Densetsu no Batoru

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Part 1: Legends Awaken!

Doctor Jotun and his colleagues walked hurriedly through the halls leading towards the testing chamber where after five years of sleepless nights and soul-draining labor, they would finally see the completed fruits of their labor in action. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the final leg of our project.” Jotun said in a strong, rolling voice. His colleagues nodded dutifully as they walked but remained silent. “We have put aside cultural differences and rivalries and combined our efforts to create something extraordinary. No matter what happens in this room today, we all have something to be proud of.”

One of his colleagues, a horned man with deep red flesh and a thick, reptilian tail, adjusted the cuffs of his lab coat. “Yes, yessssss, this is all very nice talk but let's not forget that if the project fails that the Kira system is doomed.” Dr. Frost furrowed his thick, bushy brows.

“We're well aware of that, Doctor Agni. I have faith in our work, however.” Jotun stared from behind thick spectacles. Agni hissed, wringing his palms as he shot Jotun a hostile glare.

“Convictionsssss alone will not save our sysssstem.”

The doors to the testing chamber hissed open, whirring dully as they slid into the walls. The team of scientists and engineers shuffled through the door. Jotun and Agni broke off from the pack and approached three figures covered in white sheets standing in the center of what looked like a large chrome arena. Several obvious trap doors were lined on the steel floor in various areas and on the far left of the room was a booth outfitted with monitoring equipment. It was here the rest of the team dispersed to, taking positions and firing up equipment.

“Thissss android is the fighter that we, the thermavore people have developed, with assssistance from our collaboration with the rest of the Kira sysssstem.” He reached out with a clawed hand and tore the white cloth away. A woman was revealed, with black horns angling upwards from her temples. She had short black hair and deep red skin made from fine scales. Her tail was long and thick, and her eyes were golden with thin iris slits that stared ahead lifelessly. She wore a sleeveless black top and baggy pants that were tucked into pointed boots. As she was uncovered, her eyes glowed brightly, the neutral look on her face quickly replaced with a frown. “Ifrita unit online. I am ready to kill.”

Jotun stroked his thick beard and nodded solemnly. “A dangerous weapon to be sure. The next android was made with only minimal input from our teams. The fereian people are reclusive and we were surprised that they even wanted to collaborate at all.”

Agni tapped his chin and nodded. “Desssperate times, doctor.”

“Indeed. But yes, here's the fighter they sent us.” Jotun pulled off the second sheet, revealing a short figure standing just above five feet tall. Flat chested but wide hipped, this figure was covered in thin brown fur and sported white, straight hair that hung to shoulder length. The fighter's head was topped with a pair of fuzzy, pointy ears. A long, white t-shirt that just barely covered a pair of jean-shorts, thick work gloves, and a heavy pair of hiking boots was the outfit this warrior was clad in. Serval's head tilted upwards with a faint whir, teal eeys flickering rapidly as data scrolled along them. “Serval online. AI mounted... Uhm, h-hi.”

“Looks frail. Let'ssss hope she doesn't hold the others back.”

“Hrrm.” Jotun pursed his lips and moved on to the final figure. “This fighter represents the collaboration of the Arret Alliance. Our combined research, knowledge and every breakthrough in design and engineering has culminated in this, our finest specimen.” He pulls the third sheet away to reveal a woman that would be considered human in a distant land. Her spiky, bright red hair was done in a ponytail and hung halfway down her back. She wore a blue fighting robe tied with a white belt. White armbands covered her wrists, and even powered off as she was, her green eyes seemed quite bright. With the sheet removed, her body hummed top life and she smiled brightly. ”Lynne is online and ready to battle!”

“Thisssss one is enthusiastic.” Agni clicked his tongue. And his ridged brows furrowed. “But is she powerful enough to back it up?”

“I'm certain once you see her in action, Agni, that even your high standards will be satisfied.” Jotun walked back towards the monitoring equipment. Agni shuffled along a foot behind, looking between Jotun and the androids that were lined up. The crew manning the monitoring equipment reported back and forth in stern tones. Jotun turned towards the androids, folded his hands behind his back, and gave undivided attention to the arena.

One of the scientists turned towards Jotun and Agni. “On your command.”

Jotun nodded. “Begin the sequence and activate the combat drones. Let's put these girls through their paces.”

The team flipped switches and monitored energy output. Meters superimposed over schematics of the three androids rose and updated in real time. The three figures in the arena stirred, lifting their heads as their eyes flared brightly for a moment.

The trap doors in the arena floor slid open and platforms began to rise. Each platform held several combat drones; spindly machines whose limbs ended in crushing bludgeons covered in spikes. In all there were a dozen of these and the metallic humanoids whirred dully as they began to shuffle towards the three fighters, arms lifted as they prepared to strike.

From his position, Jotun called out to the girls. “Lynne! Ifrita! Serval! This is the first test we will be doing of your systems. Your objective is to destroy these combat drones. They're programmed to fight at full capacity so don't hold back!”

Lynne turned to look towards Jotun and yelled out confidently. “Not a problem, boss!” Turning her attention back towards the approaching drones, she balled her hands into fists, rushed towards the closest target... then froze. “Error, combat program cannot be loaded. File not found! Wha-” Lynne was cut off by the brutal swing of a combat drone slamming its spiked mace into her head, Her neck made a troubling buzz as she stumbled from the blow, her eyes flickering.

“What? What happened?” Jotun said, looking towards his crew. The people at the monitors were in the middle of a panic as they started pulling up data files, sifting through code and scratching their chins in thought.

“Jotun, sir, it appears that the combat AI we developed for unit Lynne is... gone!”

Things weren't looking any better in the arena. Ifrita lashed her tail and scoffed at Lynne, who was frantically dodging attacks in an attempt to not get her head knocked off. “Pathetic. Fortunately for you, I am at full capacity, which means this demonstration is almost over.” She turned her sharp gaze towards the drones advancing on her and held her hands out to her sides. Red flames wreathed her arms and she sprung towards them.

“These insects are no match for thermavore technological superiority. Get ready to- Error, combat program not found.” She stopped her advance, her eyes went wide and the flames immediately dispersed from her body. “I... I can not decide how to start! What's happening?” The combat drones closed in on her, and began to attack. Ifrita was too slow to dodge the blow coming for her gut and as the blow landed, she bent forward, icy blue sparks firing from her ears. A second drone swung into an uppercut, catching her full on the face. One of her golden optics shattered as she was knocked flat on her back.

Serval wasn't doing much better. “I'm not ready! I'm not ready! C-combat programs cannot be loaded!” Despite Serval's protests the drones continued to try and advance. Serval's motors sounded out as she broke into a full sprint, trying to outrun the drones with pure speed. It worked quite well! Her body was a blur as she raced away from her attackers, but another group had just finished off fighting Lynne. One of the drones knocked Lynne's head clean off with a devastating blow and sent it in a sparking arc. Lynne collapsed and the drones moved to cut Serval off.

