Neutral Zone was undergoing another winter evening as normal. Sheets of snow fell down quickly becoming layers upon layers of piles. It had barely lightened up at all since it first began. The sun was more or less suffocated behind the thick clouds, leaving the many zones like this.
"Come on Fink, Venomous asked us to do this," spoke K.O., a young Level 4 aspiring hero who was getting ready to go out into the snow, putting on a puffy blue coat for the cold weather. His usual red headband legwarmers and matching wristbands were on him as well.
"There's literally NO point! It's just gonna get undone in an hour anyway… what kind of idiot wants to go out into the snow without any shoes on either?! Ever heard of frostbite?" responded Fink, a similarly aged minion with long green hair who was probably the loyalist henchwoman of all, her allegiance sworn to Professor Venomous.
"I've walked through worse without my shoes," K.O. shrugged. He was the son of Venomous, though he had stopped calling him dad a few months back. He came over every other weekend to spend time with his semi-estranged father, despite his mother's continued detest at this idea.
"But he asked us to do this before he got home tonight. We should've done it a lot sooner too," K.O. repeated. They had been asked to just clear the driveway of snow. The mouse growled, knowing he wouldn't quiet down until they did it. She just wanted to stay inside by a virtual fireplace and play games.
"Yeah, and I know boss, he won't care. He's been out with Boxman all day anyway," Fink responded, hating the thought of doing any work that might get immediately undone.
"I guess they're excited for the wedding?" K.O. spoke up. His biological dad marrying someone that the bodega cleaner had considered a rival for a really long time still was an odd concept to the young hero.
"Yeah? What about your mom? Isn't she getting married soon too?" Fink asked, not liking the sounds of going to two weddings so close together. It was just a coincidence, one that could only be described as violently awkward. The soon to be newly-weds all running into each other regularly now, nobody really knew how to feel in that regard.
"Uh huh! Mr. Gar gets more and more nervous by the day though," K.O. responded, still remembering how happy his mother had been when his boss proposed, the bodega team were all happy for them, though it did just hit him that he would soon have four parents technically. The young boy paused to ponder and absorb this.
Fink just raised an eyebrow as she saw him get lost in his thoughts. That cute single fang stuck out from his mouth. The innocent expression always caught her attention. She found it adorable since the first time she saw it, like they were personal quirks, even though she knew the true nature of them.
"Do you think anything'll be different after the weddings?" K.O. chirped to the minion, noticing her slightly dazed look. She shook it off when she finally registered his query.
"You mean do I think Boxman will stop attacking the plaza? Yeah… for like a week," Fink gave a toothy grin. K.O. immediately felt his hopes of peace between the two families wane. Even if they all got along decently, their workplace rivalry was still strong.
"At least that means we can hang out together more, right?" the bodega cleaner said. He treated everybody like dear friends. Trying to get closer with the mouse was high up on that list. So far Fink had stopped going for his eyes in fights, he hoped that was a sign that he had made progress.
"When's your mom coming to get you again?" Fink asked, trying to dodge that subject.
"I dunno… depends on if she can get through the snow," K.O. shrugged. He was meant to leave his dads home this evening, though with how bad the snow was getting, he thought he might have to spend an extra night there.
"Dang it. I was looking forward to helping boss…" Finks voice trailed off as an idea sprung to mind. She noticed K.O. looking at a nearby table that had something familiar to her resting on it.
K.O. picked up a scarf that he had seen resting on the table. It was orange and had an indistinguishable pattern on it. A few strings seemed to have got yanked and as result the scarf had started falling apart gradually. "What's this?" he asked her.
"It's a scarf boss gave me last year…" the young henchwoman got up from her seat with a grin spreading on her face, as an idea formed, trying to ignore that her scarf was long beyond gone in terms of usability. Fink cherished every little thing Professor Venomous gave her, this scarf was definitely one of them. "You wanna get to know me better?"
"Yeah!" K.O. nodded, "The only thing I know about you is that you want to be a researcher and a pro at videos games one day," he explained. He learned so by watching her and Venomous mainly, K.O. always thought it was cute seeing the mouse trying to play junior mad scientist.
Fink grabbed his wrist with one of her pink gloved hands and began to lead him along. "Come on then! Boss has a new machine that I'm sure he'd love having someone test for him," Fink insisted. She was planning on using him as a guinea pig, to make him feel like he had been helpful and to get him to quiet down.
"Really?! Dendy says I'm a great tester," K.O. was happy to hear this. He left the tattered scarf behind on the table where his bags were set, hoping this test would at least be safe. He never knew what it was Professor Venomous and Boxman might be crafting in their labs, and that was not even thinking about the Boxbots tampering with anything.
"Yeah, sure, whatever," Fink didn't care much after getting him to agree. She just hoped hoping this would make the Level 4 hero quiet down for a while and at the same time make her boss happy to have one less thing to test.
When they got into the lab, K.O. could see the many machines, gadgets and tools lining the walls. He always got awestruck by the laboratory, everything seemed to change in it with each couple of weeks. It was nothing like Dendy's, that didn't change how amazing it truly was to him. K.O. was always easily impressed, even if he didn't understand it all.
"Hey, snap outta it, you stink'n hero. I don't know much with this," Fink commented, forcing K.O. to break out of his astonishment. The young rat stood by a rather simple yet strange looking machine.
"What is this?" K.O. asked innocently enough. The device was attached to a table. It had two metallic arm cuffs welded in place. The center held an octagon shaped container with a million different empty vials in it, and the center of that held a ball that looked mostly clear yet tough.
"Gimme a second. I'm trying to find boss's notes," Fink said. Normally Professor Venomous left his notes for his inventions near the creations. This time however, there was barely anything beyond a few sticky notes. Like all the real documents got hidden away, or misplaced. "This is seriously all there is?" the rat couldn't really believe this. She guessed this meant the invention was the newest of Voxman industries creation. Venomous had been talking about some big project with Boxman for months that Fink had tried to learn about, but her eavesdropping resulted in nothing, just bits and pieces, like they were being extra secretive.
"Is it missing parts?" K.O. asked, wondering if it was just unfinished. It reminded him of a few science fair projects he had seen at school a while back. It was too advanced for him to remember all the details.
"It's done… just… not really anything here, notes of its name, settings, and how to use it," Fink guessed there had not been any form of testing done. It made her even more eager to get it tested to make her boss happy. "It's called the… L-C-U, I think? It's a little hard to read but the rest of the writings okay," Fink flipped through the single sheet of paper with many sticky notes all over it. She used her tail to begin turning all the dials and knobs on the machine to set things up, as the notes read.
"It takes samples from two individuals and reads them thoroughly, then it spins them with all the mixtures to combine them," Fink read it exactly as it said, looking over it, the rest of the paper was just telling them what they needed.
"Combine them to do what?" K.O. requested, taking the paper from his green haired friend, seeing the list of items they needed. They were dumbed down with cute little drawn images, presumably for the sake of Boxman's robotic children.
"Dunno. That's what we're here to test," Fink pointed to the cabinet stuffed with beakers. The brushy haired hero hesitated a moment before going to get them.
"Are you sure this'll be okay? The last time I tested something without knowing what it did, I wound up with a second tongue for a week," K.O. exclaimed. Doing experiments for Dendy was one thing. Doing tests for someone like Venomous that he still had trust issues with, despite their continuous apologetic efforts, was another thing.
"Boss isn't like Boxman. He puts a lot of planning into something before he makes it," Fink argued. Once he got the beakers for the list, he took them and loaded four of them into slots of the machine at her orders as she pointed out.
"Don't you know everything your boss does?" K.O. raised an eyebrow, finding it rather suspicious for there to be an invention that she did not know about.
"I've been busy helping with the wedding planning!" Fink replied irritably. She was more impressed that her boss was able to invent anything with the stress that came naturally with setting up a wedding.
"Did I do it right?" K.O. asked, looking at the four beakers. Its diverse colors stick out from the corners of the machine. She looked at the many sticky notes again and nodded.
"Looks like it," the young minion threw the papers aside. Staying at the control console. "Ready to do this?" she asked, trying to hide her eagerness to see what this machine could do.
"I-I think so," K.O. nodded nervously, trying to stay enthusiastic at the concept of helping someone like he always loved to do.
"Okay. Take a seat and put your arm through that cuff thing," Fink pointed a gloved finger at the metallic brace. K.O. could have sworn he saw something like that at the dentist's. He wanted to ask more questions, yet complied, just wanting to be friendly.
K.O. took a seat and slipped his right arm through the cuff. "O-ok, it's in," he confirmed. Fink flipped the on switch, and she watched as the cuff tightened around her young friend's forearm.
"Subject one prepared," the console spoke out. Fink watched intently to see what would happen. The young hero felt more anxious than excited. The mouse began to turn the rest of the machine on. "ERROR! Cannot begin without subject two being prepared," the console suddenly spoke up. K.O. had his eyes closed, expecting pain, opening one cautiously.
"Subject two? What? This thing won't work on one person?" Fink pounded the console in irritation. Though she swore she could hear Jethro scolding her in the back of her mind already about trying to beat things into working.
"Does that mean I have to put my other arm in too?" K.O. asked, looking to the other cuff hesitantly. He could break out of them easily if this was a trap, yet it still made him worried about what the invention did if it took two people to use it.
"No. You're too short to reach the other one… Fine. I guess I'll tag in," Fink finally decided, hopping over the console and approaching him, taking the seat beside him. Her long time boss would only be prouder at her for testing this herself as well.
"You're the same size as me though…" K.O. mumbled, only to then realize what she had said a moment afterwards. "W-wait! I don't want you to hurt yourself!" K.O. tried to stop his game loving associate.
"I'll be fine," Fink scoffed at his expressed fears, seeing the cuff latch onto her left arm. She didn't show it, but she was grateful that he at least cared. Then again, he treated everybody the same. Their alignment to good or evil didn't matter to him. It was a major strength and weakness, something everybody knew about him.
"Subject two prepared. Subject one prepared. Bringing up health displays," the console droned after registering them, both being locked in place as monitors popped up for the two. K.O.'s fear only increased. His heart rate matched that.
"Okay, maybe you were right," Fink gulped, trying to stay relaxed. They saw the beakers beginning to release their contents into the machine, filling up the various vials it held.
Something suddenly stabbed K.O.'s trapped arm. "O-ow! Hey!" he whined. It felt like something was being threaded into the new opening in his flesh, a thin wire being guided throughout his body. He did not like it whatsoever, it was creepy.
"Yeow! What in the name of Cob is this thing doing?!" Fink yelped, feeling the same happening now. It wasn't painful after the initial cut, it still made her feel equally as uncomfortable though.
"Genetic sequence samples harvested, turbonic gene samples harvested from Subject one and Subject two. Preparations complete," the console continued. The young hero and villain felt a lot better when whatever it was that had been snaking all through their body finally got removed. The cuffs on their arms released them.
Fink could see a band aid covering the nick on her forearm that the machine gave her, same for K.O. They watched the last of the empty vials of the machine get filled. All the colors looked rather beautiful, circling that clear ball in the center of it all.
"I-is it over?" the Level 4 hero murmured. He didn't wish for any more weirdness like that to happen. Even Dendy's experiments weren't that invasive most of the time.
