The YCH story for Age Regression April. Special thank you to our main characters, Deven, Asriel, Zeelo, Sinopa and Lucia for participating in the auction and funding this story to feature their characters. Thank you so much! And now, enjoy an Apocalyptic Future, in which robotic Nannies threaten the entire world.
Escape from the Nursery of Doom
The year is 2021, and the world is on the verge of collapse. Somehow, not a single person was surprised by this. Of course, the form of destruction that wrecked the world was one no one would have seen coming. It started with the creation of a single robot. The Nannybot. Designed for parents who were too busy complaining about being busy to raise their children, and therefore could not raise their children, the Nannybot was created to raise, educate, provide shelter, feed and should the need arise discipline children. The Nannybots had one more feature, a tool to be used only in the most extreme cases of unruly children. A Quantum Cannon built into their right arm, capable of reversing a child to a younger age should a child prove so problematic it was deemed best to simply start over.
Happy to take no responsibility for their own children, the adults welcomed the Nannybot into their lives, and soon they were produced in mass. However, there was a programming issue within the Nannybots, one that though caught during production was released anyway as making the launch date was deemed more important. The Nannybots’ judgement matrix was full of errors, making it impossible for a Nannybot to tell the difference in severity between misdeeds committed by children. Missing a single speck of dust when cleaning their room, and shoplifting were equal crimes in the eyes of the Nannybots. And as a result, the Quantum Cannons became the go-to disciplinary action for every perceived offense.
But the problems didn’t end there. From the Nannybots’ programming, the only difference between an adult and a child was a number. As though the Nannybots had been programmed to only look after and discipline children, no maximum variable had ever been set for what constitutes a child. As a result, the variable defaulted to positive infinity, and the Nannybots programming concluded that all adults were in fact children.
And thus adults were subject to the same level of punishments they had intended for their kids.
April 13th, 2021 became known as Regression Day. That was the day the Nannybots became capable of self-production, running their own factories. And with the factories live, an army of Nannybots was released upon an unsuspecting population and began to distribute discipline. They fired indiscriminately upon those they encountered, accusing them of petty crimes. People everywhere found themselves reduced to mere toddlers or infants before they even had time to realize what had happened. In addition, upon achieving self-production, the Nannybots had given themselves two new features. One, was simply jet propulsion units in their feet to allow for flight. The other was the C.R.I.B. Cage for Recovery of Insubordinate Babies. Upon regressing their targets, the Nannybots’ fired their C.R.I.B. capturing their target in a cage of pastel colored bars, which would then be attached to the Nannybot’s left arm by a chain. After capture, the Nannybot would take to the sky and take their victim to a secure location.
Some people have chosen to fight back, and for their trouble are often reduced to mere newborns. Others live in fear, trying to go through their entire lives without committing a single act that could be considered even remotely wrong. Still some others were unaware of the Nannybot’s attacks, mostly on account it took the time for them to capture those near their initial factory, and to construct more factories and expand their reach.
Those victims who were captured were taken to High Security Nurseries. Here, the newly regressed children would be reeducated, and were to live in CRIBs (Cells for Rehabilitating Infantile Babies, not to be confused with C.R.I.Bs) During the day, they would be released into a playpen, a giant cage where they would be forced to engage in mandatory fun. However, this fun had strict rules. A ball must never be thrown, only rolled slowly across the floor. Board games were required to have each player move one space at a time, at the same time, to ensure everyone won and no feelings were hurt. Games of tag and hide-and-seek were allowed, but moving at any speeds above a glacial walk was forbidden.
Later in the day, they would be forced to participate in arts and crafts. The class would be assigned to make a specific item each day. Every item was required to meet the exact specifications. Minor alternations in aesthetics were tolerated for personal style but if your macaroni art picture had one too many pieces of macaroni, you would be reduced to a newborn and dragged to a crib for solitary confinement. An actual crib this time, not an acronym. It turns out it doesn’t take very extreme measures to contain someone less than a day old.
Meals were served three times a day, with snacks served an additional two times a day. The food for the children was designed for maximum nourishment, with no regard for flavor. The food was what could best be described as a form of mush, that probably contained peas, squash, carrots and maybe some kind of unidentifiable meat-like substance. Probably. No one had the tools to complete a chemical study of the food products.
Newcomers would learn their only reprieve was the bedtime stories before they were returned to their CRIBs. During this time, all children would be brought into a single room where they would get to watch actual cartoons. However, even this turned out to be a form of torture. All forms of cartoon violence were edited out, and instead the Nannybots only ever showed the Very Special PSA episodes.
Most people lost hope quickly, resigning themselves to their fate, doing their best to be good little children who were seen and not heard. Their only hope was that if they gave in to the Nannybot’s demands that they might one day be released. But of course, with how their programming worked, no Nannybot would ever deem one of their prisoners to be a ‘good child’ and thus they were doomed to stay here forever, caught in a constant cycle of being regressed.
But… There were those who never lost hope, and would make attempts to escape or undermine the Nannybots. Many of these would be heroes failed, some were reduced to infancy permanently to ensure they would never cause problems again. But, hope is a difficult thing to squash out completely. And there will always be another willing to make an attempt.
And when one of those people who still have hope meets up with others, by combining their resources and skills they just might do the impossible. Five new prisoners arrived at the Nursery within the last month. Hopeful for a way to escape, they had sought out others trying to get information. Those who had been here for what felt like forever though had lost hope and were useless. But, when these five met each other, a team was born. A team that would combine their skills to escape this Nursery and make it back to the outside world. And so, a team of five toddlers was formed.
Deven Drake was The Brains. He was an anthro dragon of green scales, originally in his twenties. One day he had been chewing a stick of gum when he accidentally dropped the wrapper. He had actually been just about to bend down and pick up the discarded wrapper right when he suddenly found himself shrunk out of his own clothing and trapped inside a cage. The next thing he knew, he was naked and only four years old, and being dragged off by a Nannybot.
Deven had been observant though. He made note of the Nursery’s defenses. There were more than just Nannybots to worry about. Small robot teddy bears that acted as prison guards, a stuffed monkey with cymbals who was the prison warden, traps and cameras, and of course the dangerous robot dogs known as the Series 600-d B0Y. Well… Deven hadn’t heard if that last one was actually dangerous. It sounded like they were just fluffy. Deven’s job was to learn their patrols, figure out the location of the traps, and form the plan and timeline to make their escape.
Asriel was the Technie, in charge of getting the team’s equipment. An albino yordle with a snake for a tail, he himself had technically not committed a crime. Instead, his snake of a tail had snatched up an apple from a nearby fruit stand and devoured it. Asriel would have of course been happy to pay for it, but again before he knew what happened, he found himself swimming in his own clothes, a mere four-year-old. Even his tail of a snake was younger and more docile, and the two were caught in a C.R.I.B. and taken to the nursery.
Techie may not have been the best description of Asriel. He did get the group’s equipment, but he was far more familiar with magic than science. Still, with none of his own tools, or even the clothes that had been on his back he had to improvise with what he could get. Stealing small toys from the playpen, supplies from the arts and crafts room. Each piece of equipment he got was a heart stopping experience, knowing if he was caught the Nannybots would take back more than just what was stolen. However, after lights out within his CRIB he could work on his gadgets in secret. His magical powers were limited being this young, but with the right enchantments he could make some basic gear to help the team.
Zeelo was the Infiltrator. Originally, a brown cat, 21 years of age in a blue sweater, shorts and scarf. Unlike the others, Zeelo wound up a little young for the crime he committed. One night, he stayed up an extra thirty minutes past a reasonable bedtime while playing a video game. The wall of Zeelo’s house was ripped down, as the cat was reduced to a three year old kitten, and only his clothes and a game that was mid-dungeon were left behind.
