It was afternoon, on ground that was once a plain, but had been torn apart and reconstituted into hills of black and polluted soil. The sun glared down from heaven on the beaten earth with disdain. The wind blew a gale across the remains of the ground, as if trying to escape. A gloved hand reached up from one side of a coarse hill and dug its fingers deep into the soil. Evan pulled himself to the top of the hill with a gasp, and fell to his knees, panting. Raising his head, he looked down into the valley that lay before him, and into the blasted corpse of a city. New York, New York.
He growled, and unslung his pack. Setting it on the ground, he reached in and shuffled some items around. Pulling out one half of a pair of binoculars, he held it up to his right eye. His gaze swept down to the path that lead into the city. Following its curve, he found the tank. It was halfway between him and the crumbling skyscrapers that reached like black fingers into the sky. Evan knew he could not catch up with them in time. It was not a problem however. He had come to New York once before on a strike mission. His brother had warned him that there was only one way into the city. At the thought of the past, Evan’s knuckles turned white under the stained gloves. When they had entered New York, the mutants swarmed over them. But his brother had been by his side always, his steady hands taking aim at one after another. If not for those hands, he would have never left the necropolis. Here in these same ruins, his brother would be avenged. Dave would die, and his little… yellow thing too. Evan’s eyebrows knitted, and his hands began to shake. They would all die for what they did to him. They would die so that his brother could be at peace. And so he could finally see the revenge of his brother… and the rest of Nadeisco.
Subcultural Mutant Otaku Versus the Mundanes
(Spawned by Twoflower)
“We will be entering the area formerly known as New York City in approximately 30 minutes,” Sherman announced casually.
“New York City?!” Dave exclaimed, looking up from the FAQ. “We’re there already?” He popped up from his seat and rushed to the monitor. He stood by B1FF’s chair, and peered over the glowing screens. The buildings already loomed, and would soon be engulfing them. The road was clear, but could seen far, as it immediately took a turn once it was inside the jungle of buildings. “Hey B1FF, what does the file we got say about this place anyway,” he asked.
“N0th1n g00d d00d. N3w Y0rk 15 l1k3 h311 0n 34rth. Th3 w0r5t tr1b3s c0m3 h3r3 t0 me55 4r0und. 1t’5 full 0f mut4nts, cr1m1nal5, 4nd m3mb3rs 0f C.A.B.” B1FF looked grim. “U m1ght w4nt t0 g3t b3l0w d00d. Th15 15 g0nna 5uck b1g.” His fingers flew over the keys, pulling up a few windows.
“C.A.B.?” Dave paused, and tried to recollect from what he had studied. Late the other night he had snuck into the control room, and studied the file that had been left for them by hiro. He had studied New York a little, but had to shut down the file once he had seen a photo of one of the mutants. It had been a rotting, green-skinned reptile snacking on a child while posing for the photographer.
“The Converted Automobile Battalion, Sherman answered. “It was formed by the reanimated corpse of Jimmy Hoffa, claiming to be the messiah, and promising full Union benefits to everyone who joined his cause. He summarily gathered an army to spread union values, and took over he remainder of this city. His soldiers scraped together massive weapons created out of their own vehicles.” Dave hmmmed.
“That doesn’t sound too bad,” he said. “It sounds like a bunch of crappy vehicles which have been put together out of junk.”
“Anyway, get out of here newbie,” Vixen called, who was also busy at the terminals. “It’s going to get pretty rough out here, and I don’t want to spend the time patching you up again.”
Dave sighed, as Vixen didn’t even take the time to look at him. But deep inside, he knew this was his chance. He could show them that he had been training. He could show them that he wasn’t just a newbie. As he headed out of the control room, his mind drifted back to the day he had spent training at the Golden Wing Nut Triad school. The two tribes had gotten off to a better start once Vixen had been calmed by several apologies to the insult, and once their host had proper medical attention.
Wang Yu had taken him into the practice area early in the morning. After making Dave haul water in teapots across the garden, to make tea. After making him then weed the garden while drinking the said tea, Wang Yu had Dave straighten up the living room of his house, vacuum, do some laundry, and finally organize his closet. Dave, having studied the files, knew this was just to build up his strength and endurance to be able to stand the training. Although he did wonder when he was told to make lunch.
Finally, after cleaning up all three floors of the master’s austere and simple training hut, he was judged worthy of training. Wang Yu had studied under Yung Gai, who had studied under Chai Ti, who had studied under Sing Sing, on and on until the first master, and the creator of the art, Lo Wang. The art of Lo Wang seemed to consist of two parts. The first was physical, and was the pursuit of knowing the proper usage of every weapon underneath the sun. In the pursuit of this, Wang Yu’s second floor was a complete arsenal of spears, swords, daggers, axes, and automatic rifles.
Since Dave was a beginner, he had been taught the basics of the unarmed defense, which had been shown to him as running at whatever was opposing him, screaming like a woman, and flailing his limbs. When Dave tried it, the master remarked that he was very good at the screaming.