"How am I supposed to know, blockhead?!" the minion retorted, not hesitating to take her anger out on him. Though their micro argument got interrupted when they heard a whir. The machine began spinning rapidly and every vial began to get injected into the clear ball.
"Specimen is complete. Shutting down," the console finished, and the machine slowed to a halt. The center opened to reveal the sphere, no longer clear, but a rainbow of colors.
"Whoa…" K.O. awed. After a moment, he reached in and grabbed the ball, taking it out. He found it beautiful. Fink was just as mesmerized. Eventually those rainbows of colors faded, settling on a light blue liquid. "What is it?" K.O. asked her. She took it from him and looked it over with a raised eyebrow, wondering if this was her boss's invention or something dumb Boxman made. Honestly it looked like an over sized fake glorb toy meant for a child to use as a makeshift nightlight.
"How am I supposed to know? All I got is a bunch of sticky notes on how to just work the hunk of junk," Fink responded, not sure what the L.C.U. was supposed to do. She handed him back the clear ball full of light blue liquid.
"Should we put it back?" K.O. asked. As nice as it felt to just hold it, he didn't know if they should touch it without Venomous seeing the results since it had never been tested before according to the henchwoman.
"Nah, it's probably just a health ball. You can keep it," Fink shrugged, assuming it was some special healing item. "And thanks for helping test it, I guess, hero…" she rolled of her eyes. K.O. loved hearing that. He pulled her into a tight hug. The young mouse felt heat rushing to her face.
"It was a little creepy, but I'm just happy to help!" the Level 4 hero spoke. The clear ball was held between them as they embraced. They heard noises upstairs.
"Peanut? Hey! I'm here to pick ya up! Sorry I'm late," the familiar voice of Carol, K.O.'s mother, called out from upstairs, after she had finally gotten through the snow to this lair. Her son not answering his phone made her come inside on her own. The young hero realizing he had left it in his bag upstairs.
"Oh! I'm coming, mommy!" K.O. called back, breaking apart with Fink as he hurried off. "Bye Fink! I'll see you later!" K.O. told the mouse, knowing she'd probably get sent to attack him long before the next visit to his father's house.
"Yeah, yeah, take care," Fink gave a wave. Watching him vanish up the steps, holding the ball like a cherished memento. The mouse turned back to the machine they had tested.
"Whatever you are, you sure are creepy," Fink said to it. She got to cleaning everything up, to save her boss the trouble. Something felt wrong to her though. She couldn't put her finger on what. The only thing she could actually do was ignore it.
K.O. rode along in the passenger seat of his mother's car, looking at the beautiful snowfall as they drove through the snow covered roads. The tires had safety flamethrowers set to max to help along the icy roads.
"Did you have fun at Professor Venomous's honey?" Carol asked, keeping her eyes on the road. She always had to query about this with her son, more so out of her own personal worry for her son's well being. She didn't trust his biological father one bit.
"Yeah! I baked cupcakes with Shannon and Fink! I got to help Boxman pick out their wedding cake too," K.O. declared, looking happy to be around the ever growing Boxmore family, even if they all considered each other rivals too.
"You're becoming a regular wedding planner," Carol jokingly laughed, rubbing his head and messing up his brushy hair a little. She took notice of the ball in his hands. "What's that you got there, peanut?" she asked. It looked strange to her, like some kind of new toy meant for stress relief.
"Oh, I dunno what it is! It glows and feels warm though," K.O. held it up in his hands for his mother to see in a proud manner. That warmth it emanated was minor. He could feel it in his palms and fingers.
"Venomous didn't give you that, did he?" Carol cautiously asked, looking ready to chuck it as far out of the car window as possible the second she heard 'yes'.
"Nope! Fink and me made it, but we don't know what it is," K.O. showed that same innocent smile. His mother felt relieved to hear that, since Fink tended to be a lot more trustable by herself, as confusing as it might sound.
"Alright, K.O. make sure you don't lose it though," Carol said, recalling how she had to watch over Fink often as well, since the young mouse wanted to spend time with her, just like how her son spent time with Venomous.
"Don't worry mommy, I won't!" K.O. reassured. He never had a problem with losing things. He would treat it as well as he treated his own POW card collection.
The Level 4 hero returned to watching the falling snowflakes, keeping the tough ball of light blue liquid inside his puffy coat, not noticing the throbbing pulse that it gave off with the light.
Later in the day, when night had fallen, Fink fell asleep on the couch, peacefully snoring away. Cleaning up the lab had exhausted her.
"Fink!" she was snapped awake by the familiar call of her boss, quickly scampering on all fours back down to the lab where she had heard his voice.
"H-hi, boss! I didn't know you were home!" Fink panted, not knowing she slept through his return home. The purple skinned scientist looked over everything in the lab.
"Sorry. I wanted to let you sleep, but then I noticed something," Professor Venomous went over to the LCU that Fink and K.O. had tested, without his knowledge. The mouse wanted to initially announce what they had done, but her boss looked unhappy. "Have you used this machine?" he glared down at his loyal minion like a snake startling its prey, freezing her in place.
"W-whaddya mean, b-boss?" Fink requested clarity, now losing all her usual nerve. Her boss's emotions ran high lately from the stress that came with the wedding preparations, and trying to make amends with his son made that stress paramount.
"There's supposed to be a ball within this device, and it shouldn't have been able to be removed without it being used," Professor Venomous elaborated, his arms crossed. The tiny mouse felt her fear escalating further. She didn't wish to take the blame for it, especially now that she knew he was mad about it. Fink decided to gamble.
"Y-you tested it before bed last night, boss! R-remember? You wouldn't let me help because you said it was a secret…" Fink answered with her best fake sadness from the obvious secrecy that came from her boss's strange invention.
Professor Venomous raised an eyebrow as he looked over the machine. It wasn't like there was a tracker to it that noted whoever used it. The fiancé villain shook his head, running a hand across his eyes like they were sore.
"I really need to get some sleep. I'm becoming paranoid…" Professor Venomous exhaled, believing the lie, much to Finks immense relief.
"Can you tell me what it is, boss?" the young rat immediately requested. Her boss rubbed her hand, making her purr, enjoying his hand in her hair comforting her.
"It's a surprise, Fink. Not just for you or just for Boxy, but for all of us… I've been working on it since he first proposed," Professor Venomous smiled fondly. It wasn't unusual for him to look proud with an invention, but Fink never saw him get utterly filled with pride like this. She wondered what he meant by it being a surprise for every one of them. "By the way, did Carol come and get K.O.?" the villain asked.
"Yeah. It was a while ago," his loyal minion nodded, following him back upstairs. Though when they got back upstairs, she noticed her scarf was missing. She tried not to pay it much attention.
"Alright. You should go to bed. The snow's gonna leave a lot behind by tomorrow, we'll actually get to play some," Venomous told her. Fink nodded, giving her boss a quick hug as high as she could reach before she left to return to her room.
"Cob, I hope that machine isn't dangerous…" Fink muttered to herself out of worry. She was disappointed in herself for not being able to tell her boss about how she and K.O. had tested it and he had left with the apparent results, at her approval no-less. She still wasn't going to be put at complete fault for it though.
"I'll find a way to pin the blame on K.O. later… After the wedding."
Chapter 2: Revelation
Authors Note: Hey all, I appreciate all the support. I am scared that I'm not doing this well since I have so many ideas in mind, but either way I hope you enjoy. I'm making this note mainly to let you know the cover art is from Mysterious Skull on amino.
The next day at Lakewood Plaza Turbo, everything was going normal. The plaza regulars were all enjoying the leftover snow this morning. Some were making snow statues and others were having snowball wars.
K.O. stood at the window inside Gar's bodega, happily watching as he mopped away at the floor, wearing his usual blue vest.
"It's days like this that make you wanna stay inside all day, huh?" the Level 4 hero heard Enid's voice. He looked to see her relaxed behind the front counter in a sweater. Her purple hair was pulled up into its usual ponytail.
"I think I'd like to be playing outside with you all a while longer, but we gotta stay warm in case Boxmore attacks," K.O. stated. There was no such thing as a day of rest from Boxmore industries, even with the upcoming weddings, though he appreciated his dear friends and co-workers joining him outside in the snow for a short time before they had to open the bodega.
"How was your weekend at Venomous's? Anything interesting happen while you were there?" Enid questioned, curious. Her young dear friend put the mop aside now that he finished, coming over to the front register. The ninja hated the Boxmore family a lot, yet she was curious how K.O. interacted with them all.
"I had a lot of fun! Me, Shannon, and Fink baked cupcakes, I got to help pick out Boxman's wedding cake… oh! And me and Fink made something!" the brushy haired boy reached into his vest pocket and pulled out the glowing ball of light blue liquid, showing it to one of his best friends.
"You guys made a glorb?" Enid quirked an eyebrow, taking it into one hand, throwing it up and catching it a few times like it was a baseball and she was trying to think. The tough ball was warm, yet felt comforting to just even touch, like it had a soothing effect.
"I dunno… maybe! It helps me stay warm, so I always keep it close," the young hero said, catching the tough ball full of liquid during one of the throws. He even kept it close when he slept. It felt wrong to leave it alone. For Enid though, an artificial glorb making machine sounded exactly like something Venomous would create.
"You're too cute for your own good, y'know that?" Enid leaned over, rubbing his head and messing up his hair. K.O. was adorable every day. Everyone he interacted with was made happier by his presence. It was just his mindset and personality that did it.
"Thanks Enid! Have you and Elodie been doing okay?" K.O. asked. The question made the high-leveled ninja pause, as well as damage her mood slightly. She and her childhood friend Elodie had got together recently after her last girlfriend had left the neutral zone for professional reasons, it had left the bodega cashier in a deep depression for a while to say the least.
"We're… having serious talks about a lot of things, really," the winja answered. Normally she would lie and say nothing was wrong, but one of the serious topics that the clerk and her girlfriend talked about was being more honest and open with their feelings and thoughts, who better to practice just that with than the cleaner himself.
"Can I help with any of those things?" The level 4 boy offered, eager to do whatever it took to help someone as always. He kept the ball close to his chest, feeling its pulsing warmth.
"I want to say no, you can't, but… honestly, you're the best therapist I know in my life. Maybe you can help us both, soon," Enid responded, giving him a small hug as thanks. It was like having another little brother ever since he entered her life.
"You got it Enid!" K.O. gave a thumbs up, assuring he'd be there for her no matter what, just like he would for all of his friends.
"Guys!" the doors burst open to show the Level 5 alien, Radicles, standing there, half of him coated with snow.
"What's going on Rad?" Enid raised an eyebrow, wondering why he was panicking, though she had a pretty good guess in mind.
"Did something happen?" K.O. added worriedly, stuffing the ball of light blue liquid away into his vest pocket again.
"We're under attack! The alarms must've frozen up, they've already took a chunk out of the parking lot!" the alien exclaimed. Boxmore was attacking the plaza once again. The three quickly ran out of the bodega and into the cold weather to confront their rivals.
The bodega trio arrived at the parking lot and saw the remnants of a large Boxmore crate. Three familiar robots stood over it, wearing various winter attires, having been waiting for them to arrive after they had did damage to their immediate surroundings.
"You guys sure took your sweet time," Shannon chuckled with a buzzsaw swirling. They had already scared off the other plaza regulars around.