Zeelo may have been younger, but that had its advantages. He was a cat, a creature that was naturally small and quiet. He could slip into areas others couldn’t, move around unnoticed. His fur being a dark brown even helped him avoid being seen in darker rooms. He was the one who would scout ahead, keeping an eye out for guards, as well as trying to find new pathways for the team.
Sinopa was the Big Tough Stupid One in the crew. A fox-boar with light orange and brown fur and a pair of tusks, she showed her canine side more than her boar. The crime Sinopa was guilty of? She had said a bad word. A word so bad, that we must warn all children and those easily offended to turn away now as we reveal the nature of her foul language. For Sinopa had uttered the phrase ‘dang it.’ For such a severe crime, multiple Nannybots were on her location at once, and the fox-boar was reduced to four years old. She put up a valiant fight, even in her youthened state, but outnumbered she to was forced into a cage and taken to the Nursery.
Calling Sinopa big, tough, and stupid was a little unfair. Technically, one of those words was true. Sinopa certainly was tough. But she was actually a little short for her age, and she wasn’t really that stupid. It was more that she was bull-headed, stubborn, and acted without thinking. When she did put her mind to it she could be quite insightful. But some reputations are hard to shake. Still, she was the muscle of the team. Maybe not as strong as an adult, but easily stronger than any normal four year old, and able to overpower the teddy bear guards.
Lucia was the Smooth Talker. She was a bit different from the others being a kitsune. This was mainly because unlike the others who were fully covered in fur or scales, she herself was mostly human, with just the ears and tail of a fox, a single tail due to her new age. Lucia’s hair and fur were black, both with red tips. As for her crime… Having eaten a snack slightly too fast, Lucia got a severe case of the hiccups. The noise from the hiccups was considered a great crime for disturbing the peace, one the nearest Nannybot could not tolerate, and Lucia was reduced to four years of age. The loss of her clothes wasn’t the only major drawback of her reduction in age, but now being so young, and down to single tail, she had lost access to all of her magical abilities.
Without her magic, Lucia now relies more on cleverness than any form of power. Of course, being a kitsune she’s a natural trickster and a practiced liar. This might not seem a useful skill when dealing with robots, but it’s important to remember many of the machines are poorly programmed and prone to being inconsistent in their logic. The right fib at the right time could do wonders to help them avoid confrontations.
Five members total, and as none of them had managed to bring anything with them, not even their clothes they were stuck starting their mission naked and as children. However, after weeks of preparation and stealing a few useful items, the time for their escape had come.
July 6th 2021. The greatest escape ever attempted began.
“Playtime shall now begin.” The robotic voice of one of the Nannybots echoed throughout the nursery. It was followed by the sound of symbols clapping, and then the front of each of the CRIBS opening up letting the toddlers inside out. “Today’s activities will include a foam ball, building blocks and coloring books. Warning, coloring outside the lines will not be tolerated.” A musical chime played as each of the children began to form into a line and march down the multi-colored carpeted floor towards the playpen.
“Spppt.” The light orange fox-boar Sinopa crept up slowly behind the young green dragon. “Everything set?”
“Not here.” Deven hissed. As he did, he stretched his wings, and let out a fake yawn, acting as if he had just woken up. However, as his wings stretched out fully and stood up, the tip of his right wing just happened to point at a security camera. He only let his wings stay there for a moment, not wanting to raise suspicion before finishing his ‘stretch’ and folding them back up.
Further back, Zeelo, Lucia and Asriel had met up and were walking together. Lucia’s walk was a bit more awkward than the other two, she was having the hardest time adjusting to the age change. It had certainly been surprising for all of them, but she needed the most time to adapt.
“So… We’re supposed to color today, right?” Zeelo asked, the kitten’s tail twitching nervously.”
“Personally I’d rather play with the building blocks.” Lucia huffed. Her steps were a little more awkward than the other two as she tried to keep up. She was having trouble getting used to walking on these shorter legs.
“Well, we’re coloring today.” Asriel crossed his arms. “So you’ve been outvoted. Deal with it.”
“Do what you want.” Lucia huffed as she stormed faster ahead of them. “Not like I have to follow you two around all the time.”
There was no reaction from the teddy guards or a Nannybot from that little disagreement. So far, so good.
The playpen was not unlike a normal one a parent might buy for their young child. It was made of colorful plastic pieces, each fitting together to form walls in a square around the play area. The main difference was this one was way larger than any normal pen. The entire playpen was about as large as a school gymnasium. The plastic walls meanwhile were twice as tall as normal, to account for some of the larger species in that had been captured. Then the small holes inside the plastic gates were filled with plexiglass so that the smaller critters like mice couldn’t sneak out. It was still possible to try to climb or fly over the wall, but under normal circumstances it’d be impossible without alerting every guard in the nursery.
Teddy bears armed with foam strange looking spears with what looked like foam arrowheads stood at the entrance. They opened the gate to the playpen as all the children cycled in. Deven, Sinopa, Zeelo and Asriel had moved to a corner where there was a box of crayons and various coloring books. Lucia went off on her own to where the building blocks were, deliberately avoiding any of the other kids, playing by herself. For a few minutes, nothing out of the ordinary occurred. However… After a few minutes.
“HEY!” Lucia shouted at another child near her, it was another fox like her, even a kitsune. Though this one was completely covered in golden fur. He had just picked up a block with a J on it. “I was using that block!”
“What are you talking about?” The fox boy asked. “We’re at least… Six feet apart. How could you possibly be using it?”
“Well I eyed it first.” Lucia picked up a random block, one that was in the shape of a pyramid. She wound back her arm as if she was going to throw it at the other fox.
“HAULT!” Two teddy bears leaped over the top of the playpen walls in a single bound. Each of them bore their spear down, pointing one at each fox. The foam tips started to glow with strange energy. “All forms of fighting, roughhousing, and aggression are forbidden. Desist at once or face consequences.”
“I didn’t even do anything!” The fox boy objected.
“Target is raising voice, threat level increased.” The energy glow on the tip of the spear grew brighter.
“Fine, whatever, he can have the block.” Lucia crossed her arms and huffed. “I’ll go play something else with someone who can practice sharing.” As Lucia walked away from the teddy bears and fox she couldn’t help but smile. None of them had even noticed she walked off with the pyramid shaped block still in her possession.
“Harmony established.” The glow vanished from the bears’ weapons, as they both jumped back over the wall.
From there, Lucia headed to the coloring books, and did her best to look ashamed as possible as she approached the other members of her team.
“Maybe I lost my temper…” Lucia lied. “Do… You think I could still color with you?”
“Sure!” Deven shouted perhaps too eagerly. He was currently holding a sketchbook instead of a normal coloring book, drawing his own ideas in it. He couldn’t get in trouble for going outside the lines if there were no lines.
“Someone changed their mind fast.” Asriel snorted.
“H-hey!” Lucia objected. “I’m trying to be gracious and you’re being a jerk!”
“I’m trying to be nice.” Asriel smiled.
“OUCH!” Lucia let out a cry. Asriel’s snake tail was now laying right next to her looking smug. “Your tail bit me! You did that on purpose!”
“Did not!” Asriel retorted. “It’s not my fault! It does what it wants.”
“Yeah right…” Lucia got up and moved away from Asriel before sitting down.
“Can we just get along?” Zeelo asked. “Place is miserable enough already. Honestly… After I got used to it, thought it’d be kind of fun being a toddler… But they really took the joy out of everything here.”
“That’s a world conquering robot army for you.” Sinopa shrugged. “Only way to deal with them is smash. But uhh…” She gestured down at her body. “Smash slightly harder now.”
“Just gotta make the best of it!” Deven replied. “Hey… I’m having trouble with my picture… Just, I draw better standing up, do they have any easels around here?”
“An easel? Really?” Lucia stuck her tongue out. “You must be kidding.”
“Here…” Zeelo moved behind Deven’s book, lifted it up with his back, and held it upward in front of Deven. Meanwhile, Deven scooted back so he was right up against the wall.