The second part of the art of Lo Wang was psychological. This was the art of undermining your opponent’s confidence, and consisted of saying naughty things about their mother. When he began this, Dave was given a list of words, some of which he did not know the meaning of, and was told to make a new sentence with one every day. Dave had begun to grow wary of this practice, especially the day when Rachael overheard one of his sentences and asked him if it were a promise, and if he could really bend it that way. When their brief stop at the area of the Golden Wing Nut Triad was finished, Dave was given a fortune cookie by the master, and a few words of advice.
“When the face of the person who throws the various form of kung fu against you is visible,” the master said, “seeking to reach inside his secret dragon heart, pull out the anger that is heating his breast to high.” Dave nodded slowly while he translated this sentence in his head. “And do not think that kung fu is all of which the body alone creates for the purpose of injuring his kidneys. The kung fu which is not untrue in its thinking ways is the kung fu that strikes also at the thinking of hurting that he has. Rice Cracker, you will many times use the art of Lo Wang in life that goes on day by day. Its way is the way of the thrashing skunk, having a bad smell to penetrate the surrounding air, not only for the repelling of the many foes, but for the enlightenment of its user.” Dave meditated upon this speech every morning.
Dave found himself in front of the door to the room. He knocked on the door, and waited for Rachael to call him in. He would not be able to charge headlong into combat if he was flat on the ground again. After hearing Rachael’s voice, he opened the door, and went in. Rachel was on the floor, legs crossed, purveying the tapes Dave had gathered from the vault. She held one up.
“Wanna try this one next?” she asked. “I don’t know what the title means, but something that sounds that odd should have some value I guess. Not that I care at all, since you’re the one who likes this stuff, not me.”
Dave shrugged, and looked at the tape she had selected. He squinted at the label, which was smudged. This was one of the tapes they had recovered, and it was marked with several scratches and burns.
“Orotsu ki dojo? Looks like a martial arts film. Yoshi! Its perfect then!” Smiling widely, Dave popped the tape into the VCR. He poised himself with pen and paper, ready to take notes.
The opening credits rolled. Five minutes later, the bleeding had grown so severe that Dave lapsed into unconciousness. Rachael fished around the room with her free hand, until it reached some cloth. Her eyes riveted to the screen, she felt her way over Dave’s face, until she reached his nose, and applied pressure with whatever she had found. She didn’t bother to look down, despite the blood pooling on the floor. She was entranced.
Back in the control room, Vixen’s screen blanked out. “Chikusho,” she cursed, hitting the reset terminal button. She looked over at B1FF, who was looking at her, both with their fingers on the same buttons.
“Uh-oh,” Sherman beeped.
“Uh-oh? What does ‘uh-oh’ mean, Sherman,” Vixen said, quietly.
“Wai. File decryption complete. Beginning playback,” said the tank.
On all screens, an SD hiro appeared, jumping up and down in poorly animated frames. After five seconds of looping, the character held up a tiny wooden sign covered with katakana characters.
“Showoff,” Vixen muttered, bringing her face closer to the screen, and trying to decipher what she knew of the holy language. “E… en... sutru, no, wait, ro… ensutroku…” She had gotten that far when the SD hiro flipped the sign, which now read “Instructions for New York.” Vixen grunted. She skimmed the file, muttering. “New York… naninani coordinates, naninani artifacts, naninani do not fail…” Pause. Do not fail? Fail? Vixen dug her fingers into the arms of her chair. FAIL?!
“L00ks l1ke th15 15 f0r u5 s1s,” B1FF said. “1 dunn0 4b0ut th15 h1r0 guy, but h3 5ur3 h45 5tyl3. R w3 g0nn4 g0 thru w1th th15?” He looked over at Vixen. Her face was red, and she was twitching. A sweatdrop began to form on the back of her head, and evaporated into steam. B1FF ignored this, and continued reading the file that had been left for them. The instructions read that the artifact had been dropped there in preparation for the possible destruction of Otakuland. It made no mention as to what the object was, but listed precise coordinates, and a physical description. It was a small black box. B1FF’s mouth filled with drool. Black boxes always held the hella cool hardware. His hands hungered for this new toy. Turning to Vixen again, he noticed the frost gathering on the control panel and over her seat.
“515,” he said, “1t5 f0r th3 0t4ku w4y.” Vixen’s fingers trembled, breaking the sheen of ice that had formed over her hands. She stood up with a crackle, as the ice fell to the floor. With hard steps she marched out of the control room. She felt behind her, trying to slam the door, which slid closed smoothly behind her. B1FF heard a shriek, and the stomp of boots marching off. “Sh3rm4n,” B1FF said excitedly, “l3tz m0v3.”
Back in the small room, Rachael had stopped the tape, saving the rest for later. She pulled the tape out, and put it to the side, apart from the others. She stood up, smoothed herself out, and headed out for a moment. Dave still lay unconscious, but his bleeding had been staunched. As the door shut, he began to stir.
