Odyssey Contest Entry: A Child’s Best Friend

The Junkyards were no place for a young child. In amongst the piles of rusted metal and scrap, stinking with the remains of oil and fuel, gangs often took their refuge. Scavengers who went out into the filthy dumpsite were often known to be robbed of whatever they had found and left to die in amongst the heaped piles. Yet, despite this, a single small figure picked his way through the sharp mounds, foot stumbling occasionally, or slipping on the broken pipes. Clutching his small satchel, he scanned his torch through the remains of machines long past. Something moved. The boy glanced quickly about, seeking for the source of the movement, his flashlight gleaming back and forth as he peered into the darkness, before it finally rested down below, at the bottom of the scrap pile. Several figures stood far below, each one as fearsome as the next. Looted scrap and armour covered them, and each held an amalgam of weapons in his hands. Crackling electric batons, lengths of pipe, and shimmering blades of light. As the flashlight landed on them, they glanced up, and the boy blanched, his face a mask of terror, scampering quickly up through the section of metal, careful to land his gloves on the sections. He heard far below, one of the men cry, pointing up at him. “There!” He heard the heavy thump and scattering of parts, his heart jolting as he dared to spare another glance back down. Leaping up another few sections, the child caught sight of his destination. At the head of the heap was a small outcrop, formed out of the wreckage of an old transporter ship. There, were the faintest of blue lights emanated, was his home, and safety. Heaving in a great breath, he bounded up the slope, scrabbling at the metal, satchel bouncing against his chest as he leaned back for another brief look. As fast as he was, these outlaws knew the wreckage as well as everyone, and with their hooked gauntlets, they matched and began to outpace him. Grasping at the lip of the wreck, the boy pulled himself over, panting deeply as he stumbled into the small room beyond. At one side lay the ragged remains of his sleeping material, rags and such collected into a somewhat comfortable pile. He still heard the movements of the men outside, yet as he walked across the room, his fear had quenched itself a little. Moving to the far end of the room, stepping around piles of bolts and wires, the youngster’s hands brushed across the form of something kept in the corner. Picking up a rag, he clambered up the frame of the strange detritus, wiping and polishing a flat black surface that lay high up on its body. A thick layer of dust came away, as he mounted the spine of the contraption, pulling back a small hatch. The scuffling outside and the clatter of metal became louder, as he opened up his satchel, drawing out a small boxy object, slotting it into the backplate and closing it. Shadows fell across the front of the workshop as boots fell on the hard metal surface. The young child slid down, hiding in amongst the scrap as he heard voices talking between each other. _“He’s in here somewhere, little bastard. Look at all of this stuff.” _ _“Should make for a fine looting.” _ A few chuckles spread throughout the group, as the boy curled himself up, whispering, “Please…please…” A hum of energy began to fill the room, as a blue glow emanated from flat black screen mounted atop the body of the contraption in the workshop. The lights dissipated, reforming into a pair of circles and a moving, waving line, as the head cocked slightly to the side, and a blank voice asked, _WILLUMP-01 unit is online. Nunu? _ As one of the bandits went to move forwards, raising his baton, a bolt of powerful energy struck him in the chest, sending him stumbling backwards as he dropped out of the front door, “Go get ‘em, Willump!” Nunu clung on tightly as his mechanical ally raised a fist, his visual screen burning with an illuminating red as he scanned these new opponents. One hammering punch sent another of the men reeling, before turning in flight. Turning on the last man, the automaton cocked its head, before advancing slowly. Yet, the last bandit didn’t retreat, but raised his scrapwork shield, as a blow slammed against it. Though the metal buckled, it held, and he lunged back with a crackling spear. The blow struck the machine at its core, and for a moment, Nunu watched smoke burst up from his battery-powered friend, clenching tightly onto his back as he glanced down in panic. The machine’s screen went blank for a moment, before it rapidly changed. Instead of a face flaring up, energy began to build within the robot’s body. **3…** **2…** **1…** A loud horn blared violently as the energy blasted out from Willump’s flat feet, pumping volts through the air and floor, sending the leader’s weapon sailing out through the door, quickly followed by its wielder. Slowly, the boy slid down from the back of his robotic companion, padding slowly across the floor as he glanced out of the workshop. The bandits had fled, no sign of them remaining as he glanced back to Willump. The automised ally slowly walked over, each footfall heavy as they gazed out on the slowly rising sun over the Junkyards. “I’d glad you’re back, Willump.” The machine didn’t reply, but instead move over to the ledge, stepping beside Nunu as he gazed out over the first flickers of dawn, their silhouettes stretching back into the workshop, as child leaned against the warmed metal of his companion. _Companionship Protocols Engaged._
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