James and Sam embarked on their routine journey through the vast open field on the outskirts of their town, a habit they'd upheld for years. The familiar path led them towards a picturesque fishing lake nestled at the field's centre. But this ordinary day was about to take an extraordinary turn.
As they drew closer to the serene lake, their eyes widened with disbelief. There, hovering above the shimmering water, were two colossal Mecha Suits engaged in an intense battle. For James and Sam, who hailed from the humblest of backgrounds, the mere sight of this spectacle was astonishing.
Mecha Fighting was an elite sport, reserved solely for the upper echelons of society. The chance to witness such a contest was a rare and revered privilege among the aristocracy, a symbol of prestige. But for two young men like Sam and James, belonging to the lower class, this was a realm typically beyond their reach. They could only dream of watching these battles through the filtered lens of a television screen.
Sam's heart soared with exhilaration. He was an avid fan of Mecha Fighting, religiously following every bout that he could catch on the television. Seeing the spectacle unfold before his very eyes left him utterly euphoric. The word "overjoyed" couldn't begin to describe the elation coursing through him.
On the other hand, James remained a realist. Deep down, he harboured a bitter awareness that participation in this sport was an unattainable dream for someone of his class. This knowledge had long festered within him, stoking a profound resentment towards Mecha Fighting. He had never watched a single match and wanted nothing to do with a pastime that had come to symbolize the gaping divide in society.
The fight raged on, an awe-inspiring display of mechanical prowess and combat mastery. The two Mecha Suits engaged in a relentless battle, each determined to gain the upper hand, unwavering in their resolve. Their colossal machines raced through the open expanse, refusing to yield even an inch of ground.
One of the Mecha Suits stood out with its vibrant, neon purple body, vividly contrasting the clear blue lines that ran down its arms and legs. The suit's design culminated in an angelic, neon purple helmet inspired by the Valkyries of old. This elegant and striking appearance hinted at the pilot's grace and agility.
His adversary, in stark contrast, piloted a military-inspired Mecha Suit. The suit exuded an aura of rugged durability, its design dominated by earthy tones and mechanical precision. Both warriors wielded formidable longswords, and their blades clashed in a symphony of sparks.
Locked in a dramatic stalemate, the combatants fought with every ounce of their skill and strength, their swords intertwined in a deadlock. The battle appeared perfectly balanced, a testament to the unyielding determination and mastery of the two pilots.
"Oh my god, that's the crest of the Royal House of Starling!" Sam exclaimed, his finger pointing with enthusiasm toward the emblem adorning the arm of the purple Mecha Suit. "That must be Tobias Starling! I mean, he's the reigning English Mecha Fighting champion, but I've never seen him piloting this suit before."
Sam's eyes shone with amazement, mixed with a hint of confusion brought about by the sight of the unfamiliar suit worn by the renowned champion.
"That means his opponent must be Albert Merrick, the runner-up," Sam continued, his excitement bubbling over. "wow what a fight we have just come upon!"
As Sam was abuzz with joy and anticipation, James remained silent, his eyes fixed on the intense battle unfolding before him. Despite his initial aversion to the sport, he couldn't help but be drawn into the electrifying spectacle in front of him, captivated by the skill and energy of the combatants.
Albert's focus wavered for a fraction of a second, and in that split moment, Tobias seized the opportunity. With lightning speed, he thrust his blade through Albert's, shattering it in half with a resounding crack. His weapon made contact, a swift and precise slash across Albert's chest.
"Now this is a FIGHT, old friend!" Albert's voice sounded reinvigorated as he took a step back, efficiently disconnecting his damaged blade and deftly securing a spare from his waist, swiftly reattaching it to the hilt to form a new sword.
"Come on, let's see if you can best me this time," Tobias smirked at Albert. He held his longsword with both hands, assuming a plough guard stance, the blade positioned near his waist.
Albert chuckled, brimming with anticipation. He prepared to re-engage, adopting an Ox guard stance, his firm grip on the sword held high above his head, blade pointed in his opponent's direction. The two warriors locked eyes, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.
With their booster boots fully charged, these devices granted them the ability to move at mind-boggling speeds, enabling instant shifts in direction. It was Tobias who identified the opening he needed. In a flash, he burst forward, moving so swiftly that he became a blur, too quick for Albert to react. With his sword raised high, Tobias executed the final, decisive slash across Albert's mecha suit, scoring the winning point. The impact sent Albert's machine crashing into the lake below.
