“This isn’t how we voted!” Sparx called after them.
“Where are you, robot boy?” Peacekeeper Stone shouted. “I know you’re still alive.”
Astro flew up behind him, holding a giant metal girder.
Peacekeeper Stone continued, “You can’t hide from—”
Astro hit the robot over the head with the girder.
” Peacekeeper Stone cried. He shook his head, spitting out a metal tooth.
“Is that all you got?” he challenged.
Astro tossed the girder aside and cracked his knuckles. He was ready for action. With a roar, he zoomed toward Peacekeeper Stone, pummeling the giant robot’s metal chest like a boxer hitting a speed bag.
Then the big robot’s chest opened wide, and a mechanical claw grabbed Astro in an iron grip.
“Objective complete. Blue Core obtained,” Peacekeeper Stone announced.
He started to pull Astro inside his body, where the Red Core glowed brightly. Astro’s eyes flashed red in warning. Just as he was about to be absorbed by the Peacekeeper, there was a huge flash and an explosion.
Astro went flying backward, landing on the top floor of a skyscraper. Peacekeeper Stone fell to the ground in agony.
Astro turned to see that his father had found him.
“Dad?” Astro ran to Dr. Tenma and fell into his arms with relief. But something was worrying him.
“I don’t understand. Why didn’t it absorb me?” he asked.
“Because it can’t.” Tenma replied. “If the Red and the Blue Core come together ... well, you both die.”
Astro gazed out across the city. The Peacekeeper was back on his feet. Cora and the kids were zipping between the buildings, searching for Astro. Peacekeeper Stone spotted the vehicle and grabbed it in his hand.
Astro knew what he had to do. It was all very clear to him now.
“This is it. This is what I was created for,” Astro said. “This is my destiny.”
“Toby, NO,” Dr. Tenma said sternly. He had lost his son twice already. He wasn’t about to lose him again.
“I’m sorry, but that isn’t my name anymore,” Astro said. “Good-bye, Dad.”
Astro’s face darkened. His eyes glowed with determination. Then he launched himself right at the Peacekeeper.
“No!” Dr. Tenma yelled.
Cora and the kids gasped in amazement as Astro streaked toward the immense robot. Sensing danger, Peacekeeper Stone stepped backward and swatted at Astro.
Astro didn’t hesitate. He flew straight for the Peacekeeper’s chest.
Once the Red and Blue Cores met, they both would be destroyed.
It was the only way.
Startled, Peacekeeper Stone lost his grip on the hover car. Zane sped away, then circled back around. The Peacekeeper was frantically clawing at the hole Astro had made in his chest. But he was too late.
The Peacekeeper exploded, spewing forth everything he had absorbed during his rampage—even President Stone. The dazed man tumbled to the ground.
President Stone stood up in the rubble, brushing off his black uniform. “What happened? Where am I? Who am I?”
Nobody paid attention to him. Everyone rushed to Astro’s fallen body. It had broken apart into pieces.
Cora gently arranged the pieces together, her eyes filling with tears.
“Who is he?” a man in the crowd asked.
“I don’t know, but he saved us,” a woman said. “That robot saved the whole city.”
“Why would he care?” the man wondered.
Dr. Elefun pushed his way forward. “Because that robot had more humanity than most of us,” he said. He looked at Cora. “Who are you?”
“I’m a friend of his from the Surface,” Cora said.
“You’re from the Surface?” someone asked.
The crowd murmured in surprise. President Stone had always told them that Surface dwellers were violent savages. But Cora and the kids looked perfectly nice.
“Can you fix him?” the man in the crowd asked.
“No, I’m afraid not,” Dr. Elefun said.
“Then can you make another one like him?” asked the woman.
“No. His Blue Core was unique,” Dr. Elefun replied. “It could have regenerated the earth, brought back the forests, healed the planet. Now it’s died with him.”
“It’s not fair,” Cora said tearfully. “All he ever did was help people.”
“Not just people,” Zog said.
Cora nodded. “Astro brought Zog back to life.”
Dr. Elefun raised an eyebrow. “How?”
“The blue stuff,” Zog replied.
The scientist’s eyes lit up. “Do you have any of that blue stuff left?”
