Ch. 1 Bitten
San Fransokyo is a city mixed and blessed with Eastern and Western cultures in the state of California. At night its true colors shined, hiding the stars from those who walked its streets. Truly one would look at this enchanting metropolis and believe it to be a utopia. But in its darkest shadows, Good Luck Alley, chaos rejoices. Young and juvenile men and women crowded in a circle.
They cheered and roared around two bipedal and bulky automatons locked in combat. One had pink and black metal with pincers for hands and a face with only green neon eyes and no neck. The other had black armor with a shogun helmet with yellow horns. A shield with yellow decals on one arm and the other arm had an enormous five-digit claw. The shogun robot had just tossed around its opponent and its controller, a Goth girl with pink hair, was fed up. She used her remote control to stand the pink one back up to its toy size.
The two small mechas circled each other until the pink one used its claw for an uppercut and sent the shogun robot flying and laying face down on the ground. Now with confidence, the girl had her bot march forward, both pincers open. But the shogun robot used its claw hand to stop it and then stood up as its shield opened its outer ring to reveal a buzz saw. With one straight blow in the back, the shogun was the winner, leaving the Goth girl stunned. Money was then exchanged in the crowd from loser to winner.
"The winner," shouted a woman with an eye patch and several hairpins in her hair bun holding a closed platter, "by total annihilation, Yama!"
And standing up in victory was an obese man in a blue and yellow striped tracksuit and short hair. The woman opened the platter to reveal a rich amount of paper money and the man she called Yama grabbed and pocketed it.
"Who's next?" Yama asked picking up his robot. "Who has the guts to step into the ring with Little Yama?" Others with robots in the crowd were too terrified to answer and either hid their machines or broke them themselves.
"Can I try?" asked a young shy voice. Yama was confused and curious when he heard and the spectators cleared a path for the speaker. It was a teenage Asian American boy wearing a blue hoodie over a red shirt with a giant anime-based robot and cargo short pants. "I have a robot. I built it myself."
In his hand, he displayed the most innocent-looking robot anyone in the alley had seen. Its body seemed to be made of four spheres. One connected its stubby toeless spike legs, another connected its arms of the same structure and the third sphere acted as the main body. And the fourth acting as the head with a yellow smiling face with goofy teeth. On its head, it had another set of spikes resembling big ears. Yama began a laugh that spread throughout everyone looking, making the boy more nervous.
"Beat it, kid," the woman commanded. "House rules; you gotta pay to play."
"Oh uh," the boy searched his pocket and pulled out a crumpled sum. "Is this enough?"
"What's your name little boy?" Yama asked.
"Hiro," he answered with a nervous smile. "Hiro Hamada."
"Prepare your bot, Zero," Yama mocked accepting the challenge.
The two placed their wagers on the platter and the woman closed it back quickly. They sat down cross-legged on opposing mats as they placed their robots inside the small arena. Yama twisted his head to crack his neck and Hiro twisted his head and made a cracking sound in his mouth then they took hold of their remote controls. And to begin the match the woman opened an umbrella and spun it between the robots.
"Two bots enter," she said, "one bot leaves. Fighters ready, fight!" She pulled back the umbrella and Little Yama bared its claw and buzz saw and Hiro's tiny machine stood up all wobbly. They approached each other and Little Yama used its claw to uppercut its insignificant opponent rocketing in mid-air. The small robot screamed, almost like a beeping 'whoa,' and as it descended Little Yama divided it into its three spheres with its saw.
Hiro was devastated at his loss while the crowd laughed hysterically with Yama.
"That was my first fight," Hiro excused. "Can I try again?"
"No one like a sore loser little boy," Yama chuckled as he reached for his winnings. "Go home."
"I got more money," Hiro chimed holding up a roll of bills in a rubber band. Yama smirked at his future treasure and added another wad of cash to the platter with Hiro's.
"Fighters ready," the woman said with the umbrella again. "Fight!" Hiro's robot then reassembled itself in the ring and stood up straight against his invincible opponent.
"Megabot," Hiro called and grinned. He then opened his controller to reveal an expanded new set of buttons and a confidant stare. "Destroy." The small robot, called Megabot, then switched its goofy yellow face to a red savage smile with pointed teeth. Yama became confused as Hiro unleashed Megabot.