Something was all over his face. He tried to bring his head up, but when he tried to move it, his stomach tried to come with it. After attempting a couple times, he decided to keep his head flat for a moment, and let his head come into focus. He felt to see if his hands were still there, and discovered that he was still attatched to his body. Lifting a hand up, he moved it slowly up to his face, and touched it gingerly. He could feel the dried blood, and something else. It was slippery cloth with some odd feeling parts to it. Dave tried to lift it off, but it was stuck to his face with the blood. After attempting this a couple of times, he decided to lay flat and let his head come back into focus. Putting his feet to the ground, he pushed back till he could touch the wall behind him. Slowly, he pushed his back up the wall, and leaned back. His stomach protested, but the cool wall eased the swimming feeling of his head.
He opened his eyes, and was momentarily confused by the bright lights. When they had faded, he looked down at the object over his nose. It was of a black shiny material, and it was small. It was probably one of Rachael’s handkerchiefs or something. He pulled it off with concern, feeling it peeling off of his face. It was dyed crimson in blood, and so he wadded it up, in an attempt to get some of the blood off. He crumpled it
around in his hands for a moment, and then stretched it out to look at it.
It was very small, made from black silk, with a lining of lace. It was definitely not a handkerchief. There was a kazoo noise as another line of blood burst through the scab and arched high in the air, splattering against the wall. Dave’s head hit the floor once again.
About forty miles away, two vehicles were burning their way over the plains towards Washington. One of them was black. It could be determined to be a motorcycle, but only if the edges were carefully studied. The rest was a black formlessness, growling and throwing up dust. The other was a clearly distinguishable hovercraft, painted with blue flames, and seven orange balls with stars in them. The motorcycle rode a good deal ahead of the hovercraft, but they both maintained the same speed, neither gaining on the other.
hiro grimaced beneath his helmet. This would push his timing off a little while. They had been chasing the Strike Team for several days now, and although the Rurouni had located a signal, they were still out of visual. He personally did not believe that this was a necessary action. He had researched the missions of Strike Team Theta, and their capacity for resolving problems with violence was adequate in his mind for the mission he had given them. They were not as skilled as he or his compatriots perhaps, but they were an excellent tool. Like a giant mallet to appear out of hammer space and crush the shell of New York, bringing the fragile and precious yolk back to him. Perhaps he should not have revealed what he had done to them to Kenishi, but his old companions were a soft spot. He believed that there were no lies between soldiers of equal rank. He had known from the beginning that he was destined to rise higher than Kenishi. But they had fought together in the clone wars, when the dark empire of Macek threatened all anime.
He would not lie to his friends, but he disagreed with their ways, and they disagreed with his. It had been a basic part of their relationship for more years than he could count. It was part of what kept their relationship dynamic. It had been present since they knew each other. Even the first day Kenishi had met Arashi was due to hiro’s machinations and roguish plots.
They were both young, and just about to take their tests to get accepted into the Otakuland military. Kenishi had a few contacts in the weapons department, and had heard of a new crop of weapons being developed for use. It was hiro that had convinced him they should ‘beta test’ them. They waited till after lights out, and then made their way towards the weapon development lab. Kenishi brought out a card he had “picked up” earlier, and swiped it through the card reader. All lights turned green, and they were in.
Ten minutes later they were running out of Otakuland, each holding a small crate and giggling like shoujo. They made their way to a hidden spot, where they had created a small rock circle in which to train. Putting his crate down, hiro opened up the lid, and gazed inside.
“Rippa,” he sighed in contemplation. Reaching down, he pulled out a lengthy blade, flat and wide, with a small mechanism near the hilt. There were six chambers and a hammer. “This must be the new weapon they’ve created.” Kenishi gazed at its steely surface.
“Those are cho sugoi,” Kenishi breathed. “I think they call those ones the ‘shoot swords.’” He strode over to hiro’s side and took a second one out of the crate. Holding it up, and posing in a fencing stance, he said, “Shobu!” hiro hopped to his feet, and held his blade at the ready. Their blades curved in the air, and parried each other, dancing in a wide circle of sparks. hiro feinted, and then swung down at Kenishi, but he was already gone. Kenishi skipped back, and launched himself off the balls of his toes towards hiro. hiro skipped to the side, and aimed a kick at Kenishi’s head. It connected, sending Kenishi stumbling to one knee. While he brought himself with his sword, hiro planted his in the ground and laughed. Growling, Kenishi threw himself at hiro, blade first. hiro merely arced his sword up and Kenishi’s sword flew from his hands. Flipping backwards, Kenishi grabbed his blade, and started toward hiro once more. The girl beside them giggled.
Kenishi facefaulted. Recovering, he got to his knees, and found that the two of them were not alone. Sitting on a rock nearby was the most kawaii woman he had even seen. Her long green hair was swaying, and her eyes were closed demurely, so all that could be seen were her eyelashes in a perfect arc. Her mouth was pursed in the exact position to unfold with a smile. His sword slid out of his hand, and clattered on the ground.
hiro, caught up in the thrill of battle, only noticed that Kenishi had stopped. He was still rushing toward Kenishi, sword coming down from above his head in a long arc. The tip of the blade sang towards Kenishi’s face, but he paid neither it nor hiro any notice.
hiro stopped, the blade of his sword a hair’s breadth from Kenishi’s cheek, just short of cutting his face. He knew that occasionally Kenishi sank deep into contemplation or one thing or another, but doing so in the middle of battle was quite new. He waved the sword in front of Kenishi’s face, and knocked on the top of his head twice. hiro heard a giggle, and whirled toward his side. His blade was at the ready, until he saw who it was.
