Lost Pal Tilaurin is moving and shaking at Dare Games OZ, and they’re putting together Mecha Strike Arena. He’s written six pieces of fiction to introduce you to the major characters of the setting, and we’re sharing them with you, two at a time, for your reading pleasure, over three weeks. This is part one. Please enjoy.
“Thank you, thank you! Thanks for coming!”
She floated off the side of the stage and down the corridor to the cheer of the crowd, rainbow pigtails trailing several feet behind her. A Ganymede Representations android stood on the wall opposite under localised gravity, holding a light robe in its pinched fingers. She somersaulted in the air and flipped her body towards the wall, lightly touching down in front of it, and proffered an arm for the robe.
“Sponsorship has been approved, Miss Bailey. Punky is ready to be sent to the first season hub” it said flatly, dressing her in the robe.
Mentally switching off her voice and sensoria projections to the audience, she smiled broadly and danced, spinning away from the machine. “Excellent! I’m so excited! We’ve been doing performances so much it’s about time we got things a bit sporty again.”
“Yes Miss” again flatly.
“Make sure the sword is nice and shiny now, I want my reflection to beam in it when I pose.”
“Yes Miss. The schematics for the sword have not been finalised, but we will go there now for your approval of the Mecha, Miss.”
“Oooh, I’m so excited” Antares clapped her hands together “Aren’t you excited Mr Ganny?”
“We are Miss, very excited.” The androids featureless face and flat voice could not have held less warmth if it floating in the airless void, but she knew well the hive mind reserved let only its greatest stars interact with its most baseless personality. Technically it had no specific gender either, but Mr had never seemed to bother it.
Antares continued to dance back and forth, occasionally flipping off the floor away from the gravity field and literally bouncing off walls. After a few moments of excited whooping, she settled back in front of the android to stare up at the blank face a full foot above her own. Meanwhile her robe settled in closer to her and knit together while changing colour and texture to begin to resemble her grey and pink sports suit, at a quick mental command.
“Well then, let’s ‘hole over! And thank YOU for coming, Ganny!” She leapt upon the android, floating up to give it a peck on the cheek. She smiled as she pushed herself back to settle on the floor, holding on to its upper arms, as the lipstick swirled in her trademark rainbow of colours.
A millisecond later the corridor was empty, the crowd still cheering on.
They appeared in an long Mecha bay, the roof easily a hundred metres above while the far wall was over two hundred metres away, the bay itself half a kilometre long. Several of the enormous machines walked slowly up or down the middle of the bay, while others stood in gantries or drifted silently through the air on crane arms from one place to another. It was an intentionally low tech environment. While many beings in the galaxy controlled energies approaching Kardashev III scales the majority did not, and showing off too much made for poor viewing.
Twirling around, Antares clapped her hands together again as she stared up at her favoured Brawler, Punky. The galaxy spiral logo of Ganymede Representations stood out proudly in white against the pink armour of the heavily built humanoid Mecha, twin yellow sporting stripes down across its chest.
With a loud laugh Antares kicked herself away from the ground to drift upward, coming to a stop some fourteen metres in the air as she spread her arms out in joy. “Oh Ganny, it’s even more beautiful than I remember!”
“Demron Industrial have made some improvements to the frame that necessitated a complete reconstruction, Miss. This Mecha is completely new, and not the-” Antares cut him off as he floated up next to her.
“No Ganny, it’s the same Punky! It’s all about the name, the spirit, not the physicality of the thing. You’re no less you in a different body, nor would I be if I had to be relifed tomorrow! Punk is Punky as long as she’s got that shiny colour and is ready to crunch some other Mecha to pieces!”
“Yes, but we are sent-” again she cut him off, this time holding up a finger.
“Ganny, stop there, you’re going to get me frustrated and you don’t want me frustrated do you?”
“Good, that’s a very good conglomerate hive mind intelligence android representative.” She sighed “And people wonder why I just call you Ganny.”
“Some wonder, Miss”. She shot it a sidelong glare, lip momentarily twisting unappreciative.
Flicking her head back to the towering machine, the ends of her pigtails drifted out in the air to either side of her head, swirling across the rainbow of light as she smiled. “Anyway,” she continued, “I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks, it’s going to be incredibly fun, and will give my fans something new to look at. It’ll probably draw several new demographics if your math is as good as it normally is. It’s a dream come true.”
