Kneeling down in front of the Impala, Dean reached up and unhooked the catch on her hood.
"Uh, um, sorry," he muttered as he carefully opened it; "this is all kinda awkward now."
"Sweetie, you've been rooting around in my innards since you were three years old," the Impala replied calmly; "there's nothing in there you haven't seen a million times before."
Dean took a long breath as he rubbed the back of his neck; "yeah, but …"
"But nothing," the Impala replied; "if it wasn't for you, I'd have been good for nothing but the scrapyard years ago. A girl of my vintage needs her moving parts lubricated every now and again."
There was that implied wink again, and Dean felt his cheeks and ears burn.
"You know, you're awfully cute when you blush."
"Shut up," Dean mumbled bashfully as he ducked down under the hood.
Sam shut his laptop and sat back stretching his arms behind his head with a weary sigh. He was satisfied with the progress he'd made, and finally felt that he was armed with all the knowledge that they might need to tangle with the Leshy. ‘Metal forged in fire’ seemed to be the key – in other words, nothing pure of the earth.
Mentally running through the weapons the brothers had at their disposal, Sam knew they had an impresssive armoury of knives and all sorts of other blades made of steel, bronze, pewter and brass; all alloys, so therefore, nothing pure of the earth.
However, he couldn't help wondering if he should do this hunt alone.
The Leshy was clever; obnoxious and deadly too, but very clever – and very cunning, rather like the Trickster only without the witty repartee. The Winchesters would need their full complement of wits about them.
But Dean was distracted right now; perhaps obsessed might be more of an accurate description. This latest development with the Impala had him completely bamboozled, and bamboozled was so not a good thing to be when you were about to set off and go hand to hand with something that could think of a thousand unpleasant ways to kill you.
That said, he knew that if he went off alone to deal with the Leshy - even if he succeeded - he'd have an irate brother waiting to kill him upon his return. If he discussed his concerns with Dean he'd get the patented Dean Winchester eye-roll and told to stop worrying.
He may as well go down to the garage and see how Dean was getting on; perhaps if Dean had found answers to his questions, he might be a little more focussed.
One could only hope.
Armed with two mugs of coffee, Sam had barely shouldered open the door to the bunker's garage, when he was yanked by his shirtfront into the room by Dean beaming like a loon and hopping from toe to toe in feverish excitement. At least Sam guessed that's what it was; either that or he needed a pee real bad.
"We figured it out," Dean gasped breathlessly, snatching one of the coffees out of Sam's hand and sloshing half of it over the floor in the process; "at least," he added with a proud nod toward his Baby; "she figured it out."
"Right," Sam replied cautiously; "and …?"
"Tell him Baby," Dean grinned, giving the Impala's fender a loving pat.
"Those parts that Dean found and put in me," she began; "I can sense their purpose; almost like they're telling me what they're for," she began.
Sam's brow furrowed; "I don't follow you," he muttered hesitantly with a scratch of the head.
He could have sworn the Impala sighed before continuing, as if she was talking to an idiot. "Dean said he found those parts in a store cupboard here in the Letters' workshop," she began; "well, many years ago, the Men of Letters were experimenting with robotics."
Sam glanced at Dean in confusion; "robotics?" he mouthed.
Dean waved him off dismissively; "shut up and listen;" he replied irritably.
"Not robotics in the sense that we now know it," she continued; "but they were trying to create automatons that could communicate through a level of basic artificial intelligence, and that could be sent into dangerous places, to check things out; you know, to be drones – like those little gadgets the army sends into minefields or the things that NASA send into space."
Sam's brow furrowed even deeper; "did the Men of Letters ever have that level of technology?" he asked in amazement.
"No, it wasn't through technology, Sam," the Impala replied; "they were experimenting with spells, incantations, magic; whatever you want to call it. The components were more mechanical than technical, and the Letters were bespelling them to communicate with the person operating them, but also to communicate with each other when they were built into the machine – much like the components of a computer have to talk with each other for it to work properly. That's what the Men of Letters were trying to achieve, Sam, and the parts that Dean found are some of the components they had been working with to create these automatons. That's why I can understand what the components' purpose are."
Sam's face dropped into a shocked gape as he turned to Dean. "See," Dean grinned; "my Baby's a scientific marvel." He paused for a moment before continuing; "oh just for the record, your level of intelligence is NOT basic Baby, you're one super smart chick."
"So …"Sam raked his fingers through his hair as he turned back to the Impala; "that's incredible, are there any of these … robots down here?"
Dean shook his head; "no," he replied with a shrug; "I turned the place upside down after she told me and found bupkis; I guess the idea never got off the ground – either that or they ran out of time when they were all … you know..."
"Wow," Sam huffed out a deep breath; "just when you thought this place couldn't amaze you anymore."
Dean nodded enthusiastically.
"It's a good idea when you think about it," Sam added; "I mean, hunters are few and far between as it is, and I know the Men of Letters didn't rate them, but even they could see the value of hunters, and that the hunters' life was dangerous. I guess they thought if they could reduce the risk even a little, they might save a couple of lives – you know – more hunters, living longer, equals more monsters dealt with."
Dean nodded, taking a sip of his coffee, when his expression suddenly hardened and he turned; abruptly placing himself between Sam and the Impala.
"Don't you go getting any ideas about using my girl as cannon fodder," Dean snorted, and Sam fought to stifle a snort as Dean stood with arms outstretched forming a barrier between them.
"Oh unknot your panties, Deanie-Bean," the Impala's voice spoke up; "you know perfectly well Sammy wouldn't harm me," she reassured.
"I wouldn't dare," Sam added, raising his hands in surrender as he cast a glance at Dean's defiant scowl.
"Anyway," the Impala gave a little chuckle as she changed the subject; "Dean, if you wouldn't mind closing my hood; I believe young Sammy has been working hard on a job for us to do."