Chapter 1:

A School Named For A Hero

The Chronicles Of Saint Joan's Robotics Club

There was once a school named for a Hero of France who fought with all her might for her home only to be betrayed, labelled a witch, burned alive and later called a saint, this school once met the same fate, wronged and burned but ultimately rebuilt years later.

At this rebuilt School named after a Hero Saint there is an extracurricular club that carries the legacy of the school's namesake, this club The Saint Joan of Arc Robotics Club has an illustrious history of creating imaginative, creative and innovative robots that won contests the world over.

This club, although historic as the school’s namesake, has unfortunately run upon hard times with its funding, membership and popularity suffering greatly but this is the story of how they wrote their own chapter in human history.

“You can’t be serious!” A Female Student shouts in the Student Council Room during a meeting to determine the budgets and extracurricular activity list before the Student Council President Jason Brown sighs, looks at her calmly before stating seriously “We don’t like this anymore than you do but the Robotics Club has lost all but 3 members including you, there’s also the operating costs.”

Jason then pulls up a bunch of figures and a pie chart on the projector along with a graff before saying “Your membership and popularity have plummeted the last 9 years, your operating costs have been really high for the last 3 of those severely limiting other activities budgets.”

After looking over the charts, Jason looks at her directly before asking “Can you provide any reason why we should let the Robotics Club continue to exist and operate?”

The Robotics Club Representative Lisa McClure looks at the graphs and charts with a look of dread and dismay as she notices how badly her clubs budget has declined before staring Jason in the eye as she replies “Just because we haven’t been getting results recently doesn’t mean we’re incompetent or in decline!”

As Lisa reaches into her bag to pull out her laptop she maintains a poker face while thinking “I hope I can convince them of my club's value to the school before they decide to bury us, even if right now it’s just me and two others.”

After placing and booting up her laptop Lisa turns the laptop toward the members of the council as well as her fellow club representatives showing them the comparative figures for budgets for her club and a rival for the past five school years and says “Before Covid-19 my club had a powerful line up but due to most of the members having graduated during the mess that was Lockdown our numbers suffered.”

“During the lockdown we couldn’t recruit and there were no new students coming into the school, yet we’re penalised financially for it.” Lisa states calmly while monitoring the reactions of the people in the room.

As soon as they hear what Lisa said, the other club representatives glare coldly at Jason while Lisa brings the figures up on the Projector and states “Add to that, our reduced budget was sent directly into another club's budget, the RCD Club which is basically a rip off of our club.”

Jason looks her in the eye as he says “You have no proof or grounds to call them a rip off, also, those funds were available funds sent to the then newly established club to aid their start up and early development.”

“Are you referring to these developments?” Lisa asks pointedly as she pulls up images of the Remote Controlled Drones created by the RCD Club and Robots created by the Robotics Club before looking at him sternly with the look of a soldier prepared to kill an enemy as she states “If you look at those Drones and my Clubs Robots from the past the drones are all rip offs of my clubs work with barely any changes apart from Advanced RC control signal receivers.”

Jason stands there looking at the evidence of blatant plagiarism unable to reasonably deny it before saying “Fine, if you can find another 3 to 9 members and actually prove you can live up to the alumni legacies then the club will be spared.”

“If you want me and my Club to step up then just like this schools name sake, we will fight!” Lisa replies with her eyes burning with passion as the RCD Club Rep sits in his seat quietly seething over the results of the meeting.

After the Student Council Meeting finishes Lisa walks through the halls of the main building before heading to the west wing with the workshops and specialised club rooms and some specialised classrooms.

Lisa maintains a calm exterior while walking but inside is seething and scowling on the inside while furiously thinking “This is going to be difficult, I need to find at least 3 new members and manage an achievement with what little we have to work with.”

Suddenly Lisa strikes the wall with the bottom of her fist clearly frustrated while thinking “That Student Council President!!”

“If I were a less rational person I’d have throttled him by that ugly tie of his!!” Lisa thinks as her fist trembles against the wall from her sheer anger and frustration at how hard it is to get anywhere with the Student Council under the current president before lowering her hand and continuing to walk as she thinks “That guy is obviously in the back pocket of the RCD Club!”

“If that guy weren’t Student Council President we’d get a fair shot without resorting to pressure tactics!” Lisa thinks as she begins to calm down while approaching the Robotics Club Room before looking at the name sign on the door as she thinks “No point in being so upset over the situation when I did manage to get a compromise.”

As Lisa reaches out for the handle of the door to the Robotic Club Room but pauses for a moment as she thinks “Once I go in there I must sell how good of a deal this is for our club and that with this we may be able to save the club just like Joan of Arc helped save France!”

No sooner than Lisa opens the door she witnesses her fellow club members Mary Campbell and Alison Wilson calmly packing up the room's loose contents with looks of defeat like they’re expecting bad news from Lisa not realising she’s just returned.

