This is an original work of fan fiction. Gatchaman and Battle of the Planets are the property of Tatsunoko and Sandy Frank Productions. No profit, gain, hire or reward is received by the author for this work.
It was a dark and stormy night. Zark's processors analysed the observation and verified that as local time at the Center Neptune complex was 0200 hours and that a large frontal system with dense cumulonimbus clouds showing a great deal of activity including wind squalls, heavy rain, lightning and thunder was moving through the area, it was indeed night, it was dark, and it was stormy.
With considerable care, Zark picked up the old fashioned quill pen, dipped the nib in the antique inkwell, and wrote the words on the heavy, cream-coloured paper which rested on the small wooden writing desk in front of him.
'It was a dark and stormy night.'
Couchant underneath the main surveillance console, 1-Rover-1 watched his cybernetic master make his seven hundred and forty ninth attempt at writing the Great Galactic Novel.
One of Zark's mechanical fingers tapped against the edge of the paper. "Do you think writing from immediate experience is too... immediate, 1-Rover-1?" the robot asked.
1-Rover-1 rested his yellow metal head on his paws. 'Nyaaap!' he offered.
"I suppose you're right," Zark said. "One shouldn't place limits on the creative process." Zark considered for a moment, facial LEDs flickering green through amber. "What constitutes creative juices for a robot?" he wondered.
One of Rover's paws covered his eyes. "Yaaooow!"
"Now you're being facetious," Zark reproved.
'It was a dark and stormy night. The robot warrior Karz Venes moved silently through city streets being washed clean of filth by the rain. Water poured from broken downpipes, carrying away the debris left by humanity. Karz paused and watched old cigarette ends swirling through the gutter, evidence of a filthy human habit in which robots, being far more hygienic than organic life forms, never indulge.'
Zark's hand ceased skritching across the paper and he reviewed his work. "So far, so good," he decided. 1-Rover-1 got up, clanked across the floor, picked up a heavy wrench pocked with what looked like tool marks, and slunk back to the console to settle with his prize.
'From a dark alleyway, Karz detected the slightest movement, too small for a human eye to have registered, but obvious to a well-engineered and finely tuned robot such as Karz, whose FOSDIC had only recently been upgraded to the QTL TRZ-791-s series with version 5.2 software.'
1-Rover-1 uttered what might have been a low growl around the wrench, which he was chewing on the way an ordinary dog might have gnawed a soup bone.
'Karz lunged, reaching into the shadows with one lightning fast motion. His hand closed around flesh and he heard a yelp of organic pain. He hauled a young man out of the shadows and released his arm with a contemptuous fillip.
'Karz' optical analogues glowed orange with annoyance. "How many times have I told you not to follow me?" he demanded.
'The young man who had been lurking so ineffectually in the alleyway hung his head, letting his dark tousled hair flop over his forehead, partially obscuring his intense blue eyes. "I'm tired of being left behind while you go out and fight the sinister forces of the evil planet Spectra on your own!"
'"You can't handle it," Karz explained, using an extremely reasonable tone of voice. "Your organic body simply isn't equipped with enough strength or speed of reflexes. Your job is to stay back at base and monitor the maintenance schedule while I keep you safe from Zoltar's evil henchmen."'
Zark dipped the quill back in the inkwell. "Do you think I've used the word 'evil' a few too many times in this part?" he asked. 1-Rover-1 bit the end off the wrench. "No," Zark decided. "Spectra IS evil, and calling it evil is simply a statement of fact."
1-Rover-1 spat out the metal he'd been chewing on and vocalised. "Yiiaaaa! Nyaap-nyaap-wooooooow?"
"Too perfect?" Zark echoed, incredulous. "How can Karz Venes be too perfect? He's a robot! Robots ARE perfect!"
"There's nothing wrong with his name. It's nothing like mine. I think you're just jealous that you can't write your own stories."
Zark managed a passable imitation of a human sniff. "I'm sure there are lots of robots who'd like to read stories about robots as heroes."
"Nyaa-eee-aaoooooow!" Rover ambled over and dropped the remains of the wrench on Zark's foot.
Zark turned to admonish Rover, and the dog bumped against the desk, upsetting the inkwell and spilling its contents. The robot watched in dismay as his words were obliterated by a tide of dark, indelible liquid.
"Now look! You've done it again!" Zark scolded. "1-Rover-1, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were trying to keep me from finishing this story!"
"Nyaaap?" Rover sat and wagged his tail, mouth open in an ersatz canine grin.
7-Zark-7 fetched cleaning gear from a compartment, mopped up the spilled ink, laid out a new piece of paper, refilled the inkwell and readied his pen once more. "Now, where was I?" he sighed. "Oh, yes..."
'It was a dark and stormy night...'
1-Rover-1 chewed on his wrench and wondered how many times he could get away with the same trick. There were some horrors, even in this time of war, which should never, ever see the light of day.
Or even the dim, murky light of dark and stormy nights.