"No way, he completely dominated. Did you see that?" Sam's eyes sparkled with amazement. James, once the hater of Mecha Fighting, was now spellbound.
"That was incredible!" James exclaimed with genuine enthusiasm.
"Should we go over and see if we can talk to Tobias?" Sam looked determined to meet the champion.
"Yeah, let's do it!" James agreed, and together they embarked on their way to the lakeside, eager to engage with the legendary Mecha Fighter.
At the tranquil lakeside, Tobias glided down, extending a hand to help Albert up.
"I might've given you a bit of a wallop there, my friend. Sorry about that," Tobias said, his voice carrying a tone of genuine concern.
"You've already beaten me once. Did you really have to wallop me that hard?" Albert grabbed Tobias's hand, pulled himself up, and shared a hearty laugh. "The fight was a standoff till you cracked it, no need to fret."
Tobias enjoyed the battle, and Albert didn't seem to hold any grudges. As the two fighters shared a moment of camaraderie, Sam, with uncontainable excitement, shouted from the lakeside's edge.
"Tobias! Albert!" Sam's voice rang out, capturing the attention of both fighters, who exchanged puzzled glances before turning their eyes toward the two young boys.
"What are you kids doing out here?" Albert inquired.
"We take this walk through the field. But the real question is, why are the number one and two Mecha Fighters in the country duking it out above an old fishing lake?" Sam was more aware of the Mecha regulations, particularly The Act of Mecha, which strictly prohibited unauthorised Mecha Fights.
"How old are you kids?" Tobias redirected, ignoring Sam’s pointed question.
"I'm fourteen, and my friend here is thirteen," Sam eagerly responded, ecstatic to be conversing with the English Champion.
"And your names?" Tobias probed.
"I'm Sam, and this is James," Sam pointed at his friend. Tobias and Albert waded out of the waist-high water, approaching the lakeside to hear the boys more clearly.
"Alright, boys, we're going to need a big favour from you. You can't breathe a word about what you witnessed here to anyone," Tobias's tone grew stern, and his voice carried a sense of urgency.
The boys were a bit intimidated by the presence of the English Champion, their faces marked by a mixture of awe and fear. As Tobias noticed their unease, he lowered his voice, understanding that he might have overwhelmed them.
"Did you hear me, boys?" Tobias's tone was gentler this time.
"Yes, sir, we won't tell a soul," James was the first to break the silence.
"Thank you, James, was it?" Tobias expressed his gratitude.
"Yes, sir. I'm James, and that's Sam. He's a huge fan of the sport and of both of you," James gestured toward Sam, hoping to facilitate a conversation between Sam and his idols.
"Well, thank you, Sam. We both appreciate your support and your commitment to keeping our secret," Albert chimed in, showing gratitude to Sam.
"I... It's no problem," Sam replied, still starstruck as the surrealness of the situation dawned upon him.
"So, if I heard correctly, you two are fourteen and thirteen?" Tobias inquired.
"Yeah, I'm thirteen, and he's fourteen," James confirmed.
"Not much longer until you're sixteen and can apply to Mecha Arts High!" Tobias's eyes gleamed with excitement at the prospect of possibly encountering the boys again, especially since he was known to head the school board.
"I wish, but Mecha Fighting isn't a sport we could ever break into because of where we're from," James said, his gaze falling to the ground, a touch of sadness in his voice.
"Hey, never give up. I come from the same peasant areas myself, actually, from around here. I grew up at Prospect's foster home until I was fortunate enough to be adopted by Miss Starling and have my name changed. So, don't ever let your circumstances be the reason to give up! We are peasants, the lowest on the food chain, so we must bite, scratch, and claw our way to the top any way we can!" Tobias's impassioned words seemed to awaken something within James.
"Do you boys understand what you must do?" Tobias gazed at the boys.
"YES, SIR!" The boys exclaimed in unison.
Tobias nodded approvingly, then reached for the crest on his mecha suit. "Here, son, take this and never forget our conversation today." Tobias removed his crest from his mecha suit and handed it to James. "I expect this back someday, so don't forget to give it to me when you finally enrol in Mecha Arts High."
James beamed from ear to ear, fully embracing this new challenge. "We won't forget, sir!"