Serval held her hands up, her fingers arching with electricity. A glowing honeycomb pattern appeared in front of her, deflecting their attacks. Just as she had defended herself however, the drones chasing her had caught up, and one swung right into her back. Her shirt tore open and a back panel was bashed in with a blast of fizzling current. Inside sparking systems sparked and popped. She fell to her knees and her eyes went dim.

All three androids had been laid out in under a minute of fighting. Lynne's head had been removed from her shoulders, the neck joint sparking from sheared wiring. Ifrita laid on her back, a hole in her stomach showing damaged components. Serval was on her knees with an open back panel, smoking from her ears.

Agni turned to Jotun and hissed angrily. “What happened?! Thossssse were supposed to be our besssst hope against Genes! They fight like firssssst graders!” He reached out to grab Jotun by the collar of his sweater and dragged him in to glare into his eyes.

Jotun gripped Agni's wrists and pulled his clawed hands away. “Agni. The combat programs we developed were somehow deleted.”

“Backupsssss! There's no way we don't have them!”

Another engineer from the monitoring station looked over. “They're gone. The backups are gone, and the available memory had been written over with trash. The data's gone.”

Agni hissed. “Then we shall ssssimply write new programming! We can-”

Again Jotun cut him off. “Each android had combat programming that developed with their AI over the last five years. They're not drones, so we cannot simply make a program and plug it into them. It would not function anywhere near as effectively.”

Throwing his hands up in frustration and with nothing more to say, Agni shoved his way past Jotun and stormed off. “Foolssss! We've been doomed by your incompetence!” The doors to the testing chamber slammed loudly behind him as he left.

Jotun rubbed the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes shut,. He could already feel a migraine bubbling in the front of his head and the flesh under his eyes briefly shuddered. After a moment to collect his thoughts, he turned to the rest of his team. “Alright. Have the androids repaired and then meet me in the meeting chamber in an hour. I'll go collect Agni and we'll...” He wanted to say they'd come up with something and that the plan would continue. However, after the loss of years of combat protocols, he was unsure he still had faith. Begrudgingly, he admitted to himself that in a way, Agni was right. His convictions alone wouldn't save them.

An hour passed.

In the maintenance bay the three androids were laid in beds that wouldn't look out of place in a hospital. Lynne's bed was flanked on either side by Serval's and Ifrita's, and dozens of wires were plugged into open panels each android. Lynne's head had been reattached, though the covering on her neck was still removed, exposing thick cables and mechanical joints. She tossed and turned as much as the wiring that connected her to the room's monitoring equipment would allow, then glanced towards Ifrita. “So... haha. That didn't go very well, huh?”

Ifrita didn't respond. She didn't even look over at Lynne as she laid with her arms at her sides, her maintenance gown pulled up so wiring and tools could be plugged into the gaping, occasionally sparking hole in her stomach. Ifrita laid deal still, staring at the ceiling and frowning in silence.

Lynne waited a few moments for a response, the dull hum of machinery in the room accentuating the ever more awkward silence. Wincing at herself, she turned to look over at Serval. “Oh hey! So uh. How're you doing?”

Serval laid on her front and the gown she wore was parted enough that her back panel was able to be accessed. The busted components within were sorted out for the most part and she was online. Lynne's voice startled her and her ears perked up as she turned her head towards the voice. “I... I'm doing well, c-considering what happened. I'm sorry. W-when my combat program failed I panicked. I... I'm sorry.”

Lynne waved it off and shook her head, causing the exposed neck joints to keen silently. “It's fine! I think we all sorta panicked, yeah? But it's not our fault the program wasn't there. I think we did the best we could considering the situation.” She reached out, offering Serval a hand to shake. “I'm Lynne! It's nice to meet ya.”

Serval's furry ears pinned back, tail tucking in close as the hand approached her. She stared for a moment as if unsure what to do, then reached out to take it. “S...Serval? I think we're already programmed with each other's identities though... O-oh, did your memory systems get broken, too?”

“Hmm? Oh, naah. I figured it'd just be friendly to like, actually introduce ourselves since we'll be working together.” She shook Serval's hand firmly, then turned towards Ifrita. “So what about you, huh?” Lynne smiled brightly and offered the scowling android a hand to shake.

Ifrita actually looked over at the offered hand. She made no other movement though. Just when it seemed like she wanted to remain silent again, she spoke to Lynne in a quiet but angry tone. “Leave me alone.” Lynne slowly withdrew her hand and rubbed her shoulder.

“Sorry, Ifrita. I just-”

“You just had your head knocked off by a training dummy. You should be less concerned with making friends and focus instead on the fact that we failed our primary function so badly that robots used for target practice by rookie soldiers handily turned us into the system's most expensive pile of mechanical trash.”

Serval winced and buried her head into her pillow, while Lynne pursed her lips and yelled. “You don't have to be a jerk, you know! You're acting like we're total write-offs!” Ifrita actually sat up a bit, propped up on her elbows. She glowered at Lynne and flicked her ling, thick tail.

“You've just been beaten by the lowest rank of combatant. Instead of analyzing the weaknesses in your performance, you're fooling around with unnecessary introductions while the kitten is trying to hide her face in fear. I am perhaps salvageable but you and the fereian are fundamentally flawed.”

Serval squeezed her eyes shut and trembled, her furry tail coiled around her leg. Lynne grit her teeth and sat up, gripping the sheets of her bed so hard her hands trembled. “What?! We have just as much strength as you! As a matter of fact, Serval lasted longer than both of us, and YOU were taken out first!”

Ifrita's eyes widened, and she bared her teeth angrily. “Watch the tone you take with me, Lynne. I can do far worse things than a combat drone.”

“I totally agree! You definitely do things far worse than combat drones do. Like win fights.”

For a moment, red flames singed through Ifrtia's gown and Lynne leaned forward, hands propped on the edge of the bed as if a moment away from launching herself at the thermavore android. Serval squeaked and covered her head with the pillow, trembling powerfully as she tried to shut the imminent fight out of her senses. However, just before things got out of hand, the doors to the repair bay opened. Ifrita's red flames cooled and Lynne leaned back into her bed. Serval remained buried under blankets and pillows.

Jotun and Agni walked through the open doors and into the room. Agni was staring at his clawed feet, tail whipping about with agitation. Jotun took a few steps past him and clasped his hands together. “I see you three are back in one piece after what happened in the test chamber today. We're glad you're functional.”

Lynne offered Jotun a smile. “Oh yeah, we're doing alright. Uh, but I'm really sorry about failing the test. My combat program didn't load though...”

Jotun nodded. “You can not be blamed for your performance. It was an unforeseeable software issue. Fortunately, we have come to a solution for it.”

Ifrita crossed her arms and tilted her head slightly, giving Jotun a sideways glance. “You are going to restore our combat data from a backup.” She sounded less like she was making a suggestion and more like she was making a demand. At that, Agni bared his teeth and hissed.

“The backupsssss were compromised. Nothing remainsssss of those programs. The solution the board hasss come up with is idiotic and dessssperate but no other viable optionsssss remain.”

Jotun looked between Agni and the androids. “The solution Agni is referring to is admittedly not optimal. We have decided that the only way for you to reach anywhere close to the potential you had before those combat programs were deleted is to go and train under the person we asked to help us design them. He is a great warrior named Kroken.”

