You may recall the alien invasion I mentioned.
They blew up our robot! We were WELL annoyed.
After we heard the invasion had started, Ed got the keyboard/mouse interface rigged up and launched the mech as soon as he could. The USAF was already at the scene of the conflict, of course, fighting a losing battle, so when we arrived we got a lot of enthusiastic greetings. The pilots started rallying behind Ed, defending him while he cut swathes through the hundreds of enemy fighters. Rockets, chain guns, explosions, dogfights, it was a heck of a firework show. And we all thought Ed was doing a great job, flying it, as he was, from his bedroom computer.
But there were just too many of them. News networks estimated at least 2,000 drone fighters in the immediate airspace, and the mech was taking hundreds of hits by the minute. It added up. Even the toughest armour was worn away eventually. Vital systems started to go. Ed fought bravely, firing all of his homing rockets before the last communications module was destroyed. Then the machine froze, collapsed, and exploded. I mean, nuts. That was like our last hope.
Five minutes later Ed answers the phone. "It's some guy from America," he says. He gives me the name and I check up on the internet. It's the world's #1 ranked Mechwarrior player. Suddenly I'm interested. I listen in on the phone call.
He says he thinks Ed didn't do too badly, but next time, he wants to have a go. Is that okay?
Bleep. Call waiting. I drift away to check my email while Ed answers more calls. I've got mails from a dozen professional gamers asking for a turn. A hundred instant messaging windows have popped up. They all saw the news broadcasts. They all want to help fight the aliens.
"It's the DOD again," says Ed, bringing the phone over. "They really want the design for the mech, because they know it's their only shot. They saw the battle today. They reckon that the principle will work; all we need is more mechs. And they're offering to make a production line. Only problem is, none of their pilots have any experience with giant robots. We'll have to find our own."
And I'm thinking: Holy cow, it's actually happening. Thousands of gamers united, pooling their mutual skills to fight for humanity's survival in a real-life war against marauding extra-terrestrials. Only You Can Save Mankind. It's every gamer's life-long dream. A vindication of their so-called "wasted youth".
"Will they give us a T3?" I ask.
"OC-192," says Ed.
I grin like a idiot.