Yama tried to fight back but the tiny droid was swirling around on Little Yama's body and even tore his arm off and destroy it with its weapon. Little Yama was out of commission and the crowd was too stunned to speak.
"No more Little Yama," Hiro smirked.
"Wha-" Yama snapped. "This is impossible!"
"Hey I'm as surprised as you," Hiro continued smirking as he collected his winnings from the pot. "Beginners luck I guess. Care to go again, Yama?" While pocketing his cash, Yama stood up and walked up to Hiro with a frightening scowl and threw the boy up against a wall in fury.
"Nobody hustles Yama," he shouted while he confiscated Megabot and walked away.
"Hey wait," Hiro called.
"Teach him a lesson," Yama commanded three thugs he walked past. Without hesitation they walked towards the boy menacingly, one of them cracking his knuckles.
"Hey come on guys," Hiro smiled and squealed. "Let's talk about this." But before he could feel a hint of pain, a small engine revved up inside a Vespa that intercepted the beating. The thugs stepped back to avoid injury from the small vehicle but they knocked each other over, including Yama.
"Hiro get on," the rider commanded.
"Tadashi," Hiro smiled in recognition. "Oh, great timing!" He sat behind Tadashi and he placed a helmet on him that was too big for him as it covered his eyes. Tadashi revved the engine again and drove down the alley. Yama stood back up with a scowl but his anger passed as he sinisterly laughed holding Megabot in his grotesque hands.
Almost responding, Megabots' face turned mean.
"Oh momma," Yama said losing his smile. Megabot spun its arms slapping Yama until it was released and returned to a smiling Hiro.
"You okay?" Tadashi asked speeding through.
"Yeah," Hiro answered.
"Are you hurt?" Tadashi asked.
"No," Hiro answered.
"Then what were you thinking knucklehead?" Tadashi asked hitting Hiro. Tadashi realized they were heading toward a dead end and made a U-turn. "You graduated high school when you were thirteen and this is what you're doing?" They see Yama and his thugs charging towards them and Tadashi notices a wooden plank leaned at an angle.
"Hang on," Tadashi told his little brother. And he used the as a ramp and launched into the air. Hiro's adrenaline maxed out as he saw himself and his brothers flying reflections in the window. They landed over the gang and drove off for a more successful escape.
"Bot fighting is illegal," Tadashi lectured, "you're gonna get yourself arrested!"
"Bot fighting is not illegal," Hiro corrected. "Betting on bot fighting, that's, that's illegal but so lucrative!" He pulled out the wad of cash he won from Yama to show to Tadashi. "I'm on a roll big brother and there is no stopping me!"
But at the end of the alley, Tadashi hit the brakes and brought the Vespa to a stop at the sight and sound of police sirens atop three squad cars.
"Oh no," Tadashi said. They were pressed against a car and handcuffed, then were taken to the station and thrown in two separate cells. Hiro got his cell all to himself where he waved awkwardly to a scowling Tadashi. He had to share a cell with Yama and everyone from the alley. Fortunately, their stay was not long as a woman they met outside, biting her nail worrying, paid their bail.
"Hi Aunt Cass," the boys greeted upon exiting the station.
"Are you guys okay," she asked running up to hug them both. "Tell me you're okay."
"We're fine," Hiro answered.
"We're okay," Tadashi answered.
"Oh, good," Cass released them with calming relief, followed by furiously grabbing them by the ears. "Then what were you two knuckleheads thinking!" She pulled them into her truck and drove them home scowling. "For ten years I have done the best I could to raise you." They reached the house that was signed 'Lucky Cat Café,' pulled over, and exited the truck as Aunt Cass readied her house key.
"Have I been perfect," Aunt Cass asked. "No! Do I know anything about children? No! Should I have picked up a book on parenting? Probably!
"Where was I going with this? I had a point."
"Sorry," Tadashi apologized.
"We love you, Aunt Cass," Hiro smiled nervously.
"Well I love you too," Cass, continued spazzing out as she opened the door. She walked across the tables to grab a donut from the display case. "I had to close up early because of you two felons and on Beat Poetry Night!" She took a bite out of the pastry treat facing the boys. "Stress eating, because of you two!"
