Ha! He was too close! I dropped for a foot sweep, finding a weakness in the metal. A bolt went flying, but I had made a mistake. As I continued my spin from the sweep, he kicked me away! I heard an elecrical crackling around me, as telltale alarm lights went insane around me. Breaking free from the electrified wall, I stood up... but too late. One uppercut, I collapsed...


CHAPTER ONE: A New Invention


"Needs work, kid! You were in a Jaguar! You had powered up everything! You sucked out there. You just plain sucked." That was Wick, my ever polite coach. He was quite a pilot in his time, but has lost the sharpness he once had. After his robot was completely melted down by Raven, armed with a Pyros, he decided to drop out of the competition and coach. He could train, anyways...

I was, however, not doing the best job of learning. A little woozy still from the battle and drugs that had been pumped into me to tweak my brain into being one with the robot (sounds zenlike, but the Local Battles were far from such!), I wasn't in much shape to argue. So I made an excuse. "Powered up on everything but speed! He was so fast, I couldn't see him. Bet you couldn't see him either. Besides, it was just a virtusim..."

He blew up at me. "JUST A VIRTUSIM?!" he roared. "TREAT IT LIKE A REAL BATTLE! You'll never improve if you don't try! Just pretend it's real! Get back in there!" He took a few deep breaths, then continued his tirade. "Fast, huh? You were only slow by one point, and that's not gonna change unless you win this! Upgrades cost money, you know... you gotta get in there, or you're gonna have to hock the Jaguar... if there's any of it left."

"I'm sorry! Really I am... what should I have done in there?"

"Stop whining. And don't forget about your concussion cannon this time; you could have just as easily attacked from afar. I know you like the Pounce, but if you keep pouncing into the electrified walls, you're not helping yourself any."

I replied, "We don't know that the match is in the Power Plant. Let's try the Fire Pit." I was much better there. At least you didn't get zapped if you so much as tapped a wall!

"You have to be good in all the areas. Hmm... maybe..."

"Maybe what?"

"Well, there's a newly invented upgrade invented a couple months ago. It seems stable, and rumors have it that Jean-Claude is using it."

Jean-Claude. Her, or at least the computer simulation of her, had much more skill then I did. At least I had beaten the low-ranked Cosette. "What is it?"

"Start reading the newspages! You'd be keeping up on events more. Anyway, they've invented the 'Speedtweeker.' It's supposed to make everything seem slower when you're using your robot so you can react more quickly... but you seem slow even to yourself. It can be really irritating, but also quite helpful..." He trailed off.

"Speed's what I need!"

"Start listening to me! I said it doesn't make you faster, it just gives you more time to think. And it can cause headaches."

"It's a risk I'll have to take."

"It's avoidable, if you had any skills..."

"Hey! I beat Cosette! That wasn't exactly easy; it was my first battle, and Cosette's eleventh!"

"Cosette's an easy mark. She's no better than your average pencil-pusher. Anyway, do you want this 'Speedtweeker?' You'd barely have enough to repair the Jaguar if you don't win... It's a gamble, want to be a mechanik again?"

No way! His threat was well taken. If I got the Speedtweeker, and I lost anyway, and it was real and not a 'sim, I was SO out of the competition. I would have to fix the stupid robot myself, and fix a few hundred other ones just to get enough creds in my account to rejoin the competition, from which I would be disqualified since I couldn't repair my bot. But... "It's a risk I'm gonna have to take."

"If I were you, I'd just brush up my skills. Back in my day, we didn't have those! But if Jean does, you really CAN'T be faster, it wouldn't be possible... let me think for a little." He went over to the corner, as I admired my Robot. A fine machine, it. 50 meters tall, it looked new, the mechaniks did a great job on it. I didn't want to give it up...

But I had to win.

"I guess I'll get it..." said I.

"I was coming to that conclusion... but you're still gonna need skill." Wick punched in the order, it cleared, and we waited. "Slow delivery today" said Wick. The door alarm went off. "I'll get it, I remember how much of a fool you made of yourself last time you answered the door." He went for the door, came back a minute later with a box. "Here it is..." He picked up a microphone. "All tech crew, prepare for upgrading!" Lift tubes whirred to life as people came to the Jaguar. "All right, here's the goods!"

The tech crew got to work. They're amazing. About an hour later, the robot had another three chips planted in it... the three chips that would ensure my victory!

"Back to the virtusim!" said Wick, handing me the helmet that would connect me to the robot.

I took it, and placed it on my head. Needles stuck in, I lost conciousness, and suddenly, I WAS the Robot...


How will the battle go on?

Note to everyone: This is my first attempt at fanfic. Please tell me what you think! Email me with what should happen next! I have a pretty clear-cut idea of what I'm going to do, but my opinions can change...