Castle Roland

Geek Squad

by Kyle Aarons

In Progress

Chapter 5

Posted: N/A

Geek Squad

Copyright © 2012 - 2014 by Kyle Aarons and the Revolutions Universe Partnership.

All Rights Reserved

Geek Squad LogoCraig led the way back to the suite he was staying in and watched as Justin continued to talk to Joey. For some reason he had managed to alienate another kid, while only trying to protect himself and Justin. Even when he felt he had done the right thing, it seemed to have backfired. On the plus side, Justin made it a point to drag him into some of the conversation. The problem was, Craig really had no clue how to respond to some of the back and forth.

By the time Craig opened the door he was kind of happy to be getting back to the others. However, as he opened the door, the first sound he heard was the voice of a kid he had not yet met speaking to someone on his phone, and the kid was clearly not happy.

"I don't care!" the smallest kid in the room snarled into his phone. "You took out about half the stuff I want to do with the others!"

The boy's cheeks flared at the response he got, "No! You don't get it!" he fired back with increasing anger while shaking a folder clenched in his left hand hard enough to badly crinkle the whole thing. "You didn't even sign off on me pistol shooting and you know I do it all the time! I can't go rock climbing, and I know how to repel! It's like you took everything fun off the list!"

Whatever the response he got caused him to throw the folder down sending papers everywhere. "Look, mom, you know what I do for fun back at the installation. If I get hurt I get hurt! I'm not going to stay here and look like some wuss, when I'm not!"

The youngster almost threw the phone against the wall, "Mom, stop! If I break a leg and have to be in a cast the rest of the week at least I will have had some fun doing it!"

Finally the kid took a log breath while he kicked at the paperwork scattered all over the floor. "Yeah, I know you care, but your making me look like some kind of sheltered baby here, when I do stuff way more intense than this back at the labs!"

He took a deep breath, "OK, fine. No ocean swimming and no skydiving, but I already know how to parachute…"

"Yeah, fine, you're right; I only went with ex-special forces guys, but…" The boy calmed further, "I'll hand the phone to Mr. Triumph, and yeah, if he wants to beat my ass, for throwing a temper tantrum I'll let him… Yeah, I'm fine… tell dad thanks for bending on a few things you didn't… Yeah, I know he'll be in as much trouble as I will be if I get hurt. But seriously, if we go to a pistol range I'm not going to get shot. If anything, I'll help teach some of the others, but you just have to sign off on the deep sea fishing trip, I want to see how Scott's fish attractor works out on a boat!"

The boy put his lower lip over his top lip and let out a long breath of air causing the hair on his brow-line to blow upward. "I know I am not the greatest swimmer, but it's a boat, and I'll wear a life vest from the time I step on till the time I step off. I'm not going to drown and… Oh come on, do you know how few shark attacks there are!"

Finally, his shoulders relaxed and he nodded to whatever was being said, "Yes, I'll tell him, promise, and yeah, if you want to still break out the belt when I get home for how I talked to you, then it'll be worth it." The boy then handed the phone over to Mr. Triumph, "Mom says she wants to talk to you sir, and says she wants you to send over a permission form so I can get physically punished if you see the need."

Mr. Triumph looked at the phone with a bit of a cringe and quickly walked into the attached chaperone's room and closed the door with his foot leaving two chaperones and all the kids, except Glenn, in the room all looking rather uncomfortably at what they had seen and heard.

This time it was Craig who broke the ice as he snickered and walked over to the kid who was still very obviously angry, "Wow, dude, and here I thought I was the only one to get into serious trouble for going off on my old lady!"

The boy ran a hand through his short sandy colored hair, "I have a bad habit of getting a sore butt for my mouth, but my mom just doesn't get it. I'm a nerd, but not a pussy!" He then extended his hand, "Name's Alexander, and I saw your picture so I know you're Craig."

Craig took the extended hand, "So, you have really parachuted with some ex-special forces guys?"

"Yeah!" Alexander's embarrassment faded in an instant, replaced by excitement. "The first few times I was attached to one of them, but I now have four solos, the last one was a short freefall, without a static line!"

"Oh, man!" Craig's eyes lit up, "I have always wanted to do a free fall! Dad let me do a couple of them attached with him and I did two static line drops, but never a free fall!"