Lynne sat up, leaning forward with excitement in her eyes. “Kroken? He's a legend, isn't he? Like, defeated a hundred warriors all by himself and didn't have a scratch on him!”

Ifrita rolled her eyes and drummed her fingers against her biceps. “That sounds made up. Organics are not that str-MMMF!” Lynne threw a pillow at her and had made a direct hit. She smiled smugly as Ifrita tore the thing in half and sent fluffy stuffing everywhere.

Agni's tail thumped against the ground and the sound drew the girls' attention back towards him. “The sssship you three will be provided has basic comfortsss and automated maintenance stations fitted into it. You will alsssso find a training room and a program with bassssic martial arts studies to help you get up to speed on your trip. We expect you'll reach Kroken in about two monthssss. Then you will have eight more monthsss to regain your former strength before time is up and your enemy arrivesssss.”

“Great! We're going on an adventure then! I can't wait!” Lynne's voice was sharp and cheerful. Ifrita looked considerably less amused. Serval poked her head out from her hiding spot, finally able to will herself to speak. “S... so when do we leave?”

“The moment your repairs are completed. I'll meet you all at the airstrip and your ship will take off for Kroken's moon. I wish you all the best of luck.”

As Jotun turned to leave, Agni did as well but not before leaving a parting comment. “Don't fail usssss again! We won't be wasting resourcessss on fixing failuressss.” With that, the doors closed behind the scientists.

Lynne looked over at Serval and bounced, practically vibrating with excitement. “Didya hear that? We're going out on a trip to learn how to fight from a real master! Isn't this gonna b-” This time though, it was her turn to get cut off. As the pillow Ifrita threw struck her in the back of the head, wiring tore strand by strand until her neck joints popped loose, bolts tumbling everywhere. Sparking from a few ruined wires, Lynne's head tumbled into her lap upside down, eyes crossed. “Error. Unexpected hardware disconnect. Error. E-error...”

“Finally. A reprieve from your prattling.” Ifrita actually allowed herself to smirk, then laid back and relaxed her arms at her sides. She did have to admit though, she was intrigued to see if this Kroken could make her stronger and wanted to test the limits of her potential.

It's going to be an interesting year.

Part 2: Legendary Pirate Interrobang

Dressed, repaired, and ready for their trip, Lynne, Ifrita and Serval made their way towards the airstrip where their ship awaited them. An escort of engineers and code experts headed by Agni and Jotun doted over the androids, bombarding them with technical questions and reading data readouts. It was bright and cool outside, and a brisk gust of wind whipped across the field as they approached their ship. Jotun gestured towards the large but sleek craft and said, “Here she is. The R-55, She's an old transport but quite tough. If things go south she'll get you out of trouble.”

Agni continued to walk as if he had not realized the group stopped, his eyes on a sleeker combat vessel outfitted with several obvious cannons. When he realized that Jotun was speaking of another vessel, he whipped around, his jaw open with shock. “You cannot be serioussss! The R-55 hasssss no weapons, no sssshielding! Remember that these girls are our besssssst hope and we've recently been sabotaged!”

Ifrita spoke up. She held herself stiff as if she were addressing a drill sergeant and turned her gaze on Jotun. “Sabotage? What is Agni talking about?”

Jotun closed his eyes and turned away from his colleagues to address Ifrita directly. “Your combat programming. It didn't load yesterday because it was wholly deleted and the backups removed. The only way this would have happened is if someone purposefully tampered with your code.”

“Yessss, yesssss! There'ssss traitor ssssomewhere in the complex, to send you out on this unarmed transport issss utterly foolish!” Agni became more and more agitated. His tail flicked and his lips curled back into a scowl that bared his fangs.

Tiredly, Jotun turned back to Agni. “The reason I chose this ship is because it has the space to support three androids. It has a room we've refit for training and can support multiple auto-repair stations. The weaponized ships are simply not designed for the kind of long range travel the girls will be doing.”

“You infuriatingly narrow-minded fool! I could have the engineersss make this ship sssafe for travel within a few weekssss! It would be prudent to-”

“Agni, we need to move immediately. There's simply no more time for preparations, even minor ones. Besides...” Jotun walked towards the angry thermavore and poked his red-scaled chest. “If I were to suspect anyone on the team of underhandedness, it would be you.”

“How... how dare!...” Agni's eyes went wide, he dropped his jaw and lifted his clawed hand as if he were going to strike Jotun down where he stood. Ifrita looked even less pleased and silently started to approach until Lynne reached out to grab her shoulder. Agni towered over Jotun, looking like he was going to tear the man apart.

“You fool! Your rassssssh decissssion-making and carelessssss management are going to be the doom of usssss! I'm going to prepare a complaint to the Arret Alliance right now!”

“You may do so if wasting your time pleases you. Try not to get stuck on any ssssyllables.”

Agni thrust his gaze into Jotun's face. His nostrils flared as he blew a hot breath that caused Jotun's bushy beard to flutter. Snarling loudly, he stormed off, his bare footprints leaving smoldering marks where he walked in the grass.

Ifrita managed to shrug herself out of Lynne's grip. She marched up to Jotun and locked eyes with him, her body shuddering briefly with restrained anger. “Jotun, you had better have a good reason for not sending us out in a ship that has better armaments.” Lynne and Serval joined Ifrita's side. Serval kept her head down and Lynne looked between Ifrita and the doctor.

“My reasoning is simple. The ship cannot handle the extra strain of weaponry and energy shielding because we've already modified it with equipment that can repair and recharge you all. On top of that, none of you are programmed to use weaponry and we're lacking any military pilots here that could train or escort you. Now I order you to drop the conversation and get on the vessel with no further argument.”

Ifrita narrowed her eyes and turned away silently to board the loading ramp that had opened in the back of the ship. Lynne and Serval watched her march off, then looked to each other and shrugged. Before boarding the ship, Lynne looked back to Jotun and waved. “Goodbye doctor! Thanks for building us and stuff! We'll do good!”

With that, the loading ramp retracted, the door of the ship closed and the vessel began to rise vertically, wings extending from its knife-shaped hull before taking off with a blast from its thrusters. Jotun watched the ship take off, his gaze steady and unblinking. With the ship nearly instantly out of sight, he turned back towards the complex and fished a commlink out of his pocket. Turning it on, he held it up to his ear and spoke quietly.

“They've taken off now. Whenever you're ready.”

The girls had spent two weeks acclimating to life on the ship. At the front was a cockpit, behind which was the large, circular dojo where a database of basic combat maneuvers and martial arts data could be accessed. Opposite of the entrance to the cockpit and across the dojo was a hallway that led to th storage bay, the automated repair room and personal chambers for the androids to relax in.

Lynne's voice echoed through the halls of the ship. “Serval! Ifrita and I are gonna try out all the stuff we've been working on! Come watch us spar!”

