Neo-Tokeyo 199X: M1
The five hours passed by without Arron noticing it as he was lost in thoughts while he mindlessly lifted weights with the others.
“Valued members, your five hours are up! Will you be extending your time or … leaving?” asked the service bot from a short distance away.
When it reached the group and started floating next to them its metallic hands click and clacked as they opened and closed several times.
“Let's go get something to eat. I'm famished,” said Bishop.
“Valued members, we now have a new service on the 200th floor. There is free food for all current members as well as a paid buffet.”
“Ehhh... free.. should we?” asked Kix, knowing what that meant.
“It's better than nothing. We can check it out and see what they have at the buffet,” said Knox.
“It is decided. Let's go check out the buffet and then go do some boxing!” said Captain Pointer.
The group of sweaty guys picked up their bags after wiping off their perspiration and walked out of floor 69 and headed up to floor 200.
“I hope the buffet is not expensive,” said Ward.
“Why? Are you already tight on money this month?” asked Knox.
“Yeah, I bought too many of the rare items I saw on the late night holo-tv infomercials. My last purchase was a rare set of paper books with a free dictionary... But when I got the set... it was just a paper brick glued shut.”
“You don't look like a person that would buy books,” said Kix.
“Stop wasting your money on useless junk! You always do that and then you ask me to loan you money,” said Knox exasperated at his partner's spending habits.
The group bickered back and forth as they entered the 200th floor.
When they entered they found several hundreds of square metallic tables with thousands of hover chairs which were almost all occupied already.
On the side of the room were several rows of food dispensers with different types of food. As Arron looked around a few service bots were bringing out fresh containers of food replacing the empty ones.
Near the front of the room were two large Drink dispensers.
“As expected,” said Kix.
“What?” asked Arron.
“The buffet is just synth food. The 'free' food in the large barreled drink machines looks to be filled with synth-power-shake gloop.”
“|Might as well take the more nutritious gloop than the synth food,” said Ward, his mind already set on choosing the gloop.
The others hesitated but followed Ward since he was right.
Arron grabbed the smallest metal cup next to the churning synth gloop drink machines and placed it under the large spout. The 'small' cup was as tall as half of his arm so it made it hard for him to get it positioned right.
A cold pink substance that looked like a mixture of liquid yogurt and solid ice cream, squirted out of the nozzle and filled up the cup. He walked back to a nearby table that the others had managed to grab as another group left.
As Arron sat down next to Kix, he took a sip of the thick nutritious synth-goop and made a face.
“Why did they pick [Original flavor] to serve to everyone?” asked Arron.
“It's cheap to buy in bulk,” said Kix, who also had an odd expression on his face every time he took a sip.
“You wusses, you can't handle the best selling original flavor?” asked Bishop.
As if trying to show off he took a several-second long slurp of his drink.... and then started to cough uncontrollably ejecting warm synth gloop all around him.
“Eww!” said both Knox and Ward who were sitting next to him. They jumped out of their seats to escape the splatter.
“Here have some Bechup, it helps mask the flavor,” said Captain Pointer, passing Arron a bottle of red Bechup.
“You really carry around a bottle of Bechup with you?” asked Arron.
“Of course! You never know when you will need some Bechup.”
When the group had finished slurping down their spicy synth-gloop their tired bodies felt refreshed.
“We might as well go to the next floor to use one of the boxing rings. I really don't like climbing stairs,” said Kix as he stretched his legs.
“Let's do this! I will definitely beat my record from last time!” said Knox.
Unfortunately for Kix, the boxing rings on the 201st floor to 225th were all full. When they reached the 226th floor its door was open indicating there were still boxing rings open for customers to use.
“Finally...” muttered Kix.
The 226th floor had over 20 large square boxing rings crammed into the room leaving only small pathways between them. The majority of the boxing rings were already occupied with one or two people standing inside.
In each of the rings, the people were all boxing against a programmed robotic boxer.
Instead of holo-TVs covering the walls of the room, there were several of the same static holo posters. It was of a man pointing out with the floating words under him saying: Say no to Separatist! Fight for Mother and Father!
Arron and the rest of the group walked up to one of the empty boxing rings.
“Is this your first time coming to the boxing hall?” asked Kix, when he saw Arron's intrigued expression as he watched the other fighters in the nearby rings.
“I'll go first to show Arron how it's done!” said Captain Pointer, stepping into the ring.
As soon as he did, the robotic boxer's eyes lit up and it asked, “Scrub, do you want to pay by the hour or by the number of rounds?”
“Rounds!” said Captain Pointer, as he picked up a pair of blue padded gloves from one of the ring's posts.
“Beginning round 1 based on your saved membership settings!”
The robotic boxer lurched forward and began swinging its fists in wide circles. Captain Pointer dodged and weaved while landing several jabs on the robot's body.
After the tenth or so hit the robot’s head popped up and bobbed around like a bobblehead. The swinging arms of the robot stopped for a second before they reached up and pushed the bobbing head back down into place.
“Round 2?” asked the robot.
“No, I'll let someone else go,” said Captain Pointer as he stepped back and took off his gloves to hand them to Arron.
“New challenger! You have no saved data. You have two choices: One, choose to start at the beginner, intermediate, or advanced setting. Two, start from scratch and work your way up!”
“Start from scratch!” said Arron.
The group in the boxing ring next to them scoffed at hearing he was a Newbie.
“Hey new guy, watch my teacher show you how it's done!” said one of the teenage students next to the Boxing ring. He pointed to a plain-looking man wearing special fighting robes.
“Start master mode!” said the middle-aged teacher.
“Master mode start!” said the robotic boxer.
The teacher gracefully dodged to the side and... received a hard jab into his stomach sending him stumbling back several steps.
He regained his balance and breath in time to lean back and put up his gloves to block incoming the padded robotic fist... and received a hit to his head causing him to see stars.
Bam! Whack! Thump!
After ten hits to the man's body and face, the robotic boxer stopped its attacks. The robot's head extended up and down as if it were laughing at the teacher. The teacher's face was now swollen and puffy from being used to block the robot's punches.
“Right, thanks for showing me exactly what not to do,” said Arron, causing the ERF members to laugh.
“Are you making fun of our teacher?”
“You wanna fight?”
The group of four students came to the edge of their ring and stood next to the large muscular ERF members. The two groups just stared at each other for several seconds.
Before anything could go further, the service bot of the 226th floor flew over to them with flashing red lights.
“Warning! Warning! Customers, fighting between humans is illegal and highly disruptive to the cohesiveness of society. Stop immediately or the proper authorities will be called!”
Arron and the rest of the ERF members turned around, ignoring the fuming teens who looked like they still wanted to fight. But after seeing the flowing electricity zapping out from the service bot's thin arms they also returned to the other side of their boxing ring.