With the ice broken and before more could be said, Scott glanced over at Craig, "Before you make the same mistake I did, make sure you call Alexander by his full name. The look he gave me was actually as intense as your stare. Although, after hearing what he told his mom, I'm starting to see why." He glanced back to Alexander, "You really know how to repel, parachute, shoot, and sword fight?"

Alexander shook his head, "Not sword fight, or fencing, but I do know how to knife fight. I can't see why she wouldn't sign off on a fencing lesson when I have practiced with dulled fighting knives…"

Seeing the looks of skepticism and outright disbelief coming from everyone except Craig, he let out a long sigh, "Come on, guys, I wouldn't lie about this! The security guys at my parents' lab kind of adopted me over the last couple of years. Mom and dad are awesome but are like total wimps of the first degree. Without dad pushing mom, I'd be like locked in the house so I couldn't even skin my knees. But dad gets it…" Alexander shrugged, "Well, at least to the point of knowing I am kind of an adrenaline junkie. He has zero interest in actually trying to understand any of the things I like to do when not building robots and there is no chance he will actually do any of those things with me."

Alexander glanced down at the pile of papers all over the floor and badly blushed, "I can also act like a two year old sometimes."

"Who here hasn't?" Keith asked with a smirk as he bent down and helped Alexander pick up the large mess.

This got some grins and snickers out of all the others except Scott, who smiled but said nothing.

The two chaperones glanced at each other with looks that clearly stated this week was going to be way longer than either of them wanted, but the lead man of this two man team glanced over, "So, Alexander, you sometimes work with the security guys who were former Special Forces?"

"All the time… It's kind of like I live with them half the time." Alexander shrugged clearly not understanding how daunted the man asking the question seemed to be over such an idea. "The lab complex mom and dad work at is the company's most secure and highest restricted in the world. They have to hire guards with a Secret clearance for the gates and higher, much higher, for other areas. Because of this, they tend to look for ex-military with the needed clearances. If you go to their web page you will see I am not telling you anything not already known by the general public either, as security forces application page clearly states only government security vetted persons with embassy, state department, NSA, CIA, or military special forces experience are to apply. There is one guy from the ATF, but he is only cleared for gate use. I think it is like eighty percent being ex- Special Forces with a handful of the others at this point and I know them all."

Alexander grinned, "The first time I hung around them was because dad and mom both needed to stay in the lab while they worked on some kind of project that had a problem. The facility manager said they would take care of me since it was short notice and mom had no babysitter lined up for me. He sent me to hang with the guards and they hated it…they hated me, but dad swung by half way through the second day after I called him and complained. He told them I was a bit of a risk taker and may like to do some things he had no desire to do. He gave them a pretty much free reign. The rest is history. If mom knew half of the stuff dad has let me do with them, she would disown us both. It took dad like four months to admit I knew how to shoot a gun, and the first time she saw me at a pistol competition she had to walk away because she started crying and shaking with fear. She's better now, but… IF she ever finds out I did any kind of a free fall… Well I am pretty sure spontaneous human combustion would prove to be a real thing with her."

This got some outright laughter out of all the other kids and even a grin out of the chaperones. The lead man shook his head, "How about self defense?"

Alexander glanced over at Craig, "Want to move a couple of these tables and see what I've got?"

"I don't want to hurt you…"

"You won't."

Before more could be said, the two chaperones were moving tables out of the way while Joey's and Justin's eyes went wide. Justin spoke up, "Alexander… He showed me what he could do…"

"Good, now it's my turn." Alexander paused and frowned, "So you are?"


"OK, and Glenn is sleeping so who is the other kid?"

Justin moved over to Joey, "He was the local winner last year and is pretty cool. His name is Joey and he built some kind of jet ski surfboard."

Alexander's shoulders slumped, "Man, I'd love to try, but until I can learn to swim better, there ain't no way mom is going to sign off on it." He frowned as he looked around, "You heard how much I had to promise just to go deep sea fishing…"

With this, Ricky nodded, "I'm scared of the water…."

Alexander let out a long breath, "I'm not really scared…" He shrugged, "OK, yeah I kind-a am. I seem to be able to do lots of things, but swimming is not one of them. The security guys finally got me to dog paddle and taught me how to flip over on my back and float and kick so I can get around, but real swimming… I'm pretty much a shallow end of the pool only kid."

Before more could be said Alexander managed a nervous smile, "But next summer, some of the guys said I was going to learn if it kills them, so I am betting by August of next year I'll be pretty good at it."