"I must say, I was hoping to just enjoy today inside with a nice book," Raymond, the sports loving egotist of the robotic family, commented.
"We were supposed to be helping Daddy pick out flowers and the snow ruined it," whined Darrell, the one-eyed robot. He enjoyed helping with the weddings more than anything lately, especially helping everyone find great outfits to dress with.
"Don't worry. We'll send you back faster than you got here," Enid scoffed, not caring for their usual pre-battle banter right now. She hated having the peace ruined, even if she appreciated the save from a rough conversation.
"I was having plenty of fun in the snow, then you hunks of junk ruined it again!" Rad added, looking ready to destroy them now. He looked more annoyed than the bodega ninja when her breaks got interrupted.
"Can't we call the fight off and just have our own snowball fight?" K.O. requested with the first chance he got to speak, not wanting to get stuck cleaning up scrap bits in the snow despite how much he loved his job.
"Nope," Enid cracked her knuckles, "They're cutting into my break time."
"Sorry little buddy," Rad spoke.
"Apologies, our soon-to-be-stepbrother, but the answer is no," Raymond shook his head.
"We already came all the way out here," explained Shannon, "So we're gonna get some exercise while we're here!"
"Sorry shrimp, Daddy's orders," Darrell bluntly repeated.
"Dang it…" K.O. sighed, slightly frustrated by his soon to be robotic step-siblings' stubbornness. Even if they all got along better lately, that didn't change their behavior in battle. Both groups charged at one another, to tackle their opponents and to separate them into one-on-one duels like normal.
Buzzsaws were coming at Enid like rapid gunfire as she dodged left to right. Shannon tore up anything those saws hit that wasn't tough enough to stop their blades.
"I'm impressed! You're actually getting faster!" the teenage ninja witch grinned, having to throw herself back first into the snow to duck under a large spiral attack. Fighting the orange robot was like fighting an ice skater.
"Just because my brothers are too lazy to train right, doesn't mean I am!" Shannon fired several dozen more buzzsaws like shuriken. The high-leveled cashier could not deny how weird it was to her.
Enid suddenly vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving a log in her place, which a saw cut in half. Shannon had no time to react when the ninja reappeared behind her.
"Meep!" Boxman's daughter squeaked. Enid lit her leg on fire and front flipped, delivering a heavy axe kick on top of the orange bots head hard enough to bury her into the snow.
Shannon groaned. The ninja crouched down beside her, holding her phone.
"Smile for the camera," Enid smiled before beginning to snap a few pictures of the two of them.
Rad jumped over a bowling ball that had gotten chucked his way, hearing Raymond laughing as he made several baseballs appear in his hand.
"Come now, Radicles! You can't lose your cool that easily," the egotistical machine threw a hail of the baseballs. Each one that made contact, with either Rad or the ground, exploding instantly.
"Blorp!" the Level 5 alien growled out, feeling the intense sting from them as a few hit him. "No holding back today?! Alright! Just my style!" Rad began firing blasts of rays from his fingers, shooting several of the projectiles out of the air. He fired out several psychic rays as soon as he got breathing room.
"Hm?" Raymond was surprised when his explosive baseballs all began to get caught by the beams that stretched out like a rubber net. His pitching arms eventually ran out of ammo. With every baseball rounded up like sheep, Rad made his beams wrap around the explosives, trapping them all together.
"My turn now!" Radicles dug his feet into the ground, gripping the end of the psychic beam hard. He began to spin, swinging the net around several times overhead. Raymond tried to stop him with several more sports related weaponry, but the alien tanked through the attacks or destroyed them with the overloaded makeshift net.
Rad cheered as he dunked the large net of explosive baseballs onto Raymond, they erupted into one giant explosion, turning the sports machine into scrap.
"Heh! Maybe this is better than a snowball fight," the alien smirked, wiping some of the snow that had gotten splattered onto him off of himself.
"Just stand still!" Darrell whined as he continued to fire blasts of plasma at K.O., who dodged and rolled around to avoid each.
"Stop shooting and I will!" the Level 4 hero retorted with a laugh, blue aura radiating from his arms. He punched one blast into the air, a Power Fist as K.O. called it. He treated this more like a small game. It was nothing unusual compared to all the times he played with the Boxmore bots whenever he visited.
The brush haired boy quickly made a ball of snow before chucking it, hitting Darrell in his one eye.
"Hey! No fair, that's cheating!" cried Darrell, blinded. K.O. ran up and delivered a strong uppercut. Nuts and bolts ruptured from the robot as he was sent flying back first onto a car, denting it heavily upon impact.
"Fink told me to play as fair as your enemies," the bodega cleaner shrugged with a smile. With the last of the Boxmore bots handled, the three bodega workers regrouped.
"You two okay?" Enid asked. She saw Rad banged up but K.O. unscathed, the fight had been rather easy as if the robots had wanted to get it over with just as fast as they did.
"I'll be fine. I've dealt with way worse injuries," Rad smirked, looking down at the Level 4 hero.
"Darrell didn't even hit me," K.O. reassured with a sense of pride. The three were relieved to have gotten the fight over with before time was really wasted. They all began to make their way back to the bodega, walking through the snow as it crumpled beneath their feet.
K.O. suddenly gasped, like someone had stabbed him in the chest with an icicle. "Oh gosh, that's cold…!"
"What's up little buddy?" Rad quirked an eyebrow. They wondered if his shoeless escapades in such cold weather had finally caught up with him. K.O. pulled out the tough ball he had brought with him. As they could see, it had changed from light blue to a dark purple.
"I-I don't know! Me and Fink made this last night and it was warm a moment ago. Now it feels like ice!" K.O. exclaimed, barely able to hold it. The purple liquid in the ball made it feel like it was giving him frostbite on the mere touch.
"What is that anyway?" the Level 5 alien hit it with a psychic ray which grabbed it, taking it off their friend's hands to save him from the minor juggling act, as cute as it might be, though the teenager did not even need to directly touch it to feel how cold it was.
"I thought it was a fake glorb, but I don't think glorbs do that," Enid commented. Glorbs were a strange, yet naturally made source of power. If anyone could find a way to make counterfeits of glorbs, it would probably make them a fortune. It's why she thought it was right up Venomous's alley to try and make fake ones, since he had made several attempts to outright pilfer the plazas.
"D-did it break in the fight?" The level 4 hero asked, looking upset, hoping he didn't break a cherished item so soon after he got it by being careless in his rolling around.
"Nah. Prolly a weird heat absorber or something. I'm sure it'll be fine if you throw it in the microwave," Rad reassured as they continued back to the bodega, carrying it for their friend.
"That or make it explode…" Enid mumbled, having witnessed that a lot with items that were advertised as trendy and helpful, they would wind up on their shelf one time, and never again after a few customer complaints.
"I don't want to break it worse…" K.O. worriedly spoke as they returned into the bodega. He jumped up and took the ball of purple liquid from Rad's latching ray. The dark aspect of it lightened up as they re-entered the bodega. It was reacting to something. Whatever that something was, they didn't know. "Oh, I know!" K.O. spoke up with an idea springing to mind.
"What is it?" Enid asked, returning to behind the register.
"I'll call Dendy! She'll figure it out," K.O. smiled. His kappa of a classmate had an IQ that could rival everybody they knew, he knew she would be able to help.
"Good idea, K.O.! If you're worried about heating it back up though, you can use a blaster gauntlet set to really low and it'll act like a heater," Rad explained, mainly speaking from experience he had when he needed his own fair share of heat treatments to treat his past injuries.
"Thanks, Rad! I'll take my break early," K.O. took off, holding the chilly clear ball, needing to get it warmed up and call his friend over for help.
"You're a lot more resourceful than you think," Enid commented to her friend, guessing someone that interacted with so many small tools daily would naturally find more uses for them than what they initially were intended to be for.
"I just know the supplies, that's all… I'm gonna go handle cleaning the Boxmore scrap up this time, since K.O.'ll be busy," Radicles volunteered, though he merely wanted an excuse to go back to enjoying the snow.
"Alright Rad, have fun," the purple haired ninja nodded, and chuckled, not arguing against it. Their boss was out today, working on more wedding preparations with Carol, so there was no risk of being yelled at for their slacking. The bodega workers returned to their own tasks.
K.O. sat alone in the break room, resting on one of the beanbag chairs, having made the call to Dendy already. He was staring at the tough ball as it was in the gentle grip of a blasting gauntlet, which was heating it up as it was being held.
"Maybe it's a heating ball…" the Level 4 hero pondered. The color had changed from purple and was slowly turning back to blue. He felt very worried though. He didn't want to tell Fink next time he saw her that he broke it, especially given how painful and creepy it had been to create it in the first place, he didn't want to get her in trouble with Venomous either.
"Maybe mommy'd know what you are?" K.O. spoke to the ball as he held the gauntlet, looking over the ball, unsure why he felt so bad about this. How something could be so tough yet need such tender care was the most confusing part.
"…I guess you're kind of like me then huh?" The young boy joked after that thought crossed his mind. His mother described him in this way before. "T.K.O. You awake?" He spoke up to himself, trying to get the twin in his head to speak up.
"You know I hate winter…" T.K.O. replied, grumbling.
"Sorry, but you know sleeping too long isn't good," K.O. apologized. T.K.O., his inner twin, was why he had a single fang sticking out from the corner of his mouth. They shared the body, but they could change who controlled it or combine their powers into one.
"Do you know what this is?" K.O. asked, referring to the ball of liquid. The two had advanced schedules on who would control the body and when, though once winter hit, T.K.O. wanted to just stay in the mindscape like a hibernating bear.
"It looks like one of those stupid emotion toys…" The turbonic boy commented, though knew normally that was more meant for jewelry. Having something that read emotion sounded useful in a sense, but to hear his twin put his feelings on such prominent display also felt creepy if that was the case.
"Alright… sorry for waking you up," replied the young hero.
"Don't worry about it, just make a pizza appear for me, and I'll call it even," T.K.O. assured it was fine. He heard his twin lightly laugh.
"You got it," K.O. nodded, though now he wished he had a warm pizza. He hadn't eaten lunch or even breakfast today, slept past the first an attack interrupted the second.
"Apologies for my tardiness, K.O.," a familiar voice spoke from the doorway. He smiled at the sight of Dendy the kappa in her usual jumpsuit and technologically advanced backpack.
"Dendy! You got here fast," the brush haired boy pulled his close friend into a hug, leaving the blaster gauntlet resting on the nearby table.
"Yes. You sounded distressed, so I made my way over immediately," Dendy gladly returned his embrace. After which, K.O. led her over to the table to let her see the ball itself.
"This is my problem. We don't know what it is. I helped make it last night and…" K.O. felt his voice trail off, letting her see for herself. The kappa adjusted her leafy beret to keep her head pond covered.
"I've never seen anything like this before," Dendy commented, removing it from the blasting gauntlet and letting an extension come out of her backpack, creating a small circle grip to keep it still.
"Me and Fink made it when we were messing around with a machine last night," explained K.O., "It was really warm and felt nice to have, but after I fought with Boxmore, it got colder than ice."
