My Novel "F' You, Robot Pilot!"

Discussion in 'Transformers Fan Fiction' started by Tom_Servo, Oct 29, 2016.

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  1. Tom_Servo

    Tom_Servo Well-read chick magnet

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    Hello all. I used to be on here a lot more. I would mostly post in Radicons, because my primary interest is TF customizing (and collecting). One of the things that I've been working on lately is a sci-fi novel called "F You, Robot Pilot!" It's sort of inspired by Evangellion, Gundam, and the death of Middle America at the hands of corporate elites. It's also about how I miss arcades, and how if zombies really existed, they'd probably be really boring- not violent or exciting at all. It has atomic monsters too. It doesn't really have any TF stuff in it, except for a few obscure references, but I like this community, so I figured that this would be a good place to promote it. I'm a little nervous about posting this, but that's something that I'm going to have to get over.
    It's still a work on progress, but I have over twenty chapters up so far. I figure it will be about thirty, when it's done.
    I'd love any feedback that you can give. As we say over in Radicons, all comments and criticisms are welcome.




    Note- To comply with board rules, I edited the sample to remove any harsh language, but if I missed anything, let me know and I can take it out.

    Thanks, we appreciate that, and we've had to delete the links to other sites, complying with Rule 8... No Website Advertising

    8. No Website Advertising or Personal Ads
    Any posts or threads solely to promote a website or store, Transformers related or not, will be removed. This includes making posts with the intended purpose of promoting your own web endeavors such as review sites. You may place a link in your signature. The more you contribute to threads, the more exposure your site will get. If you wish to share your reviews, please post the entire content in the review here (text, video, pics, etc) for the community to interact with. Links to the source can then be placed at the end of the content. Personal ads looking for roommates, dates or “vote for me in this contest” will also be removed.

    Also, while it's not Transformers, it's FanFic and you have robots... so it's a better fit in our Fanfic forum than anywhere else on the boards.
    mpl

    SAMPLE-

    Chapter 3 - "ROBOYOJIMBO BATTLE!"

    The Arcade's grand opening drew in just about everyone in the town whether they cared about video games or not. Earl even spotted Mister Ackerman milling with the young people waving his arms and going into crouches as if he was going to attack someone. The kids responded with the same feigned enthusiasm that they always used on him to make him think that this act was amusing and not at all creepy. A lot of the kids were already a little confused by the place itself. No one under thirty in Boilertown had ever played a video game in an arcade. For them video games were something you played at home or on your cell phone. The only arcade machines they'd ever seen were those sad ugly boxes with flickering CRT monitors in gas stations or take-out joints. They were usually broken and most kids ignored them even when they worked. In here the games were big and clean and exciting. Lights flashed. Music boomed. This place was something new.

    The main floor was the lowest and contained the rows of free-standing arcade games. Above and around them (and behind a huge plexiglass wall) arched a stadium-like arrangement of gaming PCs. These were filled with the online gamers. Ellen informed Earl that this was a lot like how internet cafes in Japan and Korea looked. Waitresses moved around the games depositing drinks and snacks to the often oblivious gamers, as they shouted commands into their headsets.

    On the arcade side of the plexi-wall, loud music blared everywhere. None of it made any sense to Earl's ears. Ellen was pretty sure it was from some fighting game, but it might have been an anime theme. Flashing lights filled the ceilings and glared from every game screen. Faces from school were everywhere. Earl couldn't figure out if it was better for everyone to know that he was here or to keep out of sight. Ellen grabbed his hand and dragged him deeper into the chaos.

    Someone knocked past Earl striking him hard in the shoulder. He looked up to see a head of white hair movie away from him. It looked a lot like a new kid he'd just seen at school. He'd popped up behind Earl while he was at his locker and asked him where the principal's office was.

    The question had surprised Earl because, as he thought, how could you have missed it, it's right as you come in? He'd wanted to say something like that, but he'd just stood there staring at this new kid. There had been plenty of them lately, but this one... He had white hair. "Platinum blonde" he'd heard people call it, and true enough, with all the Germans in town, it wasn't that far out of the ordinary. It was his eyes that did it. They were maroon. Not brown. Earl wasn't really the sort of person who noticed people's eye color. He'd spend hundreds of hours with Ellen, but if you'd asked him what color hers were, he'd probably have guessed blue. (They were green.) This kid's eyes though, sitting there, framed by that long center-parted white hair- that got him. He couldn't speak. He couldn't move. After what had actually only been a few seconds, the white-haired kid saw that he wasn't getting an answer, said "Never mind" and walked away.

