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Hellbound gets Airborne

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Date: April 6th, 2009

Orenthal Samson -- known to most everyone else as Hellbound -- was a simple man. Not "stupid" simple (he could at times be surprisingly insightful), but "did not ask for much in life" simple. He liked to fight, in the same way that most folks like eating and drinking. (He liked eating and drinking, too, though not as much as fighting.) However, he did of late notice one significant flaw in his fighting style: it was utterly useless against fliers.

And there are a lot of fliers in Freedom City.

Which is why he was now in Hanover, in amongst a block of plain and unassuming (though very modern) housing units, the type which had sprung up all over Hanover. He had come seeking one particular house, home to perhaps the keenest technical mind in all of Hanover (and perhaps one of the top ten in all of Freedom City), Doktor Viktor Archeville. Why him? Because a) he knew him from the other Knights of Freedom, and B) he knew from reputation that Doc actually enjoyed having 'guests' drop by.

The small path leading from the sidewalk to Archevillle's front door was flanked by gaily-painted garden gnomes, four on each side. Each stood about a foot and a half tall, with blue shirts and red pointy hats. As Hellbound walked up, he almost thought he saw a pair turn towards him, but when he looked at them they were still as statues. The front windows were all obscured by what appeared to be thick and heavy curtains.

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Hellbound checked his sheet of notepaper again, wanting to make sure he had the right address. This was the home of Doctor Archeville? That couldn't be right.

Though he couldn't honestly voice what he'd been expecting, this dwelling was not one of all the possible images running through his mind. It all looked so... nice. There were no mysterious claps of thunder in the background, no creepy lab assistants hopping about the parapets... hell, there weren't even any parapets.

Granted Hellbound tended to watch too much late-night television, but what kind of mad scientist had garden gnomes? It had almost seemed like the gnomes themselves were watching him, but that might have just been the young man's imagination and even still... lawn gnomes were a poor substitute for leering gargoyles.

He had to remind himself, though, that this wasn't some kooky, cackling, cartoon genius. This was simply a man with an incredible intellect and the generosity to possibly help him out with his mobility.

Hellbound couldn't exactly say that he was nervous as he walked up the walk to ring the unassuming doorbell and announce his presence. But he was, to say the least, a little watchful.

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The door opened quietly after Hellbound rang the bell (which had an oddly familiar tune), seemingly of its own accord. The room beyond was fairly dark, though he could just make out some movement, some glints of metal, off to one side of the room.

"Halt!" a voice from nowhere commanded. He had heard Archeville speak several times before, and this voice did sound like his... but it also sounded very distorted, very mechanical. "Please state your name and the nature of your visit."

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If he'd been expecting theatrics, then at least Hellbound wasn't disappointed once the door had opened. Very authoritarian, this sort of greeting, and more along the lines of what he'd envisioned for an eccentric genius like Archeville.

"Name, rank and serial number. That's all you're getting from me!" He called into the open doorway, perhaps a little louder than he really needed to speak. It sounded like the Doc was using an intercom and the visitor wasn't sure how sensitive the pickups might be.

"It's Hellbound, Doc. I wanna talk to you about something."

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"Ah, Hellbound!," the unseen voice said in a far more upbeat (though still eerily synthetic) tone. "Come in, please! Follow de Kammerdieneraffe, he shall lead you to me."

At the word 'lead,' the source of the voice became clear: lumbering into view was a silvery metallic gorilla in a butler's suit. A moment of looking revealed that it was in fact a robotic gorilla, and not some sort of mutant gorilla.

When he steps over the threshold into the house itself, lights came on, showing that the inside of the house was far different than what the outside indicated. Outside, the house seemed to be a completely ordinary light gray two-story housing unit, the sort that's sprung up all over Hanover in the past few years. Inside, it was quite nicely decorated, with beautifully stained wood paneling along the walls and a tiled floor depicting an odd mandala-like design. Three hallways lead off from the entryway, left, right, and straight ahead; the robo-gorilla was heading down the left hallway. As he looked around, Hellbound saw a sparkling chandelier hanging from the ceiling.

The ceiling which was far too high for the building, based on the exterior dimensions. Come to think of it, this entryway alone seemed big enough to take up half the house....

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"The... wait, what?" Hellbound muttered to himself. "Did he say comedy-giraffe?"