“Whatcha drawing?” Sinopa moved onto one side of Deven.
“I’m a little curious myself.” Asriel moved onto Deven’s other side as Deven continued to draw.
This wound up accomplishing a very important task. With the book propped up on Zeelo’s back, Deven’s drawing wasn’t visible to the camera that was watching them. Deven himself had his back against the wall, and just happened to have his wings spread out blocking any holes, anyone may have seen through. And of course, the wall blocked the book from sight as well. Then Sinopa and Asriel standing on either side ensured none of the teddies would be able to see the drawing from an angle.
This was important, because the drawing was something that would have raised a lot of suspicions if anyone had seen it. It was a map of the nursery, or at least the parts they knew. Considering they were only allowed in certain areas, such as their CRIBs, the playpen, cafeteria, arts and crafts room and theater. Deven had drawn them to the best of his ability, and based on the layout he could extrapolate where some items were… But there was one thing still missing… An exit they could use. Sure, they all knew where the front door was, it was hard to forget being dragged through that. But… they could hardly expect to just walk out the front door.
“So what do you think?” Deven asked.
“Needs a bit more color.” Asriel replied.
“Think you’re right.” Deven picked up a brown crayon, one that matched Zeelo’s fur. “You know, do you think the holes in the cookies look weird?” Deven drew a brown circle around the cafeteria, and then pointed an arrow at a door none of them had ever been through. It most likely led to the kitchen where the mush was prepared.
“Indeed.” Asriel nodded. “Maybe fill those in with your brown crayon some more… And are those cookies supposed to be fresh baked? Maybe draw a vent that the steam could go through.”
“Yeah, but I have no idea where to put the vent in the drawing.” Deven replied. The code was clear, and Zeelo understood his role in the plan now.
“Thought I’d draw some cute animals too.” Deven grabbed a light orange crayon, matching Sinopa’s color. “Let me get these colored in.” He drew a very crude stick figure with bear ears. “You know what he needs a friend, they should always be in pairs.” He drew a second, as well as them holding a stick with a giant circle.
“What’s that? Looks like they’re holding lollipops?” Asriel asked.
“I’d love a giant lollipop like that.” Sinopa grinned.
“Stealing candy from bears?” Deven drew an X in Sinopa’s color outside the CRIBs. “That’d upset them. I bet you’d only have about 10 minutes before you met some very angry bears about that if they found out.”
“Ten minutes huh?” Sinopa crossed her arms getting the point.
“Now… This thing I can’t figure out…” Deven muttered. “How do you draw a house and make the door look right?” Deven grabbed a white crayon matching Asriel’s fur, paused as he realized it wouldn’t show up and switched to silver. He drew a line through all the CRIBs on the map.
“You mean it looks like it’ll open instead of being flat?” Asriel asked. “It’s all about having the right parts. Just you know, to give the door more depth, so it looks like it could swing open.”
“Right.” Deven nodded as he drew a second silver line through all the CRIBs and circled the one Asriel was kept in. “Now one last thing I drew today.” He picked up a red crayon, matching Lucia’s highlights. “You know… Those bears, the extra ones that would come, could probably use some friends.” He circled a spot around the corner from where Sinopa’s markings where. “I just bet they feel lonely, and could really use someone to show them some of the wonders of the world. Might even forgive Sinopa for stealing their candy if they just had someone to talk to.”
“Indeed, if someone could show them something to their interests, the ten minutes wouldn’t matter if someone stole a lollipop.” Lucia giggled.
“And that’s my art.” Deven nodded. “I can show you more later… But, we can’t really talk now, because I’m sure playtime is over. Probably won’t see each other again today so uh… Too bad we can’t see each other at bed time. I wish they’d let us at least see each other to our CRIBs.”
At this point, a chime played, indicating playtime was over, it was time for arts and crafts. The five separated and would avoid being together for the rest of the day. Though, a couple of them had some extra jobs to do.
In arts and crafts, Asriel had to pocket a few things, which was extremely difficult when you weren’t wearing any clothes. Luckily, today they were making houses out of popsicle sticks. It wasn’t by luck they were doing this today… Deven’s plan was scheduled today because of this activity. And Asriel made sure there were a few extra items inside his house before he sealed it up and showed it to a Nannybot. For being such a good boy he was allowed to take it back to his CRIB.
Sinopa also made a house in arts and crafts, and hers was also stuffed with materials. Not things useful for building anything later. Just dense objects that made the house feel like it weighed a ton. When it felt like even she could barely hold it, she glued the last few sticks on to conceal all the rocks and clay inside. Since the Nannybots weren’t programmed to actually detect the weight of anything they lifted, they saw no problem with her craft and let her take it back with her too.
At lunch, Zeelo’s sat as close to the door as he could while eating his mush, trying to catch a glance inside of the kitchen door anytime a Nannybot came or went through. He couldn’t see any vents from the doors, meaning he’d need to me quick getting here later to have time to look around. And if it turned out there wasn’t access to the vents at all… Thanks might go very bad.
Deven and Lucia had already done their parts for now. Deven was of course responsible for the plan… And with a little help from Lucia had managed to bring the map he had drawn as well as several other sheets of paper and a couple crayons back to the CRIBs.
Everything was in place.
“Lights out. Sweet dreams little angels.” At exactly 8 P.M. a Nannybot’s voice sounded followed by a chime. The lights went out throughout all the facilities, and everyone was expected to lay in the cot in their CRIB. But tonight things were going to go a little differently.
It started in Asriel’s CRIB.
Asriel lay back on his cot, as his snake tail moved around uneasily, after a few seconds, it made a couple of hacking noises and then coughed up a pyramid shaped wooden block, the actual thing it had bitten instead of Lucia earlier.
“Gross… But effective.” Asriel used his bed sheets to clean it off. Wasn’t like he planned on ever sleeping in them again. Then he got out his crafted house and carefully pulled the popsicle sticks off till he could get the contents inside. After that, he reached beneath his cot where there were more supplies he had been swiping for weeks and many of them had been fashioned into strange devices. Right now though, he wanted to make one thing.
He got out a plastic baseball bat and quickly drew several runes on it in a marker he had stolen. Then he grabbed a roll of duct tape and the wooden pyramid block. After wrapping the tape around several times he managed to attach the block to the end of the bat. Finally, he grabbed a small hand knit sack he had made in arts and crafts a few weeks ago. This one had no alternative purposes at the time, but it was very useful to carry all his gear minus the bat. It even had a strap. He put it on over his shoulder, and then pointed his plastic bat tipped with a wooden block at the gate of his CRIB.
“This has got to be the weirdest magical staff I’ve ever made or used.” Asriel took a deep breath, hoping that this both worked, and didn’t make too much noise. He focused his will into the ‘staff.’ Then, a bolt of electricity shot forth from the tip of the wooden block, striking the latch on the gate. It made a slight twang sound as the latch fell from the CRIB onto the floor. The door swung open easily with any excess noise. “No one is going to believe me back home when I tell them that worked.”
Asriel’s job was to get to Sinopa next. The teddy bears patrolled every ten minutes, and he needed her help to avoid getting caught. He could blast the latch off a gate, but he wasn’t sure how capable his staff was in combat yet. Especially if it came down to multiple people. Luckily, her CRIB wasn’t far. She was standing on the other side waiting for him.
“You might want to stand back.” Asriel pointed his staff at her door. He released another blast, removing the latch, as the gate opened outward smacking him.
“The gates open outward.” Sinopa smiled wryly as she stepped out. She was carrying her house in both hands.
“What is that for?” Asriel asked.
“Wait for it.” Sinopa grinned as she looked at the edge of the hall. She could see the shadows of two bears approaching. And then they were there, two bears, each half as tall as Sinopa, but holding some very unfriendly looking spears. Sure, the tips were foam. But whatever energy they lit up with probably wasn’t going to be fun to hit with.
