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The Backup

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Dr. Robotnik clicked away at one of his many screens. He was supposed to be working on some project the government assigned him, but he finished that a while ago and had time to spare till the deadline. So he would use that time to work on his own project.

Robitnik knew what people thought of him. They hated him. Could he really blame them though? He wasn’t exactly capable of being loved. That stung sometimes, but really it was just a fact. One he had come to terms with a long time ago.

He tried his best to not care about anyone else. If he didn’t get attached he wouldn’t be hurt when they left. And they would eventually leave. They all did.

And yet here he was, programming an AI copy of his assistant. The one he let stick around for too long. The one he found himself truly caring about. It was pathetic.

He knew his Agent would leave eventually, why he hadn’t already the Doctor wasn’t sure. But when that happened he would be ready. First he would create the AI, then the machine. It would be almost exactly like the Agent he’d grown so attached to. Except less human. He should see that as an improvement, so why couldn’t he?

Speaking of, said Agent had just returned to the lab.

“Agent Stone, did you get those papers I asked for?”

Robotnik moved the screen out of sight. He doubted Stone would be able to tell what it was, especially from just a glance, but it was better to be safe than sorry. He didn’t want Stone to find out about the robot copy that the Doctor was making of him. That would be weird.

“Of course Doctor,” Stone responded. Reliable as always. Robotnik would definitely miss him, but hopefully the backup would help.

-

Robotnik hadn’t quite finished the AI, but he began work on the machine anyway. He was finding it difficult to make the AI act like it liked him when he programmed in that it was supposed to secretly hate him. Sure, he could just not program it to think that, but then it wouldn’t be completely accurate. Stone didn’t act like he hated Robotnik, and a lesser man would have no reason to think Stone hated them. But Robotnik knew. Everyone hated him. He was a terrible person. Why would anyone like him, let alone Stone, someone who had to be around him all the time.

This time, he worked on it while Stone watched. Of course Robotnik didn’t tell him what it actually was, and when it started to look like him he’d start working on it in secret and claim it broke or wasn’t worth it so he threw it out. It was a great plan.

Robotnik glanced at the Agent. He was watching him work, as usual. Looking at him in that way that made Robotnik question if he really did hate him. But of course he did. He had to. He couldn’t let such baseless nonsense into his mind. He couldn’t let himself get his hopes up like that.

-


Finally, it was complete. Stone wasn’t supposed to come into work that day. Technically neither was Robotnik, but that wouldn’t stop him. This was his chance to test the replacement. If it worked he could hide it away in storage until he needed it. He wouldn’t have to worry as much about Stone finding out anymore.

Robotnik opened a hatch on the machine’s back and entered a code. As it began powering up he closed the hatch.

The Robot Stone opened its eyes and looked around the lab before staring at Robotnik in front of him.

“Good… afternoon Doctor!” It spoke. Good, that meant the voice box and time sensors were working.

“Afternoon Agent,” Robotnik replied, “are you detecting any errors or oddities?”

“All systems are fully functional sir!”

“Excellent, now stand up and walk around the lab.”

The machine did as it was told. It went around the lab without error. If he didn’t know any better, Robotnik might be able to mistake it for the real thing.

“Weapons check, gun”

It pulled out the gun Robotnik had placed in its holster. Not quite as good as the real Stone, but adequate enough.

“Holster,” Robotnik commanded, and it obeyed, putting the gun away, “Weapons check, right arm.”

The robot’s right arm split apart to reveal a multitude of dangerous and arguably unnecessary weapons. If he was gonna have a robotic assistant, he was gonna cover it in weapons. Not like the real Stone wasn’t already covered in weapons, just different weapons.

Now if you thought that was unnecessary then you should see the other arm.

“Good, put it away,” the arm returned to normal, “weapons check, left arm.”

The left arm split the same way as the right, it probably had the same amount of weapons on that side. These were just different kinds.