It didn't take long for the instructions to be clarified, however, was the mechanical gorilla showed itself. The fighter raised his arms instinctively upon seeing the thing show up, but without any sort of hostile actions being displayed he relaxed once more. Still, Hellbound seemed to be sizing the gorilla up just in case...

He was more impressed with the insides of the house than what he'd seen on the walk up to the front door. Even if it still didn't look like a haven of science-gone-wrong, this was at least a little less mundane. Staring at the circular design on the floor he had to wonder how the Doc kept his pet robo-kong from scuffing its surface. The thing must have weighed a ton.

After a short span of walking in silence, it began to dawn on Hellbound that the dimensions were a bit off. The house hadn't looked this huge from the outside, though he supposed that might have been some trick of architecture. Could they do really do that? Make buildings look like they took up less room than they really did?

He wasn't sure, though he sincerely hoped not. He'd hate to be dissapointed by Archeville actually not living in a place that violated a few known laws of time and/or space.

"Hey Doc!" He called into the air, not sure if the doctor could still hear him. It'd seemed earlier like the mecha-monkey had been the source of communication, but he wasn't sure.

"You takin' me to China today, or what? Where are you?"

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"I can hear you, Hellbound," the metallic gorilla said, in the same odd mechanical-yet-upbeat mockery of Archeville's own voice. "The Kammerdieneraffe -- er, 'Butler-Ape' -- is escorting you down to de gymnasium. I vill meet you dere soon; I am in de middle of someding vhich I cannot step avay from at dis moment."

As they walked down several corridors -- far too many corridors, part of him thought -- Hellbound began to get the feeling he was being watched. As he looked around he still saw the occasional glare of light reflecting off of... something, and got the sense of numerous things moving about him, either beyond the numerous doors and walls in adjoining rooms or within the walls themselves, but he never saw anything definite.

Until the silvery metal rat scurried past.

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"Oh, hey, now that's not creepy at all." Hellbound stated while watching the scurrying, metal critter. Most people seemed to concentrate on making nice robots like dogs or teddy bears or sassy maids named Rosy. Not their Doctor Archeville, however. He had to go straight for the synthetic vermin.

Something clicked inside of Hellbound's thick skull. Between the presence of the stainless steel rat and the sensation of being watched, he managed to put two and two together to something approximating four.

"Izzat a camera?" He asked of Optimus Primal. The question was followed up with erratic waving gestures in the direction that the critter had vanished.

"Can you see me right now? Are those rats, like, part of your security system or do you just have really cool taste in pets? Geez, sounds like about a billion of 'em in the walls. Hope you didn't teach them how to mate."

Actually... the only thing that might be cooler than mechanical rats for pets would be mechanical rats capable of reproducing. If anything, the presence of the robo-rodentia only proved to him that he was in the right place after all.

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"It is part of de security system, ja" Archevilles-voice-from-robo-gorilla said, "dough dat particular model is also part of de housekeeping services. It is, in effect, a very smart, und very tiny, vacuum cleaner."

Soon they reached a set of double doors, doors oddly similar to the ones Hellbound had seen in regular gyms. The gorilla opened one, and beyond was a respectable gymnasium/firing range. Assorted pieces of exercise equipment was scattered about, as well as parallel bars and a pommel horse. The rear third or so of the place looked much like a police firing range.

A large section in the middle of the room held a slightly raised dais, about 60 feet in diameter.

"Ah, excellent timing!," Hellbound heard simultaneously from both the gorilla behind her and the man himself entering through a side door. He grinned as he realized the effect, then reached up and removed a small electronic device from his ear. When he did, Hellbound heard the gorilla turn and shuffle off. "Won't be needing dat communication link, now dat you're here. So... vhat vas it you vanted again? A flying motorcycle?"

I bet we'd look damn good in biker gear.

I'd rather not test that theory.

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Hellbound watched the digital Magilla trundle off, wondering just how tricky it was to make stuff like that. It seemed like superheroes and villains always were dealing with high-tech henchmen of that sort. Sometimes, maybe, it made laymen like Hellbound a bit jaded. Here was this mind blowing example of nigh incomprehensible technological advancement and all he could think about was that walk was the longest period of time he'd ever spent staring at a mechanical monkey's butt.

A single shrug was about the most eloquence he could put to the minor, mental considerations towards the philosophy of it all before Hellbound turned back towards the Doc.