Serval looked up from her history book, her furry ears twitching at the sound of Lynne's voice. Maybe... if she pretended she didn't hear them they'd get impatient and start without her. She tucked her muzzle deeper into the book she hoped to be able to enjoy quietly but unfortunately her plan was doomed to failure. Her door hissed open and Lynne came bounding in.

“Hey, come on! You've spent almost your whole time in here all cooped up. We should hang out more!”

“B-but I... I don't... uh...”

Lynne tilted her head, eyes bright with curiosity as she watched Serval stammer. “You what, kitty?”

Serval held her book up to shield herself from Lynne's vision, her eyes down and ears pinned flat. “I can't... I can't spar. I haven't even b-been practicing, you know?”

Lynne frowned a bit and planted her hands on her hips as she leaned forward and peered over the book at Serval, who fearfully looked up into her gaze. “Serval! You don't have to fight, but I would like it if you watched. Like I said, we spend barely any time together and-”

“Lynne! I grow weary of this stalling! Come out here and allow me to pummel you!”

Lynne and Serval both flinched as Ifrita's demand piunded down the hall. “So yeah, Serval. You don't HAVE to but I'd love it if you came and watched.” Lynne smiled at the fereian and turned to leave, pounding her fists together as she made her way out towards the dojo.

When Lynne stepped into the dojo, Ifrita was already there. The thermavore had switched attire into a form fitting one piece that hugged her curves. Her plush black lips formed a smirk as Lynne walked in, and Ifrita stepped to one side of the white circular mat that took up the center of the room. “Now that you have finished stalling, let us see which of us has come the farthest in our studies.”

Lynne grinned widely and rolled her shoulders forcefully enough that the joints within whined and buzzed. “You got it, Ifrita. Fair warning though, I've really improved since we fought those training drones.” She walked over to her side as well, feet planted firmly into the mat's firm surface. Just as she took her position, Serval quietly snuck into the room and took a seat at a bench by the back wall.

Ifrita noticed her slink in. “Tch. I see the coward has arrived. At least she can serve as a witness to your humiliating defeat.” Ifrita lifted her hands and held them at flat striking angles, palms open and fingers tight. Lynne put her dukes up and bounced from heel to heel, her exuberant energy flowing into her steps as Ifrita remained statue still.

“Okay, let's start!” Lynne shouted as she pushed off the balls of her feet and launched herself at Ifrita. With rapid strides she closed the space between them instantly and swung a powerful right jab at Ifrita's face.

Ifrita swept her hand outwards, which deflected the attack away and gave her an opening. She drove her other chop directly into Lynne's gut and the redhead grunted but took the blow easily. Lynne responded by lifting off her foot and going for a spinning kick aimed at Ifrita's head. The blow slammed its target and sent Ifrita stumbling to the side. She recovered quickly and launched herself towards Lynne, her movements terse and purposeful.

The two exchanged and deflected each other's blows for several seconds. Both fighters were locked into close combat, every rapidly-launched punch or knife-hand chop answered with a blow or dodge, the two evenly matched. Finally, Lynne landed a punch in Ifrita's jaw while Ifrita answered in kind and slammed the back of her hand against Lynne's cheek. The two took the chance to break away; Lynne took a few steps back as Ifrita backflipped into a safer position.

Lynne took in a deep breath, the first she'd taken this combat, and exhaled a thick cloud of steam for several moments. “You're fast, Ifrita. Heheh.”

“You hit hard.” Ifrita rolled her neck slowly but never took her eyes off of Lynne.

Serval had tucked her knees in and was hugging them as she watched the fight, her book at her side. She wasn't interested in training but something about watching the two mechanical women fight intrigued her. “Wow... Ifrita's so technical and Lynne is so fierce! I... I wonder how I would fight...”

The two fighters closed the distance. Lynne shouted loudly and Ifrita intensified her silent glare as they rushed towards each other. They both prepared to strike at one another when suddenly the ship rocked, a rumble heard vibrating through the walls. They both stumbled out of their charge and exchanged glances, then looked to the cockpit where a warning siren could be heard going off.

Lynne looked back to Ifrita. “What's that sound me-AAH!” Another quake shook the ship, and this time Lynne and Ifrita lost their balance, tumbling onto the mat. Serval squeaked sharply as she fell backwards out of the bench she was sitting on. The three girls jumped quickly to their feet and rushed for the cockpit. They were greeted by a display of the ship's blueprints on the screen in front of the empty pilot's chair. Two of the thrusters on the 3D image of the ship were blinking red. A moment later a calm female voice filtered through the ship's speakers.

“Warning. Damage detected in thrusters one and two. Thruster one is offline. Thruster two at 50% capacity. Thrusters three and four are undamaged.”

Lynne stammered out a response. “Ship... computer-brain-thing! Tell us what happened!” Ifrita gave Lynne a concerned look.

“Damage assessment suggests plasma attack. Ship detected within short range sensors and is closing.”

Lynne perked up at that news.. “Oh great! Tell them some jerk shot our ship and we need help!”

Ifrita grabbed Lynne by her shirt and hoisted her up to eye level. “You ditz! They're the ones who attacked us.”

Before Lynne could respond, the ship AI chirped up. “Attempting to contact...” As the ship put out a communication request, Serval trembled and wrung her tail while Ifrita dropped Lynne and crossed her arms. Her angry glare transferred to the screen in case whomever was attacking decided to respond.

“Contact acknowledged. Communications on screen.”

The screen switched from a layout of the ship to the interior of a cockpit that looked horridly unclean. There were takeout boxes stacked to the side of the pilot's seat and a tree freshener hung from something off screen. The cockpit itself was mostly scuffed metal surfaces covered in wrappers, old clothes and a few dirty magazines. The man that sat in the seat before them was even less appealing. He was tall, lanky and in possession of equal parts chin and face. He had a wide smile and his greasy green hair was done up in a pompadour. Topping off his look was a pair of ruined black jeans and a leather jacket with spikes coming out of the shoulders.

“Yowza! I knew I was chasing some saucy robo-hotties but you three kn-kn-knocked it out of the park!” He clutched the armrests of his chair and leaned forward with a leery smile.

Ifrita recoiled. “Ugh. We've made a mistake. Close communications.”

Lynne waved her hands frantically. “No! Wait. Uh, listen mister...”

He turned his head to mug for the camera. “Mister? My dear hottie, I am none other than the one and only dread pirate Interrobang!” He waggled his eyebrows and Lynne felt her CPU freeze.

“S-so uh... I-Interrobang?...” Serval asked quietly, deeply conflicted about talking to such a man but unable to help her curiosity. Interrobang nodded with enthusiasm, which caused his green pompadour to bob up and down.

“The one and only legendary pirate Interrobang! As in, more bang for your buck, more pompadour than you could hope for, and more panache for your menage-a-trios.” He spun himself around in his chair and allowed the rapidly-spinning chair to throw him to his feet. “You know, I was paid to blow you babes into cosmic dust but you're just so intensely saucy that you have to be mine!”

Ifrita's eyes twitched and a crackle could be heard inside of her head as she asked through gritted teeth. “Yours. You think you can make us yours.”