“Konban, Arashi-san,” he said amiably. “Now tell me how you found us.” Arashi’s face blossomed into a smile. hiro looked down at Kenishi, whose eyes had grown large, and starry. “psst!,” hiro whispered to his friend, “wake up! You’ve gone shoujo!” At the sound of this, Kenishi shook his head quickly, and tried to regain composure. The girl, Arashi, tilted her head cutely, and smiled again. Kenishi could feel his eyes growing larger and larger, and looked down at the ground, pretending he had lost a contact.
“Konban wa, hiro-chan,” Arashi smiled, and hiro grimaced for a second in distaste. “I was out for a midnight walk, and I saw you two gentlemen running out from Otakuland with those crates. I thought, ‘Good Goddess, whatever could be going on’, so I came out to see if I could be of any help.” She smiled again, and folded her hands in her lap. “I must say that you two are certainly admirable fighters.” Kenishi blushed at the compliment.
“Well then,” hiro announced, “since you don’t seem to be out to create any obstacles for our further training, I shall allow you to watch. May I introduce my friend Kenishi. Kenishi, this is Arashi Tenki, who is in my advanced stealth class, and certainly appears to be taking her lessons well.” Arashi said nothing to this, but continued smiling.
“D… Doozo,” Kenishi said. Arashi gave him a small nod. “That’s quite an unusual name you have…” Kenishi remarked. “But, not that it’s bad or anything,” he said quickly. This girl was working some kind of magic on him. Usually, Kenishi was never without a line, or a joke. At the moment, he wasn’t even sure why the cabbit crossed the road. Maybe it was the beautiful smile, or the long green hair, or the way he was convinced that he was somehow connected to her. Maybe it was the blow to the head he had taken. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t helping him make small talk.
“So, uh,” Kenishi fumbled, “Member of the Holy Goddess Circle?” It was a start. But Arashi shook her head.
“Nope,” she exclaimed. “Training to be a class I shinobi.” Her face was innocent. Kenishi blinked in amazement. This lovely young girl was an assassin?
“Well, uh, that’s, uhm..” Kenishi’s bumbling was cut short by a small explosion. He and hiro jumped up, swords at the ready. Nearby, there was a cloud of dust that had been stirred up from the explosion. Out of it stepped a large man, clad in an all black ninja outfit. The man took one look at hiro and Kenishi, and brought a pistol to bear on them.
Kenishi automatically jumped for him, pistol or not. He was propelled by his sudden overflowing of concern for this megami that had suddenly appeared. The same one who was throwing herself between him and the ninja, screaming in distress. While holding up knives, he noticed. But the action had already been taken, and his sword was cleaving across to her shoulder, her blades coming towards his face. He closed his eyes as he anticipated his sword cutting through the very girl he had sought to protect.
He opened them again when his face hit the ground. There was a boot on his head. He knew the treads. It was hiro’s.
“The man you just attacked was Kanari sensei. Sensei, may I ask, however, why you chose to point that weapon at us?” hiro’s voice was utterly cool, even when he was stepping on a friend’s head.
“hiro? Kenishi? Arashi? Is that you?” The man fooled around with the mask which concealed his features, and part of his eyes. “What are you all doing out so late… and WHY DO YOU HAVE THOSE WEAPONS?” Kenishi frowned. It would have been better if he had gone through with the cut. The three of them were in big trouble now. The only relief came when hiro lifted up his boot. Kenishi got to his feet, and rubbed the back of his head. hiro gave him an apologetic bow.
“Let me explain, sensei,” hiro began. “We were all taking a walk late this night, when suddenly we saw a figure fleeing from the direction of the lab. Thinking it foul, we pursued it, noticing it was holding several of these crates. We chased it out to this point, when it became tired, and turned to face us. Seeing as we were unarmed, we grabbed the case from its hands, and were forced to use the weapons. The invader was so intimidated that it fled from the sight.” At this point in time, hiro had not yet taken the course in lying and subterfuge. The slit in the teacher’s mask began to glow red, anger boiling in the blood beneath his skin. Kenishi raised a hand.
“Sensei,” he said wearily, “it was all my fault. I took the weapons out, and convinced hiro to join me. Please put the punishment on my shoulders alone.” The dull glow faded slightly, but Kanari’s eyes were still sharp as the blades.
“All involved here are going to be punished.” hiro’s eyebrows sagged. “You will have one week of labor in the copy rooms, and I expect an essay from each of you detailing the virtues of not disobeying orders, as exemplified in Voltron.” hiro groaned. It was historical research. “Now,” snapped Kanari, “clean up this mess, and pack those weapons back in. We’re going back to Otakuland right now!”
hiro’s mind snapped back to the present, as the ruined city of New York rose up before him. The other group of Otaku had since entered the city. There was a definite absence of any indicators of an explosion. This suggested that the Strike Team had not encountered significant resistance. It could also suggest that they had been surprised, and eaten alive before they could do anything. hiro radioed the Rurouni through a set hooked up to his helmet.