Archeville had a pretty sweet setup down here. There was some workout gear that Hellbound would have killed to have regular access to, but maybe that'd be a benefit of joining a team. The equipment they had at the local 'Y' wasn't exactly up to the caliber of someone who could flip trucks over. Though he did his best with what he had, the fighter was definitely aching for more challenging routines.

"Yeah, a flying bike would be a killer ride, I can't argue about that. 'Sweet for my image, too. But I'm not sure that's really where I want to go, you know? I mean it'd get me to and from a fight in style, but after that it'd be a little limited.

"Maybe I'm wrong, but it doesn't really sound like it'd be on the stealthy side. Plus there's always a chance of getting knocked off in mid-air, and if I ever get stuck in a situation like on that cruise ship a while back... how am I going to wheel a chopper down those tight corridors?"

Hellbound gave another shrug, clearly at the limits of his own elocution.

"I think I'd be better off with something more personal. I'm thinking, what, a jet pack? Flight ring? Fake wings? I don't really know how these things are done, but am I getting the concept across here?"

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Gah, why did we let this moron into our home?!

One, he's not a moron; I'm sure his IQ is well above 70. Two, he and we are on the same team, and teammates help each other.

Feh. Just make sure he doesn't drool on anything.

"True, true, a motorcycle vould not be stealthy. Vell, I could make it stealthy, but 'stealthy motorcycle' seems to be a contradiction, ja?," Archeville said as he walked over to the dais. "Jet packs, flight rings, und de like are quite do-able, ja. Please, come up here," he said, waving Hellbound over.

"Is dere a certain 'look' your going for? I mean, you do use de name Hellbound, vhich I presume is not something you picked randomly. Vere you planning on going de 'demonic biker' route?"

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"Loud pipes save lives, my man." Hellbound commented on bikes not being subtle. But as for what kind of look he was going for? Hellbound hadn't ever given that a lot of thought.

He examined himself as best he could, taking in the threadbare, leather jacket and shabby clothing.

"How about something besides 'Homeless Man'? I'm getting tired of people thinking my powers involve urinating in subways."

The problem lay in Hellbound not being much of a fashion designer. He wasn't entirely certain what to go with or how to craft his professional demeanor, but he'd already thrown a few suggestions out for consideration. Hellbound might not know clothes but he was an avid comic book reader.

So what about the ring idea? Hellbound ran that through his mind, envisioning a demonic skull motiff done in silver or white gold. That could be bad-ass and good for later marketing. Once his name was known and respected then he could start selling mockups to kids all across the city.

What, and maybe it could be a decoder ring as well? Feh. Hellbound wasn't exactly the 'Drink your Ovaltine' type. Not his style.

How about the jetpack? He could get a real rocketeer deal going with a flight jacket and goggles, or maybe rig the enines up to a belt design? Was that actually cool, though? Would people start calling him 'Buck Hellbound'? He tried to picture what his Hellions would say about the new thing and, honestly, it was just too cornball to imagine.

Hey, what about a flying cloak? A little strange, yeah, but would it work? Hellbound envisioned himself with a cape fluttering about his shoulders and carrying him around the city on the wind. Scarab already had that look all sewn up, though, and he wasn't confident of his ability to steal her thunder. There was no way Hellbound played follow-the-leader with anyone.

He wanted something unique, something nobody really held tightly yet. That left the wings. Could he work with that? Could he come up with a look that said 'I am Hellbound!' with a pair of wings?

Maybe he could, it definitely had possibilities. Something leathery like a giant bat-slash-man thing going on? Really strike terror into the superstitious and...

No, no, he wasn't going there. Hellbound didn't want to be the terror that flapped in the night. Darkly dangerous was one thing, but at times it almost felt like the whole bat-thing had been done to death. Though he couldn't come up with specific examples in his head of the look being used in the past, it already felt tired and used up.

So bird wings? Maybe an angel thing? Yeah. A fallen angel. An avenging spirit like Brandon Lee as The Crow. That was bad-assed. A Hell's Angel, some emissary of a dark and unforgiving god.

Looking up from his long moment of quiet contemplation, Hellbound suddenly realized that Archeville was patiently waiting for him to speak once more. Exacly how much time had he just spent slowly craking the hamster wheels of thought?

"I got it." Hellbound grinned at last. "Like crow's wings, man. All trim with black feathers and wrath-of-god scale armor."

He brought his hands up and made random gestures that were, somehow, supposed to convey the images in his head.

