Energy Failure Escape

The first face Maphira saw upon entering the secret bunker was that of her sister.

“Rylee? What are you doing here?”

Rylee didn’t answer. Instead, she took three long steps forward and wrapped her arms tight around Maphira. “Mai, listen. I’m so sorry I betrayed you. That I gave you over to that traitor, Vai. I’ve regretted it every moment since, especially once I worked out that Cole was just a robot made by the Mechanists.”

Ah, so she’d figured it out and had a change of heart. Guilt tugged at Maphira as she thought about the truth, realising there likely wouldn’t be a better time to reveal what had really happened to Cole. “Rylee…”

“How did you manage to get back?” her sister asked suddenly. “I thought you were a captive to the Conclave?”

Maphira shrugged, the confession temporarily forgotten. “Fortunately for me, Vai was stupid enough to use a 500KW solar system instead of several 30KW solar system installations for the big Project Bender test, which caused it to overload. In the chaos, they kind of forgot all about me.”

“That’s incredible!” Rylee said. “Now, I imagine you need to report to Ratroti, but do you have any idea what actually happened to Bender?’

Shaking her head, Maphira said, “Not really. My guess is that the robot is currently looking for some commercial battery storage to take the energy from and recharge, but it could be anywhere, really. We have to stop it, somehow. It’s a mind-control robot, so we definitely don’t want it falling back into the Conclave’s hands.”

Rylee nodded. “Makes sense. Well, come on. I’ll take you to Ratroti. I’m kind of a hero around here after I came in with a bag of seeds and saved the day.”

“A bag of seeds?” Maphira said. “Oh, you’ll have to tell me all about that.”

Having missed her chance, Maphira figured she’d just have to find another time. The truth could wait a day or two longer, surely.

Bender’s Energy Explanation

Dr Dark McBane stood before all in attendance at the strange auto work theatre. He spread his arms wide, looking over at the Bender robot. “I will now explain what is going on here in excruciatingly unnecessary detail because that’s just something you do as a mad scientist right before a test.”

Maphira prepared to catch onto every detail, seeing as gathering information was the entire reason she’d allowed this to go on for so long.

“We are gathered here today to witness the historic first test of Project Bender, which the Conclave of Mechanists has been working on for many months now. After the previous head scientist mysteriously fell into a pit of crocodiles, I, Dr Dark McBane, took over the project and have brought it to its completion.”

Maphira had to bite her tongue, wanting to shout out that he should just get on with it. Better to let the doctor talk about all his evil robots and energy plans. She was half expecting him to start going on about the benefits of solar power for business.

“The Bender Bot has been designed to twist the minds of its victims, as a sort of basic mind control, if you will. Hence the name, bending the minds of those who oppose us. This test will involve Bender forcing the subject, Maphira, to reveal the location of the Resistance’s secret base. If all goes well, we will have an attack launched there by the end of the day.”

Oh my gosh, it’s straight out of Space Battles, Maphira thought. I’m Princess Lila and he’s Dark Invader. This is so lame.

“Is the solar panel calculator ready?” called Dr McBane.

“Yes, sir!”

“Are the energy cells and power systems turned on?”

“Yes, sir!”

Dr Dark McBane turned to Maphira and grinned. “Then Project Bender, it’s your time to shine. Find out where the Resistance base is, using whatever means necessary!”


Energy Test Reveal

Dr Dark McBane had just called for Project Bender to be brought forward, so once Vai had brought her to the wall, Maphira turned her attention toward the nearest door. 

Contrary to her expectations, Project Bender did not come from the door. Instead, a massive grinding sounded from below ground, as the floor of the strange auto theatre began to shake. A circle opened up, a platform rising from beneath it. On that platform stood a statue made of metal, depicting an android of some sort. Project Bender had great mechanical wings on its back, currently folded inward. 

The statue came to life, stepping forward with jerky movements. It was no robot that could ever pass for a real human, but she suspected that was far from its intention. With its glowing red eyes and wicked smile, Maphira knew this would be a tool of fear only.

“Director Vai,” said Dr McBane I would just like to confirm that you completed many different 30KW solar system installations, correct? A single, larger system could spell disaster for the test.”

“Yes, doctor, that is correct.”

Others might not have noticed it, but Maphira knew Vai well enough to pick up on the way she hesitated before speaking. She’d cut corners with that request – no doubt about it. Better for Maphira’s purposes, for sure.

“Excellent,” the doctor said. “I would like to remind everybody that commercial energy management is no simple task. This project has been months, if not years, in the making, and it is only thanks to the hard work of our entire energy division that we are here to witness this glorious event today. Now, without further ado, I shall explain what is going to happen here.”

So, this was it. The moment Maphira would learn all about Project Bender. Once the doctor was done with his exposition, she’d just have to figure out a way to escape with the information.

One way or another, the Resistance was going to find out what was going on here.