“Ahaha! Oh man, so feisty and spicy! I gotta love me some thermavore booty! You can be my new ship maid... ooh, and the redhead could be the chef!”

Lynne shook her head quickly. “But I can't cook! Couldn't I be something else?” Ifrita reached over and knocked her on the back of the head. “Do not encourage him, you slow-circuited fool!”

Interrobang's attention went from the bickering girls to Serval, who was trying to hide behind the cockpit's chair. “Oooh hooh! Look at that fereian babe! Such a robo-cutie can easily serve as my personal bedside courtesan.” Serval's cheeks began to burn bright red until the color crept up to her ears.

“O-o-oh gosh! Please just blow him up now! Get riiiiiid of him! I can't take this pervert another second!” Serval launched herself tat the controls, pressing buttons in a desperate bid to activate some kind of weapons system. Ifrita and Lynne grabbed her and yanked her off the controls while she helplessly flailed and mewled.

Interrobang's toothy smile expanded to take up much of the real estate on his face and he let out a cackle of unbridled glee. “Oh baby, these fembots are just the kind of sauce I need to liven up my ship!” From behind Interrobang a much more professional-sounding voice called out.

“Sir! We're ten seconds from breach and EMP rifles are ready.”

“Saucy awesomeness!” Interrobang turned back to the screen and blew them a wet kiss, complete with a loud smeck. “See you soon, love-bots.” The communications screen went blank and left the three in stunned silence for a moment.

Only for a moment though, as suddenly the ship lurched again. The sound of metal rending apart filled the cockpit and the sirens blared constantly as the ship AI reported in a dull tone. “Danger. Danger. Hull breach detected in the storage bay. Hull breached. Multiple boarders detected.” Ifrita had already turned and begun to make her way quickly down to meet the invaders. Lynne helped Serval to her feet, nodded silently at her, and then followed behind the thermavore android. Serval stalled for a moment, shuddering in silence, then squeezed her eyes shut and ran after her two companions.

The three girls stepped into the storage bay and were greeted by the sight of Interrobang twirling a switchblade in his fingers. Between himself and the girls stood a pair of intimidating thugs clad in grey combat armor, clutching a pair of large rifles loaded with shiny blue energy packs. They wore face-obscuring helmets with black visors. The three intruders had entered through a dark steel tube that had rudely forced itself in through the storage bay doors and knocked over several boxes of supplies.

“Oooh, you girls look even saucier in person! Alright, the sooner we finish this up the sooner we get to the sexy reprogramming scene where I make you my robotic sauce-slaves! Jenkins! Wilhelm! ♫Light up the niiiiight!♫” Interrobang lifted his arms, spun in place and then pointed rather dramatically over his minions' shoulders. On command, the two armored thugs leveled their large weapons and opened fire.

The two rifles discharging thundered loudly and bright blue EMP blasts were unleashed in a massive torrent of power. Serval jumped forward and put her hands up, a glowing blue hexagonal shield digitizing rapidly into place between the attack and the three androids.,. The storm of bullets crashed into the shield as Lynne and Ifrita ducked behind it, every impact sending a ripple through it.

After a couple of seconds, the rifles let out a strained groan and hissed steam from a few vents near the nozzle. The minion on the left looked over his shoulder at Interrobang and shrugged. “Yo baws, we're out! Whut now?” Serval dropped her shield and Ifrita stepped forward, holding her hands out as red fire licked down her limbs and gathered into two roaring flames held in her palms. Ifrita pointed her hands forcefully towards Interrobang and his goons, and a column of heat and fire blasted towards them. Interrobang managed to roll to the side but Jenkins and Wilhelm were not as lucky as the fire engulfed them. They were blown back down the breaching tunnel they had used; their bodies tumbled as if they had been violently thrown by an explosion.

Ifrita lowered her hands and sneered as she glared down the smoke-filled tunnel where the two thugs laid in a pile. Wilhein and Jenkins groaned quietly as their scorched armor sizzled. “Such trash. Lynne, finish off the pirate. I think even Serval could defeat him were she not so insistent on non-violence, so you should have no problem.”

“H-hey! You're not the boss of me!” Lynne shot Ifrita a nasty look, crossing her arms. “And besides, Serval's not insistent on non-violence! She was just talking about blowing that dude's ship up with him in it!”

Serval wrung her tail in her hands and nodded sheepishly. “I-it's true. I was very bloodthirsty.”

“Ugh, very well. Then Serval is merely a coward. And Lynne...” Ifrita gave the redhead the widest, fakest smile she could manage and gestured towards Interrobang. “Would you please be so kind as to handle this nuisance for me? I fear the grease he's covered in is bad for my scales.”

Serval pouted at the insult and Lynne returned the insincere courtesy with a deep bow. “Of course my lady. We know how fair and delicate you are.”

Interrobang stroked his thumb against his long nose and chuffed angrily. “Some robot babe thinks she can take the legendary Interrobang in a punch-em-up? I'll knock the sauce outta ya!” He tossed his switchblade from hand to hand and rushed at Lynne, knife held down at his side. Lynne put her dukes up and aimed a jab at his wide chin, only to miss as Interrobang turned his head aside. He countered by driving his head forward and slammed his forehead into her nose. A spark jumped from Lynne's face as she stumbled backwards, disoriented.

“Next!” Interrobang leapt towards Ifrita in a manner not entirely unlike a ballerina, and when Ifrita aimed a sweeping chop at his head he spun under it, twirling into a kick that swept Ifrita off her feet. She hit the floor with and grunted with annoyance, about to leap up before being stopped when Interrobang jumped onto her stomach with both feet, causing her to reel and grunt.

“Buh-geeze! Did you girls learn how to fight yesterday or something? I'm walkin' all over ya!” Interrobang stomped down on Ifrita's muzzle, causing her ears to spark and eyes to flicker. He removed himself from standing on her and started to approach Serval. The feline mewled and flattened her ears as she stepped away from him, trembling slightly.

“Come to papa, kitty!” He charged her, but only to slam into a blue forcefield that bounced him back. As he stumbled backwards Lynne drove her fist into Interrobang's face and a thin spray of blood fired from his nose. He fell against a storage crate but pushed himself up and lifted his knife, ready to rush at Lynne. As he approached her, however, Ifrita whipped her tail out and caught him in the leg, which caused him to trip. His arms pinwheelend helplessly and his face smashed firmly into the steel floor.

As Interrobang looked up he saw the three girls towering over him and panicked. He crawled away as quickly as he could, until he found his back pushed up against a crate. “Gaah! S-so you got yourselves organized! Big deal!” He kicked his legs up and jumped to his feet, then jammed his fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly.

“REEEEENO! Reno babe, I need your saucy self in here!”

Lynne, Ifrita and Serval looked to one another and shrugged, only to be caught off guard by a dull thump, followed by another... and another. They looked back to the smoke-filled boarding tunnel and saw a large figure slowly approaching...

