#5 – “Phase Three! Go Robo Vehicles!”
Senshi knocked loudly on the open door to Dr. Brachis’ office. He could see his direct superior sitting at her desk, staring down at the small screen of her laptop computer – in fact, Senshi realised, he rarely saw her doing anything else. He had never questioned what it was she did with the machine all day, although he was curious about it. They were security officers, after all – not scientists.
“Come in,” Dr. Brachis said.
Senshi stepped into the room and snapped off a salute, then slowly allowed himself to relax a little. Normally, he would have waited patiently until given the order to stand at ease, but he was excited. He had a plan, a good plan, and he wanted Dr. Brachis to know about it.
“Yes?” Dr. Brachis prompted him.
“Dr. Brachis,” Senshi said. “We have confirmation that the pixie dust was spread no further than the Black Battalion squadron sent to Blizzard Base Zero and the guards keeping watch over Sorceress Miko.”
“That’s good news. We can allow transport to and from the island now.”
“There’s something else.” Senshi almost started to jump up and down as he spoke, he was so excited. He caught himself, calmed down, and hoped that Dr. Brachis had not noticed the slip in his usual calm and professional demeanour. “I spoke to Commander Henderson.”
Dr. Brachis frowned. “I did not ask you to do that.”
“… sorry, Dr. Brachis.”
“Well? What did he say?”
Senshi smiled. “Not very much. His memory was weak. That’s why I think I should go to Blizzard Base Zero and investigate firsthand.”
Dr. Brachis stared directly at Senshi for several long moments. “You’re joking.”
“No, I – “
“Senshi, I asked you – no, I ordered you – to make sure the spread of Miko’s pixie dust was controlled. You have done that. Now you will return to your regular duties.”
Senshi opened his mouth to speak, but thought better of it. He straightened his back and saluted Dr. Brachis again. He was not happy with the way she was speaking to him, or her decision not to allow him to use his initiative, but she was his commanding officer and he knew he had to do whatever she told him to do.
A soft buzzing noise caught Dr. Brachis’ attention, and she pressed a button on a small panel set into the surface of her desk. “This is Dr. Brachis,” she said.
“Doctor,” a woman’s voice came through the panel, “there is a situation in New Orleans – some sort of monster is attacking the city. The EDD has asked that we deploy our security teams to handle it while the Black Battalion elite are recovering. Specs on the creature have been uploaded to your terminal.”
“New Orleans?” Dr. Brachis repeated. “Damn.”
“I can have a team there in fifteen minutes,” Senshi offered.
“No!” Dr. Brachis responded quickly. “You have your duties. I will send Sinclair to take care of this.”
“Yes, Dr. Brachis,” Senshi acknowledged the order.
Dr. Brachis spoke into the panel. “Tell them we’re on our way.” She released the button and crossed the room. “Senshi, don’t come to me about Blizzard Base Zero again. That incident is not your concern.” She left the room and turned off the light behind her, leaving Senshi alone with the bright screen of her laptop.
“Let’s go, Robo!” Ikku shouted. His stolen pants and hooded top were torn to shreds as jagged pieces of metal emerged through almost-invisible openings in the tight-fitting red jumpsuit he wore beneath them. A moment later, Nagura Ikku was Red Robo, clad in his powerful armoured form – a silver chestplate, gloves, boots and a helmet covering his entire head and face.
Feeling somewhat safer, Ikku stared through the two-way mirror set into his helmet, which allowed him to see out but made sure anyone looking at him saw only black. He wasn’t crazy – the giant turtle he had seen swinging a lamp post at him and throwing around mailboxes was still there, and it did not seem to care about his sudden transformation.
“Big turtle?” Ikku said. “I really don’t want to fight you, because I can make a really cool sword appear out of nowhere, and that might hurt you. Do you think you could maybe surrender?”
The turtle shook its head.
“The name is Shellshock!” it said. “I was created to kill you. Take your best shot – I guarantee you won’t hurt me.”
Ikku shrugged. “Chaos Sword.” There was a brief blue flash, and when it faded, Ikku saw his black-and-silver hilted, translucent red-bladed sword become solid in his right hand. He swung it slowly back and forth, making sure that Shellshock could clearly see he was armed.
“Sure you don’t want to surrender?” Ikku asked again.
Shellshock charged. He lowered his head, bent forward, and ran directly at Ikku. Ikku raised his sword and swung it hard against the beast, but found that it did no damage. Shellshock’s hide was simply too thick.
Uh-oh, Ikku thought. He scrambled backwards to avoid being crushed as Shellshock continued to run towards him, and tried to think of a new plan. What do I do now? Stabbing at it didn’t work… hitting it won’t work… what don’t turtles like?
Ikku noticed that the street around him had become deserted, and he allowed himself to breathe a sigh of relief. He wanted to stop Shellshock – the monster was causing too much damage. But if no-one was going to be physically harmed, he did not feel as much pressure. It made it easier to think, to plan -
Shellshock swung a massive fist at the pre-occupied Ikku, who barely managed to roll to the side and send the turtle’s hand smashing through the wall of the pizza store in which he had, only minutes earlier, been placing an order.