This got some nervous snickers out of a few while Ricky looked down and kicked at the carpet. "I need to go visit you for a couple of months or something. Mom will never let me learn anything fun…"

Alexander glanced over, "It'd be awesome to have someone come spend a few weeks with me. I'd love to have someone my age around for part of the summer. We should find a way to make it happen."

Ricky was clearly surprised by the sincerity of the words and smiled, "Maybe we can, especially if mom realizes I have some kind of real friend."

"I bet you'll have seven," Steven smiled then glanced over to Joey, "maybe eight, before this week is out. So far this is about the most comfortable I have felt around kids and I actually have several decent friends. Problem is, they can't get into any kind of serious discussions like I have been able to do here."

"I hear that!" Craig admitted with no hesitation. "I can't believe I spent over three hours with Glenn talking about his hover chair, and didn't even scratch the surface of what he knows and what I can learn from him. We even came up with a few ways to upgrade his chair with my water extractor and may have figured out how to do some other really cool stuff with the combination of technologies we designed. I think I could spend months with him and not get bored."

Justin's eyes went wide, "Speaking of Glenn, has anyone checked on him?"

"Out cold." The other chaperone stated. "I looked in on him just before we sent Joey to go find you two."

Craig shot Justin a look of annoyance, not because he was angry at Justin, but because he was mad at himself. He then took a moment to go into the room he was sharing with Glenn. He came back a couple of minutes later. "Thanks Justin. It should have been the first thing I did when I got back… I am…"

"You're fine." Justin cut off Craig, knowing as he did so he was determined to help Craig learn how to take the small extra steps to really make friends. "I think we are all kind of excited about how well some of us are getting along. It's easy to lose track of things."

"Maybe, but I still should have checked on him." Craig stated forcefully, "So thanks." Before Justin had a chance to reply he turned full attention to Alexander, "You sure about this? I'm bigger than you are"

"I've wanted to do this since I first read your Bio in Scientific Discovery." Alexander then grinned, "Besides, you are small compared to my instructors."

Mr. Triumph entered the room just as Alexander found himself taken down buy a kick to the back of the knees and placed into an arm lock. He started to say something only to see both chaperones holding up their hands. A moment later he noted both boys were grinning as they continued to tussle.

Alexander used his free hand to reach up and push into Craig's shoulder. While most of those watching had no clue what exactly this had done, the results were stunning.

Craig had to roll off and shake his shoulder which in turn gave Alexander an opening. He grabbed onto the hand as Craig continued to shake it and applied some kind of wrist lock, taking the bigger and stronger kid down to his knees.

Craig winced as his whole arm went numb from the expert hit on a pressure point. Being taken to his knees with his hand twisted in a lock he had never experienced before was equally astounding and somewhat painful, but where martial arts left him a bit lacking, Gymnastics took over. He went all the way down then quick spring and flipped; getting back to his feet while the flip allowed him to rotate his shoulder back to a normal position. He then yanked a very startled Alexander over to him and wrapped in a bear hug while falling forward.

Before Alexander could recover from the rather hard impact with the carpeted floor, he felt the boy on top of him use some remarkable flexibility to twist into some kind of strange shape. Before he really knew it, he was totally pinned with no way to get out without using lethal types of damage. He struggled for a few seconds then nodded, "OK, OK! You got me!"

Craig quickly let go and backed off while rotating his shoulder some more. "Barely! You are good and I noticed you gave me a bit of a head knock on my chin to let me know you still had something left but we both would have ended up hurt! I want to get you out on some mats so we can really go!"

"Any time!" Alexander responded while rolling his neck around. "But, you have got to teach me that half handspring summersault flip thing! I've never seen anything like it before and I sure don't have a way to counter it!"

"Desperation!" Craig admitted. "What was that wrist lock and what did you do to my arm?"

"Special forces moves," The lead chaperone jumped in, "both of them… Although some cops use the wrist lock to take down suspects. I learned it, but to be honest, Alexander does it quicker than I could. But I'm with him, the flip was amazing, Craig. You had me holding my breath while reaching for my cell phone; I thought for sure we'd need to take you to a hospital…"

"The flip was to take the pressure off my shoulder, not put more on. He had it twisted to where it was only way I could move without it dislocating. If I hadn't been able to flip out of it, he would have had me. I want to learn the pressure point he hit and the hold. Those are amazing," He rolled his shoulder again, "and more than a bit painful."

