Battlebots, A Meditation: Week Three

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I don’t know if I can keep watching this horror show. What was once a friendly competition among robot builders, over ten years of “progress” in the field of genetic mutation, helped along by our understanding of “life” devolving from “a conscious organic being” into the morass of “whatever awful beast man can dream into existence,” has turned Battlebots into a spectacle where monsters—godless abominations!—fight each other in a death square while a crowd of howling jackals, drunk on bloodlust, spectate.

Is this really even a sport anymore? Every episode is a symposium on the nature of life and violence itself. To see these monsters, programmed down to the base levels of their DNA to kill, brought to terrifying life on trees where they grow, like living fruit with lively, observant eyes, darting left and right, hanging from bright pink branches, born only to die in the ring, bathed in the cheers of humans, the amoral race who made them like this, powered by a sexual thirst to see monster blood splattered on the ring’s windows.

But I must persevere! I made a commitment, and I will see it through. [Ed: We’re not even paying you for this, Corbin...] There should be a record for future generations: we did not all roll over at the outset of “The Modifications” which preceded the fall of man. Some of us spoke out against the horrors we saw. Some of us protested, stood up for like as it once was: natural, pure, not concocted in a laboratory, not harvested from the Life-O-Tree.

FIGHT ONE: ICEWAVE vs. CHOMP

ICEWAVE is a terrible being with two arms spinning on shoulder sockets designed, with applied pulses of radiation, to spin in angry circles. He gets his name from the penguin DNA spliced into his genetic code: penguins, turned into plants, and forced to fight. CHOMP was once a friendly dog, until he was pounded into mush, combined with a canola oil plant, and turned into a flamethrowing canine-draconoid hybrid. I think of my friend’s dog Mosley, and how sad I would be if he was treated like that, and I am overflowing with sickness.

Icewave’s arms spin and spin. They tear Chomp’s legs off. Chomp tries in vain to light his opponent on fire, but he can’t get close enough, crawling on his arms, bright pink blood draining from his sockets, clogging the arena’s buzzsaws.

The crowd cheers, and I duck out for a moment to vomit.

FIGHT TWO: STINGER vs. WARHEAD

WARHEAD was grown in a Chernobyl potato field, a bar of tungsten and a lizard buried deep in the poisoned soil, melding to each other, and growing out of the ground like sprouting Hell. He attacks with his head. STINGER is an experiment gone wrong. A kind, gentle scientist tried to remedy the world’s disappearing bee population problem by creating a hardier bee that can grow on trees. But something went pear-shaped, and the resulting creature knows only rage, and none of the cooperative spirit of the bee. Can we not see that this meddling is annihilating the purpose of all life on Earth, which is to live in communion with nature and other species?!

Stinger flips Warhead on his back, grinding the cyborg lizard’s spinning head into the ground. Warhead’s blood and the blood of his past victims cakes the arena. Stinger isn’t satisfied. He flips Warhead over and does it again. I hear the sound of Warhead’s bones being crushed, and then, much louder, I hear the sounds of weeping infants, sensing the world is dying, mankind’s goodness falling away into the suffocating vacuum of space.

FIGHT THREE: GHOST RAPTOR vs. WARRIOR CLAN

GHOST RAPTOR is not born from the reed of a raptor, or, in fact, any dinosaur. He is a friendly house-cat, drowned in acrid yellow mud, grafted to an apple tree, planted in a mix of animal bloods—not for any reason, mind you (soil has just as many nutrients), but simply as a defiance of the Judaic Laws against mixing animal blood—and sent into the cage to kill. If you look in his eyes long enough, you can see the kitty within, longing for a life in a sunbeam. WARRIOR CLAN’s origin is unknown, but I’d surmise he is several animals linked by mysterious psychic powers. Some have suggested that he is descended from a human being who resembled Wario.

Both creatures spend three minutes wandering around the arena, trying, futilely, to push each other onto their backs. Eventually, Warrior Clan dies of exhaustion, right there in the ring. I watch him closely as he goes. I am attuned to his pain. As he passes on, I hear a wailing: waaaaaaa-haaaaaa-haaaaaaa!

I suspect it is his unstable joints collapsing.

FIGHT FOUR: BRONCO VS. PLAN X

BRONCO is the only creature in this whole thing who projects an air of stability. He was injected into a cow uterus and raised by a mother, unlike these other metal orphans, descended from plants and oozes. PLAN X is the saddest robot of all: she was once a beautiful Cannabis Indica plant, the official flower of peace and honor, humanity’s favorite, until she was fused, like two phone books being made into one, with a mother beaver who was taken from her den, children screaming in the night, by a scientist with pink hair.

Bronco flips Plan X over. It isn’t actually that horrible. Sorta slapstick: Plan X all squirmin’ on her back and whatnot. Maybe genetic modification isn’t so bad!

[The author stares at his hand. He sees a small patch of blue fur growing on his palm. He closes his eyes and lets out a little scream. When his eyes open, it is gone.]

No. I must fight the future. I cannot be entertained by this. I reject!

NEXT WEEK: MORE ROBOT FIGHTS

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