This was impossible and he knew it. Regardless, it was still true that CereB.O.R.G. had managed to render him powerless. How was this creature that was part organic and part machine doing this to him? First his adversary had trapped him in a cell that had been all but impenetrable so he couldn’t escape. Then that cell was filled with some type of gas that had been able to affect him and knock him out. When he awoke he found himself within a stasis field that had almost succeeded in keeping him a prisoner. Now he was once more unable to move, only this time because of some type of energy that was affecting his body, somehow preventing his muscles from moving. What the hell was going on?
Almost all his life he had been nearly impervious to harm. Sure there had been a few things that had been able to hurt him, but none of those were part of what was keeping him immobile now. Whatever it was, he knew only a being as superior in its intellect as CereB.O.R.G. was could possibly come up with the way to defeat him. Hadn’t the cyborg being almost done that several times in the past? Each time he had managed to outwit this being and find a way to bring about its own defeat. The last time they’d fought he had actually destroyed CereB.O.R.G., so who was it that had just caused his downfall, or perhaps he should say “what was it”, since CereB.O.R.G. wasn’t entirely a naturally-born sentient being, but a construct that had been designed by someone else, someone whose identity he had never learned, but who had sent the creature out to conquer as much of the known universe as possible.
That was why he had fought so hard each time to defeat this creature, because it threatened the freedom and existence of the planet Earth, the place he called home.
He should have known when those aliens surrounded Earth and demanded he battle them under the conditions they had set, the loser deciding the fate of this planet, that CereB.O.R.G. had to be involved in some manner. But how? This cybernetic construct had been completely annihilated, every atom, every molecule, every particle of its being pulverized beyond the point of redemption under any terms. How was it now rebuilt?
Eclipse had been pondering this question for as long as he had been bound in whatever this energy was that kept him prisoner. Whatever this stuff was it made him feel weak on top of everything else. It was almost as though he were under a red sun, not a yellow one, such as Sol was that the Earth revolved around.
Wait. What color was this energy? He strained with all his remaining might, which wasn’t much of anything, to move his eyes to where he might be able to catch the tiniest of glimpses of the energy surrounding him at his middle. He couldn’t even move his eyes, but if he could somehow manage to catch the barest glimpse of the aura this energy produced, perhaps he…There! Was that it? It had to be. He strained yet again and…Yes! It was red. That was how CereB.O.R.G. had captured him, by using the energy of a red sun. But shouldn’t the energy from Sol still be affecting him even more?
Clarity suddenly dawned upon him. Had he been able to smack himself in the forehead and mutter “DOH!” he would have. Of course. That was why CereB.O.R.G. had made certain to get him so far below the surface of the planet and keep him there for so long. This entire time he dealt with Ozzie Bunso, following him and trying to see who he reported to once he was set free from the FBI headquarters, it was all an elaborate ruse to get him involved and force him underground where Sol’s yellow radiation no longer reached him. Sure, he yet retained the abilities he’d always had under Earth’s yellow sun, but by being literally in the dark for so long with no possible chance of having Sol’s radiation bathing him as he was used to in his daily routine, then hitting him with a high dose of red sun energy – he had been susceptible beyond belief.
At least he had been able to determine what had been used to confine him in this manner. Now he needed to determine the way to set himself free – without the benefit of his powers.
He suddenly wondered if he had added to his own demise by creating this new identity with a full suit that covered every inch of him including his head? Had he been partially responsible for preventing Sol’s rays from reaching him? No, that was ridiculous. Clothing wasn’t made to be impervious to radiation like the sun’s…except when deliberately designed that way, as he had this suit. Of course. He had been responsible. He had designed the suit so nothing could get through it and that was exactly what had happened. Nothing, including the yellow sun radiation had gotten through his new outfit, enabling CereB.O.R.G. to defeat him that much easier.
It did no good beating himself up over this lapse in reasoning. Once he got out of this predicament he would design something completely different, perhaps something that allowed sunlight in, certainly, hell, he’d gladly strut about fully naked if that was what it took to ensure he would never again be in a predicament like this one, but for now he needed to focus on getting free.
* * * * *
“Is that a slight breeze I feel wafting down from above?” Meredith nearly laughed with joy at the fact that they had managed to carve their way slowly-but-surely through the ceiling of rock to another chamber above them. It had taken a long time, nearly three hours if the internal digital chronometer within her suit was any good, and she knew it was. God, no wonder she felt completely drained. Three hours working as hard as they had clearing away debris and continuing to bore through solid rock would tire anyone, and they had been going since early this morning already. What time was it, anyway? She once more checked the internal clock and found it was nearly two in the morning. She had been going strong for nearly twenty-four hours already. And how long had it been since she’d eaten? She had no idea when she had eaten last. Her brain was too foggy from the lack of sleep and proper nutrition to know. All that could wait until later. For now she simply needed to help get free so they could locate her husband and hopefully get the hell out of this place. She needed sunlight on her face, something, anything to make her feel more like a real person once again and less like a mole.
“Need help climbing up there?” Robertson asked, seeing how long it was taking his partner to climb to the top of the mound of rubble and through the opening. “Or are you just enjoying the view?”
Meredith glanced back at Robertson and smiled. Sure, he was an ass at times, but she was learning to like him. He wasn’t really so bad once she got to know what made him tick. She turned back toward the opening and shoved her Zeus Cannon through, laying it on the ground to the side of the opening. Then she grabbed hold of the ledge above her and pulled herself through the hole. Hmmm, this was tighter than she’d thought it would be. If she barely fit, how was her partner supposed to get through?
Meredith finished pulling herself up and turned about on her knees to look down at Robertson. Fortunately the goggles allowed them to see in the dark or she would never be able to locate him in the total blackness below.
“See anything?” he called up to her.
“Nope. Just the same darkness you’ve got down there.
“Hey, the hole’s pretty tight. We might have to…” She stopped talking as his hands came through and grabbed hold of the ledge made from the opening. Meredith moved back so he would have more room to wiggle through and watched in amazement as somehow Evan Robertson managed to squeeze through the opening she had barely fit through.
“That’s odd,” she mused aloud. “I thought for sure that opening…”
“Yeah, you’re right,” he interrupted her thought as he stood and looked about the chamber they were now in. “It is the same darkness as below.” He looked down at her, still on her knees and offered her a hand. She took hold of his hand and stood to her feet, not that she couldn’t have done it just fine on her own, but she decided working as a team had been good for them thus far. No sense in refusing his help now. It could only make things revert back to what they previously were, and she didn’t want that. This relationship was like any other and would take time…
Robertson leaned in and kissed her on the lips. She pulled back quickly, wiping her lips with the back of her hand.
“What the hell did you do that for?” she glared at him.
“I – I just thought…”
“You thought wrong, Evan. I’m married, remember? And I love my husband more than anyone else in this whole world. Keep that in mind, will you?”
“Sure, Meredith,” his voice was hard and stern as he answered. “I’ll be strictly professional from now on. I guarantee it.”
Damn. Now they were back to square one again, but she knew it hadn’t been her fault. Why the hell had he tried kissing her?