Fredric rubbed his chin and glanced over the boys in the room. "Well, I don't want you doing another round of anything slightly resembling this until you are on mats and with extra chaperones around. An accident could seriously hurt one or both of you."

Seeing the looks he was getting from both boys he managed a smile, "But, I am impressed, guys, and if you want to go a few rounds we'll set up the gym over at EEL with mats and a medic. If you want to teach the others a few things, be my guest. Martial arts and self defense was not something I listed and if you two agree to be careful and gentle, I'll just file it away as kids playing. On the other hand, if you hurt each other…"

"Oh, come on. We both knew when to stop, sir." Craig spoke with some annoyance. "We weren't about to hurt each other."

"I'll have to take your word for it, Craig, because to me it sure looked violent. If you both hadn't been smiling… Well, I am just glad you both thought it was fun and you are clearly better friends for it, so I'm going to chalk this up to me not having a clue and leave it there."

Fredric then glanced down at Alexander, "And you, young man…"

Alexander gulped, "Sorry…"

"Yeah, you would be a great deal more sorry if your mom had her way. As it is, I had to promise to spank you, which I am not, but you best play it up like I did. She actually wanted me to do it in front of all the others on your bare butt, but I talked her out of going that far. As it is…" he walked up and smacked Alexander on the back of the head with his open hand fairly hard, "this is for making me even have the conversation to begin with."

He then turned Alexander around and stared into the boy's blue eyes. "Secondly, she is faxing over a new list with more things signed off, but she is including a full power of attorney for me or any chaperones to use corporal punishments at any time, and I have to not only let all chaperones know this, I have to assure them all they will be in no trouble from me or anyone else if they follow through. If I didn't agree, I would be sending you home… tonight."

With this, Alexander turned a bit pale. "Wow, she is mad."

"Yeah, so don't test me or my people." He lifted up the boy's chin and shook his head, "I can guarantee you this much, you ever talk to me or my people like you just did your mother and you will get a beating in front of whoever is there and I will keep you on a day of lockdown here at the resort. Understood?"

Alexander's eyes went wide, "yes, sir!"

"Good. Tomorrow, before you get to do anything, you will call her and apologize, with me listening to you. Now, you need to decide who you are going to room with, because the rest of the night you are on room lockdown. You stay there until daybreak other than to use the attached bathroom."

Steven glanced over, "I'll room with you…"

Alexander shook his head, "I thought we each decided to find someone else since we got to know each other and wanted to get to know others?"

"Fine with me," Steven smiled. "I'd hate to tell mom I am rooming with the group trouble maker."

This got some new giggles, most of them nervous ones.

Justin saw a way of getting out of rooming with Scott and took it. He looked right at Steven as he spoke. "I don't know you at all. How about we share the other bedroom in this suite since I kind of know how to help Glenn?"

Steven quickly gave a thumb up. "Sure, Justin, I would love to know more about cameras and photography."

This got a huge grin out of Justin.

Alexander glanced over to Scott, "So how about the two of us, since I can tell Ricky and Keith are pretty set on staying with each other."

Scott shrugged, "Yeah, sure. You wanted to know more about the cell phone thing anyway. Since you are on restrictions tonight we can talk it over and maybe figure out a way to come up with an interrupt."

"There's something I can sink my brain into, and you can finish watching Hack-n- Saw at the last competition."

"Yeah, I want to learn way more about this Robot War thing, anyway!"

Several heads turned at this, with both Craig and Keith speaking at the same time, "Robot war thing?"

Fredric smiled, "I'll send you all an e-mail with the file. But at the moment, Alexander is going to his room in the other suite for the rest of the night." He then pointed to the door while eyeing Alexander.

The boy nodded, grabbed his suitcases and went through the door without further complaints. Once he had done so, Fredric glanced around the room, "For the record, I will not tolerate any of you behaving like we just witnessed and room lockdowns with no activities for the whole day will result should anyone have similar ideas. You are all far too smart and accomplished for such sh… crap. Understood?"

Once he had a nod or a yes from every kid, he let out a long breath. "There is one more thing I have heard from several of you which needs to be put to rest right now. Alexander's project got him here because his ingenuity is on par with any of you. Before anyone else in this room decides to scoff at it, you need to know more about it."