"You two created this with a Voxmore Industries Device? Fascinating," Dendy said. She understood why he was afraid. She knew he had a tendency to cherish new items and to store them away like Carol did with her old items from her P.O.I.N.T. days. Breaking something so soon after he got it would naturally dampen his mood.
The young boy watched the kappa as she set up several things from her backpack. A small virtual monitor, a microscope and another hand to help keep it steady. The bodega cleaner did tell her to be careful despite how tough it was.
"Now to begin the examination… if I can just find out the contents of the ball, I should be able to tell you what it is with ease," Dendy claimed, bringing herself down to the microscope to view the ball through it.
"Thanks Dendy. I owe you one," K.O. smiled, feeling a lot more relieved already just by her being there. He guessing his co-workers were both busy with customers.
After analyzing the strange ball with another extended tool of her advanced backpack, a hundred different things appeared on her monitor that made him confused instantly. He wasn't that smart. Advanced science wasn't for him, science in general really wasn't for him.
"This appears to be a special mixture of chemicals. They change color according to the temperature to show when it's in distress and what it needs," Dendy spoke as she looked over the monitor. She started to look more confused than her dear friend did, "That doesn't make sense…"
"What doesn't make sense, Dendy?" K.O. questioned, wondering if he could help.
"The fluid makeup is of a consistency one would see with… embryonic cells," the highly intelligent kappa stated.
"Embro…? Err… I don't know what that is," K.O. reminded her. His friend tended to get like this whenever she started in on something that she found fascinating, like a trance overtaking her.
After another minute of looking intensely through her microscope, the kappa looked up. The expression of realization spreading across her face.
"…K.O., do you know what a fetus is?" Dendy queried. He paused, trying to think deeply, swearing they had been taught something about this in school before it let out for the winter.
"Uhm… O-oh yeah! It's a baby, right?" K.O. answered. She nodded, motioning him over. He was getting more and more confused by the minute.
"Look," She motioned to the microscope, the young boy peeking through it. All he saw was a bunch of weird stuff he couldn't recognize.
"I appreciate you treating me like I'm smart, Dendy, but what is it?" The level 4 hero asked.
"K.O., this is an artificial womb, with modified chemicals to act as the embryonic fluid. There's signs that a newborn is forming within it as we speak," the level 3 genius exclaimed, looking torn between being excited at this and disheartened.
"W-wait… you're saying that… that machine made a-a baby?" K.O. stammered as he stared wide eyed, feeling his heart sink to his stomach as everything fell into place with the revelation. He was also realizing why his biological father made it now as well.
"Yes, with parts of genetic material it harvested from your bodies… frankly, it's quite the amazing miracle of science, but there's a lot of concerns I have."
"…oh…" gulped K.O. With that lack of reply, Dendy decided to list them off so he would know, assuming he would want to either way.
"There's no means of providing nourishment to the ball, so that means one had most likely not been developed yet, so the invention this was made with was probably incomplete. There's also the worry about what will happen with a hybrid creation between a rat and a human, that has a strong turbonic genetic sequences, as well as dog genes in their body… and that most likely means the survival rate for this fetus is most likely zero as well…" there was a crash that cut her off mid sentence. "K.O.?" She turned around to see him laid on the floor, fainted. She came over to shake him slightly but couldn't get him to wake up.
"Oh dear… I forgot to factor in your fainting rate," Dendy sighed, cursing herself for being too absorbed in the moment of scientific revelation. She got out her phone to text Enid and Rad for help, as well as K.O.'s mother to let her know he had fainted and most likely suffered a concussion.
"I suppose I'll help keep it secret for your sake as well, at least until you reawaken," the kappa thought, though was more so interested in studying everything about this for her own research. She did however feel a pang of jealousy in her heart from realizing that Fink was the mother in this situation, but shook it off trying not to let it bother her.
"I wish I could congratulate you on your fatherhood, K.O.… I'm sorry though. Without the ability to be fed or absorb nutrients through the artificial womb, your first child is going to starve long before it's even remotely viable," the young girl sighed, looking to the child carrying ball, letting a few of her cables from her backpack reach over and put the artificial womb onto the blasting gauntlet again to let it continue warming it.
"I just hope you take the news better when you're conscious once again."
Chapter 3: Breakdown
K.O. groaned. His head stirring as he felt someone shaking him. His eyelids fluttered open. Enid was sitting there, looming above him.
"He just fainted for no reason?" the Level 10 ninja asked, sounding distressed from the news of their young friend fainting.
"Affirmative," replied the young Kappa, though she was lying for her classmate's sake.
"I swear, if this is something that Voxmore did, I'll tear them apart," Enid growled. Both sides had agreed to not use any underhanded tactics or overly complex plans until the weddings and honeymoons were all settled.
"E-Enid…?" K.O. chirped, feeling his head rested on her lap. She looked down at him.
"K.O.! Hey. How are you feeling?" Enid ran a hand through his hair, trying to make sure he stayed relaxed. He looked to Dendy who gave a small wave, the artificial womb still rested on the blasting gauntlet.
"I-I… yeah… I'm just really tired," K.O. felt his memory come back. He wanted to faint again, but resisted since his brain was in fifty different places now. He tried to stand up, only to be stopped by his co-worker.
"No, no, just stay relaxed. Your mom will be here soon to take you to the hospital," Enid told the cleaner. He shook his head, forcing himself back up onto his feet.
"I-I'm fine. I don't need to go to the hospital. Thanks for taking care of me," K.O. felt bad for making his friends worry. Enid let out a frustrated sigh. She knew the kid really hated hospitals, though she still wished he would get a checkup at least.
"I'm gonna go chase out the last customers and start closing. You stay here," the high-leveled ninja ordered. The young boy nodded, watching her stand up and leave to finish up today's work early.
"Where's Rad?" K.O. looked around for the alien. Dendy came over and put a hand on his shoulder, making him relax.
"Radicles went to talk to Shannon about whether they used any new secret weaponry in their last assault on the plaza," the Level 3 genius stated. According to the alien, she was the most trustworthy of Boxman's children. Dendy let them go along with this lie to save them from any further stress.
"…Did I imagine everything?" K.O. asked with a dim hopelessness on his face. His dear friend took in a breath.
"No, K.O. This is your child… and Fink's. But without a means to feed it, there is no chance it will survive past a week of gestation," Dendy repeated, ready to catch him if he passed out again. Just mentioning Fink in the sentence made her skin crawl, but her brain was deeply fascinated in many ways.
"I-I created something just so it will die?" K.O. whimpered. He approached the artificial womb, taking it from the blasting gauntlet and holding it in his hands, feeling that warmth the light blue liquid in it held.
"You didn't intend on its creation, just like thirty percent of children out there," explained Dendy, "There's no need to feel guilty. They will expire without any pain…"
"No!" K.O. shouted as he held the unborn child's orb, carrying it close to his chest, beginning to shake. "I can't just let it die, Dendy. It's my c-child…" he trembled, wanting to be happy at this news yet it was hard with the overwhelming sense of sorrow in his heart.
Dendy wanted to say something further as she saw him appear genuinely upset. The kappa couldn't fathom as to why. She decided to be blunter.
"It's not going to become a child. It'll die long before the cells can form a proper mass, the umbilical cord, or anything further. And that's before considering the genetic sequencing that might have long term consequences on its health," Dendy elaborated, repeating her points thoroughly to get them through his normally thick skull.
"I don't care!" countered K.O. He cared for everything and everybody. Dendy understood it herself. Of course he would get upset at the thought of his own child dying. "There has to be something! I-I have to tell Fink. Maybe Venomous or Boxman knows a way to help… or we f-forgot a part of the machine," K.O. felt his emotions shattering, his brain in fifty different places. He just wanted to be responsible for the life he had a hand in creating, even if it was an accident.
"You want to go telling everybody that you and Fink have created a child, right before their weddings?" Dendy found that preposterous to even consider. He was the one that said months ago that he'd make sure nothing ever got in the way of either wedding.
"What do you want me to do?!" K.O. asked, looking to her with his watery eyes. They shed more tears than she had seen him shed in a long time, clearly he was desperate for guidance of any sort.
"I-I believe it would be best to… pretend it never existed. Give it a burial and properly allow it to pass peacefully. As I said, it won't feel a thing," Dendy stated her opinion. She was nervous at how he would react in this unstable state, half expecting T.K.O. to appear.
And alas, K.O. broke down, collapsing onto his knees into the floor, it was too painful to even consider imagining. Dendy stared at him. She never expected him to have this kind of reaction at all. The goggle wearer eventually began to put together what his thought process might be.
"K.O.… doing this would make you nothing like your biological father. Your desire to simply take care of your offspring is a natural reaction of your emotions," Dendy spoke up to the crying child. She knew his own father ignored him and abandoned their family altogether before he was even born. It was no surprise to the kappa that he held his own fear about being a bad parent.
"I-I… I need to talk to Fink…" K.O. whimpered. He had to get her opinion on it. He would give anything for this child to be alright. Just anything in the world, he felt responsible.
Dendy then heard boots against the tiled floor before she could reply. "K.O.? What happened, peanut?!" Carol rushed over to her son's side, alerted to his sobbing.
"I'm f-fine, mommy… Really…" K.O. looked up to his mother. He wanted to tell her everything, wanted to beg for her help, but he didn't wish to ruin one of the happiest parts of her life. K.O. loved having his mother's attention, he knew he would have to give that up eventually. He decided to keep it secret.
"What's going on?" Mr. Gar's strong voice sounded from the doorway. Enid came beside him, both alerted to the sound of the young boy crying.
"Does he need to go to the hospital?" Enid questioned. They could barely get a response out of him at this point.
"K.O. will be fine," Dendy decided to speak up for him, "He just needs to go home. He is suffering from massive stress."
"If this is the fault of Voxmore, then we should take him to get checked up just to be safe," Carol argued. Seeing her son upset always tore at her heart strings. She had not seen him this broken down in quite some time.
"M-Mommy… please…" K.O. whimpered out, the small ball held tightly to his chest. The fitness dojo owner sighed, looking to her fiancé.
"There isn't a scratch on him, Carol… come on, let's get home so he can get some sleep," Mr. Gar insisted. Enid had told them already that they had not been able to land a single hit on K.O. during that last attack. Whatever was happening, he would surely tell them when he calmed down.
"Alright… thanks for taking care of him, Enid and Dendy," Carol spoke, and the small family of three made leave. K.O. kept his eyes closed as the tears rolled down his cheeks. His heart and his mind were torn at this horrific discovery.
"I-I can't ruin the weddings… I need help but... W-what do I do? Fink's going to kill me." K.O. pondered, trying to find some coherency in his mind. He wanted to be happy at the thought of having a child, but he had no clue what to do now. All he could think about was Fink and how she'd take the news.
The sound of platforming swirled around the room of Voxmore Industries as Fink played a video game by herself. She had tried inquiring more about the machine that she and K.O. tested the other day. She found nothing out and resigned to giving up on her curiosities until Venomous decided to announce the LCU's purpose.
A familiar set of laughter made Fink snap her head up from the screen. She saw Radicles passing by the doorway with Shannon guiding him along.
"Subtle," the minion mumbled. She scurried on all fours to catch up to the two teenagers. "Hey! What's crooked antenna doing here?" she called out to the two, startling them. The orange robot nervously grinned.
