

“Great! …Uhm…speaking of Boxman”, The robot looked down on his hands awkwardly, which appeared to be very indecisive about what position they should take “I was wondering…”

For the first time within the conversation a little bit of Venomous’ apparently unswerving, sincere calmness slipped away.

His eyes were still fixed on his work, but there was an uneasiness becoming visible in his face.

“I need to finish this.” He said, pulling his mouthpiece in front of his face again.

“I know yer very busy! But,” Lord Cowboy Darrell said, feeling troubled“...It’s just that I…haven’t seen m…Lord Boxman for a while now and I thought that you might…by any chance have seen him perhaps.” He put his fingertips together sheepishly.

Venomous’ eyes wandered to and fro on his table as if he lost his spot to focus on. He screwed up his face a little, touching his forehead, so that one could think something pained him. The Professor gave out a sigh.

“You see, I-“

His voice was torn apart by an interference.

“Hey Cowboy Lord!” An all too familiar face appeared on the vidphone, leaving him in utter disbelieve for one moment, which quickly turned to anger.

“Miss Vail?! …Get off ma vidphone!!” He snapped at her.

“What did you say?” The Professor looked confused for a moment, as the signal switched back to him. Darrell just stared at him wide eyed.

“No, I didn’t mean-!“ He stuttered desperately.

“I’ve got work to do.” Venomous turned his attention back to his experiments, shaking his head with slight irritation, before his image disappeared completely and was replaced by Cassidy’s.

“Now…that’s better! I need to show you something!” she said in a roguish way, approaching the camera.

His short period of bitter disappointment was covered by harsh disapproval.

“WHAT do ya  think yer doing?!”

“What does it look like??” she rolled her eye with annoyance “You weren’t answering your phone, so I hacked into the signal. Just come to the back exit!” And with these words, she was gone again. At least from the vidphone.

Uttering noises of anger, he just turned away stubbornly, staring at the wall with a grim face.

“TSK!” He didn’t even think about moving from his place. She could wait forever if she wanted.

“There!” Darrell pushed a button to block all calls. If she tried to call again, it wouldn’t work. A smug smile appeared on his lips.

She’d probably just…walk straight into Boxmore, turning up in his…office. And if he barred the door, she’d find another way to enter. But maybe she’d just go into the factory, putting up a riot to make the lesser Darrell’s destroy more inventory just to irk him.

These stressful thoughts made his smile slowly vanish from his face.

“Lesser Darrell’s!...I need one of you to watch my place for a few.”

 

What was she even thinking? Making him walk outside like an…ordinary robot! And without an appointment! Unlike her, he had important things to do.

He’d so tell that Cosma. Or better, her father! Darrell stepped outside the door.

“That better worth it or –“

Within the next second he found himself on the front seat inside a van.

“So whaddayathink?”

Lord Cowboy Darrell was short before screaming for Shannon, because he was deadly sure that he was being kidnapped by a stranger. That was until he realized that it was just Miss Vail next to him.

“Wh-! When did you get changed?!” He asked, staring completely baffled at her appearance. Her eye was covered behind her hair and she was dressed with a grey shirt, green pants and a red vest.

“I got ya one too!” She just put it on him and before he knew he was wearing a very similar outfit, only instead of a shirt he had a hoody and a glasses to cover his eye. He was speechless, looking down at himself.

“Ummm…the hat could be a problem.” She pondered, giving him a once-over “You’ll have to lose it.”

“…I ain’t losin’ anything Missy!” Darrell snarled and backed off, holding on to his hat with both hands “What in blazes is goin’ on here?!?” he added while he was trying to get out off the clothes Cassidy forced him into.

“Duh! We’re destroying the plaza!” Cassidy answered with dry sarcasm and set off with squealing wheels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Darrell unglued himself from the car seat, desperately considering if it was to late for screaming.

"But- You can't just-!" he stammered, digging his fingers into the upholstery.

"I guess I'll do the talking." Cassidy said with a smirk "While I'm keeping the boss distracted, you can take our delivery to the back." Making air quotes with her hands, she emphasized the word in a mysterious way. The wheel slowly turned to make its way to the left as the transporter jumped the curbstone "I even got one of these pushcarts!" She added with joy.

The little impact was enough for the robot to snap out of his state of shock, realizing that he had to do something, anything. That was when he noticed something equally upsetting.

"M-my digniddy!!" Lord Cowboy Darrell shouted, feeling the bare nothingness on his head with pure horror.

"Oh, good! You lost the hat." The female said blithely, eyeballing him "You'd better hood up if you don't want to be regocn – WOAH!"

"NO!!"

Cassidy tried to get a hold of her seat to avoid flying out of it, when Darrell yanked the wheel to the right.

"What are you doing??" She asked with a start.

"We're going back!" He retorted, trying to turn the vehicle around.

"What?!...But I-!" Cassidy's bafflement was quickly replaced by determined resistance as she grabbed the wheel, pulling it back into her direction "I have a plan!"

Their little disagreement made both completely disregard the fact that they were headed straight for the bodega.

"Give me the wheel!!" He growled furiously tugging at it.

"Stop that...nonsense! We're almost...!" She said making an effort to hold against.

The screaming of fearful heroes, jumping out of the way, caught their attention. While he didn't seem to be greatly concerned by that, Cassidy stood on the brakes, only just managing to stop right in front of the entrance with screaming tires.

Coming off the widescreen, they fell back into their seats. Still a little rattled, Cassidy blinked "Good thing we're disguised as a delivery car." The cyborg relieved sigh, folding her hands as she tried to regain her coolness.

"FINE! Let's just get this over with!" Darrell grunted, throwing his hands in the air. He sat slumped down in his car seat like a grumpy sack of bolts. She looked at him blankly, narrowing her eye. Cassidy inhaled but stopped herself before speaking her thoughts aloud. This wasn't going as planned already and she refused to waste any more time on unlooked for events.

So she put an extra layer of mirth over her face.

"Great!" Her voice cracked a little bit, as she hopped out of the car. Lord Cowboy Darrell sat up, turning around. He was fishing for his cowboy hat, when his angry eye fell on something else.