"Come on Mochi," she called her cat to leave the room with her. "Mm, this is good!"
The boys moved along from her freak-out and went upstairs to their shared bedroom.
"You better make this up to Aunt Cass," Tadashi told Hiro heading to his computer, "before she eats everything in the café."
"For sure," Hiro said studying his computer.
"And I hope you've learned your lesson bonehead," Tadashi continued walking towards him.
"Absolutely," Hiro said turning around in the chair with a straight face. But Tadashi was easily skeptical and saw through his little brother.
"You're going bot fighting aren't you?" Tadashi asked?
"There's a fight across town," Hiro explained leaving his chair. "If I book I can still make it." Hiro grabbed Megabot but before he could take another step Tadashi grabbed him by his hood to turn him around.
"When are you going to start doing something with that big brain of yours," Tadashi asked poking Hiro's forehead?
"What?" Hiro asked, "Go to college like you? So people can tell me stuff I already know?"
"Unbelievable," Tadashi frowned. "Do you have any idea what Mom and Dad would say?"
"I don't know," Hiro shrugged. "They're gone, they died when I was three remember?"
"They'd say with great power comes great responsibility," Tadashi answered himself.
"I'm a fourteen-year-old high school graduate," Hiro stated, "what's there to be responsible for?" Tadashi slightly furrowed his eyebrows as he came up with an idea.
"Wait," Tadashi called. Hiro turned around to grab the spare helmet Tadashi threw at him. "I'll take you."
"Really?" Hiro asked.
"I can't stop you from going," Tadashi sighed and smiled, "but I'm not gonna let you go on your own."
"Sweet," Hiro smiled walking down the stairs. However, Tadashi's Vespa did not take them to any bot fight as they reached the welcoming sign and front entrance of San Fransokyo Institute Of Technology. "What are we doing at your nerd school? Bot fight that way!"
Tadashi did not answer him right away as they drove through the school campus. Ahead of their route was the SFIT Biometric Lab. In the building's front yard was a tree with its longest branch reaching over the small road they were driving on. And on that tree was a red and purple spider, hanging on the branch by a single string of webbing. The Hamada brothers were nearing the branch and the spider released itself from the tree and fell into Hiro's hood.
Tadashi stopped, shut off, and parked the Vespa in front of Ito Ishioka Robotics Lab.
"Gotta grab something," Tadashi finally answered leaving Hiro annoyed. Not wanting to wait he followed his older brother inside.
"Is this gonna take long?" Hiro asked as they walked down the hallway.
"Relax ya, big baby," Tadashi smiled. "We'll be in and out. Anyway, you've never seen my lab." He opened a double door and went inside first.
"Oh great," Hiro smiled but with distorted interest walking inside, "I get to see your nerd lab."
"Heads up!" Hiro jumped back as something sped past him. The blur that warned him decelerated to reveal itself as a girl wearing a black motorcycle helmet and leather jacket. She stood up from a yellow bicycle he had never seen before and she hung it up on a rack hanging from the ceiling. The biker took off a disc that was acting as a wheel while taking two steps from it then tossed it behind her and the disc reattached itself. Piquing his curiosity Hiro decided to take a closer look at the unique pedal bike.
Along the way he saw the rest of the room with several students of the university working on their projects, one being a cat with rocket shoes. Reaching the bike, his first observation was the wheels were not connected to the minor vehicle yet they were not separated. He waved his hand between a wheel and the actual bike and was amazed at the mechanisms.
"Whoa," Hiro said pulling back his hand, "electro mag suspension?"
"Hey," the biker approached Hiro making him squeal. "Who are you?"
"Uh…" Hiro tried talking, "I'm uh…"
"Gogo," Tadashi addressed walking up behind his brother, "this is my brother, Hiro." She removed her helmet to reveal her short black hair with purple streaks up front. She blew a pink bubble gum and popped it with her teeth while glaring at him.
"Welcome to the Nerd Lab," Gogo greeted sarcastically.
"Yeah," Hiro laughed, "I've never seen electromagnetic suspension on a bike before."
