“~Match point~!” The robot voice buzzed through its speaker. It gently launched the tennis ball from its tube-arm. *thoop!* It swung its other arm, which was a racquet. *POK!* Its serve was very fast. Poshy hit the ball back. It flew past the robot.
“~Posh Rat wins~,” the robot said. “~Final score: Posh Rat three, TennisBot™ two~.”
“Barnesy, your new TennisBot™ is wonderful!” Poshy said to me. “You could make it harder to beat, though.”
“Indeed, sir,” I said. “You do enjoy a good challenge.” Poshy wiped his handsome face with his towel which had his initials stitched on it. “R.T.” stood for his real name, Reginald Twitch.
“I do enjoy a challenge, Barnes,” said Poshy confidently.
Back in my workshop, I cranked up the robot’s settings and switched some circuits. I even doubled the battery power. The next day, I tested the TennisBot™ on our mole-assistant, Barnaby Raisin.
“If you twist the dial, you can choose the skill level of TennisBot™,” I said, demonstrating.
“Ready sir, ready sir.” Barnaby wore his white tennis kit. His tiny slit-eyes blinked through the new PinkerTech™ Power-eye Goggles.
I pressed TennisBot’s™ start button. It launched a ball into the air. *PLOOP!* Its racquet arm swung. *POW!* The ball rocketed across the net. *THUMP!* It knocked poor Barnaby Raisin out of his trainers!
“Woo. My fault,” Barnaby said with a smile. “I was never a sportsman, sportsman.”
“Oh no, Mr Raisin. I went too far with my new fixes,” I said. Across the court, the robot sucked tennis balls off the ground with its tube-arm. *Thoop* *Thoop*
“The robot might be too dangerous, even for Poshy,” I said as I pulled Barnaby to his feet. “Oh, here he comes!”
Posh Rat walked onto the court. Herman, the family butler, followed. “Lemon drink anyone?” he said, carrying a silver tray balancing a jug and lemons. As he set it onto the table, a lemon tumbled onto the court.
The robot quickly sucked up the lemon with its arm. *Thoop!*
“The robot thinks the lemon is a tennis ball, tennis ball,” chuckled Barnaby.
“Heavens,” I said. “TennisBot™ does need further repair.”
“~TennisBot™ versus Posh Rat~!” The robot stood ready to serve, but Poshy was still getting his racquet out of its case.
“Wait!” I shouted at TennisBot™. But the robot swatted the lemon. *POK!* It flew right towards Poshy’s head. Poshy ducked and the lemon hit the wall. *WHACK!*
“Oh, my! Barnes, I asked for a bigger challenge, not a food fight.”
The robot zipped towards the tray of lemons. “~More tennis balls!~”
“It’s getting more lemons, more lemons!” Barnaby repeated.
The robot sucked up the lemons then started serving them at Poshy. *POK!* *POK!* *POK!*
“Duck!” I yelled.
I took a wrench from my waistcoat pocket and dashed towards the robot to fix it. But before I could reach it, a lorry drove by the mansion. It had a large picture of bright yellow lemons on its side. The robot saw the picture. Its eyes lit up.
“~Get tennis balls!~” The wild robot revved its motor and burst through the mansion gate!
TennisBot™ chased the lorry down the road towards Ratford Square. Poshy and I chased behind it.
The lorry was too fast to catch. But then a fruit stall caught TennisBot™’s™ eye.
“The robot’s going for your lemons!” I shouted to the rat standing by his display of citrus fruit. “It thinks they’re tennis balls!”
And sure enough, the robot sucked the whole pile of lemons into his tube-arm.
“You have to pay for those!” The rat shook his fist, and then saw Poshy. “A-ha! A Twitch! I should have known. Thinks he owns the whole Underunderground!”
“It’s not what you think, sir!” Poshy called as we ran by.
We chased the robot up the road as it swatted lemons at people. “Mr Barnes!” Posh yelled. “I must get in front of the robot so it hits the lemons at me instead of innocent strangers!”
Posh called and waved his racquet. “TennisBot™! Over here!”
That’s when we saw the marching band. Lines of horn players and drummers marched between Poshy and the TennisBot™.
“There’s a rat rainbow parade today!” I exclaimed.
The robot spotted a row of rats in the parade playing banjos. It served lemon after lemon at the marching banjo players. *POK!* *CRASH!* “~Tennis players!~” the robot called.
“Watch out! It thinks your banjos are racquets!” I shouted.
But it was too late. *PLANG!* *PLOING!* *P-TANG!* The poor banjoists were pelted by flying lemons. “It thinks it's playing a tennis game,” Poshy observed. “It’s programmed to follow tennis rules, right?”
“That was the idea,” I said. “And what would make a tennis player stop playing tennis?” Poshy quickly scanned the area. “A-ha!” Poshy ran to a flower shop. A rat was washing the pavement with his hose.
“May I borrow this?” Poshy asked him.
The rat recognised Poshy. “Not at all, Mr Twitch.”
Poshy aimed the hose towards the sky. He made the water shower over the parade and onto the robot. TennisBot™ paused and tilted its head upward.
“~Rain! Rain!~” the robot spoke, then froze. “~Game must pause for rain. Cannot play until rain has ended~.”
Poshy held the water stream steady over the robot.
“Well, Barnes. Don’t just watch. Go and turn off your robot.”
I nodded and crossed through the parade. Then I shut down the TennisBot™. Poshy turned off the hose.
We stopped by the fruit stall and Poshy paid for the lemons. Then we went back to the Twitch mansion.
“Poshy,” I said, “maybe I’ll run a few more tests before I show you my new PinkerTech™...FootballBot™.