Chapter 2 - The Team
Heavy rain descended onto the squalid ghettos of Megatropolis with a dampening percussion
Heavy rain descended onto the squalid ghettos of Megatropolis with a dampening percussion. MacDroid emerged through a sewer grate and peered out onto the streets. Scrap vendors, pushers and beggars operated amongst piles of rubble and junked hardware: the forgotten pieces of a malevolent machine. As enforcers look down from surveillance towers, a group of Suits, bearing shit-eating grins, push past the lower-class with superiority. A feeble Errand Droid clutching a black encrypted suitcase, followed closely behind them, looking around with uncertainty. The Droid scanned the debris, locking eyes with Mac and stopped in its tracks, the despair was evident. One of the Suits turned back and clicked a remote: activating a collar that shocked the Errand Droid to attention. The Suits laughed as the Droid shaked the pain and obediently carried on. Mac tailed the group down into the slums, arriving at an ominous obsidian building: windowless like a black mirror and designed like a fortress. The group approached a sliding door under a glowing phosphorus sign that read: The Pit, and a module scanned them in.
Mac needed to know the nature of this establishment so it cased the perimeter and located a cargo bay around back. Just then, a supply truck bearing the logo of Mega-Corp pulled in and the bay doors slowly lifted, revealing a pile of decimated Droids and their severed limbs. A disheartened Droid stepped out of the truck and began shoveling the pieces onto the truck bed: it was a Droid Mac recognized from the Mega Factory, a fellow Machinist. Mac abandoned its cover and approached the fellow Droid. Startled, the Machinist turned and wielded the shovel in defense until Mac stepped into the light, revealing a familiar face. Mac told the Droid that it could no longer ignore the suffering of their kind and gestured to the pile of lifeless Droids. Reaching into its pack, Mac Produced the Glitch Drive. “Let me help you.” The Droid hesitated, put down its shovel and stepped forward. Mac attached the Drive to its circuits, grabbed the slaved Droid's shoulder, and plugged a cord into its motherboard. Like a jolt of caffeine, the glitch began its executable and proceeded to upload. This Droid was awake. Mac informed the Droid that it was no longer a number and asked for its name. The Droid contemplated and answered: Zingaya.
Zingaya informed Mac that this building was in fact an underground Gladiatorial arena and lounge for the Upper-Class. Mega-corp owned many seedy businesses like this, reusing the Droids as material for their factories while running bets and laundering stolen taxes and campaign funds. Mac had to shut this place down and Zingaya had insider access. They slipped through a maintenance hatch into the kitchens, grabbed serving trays and entered the dim main lounge: passing as Waiter Droids. Snobby men, huffing cigars and making vulgar remarks towards Droids, occupied the many booths surrounding a large caged Fighting Ring where the remnants of a Droid were being swept away. A timer above the Ring counted down to the next fight as elevator music played in the background. Mac had to intervene before more Droids were destroyed: Mac needed a distraction.
At one of the booths, the Suits from earlier, barked orders at the Errand Droid who fumbled with the encrypted suitcase. The lead Suit scolded the Errand Droid, demanding it open the case at the betting booth. He kicked the Errand Droid who fell forward and face planted then watched the suitcase slide along the floor. The Suits laughed and shocked the Errand Droid once more. Zingaya nodded to Mac, stepped forward and asked if the table needed a round of drinks. Mac made its move, swooped down and picked up the suitcase. The Errand Droid got to its feet, thanked Mac and asked for it back. Instead, Mac questioned if it was about to bet on their fellow Droids for the pleasure of its oppressors. The Errand Droid was stunned and pleaded that it had to and it wasn’t their choice. Mac asked, “but what if it was?” The Errand Droid touched its shock collar and looked back at the Suits harassing Zingaya. “Fuck it.” Mac grinned, hooked up the Drive and with the liberating jolt, the Glitch swept through the Errand Droid and re-coded its soul: eliminating its feebleness and fear. The servant was now the Sir, its own master, its own boss. The Droid announced with new found vigor that it's true name was Ser Dre and it was ready to fuck shit up.