    Ellen tugging Earl along brought him back into the moment. She'd managed to snake them pretty close to the centerpiece of the main gaming floor- a raised platform with a ring of silver and red pods. The pods rocked and tiled, as lights flashed all around them. Each pod had clear doors, but the players inside were barely visible due to the flashing lights around them. Big screens displayed each player's point of view. Giant robots smashed into each other with maces and swords against a barren wreckage-strewn landscape. Machine guns the size of school buses hurtled explosive projectiles the size of refrigerators. Swarms of missiles exploded against steep cliff faces and ripped through robots the size of buildings. Limbs were mangled and cockpits exploded in flame. Earl watched as the digital self of a robot pilot sailed through the air in flames, slapped against a rocky cliff and hit the ground hard. From where he was standing, Earl couldn't hear it, but in his gut he knew that it made a sound like a raw steak hitting a brick wall. Through the POV of another pilot he saw an enormous foot rise into the air and slam down onto the body of the pilot. SMUSH!

    Earl felt his fists tighten. He was into this.

    "Yeah!" He yelled and realized that he had pushed tight into the crowd standing around the screens.

    "Chill man! That's my ear!" A kid in a Steelers cap yelled back at him.

    "Ah, hey sorry man! It's awesome! What game is that!?" Every word in the arcade had to be shouted just to be herd.

    "ROBOYOJIMBO BATTLE! It's new!" The Steelers Hat kid, yelled back. His eyes didn't leave the screen. A mushroom cloud erupted from what was the torso of another of the giant robots. A pair of titanic arms, one holding a glowing shield, the other a sword with spinning chainsaw blades around the edge, fell flaming to the ground. The legs crumpled beneath it. The spinning blades of the sword caused it to pull out of the severed hand and go skidding across the dirt until it glanced against the hulk of another demolished robot.

    "Damn!" Earl cursed, wishing that he's seen how that kill shot had been executed.

    The fight was now down to two robots. Looking at the pods, Earl saw that only two still had their lights on. The images spun around the ring of monitors and a pair of POV shots popped up alternating across all of the screens. They were the last two survivors of an epic battle. They circled each other in a field of smoldering rubble and robot parts. One was mostly white with red details. It had a low, squat torso, and thick arms. Its right arm ended in a huge back wrecking ball. It reminded Earl of a football player- with a basketball for a hand. The other was black and yellow with a body mostly made up of connected spheres. It's long, creepy arms hovered out above four spidery legs. Text flashed across the screen:

    FINAL BATTLE!!!

    MELEE WEAPONS ONLY!!!

    Missile pods and artillery cannons, detached from the shoulders and backs of the two giants and crashed to the ground around. A dust cloud swirled up from the impacts around their feet. The one with four legs pulled a pair of blades off of its back and started swinging them around on chains God of War-style.

    FIGHT!!!

    The announcement was jarringly loud even over the wall of noise inside the arcade. More and more of the crowd was falling away from their games and looking up at the screens. The black robot erupted from the dust cloud and rocketed toward the white one. All four of it's legs fell into a gallop, as it launched itself into the air. Thrusters on it's back turned it into a blade-spinning missile of death.

    "THRUSTER DASH!"

    The white bot dodged sideways causing the black bot to nearly collide with a cliff face. Instead, it managed to stop itself in time and landed two of it's four legs against the rocks springing towards its opponent's back. Its spinning blades flashed like lightning sending its victim's right leg spiraling through the air.

    "CRITICAL DAMAGE!

    The white bot went crashing to the ground but recovered into a somersault. It scoped up its own severed leg up and in a flash, threw it at the black bot sending it staggering backwards on those creepy bug legs. The white bot's boosters lit up on it's back, sending it straight at the black bot.

    "THRUSTER DASH!"

    It swooped right in between those evil blades and brought its wrecking ball fist down onto the body of the black bot, crumpling it into scrap.

    "PLAYER 5 WINS!!!"

    "TOTAL DESTRUCTION!!!"

