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.
With each team holding a single victory, the upcoming tie-breaking match will decide which team brings home the prize.
“Thanks for coming. I understand you’ve been under a lot of pressure lately and I wouldn’t want to hinder your ongoing…operations.”
“Mom, it’s brunch…I can do brunch. You’ve only been in town for a day, try to relax,” said Lumin. BZ-X’s repairs and spec updates had been completed a day ahead of the match, leaving Lumin with a bit of welcome downtime. She took advantage of the opportunity and met with her parents at the Fountain Grille, only a stone’s throw away from their room at the Renaissance.
Evelyn Mira took a sip of chamomile tea and a bite of honeydew. “Well, you’ve just been so busy the last few years…how could I predict you’d have time for us all of the sudden?”
“Evie, come on now,” said Diego, doing his best to hide behind the pile of bacon in front of him.
Evelyn gave a small shrug. “What?”
Long looming, the awkward silence had finally arrived. Lumin sighed and took a swig of her cappuccino. Finally, she willed herself to speak over the fog of soft jazz that hung over the restaurant. “Come on, Mom. Let’s not get into this…again. Not now.”
“I thought you had worked through your self destructive streak but I was obviously mistaken. You seem to be obsessed with undermining your own efforts. You did so well with your studies and breezed to a degree only to do…what do you even call what you’re doing?” asked Evelyn.
“Self destructive? I was just a teenager, Mom. They’re all like that,” said Lumin.
Diego kept putting food in his mouth to avoid the conversation.
“You’ve worked so hard to build a respectable career and now you’re throwing it all away. It was bad enough when you told us you were going to abandon your education to become some Earth muffin in Oregon, but now this? Robot fighting?”
“We’re developing cutting edge technology along with the fighting, Mother. This isn’t some special effects movie…it’s hard science. It’s engineering.”
“Don’t’ forget that billion dollars,” piped up Diego.
“Yes! That too. The sustainability programs we have lined up to utilize that prize money will keep millions of kids from going to bed hungry for decades…hopefully longer.”
Evelyn seemed to soften a bit. “That’s all well and good I suppose, but that suit they make you wear…my goodness…it leaves nothing to the imagination.”
“I can’t exactly pilot a 200 foot tall robot wearing a wool sweater and sensible slacks, Mother.”
Diego laughed, nearly spitting out his orange juice. “Sorry. Your mother just worries about you, Luma. We both do. Be thankful she’s here at all…I had to do a lot of convincing.”
“Mom, I am glad you’re here. Truly,” said Lumin with a gentle smile.
Evelyn shook a bit and a tear ran down her cheek. She reached across the table and grabbed Lumin’s hands, her thick gold bracelets clinking on the tabletop. “I don’t want to see you get hurt in that horrid machine.”
Lumin nearly started crying herself. She hadn’t seen her mother display anything but quiet disdain for years. “Mom…really, I’m okay. It’s perfectly safe,” she lied. “The media blows everything out of proportion.”
Evelyn stiffened up and returned her arms to her sides. She quietly wiped away her tears with her napkin. “You never listen to me anyway. I don’t know why I bother.”
“Mom, come on…the tournament is nearly over! Come to the next match. It’s a lot of fun. I know the robots look imposing but I’m never in any real danger.” Lumin was bluffing. She honestly hoped her mother wouldn’t attend, worried her heart wouldn’t be able to withstand the sound and fury within the arena.
“I’m sorry but I just can’t. Your father will be there. He can fill me in on all the…fun.”
Lumin did her best to stifle a giant sigh of relief. “Oh, well, I understand.” She looked at her father. “It will be nice knowing you’re in the stands, Dad. You’ll have a blast.”
Diego flashed a bright smile. “I’ll be cheering on my celebrity daughter. You look great on TV, Luma.”
Lumin looked over her shoulder at the swarm of reporters who were waiting to pounce on her once she left the restaurant. “Yeah, it’s getting a little nuts. You two don’t have to talk to anyone from the press if you don’t want to. It’s okay to ignore them. That’s what I do.”
“Easier said than done,” said Evelyn. “Our lives have become a circus. I couldn’t even go play the nickel slots without being mobbed. Maybe if you talked to the press more you wouldn’t have this mystique built up around you. You should hear what they’re saying.”
“No way. I refuse to watch the television or read the papers. I can’t take it,” said Lumin before biting into her toast.
“Are you really dating Jared…what’s his name?” asked Diego, turning toward Evelyn for help.
“Leto,” said Evelyn.
Lumin shuddered. “What? No! God no.”
“Too bad, he’s got a cute ass,” said Evelyn, grinning.
Diego laughed again.