After a short rest Lexel found the buzz in her head had died down, the nutra-snack pack she found smashed at the bottom of her bag helped some too. On one hand she was gratefully she had forgotten to clean out the bag but on the other she wished it had been a little fresher. Lexel pushed the thought of snacks aside and reminded herself that they had more pressing matters to attend to. They still had to make it to the meeting point and Lexel figured it a good idea to talk strategy with Zero before hand, just to be safe.
Plastic sheeting crinkled at Lexel’s elbow as she allowed herself a quick stretch to break the silence. Some of the loose debris must have slid around her while she cat napped in their makeshift shelter. Zero was still positioned by her side, standing guard like some stone statue; it was like he had never even moved.
“We have some ground to cover if we are going to make it to our little audition on time,” Lexel whispered. For a second she thought she noticed Zero’s head move just a hair but she couldn’t be sure. Did the robot need to shut down or something like she slept she wondered? “Zero,” she made the name a question, trying to see if she could get his attention.
“The area seems secure,” Zero reported to her in response. “We can leave at your discretion.” It was definitely going to take some getting use to being around the peculiar prototype Lexel noted to herself. Every time she found herself thinking of him as just another robot he would do something out of place, and likewise when she began to see him as something alive. She was at a complete loss as how to think of Zero, so she decided maybe it was best to leave such philosophical debates to others and just accept him as her friend. That seemed simple enough for her.
“Zero, are you familiar with the term: fighting dirty,” Lexel asked as she brushed some bits of packaging from her jacket. Zero followed her out from behind the piled debris, tracking her with his eyes as she went. “Unknown,” he finally answered after a short pause. “Are you referring to fighting in unclean environments or while being dirty?”
“Neither Zero,” Lexel explained. “It is an expression; what it means is fighting without morals or obeying any rules. See, we are about to be tested by people who fight on the streets for money and they typically are not too trusting of outsiders. So I think we should at the very least expect to face opponents with no intention of fighting fair. Because we either prove ourselves to these people or well, our lives might depend on it.”
“Understood,” Zero confirmed. For once Lexel was oddly disappointed by the lack of commentary from her companion. She waited for him to add some comment or observation on the matter but when he didn’t she found herself grasping for something to talk about as they walked. “So, what weapon systems do we have to work with,” Lexel asked her four legged friend. “Which load outs did you still have on you when you escaped? Did you blast and burn your way, blow open some doors, what?”
“Negative, I have no mounted weapons available,” Zero answered. “My escape was managed by a carefully planed routine and made using my default on-board utility components.” It was not the answer Lexel expected to hear; in fact it made her feel like she had just been punched in the stomach – hard. Without any weapons how were they supposed to fight?
“Do not be alarmed, you yourself can attest to my prowess in battle even if only using the available tools at my disposal.” Lexel had to smile at that, the memory of their last Match Fight simulation still fresh in her mind. They would have to be creative and think on their feet, but they would at least have a chance. Maybe Xeph had rubbed off on her, because Lexel was still finding herself worried.
The meeting site turned out to be an old abandoned lot littered with the ruins of some former structure. While Lexel wasn’t surprised by the choice in location, she soon discovered something that did. Standing in the middle of a rubble ringed clearing was a purple and silver figure with a polish that gleamed in the last rays of sunlight. On either forearm a mounted disk of shiny metal sat with edges of bluish green energy already glowing as the spun around the rim.
This glittering gladiator was already poised and waiting for battle, its amethyst eyes immediately training themselves on Zero. “Can I be alarmed now,” Lexel asked weakly. Zero didn’t answer, already focusing his attention on studying his waiting adversary. With the last rays of sunlight vanishing from the sky neon lights blossomed to illuminate the air above them. And with the neon glow came a gruff voice from somewhere unseen. “You wanted a chance, this is it – all you have to do is survive. That is, if you can.”
Without ceremony or flash the battle began with only a single word being uttered; “Fight.”