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Pilltar 2 is an entry in the Pilltar Adventures volume of the Gerosha Legends Super-Pack of The Gerosha Chronicles in Dozerfleet Comics. It is the sequel to Pilltar, and the debut of the Sodality of Gerosha member Strawberry. Unlike Pilltar and Pilltar 3, this story does not focus on the central theme of Seth Lambrelli and Scott Morrisson's ongoing feud. Instead, it is about how his research in making the superhero drone Pilltar put him at odds with the Society of the Icy Finger, which spells trouble for the various personnel running Lambrelli Labs. The story is canon to both Comprehensive and Cataclysmic Geroshas (Earth-G6 and Earth-G7,) as is its predecessor.
Ron Barrin accepts a new job working for Lambrelli Labs, but begins helping out with the transport of company stock as it moves its headquarters from Iowa to Oklahoma. Meanwhile, rumors erupt that a certain "Screwworm & Network" have been seen committing crimes and vanishing very quickly in the Des Moines area. Seth Lambrelli and Stephanie Barrin attend a rock concert held out in the open, hiding inside their van and monitoring the situation while pretending to be a news van. However, the concert is disrupted by the Screwworm Network arriving and shooting into the crowd. Seth immediately sends Pilltar into the field to prevent the terrorists from claiming any more victims. As the band members scatter in panic, one of them is nearly abducted by a woman in black calling herself the Screwworm. However, Pilltar is able to come to the band member's rescue. When another member of the network tries to assault a child, he is suddenly attacked from above by a pink, feminine Pilltar unit, identifying itself as "Strawberry." Seth confirms through Stephanie that the new Strawberry model is fully operational.
Later on, news erupts that one neighborhood in Des Moines has become a breeding ground of gang violence, as "the knockout game" has become very popular there. He sends Pilltar to that neighborhood to see if he can make a difference, adding spikes to Pilltar's back and a portable miniature morning star to Pilltar's wrist arsenal while giving Strawberry a flamethrower. The two prove very successful at saving the lives of a WWII veteran as well as a young Asian woman. However, Seth receives a cease and desist order from the feds on using Strawberry's flamethrowers on knockout game participants. He argues in court the consequences of the government's incompetence in showing favoritism to black criminals, arguing it is reverse-racism. He brings in the victims whose lives he saved to testify. This has no effect on the judge, so the restraining order remains in place. Stephanie discovers that the judge, Martin Loovrin, is receiving kickbacks from an associate of Eric Holder's, giving him access to hookers in exchange for his cooperation. However, he threatens to send prosecutors after her to trump up charges if she says anything or demands a retrial. She tries to preach to him, but Seth warns her to stand down, stating that divine justice will catch up with the crooked judge whenever the time is deemed right.
Meanwhile, Seth discovers that business associate Tod Bandberry is having some difficulty in his marriage. He offers counseling where he can, but Tod says that a strange woman named Audrey is pressuring him into leaving his wife Deanna. Seth decides to help Tod rediscover what he values about Deanna, while also trying to deduce the identity of the Screwworm. Stephanie soon discovers that a playback on the Strawberry unit's black box indicates someone claiming it could "only be the work of someone who has one of our rubies!" A simple search reveals that the Society of the Icy Finger has vowed for ages to get its hands on Marlquaanite rubies. Cross-referencing, Stephanie confirms that the Screwworm Network is related to the Icy Finger.
Seth begins feeling ill, so he goes in for a medical checkup. He discovers that his health problems are getting progressively worse, and that he has perhaps only another year to live. He vows to Stephanie that he will help bring down the Screwworm Network, if it's the last thing he does before dying. When Tod and Deanna start growing closer, Deanna reveals that she is also dying. Tod decides he won't leave her. However, his house is bugged by Audrey. She shows up at the door and claims to be disappointed in Tod. Meanwhile, Roger Homink at Lambrelli Labs clumsily creates a Japanese beetle-themed Pilltar dubbed "Ponicatar." He tries to market it at an expo in Des Moines to show that Lambrelli Labs is still a leader in neighborhood security systems. However, he does have to deal with annoying kids at the expo insulting the unit, calling it "Porn-tar." Roger leaves the expo humiliated that his creation got no respect, and brings Ponicatar with him.