    The camera now flew around the two fighters in a spiral. An instant replay showed the heaviest hits of the fight, ending with a close up of that savage hit that tore open the torso of the black robot. At this angle, the crowd could now see the cockpit tearing open and the force throwing the pilot's mangled body clear of the wreck. The slow motion and the angle of the shot made the bloody body's journey through the air seem to last forever. Blood and oil and shattered metal sailed along with it in a carnal ballet. When it all collided with the cliff face, the arcade exploded. The cheers of the kids were deafening. No one could hear any of the games or music any more. It was just the crowd and the victory.

    Mister Ackerman's face had lost its feigned excitement, and he looked around the crowd. A quick scan of the crowd gave clues as to who was and who was not accustomed to viewing video game violence on this scale.

    Into this insane outpouring of adolescent joy stepped a man in a tee shirt and baseball cap. He emerged from within the circle of pods. Spotlights spiraled around the room and fell directly onto him. Up on the deck with the games control pods, and under the screens, all showing his face, he looked like a nerdy demigod. His, small round glasses reflected the lights, and made his eyes seem to glow. He held his arms up and egged on the the crowd. Earl could see his mouth moving, but the roar of the kids was too loud. He seemed to be saying "Yeah!" over and over again with the stray "How 'bout that?" thrown in.

    The man nodded to someone unseen, and the music abruptly cut off. The rowdy crowd stared to catch it's breath as the man lifted a microphone and spoke.

    "Let's hear it for our players!"

    More thunderous cheering and applause. To Earl's surprise, the players who got out of the pods were all much older than crowd. Most had beards. A lot of them had ponytails. They were all wearing tee shirts with designs or phrases across them that he didn't recognize.

    "What the hell's a brony?", Earl asked himself, not expecting an answer.

    "It's a guy who likes My Little Pony." Ellen answered him. Earl looked around. Oh right, Ellen's here. He started to form a question about how on earth that was supposed to work, when the man started speaking again.

    "These guys here are some of the programmers who designed ROBO YOJIMBO BATTLE,"

    Cheering.

    "...and a lot of the other games you kids are going to get to play here at GAMPLA FUN ARCADE! Let's give them another big hand! Yeah!!!"

    The cheering was starting to give Earl a bit of a headache, but he loved being a part of it.

    The shaggy programmers all held up their hands and waved. It was a stage-full of the happiest bearded guys Earl had ever seen.

    A voice from the crowd cut into the applause.

    "Brony!? Brony!? Hey nice shirt f_____!!!" The cluster of laughs erupted on the other side of the room.

    Six spotlights trained on the heckler and the place went silent. The man on the stage eyed the boy for a few moments before he spoke.

    "I'm sorry, I haven't introduced MY-self yet. My name is Rudy Gardner, and I own this arcade, and the company that built these machines, so I set the rules. And the number ONE rule at all of MY arcades, is that they are a safe, anti-bullying zone." He thrust an accusing finger at the lead boy, striking a bit of a pose at the same time.

    "Apologize to my programmer for that remark!"

    The kid rubbed his nose and sniffed as he eyeballed this 'Rudy Gardner'. He considered his answer.

    "Hey fuck you man!" One of his buddies slapped him on the shoulder.

    Rudy cocked his head and folded his arms. In the previously deafeningly loud room, Earl could hear the blood rushing in his head. Behind their glass wall, the PC gamers were unperturbed. Rudy Gardner held his hand up like he was going to karate chop a board. He swept his hand to his left.

    "Everyone on this side of the room, stand aside this way". He swept his arm to the right.

    They did.

    "Everyone on that side of the room, stand aside that way."

    They did.

    The parted crowd had formed a path to the front door. He pointed at the group of boys.

    "See that path? Now use it, and get out."

    The crowd cheered. The lead boy said something but was drowned out by the jeering crowd. He took a step toward the platform, but the sight of a pair of bouncers eyeballing him changed his mind. Looking back he saw that his friends were already almost to the door, and he followed, casting one more hateful look at Rudy.

    "No Games For You. Come back, ONE MONTH!" Rudy yelled. He cast a grin around the room. The room seemed to like it, but most of them didn't catch the reference. He shook his head and turned to one of the men behind him.

    "Sorry about that Juan."

    The bearded Brony shrugged and smiled. "S'cool man," he said as he donned a pair of small, round shades.