"Hey! My antennas are not crooked!" Rad huffed, crossing his arms.
"R-Rad just came over to ask if we used any secret weaponry or new tools during our last attack on the plaza. I-I wanted to show him the planning log to prove we did nothing," Shannon explained. Every attack on the plaza had a preset log attached to it now. Boxman started this system up when the amount of attacks the robotic siblings launched increased.
"Why? Did one of you self-destruct on accident again?" Fink asked. As far as the rat knew the Boxmore bots got torn apart immensely in the last assault. She wanted to join them for the attack, but to her anger, was denied.
"No. We have safety measures for that now," Shannon rolled her eyes. That was Darrell's problem anyway, not hers.
"It's cause K.O. fainted for no reason," Rad answered, "I'm here to make sure nothing shady is going on."
Fink's jaw dropped. She jumped up and grabbed onto Shannon's chassis, scaring her. "Why didn't you tell me?! I swear if you did something to him, I'm taking you hunks of junk apart one by one!"
"W-whoa, whoa, whoa! Fink, calm down! We didn't do anything! I-I promise!" Shannon insisted in terror, aware the young girl very well could do that scrapping by hand.
"I know you did something!" sneered Fink, "People don't faint for no reason! You better tell the truth or I'll tell Boxboss about your secret late night visits from Rad here!"
"H-how do you know about that?!" the Level 5 alien gawked in horror. He and Shannon had a relationship in the past. Raymond and Darrell tore it apart. One accident led to another, and before the teenagers knew it, they were back to being a regular couple, and it stayed that way for a couple of months now.
"Jethro told me, now tell me the truth," Fink growled. Shannon wanted to comment on the whole Boxboss name for Boxman but kept quiet out of fear.
"W-we didn't do anything. He fought Darrell and beat him bad... Please don't tell Daddy!" the young robotic girl went on her knees. Professor Venomous's loyal minion could tell she wasn't lying in that regard. Rad was also on his knees.
"Y-yeah Fink. K.O. fainted for no reason in the back. He was with Dendy," the Level 5 stockroom worker added after another violently awkward moment. The rat had an idea cross her head suddenly.
"You two are idiots… Fine. I'll keep quiet, but only because I have to go look for something," Fink said, before she ran off on all fours, leaving the teenage couple there.
"What was that about?" Rad asked, helping his girlfriend back up.
"I don't know. Some days she treats me like a mom. Some days she treats me like sister. Other days she treats me like an enemy," Shannon looked to her boyfriend, leaning onto him, "Your place from now on?"
"M-my place? Sure! If you say you guys didn't do anything wrong, then I believe it," Rad sheepishly grinned. He knew though he would have to text Enid that he had found nothing to make sure she knew Voxmore had not broken their side of the semi peace treaty.
"Say… You don't think Fink might…?" Shannon's voice trailed off. Her boyfriend realized what she meant and nodded with a toothy grin.
"Oh, yeah. Definitely," the Level 5 alien laughed as they continued on their way, taking his girlfriends hand into his own as they left.
K.O. currently was lying in his bed, keeping the ball close to his chest. His parents were in the kitchen, trying to go about things as normal, both looked equally concerned.
"Voxmore really did nothing?" Carol asked, finding that hard to believe. She and Mr. Gar had gotten the call from Enid that Rad had found nothing suspicious going on at Voxmore Industries. It seemed K.O. had fainted from just stress.
"Rad is thorough. I think he's right," Mr. Gar stated. He was more than happy to be K.O.'s stepfather, though the step part seemed irrelevant. Carols son was proud to call the high-leveled hero his dad, and it made the muscular man all the happier.
"Do you think he figured out that surprise we planned on announcing after the wedding?" The fitness dojo owner quirked. Mr. Gar paused, rubbing his head sorely at the thought.
"That'd explain his fainting, but not the breakdown. If anything, you think he'd start waiting on you hand and foot when he heard you're pregnant," Mr. Gar felt his fiancée's gloved hand cover his mouth without warning.
"Shh! If he doesn't know, I'd like it to be that way until the wedding, Eugene! And you know how sneaky all his friends are," Carol reminded him. They found out they were pregnant a week or so ago. It was all an accident, yet they were ecstatic nonetheless, and they knew K.O. would definitely be happy to know he would become a big brother, neither could see him in the role of jealousy.
"R-right, sorry, Carol," Mr. Gar apologized, though the conversation left them with nothing more than further confusion. What could possibly be wrong with the kid. All the betrothed couple could do was try to talk to him once he calmed down.
K.O. didn't know what to do. Dendy's words really had torn at his heart and mind. He wanted to beg everybody he knew for some help, but he didn't want to steal attention away from the happiest moments of their lives. K.O. hadn't felt this hopeless in a while, it was like his heart was in a pit. If Dendy couldn't help him, then who, he asked himself. Did he really have no choice but to let the life he had accidentally made die before they could begin to live?
His phone started ringing. He wanted to ignore it, though he recognized the ringtone. He sat up on the end of his bed, letting the artificial womb lay in the blankets as he answered.
"H-hi Fink," K.O. answered, trying his best to stay calm, but was having a harder time than he expected.
"K.O.? What's going on? You sound like a wreck and I heard you fainted today," Fink responded after hearing that shaky voice of his, though despite trying to sound like her usual self, the minion couldn't hide how worried she was now.
"I-I'm fine… I mean I'm not just… I need to talk to you, it's really important," K.O. finally got the words past his lips.
"Okay, sure… I found papers on the LCU in Boss's safe. It's not much, but I wanted to look at them with you too. I'm already on my way to your house," Fink stated. It seemed like a good reason to meet up, yet she felt anxious both to read the papers alone, since they were still very flimsy. Whatever it was K.O. wished to talk about, given how upset he sounded, it was definitely important too.
"How'd you know where I was…?" the Level 4 hero quirked an eyebrow, casting a glance to the ball full of light blue liquid to make sure it was still there, as if he was expecting it all to be imaginary.
"Don't worry about it, blockhead! I'll be there soon. I'm kind of stuck on foot," Fink hung up, not wanting to tell the bodega cleaner about how she had stashed a tracking chip in one of K.O.'s wristbands upon hearing Dendy had done similar.
The young boy looked down at his phone and nodded. He rested it aside on the nightstand, letting out a sigh. He didn't know what to tell Fink. He could only stare at the floor and wait. He hoped the rat had found something that could help them, yet he didn't know how she would react to the news either.
"Please, Cob, help me…" K.O. gulped. All he could do now was wait for Fink to arrive.
Chapter 4: Hope From A Mother
Fink had been running through the snow on all fours in her thick grey colored coat, beanie cap and pink scarf. Her small bag was on her back. She didn't know why she was doing this. Her heart had drowned when she first heard K.O. had fainted. She had the idea that it was because of the LCU, so she wasted no time in breaking into her boss's safe to find these documents, getting her snow clothes on and then running out by herself. Usually Professor Venomous stored all private information on USB sticks, so finding real solid documents only made their importance stand out to her.
"Almost… there!" Fink panted, hopping over a small hill of snow, keeping up the speed that rivaled a gazelle. The minion couldn't stand the thought that she might have critically injured K.O. with testing that machine. It made her feel terrible, yet she didn't know why, normally she would laugh that kind of thing off.
"Haah... haah... Finally," Fink arrived at the small neighborhood K.O. lived in. She had to sit down on the steps for a moment like an exhausted dog. The front door opened up, she saw Mr. Gar and Carol stepping out in a hurry, but not to address her.
"Fink? What're you doing here?" the fitness dojo owner asked.
"I-I came to check on K.O. I heard he fainted," Fink answered, wondering what was going on with the couple.
"Your timing's perfect! We got a call saying there was a fire at the fitness dojo. We gotta get to the plaza, fast. Can you stay with him while we're gone?" Mr. Gar requested. They didn't want to leave K.O. alone right now when he was upset, though knew the young girl might hate the idea of glorified babysitting.
"Wuh? S-sure, yeah," Fink nodded after absorbing the initial shock at the news of the dojo being on fire.
"Thanks, Finkie. We'll be back as soon as we can!" Carol promised and the two hurried off. Venomous's minion watched their car practically launch out from the driveway as they headed off.
"Oh… I think I know who's behind this," Fink took out her phone and dialed a number, mostly trying to gather herself before going inside, feeling anxious to read these documents, though more so nervous with whatever it was that K.O. wished to discuss with her.
"Hey Fink, it's done," Darrell answered the phone.
"Seriously? I asked you to create a distraction to draw them away! Not burn down part of the plaza!" Fink shouted, very upset at this concept. She had requested Darrell do something to draw Carol and Mr. Gar away from home so she could be alone with K.O. She didn't think the red robot would go so far as to commit arson.
"R-relax, Fink! I didn't do anything like that! I just lit a barrel on fire out back and called it in anonymously," Darrell explained. Blind, pointless destruction was not his goal or the rest of his siblings and father's. They couldn't take over the plaza if they destroyed it anyway, taking over a pile of rubble was simply not the same.
"Okay, you're not as dumb as I thought… thanks, Darrell. I'll get you that special oil you like," Fink reluctantly complimented him and hung up. After taking in another deep breath, she made her way into the home, shutting the door behind herself.
"Hey, K.O. I'm here!" Fink called out, starting to get her winter clothing off to leave by the door. She heard K.O. approaching the second he heard her.
"H-Hi, Fink… Where'd mommy and dad go?" K.O. questioned, noticing the two's absence conveniently, holding the ball of light blue liquid in his arms.
"They had to go handle something… what happened to you? You look horrible," Fink questioned, leading him to the living room, letting him take a seat on the couch. The Level 4 hero looked exhausted, broken, yet that small sense of joy he radiated at all times was still there underneath, even if barely noticeable.
"I… fainted after talking with Dendy," K.O. wanted to come out with the truth immediately, though he knew he had to find the right words. He didn't want to cause Fink to faint as well.
"I got the document for the LCU here," the young henchwoman rummaged through her bag, pulling out a folder, which looked so old, like it was ancient. It also looked nightmarishly thick. Two-hundred pages long at least.
"It's gonna take a while?" gulped a nervous K.O., it was like a worse version of homework.
"Relax, I won't read all of it. Just the medical stuff on this junk," Fink declared. They would only do one thing at a time. She just cared about making sure that K.O.'s fainting episode was not a symptom of a larger problem.
"You really stole this from Venomous's safe and ran all the way here for me?" The young cleaner had to admit, it made him feel warm inside hearing this. He never expected her to care this much.
"…y-you're not the only one who tested that cruddy machine!" Fink retorted, combing through the documents, ignoring the light crimson color tinting her cheeks.
K.O. saw one of the many pages that got separated slide in front of him on the coffee table. He picked it up. It seemed to be the first page of a report, that came off more like a proposal. He began to read it.
"The L.C.U. also known as the life creation unit was designed for several reasons, one being to help those that are unable to have children the natural way go through the next best option available… the primary reason though, is to create stronger heroes through good breeding as a colleague has theorized.
- Dr. Jint Barrows"
The name on the signature didn't mean much to him, but he made note of it nonetheless. What caught K.O.'s attention was that the documents were covered in stamps and the familiar logo of P.O.I.N.T.
