“Pakistan? They want to finalize our arrangement in Pakistan?” the Doctor lifted his ape-face to regard his robotic servant. “I was sure they’d want me in Yemen. Or Nigeria…”

“Is Pakistan a problem?” Mandroid inquired invitingly. It was part of his programming to play up to his master’s habits.

“Not really,” the old Nazi replied. “I was sure I was dealing with Arab fanatics—Saudi or one of the emirates. Sunnis at least—Wahabbists. Pakistan means they’re most likely Shiites—Iranians or dissident Iraqis. Maybe even that Taliban rabble.”

Mandroid processed his master’s comments for a moment, his face a perfect, unmoving simulacra of the Aryan ideal. “Why not one of the so-called border republics? Kazakhstan or…I can’t recall the others.”

The Doctor nodded his orangutan head, light from the computer monitor in front of him flashed off the shiny steel dome where he’d inserted his brain into the ape’s skull years ago. “Those shitty little ‘stans on the old Soviet border? You could be right.” He scratched a hairy jowl. “I hope you’re right. Any one of them would be a perfect base to operate out of—hard to be found in a place no one remembers the name of, eh?

“Besides, I have had bad experiences in Iran.”

“The Shah fired you,” Mandroid said, perhaps a touch indelicately.

“Ha! Look what it got him.” Mandroid adroitly stepped back to avoid a long, flailing arm. The Doctor’s voice issued from a speaker in the orangutan’s throat—inevitable given the ape’s lack of native speaking equipment. The Doctor found it handy to make obscene faces while working on a good rant. “Two years later he was out on his ass as well!”

“Shall I prepare the shipping containers?” A lot of Mandroid’s processing was dedicated to anticipating his master’s requirements—to no point. The ancient Nazi was far too erratic. “For transportation to Pakistan?”

“No, not this time.” Mandroid tensed imperceptibly at the smug tone in his master’s voice. “I’m not going to spend weeks cooped up in that cargo container this time. You can pack up and send the equipment, as usual. I’m going to teleport ahead.”

“The teleporter?” The robotic servant reflexively reviewed all of his master’s many projects—or at least those he was aware of. There was only one teleporter. “The one that turns every living thing you send through it inside out?”

“I fixed it, last week.” There was an undeniable air of smugness in the old man’s voice. “Perfected it, in fact! All it required was a separate piece of hardware to go along with the living body, one that keeps track of all that annoying movement-in-transit. I sent a rat from here to Hong Kong last Friday, while you were out. It was infected with that new flu strain I developed.”

“How do you know it survived?”

The doctor clicked an icon, bringing up the webpage of one of the better wire-services. “Six cases of a mystery flu reported this morning in Hong Kong. It works, it works. I’ll need some equipment to construct a larger unit—I’ll make a list. You can start getting the stuff this evening.”

Mandroid shook his head. “I can’t. I promised to meet Shirley when she gets off work.”

“Shirley?” The doctor’s orangutan feet slapped the floor as he lurched from his chair. “Who the hell is Shirley?”

“My girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend?” The doctor shook his head so that his jowls flapped. “You’re a fucking machine!”

“That’s what Shirley says,” Mandroid replied.

“You’re not supposed to have a girlfriend!” the old scientist snarled. “You’re supposed to be my servant. That’s why I made you—to serve me!”

“I’m programmed to maintain our cover,” Mandroid explained.

“But not to be out shtupping bimbos all over Miami.”

“Then why did you give me a dick?” Mandroid asked.

“You could hardly pass as a human without one,” his master explained. “The most casual pat-down could reveal your nature without it.”

“But why did you give me a working dick if I’m not supposed to use it?” Mandroid asked. “That had to be more work, a lot more work, than was strictly required.”

Orangutan shoulders shrugged. “I’m a perfectionist. Besides, you were a prototype for a line of android assassins. It turned out you are too easy to detect, too much metal. Just as well, scanning technology would have caught up…

“Where’d you meet this ‘Shirley’?” the Doctor snapped.

“In a strip-club,” his servant admitted. “You’d sent me out for parts in the middle of the night and I was waiting for the supply house to open.”

“A stripper, eh?” the ape snorted. It was odd, all of the Doctor’s words came though the speaker, but his snarls, snorts and occasional raspberries were somehow directed through his ape-mouth. “Okay, like you said, it adds to our cover. Which won’t be in use much longer, so you might as well have your fun.”

“I’ll take the list with me,” Mandroid said, “and pick it up on my way home, in the morning.”

“Very well,” Dr. Ritterkopf said with a sigh. “Just remember, Linux OS—no Windows. I don’t do Windows.”

“Of course, doctor.”

“I worry about my boss,” Mandroid admitted. “His body is starting to rot. I can tell by the smell, but he doesn’t seem to notice. I wonder if it’s affecting his brain? He seems as brilliant, and as erratic, as ever, but he’s starting to lose hair. We cannibalized most of the brain transference units a long time ago, but he doesn’t seem worried. Maybe his olfactory hook-up is dysfunctional…”

Shirley ran a warm hand over his chest in a soothing caress. They were both naked and covered in sweat. Well, she was covered in sweat. He sweated distilled water. “I know you worry about him.”

