Moreau-Walter Amalgamated

 

Lilah Moreau-Walter

 

On the day that Col. Peter A Walter married Delilah Moreau, Thaddeus Becile vowed to destroy their happiness, even if it meant hurting the woman he loved. Fortunately for her, Delilah was not only a formidable scientist, wielding an outstandingly powerful knowledge of chemistry, her new husband was a genius roboticist. Between the two of them, and with the aid of their friends and colleagues at the Cavalcadium, they thwarted every attack Becile Industries threw at them. In 1907, only ten years after they were married, the two founded a company that would one day become the most renowned providers of medical diagnostic, assistive, and rehabilitation robotics in American history--Moreau-Walter Amalgamated.

The four robots that had been the key to wooing the music-loving Delilah to Peter’s side were considered part of the family, even after their creator produced his own children with his bride. Peter A Moreau-Walter was born in 1902, followed by a daughter, Daphne in 1906. In 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and the newly formed company was asked to assist in the war effort. Because the automatons had fought in the Weekend War in Africa, Peter thought that his “sons’” participation was not only patriotic, but wholly appropriate. His wife disagreed, and, although they loved each other very much, the two grew distant once the four robots were shipped overseas.

When they returned, shell-shocked and distressed, Delilah did her best to contain her rage and forced her husband to develop a way to suppress their terrible memories of the conflict. Though it was not one-hundred percent successful, his programming did help them to lead more normal lives. In 1930, just after her son was married, Delilah Moreau died in her sleep, having suffered a pulmonary embolism.

In 1938, Peter Walter was in failing health. His son, although raised with the automatons in the house, was not as close to them as his father and certainly mother had been. The automaton called Hatchworth began to malfunction, causing disturbances in the space-time continuum and Peter A Moreau-Walter quickly and decisively sealed him away in a vault far underneath the manor house for the safety of mankind. When the Second World War swept America up into its chaos, without hesitation, this man signed the three remaining robots up for service and once again, but not for the last time, they suffered through horrific experiences.

Peter Moreau-Walter had married in 1930 Jane Wells-Blouch (1903-1979), a daughter of steel magnate Jasper Blouch. They had two children, Peter A Moreau-Walter II born 1932 and Katherine Wells Moreau-Walter born 1933, who was drowned at the age of fifteen in 1948 during a boating accident in Hawai’i. This was the story the world heard, but in truth she was drowned in the Pacific, far from Hawai’i as she was being rescued, having been kidnapped by agents of Becile Industries. It was the first major blow in what had already been a decades-long war between the two families. Katie had always been fond of the automatons and their music and had taken them with her on vacation to the Big Island. While they fought to get her back on the high-seas, Ignatius Becile’s youngest son, Bertram was also knocked overboard and drowned.

Just two years later, incensed by the loss of his son at the hands of the robots, Becile launched an attack directly on Moreau-Walter Amalgamated during which the robot called Rabbit’s power core was stolen from his chassis. Peter A Moreau-Walter I, his son II, and their assistant Roger Reed attempted to retrieve it. Peter I and Norman Becile were killed when Becile tried to crack it open to reveal its secrets. For twenty-four hours, people within a fifty-mile radius of the explosion suffered as their nightmares were made real. Peter II and Reed recovered from the nightmares, repaired and retrieved the core and returned home changed men. Young Reed’s hair turned white and Peter’s hands trembled so badly that he never worked again.

Peter A Moreau-Walter II married in 1946 Clara Notts Schemerhorn (1935-1989) (of the Manhattan Schemerhorns) and had two children, Peter A “Alex” Moreau-Walter III born 1947 and Dawn VanKleek Moreau-Walter born 1951. Peter II died a young man in 1959, unofficially of complications from alcoholism. His widow Clara and aunt Daphne declared war on Becile in the only way they knew how and enlisted an army of lawyers to bring Becile Industries to its knees financially. Their enemy was out of business (in America) by 1963. Daphne Moreau-Walter headed the family business from the time of her nephew’s death until she gladly handed the reins to her 18-year-old nephew Peter III in 1965. She then spent three years on a grand tour of the world. She never married or had any children. When Daphne returned she was devastated to learn that Peter III had been swayed by a large government contract to send the automatons once more to war. There was a large argument between the two heads of the family which was resolved by MWA’s board of directors who sided with Peter III. Daphne spent much of her remaining days in her suite of rooms, taking her meals there and refusing to see any visitors but her sister-in-law Mrs. Jane Moreau-Walter, Mrs. Clara Moreau-Walter and the three automatons who visited her regularly. She died of heart failure in 1972, Jane passed in 1979 and Clara in 1989.

Dr. Alex Moreau-Walter (Peter III) married Eliza Ann Overbaugh in 1969. They had three children, Deliah Moreau-Walter in 1971, Peter A Moreau-Walter IV in 1973, and Deelia Moreau-Walter in 1977. Following Daphne’s death, Alex made and signed a pact that the singing automatons would never again be entered into an armed conflict as machines of war and had their weaponry permanently removed and their musical capabilities improved. At this time he also submitted his resignation from the Cavalcadium, ending generations of his family’s involvement with the organization. This caused quite a stir in the super-science community.

