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  | Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Villains & Vigilantes | The Revolution | Story So Far | Nine Lives |





    "Oh, there is a deadline on this, because they have to have somewhere to play. And the somewhere to play deadline is based on how long it takes the Japanese Olympic team—or as my friend General Motors likes to refer to them, the J-bots—to disassemble Fenway. Those fifteen mecha that you'll find closing in on Fenway contain the unconscious bodies of the team, and are rigged to explode if too much damage is done to them. So I recommend the Revolution doesn't get too closely involved. Or if they do, that they're very, very careful," he snickered. "Looks like I've won the second inning! Third inning's up, Revolution, you're at bat." He signed off.
    Scott was already at Fenway; it didn't take the rest of us long to get there, since we'd been headed in that direction anyway. There was some screaming and running as fifteen ten-foot-high mecha closed in from all directions; fortunately, that part of town doesn't see much activity in the afternoon. They seemed to have been made from Mazdas, Hondas, Mitsubishis... of course.
    Every few minutes the Babe got back on the air. "They're gettin' real close to Fenway—better hurry up with that money, guys. Ooh, that was probably a landmark!"
    I watched the robots approach the walls and start battling their way in, wondering what the hell I could do. Too heavy for me to lift, too slippery for me to manipulate with any real odds of success, we didn't want to damage them too much in any case, and the people inside them weren't people we wanted to hurt. A distinct problem.
    Phoenix Talon set his bike to hover next to a mecha and jumped onto it. There wasn't any obvious way to get the man inside out. He found an exposed cable and started sawing on it with a shuriken. Another one came up from behind and tried to grab him. He jumped onto the new one; it waved its arms ineffectually as three more pounded on the stadium walls. They weren't doing much damage yet, largely due to their cheap manufacture.
    I tried to check the physical condition of the people inside, but there was too much metal in the way; all I could tell was that they were in there. Scott fogged around one of them and sucked it dry of power; it fell over with a rending crash and started billowing smoke. He ripped the thing open and pulled the guy inside out, and through himself, just before it blew up. Thunderbolt absorbed the energy from one of those attacking the building. Another crash.
    "Whup, that's two men out," the Babe commented. "How many do you think you get?"
    Some of the ten finally broke through the walls. A few others climbed up the exterior and started in on the bleachers. Phoenix Talon kicked an arm off its bearings.
    I took a look at one of the downed robots; parts of it seemed to have loosened up, as if they didn't really intend to trap the people inside. I hauled the man out; seconds later the robot exploded, throwing shrapnel everywhere. Scott drank the power out of a second mecha.
    "Guys, you're supposed to fight them," an annoyed Babe remarked.
    "You know, he's gotta be in the near area," Scott commented.
    "Yeah..." I agreed.
    "Could you put me down please somewhere safe?" the man was still holding asked timidly.
    "Oh. Do you know where you were taken?" I asked.
    "No. Could I run now? I have a lot of experience running from giant monsters."
    I gained some altitude and looked around, wondering if there was anyplace they would be watching the scene from. The guys were doing fine on the robots without me, Phoenix could evidently break them barehanded. And to be honest, I didn't really care if they did some damage the park; better that than someone getting hurt.
    "Ooh, too much damage," the Babe crooned as Phoenix Talon's robot fell almost on top of him and began thrashing around. He wrenched the hatch off, and the mecha exploded. There was no one inside; the guy must have fallen out while it was rolling around, somehow.
    I found Homer hovering up there, and spotted the Home Run Auto Wrecking Yard down the street. "Scott, get your ass up here and get rid of this thing."
    "I'm up to my pseudopods in mecha," he excused himself.
    "That damn baseball's up here."
    "It's just a baseball, grab it and beat it against the ground repeatedly."
    "It's not just a baseball." I wasn't going to be able to catch it, in any case.
    A mecha fell off the wall and exploded when Thunderbolt drained it. Scott, having seen something of how the things worked, went to gas, liquefied inside a mecha and blew the hatch out from the inside. I headed for the wrecking yard. There was a satellite dish on the roof.
    "I'm going to go pay these guys a visit. You guys seem to have this well under control, and there's not much I can do with them." They had five of them down already.
    "Oh, thank you very much!" the Babe broke in again. "Congratulations, Boston, I've just been informed that they've made the first installment of their payment in the convenient drop box set aside. Just three more like it, and I'll stop destroying Fenway."
    Idiots—why are they paying him? I wondered irritably. You'd think they didn't trust us to handle things. I took a look through the wall and saw General Motors, sitting down and moving his hands rapidly—the robot controls—and fifteen figures tied up against the far wall. I blinked. Another set?
    "You see, the plan's perfect! Your mecha are collapsing!" Motors cackled. "Soon I'll show the world how pathetic your whole country is!"
    The Babe was nowhere in sight. I sighed heavily and reached out to Motors' nervous system. He's an old guy, and I couldn't justify hurting him, no matter how annoying he is. The Babe, now... no, no. Mustn't think like that.
    "Bioelectric shock," he gasped. "I read about this... in the mailings. Must... reach... mecha!" He slumped into unconsciousness. The tied-up members of the Japanese baseball team got up, hopped over, and started kicking him. The real Japanese baseball team this time; Scott had it figured out already, that the ones in the mecha were supposed to go to the game later on and beat the living daylights out of the Red Sox.
    I went inside and shut down the control panel. Called the team. "I have General Motors. He's unconscious now, and we have the real Japanese baseball team—I think, don't quote me on that."
    Scott got Reilly on the other line and suggested, "You might want to stop giving money to the guy who no longer has hostages." Then he explained what had been going on to our confused liaison.
    The drop was in Park Street T station. I headed that way because if I didn't and he was there I was never going to stop kicking myself.
    He wasn't there. There were three unconscious cops, four confused civilians covered in orange paint from a burst dye pack, and three trains pulling out. There was also a small statue of Babe Ruth with a note taped to it.
    Looks like we're even runs on this inning. Game's not over yet.
    "Frickin' New Yorkers," I muttered. Maybe the third try will be a charm.
    Scott went looking for Homer for similar reasons; it was gone as well. General Motors had regained consciousness when I got back.
    "Neuroelectric shock again," he muttered. "Even prepared for it as I was, by the meditation techniques, it was still too much. Next time I'll be ready. Next time!"
    "You keep telling yourself that."
    "You won't catch me so easy," he predicted, puffing out his chest.
    "No, 'cause you're staying put this time!" I snapped.
    "There hasn't been a prison built that can hold me."
    "Wanna bet, pops? Get in," the police officer ordered him. "And this time, your motor pool privileges are revoked."
    "You guys let him in the motor pool?" Scott asked, aghast.
    "It seemed to calm him down," the other cop shrugged.
    "You ever see a paddywagon grow arms?"
    "Let him keep working in the motor pool, you'll see it."

[Aside: Elsewhere]

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© 2001 Rebecca J. Stevenson