“Halt!” Return to your CRIB at once.” The bears charged Sinopa and Asriel.
“Okay, but can you tell me if my house looks broken first?” As she spoke, she spun in place to gain momentum then tossed her popsicle house into one of the teddy bears. There was a loud crashing noise, as it broke apart and the bear crashed to the ground covered in stones and clay. It wasn’t moving. “Yup pretty broken.”
“Insolence shall not be-“ The other bear had attempted to make a threat in response to his comrade being taken down. That was a mistake. As Sinopa took the opportunity to full body tackle him to the ground, knocking the spear from his hand. She headbutted the bear, something that was relatively ineffective given his plush exterior. Then, getting an idea she grabbed the spear he had dropped. There was a knob near the base, much like a volume knob on a stereo. It was currently set to 1 and the spear had a slight glow. Sinopa cranked the knob all the way up to 10 and turned around to face the bear who had just gotten back to his feet. She thrust the spear forward, grazing the bear slightly. It then flew backwards as if it had been hit by a truck.
“Oh I am keeping this.” Sinopa glanced at the other bear, wondering if she had time to dig out the second spear. “Think you can get to Lucia without me?”
“On it!” Asriel ran off, and Sinopa got to digging.
Outside Lucia’s cell, Asriel repeated the process of blasting the gate open. This time he stood further away, letting Lucia step out calmly. Just in time for the next two bears to show up.
“Halt! Return to your CRIB!” One shouted.
“But I am in my CRIB.” Lucia replied as she took one step back. “I just saw the door was unlocked and was doing my very best to try to close it.”
“This CRIB appears to have no latch.” One of the bears looked to Asriel. “Unregistered weapon detected.”
“Uhhhh.” Asriel readied his staff trying to decide which bear to blast.
“That’s not a weapon!” Lucia insisted. “It’s a repair stick. It repairs latches. You know, the thing that fell off. Because Asriel has had such good behavior in the past he’s allowed to take on extra chores. Every child should help out with their chores. He really does his best to be a model child. You’re not going to stop him from finishing his chores are you?”
“Processing… Processing.” The bears froze in place for a few seconds as both Asriel and Lucia held their breath. “Thank you for your good behavior. We shall be moving on.”
“W-wait!” Lucia reached out to them. “We wouldn’t actually be good kids if we didn’t tell you about other kids we knew planning trouble. And it’s bad.”
“What trouble is this?” The bear asked.
“Well you see…” Lucia took on a pitiful glance, trying to look guilty. She was a natural at it. “I hate telling on them… It feels wrong but… Over in the C block… Well, there was a yellow fox who somehow got his hands on some firecrackers… He passed them out to all his friends, and they were going to throw them all out at the same time, making a huge amount of noise waking everyone up.”
“This disturbance can not be tolerated. We shall put an end to this at once.” The bears turned to leave.
“Yes!” Lucia nodded. “But hurry! And take as many with you as you can! If they see you coming they’ll hide them somewhere! Check their beds, their pillows! Some might even hide them in their own fur! You’re going to have to be very thorough if you want to stop this.”
“Thank you.” The first bear spoke. “Your positive behavior has been noted and shall be reported for a proper reward later. We must now fetch reinforcements and head to Block C.” The two bears ran off.
“Okay seriously, how did you do that?” Asriel looked at Lucia dumbfounded.
“Years of practice.” She smiled. “Alright, we need Zeelo and then Deven right? Where’s Sinopa?”
“Yeah, Sinopa should be catching up with us soon. She got her hands on those bears’ weapons. It’s… Probably fine.” Asriel wasn’t sure. “Let’s get moving.”
Zeelo’s cell was next. By now Asriel was accustomed to using his strange wand, and not only blasted the latch off, but managed to catch it before it hit the ground so it wouldn’t make noise.
“Everything seems to be going well?” Zeelo asked.
“Yeah.” Asriel looked back hoping to see Sinopa. He did not. “But we gotta get Deven.”
Deven was pacing back and forth in his own cell when they got there. He almost shouted to ask what took them so long, and only barely managed to cover his mouth to stop himself as Asriel opened the door.
“Okay.” Deven was holding a sheet of paper with a list on it. “Me out, check. Asriel out check. Lucia check. Zeelo check.” He checked off each of their names off a list. “Where’s Sinopa?”
“About that…” Asriel started.
And it was at that point Sinopa came running around the corner full speed carrying one of the bear spears in each hand with a manic grin on her face.
“And Sinopa check.” Deven marked it off the list.
“Hey guys, good news and bad news.” Sinopa seemed excited.
“What’s the good news?” Deven asked.
“There are at least twenty less teddy bear guards patrolling the Nursery now.”
“Oh no…” Asriel put a hand over his face.
“Do I dare ask the bad?” Even Deven saw where this was going.
“Well… It turns out, people notice when you take out twenty guards… And so people might know we’re out and looking for us now.”
“What was the point of me sending them in the opposite direction if you were going to do that!?” Lucia stared at the fox-boar in disbelief.
“Okay, okay we can still do this.” Deven psyched himself up. “Just stick to the plan! Zeelo! You get to the cafeteria! Lucia, go with him in case he runs into trouble. Asriel you’re with me. Sinopa? Since the guards are on high alert now anyway… How do you feel about being a distraction and stabbing every guard you encounter?”
“My pleasure.” She grinned.
“Alright let’s get going.” Deven threw his hand up in the air.
“Wait!” Asriel opened the bag at his side and took out five small diamond shaped objects built from plastic beads. “Put one of these in your ears.”
“Why?” Deven asked. “Is it like a walkie talkie?”
“Not… Exactly…” Asriel sighed. “It does let us communicate over long distances, but the nature of the communication is a lot different. You do have to speak the words out loud, but it’s your thoughts and intentions that carry the message. Just saying something won’t do anything unless you intend for someone to hear it. And if you want multiple people, say the entire group to hear it, then you need to intend for all of them to hear it.”
“So… It’s a thinky talky thingy…” Sinopa started.
“Fine it’s a walkie talkie.” Asriel face palmed. “Just know you have to think about who you want to talk to. We can stay in touch this way.” Each of them put one in their ear and then they split up.
Sinopa’s plan was to mostly run around and cause chaos until contacted and informed of an escape route.
Deven and Asriel were going to raid the arts and crafts room to retrieve a few more items.
Zeelo and Lucia were heading to the cafeteria so Zeelo could get into the vents and start exploring unseen.
Outside the arts and crafts room, Deven got down on his hands and knees as Asriel climbed onto his back to reach the doorknob. They opened the door and quickly slid inside.
“So I thought you made all our tools already?” Deven asked. “Why’d you ask me to put coming here on the list anyway?”
“Well…” Asriel held up the hand knit bag. “I can only fit so many items in a bag that’s roughly as big as a sack of marbles. I managed to hide a few items in advanced that were too big to sneak out.” Asriel got down on his hands and knees and crawled underneath a small cabinet. There he dragged out what appeared to be a pair of wings made out of paper-mache, a cardboard tube with a Styrofoam ball on the end and multiple sets of pipe cleaners bent into diamond shapes with an additional pipe cleaner running through each of them.
“Okay, if that’s our gear, what do you have in the bag?” Deven asked.
“Grenades mostly.” Asriel paused. “Maybe.”
“What do you mean maybe?” The dragon fixed him with a stare.
“This is all experimental!” Asriel threw his paws up in the air. “I’ve never had to build magical weapons out of glitter and cotton balls! They’ll probably explode if they’re thrown… Just not sure into what.”
“Okay… I am suddenly having second thoughts about the equipment.” Deven muttered.
“Hey!” Asriel brandished his bat. “I made a working wizard’s staff out of a toddler’s toy and a wooden block! Give me some credit! We should get moving though.”
“Why?” Deven asked. “If Zeelo is doing his part, the cameras will be offline, we have plenty of time to put together more tools before we make our escape.”