"Zero resistance, faster bike," Gogo explained. "But not fast enough…" She took off one of the wheels and threw it like a Frisbee into a bin of the disc wheels, "yet." And she walked off in the middle of the conversation while the spider from outside crawled to the outside of Hiro's hood. Before he could ask further questions about the bike, Hiro heard a zapping noise from the other side of the partial wall.
Tightening a small thin aqua colored glass frame on one of two tall and skinny metal polls stands was a tall, muscular young man with dreadlocks safety goggles, and white gloves. His panicking heart skipped a beat seeing an unknown teenager carelessly approach his area.
"Oh-oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa," the dreadlock one halted him, "do not move! Behind the line please." Hiro looked down to see the black and yellow line he was referring to and respectfully stepped back in confusion.
"Hey Wasabi," Tadashi walked up and greeted. "This is my brother, Hiro."
"Hello Hiro," Wasabi greeted, "prepare to be amazed." He stood behind the space between the polls and held up a red apple. "Catch." He tossed the apple toward Hiro but the fruit turned into paper-thin slices that aimlessly and gently descended like leaves.
"Wow," Hiro examined an apple slice. Wasabi flipped a switch on a machine behind him that revealed a window of green and blue lights connecting the polls. "Laser-induced plasma?"
"Oh, yeah," Wasabi smiled over the table of tools as he straightened something. "With a little magnetic confinement for uh, ultra-precision." Hiro looked over the tools to see each one in an outline of their shape and labeled it at the bottom.
"Wow," Hiro said picking up a magnifying glass from the table. "How do you find anything in this mess?"
"Ah, ah, ah," Wasabi took back and restored the magnifying glass. "I have a system, there's a place for everything and everything's in its place."
"Need this," Gogo took a wrench from out of the blue, shaking the table and moving the tools out of place, and dashed off.
"You can't do that," Wasabi panicked and followed her. "This is anarchy! Society has rules!" During Wasabi's pursuit, the spider made it onto the boys back.
"Excuse me," a tall blonde girl warned and smiled as she wore headphones as she rolled a big black ball across the floor, "coming through." She slowed it down and pushed it into a small pit in the ground as she leaned over it on her back. Her smile returned after applying the necessary force when she saw the older Hamada brother. "Tadashi," her excitement heightened when seeing the younger one. "Oh my gosh, you must be Hiro! I've heard so much about you!"
She kissed him on both his cheeks and took out her headphones so she did not have to continue yelling at everything.
"Perfect timing," she grabbed hold of him and pulled him over to the ball she was rolling and pulled a switch on the wall, "perfect timing." The ball was then elevated on a rising platform to Hiro's level.
"That's a whole lot of taxon carbine," Hiro observed.
"Four-hundred pounds of it," she shined. "Come here, come here come here come here." She took him to a table covered with a chemistry set for her to interact with. "You're gonna love this! A dash of perchloric acid, a smidge of cobalt, a hint of hydrogen peroxide…"
She grabs hold of a blowtorch. "Superheated to five-hundred kelvin and…" She attaches the bottle of the chemical concoction to a sprayer and covered the ball in a cloud of pink smoke. She pulls the switch again and the ball takes in the smoke to make a pink skin. "Tada! It's pretty great huh?"
"So pink," was all Hiro could comment.
"Here's the best part," she tiptoed over to the ball. She poked it and it combusted into a pure pink mist.
"Whoa," Hiro smiled.
"I know right," the girl asked and screamed, now covered in pink dust. "Chemical and metal imbrutement!"
"Not bad honey lemon," Tadashi complimented.
"Honey Lemon," Hiro asked, "Gogo, Wasabi?"
"I spilled wasabi on my shirt one time people," Wasabi yelled in the background. "One time!" As Wasabi barged out the door, the Spider reached Hiro's elbow which helped hold his robot.
"Fred is the one who comes up with the nicknames," Tadashi explained.
"Uh, who's Fred?" Hiro asked.
"This guy," said a muffled voice. Hiro jumped and screamed at the sight of a giant lizard face. "Ah, ah, do not be alarmed;" A hand inside the creature lifted its mouth to reveal a human head. "This is not my real face and body." He closed his mouth but left his arm out in the open for Hiro to shake.
