“Do you think Eileen’s going to be okay?” Mae asked.

Jack laughed as he pulled into their assigned parking spot. “So you’re one of those mothers. Eileen will be fine. Her diagnostic is going to take sixteen hours. We’ll be back long before she reboots.”

Luke had unfastened his seat belt before Jack had finished parking. “This is going to be so amazing! I can’t believe we’re here at RobotiCon.”

“Luke, we’ve been coming to RobotiCon since you were ten. We met Mae at RobotiCon.”

Luke shook his head impatiently. “I know, I know, but that was as attendees. We’re actually going to be on a panel this year!”

When they walked on to the exhibit floor, they were assaulted with sights and sounds. Thousands of people milled around booths displaying some of the latest advancements in robotic technology. One booth displayed plans for a deep sea research center, while another had a life-sized model of the Curiosity rover.

“Big crowd this year,” Luke said, looking around.

Mae nodded. “It’s from the Prometheus Competition. Everyone’s excited for it. George says it’s going to be the highest rated launch of a reality TV show ever.”

“How cute,” Jack smirked, looking at a humanoid robot that could do backflips and cartwheels.

“You know Eileen still needs to crawl to go upstairs, right?” she said.

His expression turned a little sour at the reminder. “Yeah, but she can do all this, she just needs to learn how.”

“That’s impressive, though.” Luke pointed to where a young woman was taking unsteady steps. Her legs were encased in metal frames, and the sign behind her proclaimed that she had been born paraplegic. “Man, Eileen’d flip if she could see all this.” He glanced back at the cartwheeling robot. “No pun intended.”

“Eileen would overload and shut down before she could process one tenth of this,” Jack said, “if she didn’t crash first.”

Luke frowned, “I heard Atlas is going to be here.”

“He’s going to be at the panel,” Mae said, “not on the floor. He can process the audience as a single element, or he might just be instructed to ignore them completely. There’s no way he’s evolved enough to take in all this.”

“I know,” a woman standing next to them said. “My friend keeps insisting that all the contestants are going to be secretly wandering the floor, but Atlas is the oldest, and he was only booted up three months ago, and there’s just no way even he could be ready for all this.”

Jack looked at the woman. She was maybe old enough to be in college… maybe. She wore a white, sleeveless jumpsuit with “2.0” printed on it. All of her arms were painted to look like robotics, although the paint on her hands was heavily smudged. Her red hair was clearly dyed and pulled back into a high ponytail.

“Are you supposed to be Eileen?” he asked.

She beamed at the question. “Yep! The pictures only came out two weeks ago, so I really had to hurry to put this together, and I couldn’t find any shots of the back of her upper arms, so I had to do some guesswork, but it’s pretty…” She trailed off, her eyes going wide with surprise. “Y-you’re Team Matsu, aren’t you?”

Jack and Luke just stared at her, but Mae smiled warmly. “Our first fan girl.”

The fan stammered incomprehensibly for a moment before thrusting her hand out and muttering “Erika Rose.”

Mae and Jack each shook her hand, trying not to laugh, but when Luke stopped mid-shake, thinking. “Erika… you’re not eRose from the RoboBattle forums?”

“That’s me,” she said, “although they might as well rename it to the Prometheus forums and… wait, are you TinkerMan47? You actually are Luke Ferris? I know you said you were – well, you never actually said it, but you kinda hinted at it a lot, but we all thought you were faking. No offense, just none of us thought someone from the Prometheus Tournament would be slumming it in our forums.”

Luke had to pull his hand out of hers, but he was still smiling. “I was in the RoboBattle forums long before I was part of the tournament.”

“You must think I’m a total spaz,” she said, “but I’m not really like this, really. Normally I have a real problem talking to people at all and now I can’t shut up.”

“It’s fine,” Mae said, patting her on the shoulder. “It’s a little hard for us to believe, too. When we got into robotics, we didn’t think we were ever going to have to deal with this kind of publicity.”

“I still can’t believe we have an Eileen cosplayer,” Jack said, shaking his head.

Erika raised an eyebrow. “A cosplayer?”