    Rudy turned back to the crowd. "Now, like I said, I'm Rudy Gardner! I'm glad you could all come out to help me open this new arcade. This is my gift to the people of Boilertown. I've already met most of the grownups here today. Principal Ackerman. Pastor Larson. Chief Faber."

    Earl's head snapped around. Holy crap is that the Police Chief?!

    "And of course, all of the kids who are here to enjoy these fantastic games. This is OUR arcade, and I couldn't be happier to have you all here. We're going to be opening up ROBO YOJIMBO here for public play in a little bit, but for now let's all welcome some of the girls from KAWIICO MAID CAFE to the stage for a song!

    A bouncy, weird, electro beat filled the arcade and six girls in different colored maid costumes bopped , skipped and danced up onto the platform in front of the game pods. Their big puffy skirts and ribbons twirled and fluttered in the spotlights. One of them had what looked like huge rabbit ears flopping around on her head. The song was fast, super cute and impressively choreographed. No one in the crowd Earl and Ellen included, understood a single word of it, but they stood transfixed.

    Rudy worked his way around to the front door where the adults were congregating and started shaking hands. The nervous looks that they wore while watching the game had vanished and were replaced with big smiles. Everyone was very happy to see Rudy and thanked him for everything that he was doing for their town.

    On their way home, Earl asked Ellen if she'd noticed the white-haired kid.

    "Oh, you mean the one who looks like Sephiroth?"

    "Who?"

    "You know. From Final Fantasy?"

    Earl furrowed his brow...

    "Oh my God, he does!" Composing himself Earl tried a second take. Cooler, "I mean he sort of does."

    Ellen giggled at him.

    "I can't wait for KawaiiCo to open. They're going to have a little boutique in town that sells Lolita dresses too." Ellen grinned and caught he breath. "Oh my god!"

    Earl nodded. He didn't really know what Sephiroth looked like or what a Lolita was, but it didn't matter. He'd figure it out.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2016
  2. Tom_Servo

    Tom_Servo Well-read chick magnet

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    The the MODS- No sweat. I get it. The link's in my sig.
    Here's another chapter. This one has a more action and weird stuff. It also had a direct Transformers reference (among others), which I think make it more appropriate. Feel free to call them out, if you spot them.
    At this point in the story, our main character, Earl, is working full-time for the robot building company and is about to remotely test pilot a new kind of tactical drone. Nothing could possible go wrong.

    Chapter 16 "The Jungle"

    Earl tugged nervously at the collar of his suit. He'd never had a problem with it before, but today it felt tight. The pod felt extra small. He breathed in the cool air that blew down onto his face. He felt the cooling fluids that cycled through the fabric of his pod suit. Breathe, he reminded himself.Breathe. He was still sweating. The screens around him were all set to a light blue. Minimal system readouts cycled at the edges of his vision. "STAND BY" slowly pulsed in the center of his field of vision. "I didn't even have time to eat breakfast." He grumbled to himself.

    "It's better that you haven't eaten."A voice informed him over his comm. "We don't want you barfing in there."

    "Rudy?" Earl asked.

    "Nah. It's me. Marty. I'm overseeing this run. Rudy is just going to be observing."

    "Try not to mess up your pod, Perv!"Megan hissed.

    Marty paused. He seemed to be making it clear that he was ignoring Megan's remark.

    "It's up to you how you handle the course." Marty said after taking a breath. "You can work as a team or as individuals. What we want to see is how fast you can all reach the goal."

    Earl stiffened in his seat. He nodded and took another breath. Breathe.

    A circular radar screen lit up in the upper right corners of the pilots' fields of vision. "This is your radar. It will let you know where the other pilots are in relation to you and track movement in your immediate vicinity. Earl, your the purple dot. Megan you're red. Alan is blue. Your objective is indicated by the arrow on your radar screen. You all have twenty minutes to reach it. Like I said, it's up to you how you do it."

    "What are we competing for?" Asked Megan.

    "This is a test, not a contest Megan." Marty said. "But if that's how you want to do it,bragging rights, I suppose."

    "That's good enough for me." She said.

    Earl took a deep breath. The calm he was trying to find was broken when his screen flashed red.

    "Ok! We're ready to go!" Marty said. "Remember this is an equipment test, but it's also to see how intuitive this new system is."
    Earl didn't like the sound of"New System".

    His vision went black.

