April 5, 2015 by Leslie Anderson
Frank cleared his throat before he turned on the mic. This battle would be the defining moment of his career as a BattleBot announcer. He had to get it right.
“It is going to be a doozy here in Dining Room Arena,” his voice rang out, rich and deep. “While this illustrious hall has held countless ruthless battles, surely today’s match will go down in the annuls of history as the most shocking, the most brutal, the most,” he paused for dramatic effect, “deadly. That’s right folks, today is the match we’ve all been waiting for: Rusty versus Grudge.”
The announcer’s voice carried even beyond the boundaries of the arena, warning spectators in the Kitchen or Living Room to return to their seats. The fight of the century was about to start.
“That’s right, Frank,” William said. “Today we will finally see Rusty Old Timer Anderson and Grudge Bloodrage Allen come head to head in robotic battle. What’s your take on the opponents?”
Frank sat up a little taller, glad that William deferred to his knowledge. “At 5’5” and only 310 pounds, Rusty is certainly the underdog.”
As if on cue, the old robot rolled onto the platform. His bent exhaust valve and non-functioning eye didn’t completely undermine the grandeur of the antiquated fighter, though. His mustache, finely constructed out of thin wire to resemble hair, gleamed, and his top hat sat on his metal head at a jaunty angle.
He represented the best of the old times, and every old-timer in the audience was surely rooting for him.
“And that Grudge is something else,” Frank continued. “While he may match his opponent in height, he outweighs Rusty by 440 pounds. And his fists are bigger than Rusty’s head. There’s no telling the outcome of this battle, but one thing is certain: one of these robots isn’t going to leave this arena alive. Uh, intact.”
William cocked an eyebrow in amusement at Frank’s word-choice.
Dangit, Frank, get your head in the game. That was a rookie mistake.
“So what do you think is going to tip the scales in somebot’s favor?” Thankfully William’s amusement couldn’t be heard in his voice.
“Well, their handlers will definitely impact how they fight. Both Dave and Leslie carefully prepared the bots, but when it comes to technique, they couldn’t be more different.”
“Care to elaborate?”
“Leslie has a scrappier approach. She gets her bots in and out fast, landing as many punches as possible in that time. But she’s not afraid to hold back outside of her opponent’s reach. Dave takes a more direct approach. Grudge is meant for one thing: beating things into the ground. This puts the advantage in Grudge’s court. One good hit, and Rusty goes down.”
William nodded, sagely intent on Franks words, as if the audience could see him.
“That said, Grudge’s single-minded rage can be a crippling weakness, and he’s not the brightest LED on the circuit board. That means that Rusty’s steam-powered smoke screen just might be enough to confuse him into making a fatal error that not even Dave’s smarts can make up for.”
Grudge entered the arena opposite Rusty. His flame-red eyes glowed with malice, and his crooked, boxy jaw pinched up in a cruel smile. He raised his massive fists into the air, then slammed them into the ground with enough force that even the announcer’s booth shook.
“Grudge seems to be in quite the mood today, folks. This can’t bode well for Rusty.”
Frank signaled for silence from William. The best announcers knew when to be silent. And as the massive Grudge circled the scrappier Rusty, the audience cared only about one thing: the bots.
“You think you have me, don’t you, you lumbering codswallower? Never underestimate a bot of steam. Pip pip cheerio, one swift punch and down you go!”
Frank’s moratorium on talking came to a quick end and he grabbed the mic. “It seems like Rusty is engaging in a rare bit of trash-talking, ladies and gentleman. He hasn’t spoken in the arena in at least twenty years. How will Grudge respond to such a historic event?”
Grudge stepped closer to Rusty. “I WILL CRUSH YOU.”
“It seems like Grudge is sticking to his old catchphrase,” William said.
A referee stepped onto the floor and ordered the two bots to their corners of the arena. As per BattleBot protocol, the referee started counting. “One!”
The atmosphere in the audience was tense. No one spoke as they all awaited an event so brutal, it would surely haunt them for the rest of their evening.
Flames sputtered from Grudge’s exhaust valves. Rusty righted his monocle.