She was a head taller than the tip if Ifrita's horns. Her body was chrome and sculpted to look athletic. Through exposed joints on her elbows and shoulders the girls could see moving mechanical parts and wiring. Her face was all steel with glowing blue eyes. Smirking ruby lips sat on a hinged mechanical mouth and her smooth head was covered with a black bandanna sporting a jolly roger. Impressive chrome breasts were covered by a tied white blouse and she wore black cargo pants whose pockets were stuffed with all kinds of tools, spare parts and bits of odd junk.

“Oi! What's this all about? You three girls knocking me husband about?”

Interrobang nodded with enthusiasm and pointed towards his bleeding nose. “That's right, dearest lover! They busted my nose open and-”

Her chromed hand moved like a blur and with a reverberating smack she backhanded him with such force it sent him flying into a wall. He whimpered pitifully as he stayed pressed up against the wall and thought about the life choices that had brought him to this moment.

“You know I can't stand your sissy talk! Now then...” Reno's neck whirred as she turned her gaze back to the girls. Ifrita and Lynne put their hands up while Serval took a step back and summoned her shield once more. Reno chuckled and set her hands on her hips as she approached the three of them. “You three look interesting. Y'ready to get turned to scrap so's I can go back about me business?”

Ifrita took a step forward and the flames roared all over her body. “Pressed for time? Then I will end this quickly.” She pointed her palms at Reno, fanned her fingers and an unholy roar of red fire overtook the chrome maiden. The heat in the room grew so intense that the air distorted and quivered, and when the massive blast of flames dissipated, every inch of Ifrita's body steamed, her suit burned away to reveal her naked form.

Reno however, still stood. Her chrome was scorched and white sparks fired from her joints, but she moved no less fluidly. “Gaha! Not a bad start but since we're going all-out right away...” She pointed her arms at the girls and the chrome plating whirred and clattered as it unfolded and her hands retracted into her wrists. Her forearms reconstructed themselves into a pair of massive gatling guns, that began to spin up. In the split second before they fired, Serval jumped forward and interposed the shield between her friends again. The utterly enormous amount of bullets that fired from Reno's weaponry caused the shield to flicker, the ripples where bullets impacted it before falling to the floor in broken lumps making the blue coloring thinner and thinner.

“I-it won't hold! I need someone t-to do something!” Serval squeaked, her arms sizzling with electrical current as she squeezed her eyes shut.

Lynne and Ifrita looked to one another and nodded. Ifrita knelt down and held her hands out, and as Lynne stepped into Ifrita's palms the thermavore launched her into the air, above the shield and the firing bullets. Lynne somersaulted into a flying kick, and the bottom of her boot impacted Reno's head with a satisfying crunch. The gatling guns spun down and the chrome woman stumbled backwards as her weapons rattled and reformed into fists.

Lynne landed and closed the distance quickly. Reno swung for Lynne's head but she ducked under the attack, then rose up into an uppercut. Reno's head jerked upwards with a spray of sparks. “E-error, cranial damage d-detected! Targeting systems offline, optical systems m-malfunctioning...” The chrome woman's eyes flickered rapidly as she took broad haymaker swings at Lynne, whom barely avoided each dangerous punch.

Lynne was doing well until Reno launched herself forward, arms extended. Lynne coudln't get around the large android in time and ended up getting grabbed around the waist and hoisted into the air. Reno's joints sizzled as she applied pressure, causing a panel to blow open in Lynne's exposed cleavage. Inside, circuits cracked apart slowly as Lynne struggled to get free.

Seeing the damage, Interrobang jumped forward, waving his hands at Reno. “h-hey sweetness, take it easy! If you destroy them I can't add them to my robo-harem.”

Reno turned her head to look at Interrobang. “...What.” Reno dropped Lynne and put her hand out, grasping Lynne's face gently. The redhead grunted and started to swing wildly at the air, unable to reach Reno's body.

“Y-you didn't know about that?” Serval lowered her shield and rubbed her sparking fingers together. Smoke rose from her furry ears. “That skeezy guy w-wanted to reprogram us to be maids and cooks and... and...” Her ears drooped. “Other things.” She clasped her hands to her cheeks to hide the synthetic blush.

“Affirmative. He was incredibly crass, even for the standards of a pirate.” Ifrita turned to glare at Interrobang, whom was trying to pack himself as tightly as he could into a corner. At this point, Lynne had given up and stepped away from Reno to join her friends.

Interrobang nodded enthusiastically. “Uh! Yeah! What, is that some kinda problem?”

Reno's eye lights flickered rapidly, and her head twitched. “Error. Anger.exe has run out of virtual memory. Loading new file: Fucking_tweaked.exe.” She shoved Lynne gently towards the dojo, and then pushed the other girls in as well. They looked at each other, utterly dumbfounded as the door slammed shut behind them. They could hear Interrobang's muffled voice through the door as he spoke.

“Reno babe. What's going on? Ooooh hee hee, is it saucy hug time?...”

Then there was a crunch.

“Gaaagahahaha! This is not saucy hug time! I need an adult! Preferably one more responsible than I am!”

The yelling, snapping and expletives went on for just under an hour. Ifrita and Lynne were lounging on benches. Serval was curled up in the corner, white as a sheet. The door opened again and Reno stepped in. The girls jumped up, ready to fight, but Reno shook her head and gestured for them to stand down.

Lynne stepped forward, confused but intrigued. “S-so you don't want to fight?” She seemed to have recovered some stability. Smoke was not rising from her chest, and sparks weren't firing from her face anymore.

“Naah, we're cool girlie. I'd like to personally apologize for his rude behavior. We generally don't attack ships that don't have valuable cargo and he took this contract without me knowing. I've sent him off to think about what he's done. Wilheim and Jenkins should be able to handle his medical needs” There was another sound of rude grinding metal that came from the cargo bay, followed by the airlock systems going into place and finally the sound of thrusters at full power drifting away.

“Pretty words and apologies will not fix our vessel.” Ifrita crossed her arms and drummed her clawed fingertips against her biceps. “We were on an important mission until that idiot attacked us.”

Reno nodded towards her and rubbed the back of her head. “Aye 'tis a shame I can do so little. However if ye like I can sign on as a pilot and mechanic for as long as ye need me to. I know my way around most ships and I fly like a demon. Also I know a little place not too far from here. Seedy little satellite but ye can get your ship fixed up no problem.”

Lynne hopped up and down, clapping her hands. “Oh great! I mean, we do need a mechanic and someone who knows what the buttons do and stuff.”

Ifrita sighed. “I suppose it could not hurt. We have no other options as far as repairs are concerned and Jotun left us with so little in the first place.”

Serval watched silently from the corner. At first it seemed like she'd be able to get away without having to speak up, but then the other androids all looked in her direction and she wilted slightly. “Uh... S-sure. I mean s-she seems nice when she's not trying to destroy us.”

“Then it's settled!” Reno reached out and grabbed Ifrita and Lynne in a big hug. Lynne returned the affection happily and Ifrita just stared off into space as if she were a trapped animal that had given in to fate.

Reno let them go and cracked her knuckles. She grabbed a couple of tools from her pockets and turned back towards the cargo bay to see what she could do. Lynne, Ifrita and Serval followed behind but turned into the repair station, docking themselves into repair pods that were outfitted with dozens of tiny mechanical arms that slowly began to disassemble and expose their broken mechanical parts.