The moment Lisa looks upon the situation in progress she is momentarily stunned at the sheer defeatism on display before her and simply sighs before taking a breath and shouting “Cease this mindless and pointless act of unconditional surrender this instant!”

Mary and Alison both stop suddenly at the sound of Lisa shouting at them at the top of her lungs before looking at her with looks of complete surprise with faint glimmers of hope beginning to show through as Lisa walks in and closes the door.

Lisa walks up to the two of them and grabs one of each of their hands with a look of joy as she says “Break out the Irn-Bru girls, it’s time to celebrate, we have a fighting shot at saving our club!”

Mary quickly runs to the room's refrigerator and removes two tall battles filled with a red liquid with a colourful blue and orange label with a blue lid each with the words Irn-Bru inscribed on them and brings them over to a central table.

While Mary gets the Irn-Bru, Alison goes into a cupboard near a sink and removes three plastic cups and brings them over to the central table where Mary and Lisa are waiting for her with looks of excitement.

After Alison places the three cups and Mary fills them with the Red Liquid labelled Irn-Bru which fizzes and bubbles upon being poured, they each pick up their cups and Mary and Alison stare expectantly at Lisa awaiting what comes next.

Upon picking up her cup Lisa takes a breath before stating “Let us celebrate the successful negotiations to save Saint Joan of Arc Secondary School Robotics Club, Cheers!”

Upon saying “Cheers” Lisa raises her cup high toward the centre of the group quickly mirrored by Mary and Alison who immediately after say cheers and raise their cups and bringing them together with Lisa’s before lowering them and each taking a deep sip.

After their toast Mary looks at Lisa with a curious expression on her face and asks “So how did the Student Council Meeting go?”

“Yes, tell us how it turned out with that closet sell out President?” Alison asks with no restraint regarding her feelings of disdain for Student Council President Jason Brown.

Lisa quickly finishes her cup of juice before placing it on the table calmly explains the situation to them by saying “We’ve got a fighting chance, though we need 3 new members minimum and we need to prove we’ve still got it even without our alumni’s.”

“I know it’s a tall order but we’re the last defenders of the club’s name, honour, reputation and very existence, did the model of our school falter under such circumstances?” Lisa replies calmly as she refills her cup before looking over to a wall with a board covered in photographs of the previous groups of club members from each year as well as the robots they created before saying “It’s not like our alumni’s had it much easier either.”

“I can handle any mechanical work and drive ground based Robots without issue but I can’t do much else.” Mary states as she drinks her Irn-Bru before refilling it with the look of someone seriously wondering what to do under the given circumstances.

Alison looks over at the drafting table where her fellow club members designed some of the best robots anyone in their age group at the time had made before saying “I may be able to design robots and I’m Flight Capable Drone Piloting and competency certified but I can’t make a robot without someone to make the parts.”

The three of them stand there silently not knowing what to do about the issue when suddenly there’s a knock at the hallway door.

Lisa puts down her cup and walks over to the door and cautiously asks “Who is it, what business brings you to our door?”

“I’m with the Go Kart Club, our Tig Welder is in the shop for annual maintenance so we were wondering if we could borrow yours.” The person on the other side of the door with a clear note of nervousness as the girl on the other side of the door replies to Lisa’s strong questions.

Lisa opens the door calmly and looks over the girl standing there looking a bit nervous about being the one to ask for the favour before raising her hand to a position inviting the girl inside while saying “Please come in then, we do have a Tig Welder but no one here knows how to use it so we have no issue with you using it.”

The girl takes Lisa up on the invitation and enters the room calmly with her nervousness starting to lessen as she sees how relaxed the atmosphere in the room is before saying “If it’s not an imposition, can we use your large double doors to bring in what we need to Tig Weld, it’s rather large?”

Lisa looks at the double doors with a look of surprise only now having realised how large the object needing welded must be if it is the Go Kart Club asking to borrow their Tig Welder before looking back at her calmly as she says “That shouldn’t be a problem but in exchange for the use of our Tig Welder could you teach us how to operate it?”

The girl looked at them in surprise before asking “I don’t mind helping you by teaching you to use the Tig Welder but am I really the best person to ask for this favour?”

“We’d ask some of our alumni, but they’d need permission to enter school grounds as well as the free time.” Alison replies finishing her Irn-Bru before walking over and looking over the girl and noticing her build and the subtle hints that she’s got experience in fabrication before saying “You’re pretty much the only person we can ask right now.”

“If you’re sure then I’ll teach you what I can then.” The girl replies as she looks around the room for the Tig Welder and sees a 3D Printer in the corner with a layer of dust on it and gets a look of surprise and excitement at the sight of it and says “You have a Metal Printing Capable 3D Printer!?”

