When Lumin attempted to open Dezzie Lynch’s door it fell off its hinges and slammed to the floor of her office. The soot covering the inside of the charred door had been carefully scraped away to create the image of an ornate pentagram.
“Jesus, what have you been doing in here?” asked Lumin, as Dezzie’s three-legged Boston terrier, Buttercup, ran up and leapt into her arms. Lumin suffered a few manic licks then sat him down carefully. The dog proceeded to run around her in a circle; scattering papers and trash across the barely-visible floor.
“I’m designing a pocket-sized flame thrower,” said Dezzie, leaning up from her oversized black leather chair. Her pale face almost seemed to glow within the frame of her long, raven hair. The lacy Victorian widow’s garb she wore further enhanced her ghostly pallor.
“Those aren’t allowed by the combat accord. Besides, how is–”
“I was building it on my break. I’m no slacker, Lumin.”
Lumin stumbled over a pile of melted action figures and shredded junk mail. She knocked some old comic books off a chair in front of Dezzie’s desk and sat down. Buttercup sat next to her foot and licked her leg.
“Please don’t burn the building down, Dez,” said Lumin, with concern.
Dezzie glared at her. “What do you take me for? An amateur?”
“Your flames could set off the sprinklers, ruining months of work. Ever think about that?”
“Of course I did,” said Dezzie, after stirring her tea. “Why do you think I disabled the sprinkler system?”
“We installed it for a reason!” said Lumin, feeling on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
“Hey, it’s cool–I’m done anyway,” said Dezzie. “I’ll turn them back on this afternoon.”
“Do it,” said Lumin. After noticing Dezzie’s black thumb she looked back at the burnt door. “What’s with the pentagram?”
“I’m converting to Satanism. It sounded fun…I’m tired of being a Lutheran.”
Lumin looked at the taxidermied chimera of a chicken, snake and rabbit mounted on her wall. It was wearing a scaled down Victorian-era dress and holding a parasol. “I think you’ve made the appropriate choice, Lynch.”
Buttercup suddenly began barking incessantly at section of wall that was empty aside from a burnt “Slayer” poster. “He okay?” asked Lumin.
“Oh, that…I’m pretty sure Buttercup can sense the dark spirit inhabiting these walls. This factory rests on an intersection of laylines which attract evil to their center. It’s only a matter of time before we’re all–wait, what time is it?”
“Two o’clock,” said Lumin.
“Oh, hold on.” Dezzie reached in her massive oak desk–another holdover from the factory days–and produced a milkbone she then threw to Buttercup. “Never mind. He’s just worked up because I was late giving him a treat–you’re late too, by the way.”
“Yeah well, I’m a little drunk. Can we get on with this meeting?” asked Lumin, crossing her legs. “What do you have to show me?”
Dezzie pushed her archive of “Sassy” magazines to the side, knocking over a few of her occult tomes in the process. She produced a stack of oversized technical diagrams. “These will kill the opposing pilot in seconds.”
Lumin pinched her eyes closed. “Dezzie, for the last time: we are not allowed to kill the pilot of the Japanese bot.”
“So, a giant-sized, semiautomatic shotgun that fires 50 gallon barrels packed with explosive bowling balls is out?”
“Alright.” Dezzie crumpled up the first schematic and threw to the floor. Buttercup started to shred it immediately. “How about a battering ram the size of a cruise liner that could crumple the Japanese cockpit in–”
“No! The operator’s cabin is off limits! If the tournament officials suspect we’ve targeted it on purpose it’s an instant d.q.”
“Fine then.” Dezzie wadded up the sheet and tossed it to the floor. “This is a 150 foot titanium staff tipped with a low-grade nuclear warhe–”
Dezzie crumpled up 3 more sheets, without presenting them. “Cook them in the cockpit with microwaves…no…super-acid jet…no…quantum vibro blade…nah,” she mumbled.
Lumin sat up. “Wait Dez, what was that last one?”
“The quantum vibration blade? It’s a sword utilizing quantum atomic entanglement to destabilize the edge of its blade. With the molecular structure of the sword in a constant state of flux its electromagnetic properties become unstable; essentially rendering its edge infinitely sharp as its atoms diminish further into a quantum state. I was going to use it to chop their mech driver in half, but no-go I guess.”
“Can’t you use it to chop off some arms and legs…of the robot, I mean?”
Dezzie nodded. “Oh, yeah, I didn’t think about that.”
“Get it going!” said Lumin with a smile. “What’s the budgetary blow?”
“About 200 million.”
Lumin slumped. “That’s half our operating costs!”
“You get what you pay for. You have to consider I’m mucking around with theoretical physics here. That shit’s not cheap, especially on a limited time frame.”
“Alright, just give me your current specs on the blade and I’ll get back to you.” Lumin grabbed the schematics from Dezzie and sighed. “Anything else?”
“Um, how about a pneumatic cannon that fires a steel mesh sack of small titanium spheres to knock the other robot on its ass?”
“Bean bag gun? Yeah, alright,” said Lumin, “How much?”
“Couple thousand, tops.”
“Approved. Get the build team going.” Lumin reached down and scratched Buttercup’s ear, who panted in appreciation.
“Lumin, I was just about to have some mushroom tea. You want some? I get my best ideas in a transcendental state.”
“No thanks,” said Lumin, tiring of arguments. “I’ll get back to you on this blade. Think non-lethally, alright?”
“Will do. Don’t succumb to the evil of the can opener factory. Actually, go for it…I’m in league with Satan now and I think he’d approve.”
“I’m agnostic, but thanks. Take care, Dez,” said Lumin, walking over the fallen door and stumbling back into the hallway.
What is this? I started this “serial” as a way to bring some fun and immediacy to my writing routine. Each chapter is written, edited and posted in a single day (I will do some additional editing if I find a glaring mistake). Chapters are released on an irregular basis.