A lonely nine year old boy called Hogarth follows the path of a falling ball of fire into the woods and finds a giant robot at the impact site. He befriends the robot, which is friendly and childlike and has no memory of its origin or purpose.
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The robot is injured by a train while trying to consume the train tracks for energy, and Hogarth lets it hide in his family's barn to recover. It turns out to be self-healing, and as it recovers they bond over comic books. The robot is scared when it reads a comic that has a killer robot in it, but Hogarth tells him he is not a monster and can be whatever he wants to be, and the robot switches to reading Superman comics instead.
Soon a government agent rolls into town investigating the crash and finds Hogarth's BB gun at the crash site, which eventually leads him to the boy. The agent thinks it might be the eve of an alien invasion and tails Hogarth in hopes of discovering his secret. Hogarth figures out he is being followed and moves the robot from the barn to the house of a beatnik adult friend called Dean, who is a pacifist and agrees to hide him.
Just as things seem to be going well Hogarth accidentally activates the robot's hidden battle programming when he points a toy gun at it. Horrified at the near calamity, Dean yells at the robot, calling it nothing more than a weapon, and it flees in shame. Hogarth doesn't believe it meant to harm him so he drops the toy gun and chases after it and when Dean sees the gun he realizes it was just reacting in self defense.
No longer in hiding, the robot attracts the attention of the military forces, which attack it. In the ensuing confrontation it mistakenly believes Hogarth has been killed and it activates battle mode again. The situation escalates and soon the entire town is under threat unless Hogarth can confront it and remind it that it doesn't have to be a weapon if it doesn't want to.
Best part of story, including ending:
The friendship between Hogarth and the robot is really sweet and believable.
Best scene in story:
When the robot sacrifices itself by saying "Superman"
Opinion about the main character:
Hogarth is s typical kid, and while he's clever, he isn't super precocious or hip.