“New York is in visual. Negative on any signs of conflict. We should there soon. Over.” The low crackle of static chewed at his hearing.
“We copy, hiro,” Kenishi’s voice answered. “Hopefully the kids are safe after going into there.” Kenishi voice was cautious and worried. It was something hiro had grown quite accustomed to. He disregarded it in this case, and focused entirely on achieving calm enough so that when he drew his sword, he would be ready.
Dave stumbled up into the control room, woozy. His head felt very light, and his arms and legs were not doing so well at the job they usually did very well. His steps were awkward. When the door slid closed, he managed to slump into a chair. B1FF took one look at him and immediately jumped from his cushioned chair to Dave’s side.
“d00d! U w3nt w4y 0verb0ard 0n th3 h3nt4i, 5p0rt! U n33d t0 p4c3 y0ur5elf!” He produced an icepack from a small cooler under his monitor, and applied it to Dave’s nose, as he had been taught in advanced hentai studies. “U n33d s0m3thing?” Dave’s head lolled.
“Bloodloss.. major.. need.. help…” Dave gasped. He looked pale enough to make Rachael jealous. B1FF furrowed his brow.
“d00d! 1 kn0w.. U n33d 4 m41t41. 1 u53d t0 h4v3 th3 54m3 pr0bl3m, 4nd th3y 4lw4y5 h3lp3d m3.” He nudged a small yellow form that was sprawled out on another chair.
“Ka! Chu pi pika?” Phreakachu was obviously not happy about having his acid trip disturbed.
“Phr34k4chu, w3 n33d 4 m41t41 w1th th3 qu1ckn355,” demanded B1FF. “D4v3 pull3d 4n 3cch1 0.D.” Phreakachu saw Dave looking half-dead, and hopped off the chair, sending small bolts of static out. It was also not pleased at being ordered to give precious liquid to Dave. Still, it tripped over to its minibar, and began mixing a drink.
“Mai…tai?” Dave finally asked.
“Y34h d00d. 1 th1nk 1t h45 fru1t ju1c3 0r s0m3thin…” It certainly sounded tropical to Dave, who had no idea what might be in it. Phreakachu, growling, hesitantly offered the cup to B1FF, and pulled it back for a moment when B1FF reached for it.
“Dr1nk up, d00d,” B1FF said, tipping the glass to Dave’s lips. Dave didn’t have the energy to swallow, so the liquid just slid down his throat. While he didn’t feel better immediately, Dave decided that the best course of action was just to lie there while the drink took effect. B1FF eased him into the chair. Dave complied, and noticed that some of the pain was starting to fade away.
Vixen stepped back into the control room, looking much better. In fact, her skin held a certain glow to it that had not been there before. After facing so much stress, her little ‘relaxation’ session made her feel quite a bit better. She stomped by Dave, hoping for some reason he would react. When he failed to, she felt her shoulders tense slightly.
“What’s wrong with the newbie?” Her voice was strong, and contained a slight tinge of derision, but not enough to be an out and out insult.
“H3nta1 0.D.,” B1FF said, intent on his monitor. Vixen hmphed. She knew that it probably had something to do with Rachael, and was annoyed. She decided that would let him bear the torture. He deserved it.
“So,” she said, brushing off her hands, “when do we enter New York?”
“We entered the city approximately ten minutes ago,” Sherman’s polite voice responded.
“What?!” Vixen’s hair frizzled, and she reached for her guns.
“Wh4t?” B1FF immediately started punching in commands on the computer.
“Pika? Chuuuuuuuu…” Phreakachu rolled over.
“d00d, 1 kn3w 1 5h0ulda st0pp3d pl4y1ng 4ft3r 1 g0t N4mik0.”
“My sensors do not register any hostiles,” Sherman said, bringing up a few screens of infrared, short-range radar, and other visuals. Reviewing them, B1FF found no activity within sensor range. The city seemed completely deserted.
Not too far off, three green skinned creatures were huddled around a small disk. The middle one pressed a button, and a small image appeared before them. It was a man clad in dark robes, the bottom of which did not quite come down to his ankles. His face was shadowed completely.
“They have sent in a tank, lord,” one of the creatures said in a poorly accented voice. “What shall we do?” The hologram smiled.
“Kill them. Immediately,” the figure answered. “And begin sending out your troops. And don’t forget, I want the tank, and everything in it intact!” The hologram’s voice was commanding, and the three figures bowed slightly to it. “That is all,” the figure said, and the hologram blinked off.
“You heard what Lord Toby said,” the middle creature said to the others. “Mobilize the C.A.B.”
Back in his room, Toby smiled. He had personally planted the virii in New York, which had earned his position as a Director. Now that he had found the Otaku, he could send his puppets to finish them off, and gain any information they might have. He had heard the High Priest muttering about the Otaku’s FAQ. If he secured that, and had it brought here, then he could present it at the next ceremony, and earn the acknowledgement of the master! Then, Director Richards would surely date him!