Do turtles like pizza? Nah… only on TV…
Shellshock turned and swung at him again, but Ikku was expecting the strike and easily stepped out of the way. Shellshock was clearly strong and apparently impervious to blows from the Chaos Sword but, Ikku slowly realised, that strength came at the cost of speed and agility – still, he had no idea how to use that knowledge to his advantage.
Ikku made his way behind Shellshock and, after making sure he had a firm grip, he used the Chaos Sword to hack at one of the many bony protrusions he saw sticking through Shellshock’s shell. Each blow was met with a lad clang! and the sensation of strike vibrations passing through the sword, suggesting to Ikku that the spikes were actually made of metal rather than bone but, futile as the attack may have been, without another plan to try he figured he had nothing to lose – he struck again and again, keeping behind Shellshock as the beast tried to face him.
“I hope you realise that does not hurt,” Shellshock said. “However, this will.”
Ikku kept up his assault even as Shellshock pulled his head, arms and legs into his shell, which fell and clattered against the ground. The sword swung low and hit one of exposed spikes – but instead of a clang!, Ikku heard a bzzzt! and pulled back as a spark of energy ran down his sword and into his hand.
“Ouch!” he shouted. The pain was excruciating. It felt almost like a severe burn. Since when can turtles shoot electricity from their shell? I wish Sei and Miss Sato were here…
Inside their Black Battalion safehouse, Sei and Kiko closely examined online reports of the fight between Shellshock and their teammate. Most of what they saw was ground-level footage, filmed by amateur cameramen from such a distance that it was unclear precisely what was happening – but they did find one useful source, a video stream taken from a news helicopter watching the fight from above.
They clearly saw Ikku continue his futile attempts to pierce Shellshock’s shell with his Chaos Sword – and they also saw Shellshock emerge from his shell, wrap a massive hand around Ikku’s right arm, and throw their red-clad ally clear across the street. He struck a lamp-post – hard – and dropped onto the asphalt road.
Shellshock slowly walked over to Ikku’s barely-stirring body and kicked him hard in the ribs; Ikku could do nothing to defend himself.
“Sei…” Kiko began.
“I can anticipate what you are going to say, Sato Kiko,” Sei said. “I cannot consent to – “
Kiko nodded and stood up. “If this is about what Ikku said before he left, I am sure he didn’t mean it. He was just angry, and shocked that you were keeping things from us. I’m… not sure I blame him.” She paused. “I won’t argue with you. I am going to help our friend. You look into your heart – I’m sure you will figure out the right thing to do. Let’s go, Robo!“
Yellow energy cascaded over Kiko’s yellow-suited body as her silver breastplate, gloves, boots and helmet emerged from within her suit. Yellow Robo nodded to Sei and quickly made her way out through the door.
She ran through the streets of New Orleans, which were more crowded than anywhere she had seen before. Dozens of people pushed forward, trying to see the fight between Shellshock and Red Robo – but many, many more hurried in the opposite direction, fearing for their lives, trying to get to safety.
As she hurried on her way, Kiko felt that the people around her were blurring together. She arrived at the battle site, several miles from the bunker in which she and Sei had been talking, in only a few minutes – her speed surprised her but, she knew, determination, drive, and fear can be powerful motivators.
“Electro Blaster,” she said calmly. There was a bright flash, and a small, handgun-sized energy blaster appeared in Kiko’s hand. She raised it, aimed carefully, and fired several small bursts of yellow energy at Shellshock’s chest.
Shellshock slowly raised his head and, when he saw Kiko, began to lumber towards her. His movements seemed slow and sluggish, even compared to his earlier, drawn-out attacks against Ikku. Kiko had no trouble backing away from and keeping out of the reach of the giant reptile.
“So, monster,” she asked. “What is it you want?”
“My… masters… sent… me… to kill… the red one…” Even Shellshock’s speech was slow and slurred, but it was quickly returning to normal. “I am happy… to kill you too.”
Kiko looked up and saw a sight that both surprised and amazed her: Sei, transformed into Blue Robo and carrying his Vertex Shield, leaped from a nearby rooftop and extended one leg ahead of him. The armoured sole of his foot struck the back of Shellshock’s head hard and he slumped forward.
Kiko nodded her approval and rushed to Ikku’s side. His body was limp but, through his chestplate and helmet, she could not tell if he was breathing. She tried to gently shake him into activity, but nothing happened.
“Sei!” she thought for a second. “Blue Robo! I need to de-henshin him!”
“Only Ian can deactivate his henshin,” Sei replied. “Give him a moment. He is merely concussed.”
Sei slowly walked around Shellshock’s unconscious body, debating what to do. The watching crowd had gathered closer to the scene of the fight, eager to see exactly what Shellshock was. He debated whether to usher the crowd away for their own safety or permanently incapacitate Shellshock to prevent any further attacks, but the decision was taken out of his hands before he could act.
Half a dozen soldiers wearing Black Battalion uniforms pushed their way roughly through the thick crowd, each armed with a small handgun and a long rifle. Sei recognised the rifle’s unique design – it was created to serve a specific purpose; one not friendly to anyone wearing a robosuit.