"Dark metallics. Kind of a shimmering, blood red vest with annodized titanium scales. Something that'd be easy to move in and makes it look like hell's gone on the warpath. Long, skinny wings that the night just pissed all over. Think you can whip up something like that?"

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Wow, he really is going all-out with the 'dark and brooding loner' thing.

And yet he's on a team. And not a small one, either.

Yeah, but we all know it's largely so he can be closer to that barmaid.

Archeville nodded, "oh, I can certainly do all dat, ja. But first..."

The Doktor moved Hellbound a few steps to the left, and he saw he was now standing in a very faint circle in the middle of the dais.

"Ja, ja, right dere. Now, I'll need to get your measurements, so I can tailor de vings to you. Und not just height und veight -- I need to test some other aspects, such as your strength, to make sure I make de vings study enough dat you do not accidentally tear dem."

The Doktor took a step back, nodded, then spoke aloud, clearly not to Hellbound. "Computer! Fangen sie biometrischen scan an." Concealed panels in the floor pulled away and long flexible multijointed mechanical arms with senors on the ends* rose up and began to scan over Hellbound. As they did, a life-sized 3-d hologram of him (with assorted readings along the sides, bottom and top) appeared floating in the air next to the mad scientist and his subject.

"Hurm... dat's odd."

* Yes, they look like Doc Ock's arms from Spider-Man 2, except these don't have the grasper/claw things/giant spikes at the end, just the sensor lenses.

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"Aw, sweet..." Hellbound exclaimed on seeing the computer generated image of himself. "That's me!"

He raised his arm to wave at his own 'reflection', watching to see if it reacted. The young man seemed very much like a kid getting his first ride on a locomotive or something equally naive. Not exactly the impression one would expect after watching him beat on others in the ring.

"I so need to get me something like this. Oh, man. Do I really look that scruffy?"

With Archeville uttering his "dat's odd..." comment, Hellbound turned away from the narcissitic scene.

"What's odd?" He asked in confusion.

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Heh, told you he as dense.

Ha ha. But did you notice that... or that?

Of course I did!

Archeville took out his may-as-well-be-a-magic-wand "Electromagnetic Screwdriver" and adjusted it some. Parts of the holographic Hellbound grew, as if the camera were focusing in closer... which, in fact, was exactly what the tentacle-cams were doing.

"Vell, at first glance, dese readings are a bit odd. You're 1.8 meters tall und, based on your physique you look to veigh about 85 kilos, but de sensors in de floor indicate dat you veigh 172 kilos."

He glanced back at the real Hellbound, "no, I am not going to make a joke about you being 'dense'."

"However," he tuned back to the hologram, and fiddled a bit more with the control on his gadget, "dere are some other anomalies here, namely in de scans of de structure of your skin und bones. Vould you mind if I took a more... in-depth look?"

"Muah hah hah hah hah hah hah!!!"

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"He glanced back at the real Hellbound, "no, I am not going to make a joke about you being 'dense'."

Hellbound shrugged at that.

"Don't see why not. No point in having a thick skull if you don't get the skin to go with it."

As way of example, he then rapped himself twice, hard, on top of his own head. The hollow sound that the action generated was loud enough to be more than a little disturbing.

"'Been called worse things then bonehead in my life, doc, without crying. You don't have to handle me with kid goves here."

Of course, what he didn't mention was that many of the people who called him worse things then 'bonehead' ended up in the hospital. That was back before he'd made the decision to become a superhero, however. Plus those people weren't teammates of his or someone that he'd likely depend on some day to save his life.

The Doc got a pass on taking shots at Hellbound's intellect. They were supposed to be able to trust each other, and for the young fighter that meant being relaxed enough to survive a few well meant jibes.

The mad-science-ish laugh that Archeville let out when he talked about getting under Hellbound's skin was a little more disturbing, however.

"Ah... hey, no I don't mind. Knock yourself out, but you might want to be careful about cutting me. See, my blood doesn't get along too well with others. I'd hate to accidentally burn up part of your lab just in the name of getting to know me better."

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"'Been called worse things then bonehead in my life, doc, without crying. You don't have to handle me with kid goves here."

"Dere is a bit of difference between 'treating mit kid gloves' und 'simply being polite,' you know. Besides, vhen I insult somevon, I usually do it in German or French."

He sure does talk a lot for a 'brooding loner'.

Clearly there's more to him than meets the eye. Well, aside from this anatomical oddness.