“I doubt the sentients killed during the wormhole civil war that spawned all this as a means of conflict resolution would agree. Miss”. Antares scowled, the hive minds’ words and intentional pausing frustrating her.
“See Ganny, this is why you need us humans, you just can’t look at it all that way. Everything dies, you, me, the whole universe one day. Meantime, does everything truly live? That’s why the Arena Council realised it would be a great sport, it was just too FUN!”
“Crazed sentience blooms everywhere indeed, Miss”
Another sidelong glance. “Maybe Ganny, but being alive is a whole different kettle of fish. Now, can we get that big sword?”
Circled by half a dozen of their kind, the two massive Vzkor paced a slow circle sizing each other up. Both wore mismatched armour made of pieces of carapace or vehicles scavenged from various battlefields, but each was armed with distinctly well crafted weapons.
The slightly larger of the two dragged a segmented barbed whip in an outstretched left arm, and bore a heavy shield on its asymmetrical larger right arm. The smaller alien held but a short curved blade in its smaller left arm, it’s large arm sporting nothing but a strange glove extending its natural claws with longer metallic talons. Both sported various blades on their shoulder, leg, chest, and talons on boots.
In random patterns the four eyes on the face of each blinked, so more than two were never closed at the same time. Small puffs of fluorescent pink breath dissipated into the methane atmosphere around them from the various nostrils on their bodies in between breaths. Amongst the crowd an older, battle scarred Vzkor let out a paler, redder puff of gas in ascent. The duel began.
The larger, known as Klaxxor by lettering painted on its armour, was the first to strike. With a light flick of its smaller agile wrist it sent the barbed whip lashing out at their opponent’s legs. Vrono, by its own armour, leapt with perfect timing almost four metres into the air to almost two thirds their own height to avoid the snaking weapon. It swung back and forth in place unnaturally, but Vrono had timed their leap perfectly and their taloned feet slammed down next to the whip separating several metres worth of whip from its source. The severed ends dropped with sparks and bursts of fluid before sealing themselves off, while the dismembered portion curled into a perfect resting coil.
Vrono danced forward and low, smaller arm before themself in a guarding pose with their larger arm bent trailing slightly behind with the claw dragging low near the metallic floor. The two had dueled often and Klaxxor read Vrono’s stance, knowing the smaller Vzkor was considering throwing the knife. They raised their shield arm ready to deflect the shot, knowing Vrono particularly enjoyed pinning opponents appendages in awkward positions with the sharp blade.
Vrono noticed the shift, back tentacles rustling up around its neck in a pleased movement akin to a human smile. They twitched their elbow up and out almost imperceptibly, Klaxxor catching the micro movement and raising the shield in the feinted direction, but with sudden speed Vrono leapt forward swinging their heavy arm in an up swing, claws extended, catching the bottom of the shield.
With a mental command Klaxxor released the shield locks on its arm while flipping backwards, the shield flying up to stick in webbing dangling from the roof as the smaller Vzkors deadly blade swiped air were momentarily ago torso had been. It had been perfectly aimed, and would have torn off part of Klaxxors chest armour and left them with a vicious wound. Vrono had counted on the flip, however, and spun with the swing, bringing their large arm back around in a backhand while continuing to dart forward, catching Klaxxor on the front of its face sending it spinning through the air backwards.
Vrono stood straight, still an impressive five and a quarter metres tall even as the shortest of all present. Casually they strode towards Klaxxor, the latter struggling to force itself up, hands slipping on the fluids that poured from the crushed side of its face. Vrono reached out with a foot, their heavy arm out backwards awkwardly balancing it, and dug several blades from its feet talons into the fallen Vzkor’s side to flip them on their back.
Arms slippery with purple and green blood, face half covered in the same with three swollen and closed eyes, Klaxxor propped itself up breathing sharply through nostrils on the unexposed side of its chest. It stared up at Vrono from the eyes on the left side of its face, posture and back tentacles indicating a well fought duel and a submission. Vrono turned their head towards the largest of the crowd, Tempust, and wiggled its own tentacles in query.
Tempust nodded. The second sponsorship would go to Vrono. The younger Vzkors tentacles moved into a wider and curled position that could only be read as a vicious grin. Vrono turned back to their fallen opponent, stepping on the bloodied chest armour and reached forward with its larger claw.