"…Fink, this is eighty years old…" the Level 4 cleaner suddenly pointed out the documents' age when he saw the date, which only confused the two of them further.
"Okay, it's outdated, so what?" Fink spoke, not caring for the page he held, though he could not answer, since she finally found the medical section of the documents. "There we are! Lessee here…" the young mouse's tail flicked eagerly as she began to go over the paper.
"Side effects of the LCU are next to none. One may feel a heart arrhythmia, since that is where the purest gene samples are located, and thus are extracted from," Fink read it word for word, though it only confused her further. K.O. just listened intently, feeling it was important to know, "The chemical cocktail that the ball contains will change color to show what they require. Light blue is warm. Purple is cold. Yellow is hungry. Red is hot. Green is content."
"Light blue, purple…" K.O. murmured, looking to the ball, flashing back to those times that it changed color earlier today.
"The caretakers should make sure that it remains in either light blue or green at all times. If more than twenty-four hours pass without them, unforeseen damages may begin developing," Fink, after reading the rest, growled. She had the answer to Professor Venomous's most recent secret yet couldn't understand it.
"F-Fink, before you flip the table over, I know what this is…" K.O.'s voice trailed off toward the end, aware how she got anger prone when she didn't quite grasp something fully, especially when it came to her boss.
"What? Speak up blockhead," she turned to him, her irritated glare facing his upset expression. She couldn't stay angry at that nervous look. She forced herself to relax, aware he also had something important to discuss with her.
"I-I know what this is, Fink! It's what I wanted to talk with you about…" He forced the words past his lips, holding out the artificial womb for her to see. The young girl took it, raising an eyebrow.
"Tell me then!" Fink demanded, wondering why he didn't say that on the phone. K.O. felt himself freezing up in fear at how she'd react.
"A baby what?" Fink's confusion doubled. She glanced all over the ball like she was hoping to find the answer written down on it.
"T-the machine is for making babies. T-there's a child growing in the ball… o-our child," K.O. exclaimed. He didn't remember Dendy's exact words. Some were too big for him, and the minor concussion he gave himself on accident didn't help his memory.
"…Come again?" Fink gave an innocent enough smile, as if she was expecting him to tell her it was a joke.
"Professor Venomous wants to make a child with Boxman s-so he made the LCU. When we tested it the machine made a baby from us. The machine wasn't done though. There's no way to feed our baby through the ball. Dendy said that… that they'll starve to death in a week," the Level 4 hero continued, all the while Fink's hopes of it being a joke faltered when she saw how upset he was exactly. K.O. hated to repeat the phrase. He didn't want to believe it himself. There was no response though so he decided to just put it out there more bluntly like his genius friend would do, it didn't take an intelligent person to figure out why Venomous had made it in the first place either.
"It's our baby."
Fink gave him a million-mile stare, almost like she got hit by a tranquilizer. She blinked, took in a deep breath, handed him the artificial womb and exhaled. "I know why you fainted now," she collapsed onto the couch. K.O. looked at her with worry, relieved that she didn't hit her head on anything like he did during his fainting episode.
"I guess your mom isn't good with bad news…" K.O. murmured to the ball, resting it off to the side, turning his gaze to the giant folder on the coffee table. He began to go through it one page at a time to try and find out what the invention was missing so that the newly created child could be fed, hoping the answer to it would be within the many pages.
Fink felt herself wake up. After two hours. She realized she was sleeping on the couch with a blanket covering her and a pillow under her head. She wondered what just happened.
Fink grumbled, rubbing her eye tiredly as she sat up, seeing the paperwork neatly stacked on the coffee table. A small cup of hot chocolate and a sandwich rested beside it. She also saw a note resting beside the small snack. She took it and began to read it.
Sorry about making you pass out. I didn't mean to scare you like that. Thank you for bringing me the papers. It was a lot to read through, but I finally found the answer! I had to go to the plaza." Fink felt terror wash her as she read the other side of the note. "I understand if you're upset. I don't expect you to take responsibility for this either. I'll take care of them no matter what though. I promise you that.
P.S. Sorry if the food isn't much for a dinner."
"Sweet cob, I remember now!" Fink gasped as her memories were refreshed. Night had fell and everything was getting colder with each passing minute, why would K.O. go to the plaza at this hour, she wondered.
"Wait a minute…" she reached over to the folder with one of her pink gloves, opening the top of it. There was a page that she had a feeling K.O. read last before he had left, since it was randomly numbered. She picked it up and read it.
"There is no means to feed the artificial womb that we've had success with. Naturally, that is. Unnaturally, however, we had a breakthrough. The best way for the fetus to get nutrients is with glorbs. It has been discovered that they can be absorbed without actually eating them."
Fink flipped it over to the back page.
"They act like a quarter meal, which is more than enough for a full feeding for a developing fetus as needed. Sadly, we are not permitted to test this theory, due to how rare and expensive glorbs are. As result, the project is most likely ceasing here."
Fink put the pieces together which formed a scary picture in her head.
"That idiot! He isn't doing what I think he's gonna do, is he?!" Fink stood up in disbelief, stuffing all the papers back into her bag. She cannibalized the sandwich, shoving it into her mouth, before chugging the hot chocolate, consuming them both in one gulp each.
"I swear, K.O., I'll kill you!" the rat growled to herself. She quickly put on all her winter wear as she got out the door, she jumped off the porch and darted off on all fours into the snowy night. Thankfully the snowflakes no longer fell as hard. A raging fire had lit inside her, and her animalistic face expressed it.
K.O. was at the plaza, having had to walk most of the way there. Most people around at this hour he noticed were gathered around the fitness dojo that had police blocking it. He could also see his mom and Mr. Gar standing outside the dojo talking, looking equally perplexed.
"I guess this is a lucky thing for me," K.O. brushed it off. The ball carrying his child was in his vest pocket, and he had a small backpack on his back. He began to walk away, not wanting to get seen by his parents during this usual dark afternoon.
K.O. had made his way to another part of the plaza, where a large pipe rested. Lava would protect it through most of the day, though at night, the boiling magma tended to retract enough for anyone to safely enter. He paused though at the entrance.
"…Am I really going to do this though? I'd be no better than Shadowy had been…" K.O. questioned himself, remembering the shadowy figure that had possessed his biological father for the longest time until T.K.O. literally blasted them apart. K.O. felt his heart throb in guilt.
"I have to do this," the Level 4 hero snapped, shaking his fears off. He climbed into the pipe and started making his way through it. It led him to the underground area of Lakewood Plaza Turbo. The ball of clear liquid acted like a light source to him, as it glowed in the dark. It was pretty convenient, which K.O. thought in delight. Though before he continued any deeper he blasted the security camera apart with a power fist before it could see him, he remembered Mr. Gar had installed it there a long time ago after the last incident down here.
K.O. followed the large pipe along until he arrived to a pair of thick steel doors, he put his hand on one, feeling himself starting to freeze again. He hated what he was about to do it went against all his heroic efforts for the plaza.
"I wish I could talk to T.K.O. about this," the young boy murmured to himself, his twin would have to hear the news eventually, maybe he would even be able to encourage K.O., right now he couldn't even say to himself that Mr. Gar owed him this, that the plaza could owe him this. K.O. had to resist having a breakdown as he fought with himself.
K.O. snapped his head up from the floor, pulling back his arm and forming a power fist. He punched through the pair of strong double doors, tearing them wide open.
There it was. The glorb tree. Such magnificent glory. The pool of clear water filled the area around and beneath it. Small, glowing balls flowed in the air. Those were natural glorbs. K.O. always had to stare in awe whenever he found himself down here. He grabbed one of the glorbs floating near him.
"It's beautiful… don't you think?" he asked the artificial womb, taking it out from his vest underneath his jacket, holding it in his other hand. K.O. hesitated for a moment. There was no going back from doing this.
The Level 4 hero held the glorb against the exterior of the artificial womb. There was nothing at first, but after a moment, the glorb got absorbed slowly into it, vanishing after another second.
K.O. felt a wave of joy wash over him when the liquid inside changed from light blue to green in color, remembering what Fink had read earlier in the document.
"You're going to be fine," he smiled, confident now that the biggest problem was able to be dealt with, he rested the artificial womb down on his coat, letting it stay by the door, so the developing child wouldn't remain in the cold. He made his way down the steps to the pool of water below.
He rested his backpack down on the last step and opened it. The bag was full of empty jars and a pair of tongs. He took one of the jars out and took the lid off, taking in a deep breath as he took the tongs.
Carol, Mr. Gar, Dendy, Enid, Rad, just about everyone he knew had made such effort to protect this place. And there he was, about to betray all that effort. He mentally apologized to his loved ones, unsure how he could make up for this act if they ever found out. He knew glorbs could come and go, and they would get replaced. It took time to though. He began to fill up the jar with glorbs, grabbing the balls of glowing energy out of the air, one by one, and gently placing them inside.
K.O. didn't enjoy doing this. It was for his child though. He kept telling himself they needed food to survive and there was no other way to get glorbs without stealing them from Voxmore Industries. Those under the plaza went unused for the most part.
As he worked, he continued to flash back to how Shadowy did the same, taunting him both times all the way, pilfering glorbs. It made K.O.'s breathing shaky, his hands trembling violently. Time at least was thankfully passing fast, two jars already filled to the brim with glorbs sat by his backpack.
"Maybe I'm more like my dad than I thought…" the bodega cleaner sighed. Venomous and Shadowy were two different people. That didn't change how he felt though.
"K.O.!" Fink's booming voice echoed through the area, startling him. He turned around. A furious Fink stood at the top of the steps.
"Fink?! What are you doing here?" K.O. questioned. Fink scampered down the steps on all fours and leaped at him, tackling him down. They rolled through the water, K.O. dropping his third jar during the struggling.
"I'm here to stop you from making the biggest mistake in your life!" Fink shook K.O. angrily, sitting on his stomach, pinning him there. She looked ready to claw his eyes out. The exhaustion from running all the way here had caught up with her.
"I-I'm doing what has to be done!" K.O. replied, "I'm taking from here instead of Voxmore, so I don't hurt you or anyone else!"
Fink jabbed him in the face, dazing him slightly. "I don't care about those cruddy glorbs!"
"What were you talking about then?" K.O. questioned, puzzled as he looked to her.
"You think I'm going to just sit around doing nothing after you told me I'm going to be a mom?!" she growled, her tail twitching in fury, "You're a real big idiot if you think that!"
"I… was just trying to be responsible. I don't want you to be forced into this," K.O. stammered. He felt another violent shake while he was held by his lapels.
"Do you not know what the term ours means?!" Fink asked, genuinely upset, "I'm not gonna be like my mom or how my boss was back when he had that freak possessing him! I want to be responsible! I'm the one who made you do that stupid test in the first place!"
K.O. looked her in the eye as the air around them turned tense. Fink truly wanted to be involved and be a mother to their child. "…Your mom?" he asked, though as he finally got the chance to sit up. The mouse sat in the water beside him.
"Boss saved me from a hero, when I was really young," Fink looked down to the ground, "She was as bad as any villain I knew."
K.O. wrapped his arms around Fink, hugging her. "Are you sure…? That you really want to be involved in our child's life?"