While Cassidy was walking ahead of him, Darrell followed with the pushcart carrying some boxes – including the bomb. The robot looked around.

He had been here so often to fight the heroes, but never entered the store itself. It made him feel uncomfortable. But that was probably just how one was supposed to feel in enemies territory, quite apart from all the failures and the following consequences that were linked with this place, from which he was doomed to remember every single one.

He frowned behind his glasses.

Of course Miss Vail didn't have to worry about any of this. She was quite the dabster after all and never failed at anything. She could fancy herself all she wanted...that highbrow had no idea about –

"YOU'RE LATE!"

Mister Gar's booming voice interrupted his thoughts rather ungently.

"Sorry sir, we came as fast as we could!" responded in her pert, dry witted way, hunching her shoulders. Darrell looked away, just to eliminate any possibility of eye contact with her. He was persistently keeping the disgruntled look on his face, stubbornly pushing the cart forward.

"At least you managed to stop in front of the shop this time! Where are the other two?" He asked, while Cassidy handed over the fake delivery bills.

"They're sick. A really nasty case of super inflammable super bloating." The female explained.

"Kids and their novel sicknesses these days!" Gar said, expressing his lack of understanding through slight headshaking "Hey, just a moment!" He held Darrell back by grabbing his shoulder. The robot stopped dead, his fear making him as stiff as a statue. He had been beaten up by Gar quite a few times, but it was an especially painful experience every time.

Cassidy pursed her lips nervously.

"Take this to the back for me, will ya laddie?" He dropped another package on the push cart with a grin "Just leave it on the ground." He sent him away with a pat on the back so energetic, that Darrell nearly fell over. The robot curled his mouth with irritation, quickly walking away.

Laddie. This sent shivers down his circuits.

Lord Cowboy Darrell clenched his teeth angrily looking down on the packages he kicked forward. He should be the one to give the orders. Right now he was supposed to be in his office, watching all of this from a save distance. He was going to use her to destroy the plaza, not the other way around.

His grasp got tighter.

This was just another proof that Miss Vail couldn't be trusted. He looked back over his shoulder, quickly vanishing behind one of the shelves.

...But he wouldn't let her have this one.

Darrell reached into his pocket, pulling out the detonater he found in the back of the car. He just had to push the button and the bomb would destroy the bodega and everything in it...

The robot lay his finger on the button.

He'd just return to Boxmore in a new body. One push and Miss Vail would be no more...Darrell screwed his mouth up into a diabolic grin.

"Excuse me mister delivery man sir," the sound of a familiar voice right behind his back made him wince, nearly dropping the detonater "I don't wanna bother you, but you got it wrong. The chewing gum is over there." His finger pointed to the shelf diagonally across from them. Darrell's dumbfounded look went to the label on the packages. Super protein gum. He hadn't even paid any attention on that.

"Think again!" He said mockingly, his grin returning as he wrapped the kid up with his lasso.

"D-Darrell??" He gasped in shock.

"It's Lord Cowboy Darrell now!" He said, replacing the hood on his head with his cowboy hat.

"But, what are you doing...here?? And why...are you a delivery man?" He said short winded due to the rope nearly suffocating him.

"Because I got an explosive delivery for ya!" He said mischievously "NYEHEHEHE!"

"...And here, and here and over there...and –" Cassidy interrupted herself, noticing there were no more fake papers for Gar to sign. While it was much to her misfortune, Mister Gar's irritated face showed some relief.

She hadn't planned it to take that long. If her face hadn't been half covered, one could have noticed the slightly troubled look on it.

"Your buddy sure takes his time." Enid stated from her counter, her bored eyes barely leaving the phone in her hand – to crown it all.

"Yeah he's...eccentric! You know," She slowly moved from her spot "I might...go check!" Cassidy forced herself to smile as she pointed into the backs direction, closing the remaining space with a big step and dashed off.

"There's no time for this..." she harrumphed. What could possibly take him so long? This place wasn't even big enough to get –

"Say goodbye to your precious –" Darrell was cut off as the attention was rudely taken by Cassidy's appearance.

"There you are! We better get going before..." The cyborg slowed down as they looked at each other, their faces lacking any expression for a second. Her eye went to the gagged child "...people get..." and then to the button in his hand, not even having changed his triumphant pose. As the information slowly sank into her data bank, Cassidy's voice lost all significance "su...spicious."

"Nobody's goin' anywhere!" He said wickedly, wrapping her up the same way he did with K.O. and placed her roughly next to him.

'Crap.' She thought to herself. Cassidy furrowed her brow, lowering her head, a hunch of shame on her cheeks. 'This shouldn't surprise me...'

Yet she didn't see it coming. She had been too busy setting this mission up. All that excitement of doing something real for once made her disregard everything else...or she was just a little too used to not facing consequences.

Lord Cowboy Darrell noticed her change of mood with gleeful gratification when he bend down.

"What's wrong Miss Vail? Did I spoil your perfect pwan?" he teased, placing his finger on his chin with mock innocence. "Not so confident anymore, are ya?" Darrell returned to his superior position, arms akimbo as he laughed maniacally.

Miss Vail decided to keep quite. Maybe it was because she really wasn't feeling very confident at the moment, or perhaps she was challenged to find a way out of this. And, being perfectly aware that she was in a pretty unfortunate situation and that she urgently had to think of something, Cassidy found herself distracted. Somehow, this devilish joy of his was strangely captivating, almost impossible not to find it at least a little enjoyable.

Meanwhile, K.O. used the distraction to attempt freeing himself by moving to and fro a little to loosen the rope – surprisingly with very low success. At the same time, inside his head someone seemed to hit their head repeatedly on an imaginary table.

He had so many questions. Who was Miss Vail? Why was Darrell so eager to destroy her? And...why did he bring his cowboy hat? But there was no time and no breath for this.

"I guess you were right about that bird thing, only with weapons heroes and...a wannabe villain!" He poked her forehead.

Almost. The cyborg returned to reality, dropping her focus on his feet.

"Touché." Cassidy said, bending her head a little to express her giving in. Lord Cowboy Darrell looked peerie for a moment. "I guess you've won," she continued "I mean, I literally can't make a move here." His mouth formed a small, v-shaped smile.