He glanced over as Scott hung his head, "Scott, it isn't just you. I have heard similar comments come out of several others. Alexander's vacuum is not simple; as a matter of fact, it is on par with Glenn's chair. So before you all go judging his project take a look at the robot war files and let me clue you in on something. His robot vacuum incorporates much of the same tech, only in a much safer way. It other words, it is also an exterminator. It can hunt down rats, mice, cockroaches, even bed bugs and has ways to deal with all of them. Its AI allows it to know the difference between home owners and intruders and has modules more than capable of dealing with the latter. It can identify a family pet, even a hamster, and exclude it from its mouse duties. In simple terms, it is as much of a security bot as a vacuum, but he insisted on marketing it as a vacuum first since everything else is an add-on. Just so you understand how well he thought this out, let me add he built it to take plug in modules so more can be bought over time and the thing upgraded. So, not only did he make one thing to put on the market, He made it a point to make the base line model easily upgradable so he can market everything else separately or as a full unit."

"The other thing you all saw was both Alexander and Craig are quite skilled at being able to handle themselves in a way I know I never have been, and when I was your ages, would have scared the living daylights out of me. Now, my chaperones are here for your protection and should always be close, but, God forbid, something happens while you all are here and my chaperones aren't, do all of us a favor and let one of them handle it."

Joey managed a smile, "Trust me, I know Craig won't let anything happen to any of you."

Fredric raised an eyebrow, but the look he got from Joey told him he would never get the whole story so he quickly let it go while also walking up to the kid, stepping behind him, and wrapping his arms protectively around the boy. "The final thing for the night deals with Joey, here. As most of you now know, he was my sole winner last year when I held this contest locally to get a feel for how I wanted to do it on a grander scale going forward. He will be around all week and may be older than you all, but not by much, and he is pretty much like the rest of you.

"Some of you will hear him refer me to Uncle Fredric on occasion, so to eliminate any confusion, I am not really his uncle. After the contest I helped him get adopted by a couple of my R&D people and pushed for some paperwork to go through when there was some resistance. Before he won, I had no idea who he was, but now…" he lightly kissed Joey on top of the head, "He is every bit of a nephew to me as any of my real ones. But like many of you, he could really use some friends, so I hope you all give him a shot at joining in this week and getting to know you all. He will be staying with me across the hall, and the door is open for you to come see him… Unless you are on room lockdown, that is."

Fredric then called for room service to bring up some snacks for the boys, purposefully excluding Alexander. He then glanced over at the TV, "You know, let's all enjoy a little bit of mechanical violence."

Steven grinned as he realized what Mr. Triumph was talking about, "Awesome! I'll never get tired of this!"

Fredric moved up and inserted a disk into the DVD player, "I haven't seen this one yet, but Alexander's dad said he thought it was the best in the series." He then glanced over to Craig, "Any chance Glenn will want to get up to see some real robot wars?"

Justin glanced over to Craig, "Let's check."

Craig shot Justin a skeptical look but decided to go with whatever his new friend thought best because it was clear he was not good at reading others well at all and Justin was. He quickly slid into the side bedroom and stood a little ways back while Justin moved up and very gently shook Glenn.

It took a second, slightly firmer, shake to finally get the smaller boy's eyes to open. As Justin saw this, he knelt and smiled, "Hey, Glenn, I know you are wiped out but most of us are going to have some snacks and are going to watch some kind or robot war thing. Mr. Triumph says it's real robot wars, so Craig and I figured we better see if you wanted to join us."

Glenn blinked his eyes and looked around trying to figure out what was going on. At the same time, hearing Mr. Triumph and robot wars peaked an interest deep in his brain which activated before the rest of him did. "Um, oh, sorry… Um, yeah…" He winced badly as his leg made a creaking sound even Craig could hear standing well back. "Do I have to get dressed?"

"No." Craig moved up while pulling the covers back. "We're going to watch it in the main room." He then gently cradled Glenn's right leg, "Do we need to move it some?"

Glenn's cheeks flushed some as he nodded, "Look, I don't want to be a…"

This time Craig shook his head hard, "Come on, Glenn, you're my roommate, no different than being part of my JM squad. We look out for each other. Now do I do the same thing as you showed me in the pizza arcade?"

"Pretty much," Glenn braced, "But go slower 'cause it's going to hurt more. I should have done my pre-bed stretches… but I was just so tired…"

Craig gently and slowly lifted Glenn's right leg about eighteen inches then took hold of the boy's bare foot and started to gently rotate the foot and ankle at the same time he slowly moved the knee joint. At first there were lots of noises, but after only a minute most of it went away. At the same time Glenn gripped the sheets and blankets hard enough to turn his knuckles pure white.

