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 builds a gigantic robot to compete in a best-of-three fighting tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada.
When the tournament abruptly ends amidst chaos, eccentric billionaire Eldridge Roundstone reveals he has been secretly funding both robotics teams, with the goal of developing unconventional weapons to combat an impending alien invasion. The doubts of the American Team’s pilot, Lumin Mira, are erased when she witnesses the alien invaders arrive and use their towering beasts to destroy all who oppose them.
Roundstone welcomes the American and Japanese teams as well as their loved ones at 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. With new pilots trained and squadrons formed, the counterattack is about to begin.
“We look like a bunch of chorus line rejects from ‘All That Jazz,’” said Richard, standing awkwardly in his tight black switch suit. He was shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the squadron pilots outside the warehouse holding Eldridge Roundstone’s robot resistance army. Operation Ramone was less than an hour away and everyone had assembled for a final address by Lumin before the mission began.
“I like these suits,” said Katerina. “I feel like Cat Woman…or Black Cat. Wait, is there a difference?”
“One’s Marvel, one’s DC,” said Spotswood, impatiently.
“Yeah, well…you don’t look like a badly packed sausage link in yours, Kat,” said Skip, grabbing his middle.
“Quiet, all of you…game faces!” said Spotswood, denying his own anxiety.
Dezzie was standing beside Miu and Ako Dokujima. “It was nice catching up with you two last night, even if that sake left me feeling like a bullet train had hit me this morning. I was happy to hear that Kokone is out of the ICU.”
“Our sister’s body is mending but her anger is incurable,” replied Miu.
Ako nodded. “We’re excited to fight alongside the Americans. We like the new robots. The ferrotank control scheme is a brilliant idea.”
“If only we could have implemented some of that vicious weaponry you designed on these new units,” said Dezzie with a sigh.
Hayashi leaned up and looked around the sisters. “Feh! Roundstone’s machines lean too heavily on inferior American schematics. Still, even the dullest of weapons are deadly in the hands of a warrior such as myself.”
Spotswood glared at him. “Get over yourself, Hot Rod. You lost your last match, remember?”
Hayashi shrugged. “Not officially.”
Kengi Sato was standing behind Hayashi. He quickly jabbed the young man in the kidney with his thumb, causing him to wince. “Conduct yourself with honor, warrior.”
Hayashi lowered his head and rubbed his side, saying nothing in return.
Dezzie looked back and forth. “Where’s Lumin?”
Ryan Lumb was standing near the warehouse next to Eldridge, waiting for Lumin to make her appearance. “Eldridge, can you please clear some things up for me? I’m still fuzzy on the details of this operation.”
“It’s not as if you’ve been left of the loop, Mr. Lumb. Haven’t you received the latest briefings from Miss Jones?” asked Eldridge.
Lumb sighed. “I did, but I’ve been so wiped out from working on that damned maintenance crew I’ve barely had a chance to read anything. Humor me.”
“Very well,” said Eldridge. “North America is the only continent the invaders haven’t finished sweeping through, probably because of the sheer amount of nuclear warheads the United States has accumulated. We’re sending out our squadrons to intercept and destroy 69 of the alien behemoths currently stomping across the west.”
“69? But aren’t there hundreds of those CBGB things?”
“891 to be exact.”
“What good is taking out 69 of them going to do?”
“We only have 207 robots available to us–69 squadrons. This is going to be a coordinated, simultaneous, sneak attack utilizing every one of them. Once the first strike has been conducted, all units will regroup at the Bonneville Salt Flats.”
“If the aliens give chase or retaliate, we don’t want our squadrons to lead them back to Z. If we can verify that our robots still aren’t registering as a threat to the aliens after the first strike, we’ll attack again, and again…as many as we can before the invaders take notice or exhaustion overtakes our pilots.”
“Sounds a little pie in the sky, doesn’t it?” said Lumb with a sneer. “Once we’ve hit them, they’re sure to take notice.”
“This is, of course, the best-case scenario.”
“What’s the worst case scenario?”
“Trust me, you’ll know if it happens,” said Eldridge, crossing his arms.
