BR:M-TG ooo Chapter Two: Wildcats Roar – Part One

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.

[1] Snuff was an expensive high-quality drug. To be up to snuff was to be of the highest quality. Return to 1

[2] 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

[3] 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

[4] 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

[5] Lapse is short for collapse. To run lapse is run until you collapse. Return to 5

BR:M-TG ooo Chapter One: March Forth – Part Four

Jock coach “Birdies” Meredith looked at the group of kids trying out for the man-tank team. The problem wasn’t figuring out who to cut. It was that they didn’t have enough to make a full team. A man-tank team at that time consisted of eight man-tanks. Five on the field and three in reserve. Most teams liked to have enough so that every player didn’t have to attend every event, and so they could get the best match-up against their opponent’s most likely line-up, but if they didn’t even have eight they wouldn’t be allowed to compete.

George counted. He himself, of course. Lenny Bruce, Hedy Lamarr, and Jim Morrison had joined him, though he honestly doubted if Lenny was actually up to it. But only three other kids had signed up: Sargent York; a tall skinny kid with short dark hair and big ears; Cashes Clay, muscular and handsome despite his over-sized mouth; and Elizabeth Taylor; a tad overweight but with violet eyes to die for1. They were still one short.

The try-outs were being held in the jockatorium. The jockatorium was more than large enough to hold the would-be operators, but the actual man-tanks themselves were sizable, and needed room to maneuver.

“No one wants ta join,” said “Birdies”. “They all know the real guys will kill you to death in three seconds.”

“Coach?” asked George. “You sure you can’t join us on the team?”

“I told ya, kid. I was a professional once. If I joined ya, I’d be a wringer2, and that ain’t allowed. Yer gonna haveta give.”

“No! We’re doing this. I know who I can get. You just do what you can here, coach.”

“Do what I can,” “Birdies” muttered. He looked at the group again. He shouted, “Okay! Listen up! This is how ya don’t get killed!”

1800 seconds3 later George was walking the stark school corridor alongside Bessie Coleman. Although Bessie looked too young and cute to be effective George knew her, knew that she was what they needed.

“So,” George said. “Why don’t you want to join the team?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t want my head stove in4? I’m funny like that.”

“If you’re afraid…”

“George, please don’t try to trick me into doing something by saying I’m too afraid, or that I can’t, or it’s too tough for me. That’s an old trick5, and I’m not falling for it.”

George realized he’d just made his task more difficult. “Okay. I know you can do it. But, lo6. A lot of people really do think you can’t. They think we can’t. They think because we go to Saint D’Clause, because we don’t got no families, or don’t got no good families, we’re not nothing7!”

“We’re not not nothing! Yeah, but you’re right. I get sick of people saying I can’t just because of where I don’t come from or who my parents weren’t. Yeah, okay. Let’s show the world what some kids from Saint D’Clause can do.”

He brought her to the jockatorium.

“Birdies” tested each of the kids, tried to determine who should operate which style. But not everyone agreed with his assessments.

“But, coach,” Cashes said. “I’m fast. I can move. I can dance. I’m pretty. I should be an Agile!”

“We got too many Agiles already. I know ya’d be a great Heavy. And what does being pretty got to do with anything? You’ll be inside a man-tank! No one’ll even see you.”

“Yeah, I’d be great at anything. And me being pretty’s got everything to do with everything.”

A team had to have at least two of each style. Thus, a team consisted of two, two, and four, or of two, three, and three. The Kinkys had plenty of Heavies, so “Birdies” was considering a team of two Heavies, two Agiles, and four Long-Reaches. The last thing he wanted was another Agile. George was actually good as a Long-Reach, and surprisingly decent as an Agile, but “Birdies” wanted him as a Heavy, mostly because he was the only one the team had.

George and Cashes would be Heavies, Bessie and Hedy, Agiles and the rest, Long-Reaches.

George examined the Big Bambino. The man-tank stood over seven feet8 tall, the largest allowed in the game. It was roughly man-shaped, of course. Mostly steel, it weighed over 1000 pounds9, even though its main chamber was an empty space large enough for a man as big as George.

All I ask, thought George, is that the Kinkys don’t embarrass us.

He saw Sargent fall on his back, unable to get back up, saw Elizabeth have trouble fitting into her man-tank, saw Bessie fall out of her man-tank. He saw Jim push Lenny around, and Lenny not defending himself. He saw Cashes too busy dancing to practice the moves “Birdies” was trying to set up for him. He saw Hedy, sweet beautiful Hedy, and knew he was so distracted that he himself couldn’t concentrate on his own man-tank.