Evan hid in the shadows of a skyscraper. The roar of the motorcycle was getting closer. He watched as it approached, and flew by into the city. Minutes later, it was followed by a hovercraft. He cursed. They must be going in to chase after Dave! He would be damned if he would allow them to catch his prey. Without a thought, he ran after them into the city, leaving a string of half set traps behind him.
Back with the Strike Team, Sherman had picked up something.
“I’m picking up a signal, in code. It is a TSKT-N distress call, originating 400 meters from here.” The monitors displayed a small map with a flashing dot in its center.
“An N-level distress call?” Vixen frowned. “Hurry up Sherman, we need to get there.” Tasukete Nasai was a high priority distress, and Vixen knew that if they did not arrive soon, another Otaku would go to meet the Goddesses. Sherman’s engines kicked into overdrive. They rounded a few corners, and stopped.
“5i5, th15 15 4r0und wh34e th4t 4rt1fact 1s,” B1FF noted. Vixen nodded, and ran for the hatch, followed by her brother. Seeing the other two leave, Dave grasped at the arm of the chair to help himself up. There seemed to be several of them, so it took a moment before he finally got the correct one. He shuffled off after them, being careful to avoid the tables that were meandering back and forth over the floor. He wondered if the ground was stable.
With a powerful leap, Vixen shot out of Sherman’s hatch, and landed in a crouch, a pair of pistols in her hands. Looking around, Vixen found the source of the distress call. It was a man, wearing a dark blue uniform, the same kind as hiro. He was laying on the ground, one arm stretched forward, and dragging himself, the other clutching a black box. Blood was pooled around him, and it was smeared behind him in a trail that led back several feet. His skin, which was once of Asian complexion, had paled due to lack of blood.
“Great,” she said to herself. “Another one of them.” As Vixen grew closer, he stopped dragging himself, and pushed the box in front of him.
“Last.. one..” The man rasped. “Must… tell.. command… give box… Otakuland.. west..” His voice rattled, and his head slumped to the ground. Vixen’s face soured, but luckily B1FF came forward, and grabbed the box. He immediately began shaking it, and turning it over in his hands. He looked up in excitement to get back in Sherman, when he noticed they were being surrounded.
“Taxitanks..” Vixen said fearfully. The rumbling of their engines was growing louder as they turned every corner. Yellow amalgams of cheap steel alloys and advanced weaponry were filling in both sides of the street they were on. Their headlights, (those that were working), were flashing, and beneath the dusky windshields, many semi-humanoid forms could barely be discerned. B1FF reached for a grenade that was not there. A taxi fired.
Immediately Dave’s head snapped up. He was half hanging out of Sherman, FAQ in hand. The large book hit the floor beneath him, and he scrambled all the way out of the tank. One of the blurry yellow things had shot. Dave pulled out the pistol he had grabbed on the way out. He couldn’t quite make out their forms, but there couldn’t be
too many of them.
“Knight Sabers, san dango kyodai!!” His shout was loud, and while he wasn’t quite sure if he had gotten it correct, he wasn’t too concerned. He brought up his pistol, and shot off a round toward the yellow blurs. His arm jerked back like a ramen noodle, and he had to drag it back up with his left hand.
B1FF dove below Sherman, and hid out between the tracks. In such a rush to get the box, he had forgotten all of his weapons. Luckily enough, Vixen had them covered. Both hands were already firing off rounds into the vehicles. The C.A.B. legion was also spraying lead everywhere, but most of it was colliding with Sherman’s armor, and dropping to the concrete.
A taxitank exploded while Vixen ran around the side of Sherman, looking for cover. That baka Dave was wasting precious ammo, but at least he was a good distraction. Another small explosion rocked the ground as she ran.
“I think you managed to singe some of my leg hairs!” Dave was shouting at the top of his voice. “I am the world’s strongest Coffee Candy!” Vixen knew she had heard some of those lines before, but it was of less concern than flying hot death at the moment. She found some cover, jumping in one of the smaller potholes, and ducking her head. There was a slight tingling at the back of her neck. Her body froze for a brief second in horror. She had to stop the tanks, or it would happen again.
“I'm sure we've never met before, but I'm glad your beating hasn't ruined your sense of humor,” cried Dave, who was unloading his clip into the blur. “Never underestimate the power of Japanese guns!" He was doing his best to embody the form of Lo Wang with the essence of Anime. He couldn’t tell if he was succeeding or not, but he also couldn’t tell what exactly he had been quoting. It didn’t seem to matter, as several more tanks had gone up in flames.
“Dave,” warned Sherman, “this is highly irregular.”
“Ha! I am disrespectful to dirt!” he called out. He was fairly sure he was doing well, and Vixen would finally acknowledge him as… as… as whatever he was acknowledgeable of. He stood up over the hatch, swaying slightly. Dave kept shooting, even after his pistol had run out of ammo, until a small piece of debris ricoched off of his head, dropping him back into Sherman.
Meanwhile, back inside the tank, Rachael had taken the tape into the viewing chambers, and was watching it on big screen with a full Sony stereo system. Every and all noise outside was drowned out by oohs, squishing, explosions, and gushing noises. Rachael sighed.