    He took a sharp inhalation of breath.It smelled strange. Salty. Green.

    "Your session if starting now, kids,"Marty's voice echoed into the pods. "Due to the distances involved and a few new tweaks, you might feel some momentary sensory confusion, but it's nothing you haven't gone though booting up a new Roboyojimbo."

    Earls head swam. This was definitely different from the Roboyojimbo start up, but Marty was right. It wasn't any worse. Just different. All the same. He found himself trying to calm down all over again.

    Earl's vision resolved into a pale green and blue haze. An rotating areal view of an area of jungle filled the center of his field of vision.

    "Welcome to the Philippines, kids!"The voice on the comm declared. This time it was Rudy. "This is where we're going to be doing our live-fire test today!"

    Live fire? Thought Earl. He didn't like the sound of that. The rotating areal view dissolved into aground-level view. He now had a sense of where he was and what he was piloting. He looked down at his body. It was indeed the Tactical Drone that he had seen at the meeting. The tree canopy was above him.He was taller than a human but much shorter than he was used to.Maybe twenty feet tall? Earl lifted his arms. They had one elbow each and ended in humanoid hands with fingers. His right held some sort of big machine gun. The left hand was free. He used it to take hold of a handle that extended from the side of the gun and aimed it. The action felt instinctual to Earl. Natural. There was a distant roar of machine gun fire.

    "Yeah!" Megan's voice hissed over the comm. An explosion boomed in the distance.

    "Well, it looks like Megan found her grenades. Good job, Megan." Marty chuckled.

    Earl raised his left arm and looked down. He saw a dispenser full of metal cylinders at his waist- it seemed to be extending from a container on his back. There were drums on his thighs that looked the same as the one in his machine gun.Ammo stats appeared around the edge of his vision. Grenades. Ammo.Battery Life. All Systems Functional. To his surprise, Earl found that he was familiar with all of these systems and their function.

    "She also gave away her position."Said Rudy. "Of course, you kids realize that you're not the only ones in this jungle. I've arranged for a few surprises."

    "That's right.' Said Marty. "I'll be on comm for support with the new weapons systems, but we really want you to figure them out on your own. Oh and it looks like you've got one of those surprises on it's way toward you now, Megan. Better get ready. The clock starts now." A countdown clock appeared in at the top of their views. 19:59.

    Earl had been toying with the controls on his radar and was able to pull it out to see the whole island. He saw Megan's bot as a red dot. It had a big yellow dot heading straight for it. Without thinking, he headed right for it. The controls were basically the same as the Roboyojimbo, but everything responded much faster. His bot tripped over a log and landed face down in the mud. The impact was sharp and jarring. He was a little glad that he hadn't eaten.

    "Better get moving, Earl," Marty called over the com.

    Earl didn't respond. He recovered and was back up and running. The yellow dot was only a few dozen meters from Megan. Weapons fire boomed in the jungle ahead of him. They dots were now on top of each other.

    Earl's bot erupted from the tree line and into a marshy clearing. There, he saw a green robot just like his, but with red shoulders. It was grappling with an all-black version. The Red bot punched the black one hard in the part of its body that was the closest thing to where a face would be. The impact sent it stumbling backwards. Red raised its machine gun and fired.The burst ripped through the black bot. Its broken chassis fell backwards into the muddy water. Red pulled a grenade from its pack and shoved it into the hole in the bot's gut and ran for the treeline.

    "Get down you idiot!" Megan shouted at Earl over the com.

    Earl turned to run for cover. The shockwave from the explosion slammed him in the back, and sent him directly into a tree. The force tore it from the ground and it collided with the muddy jungle floor. He released an undignified "whoof" sound as the wind was knocked out of him.

    "Get off you ass, Perv! It's no fun beating you if you just give up," shouted Megan. A hail of machine gun fire threw dirt up around Earl.

    "What the hell are you doing?!" He screamed.

    "Wasn't me" Megan said without looking back. "This one's yours. See ya!"

