Alexis snorted. “When is it not complicated? The last time we fought together we faced the Abominators on the moon, and had to convince the Xiniti that we weren’t the Abominators’ servants. At least here we can breathe.”
Larry looked out at the arena. People were still training. “Yeah, this time around we only have to worry about your people and my people instead of both of those plus evil aliens. That’s progress.”
Alexis laughed. “A little progress. Very little.”
“So,” Larry said, “we’ve got to arrange it so you get enough that you don’t get in trouble. Technically all I was supposed to do is talk to the guy. There’s nothing stopping you from asking him afterward. It’s just that if I do it right, he’ll be too scared to take orders for a while.”
“Or you’ll bring him back the United States for trial.”
“Yeah. That might happen, but it’s not my first choice. For now I’m just here to talk. Which reminds me, have you seen him?”
“Armory? No. All the contestants using powered armor are staying in the same section we are. I am not sure where he is.”
Larry thought about that. “I guess we need to find out where the staff section is.”
“You’re not going to wait for Cheryl?”
Larry shrugged. “She works here. No reason for her to help.”
Alexis said, “She may help anyway.”
“Yeah, well, if it happens, it happens. So, did you see what you wanted to in the arena?”
Alexis stood up. “Not everything, but I think we can go.”
After they walked back to their rooms, Larry spent the rest of the day putting the Frog suit together. He’d left the pieces as large as he could, but it still took hours to reattach everything.
The suite’s workshop wasn’t bad. He’d turned on the radio, finding a rock station out of Florida. The stereo played tapes too—which would have been nice if he’d thought to bring any.
Around seven, Isaac Lim walked in the door carrying a pizza. Larry stepped back from the suit. Two feet taller than he was and gleaming green metal, it didn’t look exactly like a frog, but it did have a flat head, and front limbs that rested on the ground.
Putting the pizza on one of the worktables, Lim said, “Hungry? You’ve been in here for hours.”
Larry stepped back from the machine. “Yeah. I’m pretty much done except for the testing.”
Lim looked the machine up and down. “Seriously? I know a few guys who trained on Rocket suits, and I got the impression that it took a long time to put them together.”
“It depends. Get your suit trashed, and it’ll take a long time, but this is a Man-machine design. He was into making things modular. You can swap out everything on his suits, and it’s not hard to take them apart and put them back together either.”
Lim walked over to the Frog suit, and peered inside. “Man-machine. You did say that. Aren’t you worried someone might recognize the suit? They’ll know everything it can do.”
Larry grabbed a piece of pizza. “Nope. Remember the modular part? We swapped out a bunch of them. Man-machine himself wouldn’t know the half of it now.”
Lim stuck his head inside the suit’s body, and then backed out. “Would you mind if I got inside?”
Larry stopped eating. “Yeah. Not now. If you get in there and touch the wrong thing, you could break a hole in the floor. Maybe later.”
“Sure.” Lim walked over to the counter with the pizza. “Did you know you’re fighting at eleven tomorrow morning?” He pulled a piece of paper out of the inside pocket of his jacket.
“Yep. I ran into a friend. He told me.”
Isaac put the piece of paper on the counter. “Who?”
“Alexis Pozo. Decent guy. Cuban? The Rocket and I worked with him on the moon.”
“Pozo? Cuba’s representative in the People’s Brigade? What’s he doing here? Better, what did he say he was doing here?”
Larry put down his pizza. “Don’t give me that. He’s a decent guy. He’s loyal to his country, but we’ve worked things out.”
“You’ve worked things out? He’s working with people who are trying to destroy the United States. What have you worked out?”
Lim stood with his hands crossed over his chest.
Larry met his eyes. “There’re lots of problems out there. We work together when it makes sense. I’m bringing him in on this one.”
Lim opened his mouth to say more but Larry continued, “Besides, you told me yourself that you legally can’t tell me what to do, right? It’s totally out of your hands, man.”
Meanwhile the radio announcer said, “We just listened to Van Halen’s ‘Jump.’ Next up is ‘Safety Dance’ by Men Without Hats.”