THE STORY SO FAR:
Braggadocio between American and Japanese robotics engineers on social media escalates to a real-world face-off on a massive scale. Utilizing multi-million dollar budgets provided by corporate donors, each team begins building a gigantic robot to compete in a best-of-three fighting tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. The winning team will take home bragging rights and a billion dollars for the charities of their choosing.
Despite a valiant effort the Americans lose the first round of the tournament. They have less than a week to make repairs to their battered robot in preparation for the next match against an unpredictable Japanese team
Having little time to acknowledge their collective anxiety, the Shuffle Pigs crew hustled to repair the damage BZ-X had sustained in the first match. The team had less than a week get their robot back into fighting shape for the next round. The blimp hanger reverberated with a constant barrage of hip hop and heavy metal to keep everyone’s energy primed. As the hours flew by the hanger floor steadily filled with pizza boxes, coffee cups and stray tools.
Behind the scenes, Katerina and Yasamin were scrambling to inform media outlets, donors and various fat-cat attendees that the next match would be a significantly different affair, containing far less ‘scripted drama’ than the first event. Fortunately, the general consensus was that the melodrama would not be missed as long as giant robots were still punching each other in the face.
Lumin had stopped talking to Eldridge and Skip entirely, hoping it would help her concentrate on her job and not her emotional turmoil. There were certainly no shortage of tasks available to keep her occupied. She spent a good portion of each morning rejecting proposed enhancements to Biz’s weaponry, knowing there wasn’t enough time to make drastic hardware tweaks before the next round. The Kyoto Team’s use of quantum tech was always in the back of her mind; their robots’ power cords were tempting targets but as long as they were wrapped in a quantum vibration filament they were essentially untouchable.
Lumin ordered Biz’s agility to be maximized before the next match. She wanted to “float like a butterly” while evading the blows of her opponents. Shes speculated that once the shared battery of the Japanese bots had drained enough to force a shutdown of their protective quantum tech they’d be vulnerable to her attacks.
Sacrifices had to be made for Biz to achieve the speed Lumin required. She told Dezzie to reduce the ammo capacity of Biz’s concussion cannon by half. Next, she ordered Spotswood to remove large portions of Biz’s armor, mainly from the area surrounding the ferrotank where she considered it excessive. Richard was tasked with the recalibration of Biz’s gyrometrics to adjust for the robot’s weight loss. All three engineers balked at Lumin’s requests but ultimately relented to her will.
With all her edicts delivered, Lumin began shuffling through the work orders that had piled up on her desk. While sipping on some cold coffee she saw Katerina rushing up with a newspaper in her hand.
“Hey boss, check this out,” said Katerina.
Lumin sat her coffee down. “What’s up?”
“Remember that green fireball you saw over the factory?”
Lumin looked around to see if anyone else was listening in. “Uh, yeah. Of course…the weird aircraft that lost one of Sato’s cubes over the wasteland. What about it?” she said, lowering her voice.
Katerina held out the paper in front of her. “There’s been another round of flaming UFO sightings all over the world. It’s kind of a big story. There’s been some pretty good photos taken of them. Does this look familiar?”
“Holy shit, these craft are definitely the same,” said Lumin, scanning through the article.
Lumin sighed. “These ships must belong to Sato and I’m betting all of them are carrying his generator cubes, but why is he transporting some of them into the middle of nowhere…with mock UFOs no less? Why not just load them on to trucks?”
Katerina shrugged. “Maybe you’re wrong. If these flying saucers were dropping off more power cubes, wouldn’t someone have discovered them besides us? This is all so weird.”
“That’s an understatement.” Lumin folded up the newspaper. “Thanks for the heads-up, but I seriously don’t have the time to worry about this bullshit now. After I chop Sato’s bots to bits then I’ll worry about his stupid cubes.”
“Word,” said Katernia. “Oh, by the way, Samuel is over the moon over those movie posters you found. I’ve never seen him smile so much.”
Lumin laughed. “Good! He needed to smile.”
“I’m not so sure,” said Katerina, grimacing. “He doesn’t look right when he’s smiling. It’s spooky. His forehead gets all wrinkly.”
Lumin shrugged. “Well, it won’t take long to piss him off again. Just be patient.”
Katerina nodded. “Is that pizza still good?” she asked, pointing to a box sitting on an empty chair.
“It was never good,” said Lumin, “but it’s yours if you want it.”
“Thanks,” said Katerina, grabbing the box. “Crap, I can hear Yasamin hollering for me, I better go!”
“I’ll catch up with you later, Kat.”
“Eye of the tiger!” yelled Katerina, as she hurried away, stuffing some pizza in her mouth.