Not long after the war, Dr. Handricksen was so worn out by his efforts in building the machines that he was forced to retire. He stopped building automatons and he ceased his medical practice by 1946. His company, the United States Automaton Corporation was all but bankrupt and he let all his employees go with the cession of war production. Dr. Handricksen died in obscurity in 1990.
There was some talk of declassifying the project and permitting the automatons to be used in civilian industry, but with the high unemployment following the massive wartime demobilization that idea was turned down. The remaining automatons were serviced and carefully packed away and stored in military warehouses in the California desert.
During both the Korean War and the Viet Nam Wars the PAeL program was re-initiated with small numbers of the automatons serving their nation again in Army uniforms. By 1973 with the withdrawal of all US military combat troops from Viet Nam there was talk of replacing most of them with PAeL soldiers but it was determined that there were not enough of them in stock to make a difference in a large unconventional war. Both times these mechanical veterans were cleaned, oiled, boxed up and returned to those warehouses in the California desert. Some of them had served in all three wars.
Sometimes a government becomes so vast and bureaucratic that it cannot even remember its own secrets. Some parts of it just get renewed out of habit and a desire not to cut a program that has provided jobs in a small community for decades. This is true for the program that stored PAeL system automatons in military warehouses in the California desert. The warehouses were well built and required minimal maintenance. They contained large numbers of automatons and vast amounts of WWII era and later Cold War weapons, vehicles, and equipment. There was even a small museum that no one ever visited.
The need for caretakers and security staff was small and the funds supported a small town that was near the base where the warehouses were located. Despite the ups and downs of government funding the warehouses continued to store their secrets, with few people really understanding the nature of the items stored there. Over time, what was actually stored there became unimportant. To the congressmen who represented the area over the decades it was important as a jobs creation project. The jobs created by the warehouses helped to keep people voting for him as long as the warehouses jobs kept them employed.
Many decades passed and the warehouses were guarded. The gravel was raked, the rocks painted and people forget exactly what was stored there. With peace, there was little reason to inspect the contents. The tanks, artillery, trucks and PAeL Automatons stayed sealed up in crates, in perfect condition for over a century.
Earthmen had found their way to other planets. A century after the end of World War Two humans found other intelligent life. One day a war broke out in outer space with that life. No one knows exactly what happened, but Earth was suddenly at war with an enemy on another planet. The Earth need for war machines was very pressing. The enemy had vast numbers but their technological development was not advanced. Even old weapons technology would work against this enemy.
The old warehouses were opened and the contents examined. Most of it was equipment from the middle to late 20th Century. It included vast numbers of automatons from the PAeL system. They were taken out of storage and sent into space by transport ships operated by the Earth Space Transport Command.
From low orbit they were transferred, along with a large number of military vehicles and tanks from a period called World War Two, into several huge transport vessels. Earth Space Transport Command sent dozens of transport ships into space, carrying weapons that were as much as a century old. Most of them made it to the planet where combat was taking place but a few of the transport ships were damaged and knocked off course to drift off into deep space.
Decades later, the Space Transport Command Ship General Lloyd Fredendall was found drifting by an Eli Commando. They boarded the ship and found it was filled with weapons of all types. These were simple weapons but well build and in new condition. Some had obviously been in combat before as the signs of repair were obvious but the repairs were well done and all these weapons were serviceable.
They took the ship in tow and back to their base. In a more detailed inspection of the cargo they found a large number of boxes marked M-1 PAeL. Inside they found automatons, in perfect condition. These were war machines that found an instant use by the Eli. Each automaton was assigned to a specific Eli soldier and they went into war in pairs.
The machines proved so popular that they were reverse engineered and put back into production. They even included the gear and star logo on the chest of the automatons. While the original automatons were gun metal with a red / white / and blue logo on the chest, the new ones retained the logo but the colors were specific to each Eli Commando.
The new automatons were controlled using a control box, not unlike those used to control Necromorphs and various robot types. Up to four automatons could be controlled by a single operator. Even the weapons of the originals were reproduced. Their simple design made the cheap and durable. Soon corporations, low population worlds and even the Dreenoi, and Terellians were seen using these automatons.
No one knew why the original automatons were wearing green clothing, some in camouflage designs. Some said it was because the automatons were too embarrassed to be seen “naked” while others felt it was to help protect them from rust or to make them seem more lifelike. Despite finding a real need to clothe the automatons, everyone continued to do so and in some cases use of a naked automaton would void the warranty!
At first many were concerned that they had discovered a new militant space faring race, the US Army. Eventually, when the Space Transport Command Ship General Eisenhower was found by Terrain Forces it was realized that this was a ship and cargo out of Earth’s own past. Not long afterwards the Space Transport Command Ship General George S. Patton was located by the Ralnai, and even off world the name of General Patton is known as a great Earth general.
While a World War Two era US Army soldier would be astonished by the sometimes outlandish color schemes of the vehicles and the occasional upgrades in sensors or weapons packages, they certainly would recognize the Lee / Grant series of tanks, the Pershing tanks, and of course the PAeL the automaton soldiers that fought beside them, centuries ago.