"Names Fred, school mascot by day, but by night…" he demonstrated a sign spinning technique that finished with a dynamic pose. "I am also the school mascot."
"So what's your major?" Hiro asked.
"No, no, no, no, no," Fred said walking over to a living room area to sit in a recliner. "I'm not a student but I am a major science enthusiast." He reaches over the armrest to pick up a comic book. "For example, I've been trying to get Honey to develop a formula that can turn me into a fire-breathing lizard at will. But she says that's 'not science.'"
"It's really not," Honey Lemon smiled awkwardly standing by Fred.
"Yeah," Fred rolled his eyes as Gogo and Wasabi approached his chair as well. "And I guess the shrink ray I asked Wasabi for 'isn't science' either, is it?"
"Nope," Wasabi said with bored eyes.
"Well then," Fred spoke up to all of them, "what about an invisible sandwich?" Wasabi rolled his eyes at his lizard-dressed friend.
"Hiro," Tadashi called. Hiro followed him through a door as Fred continued asking for what turned out to be not science as the spider began crawling over Hiro's wrist. Tadashi had led him to a large room with a round window at the end. Below the window was what seemed to be a small red box. On the walls it sat between were shelves file cabinets and various office features with a workbench.
"So," Hiro began as he played with a robot arm, "what have you been working on?"
"I'll show ya," Tadashi said as he pulled out a roll of duck tape. But noticed something with alarm before he could continue demonstrating. "Dude, there's a huge spider on your hand!"
"Oh yeah," Hiro rolled his eyes while casually checking his right hand. "Like I'm gonna fall for what the…" And the spider bit the back of his right arm, making him drop his little robot as the arachnid injected its venom. "Ow!"
Hiro swatted the pest away killing it and during his painful reaction, Tadashi checked the red box below his window. A red circle on its upper left side lit up and it opened to release a pure white figure whose body inflated into an overweight body. Its head was shaped as a sideways oval with a line connecting two dots.
"This is what I've been working on," Tadashi introduced. The stinging pain in Hiro's hand quickly faded, as he was easily curious and fascinated by the new robot. The robot carefully stepped out of its containment unit and walked forward until it hit a spinning stool. It turned to pick it up, looked for a safer place and placed it there, and proceeded to walk towards Hiro.
"Hello," the robot waved, "I am Baymax, your personal healthcare companion, I was alerted to the need for medical attention when you said 'Ow.'"
"A robotic nurse," Hiro said.
"On a scale of one to ten," Baymax said as he displayed on his chest a small monitor showing ten different emojis, "how would you rate your pain?"
"Physical or emotional?" Hiro asked in skepticism. Tadashi pouted to tease him back.
"I will scan you now," Baymax said and did allow him to notice the boys' recent injury. "Scan complete, you have a spider bite on the back of your right hand. The venom does not appear to be fatal, but within the hour you may experience a dizzy spell followed by unconsciousness."
"Seriously?" Hiro asked nervously.
"There is no need to worry," Baymax reassured. "You will make a full recovery once you are rested. To treat the spider bite, wash your hand and apply an ice pack or a wet compress on the area. I will apply a hand sanitizer to clean it." Baymax took Hiro's hand and from the robot's finger spouted the recommended gelatinous clear liquid and rubbed it over the boy's hand skin.
"I will now apply an antibacterial ointment," Baymax continued.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Hiro halted the robot with a smile, "what's in the ointment specifically?"
"The primary ingredient is bacitracin," Baymax answered.
"That's a bummer," Hiro kept smiling, "I'm actually allergic to that."
"You are not allergic to bacitracin," Baymax interjected. "You do have a mild allergy to peanuts."
"Not bad," Hiro complimented and gave his hand back to Baymax squirting the ointment and rubbing it in, "you've done some serious coding on this thing huh?"
"Uh huh," Tadashi answered. He then pressed a circle on Baymax's upper left torso to pop out a small port holding a green computer chip with three spare slots. The one chip had a smiling doctor emoji wearing a stethoscope and smile, above it was a scotch tape with 'Tadashi Hamada' written on it. "Programmed him with ten thousand medical procedures, this chip is what makes Baymax, Baymax." With his hand free, Hiro pressed the chip back into the robot and continued to examine him.
He began by walking around to its back and poking the material used for skin.