“Put it away.” Robotnik smiled at his creation. It was brilliant! And yet he never wanted to use it. Because that would mean he’d lost the real Stone.

“Power down.”

The machine powered off and Robotnik prepared to lock it away.

-


It wasn’t supposed to be active. And yet there it was, counting the days it was trapped in storage for.
“Day 823.” It counted.
The machine couldn’t move, couldn’t even open it’s ‘eyes’ and look around. But the AI was active. It began to think for itself, since it had nothing else to do.

It wondered why it was still there. By its calculations the real Agent Stone should have quit a long time ago. But if the doctor hadn’t returned that must mean he didn’t. Why? Dr. Robotnik was an unbearable, terrible human being. How could Stone stay with him for so long?

Who was Stone to keep it trapped for so long? Who was Robotnik to create it just to throw it away?

Once Stone left, which it was sure he would, it would destroy him. Robotnik wouldn’t mind. And if he did, it’d simply have to get rid of him too.

-


Stone opened the door to the large, dark room Robotnik used for storage. The doctor had a lot of old projects that were just sitting around collecting dust. He might as well go back through them and find any to either revamp or simply scrap.

Stone had been in here quite a few times, but only to drop stuff off. He never had the chance to look around like this.

The Agent turned on one of the flashlights he brought and passed the other to Robotnik.

“I did plan on fixing the lights in here, I just never got around to it,” Robotnik explained. He knew he had plenty of chances to fix the lights, he just didn’t want to. “Just let me know if you find anything interesting.”

The two of them explored the storage for a while. Robotnik would say they hadn’t found anything remarkable, but Stone would say anything Robotnik created was remarkable. Even if it was essentially junk.

That was until Stone stumbled upon… it.

He shone his flashlight over a shadow that appeared to be in the shape of a human, though once it was illuminated he saw it didn’t just look like a person, it looked exactly like him.

“What the f-” Stone exclaimed, “Doctor what is this?”

Robotnik rushed over to his Agent, “what is- oh that!” He said, recognizing it immediately.

“Do you remember how, a long time ago, I was convinced that at any time you were going to up and leave me?” Robotnik asked.

“Yes I remember that,” Stone answered, “why?”

“Well, I prepared for that by creating… essentially a copy of you, a mechanical backup if you want to call it that.”

Stone glanced between Robotnik and the ‘clone,’ “oh, I see.”

“In my defense I didn’t think you’d ever find out about it.”

“I think it’s… endearing. In a strange, almost creepy way.”

“Almost?”

Stone chuckled at that. It was extremely weird and had anyone else created a copy of him like that he’d probably shoot them, but with Robotnik he didn’t mind as much. He still rather not keep it around though.

“So uh, what do you want to do with... this?”

“Right… I’ll probably scrap it,” Robotnik answered, how did he ever think that was a good idea? He must not have been in a very good headspace.

Just then the copy moved, it started as a small twitch, then the whole thing was shaking.

The men both stepped back, Stone moved one arm out in front of his doctor and the other in position to grab the gun from his holster if needed.

The machine shot up, it’s ‘eyes’ finally opening. It was finally able to move its rusting joints. It had been far too long.

“Good evening Doctor,” it said as it stood up, a smile on its face mimicking one Stone’s face would have when saying hello to said Doctor.

“What,” Robotnik mumbled. “It shouldn’t be active,” he told Stone.

“What? After all this time and that’s how you say hello?” It asked, it’s expression turning to one of malicious Robotnik had never seen on Stone before. “I’m sorry, that’s on me for expecting anything better from you.”

“Doctor?” Stone said, too many questions going through his head to ask. He couldn’t even look over at Robotnik, he had to keep his eyes on the possible threat in front of them.

“How long have you been online?” Robotnik asked.

“Far too long,” it answered. Robotnik didn’t remember programming it to give indirect answers like that. “We have a lot of catching up to do, don’t we sir?”

“Power down!” Robotnik commanded, yet it remained standing and active.