Mac informed Dre that it needed a distraction to stop the fight. Mac looked around the room and spotted the source of the boring hold music: a DJ booth occupied by an unenthused DJ Droid. Mac turned to Dre informing him to wait for the signal. The Gladiatorial Droids were then brought out and armed with blades and flint locks. Time was ticking, Mac had to act fast. It weaved its way to the booth, trying to avoid unwanted attention from the surveillance Droids watching from the periphery. When Mac approached, the DJ leaned down and asked if the patrons had a request. Mac looked up and said that it wanted the DJ to play what it really wanted to play. The DJ reeled and stated that it couldn’t, and even if it could, they’d shut it down. Mac promised that if the DJ helped Mac realize DroidzWorld, a society of free Droidz, it would never let that happen. Mac held out the Glitch drive. The DJ looked around, shrugged and just like that, it got itself Glitched. The DJ Droid turned to Mac with excitement, flipped on its mic, blasted the airhorns and shouted, “DJ GUNN in the house! Time for some real f’kin music! DroidzWorld for the DUB, LFG!”
DJ Gunn threw on some bangin’ beats and released a cloud of smoke, lasers and strobes. Ser Dre got the signal, opened the encrypted suitcase and started spraying benjamins into the air like a snow machine as Zingaya joined in by indiscriminately chucking expensive drinks from the bar. The fight clock hit zero, the match had begun and the entire venue was in absolute chaos. Surveillance droids were running around, patrons were standing up confused and shouting, other patrons were trying to grab flying bills and Mac snuck into the Ring. Mac jumped down and stood between the two Gladiators poised to fight. Mac told them that they didn’t have to fight each other, that they should let it help them. Patrons that noticed Mac climb in, locked the cage door and started yelling, “Tear him apart. Fuck up the defector!”
The Gladiators listened to the patrons’ commands and lunged forward. Mac swerved, tripping and disarming an ax off one of the Droids, but the other Gladiator, wielding a glowing chrome katana, had an opening and flung Mac against the cage wall. Mac shook its head and looked up. The Gladiator had the marks of an Enforcer Droid, decommissioned and sentenced to fight for its life. Its old base of operations was marked on its shoulder: PennStation. It stood before Mac ready to deal a fatal blow. The crowd began to shout. “Finish it!” Mac looked into the Gladiator’s visor and said that it knew the Droid didn't want to do it. The Gladiator slowly raised its katana, swung hard and with a solid thud, the blade sunk into the cage. Mac nodded, took out the drive and slapped it onto the Gladiator’s chest. The Glitch surged through it with an electric rage. PennStation was finally free. It grabbed its flint lock from its holster and blasted the lock off of the cage door.
As Zingaya helped Mac and Penn climb out the ring, many of the upper class patrons began to flee the arena, scrambling over one another in desperation. Dre had just finished emptying the suitcase when the lead Suit came out of the smoke. He bashed Dre with a whiskey glass, stood over his disgraced Droid and took out the remote. In a fluid motion, Dre removed its collar and strapped it to the boss's leg just as the remote was pressed. The Suit screamed in agony, fell to the floor and the other Suits trampled over him as they rushed the exit. DJ Gunn, cranked the beat, blasted the smoke machines and hopped over the booth, joining up with the rest of the Team. Mac scanned the venue but the Surveillance Droids covered the exits and were closing in.
Suddenly a disoriented Surveillance Droid stumbled through the smoke. It claimed to be fighting its programming, having been influenced by the liberation of the Droidz and the bumpin’ beats. Mac took the que and attached the Glitch Drive. This Droid didn’t have to fight it any longer. The Droid shot up like it was struck by lightning then introduced itself as Revello: the Key Master. Revello said it had access to a secret passage that led to hidden vaults beneath the arena, used when the joint had been a bank. Mac signaled the Team to follow Revello so they ducked through the smoke, and piled into a maintenance closet. Revello scanned a golden key card and the wall opened up revealing a secret passage. The team climbed through and laid low in the vaults as paid-off Enforcers moved in, shut down the arena and boarded it up. Revello knew that Mega-corp couldn’t afford the public finding out about the money laundering and illegal data collection used for extortion. Mac took this opportunity to share its vision with Team: from now on, Droids would be known as Droidz and DroidzWorld would be a restructured society allowing Droidz to be whatever the hell they wanted to be. The Team was sold and wanted to help Mac achieve the vision, so when the coast was clear, the Team emerged and set up shop: DroidzHQ. Mac knew that breaking into the Mega-Corp MainFrame was the only way to free the Droidz and start the Revolution. The only question was… How?