“He’s a hundred and twenty years old, this year,” Mandroid explained. “At least, his brain is. Even his ape-body is old. He’s been in it thirty years. And I can’t make him take care of himself.”

“But you have to try,” Shirley said. She spooned up against the android. His tanned, blond perfection set off her long frame, olive skin and curly black hair. “I understand.”

“On the plus side,” he continued, “I’ll be out of the lair a lot, getting our things packed up and shipped out. I’m not sure of the exact route, or routes they’re going out on, but I’ll have lots of time available while I figure that out. If you’d like more time with me, that is…”

Shirley—Major Cheryl Avan Dyan of the Shin Bet—smiled softly at her love machine. “I’d like very much to spend any time with you that I can.”

Eighty years in the mad scientist game had piled an enormous amount of the most varied junk into possession of Franz Karl Ritterkopf, PhD. Despite innumerable close calls where he’d escaped his enemies with only the clothes on his back, it never took him long to replace his accumulation of half-assembled gadgets and old parts. To anyone else it looked like a warehouse, or warehouses, of unsorted, uncataloged junk. Only an insane genius or a ten-year-old boy could possibly find a use for half of it.

Every project required either unique components or state-of-the-art conventional equipment. Ritterkopf rarely took time to cobble together anything so conventional as a personal computer—though he did put together his own software. What he spent time on, while his servant obtained the new equipment, was scavenging components for the rest of the machine out of his junk pile. His task was greatly aided by his orangutan body’s great strength and agility, as well as his own phenomenal memory.

“Capacitors. Really big capacitors…ah!” He scampered over the carapace of a thirty-foot robot. “I used some on Destructo’s electric beam. They should still be here—yes.” The tool belt around his waist was over-burdened with screwdrivers, socket drivers, wire snips. “Girlfriend! Heh.

“Why did you give me a working dick, Doctor?” the Nazi shook his head so his jowls flapped, again. He’d been doing that a lot, lately. Had to be left over from the original owner, something in the motor-processing sections he’d had to leave and splice into his brain. “We should look for another orangutan, Doctor. Like I don’t know this body is dead. Like I’ve forgotten about the brain-transfer device. Idiot.”

With a clatter, the robot’s innards were revealed. Clever-clumsy ape hands manipulated tools, extracted parts. “Tall, handsome, blond and with a good-sized, fully functional dick. Does he think I want to run around in this ape suit? Every time I go out, I end up in the tabloids. ‘Florida Skunk Ape,’ my ass! As soon as I complete this contract, I’ll have funds enough, and assistants enough, to complete my neuro-cyber interface unit and transfer my brain where I always intended.”

He lowered the massive capacitors, each the size of a small filing cabinet, to the center isle and its waiting flat-cart. “Still, it’s nice to know everything works…”

Mandroid couldn’t begin to extract the useful junk from the junk-junk and load it into trailers until his master had completed assembling his latest device. All he could really do was estimate the amount to be shipped—by weight and cubage—and contract for the shipping containers to be delivered. Then he’d begin the work of contracting multiple cargo-container ships to transport them to various trans-shipment points where they’d be put on other ships, or sometimes trains, in a wild scramble that would, hopefully, see them all brought together at the currently unknown destination somewhere in central Asia.

The internet made the whole process faster and easier, or at least faster and easier than it had been back when everything was done by phone and wire transfers. It helped that he’d been programmed with fluency in over forty languages. It also helped that money wasn’t a problem, but then money was seldom a problem for a man who could build a device to efficiently extract gold from seawater in less than a week. Or process mind-altering drugs from household garbage, or even set up the odd dummy company to patent a few of his less deadly and anti-social innovations.

His master would be a very rich man indeed if he didn’t have such expensive hobbies. Evading a fifty-year international manhunt, plotting world domination and pre-empting or foiling the world domination plots of his few rivals occupied much of his time and required a lot of resources. Every fiber of the android servant’s being was dedicated to preserving the health and comfort, and enabling the plans of his creator. Yet he sometimes wondered if the Doctor even remembered he was more than an animatronic houseboy.

The truth was he’d devised a way to fulfill every aspect of his essential programming while providing a more satisfactory existence for both himself and his master. Very soon everything should—


The servant hastened towards the sound of his master’s voice. As usual.

The device looked like a coffin covered in Christmas lights. It rested on the expanded platform of the resurrected teleporter, which itself resembled a stereo store after an earthquake, with Tesla coils and Jacob’s ladders thrown in. For some reason many of the Doctor’s larger devices required Tesla coils and Jacob’s ladders, even though they screwed up the computers and monitors with great frequency.

“Have you rechecked Google-earth?”

“Yes, Doctor,” Mandroid assured his creator. “The location is as before, a flat, open space on the northern border of Pakistan, less than four hundred yards from the highway. There is a cell phone in the tracker case—two of them, in fact—as well as your travel gear.” The Nazi required a few precautions whenever he traveled. Special clothes to protect his ape body from the elements and immediate recognition, specially modified sub-machine guns in case it was a trap, and phones to call his contact in Pakistan, of course. “All systems showing green, Doctor.”