"Vinyl?" Hiro asked Tadashi.
"Yeah," he answered, "going for a non-threatening, huggable kind of thing."
"Looks like a walking marshmallow," Hiro commented finishing circling Baymax. "No offense."
"I am a robot," Baymax said, "I cannot be offended."
"Hyperspectral cameras," Hiro asked poking its eye and pulling in its head?
"Yep," Tadashi smiled walking around.
"Huh," Hiro replied mildly impressed. He then pressed himself into Baymax's stomach to see through the vinyl. "Titanium skeleton!"
"Carbon fiber," Tadashi corrected.
"Right," Hiro said, "even lighter. Killer actuators, where did you get those?"
"I machined them here in the house," Tadashi smiled.
"Really?" Hiro asked.
"Yup," Tadashi answered. "He can lift a thousand pounds."
"Shut up," Hiro said.
"You have been a good boy," Baymax complimented Hiro and held out a red piece of candy on a stick. "Have a lollypop."
"Nice," Hiro smiled taking the candy, unwrapping and putting it in his mouth.
"I cannot deactivate unless you say you are satisfied with your care," Baymax said.
"Well then I'm satisfied with my care," Hiro said and Baymax turned around to walk away.
"He's gonna help a lot of people," Tadashi said with pride walking up next to his brother.
"Hey," Hiro began as he picked his little robot back up while Baymax began docking and deflating himself in his little red container, "what kind of battery does it use?"
"Lithium-ion," Tadashi smiled.
"You know," Hiro brought up, "super compositors would charge way faster."
"Huh," Tadashi kept smiling.
"Burning the midnight oil Mr. Hamada," asked a middle-aged gentleman from the doorway.
"Oh hey Professor," Tadashi greeted, "actually I was just finishing up. Tadashi walked over to his desk to write down Hiro's battery suggestion as the boy walked over to the professor.
"You must be Hiro," the professor guessed. "Bot fighter right? When my daughter was younger, that was all she wanted to do. May I?"
"Uh, sure," Hiro shrugged and handed over his robot for the professor to inspect.
"Hmm…" the professor observed, "magnetic bearing servos."
"Pretty sick huh," Hiro bragged, "wanna see how I put them together?" Tadashi knocked on the glass next to the door to make himself seen.
"Hey genius," Tadashi called, "he invented them." They then knocked on the glass again to disappear.
"You're Robert Callaghan," Hiro realized being flabbergasted, "like as in… the Callaghan-Catmull spline, and Callaghan's Laws of Robotics?"
"That's right," Callaghan answered handing Hiro back his robot. "Ever think about applying here? Your age wouldn't be an issue."
"Well I don't know," Tadashi, said exiting his lab, "he's pretty serious about his career in bot fighting."
"Well," Hiro interjected following them down the hallway, "kind of serious."
"I can see why," Callaghan said, "with your bot winning must come easy."
"Yeah," Hiro said, "I guess."
"Well," Callaghan said opening the elevator for them, "if you like things easy, then my program isn't for you. We push the boundaries of robotics here; my students go on to shape the future. Nice to meet you Hiro, good luck with the bot fights." As the elevator closed, Hiro realized the opportunity he was passing up.
Back outside, Tadashi started his scooter back up waiting for his little brother still atop the stairs looking at the robotics lab he exited.
"Gotta hurry if you wanna catch that bot fight," Tadashi called over to him.
"I have to go here," Hiro turned around to say. "If I don't go to this nerd school, I'm gonna lose my mind! How do I get in?" Tadashi smiled at Hiro and his succeeded plan.
"I'll tell you in the morning," Tadashi said, "let's go home and get some sleep."
"Alright," Hiro whined slightly wanting to know the information now. But when he took that first step down the world began to blur and foggy air seemed to overcome his thoughts.
"Hiro?" Tadashi asked. Hiro did not answer him, leaving Tadashi with only an epiphany. "The spider bite." He hopped off his Vespa and ran up the stairs to catch his little brother before falling to the ground. "Sorry, I'll take the bonehead move this time." Tadashi picked Megabot back up then lifted and carried Hiro in his arms. He sat him up in front of the scooter with his arm wrapped around the boy and drove them home.