THE STORY SO FAR:
Braggadocio between American and Japanese robotics engineers on social media escalates to a real-world, multi million dollar face-off. Backed by corporate donors, each team begins building a gigantic robot to compete in a fighting match to the “death” in Las Vegas, Nevada. The winning team will take home bragging rights and a massive purse for the charities of their choosing.
A driven young woman, Lumin Mira, is sent to a secluded location in the southern Oregon desert to manage a stable of talented but erratic engineers as they design and build the American team’s robot with limited resources.
When the Americans lose their financial backers, an eccentric billionaire named Eldridge Roundstone steps in and restores full funding–with the strange stipulation that Lumin pilot the robot herself. Despite Eldridge’s quirks, Lumin finds herself drawn to his charms and their partnership becomes more than professional.
The American team endures various setbacks, leaving them a clear underdog to the dominant Japanese team. In hours the two teams’ giant machines clash in the first match of a best-of-three tournament.
After finding the blimp hanger too small to maneuver Biz around in safely, a series of humongous canvas curtains were hung up behind the building with cranes so Lumin could conduct her final test run away from the prying eyes of the press. The bare-bones assessment would ensure all of BZ-X’s systems were operating at peak efficiency.
The testing lasted less than an hour and BZ-X passed with flying colors. Lumin sighed into her helmet, satisfied with her performance within the cramped conditions. Once Biz was back in the hanger she activated her com link. “Everything felt good on the inside, Richard…how does the data look on your end?”
“The numbers look clean,” said Richard. “We just need to tweak the servo array a bit, but other than that I think we’re actually ready for a fight. You’re a beast, Lumin.”
“Thanks. Let the crane operators know they can drop the sheets. I felt like I was shadow boxing in a giant blanket fort.” Lumin turned off her com link and view screen. She hung suspended within the silent isolation of the ferrofluid; enjoying a moment of peace before the crew came to pluck her out of Biz’s chest. She realized for all intents and purposes she was the robot’s heart; the team’s victory relied on her strength and passion—she couldn’t allow any weakness to seep through the facade. Her body ached but for the first time a run hadn’t left her utterly exhausted. Biz’s strange control scheme was becoming second nature and she was actually looking forward to the match.
Lumin handed out high fives and fist bumps after being lowered to the hanger’s floor. She looked up at BZ-X as the crew hosed viscous black fluid off her switch suit; the robot looked impressive and more than a little menacing when fully armored. Biz’s midnight blue alloy panels gave off an iridescent sheen at their edges. Spotswood had utilized a complex series of tight-fitting, interlocking segments to form Biz’s “shell” after being inspired by the plated carapaces of stag and ox beetles. Each armor plate was curved in order to better dissipate the energy of kinetic impacts and could be ejected should they become damaged enough to limit movement.
After several engineers fought over the design of Biz’s head, the robot’s visage became an odd amalgam of insect and humanoid features. The head held an array of sensors and back-up cameras but not much else; making it largely ornamental. Perhaps the most important purpose of Biz’s cranium was to serve as a decoy. If the Kyoto Team were still working from Bo Dozen’s stolen diagrams they’d choose the head as a prime target for attack, not knowing design revisions had moved the pilot’s control center deep within Biz’s chest.
All physical and diagnostic tests were complete. The team had five hours to rest up before preparing Biz for delivery to the T-Mobile Arena—which would be an event in itself. Lumin wanted to stroll Biz over to the arena but the property damage and panic the little jaunt would cause was deemed problematic. When all other modes of short range transportation proved to be logistical nightmares, Hughes’ blimp hanger provided Yasamin and Lumin an idea. They made a deal with an upstart airship transport company called Cloudskim to transport Biz in exchange for a bevy of free promotion. Cloudskim’s experimental, lighter-than-air ship—larger than a football field—would haul Biz to and from the arena. There was no word on how the Kyoto Team would be transporting their bot but Lumin assumed it would be far less ridiculous.
The hanger was strangely quiet as everyone retreated to cots to try and wind down before the fight. Even though Lumin knew almost nothing about the Kyoto Team’s robot she laid in bed trying to think of every possible situation she may find herself in during the fight. Her mind quickly became exhausted to match her body and after only a few minutes of neurotic soothsaying she fell into a deep sleep.