"Now we have to return these suits to Dr. Hiro before he tears apart the city looking for us," Tobias chuckled.
"We'll be seeing you, boys!" Tobias and Albert bid their farewells as they walked away, leaving the two boys with an ignited new determination.
Once James and Sam returned to their respective homes, they couldn't contain their excitement, recounting every detail of their awe-inspiring experience to each other. Their hushed conversations echoed their promise to Tobias and Albert – to keep their secret safe and protect the fighters from trouble.
James, in particular, found his heart captivated by the world of Mecha Fighting. A newfound passion had ignited within him, a burning desire to follow a path similar to Tobias's. He knew it was a path fraught with challenges, one that might never lead to success. But James was resolute; he had to start somewhere.
Mecha Fighting, as it existed now, had evolved from its precursor, Booster Fighting. In the early days, before the sport had been co-opted by the wealthy elite, it had been more accessible. Booster Fighting offered a more modest cost of entry, even welcoming peasants into the fold. Participants used outdated gear, but at least they could partake.
Booster Fighting, in its essence, was a stripped-down version of what would later become Mecha Fighting. Competitors were outfitted with dulled steel blades, and booster boots. These boots harnessed the power of chemical VG to manipulate particles around the user, granting them exceptional speed. Some boots could propel a fighter to speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, but these were only attainable by the ultra-wealthy.
James contemplated this sport, knowing that, like the Mecha Fighting he now admired, it was an avenue to explore his passion for combat, movement, and strategy. This was his first step on the long and arduous journey he had decided to undertake, one that might lead to greatness or obscurity.
When the wealthy elites splintered off to create Mecha Fighting, it left Booster Fighting behind, causing a significant drop in its fan base. Yet, due to its relatively low cost of entry, underground Booster Fighting competitions continued to thrive. These events retained a devoted following in peasant and middle-class neighbourhoods.
James recognized that Booster Fighting was his only viable path to experience the combat and strategy that Mecha Fighting offered. Moreover, it was a swifter way to earn the money they would need to even dream of reaching the big leagues. Time was not on their side, with just two years for Sam and three for James before they could make their mark. So, James formulated a daring plan.
His gaze intense and filled with determination, James leaned in towards Sam. “I have a plan, Sam.”
Worried by James's intensity, Sam inquired, “What's the plan?”
“We need to compete in Booster Fighting. With the money we earn, we'll try to acquire First Gen Mecha Suits. Then, we enrol in the school and ace the entrance exams.” James was deadly serious, and his voice resonated with determination.
Sam's concern was evident. “But... how do we even get the gear to compete in Booster Fighting?”
James had already thought this through, and his eyes sparkled with excitement. “It's simple. We'll sneak into the dump tonight and see if we can find any gear!”
However, Sam looked less enthusiastic about the daring endeavour. “But, James, my mum won't let me out late, so I can't.”
James knew Sam was reluctant but didn't want to let him down. “Would your mum even let you out that late?” he questioned.
“Normally, no, but she's with her new boyfriend again, so she won't know or care.” Sam reluctantly admitted.
Despite this, Sam was firm in his decision. “I'm sorry, James, I just won't be able to go tonight.”
“It's fine, I understand, man,” James said, acknowledging Sam's predicament. He fist-bumped Sam and continued to wander through their decaying estate as the sun began to set.
“See you tomorrow, man. Don't get arrested,” Sam wished as they shook hands.
James smiled and retorted, “Don't worry about me, bro. Now, get inside before your mum scolds you.”
With a shared laugh and a warm farewell, they parted ways. Sam headed home, while James ventured toward the dump as the night enveloped their gritty neighborhood.
As James approached the dimly lit dump, the cacophony of barking guard dogs in the distance filled the night air. He felt a nervous energy coursing through him, but he understood that this daring act was essential to chase his dream.
After meticulously surveying the dump's perimeter, James identified a potential weak point in the chain-link fence. A section of barbed wire had been haphazardly pulled away, leaving a small opening. Without second-guessing himself, James sprinted toward this entrance. In one fluid motion, he leapt over the fence, completing the first stage of his mission. With a flashlight in hand and a duffel bag slung over his shoulder, he moved forward.
Navigating through the dim expanse of the dump, James adopted a methodical grid pattern to scour each pile, searching for any trace of usable gear.