Vixen stopped hearing the gunfire from Sherman and knew something had happened to Dave. She popped her head out of the pothole, and took a few more shots. Her right pistol clicked, and the hammer flew back all the way. Reholstering it, she took a quick look around, and ducked back. There were still so many of them. Raising her pistol barrel over the edge, she took two more shots before it went empty as well. Another tingle raced across the back of her neck. She crouched, being very still for a moment. The feeling was gone. Above her she could hear the growling of the C.A.B. army engines coming closer. She grabbed her comlink to Sherman off of her belt.
“Sherman, fire the main turrent,” she ordered, her voice panicked.
“I’m sorry Miss Vixen, but if I do that at this range, it will result in severe injury to several of our crew.” Vixen’s heart jumped, sending shivers down her body.
She heard one rev up and speed towards her. A black form darted over her head. They had encircled Sherman. She knew that they would not be able to enter, but… Another tingle. The hairs on arms that always denied were there stood on end. Her body trembled. She swore vehemently. It had been ten years since the last time. There was no way in hell she was going to let it happen again. She trembled, trying to keep control of herself, trying to hold herself in. Hidden below her fuku, her transformation wand began to vibrate wildly. Sparkly light began to shine. Her body shook violently. There was a brief flash of hearts and stars, and Vixen transformed.
Bishoujo Senshi Pretty Vixy pranced out of the pothole, holding a small microphone and a small black riding crop. With a delightful smile on her face, she danced around, twirling. Looking at the taxitanks, she let out a melodramatic gasp, placing her hand delicately against her mouth.
“Oh no!” Vixy pouted. “You guys are bad bad people! You should all try to be better. I will bring you happiness, so you can all come and dance with me, and my little happy friends!” Under Sherman, B1FF covered his ears with one hand, while clutching the box with the other. An upbeat song started to play out of nowhere.
“Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa LA laalalallalal,” Vixy sang, jumping around. A few taxitanks fired, jamming their guns, and blowing up. Vixy sang more, and candy started to materialize. Gum drops the size of Volkswagon Bugs dropped out of the sky, crushing several yellow cars. A blue-skinned humanoid crawled out of another, it’s own knives jammed into his ears. Oblivious, Vixy kept singing notes.
The chaos continued for a full five minutes as Vixy’s song played. By the time it was over, the legion of C.A.B. had been crushed by gumdrops, candycanes, mochi balls, and a large pink Ryo-oh-oki doll. Vixy stopped in mid-note, trembled, and hit the ground as Vixen once more.
By the time they had gotten there, the entire section of the road was blocked by sugary substances. hiro stopped his motorcycle, and stepped off. He raised the visor of his helmet and his eyes grew wide in amazement. Behind him, the Rurouni stopped as well.
“Oh, dear,” Arashi said, inside. “She’s done it again.”
hiro did reply. He sprinted towards the roadblock, and did an aerial flip over the candy. He rushed past the unconscious Vixen, and past B1FF, who was sitting next to her, stopping at the corpse that lay in the road. hiro, turned the dead Jin over on his back, and closed the eyelids of the dead man.
“Toshio,” he whispered, kneeling beside the body. “So I am the final survivor.” He arranged the dead body with care. “Kenishi!” he shouted. “I need a body bag.” His teeth clenched.
“I’ve got one,” came Kenishi’s voice over the radio. “But first we’re going to have to fight our way out of here.” hiro frowned, and glanced through the large candies. He saw green figures filling up the area in front of the Rurouni. He looked back at B1FF, and up at Sherman. “We require a battering ram,” he told B1FF. “We will engage the enemy until you have secured your crew. Send a transmission, and then proceed to destroy everything in your way.” B1FF nodded, picking up Vixen. Drawing his sword, hiro charged towards the candy. With a single stroke, and giant gumdrop split diagonally, and he ran through the opening. With his right hand, he clicked the visor back down, and jumped on his motorcycle. A column of green scaled mutants were marching down the street at them, holding aloft knives and small handguns. hiro raced towards them.
Before he ploughed into the mutants, he swung the bike in a tight left curve, bringing his sword around, and cutting through several of the enemy. Shots were fired, but with each shot, another mutant would hit the ground with the recoil.
“I could benefit from martial aid here,” hiro mentioned over the radio. A short turrent emerged from the top of the Rurouni. The barrels began speeding up, and shot a trail across the front line of mutants, scattering some. The gun kept whirling, its six barrels shooting out a continual stream of bullets.
“I’ve received response from the Hiroshima boy,” Kenishi reported. “He says that he’s ready to go.” hiro twisted his bike around, and brought it around to the back of the Rurouni.
“Tell him to commence,” hiro said.
There was a tremendous boom as Sherman plunged into the roadblock, sending sugar shrapnel everywhere. The tank’s treads ploughed over the remains of Vixen’s blow against C.A.B. The mutants barely had time to register this monstrous war machine before they became part of its treads. Following, the Rurouni shifted into high gear after it, and hiro followed on his motorcycle.