“Do you think you could spare some for our friend here?” Elefun asked.
Zog stepped forward and picked up Astro. He beamed a ray of Blue Core energy with his eyes into Astro’s lifeless body. Everyone waited, holding their breath.
Astro’s eyes fluttered open.
“Thank you, Zog,” he said. He hugged the big robot’s finger.
“No biggie,” Zog said.
Astro sat up. “Dr. Elefun? Cora? What happened? Is the Peacekeeper gone?”
Dr. Elefun smiled. “Astro, I think you’ve finally found your place in the world. You’re a hero. A robot with the heart of a lion, and people finally know it.”
The crowd cheered wildly. They lifted Astro up, carrying him through the streets of Metro City.
“This is your destiny!” Dr. Elefun called to him.
A very confused President Stone wandered through the crowd.
“Where am I? Who am I?” he asked angrily. “These are simple questions and I want some answers!”
A group of soldiers surrounded him.
“You’re President Stone, sir,” a soldier told him. “And I’m afraid you’re under arrest.”
Two soldiers grabbed his arms. Two others dragged General Heckler with them.
“The president, you say?” Stone asked. “That sounds pretty decent. AmIagood president?”
“History will judge, sir,” the soldier replied.
In another part of the crowd, Sparx, Robotsky, and Mike were trying to recruit Zog to their cause.
“A robot who’s actually allowed to harm humans,” Sparx marveled. “You’re a perfect fit for our organization! ”
“Humans made me the robot I am today,” Zog said. “Why would I want to hurt them?”
“I never thought about it like that before,” Sparx admitted.
“How about joining just for the camaraderie?” Robotsky asked. “We have slogan-chanting practice on weekends. Chess night. We play charades.”
“What about knitting?” Zog asked. “I like to knit.”
Sparx looked at the others. They nodded.
“We could do knitting,” Sparx said.
Dr. Tenma stood by his car next to Orrin. They watched the parade of people carry Astro victoriously down the street.
“That young robot’s my son, you know,” Tenma said proudly.
“Yes, Master,” Orrin agreed.
“I don’t want you to call me master anymore, Orrin,” Tenma said. “In fact, take the day off. Go on, enjoy yourself with the robot ladies and so forth.”
Orrin beamed. “Thank you Mast—uh, Dr. Tenma.”
“Call me Bill,” Tenma said.
Orrin smiled and rolled away. “Phew! I am so freaked right now.”
He joined the parade of people carrying Astro. Other robots were celebrating, too. It was the first time in Metro City that humans and robots had come together as equals.
A news crew appeared. They filmed Astro being carried through the city. Cora walked closely beside him.
“This is Geraldo Segunda for OmniNews Network,” the reporter said, putting a microphone in Cora’s face. “Can we have a few words for the viewers at home?”
Before Cora could answer, her cell phone rang. She took it out of her pocket.
Her face lit up. “Mom? Dad?”
She listened for a moment, blinking back tears. “You and Dad have been looking for me on the Surface?”
She put her hand over the phone and signaled to Astro.
“It’s my folks. They’re watching us on TV!” she said excitedly. She spoke back into the phone. “Of course I know Astro. He’s my friend.”
Cora listened and rolled her eyes. “Of course, I realize he’s a robot, Dad.” She smiled as she heard his reply. “Oh good, you like robots now.”
Astro smiled and waved at the crowd. He spotted Dr. Tenma on the sidelines. Astro waved. Tenma waved back.
“Who’s that?” Cora asked.
“My dad,” Astro said proudly.
“Your dad?” Cora asked. How could a robot have a dad?
Astro shrugged. “It’s a long story.”
Suddenly, sirens blared throughout the city. Soldiers rushed in. Astro tensed. Was the Peacekeeper back?
“Everyone take cover!” one of the soldiers yelled. “There’s an alien threat approaching Earth!”
Astro looked up. A huge creature with slimy tentacles covered the sky.
People screamed and ran in terror. Astro powered up his jets.
“Wait!” Dr. Elefun called out. “Are you sure you’re ready for this, Astro?”
Astro nodded. Dr. Elefun was right. This was his destiny—to be a hero.
“I was made ready,” Astro replied as he blasted off into the sky.