Hellbound's mention of his blood made the Doktor cock his head a bit, "really? Vell, it is a good ding I don't need to actually cut you to see vhat is inside you."

A new set of metal tentacle-sensors snaked up out of the floor, and scanned around Hellbound. As they did, he saw the flesh on the hologram become transparent, revealing his musculature. Then the muscles became transparent, revealing his skeleton and organs. Then the organs faded, leaving just his skeleton.

"Curioser und curioser... Hellbound, vould you mind telling me how you got your powers? Vas it after some accident, or did you just notice von day dat you vere stronger und tougher dan de other boys?"

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Hellbound shrugged again, apparently a common gesture for him. There were a number of things in life he didn't understand and there was typically a universal response for them all. He was easily the type who didn't mind not always knowing what was going on around him.

"Dunno." He answered, honestly. "Never really thought about it much. Yeah, I was always tougher and stronger than the kids around me. 'Started out as some pretty minor differences, but it just kept getting more and more extreme as I gerw up.

"Got a lot heavier, too. I don't know kilos from car keys, but if what you said earlier is that I'm about twice as heavy as you'd expect, you got that right. That one's another mystery to me, too."

Hellbound poked himself while watching the imagery float on display. He'd never been given the chance to see inside of himself before. It was a bit of an eerie experience knowing that the doppelganger standing next to him was his own skeleton.

"Is that weird? I mean, do most metahumans know why they can do the things they do?"

The only other superhero he'd really talked about this stuff with was Moria. She'd only recently learned about her divine heritage, so up until that point the girl was as much in the dark as Hellbound. He simply assumed that, some day, whatever was resonsible for his own abilities would make itself known in the same way.

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I want to see just how burn-y his blood can get.

I'm sure we will. Under non-vivisection-y circumstances.

"Veird? Vell, it depends, really. I mean, some metahumans know exactly vhen und vhere dey received deir powers -- falling into a vat of chemical vaste, or being exposed to intense radiation, or de day you find a fallen meteor, is not something von is likely to forget. Dey may not know exactly how dey do vhat dey do, de mechanisms behind it, but dey do at least know vhy dey are different. Some -- like you, apparently -- are born mit de potential for deir powers already mitin dem, und deir powers slowly manifest over time. Vhether or not dey qvestion it is a matter of personal curiosity. Some simply accept deir gifts, some pursue knowledge in de hope of learning vhat is happening to dem, to learn vhat dey are."

"It's easier to do so now, of course, since knowledge of metahumans has grown so much over de past several decades. It is mein theory dat many of de myths und legends of de vorld -- of heroes, gods und monsters -- vere stories und recollections of metahumans und extraterrestrials, but de people of de time could only relate to dese dings by seeing dem as supernatural beings."

Two of the tentacle-sensors came closer to Hellbound, and these actually touched his skin as they ran over him. One was chilly, but one was quite warm. As they went over him, Holo-Hellbound's skeleton got his organs back, and a red network of blood vessels appeared. Archeville peered closely at the forming circulatory system.

"You said your blood has some explosive properties? Vhat, exactly, do you mean by dat? Has your blood ever been spilled vhile in an unusual atmosphere, or in a vacuum? If so, did it explode den?"

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Hehe... Gods and Monsters? Hellbound liked the sound of that. Had he been around during the ages of empires and polytheism then he might just have been included in those myths. The only question is whethe he'd be a kind and loving god, or one of those angry fire-and-brimstone types?

He was pretty sure that he knew the answer to that.

Back to the examination, however...

"Sorry, Doc, can't anser that one. I don't spend a lot of time bleeding in vacuums or other planets. 'Not that it's easy to get blood out of me in the first place. In fact, I don't think I've even managed to see if the stuff burns under water.

"It's not really an explosion, by the way. More just burning like lighter fluid. Not super-hot, but the fumes that come off it are what you have to watch for. It seems to freak some people out, like they're having a bad trip."

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Underwater, eh? Not that could be-


Oh, come on! It's a perfectly valid experiment!

Only to a certain degree. A degree you would run blithely past.

Archeville grinned a mischievous grin, "Now you haff got mein curiosity up, Hellbound."

The metallic tentacles retracted, and the panels returned, making the platform look like a regular platform again.