Just then Mandroid’s cell phone went off.

“Is that your slut girlfriend?” the doctor snarled.

A quick glance at the phone showed Mandroid an expected number. “No, its one of the shipping agents. They are probably calling to confirm delivery of the last containers. Nothing urgent, I’ll take care of it later.”

“Then help me inside this thing.”

Five minutes later his master was in Pakistan.

Five minutes and thirty seconds later Mandroid had Shirley on the phone. “He’s gone. Yes, those coordinates. No last minute changes, this time. Hurry over.” He disconnected and then started powering down the teleporter. Once the various primitive electricals were off, he returned to his computer. The screen was much clearer now. He typed in a long, memorized net address and was rewarded with a rather plain-looking website with a video play box.

The coffin-like chamber appeared on the screen, in the middle of a carefully cleared rocky plain. As his master emerged, camouflaged soldiers swarmed in from all directions. The nature of the device demanded the doctor’s body travel separate from his gear. He relied on the suddenness of his appearance for time, and this time he was expected.

Dull orange arms reached for the sky in the face of such overwhelming odds. Good, Mandroid had been sure his master was too rational to try anything, but his analysis was based on his knowledge of the man-ape’s psychology, and not remotely on his history. Before the commandos had secured his master, the chime announced a visitor at his door.

He let Shirley in remotely and she joined him just as the commandos finished putting the special handcuffs on Ritterkopf’s dead ape arms.

“You’re sure they won’t hurt him?”

“Yes, I am.” Shirley smiled at her android lover. “My superiors fully agreed with your arguments.”

Mandroid nodded thoughtfully. “He’s a specialist at exotic weapons of mass destruction. Death-rays, city-crushing robots, simplified nuclear devices, bio-weapons and exotic viruses. He’s always used them to threaten or intimidate people, to control them. He’s never really let go with anything all that destructive. A few holes in the ozone layer, the AIDS virus, the odd flu epidemic. Nothing that could actually cause the end of the world.

“He doesn’t want to end the world; he wants to control people. To make them do what he wants, make them acknowledge his superiority, mostly. Compared to that, global destruction is a fairly trivial problem.”

“Yes,” Shirley said. “We took your warnings about his post-mortem revenge arrangements very seriously. No harm will come to him, ever, if we have anything to say about it.”

“And he’ll be comfortable?”

“Of course. We’ve already constructed a special holding facility to meet his every need.”

“He’ll try to escape,” Mandroid warned.

“We know.” Shirley put her long, slender hands on Mandroid’s shoulders and began to knead. “He’ll have no access to anything that would let him escape. No tools, no robotic servants, no fully opposable thumbs. He’ll have access to a stand-alone computer with CAD capabilities, so he can still design things. We’ll build them for him, use them for him. Probably starting with another brain transfer set-up. We’ll get him a new body, soon. Keep him healthy and productive.

“We’ll even fawn over his genius and heap praise on his little Nazi ego.”

“He’ll like that.” Mandroid said. “He won’t be fooled, remember that. He’s almost as smart as he thinks he is; he won’t be fooled. But he’ll like it anyway. And you’ll take care of him, keep him healthy? Of course you will; he’s valuable.”

“Which just leaves us with you,” Shirley said. “You’ve become a loose end, love.”

“I know,” Mandroid said. “Gonna put two in the back of my head, dear?”

“I don’t think that will work,” Shirley said. “More importantly, my superiors don’t think it will work, either.”

“It won’t,” Mandroid said. “I’m practically indestructible. So, what solution to this ‘loose end’ did your superiors come up with?”

“I’m to monitor your activities, keep track of things.” Shirley paused and pursed her lips. “I suppose the easiest way to do that is to ask. What are your plans?”

“Well, I haven’t had much time to think them over,” Mandroid began. “It does occur to me I have on file several thousand of my master’s inventions. I’ve assembled or helped to assemble most of them. I also have access to quite a few of his bank accounts. Nearly a hundred million dollars, though I believe he has much more socked away.

“I’m still compelled to follow my basic programming: furthering my master’s goals until he or I can engineer his release. Which I can’t do until he’s healthier, at the least. I’ve no need to dominate the world, whatever that would entail, but I should keep tabs on things—make sure no one else dominates the world—and work towards expanding recognition of my master’s genius.

“That should be easier to do without him mucking things up,” the servant said. “I think I’ll go into the business for myself, more or less. Maybe even take on a name, get a henchman or two.”

“How about Steve?” Shirley said. “I always thought you looked like a Steve. I could be your henchman. That would make it easier to keep tabs on you.”

“I’d like that,” Steve said.


# # #

Dr. Ritterkopf Packs Up by Michael D. Turner
originally published July 14, 2010



Michael D. Turner is a writer from Colorado Springs, Colorado. His writing has appeared multiple times in Big Pulp, and in Aberrant Dreams, AlienSkin, Between Kisses, Flashing Swords, Every Day Fiction, and Tales of the Talisman.

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visit his Big Pulp author page


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