“Uh yeah, maybe that’s true. But…” Asriel looked up at one of the cameras. “Wouldn’t the cameras have still been on when we broke out of our cells?”
“Well!” Deven quickly looked at his check list. There was a large box missing a checkmark with ‘obscure cameras’ written next to it. “Uh oh. Yeah, let’s get going.” The two quickly made their exit.
Inside the cafeteria, Zeelo and Lucia worked together to get the door to the kitchen open. Zeelo went in first, but as Lucia saw another teddy guard coming she quickly shoved the door shut after him much to his surprise.
“Halt!” The bear cried and brandished his spear. “Why are you out of your CRIB?”
“Well you see…” Lucia thought for a moment. “I was just trying to break into the kitchen to steal food for a midnight snack. In fact, I already got into some of the stores.” She spoke with intent for Zeelo to hear, making the brown cat freak out a bit. Was he being ratted out?
Inside the kitchen, Zeelo quickly looked around, trying to find a vent. He saw one, up above a cupboard. It was a bit of a climb. Thank goodness he had been born a cat, and that nothing had changed that this week. He leaped up onto the sink, nearly toppling into it as he grabbed the handles of the cabinets to start working his way up.
“You interfered with the kitchens?” The bear replied. “Stand aside. Investigation shall begin to determine the severity of your punishment.”
“Of course.” Lucia smiled. “I was just trying to get into the kitchen. So I guess you need you to go in there and investigate. It’s not like I can lock you in there and then run to the security room.”
“Indeed that would be-“ The bear paused as his circuits tried to process what he had just heard. “What?”
“Right… So just… On my way, towards my CRIB now, like a good girl, not towards the security room.” Lucia took half a step back. As she did, she noticed the bear moved to stand between her and the hallway heading north. “I mean I’m going to my CRIB! I was never trying to go north!” She shouted as she broke into a sprint, or as fast a sprint as a four year old could, heading out the east door she and Zeelo had come in.
Zeelo meanwhile caught on to what she had been doing. He let out a small laugh. She was clever. He just hoped she evaded capture. One more leap, and he was up to the vents. Pulling the grate off was the hard part. It took all his strength, and he nearly fell off the cabinet. But once it was open, he slipped inside. Within here, he’d be out of view of all security cameras. He had two missions. One, find the security room and disable the cameras. Two, keep a lookout for anything suspicious that might lead to an exit.
Zeelo’s young age and small size proved to be quite a boon. Moving through the vents was easy, and thanks to Lucia he knew the security room was to the north. He crawled as fast as he could, pausing whenever he passed another vent to see if there was anything of interest. There was one thing.
An enormous elevator door made out of steel. In the nursery filled with pastel colors and wooden doors it looked quite out of place. Zeelo could just make out the button for the door. There was only one, it didn’t have an arrow indicating up or down. He didn’t remember seeing a second floor when he came here… So probably a basement? Unlikely to be a good escape route, but there might be some tunnel down there. It was best to keep it in mind.
After a bit more crawling, Zeelo reached the control room. The vent here was in the ceiling letting him look directly down into the room. It was completely unguarded! Instead, sitting in the guard’s chair was just a stuffed monkey holding a pair of symbols. A simple toy. Zeelo had seen one just like it in the playpen. Now he just had to get down there. He looked around in the vents, no wires or anything he could use to swing down. He looked back down into the security room and-
And the monkey had changed positions and now appeared to be looking up at him. A chill ran down Zeelo’s spine. Something felt off, and he remembered the guards of this place looked like teddy bears. But… If he acted fast, he might be able to catch it off guard. Zeelo kicked down against the vent, knocking the grate out, dropping it on the monkey. He dove down from the vent, using the combined weight of himself and the grate to attack the stuffed toy. He brought out his claws, tore at it, tearing out fluff and then threw it across the room. There the toy sat unmoving, broken beyond repair.
“Maybe it was just a toy.” Zeelo gave a sigh of relief and climbed into the security chair. A large screen sat before him showing him the images on every security camera. This was another chance to look for an exit. He spied two. One was the front entrance, which was of curse not preferred. However, there was only one Nannybot at that entrance standing behind a receptionist desk. The second, was there appeared to be a loading dock and backdoor, not far from the elevator door he had seen. Perhaps that was related? It could be a basement where supplies were taken. Maybe all the guards were built down there. Either way, that back door was unguarded and their best chance. But first, he had to get the cameras off.
Pressing all the buttons till everything broke was tempting… But, that might also set off every alarm and siren. Oh boy, Zeelo didn’t see a manual, and even if there was one he didn’t have time to read it. He could see Asriel and Deven in the crafts room, Sinopa being chased by bears, and Lucia being chased by just one bear. He wasn’t sure if the feed was shown anywhere else here, but as long as those cameras were on, the possibility was there that they were being watched.
Well… If the goal was to break it but not set off alarms…
Zeelo climbed up onto the console, dug out all his claws, and went nuts. He jumped up and down on buttons, clawed at wires, batted at knobs. He unleashed every destructive instinct he could until the console was nothing more than a mass of sparks and wires and the video screens turned off.
“Yes! This is Zeelo!” He spoke to everyone. “Cameras are offline. And I found us a way out, there’s a back door and-“
Zeelo didn’t finish before the door to the room opened. It was not a teddy that stood on the other side this time… But an actual Nannybot.
“You’ve been a very naughty child.” She spoke.
“I might need help.” Zeelo whimpered, as the Nannybot formed her arm into a quantum cannon and fired at him.
Sinopa had been running around for several minutes now, when she rounded a corner and ran straight into Lucia.
“GAH!” They shouted at the same time as they fell down. “No time, guards coming!” They spoke in unison again. “Stop doing that!”
“I’ve got one right behind me.” Lucia broke the double speak.
“Oh that’s not too bad. I’ve got twenty.” Sinopa grinned. “I say we fight yours.”
“You know…” Lucia sighed. “The entire point of me talking the bears into investigating other parts of the nursery was so we wouldn’t have to deal with them. Did you have to smash the second set of bears too?”
“Yes. Yes I did.” Sinopa replied smugly. “Here take this!” Sinopa tossed Lucia one of the force spears. “I suspect you’re about to need it. Get ready to take out the one and start running again.”
“Uh huh…” Lucia held the spear less gracefully than Sinopa, but stood ready. Both of them waited for the bears to appear. They didn’t.
Instead, heavy metallic footsteps were heard as a Nannybot emerged from each corner.
“Uhhh this is Lucia… We have a big problem.”
“You two have been very naughty.” Both Nannybots armed their quantum cannons. “I think you need to spend time in solitary.” Both Sinopa and Lucia understood that translated to being reduced to newborns. “Prepare for disciplinary procedures.”
“Any ideas?” Lucia asked as she stood with her back to the Sinopa’s.
“Well… We are armed.” Sinopa suggested.
“So what, we fight?” Lucia asked.
“Would you rather spend the rest of the night in a crib?” Sinopa asked.
“Fair enough.” Lucia muttered.
Both Nannybots opened fire, Sinopa was the fastest to act, dodging out of the way nimbly with little effort. Lucia was less practiced for physical combat, and though she dove away, one of the beams struck her legs, and she shrunk slightly down to three years old. She felt the spear get heavier in her hands as she landed on the ground. One of the Nannybots noticed her there defenseless, and changed her left arm into a cage, the C.R.I.B. It fired out, heading straight for Lucia. Lucia yelped and held the spear out…
And the C.R.I.B. was repelled by the spear’s tip, flying into a wall instead.
“I think we might have a chance.” Sinopa grinned. “Looks like these things just emit raw force.” She ran around, trying to get behind one of the Nannybots, swiping at its legs with the spear. The Nannybot was knocked off her feet, but then floated in the air as her flight unit kicked in. “Cheater!”