"Except THIS one!" She shouted vigorously, kicking at his legs. It didn't only knock him off his feet but also the smile from his face.

"Ugh!" Hitting the floor, the detonater slipped out of his hand, skidding away. Cassidy used the few seconds the action bought her to rob herself towards the button. She wasn't going to let him pull himself out that easily. The two of them would end this mission, whether he wanted or not.

Cassidy's hand tried to make its way into her pocket. 'C'mon, c'mon...!'

Darrell bobbed up snarling, as he shapeshited his hand into a pointy drill and launched into attacking her. He missed due to the activation of her board, bursting her free. Cassidy quickly grabbed her board, only just managing to dodge the next attack. The lasso coming her direction made her jump to her feet.

He wasn't actually even aiming for the cyborg anymore, but rather for the button which was dangerously close to her. Nevertheless, he couldn't help taking great delight to the little dance her dodging hops were creating as his face started to lighten up with mischievous glee, aiming at her feet on purpose this time...and the following times.

"NYAHAHAHAHAHA!"

K.O. watched all of it with confusion. He had no idea what was even going on anymore. Peeking left and right, he decided to use the situation to drop himself, rolling his way out of the situation.

The little dance ended with Cassidy stumbling and landing on the ground. She reached for the button, being only inches away, before he snatched it.

In the meantime, Enid heard a dull sound when something hit the counter. Her unfazed eyes took a peek down, changing drastically when she noticed what it was.

"G---uys!"

"K.O.!" She jumped down to untie him.

"Dude! What happened to you??" Rad asked shocked.

"H-he..." the kid wheezed, trying to gather breath "h..as a b-omb."

"WHAT?!"

"Face it, you stand no chance against me!" Darrell said looking down with a malicious grin and his gun pointed at the cyborg. She heard the alarmed voices of the heroes in the distance. He didn't even seem to bother about getting caught "I mean...you're not even heeled are ya?"

While he was laughing at her, she tried to push that slight, rising up inside her chest back, along with the lack of knowing some of the vocabulary he was using. His laugh was interrupted when his face met with her board.

Darrell shook the irritation out of his head, seeing the board floating above him, the cyborg sitting on top of it.

"I beg to differ, milord!" She said with a cheeky grin, holding the detonater. He angrily latched to the board.

"You're not flying off this time!" He shouted fiercely.

"Of course not...at least not alone." She said still grinning and took off.

"WHAT? W-WAIT! NO!" He watched the growing difference to the ground with desperation. Turning around, he pulled himself up a little. Darrell grabbed Cassidy's leg and gave it a tug, foiling her attempt of getting up.

"Wah!" Losing balance she fell forwards, automatically clutching the front of her board, leaving both of them hanging. The detonater which had been safely in her hand a minute ago was now only just held by her fingertips and the board, slowly slipping away.

Lord Cowboy Darrell, being half on top of the board, reached for the button when he uttered a slightly insane, victorious tee-hee. Unfortunately his fingers were only the kiss of death for it, when he failed to get its grasp.

"NOOO-!" he cried, as they watched it falling into the deep.

"...All the effort..." Cassidy said, disappointment changing her face. Gone.

Before they had the chance to take any action, they found themselves trapped in a purple forcefield.

"Don't worry, Radicles got the - OUCH!" Rad was interrupted in his self-praise when something hit his head. K.O. remembered the object, landing right next to him, clearly.

"Wait, Is that-"

"It's the bomb button thingy!!" He blurted alarmed, as something in their vicinity started beeping. They exchanged startled looks.

"RUN! We need to get away from-!" Enid grabbed her friends, trying to make a move as quickly as possible.

The enormous blast wave catapulted Cassidy and Darrell out of the bodega.

regaining consciousness, he found himself in a nearby tree next to Miss Vail. The robot bobbed up, but stopped in the middle of the movement, his look following the object of her bewilderment.

"Look at this...mayhem..." She said lowly, more to herself than to him. Overwhelmed, Cassidy watched the degree of the destruction they caused. The whole place was falling apart...literally.

"It...worked. It..."

She looked in his direction with slight confusion, seeing the amazed, almost dignified expression on his face. His pupil had grown at least the tenth size.

"F-father would be so proud..." the robot said feebly. While a tear formed in his eye he started smiling vaguely, eventually bursting into evil laughter.

Cassidy chose to abandon her irritation, inviting herself to share this moment.

So for a few seconds, they both sat in that tree, branded by the explosion, laughing about their destructive handiwork. Her laughing started to fade when she noticed that his was growing into convulsive sobbing however.

"I DEYTROYED THE PLAZA AND HE DIDN'T EVEN SEE!!" He yelled. His desperation was accompanied with immense rage. The cyborg startled and looked around, grabbing her board.

'Geez...we only just escaped from being captured...' she thought.

Cassidy didn't know what was supposed to be more unsettling, that she sat right next to someone who just tried to destroy her or that the one that just tried to destroy was now...well, like this.

She wasn't even sure what it was. Was he...angry or sad? She was way to confused to put any pieces together right now. It was just really...weird. Why wouldn't he enjoy the achievement like she did?

"So what?" She said shrugging, trying to drown the mood of the situation along with her own uncomfortable feeling "The plaza is completely wrecked!"

Darrell stopped. So what. He wiped his eye, releasing a barely noticeable sigh. He slipped into a seemingly indifferent state.

"You're still here." He said, it was much like an observation. There was a tone of disapproval in his voice, subtle anger and dissapointment.

Careful not to be deterred by his statement, she just carried on:

"Well..." She put on her quizzical manners, smirking as she got up on her board "Duh! Better luck with this next time!" She took off with these words. Not daring to look back, she flew away hurriedly.

Darrell didn't waste a single look on her, only looking down, as he was forced to deal with his inner turmoil.

Later, as he arrived at his office door – he had gotten rid of the delivery boy costume or better the remains of it – the robot was quite surprised finding Ernesto in his chair.

He turned away from the window, slightly startled at Lord Cowboy Darrell's presence. He immediately jumped to his feet, notably embarrassed "...I was just, uhm...!"