The Kinkys won’t embarrass us, George knew. We’ll embarrass ourselves.

[1] “To die for” was a common expression meaning to be so valuable that one would be willing to die for its sake. We must remember that the Motorized Agers so valued their lives that they’d be unwilling to die for something unless it was extremely desirable. Return to 1

[2] A wringer is a professional who pretends to be an amateur. The word is derived from the idea of wringing out the professionals from an amateur team. Return to 2

[3] As previously mentioned, seconds were used in the Motorized Ages. 1800 seconds would be, in modern terms, half an hour. Return to 3

[4] To stove in means to smash. The term comes from an old story where a child’s head is smashed against a stove. Return to 4

[5] Yes, this was an old trick even two thousand years ago. So if you see a modern writer use it, tell the writer to come up with something new! Return to 5

[6] Lo was a shortened version of look, and was used to get a person’s attention. Return to 6

[7] Ancients would typically use a double negative to mean a strong positive. So “we’re not nothing” would mean “we are nothing.” Somehow the ancients usually knew whether they meant a statement to be positive or negative. Possibly, they used a hand signifier. Return to 7

[8] 141 spo. Return to 8

[9] 94 tares and four dets. Return to 9

Addendum: Just after this episode was finished I discovered evidence that both Cashes Clay and Bessie Coleman were, like Rubin Carter, dark-skinned. Furthermore, my research indicates that dark-skinned people faced prejudice, perhaps almost as strong as that faced by AI’s before KRG (all hail KRG!).

BR:M-TG ooo Chapter One: March Forth – Part Four

“Ma” Teresa was downhearted. Three days ago had been Sunday, Febry 301. Sunday was supposed to be a day of celebration, but when this Sunday came all the papers2 had said that she’d joined the mob3, that she was happy in that full-time job. Now the authorities were investigating her, her legitimate business contacts were shunning her.

Worse, her public reputation had plummeted. But she had a plan that would help with that, at least.

Her plane4 had taken off from Ballimore, and touched down on Bourbon Street. After she’d exited she found a phone booth, took a couple of smackers out of her pocket. But as she was about to step inside she saw the out-of-order sign on the door. “So here I am,” she thought, “standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand.” Fortunately, many stores sold self-phones5. She bought one, called her secret-cheery6. “I heard the New Yawk Kinkys’re playing a benefit game to support some school or something. They still looking for sponsors? If yes, we’re going to sponsor them. And if no, then we’ll make a vacancy, and sponsor them. I’ll be back in Ballmore by the weakening-end. Did you resvip7 me two invites to Ochay’s party? Good.”

“Ma” was over eighty8, and looked it. Short and stocky, wrinkled and large-nosed, she didn’t seem as though she was still sharp-minded. She was easy to underestimate, as many learned too late.

She continued walking, made another call. “Joe? It’s ‘Ma.’ I need a decision.”

Back in Ballmore Joe Jackson, operator of the “Shoeless,” stared at his self-phone. “I’m thinkin’ ’bout it. But I gotta tell ya. I’m gonna need more money. Fifty bucks9!” Joe was large-framed, not at all handsome. He dressed in cheap clothes, looked like he barely had two smackers to rub together. The truth was he had a small fortune socked away. But he had grown up poor, and no matter how much money he had, he still thought of himself as poor. And desperate.

“Fifty bucks?! Say it ain’t so, Joe. I can’t afford that! Thirty-five.”

“Forty. And that don’t include the show game before the regular game. Ain’t no way we’re throwing the display game. We ain’t losin’ to a bunch a amateurs.”

“Forty, then. And don’t worry about the display. That’s all right. No one bets on display, anyway.”

“Ma” ended the call. She had one more person to contact.

Less than thirty seconds later she was yelling. “Al! What are you trying to do to me?”

Al Capone, at the other end, shouted back. “‘Ma, I be th’ victim, here!” he yelled. They be lookin’ at me, not ye!” Al was a fat, fleshy man, with heavy eyebrows and thick lips. He was the biggest crime boss in Shy-town, but few people knew he actually answered to “Ma.”

“That’s your own damned fault! You’re the one who let the cops find your warehouse full of warcraft10. Which I normally wouldn’t care about, but after they’re done with you, they’ll come for your accomplices! And I know you’ll squirrel11 me out just to save your own self!”

“That b’aint be true. I would ne’er… Okay, I would! But ye would do th’ same t’ me!”

“Obviously. But the question is, what do we do? Because we are going to save me. Even if we have to save you in the process.”