Though their adventures had gotten off to a harrowing beginning, Lynne, Ifrita and Serval seemed to have made a new friend. However, repairing their damaged ship will not be as easy as visiting a garage, because their journey now brings them to Barbosa Station! What challenges will they encounter when they arrive? And what about the saboteur loose back home at Alpha Complex? STAY TUNED!

Part 3: Legendary Tournament

Ifrita's foot swept Serval's legs out from under her for what felt like, to the mechanical feline, the thousandth time since they started sparring, and her body hit the mat with a delicate thump. “Ifrita... I'm not cut out for this sort of thing! A-also I think there's an imprint of my face permanently pressed into the mat.” Lynne was on the nearby bench, watching the fight with a warm smile.

Ifrita's crimson face held the same frown she had been wearing since she started the training exercise but now there was a sigh of exasperation to go with it. She reached down and grabbed the back of the long t-shirt Serval was fond of and hoisted the grey-furred android back to her feet. “Serval, like myself and Lynne you were constructed to fight. There will come a time when we will all have to execute that function. I will not be satisfied with being held back by a weakling when that time comes.”

Serval nodded silently, then brushed the wrinkles and scuffs out of her skirt and jean-shorts. She lifted her hands and crouched back, her body curled into a nervous defensive position. “R-right. S-sorry Ifrita. I'll try harder next time...” Just before the two of them launched back into another sparring match, the doors to the training room slid open with a hiss and Reno's large and impressive chrome figure sauntered through with a series of clicks and whirs from her heavy mechanical joints.

“Right then.” Reno's voice was tinny but expressive. “I got good news an' I got bad news.” The tall machine set her gloved hand on her metallic hip joint. “Da bad news is me 'usband zogged yer plasma drive so yer not doin' any hypertravel until it gets fixed. Also we don't 'ave da parts fer fixin' it on board.” Ifrita glowered angrily; the casual annoyance she usually expressed was now full on frustration.

“We have a mission to complete and a VERY strict time frame.” Her calm, terse tones hid her anger well.

Lynne nodded in agreement, looking less than pleased but not quite so aggressive. “Yeah. We don't have time to snailspace all the way to Keron...”

“Oi! Don' give me the devil's eye without 'earin the good news now.” Reno started to make her way across the training room and to the small bridge the ship was outfitted with. Serval, eager to get away without having to train any more, fell into step first. Lynne looked to Ifrita and shrugged and jumped up to follow behind. Ifrita whipped her thick tail in annoyance as she silently followed along behind the redhead.

Reno made her way up to the control panel and punched in some coordinates. “Dere's a place wot's close by. Only four days by snailspace. Oi know an engineer dere. Won't work for cheap but e's always got a dry dock open for me 'usband so we should be able to slip right in an' get fixed up. Assumin' you girls 'ave spacebux...”

Lynne fielded that question with enthusiasm and gave Reno a thumbs up. “Yeah! Absolutely! The bank account Alpha Complex gave us is stacked! I was using it just last week to order some cartoons off of dataspace.” Ifrita placed her hand to her forehead and shook silently.

“Lynne, you should not be wasting your time with entertainment programs when you need to be training to defeat Genesis.”

Lynne huffed, her cheeks puffing up as she crossed her arms tightly. “I'm already totally strong! And besides, we're going to be getting god-tier training when we get to Keron and meek Kroken.” Serval sensed a fight brewing and her tail tucked in close as she hid behind Reno. The tall chrome woman, however, was intrigued, and her glowing yellow optics narrowed.

“Woss all dis then? You know it's been five days since I signed onto yer crew an' you haven't said word one about yer mission, let alone wot this Genesis is.” Reno leaned forward stiffly, her hips making a loud BUH-zzzt from the sudden shift.

At that, all three girls got quiet. Serval's ears pinned down. Lynne rubbed her shoulder and stared off. Ifrita closed her eyes and tapped her fingers on her forearms. After a moment of awkward silence, Lynne spoke up. “Genesis is... we don't know exactly. Alpha Complex has spent a hundred years monitoring its movements since its wavelengths were first discovered and translated.”

Ifrita didn't open her eyes, but she spoke silently to continue the story. “Across the void of space it has attacked and destroyed dozens of inhabited planetary systems. Its only desire is conflict and it will either force a civilization to fight or destroy it out of annoyance should it simply submit. It is now headed to the Kira system.”

Serval looked up at Reno, whose leg she was clinging to. “The three of us were d-designed to fight Genesis... b-but our programming was sabotaged. S-so we're headed to Keron to train with the legendary warrior Kroken.” Reno thoughtfully tapped the side of her head, processors humming as she seemed to consider what they said.

“The Kira system 'as a navy with battleships 'undreds strong. We got an army. Jus' use dat.”

Ifrita scoffed. '”Genesis has an army as well. As if that would not be difficult enough to deal with, Genesis is a being that is so powerful that its army exists solely as a matter of amusement to it. If the Kira navy is to succeed, we must defeat Genesis before it can join the battle.”

Reno tilted her head in curiosity. “Yeh. Well dat sounds like a lotta pressure to put a gang of sweet, tender things like yerselfs under. But 'eres the REAL kicker.” She stepped towards Lynne and poked her in the chest, making the human bot blush and yelp. “Wot's yer REASON for fightin' dis thing?”

At that, Lynne found her processors locking up. “I...” She scratched the side of her head and nervously smiled. “Well! Like. We're the good guys. So we gotta do it.” She hardly sounded sure of herself.

Ifrita snorted and whipped her tail side to side. “I want to be stronger. Once I am strong enough to defeat Genesis, I have completed my mission. That is all there is to it.”

Serval simply didn't answer. She stared at the floor and fiddled with her fingers.

Four days later...

Barbados Station loomed like a big brown splotch of rusted metal parts all haphazardly welded together, surrounded by hundreds of ships jostling hungrily for position in the dry docks and landing pads like a pack of predators come to feast on the massive carcass of a rotting beast. The girls' ship was pulled into the dry dock Reno promised them while they took a small lander vessel to the main entrance.

“So hey! What's Barbados like?” Lynne asked excitedly. Her, Ifrita and Serval were crammed behind Reno's large frame as she piloted them towards the landing pad.

“Not exactly a tourist trap, Fireball.” Reno chuckled. “It's a place wot wuz built by pirates, smugglas and freebootas as a safe haven fer the scum of th' Kira system ta come an' do their wicked business.”

Lynne's eyes lit up with excitement. “Oooooh.” Serval shivered and Ifrita tuned the conversation out.

Reno chuckled, which made her frame rattle. “Jes' don't give anyone any money or important information, an' don't follow anyone down a dark alley.” The lander touched down with a gentle thump and when the back opened out the three girls almost spilled out as if they were under pressure. The main spaceport of Barbados Station was huge, but the tightly packed groups communing between vessels and towards the city-station diminished the feeling to near claustrophobic levels. Fortunately the massive walkways between the dry docks allowed the crowds to thin.

