GIANT FREAKIN’ ROBOTS part 58: Ragtag

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 resistance has begun.

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Lumin left the Bonneville Salt Flats several minutes ahead of the rest of the squadrons in order to scout out the upcoming mission. If the next round of alien targets were indeed ready to fight back, she wanted to give her teammates ample time to prepare for an all-out battle. She chose the closest target to the flats, a behemoth making its way to Luke Air Force Base outside of Phoenix.

Lumin’s emotions had dropped through the floor. All she could think about was the task at hand; the past and future no longer mattered and would only serve to break her will. While en route to her target a transmission came in on a closed channel. “Christ, now what?” she said out loud.

“Miss Mira, it’s Eldridge. You’ve been quiet. Congratulations on a successful operation.”

“It’s not over yet. We’re going to hit them again…and again…as many times as we can.”

“So I see. Your team is doing a remarkable—”

“I only have a few minutes before my next target is in range. I don’t have time for chit-chat, Eldridge.”

“I wouldn’t have hailed you if it wasn’t a matter of great importance. I’ve been in contact with–”

“Sorry Eldridge, but can we hurry it up?” Lumin interrupted again.

“Yes…well, considering your limited time frame, perhaps it’s best I skip the summary so you can communicate directly with my contact in Washington. Yasamin’s waiting to patch the call through to you.”

“Alright, fine. Let’s do it,” said Lumin, starting to get annoyed.

“Good luck, Miss Mira,” said Eldridge, signing off.

The next transmission came in immediately. Lumin sighed as she connected to the channel. “Whoever this is, you better make it quick!”

“Am I speaking to Miss Lumin Mira?”

“Yes! Who the hell is this?”

“The President of the United States.”

Lumin gasped and nearly sent Biz into a tailspin as she lurched in horror. “Madame President?! Oh my god, I’m so sorry.”

“Please, don’t worry about it. I know you have a lot on your mind.” While not overly amused by Lumin’s faux pas, the president seemed far from angry.

“You wished to speak with me?” asked Lumin.

“Yes, I just finished an intense discussion with Eldridge Roundstone. Before I talked to him, the Pentagon was urging me to consider your group a domestic terrorist organization. They believe you’re readying a private army to stage a coup amidst this chaos.”

Lumin nearly laughed. “That’s pretty far off-base.”

“I took their warning with a grain of salt…I’m not easily swayed by such bombast. In fact, after speaking with Mister Roundstone I am starting to believe your robotic army holds enormous potential. I was encouraged by the progress you made against the aliens today; they’ve run roughshod over everything we’ve thrown at them, until you came along.”

“It’s a start,” said Lumin, “but trust me, once these invaders are dead and gone consider these robots decommissioned. Your generals have nothing to worry about.”

“They’ll come around,” said the President. “Mister Roundstone’s assessment of your character was glowing, to say the least. He claims you’re the commander of this ragtag outfit and that he’s only provided the means to fight. Is that true?”

“It was never my plan to lead an army, but essentially, yes…I’m calling the shots. And ragtag is definitely the appropriate word,” stammered Lumin.

“Mister Roundstone went to great lengths to convince me not to use our remaining nuclear capabilities until you’ve had a chance to finish your offensive. Tell me, do you honestly think you can defeat this horde with nothing but a handful of robots?”

“Absolutely,” said Lumin, without a shred of doubt in her voice.

“Your conviction is exactly what I needed to hear. No one is better suited to predict the outcome of a battle than a man, or woman, forced to put their compatriots in danger.”

“I agree with you, Madame President.”

The president went silent for a time. Lumin tried to be patient the closer she got to her target. “Ma’am?”

“48 hours is all I can give you.  Should you fail to turn back the alien threat by the end of that deadline I’ll be forced to go down a road none of us want to travel…but standing idly by while our planet is overtaken is not an option.”

Lumin shivered, knowing the president was alluding to the nuclear option. “Thank you Madame President. I…I won’t let you down.”

“You’ll have the full assistance of our military during this 48 hour period should you want it…what’s left of it, anyway.”

“Thank you, Madame President,” said Lumin, her voice cracking.

“Before I go, I wanted to let you know my daughters were big fans of your robot wrestling match. You made them feel like kids again. When this is all over, would you mind signing a few autographs?”

Lumin let out a laugh of surprise. “Oh? Absolutely! I’d be delighted to.”

“For their sake and the sake of our nation, good luck out there.”

Lumin heard the line click. She pulled in a giant breath. “Holy fucking shit!”

“Miss Mira?” asked the president.

“Oh! No! I…Sorry! I thought you ended the call!”

The president laughed. “Take care, Lumin.”

Lumin made sure the transmission was over before she whimpered in anguish. She immediately hailed Eldridge.

“Hello, Miss Mira.”

“You prick, you could have warned me!” scolded Lumin.

“I tried. You said you were in a hurry, so I thought it best not to waste your time,” said Eldridge.

Lumin could tell Eldridge was smiling on the other end of the line. “Fine. I’m going to go ahead and put my ass in danger now. Find another way to get your sick kicks.”

“My apologies, Miss Mira.”

Lumin took a deep breath. “I can’t believe the POTUS knows my name.”

“Surreal, I know.”

“I have to give you some credit, Eldridge. You’re one hell of a negotiator. 48 hours to stop a nuclear apocalypse beats 48 minutes I suppose.”

“Believe me, it wasn’t easy hearing how close to midnight the doomsday clock has ticked,” said Eldridge, sounding momentarily distressed. “Diplomacy can only take us so far. The president wanted to get a read on you before she’d agree to anything. It seems she took a shine to you.”

“This is all so messed up,” said Lumin as her range-finder started buzzing. She increased the magnification of her view screen and could see her target a mile away in the distance. As she slowed to land, the CBGB slowly turned to face her. Several red OMFUG ships burst from the clouds and began rushing her direction.

“Shit!” Lumin aborted Biz’s landing and picked up speed. “Eldridge, I have to go.”

Lumin ended the transmission and readied herself to attack. With a shaking hand she activated the open channel to warn the rest of the squadrons, which had launched several minutes behind her. “All squadrons…abort phase 2! Repeat, abort phase 2! I have confirmed our robots are now recognized as threats to the invaders. Go hot with your chain swords and attack as soon as your targets come within range!”


GIANT FREAKIN’ ROBOTS part 59: Joan & Lita

What is this? I started this “serial” as a way to bring some fun and immediacy to my writing routine. Each chapter is written, edited and posted in a single day (I will do some additional editing if I find a glaring mistake). Chapters are released on an irregular basis
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