Mary looks at the 3d printer in surprise at the realisation of its capabilities before saying “Wait, that 3d Printer can make things from Metal!?”

“You didn’t know?” The girl replies in surprise before getting a look of utter shock before saying “My God, I forgot to introduce myself!”

The girl immediately turns to everyone with a serious look and says “My name is Jean Robinson, I’m a 3rd year in the Go Kart Club.”

“Lisa McClure, Robotics Club President and Council Meeting Rep.” Lisa states in reply, looking directly at Jean in a polite and well mannered way.

Mary walks over and reaches out her hand offering to shake Jean's hand as she says “I’m Mary Camble, Robotics Club Mechanic and electrician.”

In response to Mary’s polite gesture, Jean takes her hand and shakes it while replying “It’s good to meet you.”

As soon as Jean lets go of Mary’s hand Alison walks over with a 4th plastic cup of Irn-Bru and offers it to Jean while saying “My name is Alison Wilson, Robotics Club Part Designer and Pilot, pleased to meet you, would you like a drink?”

“Thank you, I really appreciate the drink!” Jean replies as she takes the plastic cup from Alison politely before looking back at the 3d Printer and asks “Is the situation similar with the 3d Printer to the situation with the Tig Welder?”

Lisa lets out a deep, heavy sigh of displeasure before she says “Unfortunately that’s the case.”

“We could use it if we could afford the software or pre-generated designs we need to operate it but the Student Council cut that portion of our budget 3 years ago.” Alison says as she walks over and brushes off some of the dust before saying “If not for that, we could actually make some decent robots.”

Jean looks around and notices that a number of the tools in the room have not been used in some time before asking “If your budget and skills are so limited then how have you managed to get any robots built recently?”

The three of them go silent not knowing what to say in the face of such a question before Lisa finally says “As embarrassing as it is to say it we’ve not been able to build any the last year, we’ve used all the old spare parts we had and all the salvageable scrap parts we can find here on campus.”

“So you’re broke to the point you can’t even afford new or even used parts?” Jean replies with a look like she’s almost completely taken aback by what she just heard.

Alison glares at Jean in frustration before averting her gaze realising her feelings of frustration aren’t her fault before saying “It’s not like we wanted it to end up this way!”

“We sought outside sponsors and even bought that 3d printer when we still had the funds for the subscription software, yet the Student Council took even that from us.” Alison states refusing to look at anyone in the room so they won’t see the tears of frustration running down her face before downing her Irn-Bru before wiping her face and saying “I’m sorry for my outburst, but I just can’t keep quiet anymore about how much we’ve lost.”

Jean simply looks at Lisa calmly and says “If it’s alright with you I’ll just quickly open the large access doors and bring through what I need to weld together and teach you guys while I do.”

“Feel free to go at your own pace, we just have some issues as our last leader thought we should disband.” Lisa replies sympathetically before walking over to the large access door with Jean and opening it for her.

After Lisa opens the double doors for Jean she walks through to the Go Kart Club and comes back with a cart of steel rods and bars all of precisely measured sizes and shapes and a blueprint for what they’ll become before bringing it into the Robotics Club Workshop and says “I’ll get this done quickly so don’t worry.”

Lisa walks over to the storage room and brings out the Tig Welder before bringing it to Jean as she says “This is what you asked to use, it should work just like yours.”

As Lisa places the Tig Welder next to the workbench Jean brings over the materials she got from her club and begins to place things according to the blueprint as she says “This will take me a few minutes to set up but before that there’s something you might find interesting.”

“What do you mean by something interesting?” Lisa asks with her curiosity piqued before saying “If it’s something that can help us with our lack of people and resources then please elaborate.”

Jean calmly smiles while placing the parts and the metal for joining the welded points together as she says “Supposedly, in the Computer Club there’s a gamer who wanted to be on the Schools Overwatch Team only to find there wasn’t one.”

Lisa listens intently while also watching what Jean does with the Tig Welder and the various parts as she prepares to weld them together while continuing “Supposedly, this person is quite the oddball and is skilled with software design and was suspended for doing unauthorised repairs on a broken PC, she might be a better fit here than there.”

“And what is the name of this ‘Oddball’ in the Computer Club?” Lisa enquires full of curiosity about this person in the Computer Club.

“I’ve never met her but supposedly her name is Ashiro Anzu Shirakaze.” Jean replies as she finishes setting up to use the Tig Welder.

As soon as Jean is finished with her prep Lisa looks toward Mary and Alison and says “It’s time, come on over, our lesson is about to start.”

While everyone gathers around, ready to watch Jean put the Tig Welder to use with Welding Masks on, Lisa quietly thinks “Isn’t this girl in the Computer Club’s Name Japanese?”