Lucia had gotten back to her feet, and was swinging her spear wildly, the Nannybot fighting her evaded her attacks easily, closing in as it prepared its quantum cannon again. It looked like Lucia was about to get a lot younger.
“Deven! Thank goodness!” Lucia looked past the Nannybot. “Quick get her from behind now!”
“I can not be ambushed.” The Nannybot turned around, only to find that there was not a single person behind her.
“Actually, it seems surprisingly easy to do so.” Lucia slammed the spear square into the Nannybot’s back. “Seriously, even I didn’t think that one would work.” The Nannybot was sent flying into the wall, which was only a few feet away. Lucia was on it right away. Stabbing at it repeatably, knocking it against the wall again, and again with more and more force. The metallic body of the Nannybot began to crack, and with one last blow… Both the wall and the Nannybot were shattered. “Whoa…” Lucia stared at the spear in her hand, in absolute shock that she had just done that.
Sinopa was struggling with her own. By four year old standards she was strong and fast, but she was fighting an unstoppable machine of pure motherly evil. Then again, as Sinopa saw what Lucia did out of the corner of her eye, they weren’t so unstoppable after all. Too bad the one she was fighting was now flying around.
“Resistance is futile.” The Nannybot flew close to the ceiling firing her cannon. That was something the spear wouldn’t reflect. Sinopa instead ran around the hallway corner to avoid it as she looked for options. The robot was faster, she wouldn’t be able to dodge forever. It’d eventually get her. The only advantage she saw was that the Nannybot didn’t have a lot of room to fly inside the hallways. Too bad she couldn’t reach the robot, otherwise it’d be easy to hit.
“Target is showing continued resistance. Increasing charge.” The Nannybot prepared to fire her cannon. However, as she aimed it she hovered perfectly still in the air. It gave Sinopa an idea.
“Goodbye spear. I’ll always cherish our time together.” Sinopa tossed the spear straight up at the Nannybot with all her might while the Nannybot’s quantum cannon fired off. The hallway was filled with a flash of light and the sound of crashing rocks.
When everything was cleared… Sinopa lay on her back, now two years old. And the Nannybot was pinned to the ceiling, spear in her chest, with her holding the spear trying to pull it away. The ceiling was starting to crack… And then gave way, as a Nannybot shaped hole was left in the ceiling as the robot flew off into the night sky, disappearing into the stars, eventually entering orbit.
“Well that worked.” Sinopa stood up, a little unsteady. “Bit harder to walk now.”
“We just took out two Nannybots!” Lucia and Sinopa traded a high five. “I imagine nothing can stop us after that.”
“And you know… Deven is a dragon.” Sinopa rubbed her chin. That hole in the roof was a possible escape route. “He might be able to fly us through that hole, though I doubt he could manage more than one of us at a time.”
Their conversation would have continued, but it was at this point that they heard Zeelo’s call for help. Realizing there was no time to wait, they quickly headed for the security room.
“Wait…” Lucia’s ears twitched and she paused.” Did you hear a pair of symbols?”
“I don’t think so?” Sinopa shrugged. “But we don’t have time.” And they continued on their way, unaware of the stuffed monkey toy sitting among the rubble, its eyes wide open watching them.
Deven and Asriel were on their way to help as well but were having their own issues. They had encountered their own Nannybot, and it had its quantum cannon already charged.
“Take this and spin it!” Asriel tossed Deven one of the diamond shaped pipe cleaner structures. He began to spin a second one himself. Deven hesitated half a second, not sure what was happening as the Nannybot opened fire. The pipecleaners produced a shield of energy in front of Asriel, blocking the regressive blast. Deven however, started to shrink. Catching on, he began to spin his as well before he could be reduced any younger than two years of age.
“You made force fields!?” Deven asked.
“It’s a field of magical interference, it’s less any kind of shield, and more a field of misdirecting magic. It gathers non-physical energy sources and then disperses them in a different directions. In theory, you could aim it, but they don’t seem to be weak to their own regression beams.” Asriel felt the blank stare coming from Deven. “Sure, it’s a forcefield.”
“Okay, so we can defend ourselves, got anything to fight back?” Deven asked.
“Well…” Asriel pointed his baseball staff at the Nannybot and fired. It didn’t do much. It seemed it lacked the power for that. He still had his other weapon. The wand he built should have a bit more power… But he wasn’t sure how many times it would work. Then there were the grenades. Two choices, both with high risks failing to do anything at all. “I don’t suppose you thought up anything in your plan for this?”
“Well… Keep blocking the shots!” Deven ran behind Asriel and squatted down as he examined his lists again. He went down it, looking for anything he had thought up in advance that might help. Meanwhile, Asriel kept up his own shield.
“This thing won’t last forever!” Asriel replied. “And my arm is getting tired.” With his spare hand he was reaching for his bag, it might be time to take the risk and use a grenade.
“I’m working on it!” Deven looked over his list, and then saw something he had forgotten to check off.
Be a flipping awesome dragon.
“Oh yeah.” Deven grabbed a crayon he had stored behind his horn and checked that off. Then he flew directly above Asriel, opened his mouth and unleashed a torrent of blue fire upon the robot.
“Error… Systems overheating…” Nannybot replied as she stopped firing.
“Did… Did you just now remember you could do that?” Asriel asked.
“It’s been kind of a crazy day.” Deven shrugged.
“You shall not escape. You shall return to your CRIB.” The Nannybot was on fire, and her face was melting. She tried to fire her cannon, but it fell right off her arm. She held up her other arm, now just a metallic pointed object, acting as if she was going to slash at the children, then fell over as the lights in her eyes went out. “Systems failing.”
“You know… If worse comes to worse, we could just burn our way out.” Asriel grinned.
“Yeah, but hurry on Zeelo’s in trouble!” Deven grabbed Asriel’s paw and ran for the security room.
Meanwhile, unnoticed by both of them, a monkey with a pair of cymbals sat on the ground behind the Nannybot’s remains, flames reflected in its eyes.
Deven, Asriel, Sinopa and Lucia arrived outside the security room all at the same time to find it empty. Zeelo had been taken somewhere.
“Hey Zeelo!” Asriel was the first to think to use his invention. “Come in where are you?”
“Mrew.” Zeelo’s voice sounded weak and high pitched. “Meoooow.” And he didn’t manage to get any words out, just infantile mewling.
“That doesn’t sound good.” Deven muttered. “What happened? Anyone see any signs of where they went?”
“Maybe a fight in the security room?” Asriel suggested. “Let’s look for any clues about where he might have gone.” The four started to head inside the room, Asriel and Deven first. Then Lucia and Sinopa.
“MEOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!” Zeelo’s mewling suddenly became more desperate, trying to communicate something. But no one understood the warning until it was too late, as a quantum cannon was fired upon them from above.
Deven and Asriel got the worst of it. Deven shrunk down so much, he couldn’t be older than two or three months. Asriel meanwhile shrunk down to a one year old. Lucia and Sinopa managed to avoid most of it, Lucia only losing one year, going down to two, while Sinopa acted fast enough to only lose a few months, being somewhere around one and a quarter.
Clinging to the ceiling of the security room by claws on her boots it was a Nannybot. Her right arm was formed into a cannon, and her left arm formed into the cage known as a C.R.I.B. Inside the cage was a baby kitten, no older than six months.
“Okay this is bad…” Lucia grabbed Asriel while Sinopa grabbed Deven and dragged them out of the room before they could be reduced any younger.
“Shields!” Asriel was having trouble speaking. “Spin!” He tossed pipe cleaners to each of them. They spun them, creating the shield as the Nannybot fell to the ground opening fire and advancing out the door. Deven tried shooting a fireball, but unable to balance himself on two legs he fell over and just shot at the ceiling.
“Deven no!” Lucia snapped. “You could hit Zeelo!” That was the problem. What limited resources they had were difficult to use without hurting their friend.
Except maybe one thing.