When Tod persists in asking Audrey to leave, she reveals herself to be the Screwworm. She captures Tod and has a terrorist working for her shoot Deanna dead. She then raids Tod's office and steals the schematics and maps to a giant EMP blast unit developed by Lambrelli Labs. Screwworm then takes the convention center hostage, while using the EMP ray emitter to disable police and others in Des Moines. Tod manages to steal a cell phone right before the blast, and alerts Roger that there's trouble. He throws the phone away before Audrey sees him with it. Roger contacts Seth with a simple message: "SOS. Get Pilltar to the expo. NOW."
However, as Pilltar and Strawberry are en route, the blast goes off. Pilltar manages to fly above the emitter's range, but Strawberry gets just a little too low in altitude while searching for the expo building. The blast fries the Strawberry unit's circuitry, traumatizing Stephanie on the other end. Roger activates Ponicatar to buy Seth and Stephanie some time to get another Strawberry in the field. However, Ponicatar is revealed to be clumsy. The Screwworm forces take him out rather easily, forcing Roger to eject while his unit is destroyed. Loovrin turns the corner and enters that area right then, and shrapnel from Ponicatar's destruction flies right through his left eye, piercing his brain and killing him instantly.
Pilltar destroys the EMP emitter while a new Strawberry arrives to assist. Pilltar manages to free Tod, and Audrey fights vengefully. Strawberry takes her out as she is about to finish off Pilltar. The Screwworms scatter, but the National Guard is able to mobilize with help from Lambrelli Labs. Pilltar and Strawberry get out of the way, while the Screwworms wage war in the streets and ultimately lose. However, Seth expresses his worry to Stephanie that Scott Morrisson is still at large.
- Seth Lambrelli / Pilltar: The brilliant-but-wheelchair-bound inventor whose technology allows him to merge his mind with that of a remote-controlled robotic avatar that looks like a half-dwarf and half-pillbug. Seeing writing on the wall, Seth is looking to move his company, Lambrelli Labs, to Oklahoma and leave Iowa behind. However, there are many in his own company that are having their own struggles with the move.
- Stephanie Barrin / Strawberry: Seth's apprentice in his garage-lab, as well as his sidekick in field missions. She has a complicated family life and has made unusual choices concerning her education. She longs to ensure that the Strawberry model of Pilltar units is fully functional, in case a large number of them ever need to be deployed.
- Audrey Golin / Screwworm: Leader of the Screwworm Network and a member of the Society of the Icy Finger. She initially poses as a new recruit at Lambrelli Labs, and secures an EMP device meant for use in disabling communications systems in Iran. The project was mothballed by Lambrelli Labs in 2010 due to fears that the Obama administration would confiscate it and place it into the wrong hands. However, they didn't foresee Audrey being able to break in and steal it for the Icy Finger's purposes. On the side, Audrey plays on the affections of Tod Bandberry to gain his trust, confusing him and tempting him to consider abandoning his wife. In the end, the seduction is a ploy in the hopes that she can win him over to the Icy Finger.
- Screwworm Network Troopers: Agents of the Icy Finger that have been assigned to follow Audrey on her mission it infiltrate Lambrelli Labs. They have a few primary goals: Hold Des Moines hostage, find the Marlquaanite ruby that was given to Seth Lambrelli, make Seth pay for taking possession of the ruby, and steal an EMP device from Lambrelli Labs capable of holding the city hostage. They serve as the primary henchmen for Audrey and her entire operation.
- Tod Bandberry: A man who works in the mechanics and engineering departments at Lambrelli Labs along with Ron Barrin, and a sometime teacher giving Ron insights on how to move up quickly in the company. Audrey has made it her goal to seduce Tod, in order to get close enough to him to use him as a way to steal the EMP City Taker that was mothballed by Lambrelli Labs in 2010. Tod thinks she's just a sweet girl trying to compete with Deanna for his affections. Little does he realize that choosing to remain faithful to his wife in the end would lead to him learning just how little patience Audrey has for rejection.
- Deanna Bandberry: Tod's sick wife, dying of cancer. As she grows weaker, she longs for all the support she can get. Tod's realization that she's dying forces him to realize that he's been neglecting her, and he offers to take a pay cut and reduction in hours at work. He begins to grow closer to her, and Audrey's charms begin to have less and less effect. However, Tod's ultimate decision to remain faithful to Deanna proves fatal. Audrey ends up murdering Deanna just to be extra cruel, after abducting Tod when he is no longer useful to her.