"Ernesto?..." he said confused looking "Where's the lesser Darrell I put..." Darrell stepped on a red piece of metal. Taking a closer look, there were all over the place "...oh."

While Ernesto felt himself under the pressure of an explanation, he took a step aside to make space for his boss to return to his seat. Lord Cowboy Darrell sat down, with his back to the window. The room was enlightened by sunshine...and the burning bodega.

Ernesto's view was caught by a dark spot on Darrell's jacket. It seemed to be charred. He couldn't help himself observing it for a few seconds, before his brother turned into his direction. Ernesto quickly averted his gaze, starting to pick up the robot parts from the ground.

"How long... was I gone?" He asked. Carrying the parts in his arm along with some papers, he dropped some of them as he stood straight. With Darrell just looking at him through an unbiased eye, he really seemed to hope for an answer. He didn't seem to care about any of the events. Ernesto was confused, also now under the pressure to answer his question. Unsure if he should know that?

"I...don't know, sir," he stammered, clearing his throat as he looked down on his documents "I was really just returning to finish the task."

Darrell looked at the papers under his arm.

"Okay." He simply said to which the purple robot went ahead and took a seat opposite to his boss.

"C-continuing list of costumer complaints." Ernesto put his eye on the name of Professor Venomous without having to search. Before he actually continued, his look went out of the window, back at Darrell. He was looking straight at him, or...straight into his direction.

Ernesto looked back at his papers. No. It wasn't his purpose to ask such questions.

Chapter Text

The door flew open and hit the wall, leaving tiny cracks in it.

“Can you believe this?!” Boxman screwed the newspaper up and threw it to the ground, closely followed by the wrench he held in his other hand. Since his might hadn’t been quite enough to break it, he stomped his foot on it instead “I was so close to… – And then SOME-!” He uttered furious sounds and muttered opaque curses – fortunately, there was a child at the table after all. 

Venomous picked up the newspaper.

“I thought you said you were over this, Box…” He raised his eyes to the shorter man, taking his coffee cup from the table as a matter of prudence.

“Well I…” Boxman tried his best to stop raging “I AM! But,…this is personal!” he said that sticking out his chest proudly as he hit the table with his fist “if someone thinks they have to destroy MY ENEMIES, I just, - then I GOTTA…” the man got carried away in his anger once again.

“Hey!” Fink shouted, indignant about the milk puddle surrounding her bowl “Box doofus spilled my cereal!!”

“Why don’t you just wait for them to rebuild it and destroy it again?” He asked calmly, reaching out to get a rag from the nearby shelf to dry the spilled milk.

“I can’t just STAND THERE and WAI-“ Boxman interrupted himself, thinking for a moment when an idea came to his mind “That’s it Professor! I’m just gonna build something even more DESTRUCTIVE! Something that will destroy those heroes COMPLETELY!” he turned round on his heel “They’ll curse the day they challenged ME!” Boxman said, disappearing through a door in the ground with a lot of mwahahaha. Venomous decided to not even start wondering where it came from as he tried to get back to his peaceful breakfast.

“Can’t we just kick him out boss??” The rat asked with anger and slight urgency in her voice.

“Fink, we talked about this…No kicking out Boxman.” He answered gently but decisive. She didn’t make an object directly, only looking into her bowl, sulking.

“I’m gonna kick his butt if he touches MY stuff!” She muttered angrily poking her cereal. Missing a reaction from her boss, Fink raised her eyes to him. His look was on the newspaper. The rat couldn’t name it, but something about his expression was different.

“I’ll make sure he won’t.” The professor finally said with a warm smile, trying to calm his minion down. He folded the newspaper shut. 

 

“It’s not quite clear what the reason for this destruction was, but it’s the worst impact on the plaza since Boxman Junior. Mister Gar, what’s your comment on this MAYHEM?”

“…worst impact on the plaza since Boxman Junior.”

He left the remote on the table and stood up, walking to the window. Darrell’s look rested on the bodega across the street.

“Mister Gar, what’s your comment on this MAYHEM?”

“Well, I had to leave on a mission right before it happened. It’s too bad the explosion wiped my employees’ memories, so we know nothing about the identities of the culprits, but they will pay for what they did to my store…I mean…CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW MUCH IT COSTS TO REPAIR AN ENTIRE STORE?! C’MON!”

“Thank you, Mister…Gar!…This is Dynamite Watkins reporting live from…the plaza.” She made a cutting gesture to cam, before the report ended.

Darrell felt the weight of a hand on his shoulder. He saw Shannon’s reflection in the window right next to his own.

“Hey Darrell…!” She gave a constrained smile.

“Hey, sorry…I didn’t hear ya enter.” 

She wouldn’t admit it in front of the others, but even though months passed since Darrell took over Boxmore, Shannon had a hard time finding the right way to talk to him sometimes. Maybe she still wasn’t fully used to that whole boss thing. The orange robot followed his look to the bodega.

“The door stood a crack open so I thought I’d…check on you?” She said shrugging awkwardly.

He finally took his eye from the window to give a questioning look at his robotic sister.

“Check on me?”

“Yeah,” Shannon scratched the back of her head “I mean, you missed dinner yesterday and breakfast this morning...and there were no challenges like, at all lately.”

“Well, I guess it’s been a few days since the last challenge…” He pondered, rubbing his chin.

“Look, I know you’re upset about this, but…we can still destroy other things, right?” trying her best to comfort him, she smiled sheepishly “I mean…who cares about the stupid plaza anyway?” Staring at her blankly for a moment, he started processing what she said. He looked back at the window, now serving as a mirror to him.  

“Right…” While he was feeling a little caught, his urge to tell the truth was quickly overruled when he understood the meaning behind her words.  

‘They… don’t even think it could’ve been me…’ After everything he accomplished, it still didn’t seem to be enough to convince them.

Alright. If his siblings thought he wasn’t capable of destroying the plaza without them…there was no need to tell them about anything anyway.

“Yeah, you’re right.” He said, turning away from the window.

“Yeah!...So you’re okay with it?” Shannon asked, being slightly distracted by his detached answer “I mean if you need to talk…”

“I’m perfectly fine! No need to worry.” Darrell said, not looking straight into her eye, in an offhanded manner.