Justin moved forward and wiped a couple of tears off the Glenn's cheeks. "I'm sorry, I should have just let you sleep."

This time Glenn's eyes narrowed some, "No, I'm not a baby or a cripple. I want to be part of this whole week!"

Craig hardened some, "Hey, that's why we came in. Mr. Triumph asked and Justin is the reason we are here, so lay off him."

Glenn gritted his teeth as he felt Craig put a bit more bend into his knee. "OK, you're right, Sorry Justin. I just hate this so much!"

Justin nodded in total understanding while shooting Craig a nasty eye. "You are way tougher than I could be. I'd be bawling my eyes out if my leg made those sounds."

"I used to." Glenn admitted with quite a bit of shame. "I then went through this whole pain killer phase, but my brain didn't work right and I hated that even more, so now I have some in case of emergencies, but have not used one in almost five months."

"Which proves you are every bit as tough as any of the rest of us," Craig stated with a great deal of conviction. "Most of us would be begging for anything right now, and you are taking the pain. My dad would love your heart. I can't wait for you to get a chance to meet him."

This got a grin out of Glenn, despite the pain he was in. "I'd pay money to see a warship."

"Then we'll figure out a way to make it happen," Craig smiled, "one way or another."

Justin glanced over, "Any chance I can get in on this?"

Craig's grin expanded as he gave a nod, "I don't see why not."

Two minutes later Glenn forced himself to sit up while grabbing his hip. He glanced over at Justin, "I'm really sorry for snapping at you…"

"You should be." Craig responded before Justin could say anything. He then turned to Justin, "Look, I know you are way better at this friendship thing than I am, but he had no reason to bark at you and I will not sit by as anyone does so. You are way too nice and caring to have anyone snarl at you."

Justin looked down at the floor, "I sure wish kids around where I live would see it like you do."

Glenn reached over and grabbed Justin's hand, "Maybe you should invite Craig to your place for a week or so. I bet he would straighten out a few of them."

"I'll see if Alexander can join me when I come to visit," Craig snickered. "Between the two of us, I bet we could explain how us geeks tend to stick together."

"The vacuum kid?" Glenn snorted with a note of disgust.

"Yeah, but before you say more, you missed him taking me down and whatever we are going to see has something to do with his submission to this contest." Craig warned, "And Mr. Triumph already laid down the law about not saying bad stuff about him or his vacuum until we see whatever this is."

"From what we heard it ain't just a vacuum either, Glenn."

"Whatever." The boy shook his head while reaching for the side of his hover chair.

Craig shook his head, "Dude, you aren't even close to being ready to fully bend this leg, no matter how tough you are." He stood up "Would you just let me be your buddy and carry you into the other room so I can lay you on the floor and continue to help loosen up your leg?"

"Fine," Glenn held up his arms so Craig could lift him, "but only cause you and Justin all but gave me a shower and dressed me without giving me a hard time… Are you sure the others won't laugh?"

Craig easily lifted the boy supporting his right leg, just the way he had been shown earlier, while Justin shook his head, "Come on, Glenn give everyone a chance."

"I have tried, but it always backfires on me."

"It won't this time. If it does, I'll let Alexander deal with them after he gets out of room suspension for mouthing off to his mom."

"One of us got in trouble already?" Glenn shook his head, "And I missed it? Man, now that is really unfair!"

Justin snickered at this, "Yeah, I came here worried about Craig, but I think I should have been more worried about Alexander."

"OK, so he may be tough, but he only built a stupid vacuum." Glenn chuckled as Craig took him into the main room of the suite, "I could do one of those in my sleep."

"I don't think you could build one of these in your sleep, Glenn." Fredric stated with a frown as he pushed play.

A second later an announcer type voice came over as a camera panned down on a roller blade hockey rink. "OK ladies and gentlemen, we are down to the last six for this quarter's trophy. Off in the north west zone we have Judge Dread owned by Kent Luthor out of the Aerodynamics division with nine kills so far." The camera panned down on a robot with two arms with pick axes at the end and a back arm with a chain saw.

Craig's eyes went wide, "Holy crap! Look at that thing!"