    Her bot was already out of Earl's field of vision when he got to his feet. On his radar, he saw the red dot moving away from him. A large round glanced off of Earl's left shoulder pad. He screamed and spun around, spraying the jungle with machine gun fire. The radar was pinging something directly in his path. Remembering the grenades, he pulled one out and hurled it straight ahead of him. It glanced off of a tree and landed off to the right- exploding was way too close to him. He felt the heat on his face. The black bot erupted from the trees and shoulder-checked him right in his center of mass. Earl really felt it. The agony ran through his entire body. He managed to grab the enemy robot and maintain his balance. The enemy bot raised its machine gun to Earl's face, but he was able to grab the barrel and force it away from him.

    "AAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaGhh!" He screamed and began raining blows down onto the robot. His machine gun wasgone, probably dropped when the bot tackled him. He rained blows down onto the bot with his free hand badly damaging the sensors on the small dome that seemed to make up its head. Without thinking he held up his left fist and a blade extended from above it. He slammed it down between the bot's head and left shoulder. Pushing it away from him, he pulled the blade away and rammed it right into its chest.Another stab, and another, and the black robot fell backwards into the mud. Something sizzled inside of it. Its right leg twitched, and then it went still. Earl looked at the blade sticking out above his fist and smiled. He concentrated on it and it slid back into his arm.A quick scan of the underbrush revealed his machine gun. He picked it up and pumped a few more rounds into his fallen enemy before running off towards the finish line. Thinking better of it, Earl turned back and scanned the machine gun of his fallen foe. It was the same model as his own. He pried it free from the bot's hand and took it with him. His radar told him that he was three kilometers behind Megan.Alan was approaching from the other side of the island and was closer than either of them. His radar didn't register enemies that far away but from Alan's erratic movements, he assumed that he was in some sort of trouble. He was too far away to help him, even if he wanted to.

    More weapons fire. The red dot was stopped again. An explosion. Another.

    "Mother Fucker!" He heard Megan on comm. She probably didn't realize that she was transmitting. If she did, she didn't care.

    The red dot was moving again, this time cutting right. Earl was getting closer. He saw an elevation to his right and took it. It would mean covering more distance, but he reasoned that the height might give him an advantage. He heard a few more grunts and expletives from Megan, but she seemed to be holding her own. From the top of the ridge Earl could see the goal. It was some sort of installation. He leveled his twin machine guns at it. A red notice flashed across his heads-up display.

    -OUT OF WEAPONS RANGE-

    Below him the jungle rocked with explosions and gunfire. His face fell.

    "You've got to be kidding me." He groaned. The trees were thinner down there and he could clearly see Megan's bot. It was strafing along the side of some sort of huge black robot. The robot's body was mostly spherical with what looked like a huge yellow eye on the front. It was walking on six legs like some kind of huge, nightmarish eyeball beetle. Megan's rounds were bouncing off of its curved black hull. It was keeping Megan moving with some sort of big, anti-tank gun at the top of it's body. It had a slow rate of fire, but the rounds were clearly devastating enough to trash their bots with a single shot. They were nearly right below him. Earl eased himself down onto the cliff face. He'd intended to artfully make his way closer to the enemy robot, but gravity had other plans. In an instant, his feet were out from beneath him, andhe was fighting just to stay upright in a stumbling, uncontrolled dash down the muddy hill. The giant robot's gun focused on him and fired. The explosive round carved out a thirty foot hole in the ridge above him. The world spun around him. He closed his eyes and guarded his face with his hands, as he rolled down the hill. More explosions rocked around him. He collided with something and his body unraveled against it. Looking up, he saw the under-side of one of the giant robot's feet slamming towards him. Earl rolled to avoid being crushed. Once away, he started firing wildly with both machine guns.The rounds shattered against the lower hull but tore apart the underside of the closest leg. The whole structure veered and staggered. That's when he knew he found the weak spot. All bosses had them, and this was it.

    "Get the legs!" Earl shouted crazily, as he scrambled under the monster. He fired at another leg.Thin armor plate shattered, exposing servos and hydraulic lines. A second blast from Megan's gun, and it buckled and gave way. The thing's body dipped, nearly crushing Earl in the process. He scrambled out from under it. The thing fought to regain its balance,as several explosions rocked it from beneath. Megan was chucking grenades under it with no regard for Earl's position. He ran for cover. Looking back he saw a column of black smoke rising from the port on top of the bot that had housed the cannon. Megan must have nailed it while he was getting out of the way. It didn't matter. This was Earl's chance. He decided that he'd let Megan finish off the ball and made a break for the installation.