“Well, good…I guess I’ll leave then.” Although Shannon just knew he was lying, she also knew confronting him would only end with crying or playing out the boss card – or both. So she upset her original plan to ask him to join them watching movies and turned around to leave, ignoring the pain in her chest.

Her hands formed into firsts when the door shut behind her.

Chapter Text

„God…how can she work in this –“ Jeffrey frowned, pulling a banana peel out from under the desk.
He chucked it into his bucket, knocking it over as a result. With all of the trash being spread all over the floor once again, the greenish man groaned loudly “Well THAT’S JUST-
He stopped in the middle of his rant, when his boss came out of his office. Jeffrey stared at him for a moment, before he stammered: “I-I thought you were in the laboratory, sir…”
“There was paperwork I had to finish.” He traversed the room, careful not to step on anything while he put on his gloves “Cassidy’s room is next.”
“But it’s Saturday!” That sentence, attended by a strong distaste rather slipped out of his mouth. The care taker regretted it promptly, when Mister Vail stopped, facing his employee, still on the ground to put the garbage back into the bucket. His weary eyes showed some irritation.
“I mean…how do I-“ He started meekly.
“Don’t worry, I have something planned for her.” He said and closed the door behind him.

Cassidy reached into the bag to get another handful of lazer chips out, which were promptly stuffed into her mouth, dropping a good amount of it on her bed and her pajama.
A short episode of laser’s shooting from her mouth made her rise up for a split second, before she sank back into her pillow. Her eye fell on the sewing machine across the room. The cyborg turned to the side with a frown.
Fantastic. Now she felt bored AND frustrated. Obviously, discontent could be quite infectious and had an incubation period of five days.
‘It’s not like it didn’t work…’ She told herself ‘It just didn’t work how I planned it.’ Cassidy rolled over on to her back.
It couldn’t be so hard to convince him, could it? It wasn’t her fault he didn’t appreciate the effort she put into this…she did exactly what he wanted –
“OKAY SENIOR DEPUTIES,”
Cassidy bobbed up, scattering the remaining few chips over her pillow, when his voice resounded from the netbook next to her. She grabbed it, watching with close attention.
“as you know there was a lack of challenges due to the destruction of the plaza, so I worked out something new for ya. Ernesto?” Miss Vail came a little closer to the screen, keen anticipation on her face.
The purple robot came into the picture, along with a blackboard next to him.
“Hem”, he raised the stick in his hand and turned the blackboard over, showing some sort of instruction plan. With one last, almost pained peek at his boss, he started: “What you see here, is-“
Hearing a knock, Cassidy automatically closed the netbook.
“Yeees?” She shouted, feeling a little flustered “Ugh! What is it!?” her mood switched to super annoyance as she saw Jeffrey entering.
“What do you think?!” He retorted with the same annoyance, dropping his bucket on the ground “Not feeling blessed here myself being used your MANNY by the…way…” Jeffrey got distracted by unknown laughter sounding from the computer on her lap. The cyborg froze with embarrassment, shutting the voice up by opening and closing it quickly. Their eyes met, creating an awkward silence.
“Your father’s waiting in the lab.” Jeffrey said, dropping his irritated look on his tools “Now get out so I can get this done!” He grumbled “And get out of this horrible – what are you even supposed to be?!”
The cyborg looked indignant.
“That’s a Chimpep you uncultivated barbarian!” She jumped off the bed “Also, jokes on you Jeffrey. I can just take it off.” She threw the pajama into his face and left the room with a self-pleased giggle and her regular clothes under her arm.

Mister Vail watched the liquid closely, holding the test tube against the light. He heaved a deep, calm sigh and took off his goggles. Turning his head to the ceiling, the man dripped some of it into his eye with caution.
“Hey pops!” He heard the cheerful voice of his daughter behind him. Mister Vail returned to his normal upright position, blinking.
“You wanted me to come?”
“Cassidy…” Giving another silent sigh, he dapped the liquid off his eyes and part of his beard with a cloth “I have a special mission for you to perform.”
“Yes? Sure! Just tell me what it is!” She responded with excitement.
“I want you to go to this address and investigate.” Mister Vail turned around, giving her a little piece of paper.
“Oh, okay.” She felt slightly disappointed, having expected something else.
“And…take this with you. I made a replica after you lost the other one.”
The cyborg took the chip, deploying it into the palm of her hand with slight abashment on her cheeks.
“Good. Make sure you pay attention this time.” He looked directly into her eye.
“I will…” Cassidy crossed her hands behind her back, dropping the gaze. Mister Vail lay his forefinger under her chin, propping her head up “This mission is of prime importance.” She looked at him, swallowing.
“Why this address?” Cassidy asked reverting to her curiosity as he turned back to his test tubes.
“Let’s just say it's vital for one of my ongoing projects.”
More or less satisfied with her father’s usual vague answers, she left the laboratory, leaving him alone with his work.
"Time to get back to you, old friend."

Chapter Text

Cassidy released a weak sigh when she landed behind a bush. She put her deactivated board into her coat, revealing a brown jacket and a skirt of the same color underneath. The cyborg stored said coat in a fitting briefcase, before she came out from behind the bush, striding up to her target.

While it wasn’t hard to find the address her father gave her, she had mixed feelings. Something about this felt odd. What could be hidden here being so vital to him…? Whoever lived here had enough money to cover three generations, that was for sure.

Cassidy inhaled deeply, careful not to let curiosity get in the way of concentration and rang the bell.

The door almost opened immediately, leaving the girl in confusion for a second. She expected her opponent to be at least her height. Lowering her eye, she was greeted by the appearance of a chubby, green haired man. He was wearing a filthy apron and seemed to be a little scruffy in general. For a split second she thought that he looked familiar, but couldn’t place it.

While Cassidy wasn’t greeted in the literal sense, the man gave her a once-over.

“We don’t buy anything sorry!” He said brusquely, about to shut the door again, but someone stopped his intended action by clutching it. She heard scraps of a hushed discussion behind the door.

“I was just getting rid of her…” Cassidy heard the short man say, before another, purple skinned, taller man came into picture.

“Sorry about that.” He said barely facing her. It sounded like it rolled from his tongue automatically, rather than an actual apology.

