The Idler’s March
“Last time I saw Celine Dion, she was picking her teeth with a hobo’s spine. True story.” Gambit ran a nervous finger down his spinal column. Behind him, a palace guard was studying us closely. “Pick up the pace, Remmy. We’ve got company.”
Gambit staggered forward, more slowly than I would have liked. I suppose glacial movement is the trade off for having him carry AMOK in a rucksack. But as a graduate of the most prestigious engineering college on the east coast, it would have been foolhardy for me not to have suggested the rucksack. The engineering principles were sound, it must have been his implementation of it that was faulty. Gambit was, after all, the product of a failed educational system.
“I AM AMOK! I HAVE A PRESENT FOR YOU!”
Of all the times to...
“Stop right there!” The guard bellowed belligerently in a baritone bellicose. “What’s that contraption you’ve got conspicuously concealed in your cloth?”
“It’s not a bomb, I can tell you that,” I jittered nervously. Instantly, he reached for his walkie-talkie. “I’m telling you, it’s just a normal robot! Although, it has destroyed a plane.”
“This is lobby security. I need backup.” He started backing away from us.
“Self-sealing stem bolts, Phil, give the boys some air!”
All three of us turned (AMOK excluded. There are some disadvantages to being carried around in a rucksack, lack of turning ability is one of them) to meet the gaze of a mighty impressive mountain of a manager. “Crash Atom, I presume?”
“Ha ha, my name and fame of frame precedes me!” Crash guffawed, slapping his belly like a bipedal dolphin. “You must be... Gyrobo, and he’s... Grambit?”
“I AM AMOK! I HAVE A PRESENT FOR YOU!”
Remmy—what I’ve been calling Gambit in an attempt to bond with him—set the rucksack down and picked a half-gold half-green egg from AMOK’s tray: Error in drive P:\ root. Require maintenance.
“Is something the matter with my new headliners?” Crash buzzed, his voice full of concern. If we couldn’t perform that night, a crowd full of angry Klingons would tear him limb from limb. Savage, yes, but that’s the Vegas way.
“AMOK says dere’s something wrong wit him.”
“Come now Remmy,” I sneered, “how would you know if there’s anything wrong with—it ends in a ‘th,’ not a hard ‘t’—AMOK? That’s a level of robotics someone with your brain capacity could never-”
The back of AMOK’s air filter suddenly shot off, and a huge smoky cloud of blue vapor billowed out. All the LED lights on his faceplate lit up at once: “I AM- I AM- I AM- I AM- I AM- I AM-” before he appeared to lose all power and completely shut down. Shades of Satan!
“Dis is odd,” Gambit mused. “Right here... dat’s a J-Siphon!” Holding the small plug between his greasy fingers, he quickly scanned it with my Microsoft-brand tricorder. “It’s got a Republican power signature.”
“NOOOOOOOOO!” Sweet lemur of East Timur! The Republicans- they’d managed to sabotage my mission! But how?! I’d taken so many precautions... “Rudy Giuliani, I swear by AMOK’s hydraulic fluid, I shall avenge him... against you!”
“Without a cameraman, we won’t be able to complete de challenge.”
“Gambit, this is no time for pessimism! Oh, shiny lights!”
Shoving past the debilitated robot, hobbling mutant, and boorish manager, I beheld a spectacle worthy of inclusion in the Robo-Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame- the crystal doors of Caesar’s Palace opened up, and in walked two small children. They tore dozens of rose petals from wicker hand-baskets, tossing them to the ground. Following them, a small choir of woodwind musicians and priestly figures entered, playing/singing in some kind of long-forgotten base tone.
“What’s all this for?” I asked the manager, both awed and humbled by the flagrant display of opulence. Sheer opulence.
“Ah, that’s the procession for Celine Dion,” Crash Atom informed me in his nonchalant, Vincent Price-like voice.
“I’m detecting residual Rudy Giuliani,” Gambit mumbled as he poured over the tricorder.
“Huh? Oh, sorry, I meant chromaton particles. Dere’s residual chromaton particles. Could indicate some pretty advanced technology.”
“Then we only have one option.” I ran quickly to the lobby kiosk, where I slammed a fist angrily down. It’s always a good idea to have a table-like structure nearby. “We must cooperate with this ‘Dion,’ and use her to repair AMOK. Gambit, bring me a hobo’s spine for barter.”