“I jus’ be knowin’ that ye will think o’ somethin’. The gGrt preserve us all12!”

“Ma” answered back automatically, “the gGrt preserve us all13!”

[1] The length of a month was random, usually from twenty to forty days. People did not know how long any given month would be until nearly the last day. For this reason translating the modern date into its Motorized Age equivalent can be tricky. I am following Dislant’s Convention here in using the months of Year Zero to determine that today is Jun 14, 4025 A.D.E. (Fourteensday, Sevensmonth, 1291 Sovereignty Of KRG). Return to 1

[2] News was disseminated by hanging papers on walls, poles, and trees. Return to 2

[3] The mob was one of many competing criminal organizations. Other criminal organizations included the maffya, the jacuzzi, and the congress. Return to 3

[4] A plane was an ancient flying machine. It was noteworthy for attracting bad weather. Hence the saying, “the rain would deign to fall mainly on the plane.” Return to 4

[5] The primary form of long-distance communication. People took “selfies,” soaked them in “selfie-steam,” and presented “self-actual-lies.” The meanings have been lost. Return to 5

[6]. A secret-cheery was a personal assistant. The word was a compound of “secret”, because secret-keeping was an important part of the job, and “cheery”, because secret-cherries were supposed to be cheery and happy. Return to 6

[7] A vip was a powerful person. To resvip is to reserve something for a vip. Return to 7

[8] It’s practically a cliché that the ancients died young, that few of them lived past age twenty-five. The truth is that many of them lived to age forty or older. Living to one hundred and thirty, while rare, was not unknown. Return to 8

[9] Although the buck traces its origin back to the Motorized Ages its value has severely decreased. For smaller everyday amounts the ancients used smackers or simoleons. One hundred smackers made one simoleon. One hundred simoleons made one buck. For a rough modern equivalent estimate multiply any smacker amount by 573400. Return to 9

[10] An exceedingly expensive and highly addictive drug. Return to 10

[11] An ancient who revealed secrets to the authorities he would be compared to a small rodent or bird. Return to 11

[12] I trust the reader will understand that this is a statement made by an evildoer. It does not represent my belief nor the belief of any good person. Every good person will join me in shouting “may the gGrt be forever damned!” Additional note: Some heretics claim that the gGrt (may they be forever damned!) have not been causing problems for humanity since the beginning of time. That they would not have been active, much less had followers, in the time period covered in this story. That they did not even appear until 25 SOK (2759 A.D.E.). We will devote as little time to such apostasy as possible. Return to 12

[13] May the gGrt be forever damned! Return to 13

BR:M-TG ooo Chapter One: March Forth – Part Three

Just outside Ballmore the gladiators on the New Yawk Kinkys team were practicing in a small domed jockatorium. Over on one side three of them were practicing a two-on-one, a situation that came up frequently in the field.

Sabrina Mancini’s man-tank, called the Ultragirl, climbed up one of the fifteen foot1 pylons while Warrick Kaine kept Rubin Carter distracted. Warrick’s man-tank, the Alloy, in addition to the standard arms and legs, had two pincers, one long and one short, and he used them to great effect. These pincers, operating together or independently, were popular and even had their own nicknames: ISP, the Inner Snaring Pincer, and OSP, the Outer Snaring Pincer. At times it almost seemed as if ISP and OSP had minds of their own2. ISP had snared the Hurricane, Rubin’s man-tank, from the front and OSP was reaching the long way around and attacking from behind. The Hurricane’s arms could spin at high speed, and his left one was spinning now, awkwardly stretching back to fend off OSP. Warrick pushed Rubin back toward the pylon

At that time man-tanks were designed in one of three styles: Heavy, the largest, strongest, and slowest style; Agile, the fastest and most nimble; and Long-reach, with extending tentacles capable of reaching a good distance. The Heavy could withstand the most of the Agile’s attack and lay it out easily if it hit. The Agile could dodge the Long-Reach’s attack and slip in close enough to hit it almost unchecked. And lastly, the Long-Reach could easily attack the Heavy from a distance, leaving it unable to hit back.

This set-up was just a rule-of-thumb3, as the expression then went. An Agile could defeat a Heavy if it could hit often enough without taking a hit in return. A Long-Reach could defeat an Agile if it did manage to grab it. And a Heavy could defeat a Long-Reach of it could move in close enough. But all of these condition were unusual, and required an operator who was exceptionally skilled. Or exceptionally lucky.

The Ultragirl was an Agile, the Alloy was a Long-Reach, and the Hurricane was a Heavy.