“Good day sir! I suppose you’re the owner of this fancy domicile?” The cyborg said, adapting a very friendly tone. While Venomous wasn’t really fond of the word fancy, he chose that it was of low importance in this situation and answered with a simple “Yes.”

“Do you have a guard?” She asked unceremoniously “Your house seems to be completely unprotected.”

“A…guard?” He looked at her like he wasn’t familiar with the word itself for a moment. A babysitter would be more prudent with Boxman around…He did keep this to himself though. Venomous forced himself back into the present.

“Look kid, you’re the third trying to sell me something today and the only thing I need protection from are all these sellers besieging my door. So why–“

“My point exactly!” Cassidy cut him off, raising the importance in her tone “That’s why I’m sure you could perfectly use the V.O.H.P.S, sir.”

“The what now?!”

“VENDOR’sOFF HouseProtectionService, if you please –“

Shoving his confusion out of the way, Venomous blocked her foot with his own from entering. He narrowed his eyes.

“Sorry to disappoint you,” he hissed “but I’m not letting ANY of your kind into MY HOUSE. Now do yourself a favor and-“ this time he was interrupted by the sudden raise of two voices, breaking into a fiery dispute on the inside.

Professor Venomous heaved a deep sigh, lowering his head “leave.”

His confusion returned when he raised his eyes, noticing that she was indeed gone. Fatigued, he closed the door and turned around only to startle at her presence in his hallway.

“How did you get past me?!“

“You see, this certainly wouldn’t have happened if you’d be using the VENDOR'sOFF HouseProtectionService.” Cassidy said in a told-you-so manner, when her eye caught a decorative, expensive looking glass tree in her vicinity. She flashed a mischievous smile, taking a big step into its direction.

“My, my!” The cyborg said, jiggling it to and fro with her finger “You do have insurance, don’t you, sir?”

Looking around, she noticed she was standing in a room full of expensive gismo’s. She looked stunned, before a nasty grin spread on her lips, moving deeper into the room.

“Get out of my house right now!” He snarled between irritation and fury, while he grabbed the glass tree to keep it from falling.

“What about this one, sir?” She asked archly, placing herself on top of the piano which was standing in the middle of the room. Cassidy made gesture as if cracking her knuckles, hammering the keys randomly ”Mh. Sounds pretty out of tune to me.” The cyborg said with a shrug.

The professor just stared at her for a moment. He knew those sellers could be pretty pushy but he never experienced any of them having the nerve to infiltrate his house. Whatever was her deal? While he felt anger and impatience growing, Venomous was once again overwhelmed by fatigue. He clearly wasn’t going to get her out with words.

“You sure you wanna go down that road?” He said roaming for something in his lab coat as he faced her with major annoyance. Cassidy responded by smiling down on him rascally, swinging from a chandelier.

Venomous got out a test tube filled with purple liquid just when –

“OooHH PeeVEE!”

-he was being distracted again.

Cassidy in the meantime lost her smile when she heard a cracking noise coming from the ceiling. She quickly remembered what her father said and hopped down, catching a glimpse into the hallway. He looked back at her on alert, who played on his diversion to make away.

“No you don’t!” He shouted, throwing the test tube into her direction. In the very same moment, Boxman came out of the kitchen entering the now smoke filled hallway.

“Professor…? Are you – WHOOPS!” All that was heard was a loud crash. As the dust was settling, the mess became visible. The Blunch the short man had prepared was all over the floor, along with sharps from a broken bowl.

“BOXMAN!” He growled.

“Oh boy…”

“Where did she…?”

“Don’t believe him Boss, I-“ Just as Fink came running with waving arms, the sound of breaking glass drew their attention into the hallway. The rat stopped dead, eyes changing red, as she followed the noises source keenly.

“My lab!” Venomous said with a startle, going after his minion at a hurried pace.

‘But…why would…?” Cassidy looked down at the broken glass trying to snap out of her bafflement, anxious to squish any item she found into her suitcase. Before she could even think of a way to get out, she winced at the creepy stare of two red eyes.

“INTRUDER!!” Fink snarled as she bared her teeth. The cyborg swallowed, seeing the rat coming her way.

Shortly afterwards, Venomous entered the scene, closely followed by Boxman. Cassidy was lying on the ground with her head propped against a cupboard. Fink sat on top of her prey, on the brink to finish what she started.

“Oh…” Boxman turned away slightly, screwing his face up into a disgusted expression, while the professor took a deep, calm breath, approaching the two.

“Fink…Fink! That’s enough.” He had almost returned to his usual calm tone while the rat however didn’t seem quite to agree with him, still scratching and biting when he grabbed her by the collar, pulling her down “I’m sure you taught our little infiltrator a…”

“…lesson.” He tilted his head a little.

Cassidy opened her eye slowly. Part of her hair was soaked from the broken test tubes surrounding her - either that or it was just rat drool. She noticed the unbelieving look on the professor’s face, along with a reddish brown streak hanging in her own face. From the corner of her eye she saw her broken glasses lying next to her along with the wig, which was a startling discovery.

Professor Venomous sneered, uttering a sardonic chuckle. Of course. That voice, that face. The nerve. And she probably didn’t even know a thing. He laughed out loud.

“I don’t believe this…” he shook his head lightly.

“What’s the holdup?? Let me finish’er!” Fink interrupted impatiently, boxing the air. Venomous sighed, giving Cassidy a steady look.

He held out his hand, seemingly expecting the cyborg to grab it, who responded with a sheepish, confused look. After everything, somehow, it felt trustworthy…she grabbed it reluctantly.

“Like I said, I think she learned her lesson.” He said that with a weirdly satisfied smile “Isn’t that so?” He pulled her a little closer “Tell your father he has to try a lot harder next time.”

Cassidy couldn’t help darting another glance at Lord Boxman, who looked at Professor Venomous in disbelief. She averted her eye, grabbing nothing but her coat from the suitcase and scrammed.

It was silent for a moment.

“You let her leave, Boss!” Fink said in a rebuking manner. Venomous turned around, his eyes meeting with Boxman’s. His disbelieving look disappeared as he crossed his arms, averting the look.