Evan, who was running toward the scene, saw his chance. As the tank grew closer, he jumped towards it, grabbing the plates over its treads. Gripping tightly with his fingers, he got ahold of it, and planted a thin black card on the underside of the plates. The magnetic card, emblazoned with a white Mickey symbol, stuck immediately. Evan held hold of the tank for all that he was worth.
“Speed bump,” noted Sherman. “Please brace for impact.” The tank shifted violently, as it’s left tread left the ground. Evan, still clutching, lost his grip and flew off. He thought that his quest was over, until he fell onto a warm gooey mess. Looking to his side, he noticed that he had fallen into the limbs and vicera that was left behind of the mutants. The smell of it soaked into him. Evan fainted. Inside his pocket, a small monitor blipped on. A small map appeared, upon which was a small red dot, that was racing quite fast off the screen.
That night, the assembled Otaku had a barbeque.
“Anoo,” said Arashi, bigsweatting, “are you sure that this is really part of the death ceremony of a Jinruigakusha?” She pointed to the steaks, frying over the cremating body of Toshio. hiro nodded.
“To serve Otaku in all ways, and bring about a glorious future in the western paradise. That is the Jinruigakusha code,” he spoke these words solemnly.
“Could have fooled me,” Vixen said under her breath with vehemence. She had not spoken since the incident. She wasn’t sure still if anyone had seen it, and if they were just trying to be polite by not saying anything. She took a large bite of meat.
“This isn’t horrible really,” Rachael noted. “I’ve tasted much worse things I’m sure. It’s not as good as human flesh, of course.” Arashi smiled gratefully.
“Well, it took some time detoxifying the meat,” she said, “but a hint of mint covered up the metallic flavor.” Kenishi patted her on the back with a smile.
“My wife,” he said proudly, “is the only one who has twelve different recipes for cooking up mutants, and she is the only one who can do it well!” Arashi blushed, and Kenishi laughed loud, and put his arm around her. In its corner, Phreakachu shook its head, and downed a glass of straight whisky. B1FF was still poring over the black box.
“So, wh4t r w3 supp0s3d t0 d0 w/th1s,” he asked, turning it over and over in his hands. The box was small, and bore only a small grey circle on one side.
“Be careful with it, above all,” hiro said. “On the map of the continent Sherman has received, a handful of the Otaku emergency stations are marked. They are located across this continent. At each marked one, you will find a similar device. Your duty is to gather these, and bring them to Otakuland West. There, the scientists will be able to deal with them.” He gestured to the shadow of Sherman, parked on one side of them. “Your tank,” he noted, “is the most exceptional piece of weaponry currently available to us, as we have lost contact with the orbital platform satellites. I feel that you are the most capable group we have currently available to deal with this mission. If you complete it, you will be given the highest honor given to any of our clan.”
Kenishi and Arashi looked at each other worriedly. But Kenishi’s face grew resolved, and he nodded heavily towards her. She clutched his hand softly. Unnoticed by the others, they shared a brief look, and continued eating.
“The Golden Mallet with Sweatdrops?” Vixen spoke up. That was the highest award any single Otaku could be awarded. She had dreamed of it since she had joined up. Her eyes grew sparkly. hiro nodded stoically.
“Such is the nature of your task,” spoke hiro. Vixen jumped to her feet.
“Iku ze!” she said. “We’ll take on your mission, and we’ll finish it in the fastest time you’ve ever seen!” Pumping a fist up to the heavens, she struck a dramatic pose, and for a brief instant, a picture of Mt. Fuji appeared behind her. “For the glory of the Otaking! We will save our people!”
“Ur sk1rt’s bl0w1ng up,” noted B1FF. And there was much facefaulting.
FAQing Hostile, Chapter 14, Subcultural Mutant Otaku Vs the Mundanes: Owari.
Dear god! When I started writing on the first night, and could only get out four pages before I stopped, I never planned to do this. I feel extremely accomplished, if only to have written so much. I actually think I managed to get out all the ideas I wanted to for this chapter, although I’m not sure I can say the same for the jokes. Cultural references are always more obscure than universal humor, and every otaku have their favorite series. Still, writing this turned out better than I thought it would, even though it focused slightly more on two of the background characters than anything else. My hopes are up that Mark Poa will not slaughter me due to misuse of his characters. Mark, if you are reading this, just so you know, Arashi and Kenishi can whoop up on hiro sometime if you feel like it.
Anyway! It’s getting late, and I need to run soon. In closing, I would like to thank Twoflower for letting me back on the queu despite having disappointed him somewhat with my last attempt. Also special thanks to Isawa Noshinto and Tempest, (in no particular order), for prereading this for me and telling me all about my horrible horrible faults as a person and a writer ;) , and to Ian Ton, who volunteered for prereading, but I didn’t get it to him in time, (my fault). Anyway…. Thanks again to all of you reading this, I hope I did a decent job. Just in case I didn’t, I have taken the liberty of moving to another country and building a small and highly defended fortress in the hills, where I wait for your comments with bated breath and cruise missiles.
As always, nothing makes me happier than comments and reviews, even if you think I should be burned alive, chopped up, put into pill form and force fed to naughty children. Direct them to email@example.com, or post them on the message board. Till then, with a humble bow, I am of course, your servant, or at least a temp.