Before more could be said, the camera panned over to the next robot. "To the right of Judge Dread, we have Aracnos owned by General Dynamic's missile tech Jason Glover; Aracnos has eleven kills thus far." This time the camera showed a turtle looking bot with eight arms, each with a different weapon. One was a cutting torch, the second a saw, the third a hammer, the forth a mini jack hammer, the fifth a circular saw, the sixth a huge claw, the seventh a spiked ball and the final one an arc welder. This time several of the kids whistled as it spun and decimated the wall behind it in a show of mechanical nasty attitude.

The camera panned around again, this time showing a tracked bot with nasty spikes all the way around it. The announcer spoke again, "We have Chain-Gang next to Aracnos. Chain-gang has sixteen kills so far. It is owned by none other than our very own G√ľnter Ratter from Space Propulsion." Suddenly a pair of boxes popped out of each side of the robot and spiked spinning chains uncoiled out of each. The side boards of the arena shredded after only a couple of seconds before the chains retracted and the boxes disappeared behind the thick armor.

"Oh man, money has to be with Chain-gang!" Keith shuddered with excitement.

The camera panned around again, this time showing a four tracked robot with an armored carapace. All around the outside of it were forklift-like appendages and the top sported a sledge hammer, while two other small turrets concealed other surprises. "With seventeen kills, Flip-bot is owned by Heather Zuni from Lockheed Martin, new comer to these games!" Before more could be said the turrets extended and started spinning as thin cables came out looking almost propeller like. At the same time one of the fork lift looking appendages shot out, broke though the wall and lifted upwards taking out the boards like they were paper. The whip like fibers then ripped into the wall spraying debris almost fifteen feet from where they tore into the walls. "Oh… Wow… I think I have my winner guys!" Ricky spoke in pure awe.

The camera rotated again, this time showing a rather plain looking bot. It had four compartments around its outer shell and the bottom had several long slits. The only obvious weapon was the massive fireman's axe on the top, but this one looked way meaner and bigger. "Our last two bots each come in with twenty-one kills to their names. The first is Hack-N-Saw owned by Alexander Zummer, son of two of Cyber-Systems Unlimited's plasma field engineers, and folks that are new to this circuit, don't think he gets his parent's help. This is all made by Alexander, and as last year's leading kill getter he has earned the title Alexander the Great!" Before more could be said, saw blades came out from every slit while the whole thing lifted up a little and the whole bottom plate suddenly became a massive saw. At the same time the back part of axe on the top slashed down into the wall behind it with so much force the concrete behind it cracked. It then moved through the wall and then back into the arena like the wall hadn't even been there."

Steven grinned, "I saw him fight this bot in a smaller tournament while I was in the Denver airport, but boy did he upgrade! Hack-n-Saw get's my bet!"

At the same time Fredric raised an eyebrow, "So, does anyone want to tease him about a vacuum now?"

Instantly every head in the room started shaking.

The camera panned over to the last robot that looked like something straight out of a horror movie. It had twenty two arms with everything from an ice pick to an electrified wire net. "Finally, we have Boeing's Allen Dorm with Mad Max again, also with twenty-one kills. Mad Max tops out at nine hundred and forty pounds, making it the heaviest bot out here today. Spectators, remember to keep your eye protection on and to not lean over the rails. We don't want anyone going to the hospital again."

Suddenly there was a whistle and all bots moved past the dark blue line and into the center part of the arena. Acracnos quickly went after Flip-bot and was promptly tossed on its side by one of the forklift appendages. It then managed to do some damage to the offending bot while it righted itself, but paid for it as the sledge hammer smashed into it repeatedly. Both bots backed off from each other smoking and trailing fluid.

In the middle of the arena Judge Dread, Chain-Gang and Mad Max all went after Hack-N-Saw. It was clear all three of them didn't want a kid in the competition. Two quickly paid for their arrogance. Hack-N-Saw's top axe suddenly rotated and started spinning sideways. The axe part quickly removed well over half the weapons on Mad Max's thin arms while smashing into the side of Judge Dread with enough force to cripple the two chains on the robot's left side. Alexander's bot then raced straight into the damage and extended a multitude of blades that popped out and retracted with remarkable speed. Judge Dread started twitching and smoking after only twenty seconds. Hack-N-Saw then backed off and one of the side compartments opened and slammed into and through the mangled side. The arm suddenly retracted and there was a series of loud bangs and bits and pieces of Judge Dread blew out of the large hole. It toppled forwards and stopped moving.

"What in the hell was that?" one of the chaperones asked with wide eyes.

