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.
Lumin pushed BZ-X to top speed, buzzing closer the ground as she drew her chain sword. Her pair of support robots suddenly broke formation to intercept five red orb ships descending rapidly from high altitude. Lumin switched off her A.I. assisted flight mode and pushed even lower to the ground as her proximity alarms blared at her. “I know! I know!”
The red orbs began firing their weapons. The impacts cratered the desert floor and sent dense plumes of grit into the air beside Lumin. Her evasive maneuvers barely kept ahead of the drones’ straddling shots, which sounded more like .50 caliber machine gun rounds than laser blasts. Staying focused on her primary target, she continued to close the gap between herself and the CBGB.
“Come on ladies, get those bastards!” Her pair of support robots, dubbed ‘Joan’ and ‘Lita,’ flipped themselves around using small retro jets at their sides and began firing their concussion rounds at the orbs. Lita’s left arm took a series of direct shots from the alien cannons and it burst into a rain of metallic pieces. Unperturbed, the pair of robots kept firing until the red ships exploded into white-hot, cascading sparks and ash.
Lumin watched in confusion as the OMFUGs exploded in her rear camera feed. The orbs had taken a pounding but Joan and Lita hadn’t been firing anything explosive enough to disintegrate them. She guessed the drone ships had self-destructed after becoming too damaged to fight.
Lumin kept closing the gap between herself and the behemoth. The terrain became smoother as she entered a bone-dry river bed full of cracked slate. With 50 yards remaining until she made contact with her target, she turned off her turbofans and let Biz touch down and start sliding across the sun-bleached gulch on his metal spades. With gritted teeth she ignited her quantum blade, burning even brighter than the Arizona sun.
Still sliding, Lumin swung her sword and cleaved off one of the beast’s arms. It fell with a heavy thump to the smooth stone below and burned away in an instant. She turned Biz around as her momentum carried her past the behemoth and swung again with a scream, chopping a large hunk from the monster’s side. Her enemy recovered much quicker than she anticipated and bashed her to the ground with a tremendous head butt. The blow knocked Lumin’s sword out of her hand and it spun several yards away before settling in a clump of cacti. A storm of tentacles erupted from the alien’s face and affixed to Biz’s chest, where they began secreting a caustic, metal-burning acid.
“Shit!” Lumin scrambled backwards for her sword but the CBGB’s dripping tentacles were pulling her ever-closer, melting gaping holes in Biz’s armor. The monster stomped a huge set of claws on her robot’s legs, keeping it pinned to the clay at the edge of the river bed. “Get off, dammit!” she screamed.
A second set of tentacles spat out of the alien’s maw and crushed Biz’s left hand in a constricting grip. Even if Lumin escaped from being manged the caustic acid of the behemoth’s tendrils would soon burn all the way through her plating to the ferrotank.
After Lita and Joan dispatched most of the drone ships they landed and immediately sprinted toward Lumin. The support bots lowered their shoulders and rammed into Lumin’s ghastly opponent with a bone rattling crunch. The CBGB was knocked off its feet, away from BZ-X’s battered body. It collided with the dirt, sending up a fishtail of brown sand as it skidded away. With the immediate threat dealt with, the A.I. squad mates launched into the sky to take out the remaining red orbs which had resumed firing on Lumin. Freed from the behemoth’s grip, Lumin quickly got Biz back on his feet and retrieved her chain sword.
As white sparks and debris fell out of the sky from the exploding OMFUGs above, Lumin jumped and landed Biz directly on top of the CBGB, sending it face down back to the dirt before it could stand. She somehow kept her balance as the pair of tentacles stretching along the behemoth’s back–each thicker than a suspension bridge’s steel support cables–began battering her robot, leaving huge dents.
“You’re done!” Lumin sent her blinding sword into the alien’s head and dragged the blade halfway down its torso. Iridescent grey fluid erupted from the wound, soaking Biz head to toe. She leapt away from the corpse and when she turned around she saw the monster’s body starting to burn away with a bright series of flashes.
Lumin did her best not to hyperventilate as she checked her radar and scanned the surroundings. All had gone quiet in the desert, aside from the howl of the wind. Lita was standing a few yards away with Joan, who was noticeably damaged. “Nice work, ladies,” said Lumin. The robots gave no response.
Wasting no time, Lumin hailed Yasamin. “Yasamin, how are we doing?”
“The fighting is over. Two pilots were forced to eject, one in Oregon and one in Washington. They immediately left their pods and found shelter. Thankfully, the aliens lost interest in them once they were away from their machines. No pilots are currently in jeopardy. We’re clear.”
“Thank god,” said Lumin with a sigh.
“Are you alright?” asked Yasamin.
“I’m fine…just a bit shaken up. Were there any causalities?”
“Only some minor injuries. However, there has been some serious equipment damage. We’ve lost at least nine A.I. support robots.”
“Not good,” said Lumin.
“Lumin, are you crazy? You did it! Aside from a few targets slipping away, the remaining 67 CBGBs on our hit list were all taken down,” said Samuel.
“I should be happy, but there are still hundreds of those things left to destroy and we’re getting beat to shit in the field.”
“One step at a time, Lumin,” said Samuel. “I can’t wait until you see some of this footage from your team. You’re going to change your tone when you see how much ass they kicked.”
Lumin nodded, as if Samuel could see her acquiesce to his positive attitude. “Good to hear. After I recharge the squadron I’ll return to the rendezvous point–there’s several batteries buried nearby according to my map. Lita…I mean…one of my support bots was severely damaged and might not make it all the way back to the flats but I’m going to try to keep the squadron together as long as I can.
“Power levels are down across the board, but most of the squadrons should make it back to rendezvous point without issue,” said Yasamin.
“Excellent. I’ll check in with you there. We’ll assess our strike capabilities once we’ve regrouped.”
“Wait, you’re going back out again?” asked Yasamin.
Lumin held her chain sword aloft and examined it. The blades looked brand new, barely a scuff on them. “We still have plenty of wood to chop and I intend to build a goddamn cabin by the end of the night,” said Lumin. “Out!”
Back at Z-Command, Samuel looked at Yasamin as Lumin closed her channel. “She’s tired.”
“Definitely,” said Yasamin.