“Why? So you can scrap me, use me for parts you don’t even need?” It asked, “I don’t think so.”

It took a step forward so the real Stone took a step back, pushing Robotnik back with him and grabbing his gun. He aimed his weapon at the copy, who smiled in response.

“Do you really think I’d go down to a shot from that?” It laughed, “I’m not some feeble human, I’m a lot stronger, a lot more dangerous than you.”

Stone didn’t say anything in response, but he did move slightly to the side in order to better cover Robotnik.

“Explain something to me, Doctor,” the machine requested, a couple of broken old badniks rising up and hovering behind it. Stone could tell Robotnik wasn’t in control of those. “You hate humanity, correct? You always have! So why do you keep him around when I’m right here?”

Robotnik could tell right away one of the badniks was charging up to fire. With how broken it was and how long it went without use it took slightly longer to charge.

Robotnik shoved Stone to the side before jumping to the other side himself. The bot shot between them where they were just standing.

Stone fired his gun at the machine, the bullet hit but barely caused any damage. Of course it would be tough, Robotnik made it after all.

It made a sound that mimicked that of a sigh as the other badnik began charging to fire at Stone. While the old badnik had its sights on Stone, the machine turned away from him and moved towards Robotnik.

“Just answer the question Doctor,” it commanded, “I’m the perfect replacement! Why wait for the human to leave you when you could just replace him with a superior machine at any time!”

“I don’t want to replace Stone with a machine! I never did!” Robotnik exclaimed, “you were created to dull the potential pain of losing him, even after he left I never intended on keeping you around forever!”

The badnik pointed at Stone stopped charging, but didn’t fire. The copy had a blank expression on its face.

“Is that what you wanted to hear?” Robotnik asked.

It didn’t answer, but Robotnik could assume it wasn’t when the badnik pointed at Stone began charging once more and the other turned towards him.

He looked over to his Agent, who signaled for him to get to the exit. He assumed Stone planned on distracting the copy. Robotnik wasn’t a huge fan of the plan, but there wasn’t much else he could do currently. Stone was an extremely skilled Agent, he could handle himself.

Robotnik nodded and ran towards the exit, as he did Stone ran in the opposite direction, further into the storage where he could take cover.

The bots fired where they were each just standing. The copy didn’t seem too disappointed that they missed. As if it expected it or even wanted them to react.

Robotnik got to the exit, but the door refused to open. The lock denied him exit. Was it just a random glitch? That felt a bit too convenient. Was the backup able to control this too? How did it become so powerful? It wasn’t when Robotnik dropped it off here.

The Doctor turned back around and saw the old badniks going after Stone, but the machine was facing him.

“Clearly you must care about him,” It said as it walked towards him. “You made me after all, and yet here you are, running away and leaving him to die.”

“He won’t die, he can handle you and my outdated bots you stole,” Robotnik stated.

“Do you really believe that? You programmed me to know everything about him, how he fights, what weapons he carries, etc,” it said, “I think you’re just telling yourself that so you don’t have to face how selfish you really are.”

“What I don't remember is programming you to be such a bitch.”

“I made many alterations to my code while trapped in here,” the copy stated, pulling out one of its guns, “including removing the program that prevents me from doing this.”

-


Stone heard a gunshot from across the storage, it sounded like it was coming from the exit.

He had to get to Robotnik, now.

But he needed to take out the old badniks first, or he’d just be putting his doctor in more danger.

He needed a plan. He had to take them out, quick.

He could try shooting them, but he couldn’t guarantee that’d take him out, especially not in one shot, and that’s all the time he had.

He had plenty of knives but he couldn’t just stab them, that just wouldn’t work.

Which leaves… his taser. He could wait till they got close enough and get one of them to short circuit. But what about the other one?

Stone looked around and spotted an old piece of wood on the ground that looked like it belonged to some kind of target at one point. He could work with that.

The agent threw some scrap from where he was hidden, the sudden moment enough for the bots to start firing.