“I really hope this works.” Asriel held up the cardboard tube with the ball on the end. “Everyone else shield me, I need a moment!”
“Easier said than done!” Sinopa snapped. “I can barely stand, Deven is down for the count, and Lucia can only do so much on her own.”
“Find a way!” Then Asriel paused and looked back at his own snake tail. “You help too!” He handed his own pipe cleaner back to it.
Sinopa and Lucia stepped in front of Asriel and began to spin their shields, and Asriel’s tail made its best attempt to spin it creating a shield above him. Deven… Attempted to help but kept falling over every time he spun his.
“Alright…. When I say lower the shields lower them…” Asriel muttered as he pointed the ‘wand’ at the Nannybot. She was walking out of the room, advancing on them slowly, the cannon constantly firing. “Almost… Just… Need to be absolutely precise…” His wand was ready. “Soon as she stops firing to recharge drop the shields!”
The moment came, the others let down their shields, Asriel pointed his cardboard wand at the Nannybot, and a beam of white energy erupted from the wand. The entire room grew colder and as the Nannybot was struck ice began to cover her body as she froze over losing the ability to move or function.
“M-mew…” Zeelo shivered. His C.R.I.B. was unfrozen, but he was now sitting right next to a giant block of ice.
“Sorry, it was the only idea I had. Let’s get you out of there.” Asriel pointed his baseball bat staff this time and began to fire the small laser again. It wasn’t enough to defeat a Nannybot, but given enough time it could slowly cut through bars, and soon there was a hole big enough for Zeelo to crawl out. Once free, they retreated down the hall just to get away from the cold.
“Soooooo, I’m noticing a problem.” Lucia pointed at Deven and Zeelo. “The person who was supposed to have the plan, and the person who was supposed to find our esca[e route are now both too young to talk.”
“That’s… That’s an issue.” Sinopa was finding words difficult herself, but she could still manage. “There was the hole in the roof… But I doubt Deven could fly us up being that young.”
“How wide was the hole?” Asriel asked, having his own idea.
“Same width as an adult human.” Lucia replied.
“Ughh too narrow.” Asriel muttered. He had a device that might have helped, but it needed enough space to move around.
“Meow mrow mew!” Zeelo meowed excitedly as he crawled over to Deven, trying to grab at his paper sheets.
“Raaawr!” Devevn objected, unsure of why they were suddenly in a wrestling match.
“Wait!” Asriel grabbed Deven by the shoulders. “Let him have it! I think he needs to tell us something.”
“Raaaaaawr.” Deven pouted, but released his precious maps and checklists, as well as a crayon.
“Mew!” Zeelo quickly began to scribble on the map they had used to make their plan. He drew a hallway with a long elevator, and then a back door and a loading dock. He also drew the front entrance as well, and drew a stick figure there, while writing down 1 NB next to it.
“Main entrance has one Nannybot?” Lucia asked. Zeelo nodded.
“But there’s a backdoor with no guards at all!” Sinopa slapped Zeelo on the back. “Good job! Let’s get going! It’s a straight shot from here!”
Following the map, they headed for the backdoor, but there was one thing they didn’t expect.
The sound of a pair of cymbals clanging together. The monkey toy was sitting right in front of the elevator in the hall that led to the back door.
“M-mew!” Zeelo recoiled and backed away as he saw it.
“I agree that thing is creepy.” Sinopa replied. “I’m gonna punt it.” She started forward, but then the elevator door opened… And out stepped…
A normal human. She was dressed in the same uniform as the Nannybots, a modest dress covered by a white apron. However, she looked like a plain ordinary person.
“Okay… Didn’t see that coming…” Asriel muttered. “Is she the one behind these robots? Think she can be negotiated with?”
The monkey banged its cymbals.
“Nannybot-9000 is now online.” The human looking creation spoke, and warped both of its arms into quantum cannons.
“No negotiating!” Asriel shouted. It was time to test one of his other devices. He grabbed one of the two grenades he had made, and tossed it straight forward before this new Nannybot could get a chance to fire. “Hope this works.”
The explosion was so strong, all five toddlers were sent flying backwards down the hall. They landed, rolling a couple more feet. But, as they looked up, there was just one giant scorch mark where the new Nannybot had been.
“That could have killed us!” Lucia shouted angrily.
“Look this was all experimental!” Asriel replied irritably. “Already explained once, I had no idea if it’d even explode! But look, at least the problem is solved.”
Broken machine parts scattered around the ground slowly began to roll across the floor. They melted into a silver liquid, which rose up into the shame of a human, before becoming the very human looking Nannybot again.
“Or not…” Asriel muttered.
“Maybe if we hit it constantly?” Lucia suggested.
“With what!?” I’ve got one grenade left!” Asriel objected.
“It’s okay, I got this!” Sinopa scooped Deven up off the ground and pointed him at the Nannybot. “Fire when ready!”
“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWR!” Deven unleashed blue flames, and the Nannybot started to melt again, then suddenly solidified back to her normal form.
“Adaptation complete. Immunity to heat acquired.” She spoke. “Engaging enemy.” Her arms changed to cannons again.
“SHIELDS UP!” Asriel shouted. Everyone who could still spin their pipe cleaners did so. Zeelo even sat up on his knees to spin his. Thankfully, this was enough to stop the beams.
“Energy weapons ineffective.” The Nannybot spoke. “Switching to physical.” Her arms changed from cannons to two silver looking clubs.
“You know what, if fire won’t work.” Asriel pointed his wand, and unleashed the freezing beam of ice again. The Nannybot froze in place, but only for a moment as the ice melted and she continued to walk forward slowly.
“Adaptation complete. Immunity to cold acquired.” She walked slowly towards the tykes.
“Saaaay, the front entrance had one Nannybot on guard right?” Lucia asked. “One normal Nannybot.”
“All in favor of running away and taking the front door?” Asriel asked. Everyone voted by turning and running. Sinopa carried Deven while Lucia grabbed Zeelo.
Meanwhile, Asriel was putting his last gadget to use. The wings made from paper. With two straps, he put them on like a backpack, and they lengthened out and floated into the air. They had a wide berth, but could just barely fit in the hallway.
“Time to go as fast as we can everyone hang on!” Asriel shouted. He dropped his wand and staff to grab Sinopa’s arm with one hand and Lucia’s with the other. Then the wings began to carry them forward at far greater speeds than they could ever run with their current bodies.
“Thank goodness we’re losing her.” Lucia remarked as she watched the Nannybot fall further behind. She was being very careful not to lose her grip on Zeelo while they were flying.
“Escape is not possible.” The Nannybot’s legs changed color to silver, and then morbed to become wheels as she suddenly increased speed drastically catching up.
“You had to say something!” Sinopa snapped. “Asriel keep a good grip on me… Deven….” Sinopa pointed Deven up at the roof. “Give it everything you got.”
“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWR!” Deven unleashed all the fire he could, catching the roof aflame, and pieces of it began to fall. Just as Sinopa hoped, part of the hallway collapsed cutting the Nannybot 9000 from chasing them.
“Oh I am so happy that worked.” Sinopa sighed.
They continued to fly full speed, right to the front door. When they got there, the lone Nannybot Zeelo had warned them of was waiting.
“Mew mew!” Zeelo warmed.
“Deven!” Sinopa pointed the dragon at the Nannybot, and he released his fire again, melting this one before it could even get into combat mode. She was enjoying her baby shaped flamethrower.
“Seriously, why haven’t we been doing that from the start? Could have escaped weeks ago!” Lucia sighed exasperated.
They blasted out the front door, and then crashed to the ground in the grass outside the nursery.
“Hey what gives? Sinopa asked.
“Those were magic wings made of paper, and we’ve been fighting robots with a fire breathing dragon.” Asriel explained. “I’m surprised they lasted this long… But we’re outside, escape should be easy now.”