"Yeah…" Fink accepted the embrace for a short moment, clearly appreciative of it. "We both know what it's like to only have one parent," she replied. Venomous was the closest she had to a father, and when he took her in, she cut her mother out of her life. K.O. only had Carol in his life, with Mr. Gar acting as the best role model. "But you need to get one thing embedded into your thick skull," Fink poked his forehead as she refocused her attention fully on him, ignoring the glorbs floating all around them.
"What?" K.O. asked with a quirked eyebrow, scared of getting the rat upset further.
"Anything that has to be done, we talk about and do together. You got that?" Fink tried to show anger in her glare, though her eyes held hurt. She pleaded for him to understand.
"Of course, Fink," K.O. gave a nod with a cute warm smile gracing his lips. It meant the world to him to hear Fink say those words. They helped each other to their feet, looking to the ball of green liquid that rested by the doorway. K.O. tried to lead them away from the glorb tree.
"Where are you going?" asked the mouse.
"Uh, to get out… I thought you wanted to stop me?" K.O. confusedly replied, watching her grab the jar that had gotten knocked over when she had tackled him.
"No. You already started, so we can't go back, blockhead," Fink exclaimed. "The baby needs a constant glorb supply, right? I got an idea, but either way, we need the glorbs."
"Okay…" K.O. nodded, watching the mouse begin to head for the doorway. "Should we tell anyone the news?" he called out to her.
"No way! I'm not stealing the happiest moment of boss's life away just because we did something careless," Fink retorted, sharing that thought with him. A while's secrecy wouldn't hurt anybody. "You gather up the glorbs, find a good place to hide them. I have to go work on this idea of mine. It'll make taking care of the ball there a lot easier."
K.O. was watching as Fink then headed up the steps, though before she left through the door, she stopped, crouching down and running a hand over the artificial womb.
"I'll see you later." She hummed, continuing on her way.
"Wow… I never expected her to do that," K.O. muttered to himself. He felt renewed now thanks to her. Dendy's other concerns were distant memories to him. Fink wanted to be involved with the child's life. He was happy to know this. That she would take care of him and their baby, the same way he wanted to care for them.
"…I better hurry up. I don't want to make mommy and dad worried," K.O. focused back on the glorb gathering, since there were a lot of jars to go still. He figured his parents would be home soon and get worried about him being missing, yet he wondered what the young mouse girl meant when talking about her mother. He would have to ask her about it later.
"I'll take care of you both either way, because I know you'd do the same for me, Fink, don't worry."
Chapter 5: Blooming Love?
Authors Note: Hey all, just wanted to say thank you for all the support, it really keeps me going! I hope you all have a happy thanksgiving! Take care!
The early morning arrived, with another cold snowy winter day following the sunrise. Professor venomous was making his way through Voxmore industries, having only woken a little while ago. His partner Boxman was still deeply asleep.
The purple skinned man was confused when during his walk, the villain saw four of the robotic siblings gathered around the doorway to the workshop, whispering amongst each other.
"What are you four doing?" Professor Venomous questioned. Jethro, Shannon, Raymond and Darrell all turned to him, relieved to see him awake.
"It's Fink. We think she just fell asleep," Raymond claimed, letting the professor see for himself. Things at the Voxmore workshop looked a bit disorganized, normally it was very organized. Fink was snoring, her head rested on one of the workbenches with a lot of tools around her.
"Why is Fink asleep in there?" Venomous asked, wondering why none of them took their practical sister to bed. The robotic siblings looked to one another.
"She said she'd tear us apart if we got in her way," Darrell claimed. They all knew the young mouse was very capable of doing as she said too.
"She was out past curfew too…" Shannon added. The Voxmore family had a curfew. Letting them stay up all night and day doing as they pleased would be a disaster, so the owners of the company enacted a curfew so no one would be out past eight in the evening. This was a rule the many robotic children and Fink followed well.
"I am Jethro," a trash can on treads – no, a Boxmore bot, chimed up. Venomous held his head, sighing.
"Kids, go start working on breakfast, please," the Level -7 villain requested. The four robotic siblings looked eager at this. They never got to cook ever since the explosive bacon incident.
"Really?! Thanks Dad!"
"We'll do good this time, we promise!"
"Oh, daddy is going to love it! I know!"
"I am Jethro."
The stepfather to the robotic family watched as the four hurried off, excited and talking about what to make. He tried to not focus on the sounds of destruction in the kitchen. Venomous regretted that choice immediately, the enthusiasm was always welcomed.
"I'll deal with the consequences later…" he huffed, beginning to make his way into the workshop, approaching the young mouse as she slept. The LCU remained idle nearby with a new empty artificial womb in the center.
Venomous was about to wake Fink up when he saw what she had been working on. She had been dismantling her glorb pack, which he had made so she could stay in turbo form for a lot longer by having a steady stream of glorbs fed to the transforming collar, the collar itself rested nearby, untouched thus far.
"Fink? Wake up," the purple skinned man shook her by the shoulder. Fink looked absolutely exhausted. Her hair was messy, and she had bandaging on her hands. Her pink gloves were off, it was odd since she usually never took them off. Fink had not wanted them to get in the way while she worked, so she simply stuffed them away in her pocket. The bandaging did little to hide the prominent permanent scars underneath the many scratches and scrapes that came from not being too experienced with the tools she was using.
"Wuh? O-oh, good morning, boss! Sorry, I fell asleep," Fink gave a sheepish grin when she saw her boss. He watched as she took up a wrench to continue dismantling part of the glorb pack, like her boss had been nothing more than an alarm clock.
"What are you doing?" The professor asked. Normally Fink cherished literally everything she received from him and by extension Boxman, to a small degree. Seeing her actively dismantling one essentially was quite off putting to him.
"I had an idea and I wanted to get it done," the young mouse's tail twitched eagerly. Last night came rushing back to the front of her mind like a slew of memories.
"I never thought I'd see you actually building something," Venomous had to confess, though got no real reply to that comment. Fink still had trouble believing it, she was going to be a mother, and that filled her with… joy? It was fulfilling to imagine the future now. Beforehand, she would say planning for the future was the most boring pointless thing in existence, since she and everyone else she knew couldn't predict it.
"I'm still better working with chemicals," Fink confessed with a light laugh, though when the last bolt was taken off the back, the top half of the glorb backpack fell apart, giving her that large opening she had been trying to make by modifying it all night now.
"So… where were you last night that made you late for curfew?" Venomous bluntly requested an explanation. He was busy with the upcoming wedding, yet that didn't mean she could do as she pleased.
Fink felt herself pause, swallowing hard. She gave a hesitant look up to her practical father. He didn't seem mad. He looked concerned and disappointed. Venomous would be angry if Fink had gotten hurt, but right now she was working on something personal, and it was her first invention. To him it was a very proud moment.
"K.O. fainted yesterday. I lost track of time taking care of him," Fink stated. It wasn't exactly a lie. It wasn't exactly the truth either. She did not want to steal her boss's attention away from the wedding he so looked forward to.
"Overworked himself again?" Venomous sighed. It wasn't the first time K.O. had done that and they both knew it would be far from the last. Fink nodded, going along with the lie. "Can I ask what you're making? Or is it a surprise?" he gave a toothy smile, thinking it might be a wedding gift.
"Personal project," Fink flatly said, throwing the wrench aside, letting out an exasperated sigh, like it had taken everything within her to even think of a successful way to build this alone. She'd rather die before going and begging that stupid turtle for help either.
"Well come get breakfast, and next time you stay out past curfew, call me, okay?" Venomous began to walk away, quite pleased that Fink was taking her first real steps to becoming an evil scientist.
"I gotta keep working, boss. I want to finish this…" Fink chimed up. Her boss paused and looked back to his loyal minion. He could tell she was determined, yet he had no clue why. Venomous gave a proud nod.
"We don't allow food in the workshop, but I'll make an exception this time… make sure to clean yourself up though. You look rough," he stated. Fink smiled and nodded, grateful for his support.
Fink mentally reminded herself to keep going for K.O. and their baby. Everything the two did was for all three of them now, as she had told him last night. Not just their newly created child. The young mouse smiled, picking up a small welding tool as well as a pair of goggles, continuing to work away on modifying the glorb backpack, unsure why K.O. was so prominently on her mind lately. She tried to not dwell on his cute face and focused on her work, she would see him later during an attack on the plaza anyhow.
K.O. was in his room, getting ready for work. He felt immensely better since last night, though the guilt of stealing from the plaza still rung out hard in him. It wasn't easy for him to suppress it.
K.O. reminded himself he still needed to talk to Dendy as he slid on his vest. He wanted to let the kappa know the great news about finding a way to feed the unborn child. He looked over to the artificial womb resting beside his bed in his jacket.
"Oh, it's time for breakfast?" K.O. had already eaten, but the yellow color was back within the liquid of the orb indicating it was hungry. The Level 4 hero went and lifted his mattress. There was a jar full of glorbs hidden inside of a part of the bed that had been cut out. He had taken only one home and hidden the rest in the plaza, in a place where he knew no one could find them.
After taking out one of the glorbs, K.O. took a seat on his bed, holding the tough ball carrying his child in one arm. He used his free hand to hold the glorb up to the artificial womb, letting it begin absorbing it slowly while he rocked back and forth.
"I wonder if they taste good?" K.O. mentally pondered. T.K.O. had eaten glorbs before, he himself hadn't. He was happily rocking his future child in his arms as the ball consumed the glorb. He felt pride, feeling the warmth the artificial womb emitted as the liquid turned green.
The door suddenly opened without warning. "Hey peanut! You ready to go?" Carol's voice startled her son. K.O. forced himself to relax. She saw that tired expression on her sons face. "You feeling okay, K.O.?"
"Thanks, mommy, I'm fine!" the brushy haired hero hummed. Last night had been long for K.O., he had been able to get home before his parents somehow. He hopped up over the bed, trying to get his usual enthusiasm back up past his exhaustion. He felt happier thanks to Fink. She was his miracle that had helped save their accidental creation's life. Despite her prickly exterior emotionally, she truly cared for him and their child.
"Can you tell me what happened last night?" K.O. asked while following his mom, letting the artificial womb rest inside his coat's inner pocket, despite how he always wanted to hold and cradle the unborn child in his arms.
"Oh, well, we got a call from the police that the dojo was on fire… turned out to just be a barrel that was burning out back," Carol explained, unsure what happened. They presumed it was just the work of a careless homeless person, and thanked cob that the dojo was unharmed. "But enough about me! Was Fink good to you last night?" she asked her son as they made their way out to the car. Mr. Gar had already left to open the bodega early in the morning just like always. Carol still wondered what had caused her sons severe breakdown from before, however she did not want to go tearing open wounds that had already healed.
"Fink… was really good. She helped fix all my problems," K.O. stated, with a bright smile forming on his face. He had to think of a way to repay the young mouse for her help. He knew that Fink would probably try to be around more often now with the revelation that she was going to be a mother, though the level 4 hero pondered what the mouse had planned since she had mentioned an idea coming to mind last night.
"That's great, peanut! Just know if you ever need anything, you can come to me and Gar, okay?" Carol reminded him as she started up the car.
"Thanks Mommy, but I'm better than ever now, really," K.O. reassured, leaning back on his seat and closing his eyes, wanting to try and catch some extra sleep during the car ride to Lakewood Plaza Turbo, all the while thinking up a few ideas to show his gratitude to Fink.
