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.
When the tournament abruptly ends amidst chaos, eccentric billionaire Eldridge Roundstone whisks the American Team’s pilot, Lumin Mira, and her robot away from Las Vegas in a massive airship. Lumin learns Roundstone (also her ex-boyfriend) has been secretly funding both robotics teams, with the goal of developing unconventional weapons to combat an impending alien invasion. Lumin’s doubts are erased as she witnesses the invaders’ towering beasts stomping across the city from the windows of the airship.
Roundstone welcomes the American and Japanese teams as well as their loved ones to his compound near Cupertino, California. There, he reveals his plan to attack the invaders using a robot army built with a hybrid of American and Japanese technology.
“Lumin, look,” said Skip, tapping on her shoulder. “I had no idea they were even here.”
Lumin turned and saw Kengi Sato and the rest of the Kyoto Team’s core engineers walking towards her. Only Kanazawa displayed any outward emotion, but his wry smile was a constant. Even the normally petulant Hayashi seemed serious and staid. Lumin was happy to see Miu and Ako Dokujima had made it to the compound. The pair looked remarkably stable after all that had happened with their sister, Kokone.
The Japanese Team stopped in front of Lumin, standing shoulder to shoulder just behind Sato. They all bowed in unison and stayed low until she returned the bow. A hush fell over the warehouse.
“Sato-san, I’m glad all of you are safe,” said Lumin as she rose back up. Her troubled history with Sato suddenly seeming less important.
“Lumin-san, before we are forced to turn our attention to more pressing matters, I wish to announce the Kyoto Team’s collective desire to concede the final match to you and your team. You fought bravely today, and had the contest not been interrupted your victory would have been assured.”
“Hai,” said Hayashi, his voice stiff. He stepped forward and bowed again. “You are a great warrior, Lumin-san. Please accept my undying admiration!”
“And you have mine as well, Hayashi-san,” said Lumin, trying to not to smile as she bowed once more.
The building remained eerily quiet as the Shuffle Pigs wallowed in mild shock. Miu and Ako left the line and returned a moment later, wheeling forward a large box covered in a silk shroud. “I intended to present this to you earlier, but the timing seemed wrong,” said Sato, pulling away the silk covering to reveal an ornate suit of samurai armor in a glass case. “Please accept this gift, from one warrior to another.”
“Sato-san, this is too much,” said Lumin, nearly tearing up. She stepped closer and put her hand on the glass. “This is incredible!” Although traditionally crafted, the suit echoed the unmistakable look of BZ-X’s exterior armor, down to the azure blue color scheme.
“This dō was created in the style of the Heian period by one of Kyoto’s master craftsman,” said Sato. “It was tailored to fit your body using the precise measurements from your switch suit, graciously provided by Mr. Lumb.”
Lumin hadn’t even noticed Ryan Lumb standing in the corner. He gave Lumin and small nod, which she returned. “Sato-san, this is a great honor. Thank you all for your incredible gesture.”
Both teams seemed to loosen up a bit as the formal tone gradually extinguished. Previously bitter rivals stepped forward to shake hands and trade hugs. Cheers and applause began filling the cavernous building.
Ryan Lumb walked over and shook Lumin’s hand. “Congratulations.”
“Thanks,” said Lumin, still harboring some resentment for the man. “I heard you were left out of the invasion loop as well.”
Lumb nodded. “Thank Christ, yes. I’m grateful…I couldn’t have handled another heaping of stress after all you put me through.”
“My pleasure,” said Lumin with a smile.
“Alright, soup’s on,” yelled Andrew from the door. “We’ve got enough barbecue for an army in the building next door. Better hurry though…Kyoto’s maintenance team is already in there and they seem hella hungry.”
“I’ll have your armor placed in your quarters on the other side of the compound,” said Eldridge with a smile. “Congratulations, Miss Mira.”
“Thanks,” said Lumin, feeling freshly drained as Eldridge walked away. Despite the outpouring of good will, she couldn’t help but feel an impending sense of doom as she left the building. Once outside, she turned to face the army of robots as the warehouse doors slowly closed in front of them.
Skip wrapped his arm around Lumin’s waist. “You okay? You look like a deer caught in headlights.”
“Of course I’m not okay. I wasn’t exactly expecting the tournament to culminate in a global apocalypse.”
“Yeah. Everyone seems to have a healthy measure of denial, but this shit storm will sink in soon enough,” said Skip.
Lumin shook her head. “I can’t handle this. I’m going to snap at any second…be ready.”
“I’ll snap right alongside you,” said Skip before gently kissing Lumin’s cheek. “But before we run screaming in terror over the state of the world let’s go eat some ribs.”
Lumin nodded. “Yeah…why let Armageddon get in the way of a good meal?”