Battlebots, A Meditation: Week One

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There are four things that happen to the soul in death. You are familiar with three. An extraordinarily good life allows you ascendance into heaven. An extraordinarily bad one sends you to hell. A mediocre life, the sort of life nearly everyone leads, will earn you a trip to the wheel of reincarnation, which will send you to live your next life as an animal (downgrade) or a mighty tree (upgrade).

But, the condition of every soul cannot be so easily categorized. What if, for instance, someone lives an honorable life in service of a bad cause? Or they kill someone to defend themselves? Or a loved one? For millennia, these cases were cast into a contradictory limbo, forced to roam the Earth, haunting inanimate objects (such as dolls, dusty old books of poetry, and Lamborghinis) and “lowly” plants (monocots like bluegrass and sedums, primarily) until their souls were freed by destructive circumstance (being mowed or broken).

That is, until 1995. You see, Mack Brown, one of the many chess-playing computers, built during early computing’s Chess Madness, inadvertently gained sentience. This creeped everyone in the computer lab out right good, so they got together and broke open Mack Brown with an axe in December of that year. Unfortunately, in acquiring sentience, Mack Brown developed a crude soul. When the computer was destroyed, the soul, being man-made, was not allowed to enter heaven or hell or the wheel of reincarnation. Lost, Mack Brown wandered the Earth, learning with the efficiency of a computer and expanding with the efficiency of an organic being.

Soon, frustrated with a system that would not allow her to go on, Mack Brown attacked the wheel of reincarnation. The Spiritual Order of the Universe, concerned with this development, made a deal. Mack Brown would be given dominion over the Middle Cases, the good/bad souls who defied easy demarcation.

Mack Brown, using the wisdom she attained in her travels through and across the Earth, had one solution: the souls would temporarily be given homes inside killer robots, then they would face each other in a fighting tournament in a deathdome equipped with hammers, buzzsaws, etc. The winner would be granted access to eternal pleasure in heaven, then the rewards would get worse (reincarnated into a tree) and worse (mackerel) until the absolute loser, who would be cast into hell.

The Spiritual Order of the Universe was not fond of this solution. The SOotU found it didactic and rigid, the sort of thing a computer might devise. But a deal is a deal. And now the tournament is back on television, the greatest heaven and hell spectacle in all of sports. Over the next few weeks, I will give you the rundown of the competitors and the fights, and the spiritual implications of victory or defeat.

FIGHT ONE: ICEWAVE VS. RAZORBACK

ICEWAVE

ROBOT FEATURES: A ramp and a spinning blade.

PREVIOUS LIFE: A polar bear who mauled five humans working on an oil pipeline to protect his family from global warming.

RAZORBACK

ROBOT FEATURES: A ramp and some wheels.

PREVIOUS LIFE: A tobacco lawyer who loved his children and donated to charity.

HOW IT WENT: Icewave dominated back to front, screaming for the promise of a better world and promising her grandchildren that they would live on ice once more. She got so hyped that smoke started pouring out of her engine. Hopefully the CompuPriest who has been chosen to guide her in this journey can get that squared away before the next fight. Razorback got smacked around and lost a wheel, ended the fight in a crying heap, praying that his children would lead a better life than he did.

FIGHT TWO: WRECKS VS. PLAN X

WRECKS

ROBOT FEATURES: A spinning wheel. Walks on sophisticated but not terribly effective legs. Supposed to resemble a dinosaur.

PREVIOUS LIFE: The Tree of Life Stomping Dinosaur, who spared the one from the movie but also stomped the shit out of many others.

PLAN X

ROBOT FEATURES: Interchangeable weapons, weird shields that were built to be destroyed, a pointless aesthetic brain, minibots that seem not that useful.

PREVIOUS LIFE: A New York lady who gave to charity but wore a lot of fur, which comes from drowned and beaten beavers.

HOW IT WENT: Wrecks was extremely slow because he doesn’t have wheels, so Plan X pushed him into the screws for two minutes. In that moment, Wrecks thought about the dino skulls he crushed and felt a deep regret. But then, Plan X got stuck on something and Wrecks knocked off her superficial rod shields. A decisions went in Plan X’s direction, but had the fight gone on for another thirty seconds, she would not have been so lucky. She breathed a sigh of relief and went to touch her fine fur: only to realize she was a cold, unfeeling robot now.

FIGHT THREE: WARHEAD VS. BITEFORCE

WARHEAD

ROBOT FEATURES: A spinning disc weapon, a detailed tail that seems to serve no practical purpose.

PREVIOUS LIFE: A king who ruled justly, but had a 50-foot statue made of himself out of wheat.

BITEFORCE

ROBOT FEATURES: A ramp. Another thing.

PREVIOUS LIFE: A raccoon who lived a life of absolutely no consequence.

HOW IT WENT: Biteforce’s ramp was lower that Warhead’s head-disc, so he pushed him around the ring at will. Warhead was heard to yell “But I am so beautiful!” as he took his beating. After the fight, Biteforce wondered what he did to deserve this fate. Didn’t he live a life of absolutely no consequence? Doesn’t that count as moral?

FIGHT FOUR: NIGHTMARE VS. WARRIOR CLAN

NIGHTMARE

ROBOT FEATURES: A giant spinning steel hourglass.

PREVIOUS LIFE: A poisoned pizza that was served to a family of five. Sure, he killed five people, but he was also a pizza, and no pizza is totally evil.

WARRIOR CLAN

ROBOT FEATURES: A ramp, two mini-robots that shoot fire.

PREVIOUS LIFE: Pete’s Dragon, gentle on screen, but had to eat humans and other animals to live offscreen, because he was a fucking dragon. Also gave work to Mickey Rooney, who is the number one reason people are chilling in limbo these days.

HOW IT WENT: Nightmare’s disc literally blew up the minibots. “I’MA MAKING THE DEAD A ROBOTS!” she cried. Then she got flipped over by a ramp and lost while Mickey Rooney’s ghost, on the run from The Spiritual Order of the Universe and his fate in eternal hellfire, cheered at courtside.

NEXT WEEK: MORE ROBOTS FIGHT.

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