K.O. tried to go about the day, though he had a bit of anxiety during his cleaning. He was in the plaza. It made him feel guilty. The Level 4 hero tried to suppress it. He had to keep relaxed.
"He looks better," Enid said, watching the cleaner from afar. Radicles was close to her, restocking items at the front register that would get overlooked by customers even after they asked for it, like gum.
"I'm telling you, Enid, Voxmore did nothing… Shannon and me looked over everything three times. A few of the bots even offered to come help when they heard what happened," Rad repeated what he had told the Level 10 ninja several times over now. Enid had a hard time believing it, but at the same time, couldn't see them doing anything so low during such a happy time in their lives.
"You know as well as I do, K.O. breaking down is a sign of something bigger…" Enid reminded the Level 5 alien as they watched their friend continue cleaning.
"Relax, mama bear, he'll come to us if he needs help," Rad assured. They both were glad to see the young boy happy again. The Level 5 stockboy never hesitated to tease Enid for her over-protective big sister mentality. She sighed, unable to help it. She owed a lot to K.O.
"You should have seen how Fink reacted when she heard he fainted, she took off like a rocket!" Rad exclaimed, chuckling at remembering it, though he was not too fond of how Fink knew about his and Shannon's secret relationship.
"Seriously? …Guess that's why Dendy hates her," Enid gave a smirk. They were aware of the kappa's feelings for K.O. they both immediately ended the discussion when they saw the young hero approaching them.
"Hey guys, I finished cleaning," K.O. chirped up happily. He saw the two staring at the bodega. It had barely been open for a couple of hours, yet he had apparently cleaned it all up in record time.
"W… Wow K.O. that's impressive," Enid commented, staring down to him.
"I've never seen you work that fast, little buddy," Rad was unable to deny it. It was impressive. It certainly contrasted yesterday since K.O. had been broken to the point that the alien himself had to finish the cleanup.
"I'm feeling a lot better and wanted to make up for yesterday," K.O. claimed. It made his co-workers wonder if their friend was trying to get a raise or something, since he was not really getting a real paycheck. Mr. Gar first hired K.O. it was more like babysitting him, and he got a few technos a day at most. Yet the young cleaner was happy with just having the job, so the stockroom worker and cashier went along with it.
"So Elodie is going to be coming by next week for your mom's wedding… You still feel up to playing therapist, K.O.?" Enid tried to just focus on making sure K.O. was happy. No point in dwelling on yesterday, or at least letting him think on it too hard since something had upset him severely to begin with.
"I'm ready for anything, Enid!" The level 4 cleaner proudly declared, wishing he could tell his friends about his accidental fatherhood, yet he knew they would tell his parents. He couldn't have that though. K.O. swore to himself he would tell them all one at a time, after everything settled down, and he figured out a plan with Fink of course.
They all heard the familiar alarm blaring and saw flashing red lights following. "The plazas under attack!" Mr. Gar's voice boomed over the loudspeaker. The three bodega employees went back out into the snow to fight their Voxmore rivals.
The trio got outside and could see the familiar Voxmore brand crate, which fell apart moments afterwards, revealing Fink, Shannon, Jethro, Mikayla and Darrell.
"Ah, jeez, it's a Fink attack…" Enid held her head. Dealing with the mouse in her turbonic form was a pain. K.O. seemed just as enthusiastic for this battle.
"Aw, man…" Rad groaned, "My back just healed from the last one."
"We're going to do some real damage today," Darrell grinned eagerly, priming his blaster. Mikayla hissed like the robotic cat she was.
"Yeah! We've got some new tricks!" Shannon proclaimed. She worked a lot yesterday to make a new combo with her siblings.
"I am Jethro," Jethro, as usual, didn't hold back with his words.
"Hang on!" Fink suddenly shouted, startling the robots and confusing the plaza workers. They saw her holding the modified glorb pack. It now had a clear glass window on the top of the back of it. All the tubing that used to be on the exterior was instead redirected inside. It looked sleeker.
"What is it Fink?" Shannon whispered, she and Darrell crouching down to her height. Mikayla and Jethro waited patiently, though hoped the young mouse was alright since she had barely any real sleep last night.
"I'm not in the mood to fight anymore. You buckets of bolts can do it without me," Fink spoke, stepping out from the robotic siblings. The robots were awestruck. This was the most out of character thing Fink said. Even Enid, Rad and K.O. were surprised.
"K.O.! I got you a present, come here," the young mouse pointed a pink gloved hand at the bodega cleaner. He nodded, hurrying off to follow the rat as he was taken aside, away from the rest of the group to talk with him privately. Everyone else was left in a violently awkward position.
"Sooo… do we fight or wait for them to get back?" Shannon chirped up curiously. Her secret boyfriend laughed a little.
"Nah. I'm sure Fink'll be in the mood to fight when they get back. Let's wait," Rad knew how explosive the rat could be. They expected to hear the sounds of her and K.O. dueling later.
"I hope K.O. can make her feel better at least, she's been acting WEIRD lately," Darrell stated, hoping their frenemy who'd soon become their step-brother would be able to cheer up Fink.
"Really now…?" Enid made note of that, doubting the two acting weird at the same time was a coincidence. The ninja kept quiet, resisting her desire to go spying at the moment as most of the group waited. Rad and Shannon casually talked like this was just a neighborly visit.
"Are you okay Fink? You look really tired," K.O. asked now that they were mostly alone. A few other plaza regulars were around but not close enough to run away in a panic at the sight of the evil mouse.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine… here I finished this a little while ago," Fink rested the modified glorb pack on the ground. The brushy haired boy recognized it well. Every time they fought the mouse would utilize it to be stronger after all.
"Did Venomous make you a new one?" K.O. questioned. The young girl put her hands on her hips with a big smile.
"Nope! I made this all by myself! I call it the glorbucator!" Fink proudly declared. Her first real invention. Even if it was an intense modification of a cherished item of her own, it was still impressive. "Hand me the baby," the young rat held out her hands. K.O. nodded, taking the artificial womb out from his vest. The green liquid still radiated warmly. Fink took the ball, though she paused when holding it. She gave it a small hug with one arm, feeling like she couldn't resist the desire the second that it sprung to mind.
K.O. gained a small smile, glad he was not the only one coddling the ball like it was already a fully grown baby. It was just natural instinct. He watched as Fink opened the top of the glorbucator, revealing the inside.
There was a circular divot – the special collar that Fink used to power up was now being held along by small metal clips to keep it held open, there was a large spiral tube connected to the divot that he could see too. "Is that your collar?" K.O. asked.
"Yep! It's perfect for the baby," Fink leaned down, placing the artificial womb into the glorbucator. It fit snugly and perfectly. Her eyes lit up with joy, glad that it fit like a glove.
"Can you tell me what it does?" eagerly asked K.O. as he stared at her, finding the sight cute. It made him have a strange feeling in his chest that he couldn't describe.
"It can hold a week's worth of glorbs in the compartment below, and it feeds the baby on a timer! It'll keep it warm and cool as needed by going off of the color of the inside of the ball. And best of all, it's extremely durable, it can even withstand an explosion!" Fink exclaimed. She had made a special automatic feeding incubator for their child. Treating it like a chicken egg though was probably questionable, morally speaking.
"You really stayed up all night working on this?" K.O. found it hard to believe. He was more so amazed that Fink had sacrificed her direct power ups for this one invention. It showed how dedicated she was to their child and made the bodega cleaner feel very comforted.
"It was weird. When I thought about it, I couldn't stop working until it was done… just like boss," Fink sheepishly confessed. Professor Venomous taught her that efficiency was important to any long term project. Same had to be applied to the longest and biggest project of her life after all.
K.O. pulled her into a tight hug. Fink initially wanted to jab him in the face and tell him to quit smothering her, though she relented and simply accepted the embrace, meekly returning it herself.
"You're the greatest, Fink. You'll be an even better inventor than Boxman and Venomous one day!" K.O. expressed his gratitude. When their hug ended, he reached down and closed the top to the glorbucator. The glass part seemed extremely durable and allowed them to look inside to check on the artificial womb whenever they wanted.
"Thank you, K.O.," Fink got those words past her vocal chords. They weren't cooperating with her for some reason. Her chest felt light, like something had tickled her heart with a feather.
"Oh! That reminds me, I got you something too, to thank you for helping me yesterday," K.O. reached into his vest again, trying to find the present he had gotten Fink shortly after he had first arrived at work.
"I swear, if you try to hand me one of those jars of glorbs to give to boss…" the green haired girl grumbled. Venomous would be proud of her for delivering a jar of stolen glorbs to him, yet she was not going to take any glorbs. They belonged to their unborn child, he had already committed a massive crime just by stealing them.
"No, I got those placed somewhere safe… oh there it is," K.O. pulled out two decently sized cans from his vest. Fink stared, unable to resist drooling.
"Is… Is that spray cheese?" Fink gulped, practically drooling.
"Yeah! I remember how much you loved that cheesecake from mommy's birthday, I know it isn't the same but I thought you'd like it." K.O. handed the cans of spray cheese over to the young mouse. Her addiction to cheese was astounding, though only Venomous and Boxman knew about it. Fink had to resist pulling the caps off and just chugging the cheese away.
"T-thank you, K.O. If anyone says you're a crummy person, send them my way and I'll deal with them," Fink swallowed, stuffing the cans of spray cheese away into her coat for later. K.O. had a bright smile on his face as he slid the glorbucator onto his back. Being able to carry it like a regular backpack made it a lot better, having it strap onto his chest securely.
"Thanks, Fink. Should we get back to the fight?" the Level 4 hero offered.
"We should, yeah," Fink nodded and tried to leave.
"Do you think we can hang out sometime? You know, as a family?" K.O and his words stopped her for another second. Fink didn't look back to him right away, though his question made her feel hesitant. The snow falling around them felt like it paused in place. After a moment, the minion turned to him.
"Are you… asking me on a date?" Fink put it bluntly what it seemed like to her. As much as her brain screamed at her to just say yes, she resisted, wondering if they would be in this position at all if it wasn't for the accidental creation of their child.
"Sure! Is there something wrong with that?" K.O. obliviously responded. The comforting innocence on his expression gave Fink the answer. Child or no child, she had a feeling they would still have wound up in this position anyway. The mouse stepped up to him. The bodega cleaner expected a punch to the face, but he waited nervously while closing his eyes.
K.O.s eyes sprung open as he felt a small kiss against his forehead. His face turned bright red, only realizing what Fink did when her small show of affection ended. He merely saw her standing there with a toothy grin, finding his reaction adorable.
"I'd love to," Fink answered with joy to her voice and began to hurry off to return to the fight. K.O. could only stand there in the snow, awestruck, his cheeks warm. He never saw Fink act like that before, and now that he did… he loved it.
"…Is romance a part of the path to becoming a hero?" the brush haired boy mentally pondered, thinking he could ask his mom about that later, though before he could think any further on that, he heard a small explosion and other sounds of a fight breaking out.
"H-hey! Don't start the battle without me!" K.O. ran off on all fours to catch up, that minor part of him that was dog having taken over without him realizing. Fink had started the fight right away for their sake, or maybe to fight the confusing frustration that came from her feelings.