“Robo Yellow. Is Robo Red conscious?” Sei asked.
“Yes,” Kiko replied. Ikku had finally managed to sit upright, but did not speak. He turned his head, wobbled, fell into Kiko’s arms, and finally stood. Kiko turned and saw the Black Battalion soldiers moving into position around them. “What’s going on?”
“Come here,” Sei said. Kiko helped Ikku stagger his way to stand behind Sei. Together, the three stepped forward to meet one member of the Black Battallion, who had broken their circle and walked quickly towards them.
“My name is Captain Damien Sinclair,” he said. “I know who you are, but I don’t think these good people – ” he gestured at the listening crowd ” – need to. We are taking that creature back to Science Island, and you need to come with us.”
“Captain?” one of Sinclair’s men spoke up. His captain did not respond.
Sei glanced at Ikku before speaking. “Why did the Black Battalion attack Blizzard Base Zero?”
Sinclair looked surprise. “I don’t know. We’re not – “
Sinclair, Sei, Kiko and Ikku turned as one to see what the man was so concerned about. He was pointing at Shellshock’s body, which was surrounded by a cloud of green mist. The guards raised their handguns and opened fire, but their ammunition did nothing.
The mist dissipated and, as it did, Shellshock stood up. The spikes on his back were longer and sharper; his shell was visibly thicker; and his skin was covered by the same hard substance as the spikes. He seemed disoriented and did not move, but it was clear to everyone that if Shellshock did attack, a simple kick to the head would not bring him down a second time.
“Captain,” Sei said. “We can defeat Shellshock, but we need you to call off your men first.”
Sinclair thought for a moment, then raised his left hand. His team lowered their weapons. Sei quickly removed the Vertex Shield from his right arm and held it in front of his body.
“Red Robo, please pass the Chaos Sword through the Vertex Shield.”
Ikku was confused. He had dropped the Chaos Sword while fighting Shellshock, but he saw it resting near the feet of one of Sinclair’s men. They picked it up, tossed it to him, and he approached the Vertex Shield.
In its centre he saw a thin opening, equally as wide as the widest point of his blade. He carefully slid the Chaos Sword through the slit, and felt it lock in as the hilt touched the shield’s surface.
“Robo Yellow,” Sei said.
Kiko could guess what he wanted. She lifted the Electro Blaster and slid its barrel over the exposed hilt of the Chaos Sword. It, too, locked in; the trigger began to glow, and two small triggers appeared, one on the Vertex Shield and one near the tip of the Chaos Sword’s blade.
Sei quickly wrapped his finger around the trigger on the Vertex Shield and Ikku grasped the Chaos Sword’s trigger tightly.
“Guys…” Ikku said. “Is it just me, or is the fact that Shellshock isn’t moving really creepy?”
“Its body is adjusting to the energy to which it was just exposed,” Sei explained. “Whoever engineered Shellshock did not do an effective job. Red, Yellow – it is time for the fourth command on your list.”
“Robo Defender, Slash Containment Burst!”
Ikku, Sei and Kiko squeezed their triggers in unison as they spoke the fourth command on the list presented to them inside their helmets. In the split second that followed, blue energy streamed from the Vertex Shield, washing back over them even as it burst forward and struck Shellshock.
The immediate area turned pitch black and Captain Sinclair, his men and the crowd disappeared from view. A spark of yellow energy sped from the Electro Blaster along the Chaos Sword and hit the giant reptile, who started to move – but before he could attack, the Chaos Sword glowed brightly, almost illuminating the area and allowing a bright red fireball to strike Shellshock.
The darkness was lifted in time to see Shellshock stagger backwards, fall, and be consumed by a fiery explosion so large that it knocked Captain Sinclair’s team off their feet.
“Is it gone?” Kiko asked.
“It’s gone,” Ikku replied.
“Whew… I think?”
“Yeah… Sei… er… Blue Robo? Why are we the only ones moving or speaking?”
Sei looked at the crowd. They were frozen while performing a variety of actions; several were even floating in the air, in the middle of cheering.
“The Electro Blaster must have malfunctioned,” Sei said. “The effect will be temporary, but if I can examine it, I should be able to – “
“This is my fault?” Kiko muttered.
“No!” Ikku shouted. “No, don’t help them! You heard what that Sinclair guy said… the Black Battalion… they want to take us back to Science Island!”
“Don’t you see? They kidnapped my father, and now they want to take us! We can’t go with them! Leave them stuck – we’ll get away, make a plan – !”
Sei and Kiko looked at each other. They knew Ikku was right, at least to some extent – they had to wonder why the Black Battalion had attacked Blizzard Base Zero. Until they knew that, they could not trust them.
“Why didn’t they use their rifles against Shellshock?” Kiko asked.
“The rifles are designed for us,” Sei replied. He looked at Ikku. “I agree with Ian. We should leave until we have the opportunity to analyse all the information. Robo Yellow?”
Kiko nodded. Sei lifted the Robo Defender, and it split into its component parts. He returned the Chaos Sword and Electro Blaster, and reattached the Vertex Shield to his right forearm. He took hold of his teammate’s hands, focussed, and the three Robomen vanished in a rain of sparkling blue energy.