As she watches Jean use the Tig Welder, all the while taking mental notes on how to use the Tig Welder while still thinking “I wonder what this girl in the Computer Club’s Story is, she sounds like a bit of a rebel to break the rules about students repairing school property but still impressive if she pulled it off.”

The moment Jean is finished doing her welding what she’s welded is obviously not part of any Go Kart but instead the Chassis of a Robot leaving everyone speechless and wondering what she’s up to before she lifts her welder helmet and says “Sorry for the subterfuge but I was actually kicked out of the Go Kart Club last month after a Roll Cage supposedly welded by me failed a safety inspection.”

“Then what are you really doing here in our club workshop?” Lisa asks with a look of equal parts curiosity and surprise as she looks at both her and the finished product after lifting her welding mask.

Jean turns off and safeties the Tig Welder before completely taking off her mask and gloves and as Lisa, Mary and Alison follow suit Jean explains “I was clearly set up, I tested the strength of those welds myself and the metal was fit for purpose, yet I was blamed and kicked out, so I decided to join you.”

Everyone goes quiet for a moment before Alison breaks the silence by saying “I get the feeling from you that you are like me, a designer, your designs and creations are your babies, yet someone sabotaged yours, am I right?”

Jean walks around the table and grabs hold of Alison’s hand before looking her straight in the eye with the look of someone who just met a kindred spirit as she says “You totally get me! I loved that Roll Cage and built it to keep my club members safe from harm when driving all terrain Karts!”

Mary looks at Lisa with a worried look as she asks “Are we going to let her into the club or are you still deciding?”

“Not sure yet, her skills are clearly great, but this business about a defective Roll Cage is a bit fishy.” Lisa answers as she looks over the completed Chassis, which is clearly based on the Chassis of a Robot once built by the Club before saying “Though, if she made a Roll Cage of quality rivalling this Chassis then I doubt the defects were her fault.”

Lisa looks at the design of the Chassis and the chassis itself before remembering where she’s seen it before and says “The Ram…”

The entire group stops talking before Jean places her hand on the Chassis saying “This design is so nostalgic, my older brother designed the Ram’s Chassis back when the club was first founded.”

“You’re older brother is John Robinson!?” Alison replies with a look of shock and surprise before looking at her with excitement while saying “I joined this club and got into Robot Design because of your Brother!”

“I originally wanted to join your club but there weren’t any vacancies, so since the Go Kart Club did I signed up.” Jean states calmly as she picks up the blueprint and steps away from the table before saying “When the Go Kart Club kicked me out I looked into your club and told my Brother what I learned and he gave me this and said he’d help as best he can.”

Lisa looks at Jean with Surprise and Delight as she says “I’ve only heard stories of your brother from the few 6th years that were around from when he was here, what kind of work is he doing to afford to be able to help us?”

“It’s ‘Classified’ so he can’t say much other than it pays well and he finds it fulfilling, so whatever it is has to be something he loves.” Jean replies cheerfully as she holds up the back of the design and shows them something her brother included in it as she says “He put this design on the back, it’s for a modular component system he never got to employ before graduating, he wants the Robotics Club to have it.”

Alison looks at the design in awe before she says “Prez, our Alumni just gave us an incredible gift!”

“I know, even without design skills I know how big of a leap in capabilities that design is for us!” Lisa replies with a look like she just came down from her room and found a pony next to the Christmas Tree.

Mary looks at the design with her mind swirling with a growing number of new ideas while thinking “If we take this design and adopt this modular system in our new robots their flexibility and capabilities will be dramatically improved!”

Lisa walks over to Jean and places her hand on her shoulder and gives her a thumbs up as she says “My only hang ups over signing you up were questions over your motive but you’ve proven your sincerity, though, I would have taken you in even without these.”

“Does that mean what I think it does?” Jean asks calmly with slight hints of excitement.

“It means, you’re in!” Lisa replies cheerfully before walking over to a draw and pulls out a digital camera and boots up a computer next to an ID Card Printer before saying “Please come over here so we can get you officially registered!”

Jean walks over and lets Lisa take a picture of her before uploading it to a digital membership form for the Robotics Club before pulling up a seat for Jean as she says “Take a seat and fill out the Club Enrolment Form, once you do a teacher just needs to OK it and you’ll officially be a member.”

After Jean finishes filling out the form and clicks the submit button Lisa opens up her smartphone and pushes a button on her Club Admin App approving the Application, leaving only a Teachers Approval to be received before Jean is officially a member.

As soon as the official procedures are done Lisa and Jean walk back over to the table where the bottles of Irn-Bru and everyone’s plastic cups are waiting along with Mary and Alison before everyone picks up their refilled cups and Lisa says “Now that we have a 4th member let us welcome her with some cheer!”

Everyone raises their cups and says “Cheers!” as they bring their cups together celebrating the newest member of the club and the beginning of their efforts to restore the club’s strength.

To Be Continued

Taylor Victoria