"Some kind of explosive charge…" Craig whispered while trembling with excitement. "Three on one and Alexander took out one and mangled one of the others! Even if he loses this I want to go shake his hand!"

The camera switched back over to the first two robots as they went after each other again. This time Aracnos paid the ultimate price as one of the forklift appendages once again tossed the bot over while it fired a grapple over at the downed bot to pin it in place. It then easily closed on the helpless bot and the hammer smashed directly into the undercarriage three times. The third sent a cascade of sparks over a wide area. Flip-bot then had to take over a minute to beat on the dead robot to get it untangled from the smoking metal carcass.

Clearly the camera man got bored with this and turned back to the last three bots. Chain Gang decided to back off and rethink tactics while going after the badly injured Mad Max. Only problem was Mad Max was not out of the fight by a long shot. One of its arms become red hot and pushed into Chain Gang's armor which melted like butter. The red hot end became even hotter, glowing white then detached and dropped into the hole in the armor. Moments later the still glowing hot rod fell though the bottom of Chain Gang as did some burning fluid. Before either bot could do anything else, however, Hack-N-Saw raced forward. Another arm came out and slammed into the hole created by the white hot phosphorous rod, dropped something into the hole and sped away. Out of the still open side compartment, a long wire started to uncoil attached to whatever the robot had put into the hole. It then stated circling both bots at a very high rate of speed, basically tying the two bots together.

Once both bots were circled multiple times Hack-N-Saw closed in and the bottom plate started spinning, cutting all around the bottom of the two bots while they desperately tried to break loose. Once the cut was deep enough the wire coming out of the side of Hack-N-Saw started to uncoil again, this time helped into the deep cut by the same arm that had put the end piece into Chain Gang. Once again Hack-N-Saw backed off, but this time the back end of the axe slammed into the ground anchoring Hack-N-Saw while some internal winch started to pull the wire back in. At this point it was clear this was more than a wire, it was some kind of a super hot wire as it started to melt into both bots.

While this left Hack-N-Saw with multiple gouges on its armor from the remaining arms of Mad Max and the remaining chains on Chain Gang, it didn't have a single breach as it detached the wire and moved away from the two fused together bots.

After only a few seconds the two were partially melted together while the fire started in Chain-Gang continued to burn. With the bots locked together in a death tangle and more burning fluid coming out of both bots it didn't take long for the announcer to call for a break while fire extinguisher crews moved in and smothered the flames in CO2. It came far too late for both robots as sparks continued to shoot out of both long after the flames were extinguished.

This left Flip-bot and Hack-N-Saw. The two played cat and mouse for over five minutes with each scoring some hits. However, Flip-bot found Hack-N-Saw too dangerous to flip. The forklift armed bot tried twice only to end up with the bottom plate around Hack-N-Saw pushing out far enough to cut off the entire forklift arm before it could get the leverage to flip Hack-N-Saw over. At the same time, Hack-N-Saw's top axe was too slow for an overhand blow to land and when Alexander spun it, the power drain slowed his bot down too much to close.

Flip-bot suddenly got a lucky hit on Hack-N-Saw with its hammer collapsing part of whatever was supporting Hack-N-Saw, or at least so the controller of Flip-bot thought. Flip-bot moved forward on the crippled side and started to slam its hammer down again, only this time one of the unused side compartments on Hack-N-Saw opened and arm came out and grabbed the hammer arm. At the same time Hack-N-Saw's supposed damaged side popped back up to a level position. The big blade on the bottom started spinning while the arm grabbing the hammer helped Hack-N-Saw rotate all the way around Flip-bot, cutting off all the remaining forklift pieces the first time around, then the outer armor shell the second time. The center axe then slammed down on the middle of Flip-bot and lifted the whole armored shell off pulling all sorts of wires and getting lots of sparks as it did so. While Hack-N-Saw couldn't shake the armor casing free from its axe, it had enough power the beat on the exposed components with the armored shell still attached to the axe head until a cascade of sparks erupted from the central CPU area of Flip-bot.

The footage ended with Alexander hosting up a huge trophy while behind him cleanup crews went to work on the carnage of what was left.

Nothing was said for well over a minute and several of the boys held handfuls of popcorn in hands that had been half way to their mouths.

Fredric glanced around, "So, let me ask this one more time, does anyone want to talk about 'just a vacuum' now?"

Glenn looked over, his eyes still wide, "Do you have any idea what I could do to, and with, my chair with his help?!"


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