Alex’s sister, Dawn Moreau-Walter married for money in 1975 Richard J Plifterson and removed to New Pennsyltucky, knowing that her brother’s children would be the ones to inherit the family business. Known locally as Mrs. Dawn M Plifterson, she joined many charitable organizations such as the Daughters of the Yellow Columbine, The Plifterson City Ladies’ Benevolent Society (which she founded), Friends of Hensleigh Plantation, and Clean Air for All People (CAAP), for which she has helped raise millions of dollars.

Through the 1980’s, Moreau-Walter Amalgamated continued to be at the forefront of advances in medical robotic technology.

 

Friday, July 19th, 1991. San Diego, CA

Steam escaped and gears wheezed for a few moments as Rabbit waited for a young woman to finish pouring a bright yellow liquid into an Erlenmeyer flask. Standing in a long hall, he peeked in around a door-frame into a large laboratory in the basement of the Moreau-Walter family home in San Diego--a sprawling complex of labs below ground and gilded-age residential opulence above. Once she set the beaker down, he called quietly to her. “Miss Lilah?” Rabbit’s voice echoed off the lab walls. She grinned knowingly as she turned to face him.

With any other member of the Moreau-Walter family, Rabbit would have bounded in and pounced on them, perhaps on purpose, upsetting whatever work they were doing. But to Rabbit, Delilah Moreau-Walter was different. She was Pappy’s great-great-granddaughter and more so than anyone else who’d come before her, she was his spitting image. Her hair was short and blue-black and she wore it, perhaps purposefully, with the bangs long and they curled out the same way his had done. She was tall and lean, but her frame was rounder and softer on account of being a woman than Pappy’s had been. And what was more, even though she’d never met her second-great-grandfather, she had a few of the same mannerisms he exhibited. One of these presented itself to Rabbit as she faced him and planted her fists on her skinny hips with the elbows cocked forward just a little. “What can I do for you, Rabbit?” she asked. “Need a tune up?”

            The robot was dressed down in a plain pair of black bell-bottoms, a long-sleeved knit shirt and a red bandana over his copper skull. “Oh, no. N-not right now. Ya see, we got a show comin’ up...”

            Detecting that it would be a bit of a long conversation, Lilah took her gloves off, set them on the work table and walked toward the robot. “Yes, I know. A big show in at the stadium tomorrow with the Dollop-of-losers, was it?” she teased.

Rabbit made a face and raised a brow at the twenty-year old woman. “Lollapalooza. It’s the name of the show, not a band.”

“Right, right. Are you ready?”

            “Well that’s just it, see, I... Well, The Jon and The Spine, they’re really nervous about it (the big babies) and I thought maybe if there was a familiar face in the audience they wouldn’t be so... nervous.” He blinked one eye then the other and pursed his lips.

            For a brief moment, the young woman clenched her teeth involuntarily, then took a deep breath. “Poor Jon and Spine,” Lilah sympathized. “I’m sure they’ll do just fine once the show starts. You’re all old pros at this, after all.”

            “Well, yeah...” Rabbit blew steam from his vents in frustration. “But it’s been so long since we played anything b-b-bigger than the park and I... I mean, Spine and The Jon they’re worried about how this new audience will like us. What if they don’t like us? What if they boo us!”

            Lilah put her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sure they will love you. The Steam Man Band wouldn’t have been asked to play this event otherwise, right?”

            “B-b-b-but...” he stammered and his shoulders slumped with a ringing crunch that made Lilah wince as he reached his tension’s breaking point. “Crud.”

            “Rabbit,” she said stepping away to get her tools. “You need to relax. It’s really not that big a deal.”

            “But it is!” he whined. “They say there’ll be thousands of people there! Thousands! They say there’ll be moshing.” He stressed the strange word as if it was synonymous with ‘murdering’ while pulling his shirt off over his head. He turned his back to her, knowing where he’d malfunctioned, and without being asked granted her silent permission to work on him. Delilah Moreau-Walter was also unlike any other member of her family in that she was the only one Rabbit allowed to repair him without argument.

            “I doubt very highly that people will be moshing to your music. I heard you’re going on first so the crowd probably won’t be crazy yet. Not that I know much about rock shows. That’s just what Patrick Reed told me yesterday.” Rabbit reached a hand around and pointed to the offending section, his left shoulder, and she removed the copper panel. Sure enough, a gear had slipped its track and a spring had unwound. “Better sit down for this one,” she said, sighing a little. He complied, shuffling his feet like a child who’d been scolded.

            “Sorry,” Rabbit said softly and took a seat on a lab stool. “Miss Lilah, I’m scared,” he admitted, looking up at her with his mismatched eyes. He was about to swing around to show her his back again but she squatted down in front of him and put her hand on his knee. She looked up at him with sympathy and patience and let out a slow breath.

            “And that’s ok,” she said, smiling. “If it makes you feel better, I’ll come to the show for you.”

            He straightened up and beamed at her. “You will? Oh! Thanks, Miss Lilah! Oh! Thanks!” He hugged her and the slipped gear ground loudly against other surrounding parts. They laughed together.