The eight would-be man-tank operators soon discovered a benefit to having joined the team. Since they only had three days to get up to snuff1 they had to train every second that they could. So, because the school’s pride was on the lion2, Legree allowed them to miss classes in order to practice. That is, they all thought there was a benefit at first. But after the second day, to be franked3, they were so tired and so banged up that they actually would have preferred class.
Toward the end of Friesday “Birdies” called the team together. “All right, I guess that’ll have ta do. But right now, I need names for your man-tanks.”
“My man-tank’s already called the Big Bambino,” said George. “I’ll go with that.” He stood next to the Big Bambino. And he just happened to be next to the lab table where Hedy tinkered with her man-tank’s operating system.
“Defender,” Bessie said quickly. She glared at her man-tank, repeatedly tapped a wrench4 against her other palm. The man-tank kept losing power after prolonged use, and she had no idea why.
“If I could use an Agile, it would be the Butterfly,” said Cashes. He was sitting, casually, on top of a Heavy.
“Well, ya ain’t! Yer in a Heavy,” “Birdies” snapped.
“Yeah, yeah. The Bee.” He patted his Heavy.
“I got the Hipster,” said Lenny. He was sitting on the floor, exhausted.
“Hipster?” asked “Birdies”. “What kind of a name is Hipster.”
“I got the Hipster,” Lenny repeated.
“Bewitched,” Sargent said at the same time Elizabeth said “Natural Velvet.”
“Yeah, neither a’ those make any sense. What about you, Hedy?”
Hedy looked up, distracted. “I… I haven’t come up with-”
“Ecstasy!” blurted George. He turned away, blushing.
“Ecstasy… ” Hedy said the word slowly, as if tasting it. “Ecstasy. I like it.”
“Birdies” said “Okay, that’s good. Now we’ll… where the &#@%$ is Morrison?”
Jim walked into the jockatorium, hoping not to be seen.
“Yer late!” “Birdies” shouted. “Don’t think ya ain’t gonna run lapse5! But first, I need yer man-tank’s name.”
Jim announced loudly “I am the Lizard King, I can do anything!”
“Birdies” nodded. “Now, let’s get back ta work!”
After what seemed like aeons later, most of the team had left. Bessie still worked in her Defender. Aside from her, “Birdies” and George were alone in the large jockatorium. Their voices echoed as they talked.
“Listen, George. This is the last chance. I can still call this off. But I gotta make the call now.”
“We ain’t quitting.”
“But ya can’t win. Yer g-”
“We ain’t quitting!”
“Ya can’t win!” The two of them, almost without realizing. had raised their voices
“We don’t gotta win! We just have to go the distance!”
“Birdies” turned away. Quietly, to himself, so quietly George almost couldn’t hear him, he said, “I heard that before.”
Bessie closed her man-tank. “That’s the best I can do.” She put the tools she’d used away in the toolbox, left the jockatorium.
She hadn’t noticed that the toolbox was missing a wrench.
 Snuff was an expensive high-quality drug. To be up to snuff was to be of the highest quality. Return to 1
 The lion was thought to be the proudest of all the animals. When your pride is on the lion you’ve built up your pride to be as high as possible. Of course, in time we would learn how forlorn and shamefaced lions truly are. Return to 2
 Franking meant providing an official pass allowing one to be exempt from a rule. The word later came to mean one who was honest enough to be trusted with an exemption, then to mean honesty in general. Return to 3
 A hand-held tool for gripping a bolt. In that time all tools were non-powered. Symean of Tstamp has calculated that using a non-powered tool on a task takes more than twenty times as long as using a powered tool. She maintains that the extra time involved was the reason why scientific and moral progress was so slow. The ancients simply had no time to improve their lot. But we must remember that ancients had more familiarity with their non-powered tools, so undoubtedly they would have been faster than Symean has figured. As for progress, obviously there could have been little scientific advancement and virtually no moral advancement in the days before KRG. All hail KRG! Since Symean of Tstamp refuses to recognize this simple truth her own words prove her to be a heretic, and possibly a follower of the gGrt, may they be forever damned! I trust that she will soon receive the punishment she deserves. Return to 4
 Lapse is short for collapse. To run lapse is run until you collapse. Return to 5