Lumb squinted. “Oh…nice. Well, I’m happy to see you have so much confidence in your plan.”
Eldridge looked at Lumb. “This operation is entirely Miss Mira’s. I’m simply providing the robots…she’s deciding how best to use them.”
“What?” asked Lumb, looking pale.
“I have enormous faith in Miss Mira’s abilities and so should you.”
“Huh…well, hopefully your dick hasn’t doomed us all,” balked Lumb.
Eldridge’s cool broke. “Watch your tone, Ryan. I have as much use for you as a hemorrhoid. I’m tempted to toss you out of the compound right now and let you fend for yourself.”
“Whoa, easy Eldridge,” said Lumb, looking scared. “I take it back, alright?”
Eldridge ignored him and looked out on the pilots.
Before Lumin could walk out to address her team, Evelyn Mira grabbed her daughter’s hand from behind.
Lumin turned around in confusion. “Mom?”
Diego Mira hurried up and put his arm around his wife. “Come on now, Evie…Luma has a job to do.”
“Back off, Diego! Let me speak,” barked Evelyn. Diego took a step back.
“Mom, please don’t worry about me,” begged Lumin.
“Nonsense. You know that’s impossible,” said Evelyn. “I just want to reiterate that you don’t have to go through with this. This operation of yours is too risky. We can find another way to fight these flying saucers, something that makes more sense!”
Lumin steeled herself against the maelstrom of emotions swirling inside her. “Mother, my mind’s made up. I know you’re worried…but I have to see this through. This is our best chance to save the planet. I can’t let it pass by.”
Evelyn hugged her daughter tight. “Damn it all, a mother has to try.” She held back her tears as their embrace ended. “Do your job and come back in one piece, forget the planet…do it for me.”
Diego walked back up and gave Lumin a bear hug. “Be safe as you can out there. What have I always told you?”
Lumin smiled. “Don’t take shit from nobody.”
“And the rest of it?”
“Stay cool and wait for an opening.”
“That’s right,” said Diego. “Just like when you were bullied in middle school; don’t get impatient out there. Wait for your chance, then BAM, kick some ass.”
Evelyn groaned and shook her head. “This isn’t the playground, Deigo!”
“Got it, Dad,” said Lumin. “Alright, I gotta get out there. I love you both.” Her parents both hugged her one more time.
“Go get ‘em, Sweetie,” said Evelyn as Lumin hurried away.
Lumin took a deep breath and quickly wiped her eyes before walking out to face her pilots. “Hello everyone. I wish I could say you’re all looking great but sadly it would only apply to about 15% of you.”
The lineup laughed, breaking the tension in the air.
“I’m not going to bore you with an inspirational speech. We all know our jobs so let’s get this done and get back to the rendezvous point. Remember, watch your power levels and have your maps ready. If for some reason you need to dig up a spare battery while out in the field mark it off the database so one of us doesn’t get screwed over later.”
Once again, Kanazawa “Gold Swamp” Saburou translated Lumin’s words for the Japanese pilots. Yasamin was tasked with taking over translation duties once all the pilots were in the air so Kanazawa could concentrate on his sortie.
“The CBGBs look scary as hell, but remember, if we do this right the beasts won’t even take notice of us until it’s too late. Take your position 50 yards away from your target and when you’re given the order, fire your rear thruster and strike from their blind spot with your chain sword. Remember, do not go hot with the quantum vibration tech until you’re in motion! And no stabbing…remember your training and slice right through those bastards.” Lumin raised her hand and motioned from her neck, across her body, ending at her waist.
The Americans started cheering loudly.
Kanazawa translated Lumin’s word again then gave her a thumbs up. The Japanese-speaking pilots nodded and clapped.
“Should things go south, remember, there is no shame in ejecting from your bot! Once your escape pod launches, leave it behind as soon as you locate shelter and wait there for the retrieval team to find you. The behemoths will not attack anything organic unless provoked, so please, do not use fire small arms fire, throw rocks, or do anything similarly stupid.”
She paused for a moment to allow Kanazawa to speak.
“Alright, you already know all of this mess. So mount up, and let’s go slice up some calamari!”