- Ron Barrin: Stephanie's father, and a new recruit at Lambrelli Labs. He works in some of the mechanical research areas, similar to what he did in the army when not fighting on the front lines. He has also been put in charge of securing storage of Seth's Pilltar units, as the small storage under the garage is deemed "not a very safe place" to hide all of them. The extra security comes from fears that Scott Morrisson could return and steal even more Pilltar parts. Ron is the first to suspect that there is something a little off about Audrey. He is forced to get over some of his post-traumatic stress and take up a gun to help Lambrelli Labs fight off a Screwworm Network invasion later on, while the main network holds Des Moines hostage. It was Ron who first told Seth about Tod's romantic complications, leading to Seth advising Tod to take the Asian urban legend's advice about the man who carried his wife. Little did Ron, Seth, or Tod know that crossing Audrey's affections would lead to a lot more than a slap.
- Roger Homink / Ponicatar: The Lambrelli Labs press secretary, who is also arranging for transfer of company ownership following news that Seth may not have long to live. He has taken a Pilltar unit for his own use at conventions, but modified it to look like a Japanese beetle. He dubs it "Ponicatar" after papillia japonica, the scientific name for Japanese beetles. As a publicity agent, he does a so-so job. As Ponicatar, he is very clumsy. His worst fear comes when he needs to use the Ponicatar unit in his possession to buy Stephanie some time to get another Strawberry operational when her first one is damaged.
- Judge Martin Loovrin: A corrupt judge who wants to protect knockout game thugs at any cost, since he is friends with an associate of Eric Holder's and gains access to prostitutes in exchange for engaging in reverse-racism in the courts. He places a restraining order on Pilltar and Strawberry, so they cannot use their weaponry to save victims from knockout games.
Pilltar 2 was inspired by a lot of events happening in 2010 and 2011. The first of these was the release of Iron Man 2 in theaters. From there, the thought occurred: "Why can't there be a robotic hero in the Gerosha heroes collection?" If Marvel had Iron Man and DC had Cyborg, then Dozerfleet could have one too. The original Pilltar storyline was assembled around investigating not only what Pilltar was, but how he'd be any different than the thousands of other robots dominating books and cinema in the 21st century. Almost immediately, it was deduced that a sequel would have to exist to Pilltar in order for there to be enough material about him to warrant inclusion in Comprehensive Gerosha. Strawberry was envisioned as an amusingly feminine joke on the existence of War Machine in Iron Man 2. However, a plot was lacking for Pilltar 2. Word of the urban legend about the Carried Wife, however, brought about a plot around which everything else could be wrapped.
Early concepts for Pilltar 2 began in late October of 2010, around the same time as the original Pilltar. It was around this time that the Americanized version of the "Carried Wife" urban legend was first read by the Dozerfleet founder. Also, there was some curiosity about expanding the story of Pilltar beyond merely one type of unit. Strawberry was envisioned, but then saved for this story. It was seen that the story would serve as Strawberry's debut. The urban legend was quickly worked into the plot. It was decided that instead of the man being able to simply reject the other woman, he'd have to face surprise consequences for having ever gotten involved with her. The scorned other woman would be a terrorist that would take him hostage, and it'd be up to Pilltar and Strawberry to save him. However, elements of the story about how exactly Strawberry would be introduced were not worked out until 2011. It was decided then that Strawberry would get hit by an EMP at one point, in a reverse-Icaraus sort of way. The story has been shelved ever since then. In 2013, its plot was given an overview, so as to ensure that its coverage on this wiki would become as thorough as possible.
At one point, it was originally planned that Extirpon would make a guest appearance in the story. Ponicatar was created largely so that a new ending could be created that did not depend on Extirpon. In that initial draft, Extirpon disables the EMP device and gives control hubs to numerous individuals around Des Moines who are fed up with their town being held hostage. As the power grid slowly comes back on line, an army of Pilltars attacks Audrey and her goons. This ending was ditched not only due to the complications posed by having Extirpon as a Deus ex machina, but also due to the reveal in late 2012 and early 2013 that an army of robot soldiers arriving to back up the hero would in essence be part of the ending to Iron Man 3. Nobody would believe that Pilltar 2 thought up an ending like that first, given that Marvel published Iron Man 3 while Pilltar 2 remains shelved. Therefore, the new version with Ponicatar allows for the original draft to be scrapped. This was, fortunately, able to be done while inflicting minimal damage to continuity in either Comprehensive or Cataclysmic Gerosha timelines.
- Pilltar (story)
- Pilltar 3
- The Gerosha Chronicles
- Strawberry (Pilltar)
- Seth Lambrelli
- Stephanie Barrin