“Told you you should've let me get rid of her.” He said snappishly.

 

Chapter Text

Failing any attempt to cool her troubled mind, Cassidy shyly walked down the hallway. No matter how many times she considered her possibilities, each and every one was leading to the point that she failed. She failed on a prime mission.

The cyborg stopped, the door in front of her leaving her no exit.

She entered the laboratory without the zealous greeting this time. Discovering that the room was surprisingly empty, the girl hummed with confusion, then turned around and headed upstairs.

Arriving at the office, the gentle, muffled sound of Schubert penetrated the room through the adjacent door. Even though she didn’t exactly enjoy it, somehow, it always managed to calm her at least a little bit. Cassidy inhaled deeply. So ‘Lost the chip again’ it would be…

Mister Vail silenced the music to a minimum as soon as she entered, facing her.

“What did you get?”

“Well, I…um…” Cassidy stammered, looking down at the bottom with her arms crossed behind her back. She raised her head as a reaction of surprise, noticing that her father was standing right in front of her. His observant gaze made her even more nervous. Mister Vail seemed irritated for a moment, his look not meeting that of his daughter, but something above her eye.

The man reached out, but his hand wasn’t going into the expected direction. He collected something from her shoulder with caution.

“A hair from his creation…” he said, with what sounded like astonishment. Slightly dazzled by his reaction, she couldn’t help but mentally trip over his words. A wave of relief washed her wonderment away as he passed her through the open door however.

“That’s good for now. Take the rest of the day off.” He said with content and left.

“...dodged the bullet.” Cassidy said to herself, dropping her shoulders. With the authenticity of her relief staying away, she chose to ignore her mixed feelings,  heading back to her room to continue slacking off, like her father said.

“UGH! You’re still not done??” She groaned, meeting with Jeffrey again. He was kneeing next to her bed, unplugging the vacuum.

“I hate you, you know that?” He said turning to her with a forced, grotesque smile on his face. Instead of getting into a fuss as usual, he kept the smile however “but to answer your question, I am done NOW.” The care taker picked up his cleaning equipment. He stopped in the door frame, looking at the cyborg as if she had given him a scare. Jeffrey stared at her for a moment.

“Red don’t suit you.” he sneered and left.

FINALLY. Cassidy threw the door close. Not paying any more attention to his statement than necessary, something actually dragged her attention to her own reflection in the mirror. There was that red streak, sticking out of her bang like a misfit. The girl screwed up her face in disgust. ‘Must be a chemical reaction from that stuff in the laboratory.’  She DID break some of those tubes with her head during her struggle with that rat, after all…

Cassidy heaved a deep sigh, letting herself down on the bed. She felt heavy.

Her eye wandered to the sewing machine once more before she closed it. Sleep. She just needed some sleep to forget this awkward, messed up day.

Chapter Text

„Ernesto, come to my office!" The purple robot raised his eye, tipping the stack of papers in front of him on the table and lay it down. Even though he was surrounded by other versions of himself

„Ernesto, come to my office!"

The purple robot raised his eye, tipping the stack of papers in front of him on the table and lay it down. Even though he was surrounded by other versions of himself sitting in their cube shaped offices, none of them felt addressed by the paging.

As Ernesto headed down the long corridor, he heard muffled murmuring accompanied with the rustling of papers. The robot had barely arrived and Lord Cowboy Darrell tore his pondering eye from the little screen in front of him, leaping to his feet.

"There you are!" His face enlightened with gladness "Yer the lucky one to cover my place!"

"...Cover your place?" Ernesto repeated with confusion "But...what about my tasks?"

Darrell stared at him blankly. His face almost showed a bit of disappointment, then consideration.

"Well, I guess I'll just have to ask Shannon or Raymond if you don't wanna be my deputy then." The robot said with a shrug and a specifically sore undertone.

"I-it's not I don't want to, I just-" Ernesto quickly explained, but he didn't get far.

"Great!" He swung his fist encouragingly "I knew I could count on ya!" and was gone in a flash.

The purple robot stood, a little lost, in the middle of the room. He tipped his fingertips together, surreptitiously looking at the CEO chair and headed over. Here we go. Besides not having that much space in Darrell's chair due to their immense size difference, this was fine. And this time he specifically ordered him to take his place. No misunderstandings. No questions.

No explanations...

The little monitor in front disturbed his starting contentment as he became witness of Raymond getting roasted in the blast of a canon, one of his robot parts hurling into another one, causing it to explode in the following. The waste of money and material made his programming glitch a little. He still didn't quite understand why Darrell's new challenge had to be an overly expensive defense system.

As for himself, he didn't have to deal with this kind of thing anymore ever since he left the competition voluntarily due to a certain incident, including himself and an incinerator. After that, he chose not to enter again. He was a business bot after all. Fighting wasn't even his thing, right? And come to think of it...he was deputizing Lord Cowboy Darrell right now, he didn't even need to win anything.

He was just as good as them, even better!

Ernesto's breast swell with confidence when he was called back to reality – literally. The robot tried to put himself together before he answered.

"Ernesto! I was expecting to see Darrell..." Cosma said with quite some surprise and frustration "Where is he?"

"He's, well..." The robot realized his brother never told him why he left and therefore lacked a proper answer.

"Nevermind. Just do me a favor and tell him to call me back as soon as possible." The reptilian woman said in a brusque way, muttering something under her breath before she ended the transmission.

While Ernesto had been quietly witnessing all the fights between Lord Boxman and the board over the years, it occurred to him that perhaps his father wasn't the only one to aggravate Miss Cosma.

Turning back to the little monitor where his siblings were still trying to get through Darrell's challenge, an unlucky move caused him to wipe something off the table.

The robot bent down to pick it up, seeing a card. Taking a closer look on it he recognized Miss Vail. He had only seen her a few times and the CEO never talked about her or the company she came from, let alone what the purpose of her visits was. Ernesto wasn't able to read anything on this POW card with the red marker all over it...the word 'is' was written under her name – two times and crossed out – and under that 'smells ba'.

The robot put the card back on the table. His eye caught something sticking out of the messy stack of paper lying around. Should he...? Darrell hadn't been very...talkative lately.