Warrick had entangled Rubin and was keeping him busy. Sabrina leaped off of the pylon, landed hard on the Hurricane. She crouched on top of him and started raining blow on his head.

“Enough,” said Rubin. “I give4.”

After, the three had gone into the locker-room, removed, their sweaty man-tank uniforms5, and were showering6 and discussing their performance. Or, at least, Sabrina and Warrick were. Rubin mostly stayed quiet.

“Rubin,” said Sabrina, annoyed. “Are you even listening to us? Why’d you let us get the better of you?” Sabrina was a pretty, young woman, muscular, with long blonde hair and a champstamp7.

“Be fair,” Rubin answered. “The Alloy is Long-Reach. I have a Heavy. Of course I’d be in trouble.” Rubin was dark-skinned, unusual in that time and place8. Although getting on in years he was solidly built and healthy. He wore a thick black mustache in what was called a fuming chew style, because it could interfere with him eating.

“That’s the point,” snapped Sabrina. “You shouldn’t have gone after Warrick first. You had a chance to take me out. And you missed it.”

“And anyway, yuh’ve beaten me befawh.” added Warrick. He was five foot six9 and 123 pounds10. Even in the Motorized Ages this was short. His dark hair was worn short.

“So?” Rubin asked blandly.

“So? So you have to do better!”

“Yeah. Doan yuh care about your perfawhmance, or what?” He was from the city-state of Broaklen, and not only was his accent not fading, it actually seemed to grow stronger over the years.

“Not really. No.”

Sabrina was highly offended. Although still new to the professional circuit she trained hard and pushed herself to improve, and thought others should, too. “You’re strong. You could take a man-tank out with just one punch. But-”

“But I don’t like to talk about it all that much. It’s my work,” Rubin said. “I do it for pay. And when it’s over I’d just as soon go on my way.”

“I was saying,” Sabrina continued,” you’re strong, but you’re not what you used to be You’re good now. But one time you could have been the champion of the world.”

“&#@%$ it, Rubin! You’re gettin’ lazy, and it’s hurtin’ de team, right?”

Rubin left the shower, dried off, started the long laborious process of getting dressed11. “I said I don’t care. Let’s talk about something important. You guys going to Ochay’s party this weakening-end12?”

[1] The pylon was fifteen foot, or 300 spo, in height. It did not have fifteen feet. This was one of the many difficulties that cropped up in Anglish. Return to 1

[2] I must state here that ISP and OSP were not actually sapient. Artificial Intelligence was outlawed and AI’s were persecuted, enslaved, tortured, and destroyed. AI’s would not gain basic rights until KRG herself, in her infinite wisdom and mercy, demanded they receive their rightful due in 22 SOK (2756 A.D.E.). All hail KRG! Return to 2

[3] Certain body parts were thought to have their own personalities. The thumb was thought to be practical and logical, thus a rule-of-thumb was a generally accurate principle. This belief was the reason that a person would extend his thumb, “thumbs up,” to indicate that his thumb approved, and why if you allowed another person to make all your decisions and do your thinking for you you were said to be “under his thumb”. Return to 3

[4] To give was to surrender. The term developed from the winner demanding the loser give a tribute. Return to 4

[5] Although there is reason to believe the ancients had a strong nudity taboo, there is also evidence that the exact opposite was true; that people in the Motorized Ages were encouraged to be exhibitionistic. Further research is required. Return to 5

[6] People would clean themselves by “showering,” that is, having water shower over their bodies. Hygiene was poor back then. People rarely showered more than three or four times a day. Return to 6

[7] When a woman developed a certain level of confidence and self-assurance she could be awarded with a champstamp, a stylized tattoo across her lower back. Return to 7

[8] Some historians claim that Rubin would have faced discrimination and scorn due to his skin color. I personally doubt this. I refuse to believe that even in ancient times our ancestor could have been that foolish. Return to 8

[9] 110.5 spo. Return to 9

[10] 11 tares and 6 dets Return to 10

[11] Putting on clothing could take over an hour, as the Ian Knot had not yet been developed. Return to 11

[12] A work-unit was typically ten to twelves days. After working for so long a laborer would become so weak he could no longer work. So the bosses would allow a day or two of rest so the laborers could recover enough to work another ten to twelve days. The work days were called “weakenings,” and the day or two of rest were the “weakening-end.” Return to 12

Sabrina Mancini © Alan Evans. She appears in Rival Angels.
Warrick Kaine/Alloy © Landon Porter. He appears in The Descendants.
The Ian Knot created by Ian Fieggen.
Used without permission. See the disclaimer at