More people are starting to fill the streets of downtown Atlanta. It’s just now seven in the morning, but the number of commuters and early risers is starting to make this chase for Lamar very difficult. I shove a man in a suit out of the way, and yell, “Sorry!”
He’s fast, but I’m gaining on him. The AI system must be making him stronger and giving him more stamina by overriding his human impulses. That kind of action will really end up hurting his body if it’s done for a long time, but it’s really helping his escape now.
“Slow down!” Kobi shouts. “You’re hurting my arm!”
“Sorry, Kobi, but I have to keep you with me. I’m your legal guardian!”
A legal guardian that is forcing their ward to accompany them on a foot chase in the middle of downtown Atlanta… is probably not a good legal guardian. I shouldn’t put this on my resume, actually.
Lamar seems to notice us following him, and turns a corner around an alleyway. I wouldn’t have noticed that except for the recycling bin he knocks over, spilling out dozens of plastic bottles onto the sidewalk. Which is very rude, you know! That will cost the robot cleaners a whole five minutes to pick up!
The alley is extremely narrow and there’s no escape except for a ten-foot-tall fence.
“Stop it, Lamar,” I say. “You have to calm down.”
“I must defeat Giygas,” he says in monotone. “With any means at my disposal, I must fulfill the wishes of Buzz Buzz and collect the Eight Melodies. Only then will I be able to save the Earth.”
“Your AI is malfunctioning again. You have to overcome this, Lamar. I believe in you.”
“You… You’re…” Lamar seems to snap out of it, but only for a brief moment. “You are Starman Junior. What do you know except the bidding of Giygas?”
“Hey, Kobi, get behind me,” I say. He does, just in time for Lamar to dash towards me, rocketing his fist in my direction. I can practically see the flames behind his elbow.
Luckily, with my reflexes returned, I catch the punch in the palms of my hands and, with a heave, push him backwards a few feet. I’m not going to hurt him, but I’m not going to just take his attacks. But Lamar shakes it off and makes another attempt. His attacks are slow and deliberate, but if any one of them made contact, I know better than to think I’d be able to shrug one off like it was nothing. I’d probably end up on the pavement.
After missing a block and getting slugged in the chest, my predictions are correct– I do a full 360-degree spin and land on my stomach right on the pavement.
Agh… I am going to have a really big bruise there tomorrow. I don’t like that.
Kobi is now far enough away that he’s out of danger, but I still don’t want to hurt Lamar when it’s not his own doing. We just have to… convince the AI to stop, somehow.
“Hey, Lamar, guess what?” I say, trying to get on my hands and knees but currently failing to move an inch. “I AM Giygas.”
“No you aren’t,” he replies instantly. “Giygas is an otherworldly force, an alien from the future that has come back to spread his tendrils into our timeline. You are a scrawny human possessed by the spirit of a Starman Junior.”
I finally muster the strength to jump back to my feet. He throws another punch and I catch it, but this time I don’t let go. He punches again, but I catch it with my other hand. His arms are shaking, and I can’t hold this for long. At least I am safe from any headbutts, because this AI is clearly not going to risk itself to that deg–
Bashed right in the face.
My nose starts bleeding all over my clothes, and release my grip on his fists.
Okay, now it’s time to fight back for real. I slug him back, a weak one but enough to daze him, and then run right up to him and elbow him in the stomach twice.
He’s hobbled over, but his eyes are still focused on mine, still with that same glazed-over look. He’s not stopping.
What do I do now?
“Why isn’t this working?” I yell out, mostly to myself.
Kobi, still behind me, shouts, “Morgan! You need to make him think we’re helping him!”
“What?” I ask.
“He’s part robot, and you know about robots. So you just need to make the robot part like us!”
Uhh… I’ll give it a shot.
When he lunges to perform the exact same punching motions as last time, I catch the fists once again. With a simultaneous motion I let go of him and hop backwards several feet to dodge the next headbutt. I wipe the blood off my nostrils and then spread my hands wide. “Ness!” I yell. “We are not your enemies. We are the heroes sent to help you discover your My Sanctuary locations.”
Lamar stops stares silently, seeming to consider this notion.
I continue. “I am Paula Polestar, your teenage girlfriend and a psychic, just like you.” I truly never thought I would say words like this out loud. “And this,” I say, motioning behind me to Kobi. “Is Poo, the righteous warrior of Dalaam.” Kobi giggles at the name “Poo.”
“Then… you are allies,” Lamar says.
“Yes, that is exactly what I said. Now, I must tell you that we have received important information from our other ally Jeff. He is currently hiding in a secret location and requires us to visit him.” I put my hands on my hips to signal my sincerity.
“Lead the way,” Lamar says.
Lamar is still trapped by the AI, but at least this AI is confused enough to follow us even if we were fighting just seconds ago. As long as we can get to R8PR without any further interruptions, we might be fine. I hope.
“Also, you need a shirt to see him,” I say.
“I will find one.”