"You know, it occurs to me dat, vhat mit us being on de same team, it vould be vise for us to know vhat ve all can do. Scarab already had us exchange our real names und contact info, and tell briefly vhat ve can do, but vhy not someding more in-depth? I haff all de necessary eqvipment," he spread his arms out towards all the workout gear, "und copies of de results could be kept both here und at Scarab's Lair. Vhat do you say?"

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Hellbound crossed his arms and considered what was being offered. He'd been itching to get onto the doc's gear ever since he got here. It looked like this was finally going to be a chance for him to get a decent workout.

"You know? I've never had a chance before to really cut loose. Just push myself as hard as I can and see what I'm made of, what I can take. So how am I supposed to be able to overcome my own limitations if I don't even know what they are?

"You bet your ass I'm up for this. Where do we start?"

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Muah hah hah hah hah!

Stop that.

"Muah hah hah hah- ahem... er, that is, ve can start over here."

Archeville stepped down from the dais, and lead his guest to what looked like a normal weight bench, except the bar didn't seem to have any weights on it, nor were there any in sight.

"I believe you know de basics of hos dis vorks, ja? Dose bits on de end," he pointed to the two ends of the bar, and Hellbound could see that the ends were a bit bigger than the center, "dey can generate a magnetogravitic field so dat de bar gets very heavy. Go ahead, give it a try."

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"Magnogravawhatic...? Yeah. Sure." Hellbound wasn't certain what the doctor was talking about, but he did get one thing. It was basically a barbell that got heavier as Hellbound lifted it. That made sense. If they were going to test out what he could do then this was as good a place to start than any.

The strongman layed down on the bench and put his hands to their marks. Exactly how high should they start on the weight limit? Hellbound knew a few basic facts about his own abilities, like being able to push cars without a great deal of effort, but could he really lift one? Honestly, the scenario hadn't come up very often in his life. There just weren't that many times in a normal day that he needed to bench press vehicles.

He didn't have any rosin, but that was okay. It wasn't like he was in some lifting competition, but it might have been nice to ensure a good grip. That really didn't seem to matter, though, as the bar felt natural and secure in his hands as he closed on it.

The fighter relaxed his shoulders and blew out a sharp breath, hyperventilating just a bit for the extra effort. A shrug dropped the bar onto his chest and he started pumping the weight up and down.

It adjusted itself quickly. Very quickly. In just a few reps he could feel the bar getting heavier and by the time he'd counted to five, Hellbound was having trouble maintaining a good rhythm.

The boy was struggling before hitting ten and his brow furrowed in concentration. Hellbound had never encountered a piece of equipment like this before. Normally, he could juggle weight sets and snap the steel cables on most machines. This was different, though. This was actually fighting him.

He was grunting and sweating profusely by twelve, truly having to dig deep within himself for the strength to continue. A part of Hellbound raged a bit at the thought that he was losing, though that was a ridiculous concept. This wasn't a competition. All they were doing was gaging his limits. It was only natural that Archeville was able to create a magno-thingy that could get heavier than he could lift. This was super-science, after all.

But that didn't keep Hellbound from getting angry at the machine anyway. He was red in the face at fifteen reps and swearing gruffly under his breath. Now facing more resistance than ever before in his life, adrenaline began coursing through his system as he released his anger and put all that extra energy into his efforts.

Hellbound was forced to give up before twenty repetitions, though. That was all? He'd never exhausted himself that quickly or that throughly before.

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Hunh, not as strong as we'd expected.

But more than strong enough to break our bones, if he so chose.

As Hellbound worked, Archeville fiddled with his E.S. some more, activating sensors throughout the entire gymnasium.

"See? I can offer you a-" he paused, seeing his guest was coming down off an adrenaline high, "... challenge." Once it appeared Hellbound was alright, he unspooled a cable from his gadget and connected it to the bar-less-bell, and looked over the readings the device showed. "Ah! 3.34 metric tonnes! Er, that's about.... 3.68 tons. You just bench-pressed de equivalent of a luxury car!"

He disconnected his gadget from the bar, then moved on to another section of the gym. Hellbound thought he moved a bit oddly at first, and then it dawned on him: the Doktor was gliding, hovering an inch or so off the ground.

"Ready for someding a bit more challenging? Vorking mit stable eqvipment is von ding, but vorking mit someding dat can fight back," he stopped at what looked like a crude six-armed skeleton made of polished steel, "is qvite another. Dis is von of mein basic combat drones; it can test your ability to land a punch, or to avoid being punched. Are you game?"

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