And anyway, covering his place included taking care of his paperwork right?

He pulled the ill matching paper out thievishly. It was a blueprint. An old one of a Darrell, only the head was replaced with a screen and some things were added with crayon. What would he do with that? Lord Boxman himself didn't really use them and the few times he did it was only another plot to destroy the bodega heroes.

While Ernesto was tipping the paper stack on the table to line them up, it occurred to him. Of course. That's what all this was about...he was trying to –

"I'm back!"

For surprise the papers slipped out of Ernesto's hands under the table.

"Miss Cosma called!" The robot said as he reemerged from picking them up, trying to hide his nervousness under formalities "She wants you to call her back."

"Oh...that's all she said?" The CEO approached with slight distress on his face. He was slightly oil daubed.

"Well, it seemed to be quite urgent..." he replied.

Darrell's face showed quite the same frustration as Cosma's before. Lord Cowboy Darrell looked pensive for a moment. His eye fell on the blueprint.

"Well...thanks!" The CEO said, putting his wrench on the table. Ernesto raised his eye from the blueprint to him. They stared at each other for a second, until Darrell averted his eye, awkwardly drumming his fingers on the table.

"Oh!" The purple robot got out of the chair "I'll get back to work then."

"You do that..." Darrell tipped his fingertips together "Ernesto?"

He turned around to face his boss.

"Yes?"

"Don't...tell the others I made ya deputy, okay?" 

"Of course not." Ernesto nodded assuring and turned to leave. He certainly wouldn't.

 

„Ernesto, come to my office!"

The purple robot raised his eye, tipping the stack of papers in front of him on the table and lay it down. Even though he was surrounded by other versions of himself sitting in their cube shaped offices, none of them felt addressed by the paging.

As Ernesto headed down the long corridor, he heard muffled murmuring accompanied with the rustling of papers. The robot had barely arrived and Lord Cowboy Darrell tore his pondering eye from the little screen in front of him, leaping to his feet.

"There you are!" His face enlightened with gladness "Yer the lucky one to cover my place!"

"...Cover your place?" Ernesto repeated with confusion "But...what about my tasks?"

Darrell stared at him blankly. His face almost showed a bit of disappointment, then consideration.

"Well, I guess I'll just have to ask Shannon or Raymond if you don't wanna be my deputy then." The robot said with a shrug and a specifically sore undertone.

"I-it's not I don't want to, I just-" Ernesto quickly explained, but he didn't get far.

"Great!" He swung his fist encouragingly "I knew I could count on ya!" and was gone in a flash.

The purple robot stood, a little lost, in the middle of the room. He tipped his fingertips together, surreptitiously looking at the CEO chair and headed over. Here we go. Besides not having that much space in Darrell's chair due to their immense size difference, this was fine. And this time he specifically ordered him to take his place. No misunderstandings. No questions.

No explanations...

The little monitor in front disturbed his starting contentment as he became witness of Raymond getting roasted in the blast of a canon, one of his robot parts hurling into another one, causing it to explode in the following. The waste of money and material made his programming glitch a little. He still didn't quite understood why Darrell's new challenge had to be an overly expensive defense system.

As for himself, he didn't have to deal with this kind of thing anymore ever since he left the competition voluntarily due to a certain incident, including himself and an incinerator. After that, he chose not to enter again. He was a business bot after all. Fighting wasn't even his thing, right? And come to think of it...he was deputizing Lord Cowboy Darrell right now, he didn't even need to win anything.

He was just as good as them, even better!

Ernesto's breast swell with confidence when he was called back to reality – literally. The robot tried to put himself together before he answered.

"Ernesto! I was expecting to see Darrell..." Cosma said with quite some surprise and frustration "Where is he?"

"He's, well..." The robot realized his brother never told him why he left and therefore lacked a proper answer.

"Nevermind. Just do me a favor and tell him to call me back as soon as possible." The reptilian woman said in a brusque way, muttering something under her breath before she ended the transmission.

While Ernesto had been quietly witnessing all the fights between Lord Boxman and the board over the years, it occurred to him that perhaps his father wasn't the only one to aggravate Miss Cosma.

Turning back to the little monitor where his siblings were still trying to get through Darrell's challenge, an unlucky move caused him to wipe something off the table.

The robot bent down to pick it up, seeing a card. Taking a closer look on it he recognized Miss Vail. He had only seen her a few times and the CEO never talked about her or the company she came from, let alone what the purpose of her visits was. Ernesto wasn't able to read anything on this POW card with the red marker all over it...the word 'is' was written under her name – two times and crossed out – and under that 'smells ba'.

The robot put the card back on the table. His eye caught something sticking out of the messy stack of paper lying around. Should he...? Darrell hadn't been very...talkative lately.

And anyway, covering his place included taking care of his paperwork right?

He pulled the ill matching paper out thievishly. It was a blueprint. An old one of a Darrell, only the head was replaced with a screen and some things were added with crayon. What would he do with that? Lord Boxman himself didn't really use them and the few times he did it was only another plot to destroy the bodega heroes.

While Ernesto was tipping the paper stack on the table to line them up, it occurred to him. Of course. That's what all this was about...he was trying to –

"I'm back!"

For surprise the papers slipped out of Ernesto's hands under the table.

"Miss Cosma called!" The robot said as he reemerged from picking them up, trying to hide his nervousness under formalities "She wants you to call her back."

"Oh...that's all she said?" The CEO approached with slight distress on his face. He was slightly oil daubed.

"Well, it seemed to be quite urgent..." he replied.

Darrell's face showed quite the same frustration as Cosma's before. Lord Cowboy Darrell looked pensive for a moment. His eye fell on the blueprint.

"Well...thanks!" The CEO said, putting his wrench on the table. Ernesto raised his eye from the blueprint to him. They stared at each other for a second, until Darrell averted his eye, awkwardly drumming his fingers on the table.

"Oh!" The purple robot got out of the chair "I'll get back to work then."

"You do that..." Darrell tipped his fingertips together "Ernesto?"

He turned around to face his boss.

"Yes?"

"Don't...tell the others I made ya deputy, okay?" 

"Of course." Ernesto nodded assuring and turned to leave. He certainly wouldn't.