    He barreled through the jungle. Both of his guns read empty, so he ditched one. He detached an ammo drum from his hip and slapped it onto his gun without breaking stride. Another black robot leaped out in front of him and opened fire. Earl slid into its legs knocking it off balance. As it fell on top of him, he plunged his wrist blade into its chest and tore a hole straight up through it's body. The bot's body seemed to convulse, and went limp. The blade slid back in, and he punched the robot out of his way.

    He pumped a few more rounds into it for good measure, and was on the move again.

    "You fucking asshole!" Megan yelled into her comm. She must have just noticed that he'd left her to finish the big eyeball herself. "Fine! I don't need your help any..." Her signal cut off just before he heard the explosion.

    "Shit." Earl cured to himself and ran faster. He dove over obstacles and knocked down trees to get away from whatever it was that got Megan. In terror, he ran. He might have beaten her at Robo Battle Live, but he suspected his win might have been luck, and Megan might be a lot tougher than him. If something got her, it would definitely get him. The green of the jungle lashed at him. He could feel the leaves as they collided with the armored hide of his robot. The green broke, and he saw the instillation inhis sights. He raised his gun and reached for a grenade.

    -WEAPON SYSTEMS DEACTIVATED-

    flashed across his screen in red.

    "Wha..?" Earl nearly got out the entire word before something slammed into him and sent him flying. He collided with the wet dirt and desperately fumbled to get his bearings. Whatever it was collided with his back and began pounding him into the earth. The world became a blur of dirt and sky. A massive shape had control of him, and it wasn't letting go. It had burning red eyes and rows of chrome, metal teeth. Earl wondered for a moment at the tiny arms, and just as fast he knew what he was dealing with. It was a big, boxy, mechanical T-Rex. Those fierce metal jaws opened up and snapped at Earl. He struggled to move, but it was holding him firmly in place with its big, clawed foot. He struggled to find his gun. Flailing around he caught sight of a robot running for the compound. It was filthy and was missing an arm.

    "Having fun, Perv?" Megan's voice,crackled over the comm.

    Before he could respond, Earl was bathed in flames. The T-Rex was shooting flames at him. It burned. He flailed at its foot with his wrist knives, but they warped and sagged in the flames. Earl screamed and his feed to the robot went offline. He blacked out.



    Earl opened his eyes. He found himself in a brightly lit compound. There was air conditioning blowing on him. His hands found his knees. He was sitting. His head was fuzzy.He blinked against the light, looked around trying to understand. As his eyes adjusted, he searched his surroundings. He saw that he was in some sort of hanger. There were two huge robots standing at thefar end. One was dirty and charred. One of its arms was missing, and the other was badly burnt but had all of its limbs. The third had bright blue markings and was almost totally clean.

    A hand slapped Earl on the shoulder."How we feelin' there, tiger?"

    It was Rudy. Earl was relieved to see him. Then he was confused. He looked around again and tried to remember how to speak.

    "Wh... Where am I?"

    Earl's voice sounded funny to him.Weird. Gruff.

    "Guardco Philippines." Rudy was even more enthusiastic than usual, and it was a little more than Earlcould take at the moment. "Only about half a mile away from where Grimlock gotcha."

    Earl's face fell. Oh god, he thought,that really happened.

    "Yeah, that really happened. And I've got one more for ya." He held up a mirror to Earl's face. "You are not you."

    In the mirror Earl saw the rugged face of a soldier. He had ragged stubble and wore a headband around spiky hair. He looked down at his body and saw that he was wearing gray and black combat gear. Taking the mirror in hand he checked the back of his head and ran his fingers through a luxurious mane of hockey hair.

    "Why do I look like Solid Snake?"He asked flatly.

    "You are Solid Snake! At least for today." Rudy giggled. "I chose for you. Alan got to pick his own. That was the reward for getting here first."

    Earl eased himself to his feet, which were now a lot farther away than usual. He turned and came face to face with a man in a gas mask and black trench coat. Earl stifled a scream. Rudy stepped in between the tow tall, eccentrically dressed men. "That's Alan. He felt that he would enjoy being Psycho Mantis today." The gas masked face studied Earl with that same dead-eyed stare that Alan always had. The body of lanky, leather and rubber-covered monster suited him.

    "I guess that would have made me Meryl." The men turned and looked towards the voice. It was coming from a screen mounted to some kind of rolling arm apparatus displaying Megan's frowning visage.

