“Battle at the Pit” in Rockets & Robots

The Word Balloon Books anthology Rockets & Robots, edited by James and Cheryl Maxey, is now available. Rockets & Robots includes my story “Battle at the Pit,” which was originally published in the May 2015 issue of FrostFire Worlds. The full table of contents is below, followed by a sneak peek at my story!

Cover image for the anthology Rockets & Robots


  • “Morning Star City” by Lancer Kind
  • “Swebba’s Swarm” by Anne E. Johnson
  • “Battle at the Pit” by Karl El-Koura
  • “Dinosaur Portal” by Mayhem Beth Goder
  • “Attitude Adjustment” by Eric James Stone
  • “Son of Mars” by Amar Tian
  • “Robotics Genius” by Bruce H. Markuson
  • “The What-The Tree” by Liam Hogan
  • “JUMBO” by Gregory L. Norris
  • “Osmosis Camp” by Franco Amati
  • “Woomie Saves the Day” by Holly Schofield
  • “Mister S And the Cosmic Invaders” by Michael H. Hanson
  • “Invasion of the Heavy Croppers” by Robert Stapleton
  • “Robot on a Rampage” by Lena Ng
  • “Sardines in a Tin Can” by Wendy Nikel
  • “Spots Got Bite” by Daniel R. Robichaud
  • “Luke and Odett” by James Fitzsimmons
  • “Nits!” by Jenny Blackford
  • “Opening the Box” by Robert Dawson
  • “Exploration” by Carter Lappin
  • “First Contact” by Kay Hanifen
  • “A World Aflutter” by L.R. Conti

Battle at the Pit

by Karl El-Koura

Sebastien didn’t hear Sophie yelling at first. But out of the corner of his eye he saw her waving her arms and, reluctantly, he landed the lawnmower.

“—that thing off already!”

“Okay, it’s off—what’s up, Soph?”

“Steven!” she said in her eight-year-old whine, almost stamping the ground in her agitation. “He’s in trouble. He’s—”

Sebastien sighed, then turned the mower back on. He still had another acre to mow before he could call it a day for chores and get back to his own projects.

Loud as it was, though, the mower’s engines couldn’t drown out Sophie’s screams now that he was attuned to her voice. He retracted the blades and flew towards his little sister, which wasn’t nice because the mower scared her. But this time she stood her ground.

He landed again.

“You don’t understand!” she said, and now he could see that she was on the verge of crying.

“Okay.” Sebastien hopped off the vehicle. “I’m sorry. What’s going on?”

Her blue eyes filmed over with tears. “Steven took your bot! He’s—”

“Soph, where is he?” He grabbed her shoulders. “Tell me!”

“The Pit. He’s at the Pit.”

“Go back inside, Soph. Don’t tell Mom and Dad. Deal?”

She nodded, then looked up at him. “Don’t be mad at Steven, okay? He just . . . he didn’t want people to think you’re a chicken.”

“Go home, Soph.” He jumped back on the lawnmower, but didn’t wait for it to finish hovering off the ground before he pushed the throttle all the way forward. The mower jerked him back but he held on and flew over the fresh cut grass so fast that the lawn turned into streaks below him.


Keep reading by buying your copy of Rockets & Robots.

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