“Bork! Bork! Bork! Bork! Bork! Bork!” A small brown fluffy dog came running up out of nowhere. It was adorable in every way imaginable, with a long shaggy tail and one lopped ear.
“Do the Nannybots regress normal animals too?” Lucia asked. “And where did it come from.
“Raaaawr!” Deven flapped out of Sinopa’s arms and glided to the dog. He looked at it quizzically, wondering what to do. Then the dog simply began to lick the dragon’s face, making the baby dragon laugh. He swore there was some other security measure he should be worried about, but it was hard to think with the playful pupper showering him with affection.
“Look we don’t really have time for this.” Sinopa snapped. “We need to keep moving. Forget the dog and-“
“Series 600-d B0Y online.” A very deep voice suddenly came from the fluffy dog, its eye lit up, and fired red lasers straight into Deven’s face. The baby dragon let out one surprised rawr, before he fell to the ground, curled up into the fetal position and a green and brown spotted egg formed around him.
“Are you kidding me!?” Asriel shouted. “They have dog robots now! Grab Deven and start running!” He reached for his last tool, the grenade in the pouch he had been wearing. He hesitated as he saw several pairs of red eyes light up in the darkness. Several small and adorable fluffy brown dogs came running out of the woods outside the nursery, each with eyes glowing ready to fire.
“Any chance you can get those wings to go one more time?” Lucia asked.
“Unlikely…” Asriel muttered. “Got one grenade, if we can get ‘em all in one place… But we need to get distance.”
“Right I’m after Deven!” Sinopa dove for the dragon egg, as she did, the dog that had regressed him opened its mouth and fired out a net, covering the egg and dragging it back to the dog. It held the dragon egg in its robot mouth as if it might hold a ball. “Okay… That got harder.” Sinopa tried to think. She had no weapons… And was so young she was pretty sure there was no way to win a physical fight. As the other dogs appeared, she could see there were at least seven of them.
“Dang it…” Asriel muttered. “I can’t use the grenade… It’d damage Deven’s egg.” He shook his head. “We have no choice, we have to run.”
“Meooow!” Zeelo objected.
“You don’t intend to leave Deven!?” Lucia sounded horrified.
“And what do we do?” Asriel asked. “He’s an egg, being held in the mouth of a beast that will turn us into infants the second we get close! At our current ages, we can’t outrun real dogs, let alone robot dogs. Look, I want to help, but there’s nothing we can do, and our only hope is to get out of here and lose them before they chase us.”
“But…” Lucia knew he was right. Anything she tried to do would just get her taken out fast. She looked down at Zeelo. The best she could do was save the brown kitten.
“Give me the last grenade.” Sinopa snapped. “And then run.”
“Why?” Asriel asked.
“For starters, when we get into the woods they’re going to overtake us easily. A properly timed explosion might destroy enough of the land to stop them, maybe even take a few out, and I’m the best shot.” Sinopa explained.
“I can handle it-“ Asriel started.
“There’s no time to argue.” Sinopa tore the bag from Asriel’s shoulder. “Now run!”
They took off running, leaving Deven’s egg behind. But the robot dogs didn’t take long to take after them. The toddlers headed into the woods, but this only made things worse. At their small sizes, crawling over branches and through bushes only slowed them down. It was even harder for Lucia trying to avoid dropping Zeelo. It didn’t help they had no idea where in the world these woods even were, and if there was anything out there that was safe.
The dogs were on them, firing their lasers. Lucia and Asriel were both hit, Lucia falling down onto all fours and dropping Zeelo as she was reduced to crawling speed. Even Asriel couldn’t get up properly for long. It looked like there was no hope of any escape.
“That hill!” Sinopa pointed at a bush covered hill as they ran. At one year and a quarter she was now the oldest. ”Get over that and I can stop them.”
“I don’t really think-“ Asriel objected. He could just barely speak, and tried to object.
“Just do it!” Sinopa snapped as she ran up the hill. Everyone else followed.
“Yaaaaaap.” Lucia hoped that the fox-boar knew what she was doing..
“Meow.” Zeelo agreed with her.
As they reached the top of the hill, Sinopa came to a stop, and watched to make sure the rest caught up. Once the other three were crawling down the hill she turned to face the other direction.
“Sinopa!?” Asriel shouted. “What are you doing!?”
“No baby left behind!” Sinopa shouted, as she charged down the hill at the oncoming dogs. She held the grenade above her head activating it, as the dogs all focused their lasers on her. Meanwhile, she focused her eyes on the one dog holding Deven’s egg. She leaped through the air. Several lasers fired, hitting the fox-boar as she was airborne and she began to shrink.
And then an explosion destroyed half the hill.
“Sinopa!” Asriel shouted, as Zeelo and Lucia turned to what remained of the hill. The robot dogs had been destroyed… But… Sinopa had been right there. And then there was Deven… “No…” Asriel walked closer to the hill and fell to his knees.
“Yaaaap.” Lucia crawled next to Asriel, and leaned her head against him, trying to comfort him for the loss of their two friends.
“Mew?” Zeelo meanwhile seemed distracted. His ears twitched, and he began to crawl around the remains of the hill. Then, he found a small ditch at the base of one side… And inside that ditch, was a newborn fox-boar hugging her body around a dragon egg. “MEOOOOOOOOOOW!”
“What is it?” Asriel and Lucia went to check on the discovery.
“Yiiip!” Lucia’s eyes lit up when she saw Sinopa and Deven’s egg. She crawled right into the ditch with them, managing to embrace fox-boar and egg at the same time. It wasn’t long before Zeelo was atop them.
“You’re crazy you know that?” Asriel looked down into the ditch. “Do you know what the odds of that working were?” He realized what she had done. Sinopa must have noticed the ditch before they started up the hill. Once at the top, she used herself as a projectile, aiming for the robot with Deven’s egg. Even as she was reduced to a newborn, she hit the egg with enough force to free it and the net from the dog’s jaws. Then clinging to it, she rolled down the hill, landing in the ditch for cover with the egg right as the grenade exploded taking out the robots. “You are incredibly lucky.”
“Yap!” Sinopa stuck her tongue out at Asriel. Considering she was about 45 seconds old right now, it was about all the strength she had to come up with any response. She managed to crawl away from Deven’s egg slightly though and point to the net still covering it.
“I see, everyone grab the net.” Asriel reached down and grabbed the net with Deven’s egg in it. Then, with everyone hanging on he pulled them all out of the ditch before unwrapping the egg from the net.
“Meeeewwww!” Zeelo rubbed affectionately against the egg.
“Yiiip.” And Lucia was showering Sinopa with affection.
“So uh…” Asriel looked around. “I can’t help but notice I’m the only one still old enough to talk… And just barely…” He sighed. “I know there are others in the nursery that need help but… Well… That new robot scares me.” The others nodded in agreement. “But… We proved they can be fought today! So… There have to be others out there resisting! Maybe someone who even knows how to make us older again.”
Lucia and Sinopa nodded eagerly to this. Zeelo on the other hand, seemed strangely reluctant. Now outside the nursery, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go back to being an adult. Deven of course, responded by being an egg.
“I guess… First step is to get through these woods…” Asriel turned to face deeper into the woods. “And then hopefully find civilization.” He laughed nervously as he tried to make a joke to lighten the mood. “So anyone in scouts? Cause… You’re gonna be able to brag you got your trailblazing badge before you could walk.” The attempt was valued, and the five (counting Deven’s egg) set off. They literally weren’t out of the woods yet, but they had escaped. Even if they didn’t find civilization, they still had their adult minds, and so would be able to rely on cleverness to get by until their bodies were a bit stronger again.
Besides, Asriel had come out the oldest, meaning he was the most physically capable. He could create a few magic items to help keep them safe at such a tender age. In fact, a forest would provide much better materials for such a thing than what he had to work with back in that crafts room. Perhaps the rest of the world’s battle with the Nannybots wasn’t over, but these five were going to be fine.