    "That's right Megan. Unless you'd have preferred Sniper Wolf." Rudy didn't put much effort into disguising his irritation at her choice. "Megan has instead opted to join us via video conference instead of utilizing the custom-tailored synthoid body that I personally prepared for her."

    "I'm not going to use some fake body.It's creepy and it's weird!" Megan snarled. "What's with everyone being from Metal Gear anyway?"

    "I like Metal Gear Solid," said Rudy.

    "So, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Why am I in this body?" Earl shouted. "How am I even doing this?"

    The hanger Earl was cavernous, but it crushed in on Earl like a coffin. He folded his arms to his chest. He started breathing faster. "What did you do to me?"

    Glazed eyes stared at Earl from beneath the amber lenses of a shiny black gas mask. A labored sigh came from the rolling screen.

    Rudy grabbed Earl by the shoulders."Earl! Calm down. You're fine. You're still in your pilot pod back where you started. Back in Boilertown. Right now. This is no different from piloting a robot. Today, you and Alan here are piloting a new kind of robot. A humanoid robot." Rudy relaxed his grip and stood back and smiled. "And so am I."

    Earl went to sit down. Looking at it now he saw that it wasn't so much a chair as steel coroner's table that had been bent into the shape of a recliner. He decided to stand.

    "Look at me, Earl." Rudy continued."I'm here in the Philippine jungle. How could I be here? I just took a meeting with you a little over an hour ago. In Pennsylvania.On the other side of the planet!"

    Earl didn't like where this was going.He looked down at his hands. They were too big. They belonged to a man twice his age.

    "I'm doing it too. This body is a synthoid replicant just like yours. I chose it to give you kids a friendly face to greet you here." Rudy tugged at his cheek and giggled.

    "It's creepy." Megan said again.Looking more closely at the screen, Earl could see that she was still in her pod suit. He couldn't see much behind her thanks to that big mane of red hair, but it looked like she was still in her pilot pod."He told me to pick a body and I chose the video conference bot.It's the only option that didn't seem like I was getting shoved intoa Phillip K. Dick novel."

    Earl didn't know who Phillip K. Dick was, but the rolling ipad was making sense to him.

    "I just want to go back to my own body now." He said almost pleading. He was freaked out again by how different his voice sounded.

    "Do you kids really want to go home now?" Said Rudy, clearly annoyed.

    Not wanting to hear that voice come out of his mouth again, Earl just nodded. Rudy looked at the other two.Psycho Mantis stood silently. The girl on the screen folded her arms and stared at him.

    "Fine." Rudy turned and snapped his fingers. "Computer. End Program."

    In a blink, Earl was back in his pilot pod at Guardco Boilertown. The screens around him were dark. He tried to unfasten himself, but his hands kept moving wrong. The door of the pod slid open, and his support crew helped him. They helped steady him when he went to stand. He felt... short.

    "I had a whole thing planned, you know." Rudy said, not quite shouting at the kids as they emerged from their pods. "My synthoid had a switchblade in its hip pocket just so I could do the Terminator 2 thing." Rudy made motions as if he was pulling off a big glove. "The thing with the hand?! The skin?" Rudy waved his arms and dropped them to his sides. He seemed to be at a total loss. "I mean... didn't you even want to see the Dinobot? I have a Dinobot!"

    With the issue being pressed, Earl kind of did want to see the Dinobot, even if it had flame-throwered him and nearly killed him- (not really him.) His head was still a little jumbled up as to what was him and what was a robot- or the other robot. He was just glad to have his own body back. Rudy stared at him waiting for an answer.

    "I've, a..." Earl was sweating again. His suit was wet with it, and he had the frightening idea that some of that moisture might be urine. "I've gotta pee."

    "Well, by all means boy. Go pee."Said Rudy with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Go on. All of you. Go change. Take the rest of the day. We're not getting anything else done here today."

    The kids dispersed. Technicians converged on the pods. Rudy stared up at the Roboyojimbos. They towered above everything else on the hanger floor. His lips fixed into a tight scowl.

    In the bathroom, Earl was relieved to find that he had not actually wet himself. He was just very sweaty.He was also starving.

    And he was scared. Starving and scared.
     
  3. Tom_Servo

    Tom_Servo Well-read chick magnet

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