The Tower Battle elimination series continues. Thrown into different mechas, the organisers playing with the environment, Praxit has to use all his ingenuity if he is to make it through.
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Episode 10 begins:
I scoped the field and started planning. The other three mechas were heading towards me. They wanted to take me out first. That’s what happens when you show up to the lobby late. Everyone makes plans without you.
It was going to cost them. I moved in among the modules and beams and panel racks where they couldn’t get a clear view of me and spent a few precious moments to program the crane with one hand while shoving beams and fasteners and cables into a module with the other. Then I grabbed a beam in my right hand and a fastener in my left and walked out into the field, stomping off to one side, away from my building site as the crane lowered a module into position.
These players were smarter than the ones in the first round. No-one was hanging back. They had been starting to spread out, and one was definitely on their way to sneak around behind me, but my new position brought them all back together and heading towards me. They must have watched the first round clips, because they were well spaced and keeping an eye on my crane. Just like I wanted them to.
The situation became a stand off. The clock was running down and they could see that small as my tower was, just two modules, it was still taller than theirs. And I was adding to it like I fully expected to be the last one standing. Which I did.
Finally they made a move towards me and I took control of the crane and flew it out between us. They saw it coming and froze, ready to move out of the way if it dropped the module it was carrying. They watched it as I brought it lower. In this gravity even a short fall would accelerate the module to a game-ending speed. I brought it lower, which confused them. It even touched down on the ground for a moment, blocking me from their view. And when it lifted back up again, the beam I had been holding was lying on the ground and I had disappeared.
I was clinging to the other side as the crane sped back over to my tower at a speed the mechas couldn’t match. I dropped off before it reached the ground next to my little victory tower. That gravity was cranked way up. It was a short drop but it triggered the emergency jets. I slapped the fastener I had into its place between the stacked modules to secure a corner. I grabbed two more from the module before sending the crane up to the top to put it into place. I had time to grab more fasteners from the supply cache. Most of the corners were secured before I started climbing. I made sure I was out of sight from the others so they would worry about what I was up to.
They were just approaching when I stood up on the top. The three of them stopped and stared up at me. They were doing the math. I could see the crane at the nearest site move into action. Someone was trying to catch up.
At 45 metres above them I was out of their group comms range, but I would love to have heard what they were saying.
One player, the one on the left of the little group, made the next move. They slid one leg back and went down on one knee. They did this fast. And at the same time they swung the beam they were holding across and into the knee of the mecha next to them. It failed to pop the joint and as they went for a second swing their victim brought down the end of their own beam, combining high gravity and construction mecha strength, onto the cockpit, cracking the canopy and triggering a red flag.
This left the third player stepping back to get into position to take a swing before they got taken out. This gave the cockpit popper plenty of time to do what the first attacker couldn’t – a full mecha-torso swing of the beam, coming up from ground level and aimed for the other cockpit. A hand got in the way, but that was fine, it popped the wrist and up came another red flag.
My opponents had eliminated themselves. The match was almost over. I had the only tower. I had plenty of stuff to drop if a climb was attempted. That’s why a crane drone started flying towards me with a module hanging from its cable.
They got full points for learning. They could try and use the module as a wrecking ball or hope I stood still long enough for them to drop it on me. Not that I would give them the chance. I knocked it out of the sky with my own crane drone. They both spiralled to the ground a long way from my tower, smashed rotors scattering parts as they plumeted.
That made the final player angry enough, or desperate enough, to start climbing. Making it easy for me to take a plate, place it against the edge of the module and let it drop like the blade of a guillotine. It fell like it had been fired from a railgun. I don’t even know what joints I knocked out. Maybe I took both it’s hands off. Who knows. The final red flag appeared and with only a couple of minutes left on the clock I was heading into round four.
Dad found me as I was lying beside the sim rig tightening the leg proths. The poor rig had seen too many hours and needed a major overhaul.
“Prax. The robovacs aren’t running, you left your noodle tub on the bench and the curtains…”
“I’m through to round four!”