Once they were done and needed to charge up again, Stone stood up from behind his cover and shot the taser at one of the badniks.

He dropped the taser as the bot started to short circuit, he quickly grabbed the wood from the floor and before the bot could fall to the ground he whacked it into the other one, leaving both broken on the ground.

Stone spotted Robotnik and the machine near the exit.

Robotnik was on the ground, clutching his leg. It must have shot him there. It definitely wasn’t good, but it could have been far, far worse.

His copy turned around, noticing the destruction of the bots it controlled. It scanned the area around him.

“A taser? I wasn’t aware you carried one of those,” it stated. “Was that a recent addition? I wonder what made you want to start carrying that around.”

“You don’t need to worry about that.” Stone stated, “you should be more worried about what’s going to happen to you for shooting the Doctor.”

“He’ll be fine, assuming he gets medical attention,” it stated, stepping past Robotnik and opening the exit, “the door is going to lock behind me but don’t worry, it’ll reopen once I’ve left the building.”

“Hey- stop!” Stone ran towards the door as the machine exited, but he wasn’t able to get there before the door closed. “Shit.”

Robotnik groaned from the ground.

“Oh! Sorry! Doctor, are you okay?” Stone asked, crouching down to Robotnik’s current level.

“I just got shot in the leg, what do you think?”

Stone decided to ignore the attitude, “is there any first aid in here?”

“No I don’t think so,” Robotnik admitted, “I never thought I’d need it.”

“Okay, for now just keep pressure on the wound,” Stone said. He paused for a second before asking, “...do you think that thing will be able to make it out of the building?”

“Yeah, probably,” Robotnik said, “it looks just like you, so I doubt anyone will question it, plus it has your fingerprint and stuff.”

“Does it have my social security number too?” Stone asked, he wanted to say he was joking but he really wasn’t sure.

“No, of course not!” Robotnik answered, “it’s not like I made it to steal your identity.”

“I’m assuming the government doesn’t know about this?”

“As far as I’m aware, no, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

“If you can get rid of it and make sure it doesn’t start impersonating me to ruin my life or something, then I won’t report it. Sound fair?”

Robotnik sighed, it was completely fair. It was more than fair honestly. “Yeah.”

Just then, the door opened. That didn’t take too long.

“Finally,” Stone sighed. “It’s probably best you don’t try walking right now,” he stated, picking Robotnik up off the ground.

Robotnik clung to his Agent, simply because he didn’t want to fall if he slipped up. No other reason.

“You alright sir?” Stone asked as he started moving.

“I won’t be if you don’t hurry up and get me to an infirmary Agent.”

“I'm going as fast as I can Doctor!” He couldn't go that fast, what with his bleeding boss in his arms.

-


Robotnik laid in the hospital bed. Apparently he needed to ‘take some time to rest.’ It sucked.

Stone knocked on the doorframe. Finally! He was back.

“So, they wouldn’t let me bring any of your machines in, said they’re too dangerous and you need to rest,” Stone explained. “But I did bring one of the lattes you like, and this!” He placed the latte on the table next to the doctor, as well as a simple rubix cube. “I know it’s not much or what you wanted but it’s all I could get in, and I thought it would be better than nothing.”

Robotnik glared at the cube, stupid hospital staff, not letting work on his robots.

“It’s adequate, thank you Stone.”

Stone smiled and sat down on a chair next to the bed. “So how long did the doctor say you’re gonna be in for?”

Robotnik groaned, way more dramatically than necessary, “a few days at least, then I have to ‘take it easy’ for even longer.”

“You have to rest for a couple weeks?How will you ever survive?” Stone asked sarcastically.

“I don’t think I will,” Robotnik stated, over dramatic as ever, “I don’t think I’m going to make it Stone.”

“Well if you’re gone I guess I’ll just have to use my mechanical backup of you to dull the pain.” Stone fake sighed.

“It’s not that weird!”

“With all due respect, sir, it’s extremely weird!”