The management office for Dry Dock 1138, the dock the girls parked their main ship in, was well-kept and spartan. Behind the office desk sat a sort, squat male with a incredibly thick and dark green beard. As the girls entered there was another person leaning over his desk, engaged in a one-sided shouting competition that was muffled until the doer to the office was opened.

“You can NOT be serious! I DEMAND you open your dry dock so I may make the proper enhancements to my lovely ship!” The shouting male possessed a weird feylike beauty. His shimmering purple hair hung down his shoulders. He wore a flowing white jacket that exposed his bare chest.

“Zorry.” The thick bearded man said. “Zose girls got to it first. Zo's there dry dock until dey move.” He gestured plaintively towards the four as they entered. At that, the man whipped around, revealing he was wearing tight-pointed black glasses.

“Excuse you, commoners. You're made an error in renting this dry dock. Move your ship immediately or you will face immediate and painful consequences.” He sneered and tilted his head upwards so he could look over the top of his shades derisively.

Lynne balled her hands into fists and stepped forward. “What? Who exactly do you think you are?”

The arrogant man responded with a chiding snort. “How repulsively ignorant can someone be? Though stupidity is a hallmark of bad android design so really it's your incompetent creators' fault. After all, a toaster is hardly aware enough to be paying attention to ebb and flow of greatness.”

Lynne felt her internal temperatures skyrocket. She was a moment from launching herself at the man, but suddenly a chrome hand fell heavily on her shoulder. “Don't, Fireball. Da's Illusion Grande. E's a warmodel, one of the mos' powerful around.”

Illusion chuckled derisively. “Aha! The walking junkyard knows its place at least! Delightfully surprising. Yes. I am Illusion Grande and no finer example of perfection will you ever find in the universe!” He swept his hand to brush a single purple strand of hair out of his eyes.

“A war model. He is a combat android like us, then?” Ifrita was suddenly curious. Serval had chosen to hide behind the mechanical thermavore while she watched the encounter unfold.

“Nay, e's not that kind of model.” She looked back to Illusion Grande. “Warmodels are a race that comes from the battle planet of Fab 7. They practice the gorgeous kata, a style of fighting that employs weaponized beauty. In order to properly channel the energy required they live a life of constant training that consists of rigorous physical exercise mixed with extreme self-imposed narcissism.”

“Well said, for a top-heavy tin can. Now... move your ship. Or I'll demonstrate my gorgeous kata.” Illusion smiled confidently and held his hand to his hip. The four girls tensed up, ready to fight or run, when the man behind the desk cleared his throat.

“Ah... Scooz me, miss... Lynne-001? Your bank accountz iz empty. I just ran ya numbaz through the zyztem and they came up noffing.”

Lynne's face went pale. “That's impossible, we had five hundred thousand spacebux in there!” She moved around behind the desk to get a look at the screen and sure enough, it was showing that a day before they got to Barbados, every single bux was withdrawn directly.

“N-no money? S-so...” Serval's tail curled tight around her leg as her ears folded back once more. “So w-what happens now?”

The manager tapped his chin thoughtfully. “Way I zeez it, ya parked yer zhip in my dry dockz and ya owe me. Ya got 24 hourz ta make money and if ya can't then ya ship belongz ta me. It'z ripped up badz zo I'l have my crew tear it apart for good ztuff and just trash da rezt.”

Illusion sighed with melodramatic flair. “Ugh, this is dreadful! Your disgusting heap of a ship is going to eat a whole day of time away out of my perfect life while I wait around for you to get tossed in the trash. Please, do excuse me. I must away to my personal chambers to mourn deeply and have the comfort of my whipping stooges.” With that, he skulked out.

Ifrita let out an annoyed grunt as the four of them left the office as well. “This is unacceptable. We cannot lose the ship.” The others nodded in agreement. They paused to think outside of the office.

“Well! It's a big city-station.” Lynne said perkily. “We should like, split up and case the area for some kinda job or something. There's gotta be something that will pop up to allow us to make...” She paused, eyes flickering rapidly as data scrolled past her HUD. “... one hundred thousand spacebux!” Then her face scrunched. “...Oh. Crumbs, that's a lot.”

“Y-yes it is...” Serval flicked her ears a few times. “But what other choice do we have? We've got to try and splitting up means we can cover more ground faster.” It was then that she calculated the chances of her ending up alone in a big city were quite high with this plan. “Uh! B-but we should stick to teams.”

Reno patted Serval on the back forcefully enough to make the smaller android stumble. “Not a bad idea, Kitten!” She turned towards Lynne and jerked her thumb towards the cuty-station. “'Ow about we scrounge up some dirty business in th' marketplace? I'm sure there's some good 'ard fightin' ta be had and bux ta be made.” Lynned nodded happily, then looked back to Serval and Ifrita. “Alright, then you guys can cover the rim of the city while we head to the center! Good luck!”

As Lynne and Reno walked off, Serval timidly waved goodbye to them. “R... right! Okay! Ifrita and I will be fine! Right, Ifrita?” When Serval didn't hear the thermavore respond, she looked behind her, then to her sides. Her ears strained forward to listen for her, but then folded back tight. Ifrita had silently stalked off, leaving Serval by herself in the dry docks. With a silent whimper the small bot started off towards the city-station's rim, determined to not let anyone down at least.

Meanwhile, back at Dry Dock 1138...

A cloaked figure stealthily slithered through the throbbing masses crowded around the landing pads and made a beeline for Dry Dock 1138. They expertly danced and dodged past hurrying engineers, dock workers and immigrants to the station while their hooded cloak fluttered behind them. They made it to the ship that the four heroines had come in on and silently, they draw a device from inside of their cloak, an odd datapad with a scanning device attached. The figure swept it over the digital lock built into the passenger entrance on the side of the ship, and with a chime the door opened. The cloaked person stepped in and the door snapped shut behind them; a sinister chuckle came from under the hood they wore...

“Finally. After being so humiliated I will get a chance to get revenge...” The cloak was tossed away by a gloved hand, revealing...

“No one gets the chance to make a fool of Legendary Pirate Interrobang more than once or twice and get away with it! Mwahahaha!” He crooked his fingers, straightened up and threw his head back as he enjoyed a deep, satisfying evil laugh. With a wiggle of his fingers the lanky pirate began to skulk through the halls of the ship. “Truly, this is going to be the finest and most evil scheme I have ever unleashed upon saucy fembot babes!” He fund the room that Lynne stayed in and skulked up to her dresser. Delicately he puckered his lips and wiggled his fingers as he urged the top dresser open... inside were three even stacks of panties, perfectly folded. He reached in and claimed a pair by pinching them daintily with his thumbs and middle fingers.

“Yes.... YES! With these stolen panties I begin a march of vengeance that will be stained with a trail of salty, salty robot tears! Soon they'll be BEGGING me to give their delicate unmentionables back and my fantastic and satisfying revenge shall be complete! Yes! Yes! Ahahahahah-”

“Hello, sir.”

Interrobang shrieked not unlike a startled puppy upon hearing the oddly calm female voice come from the walls.

Lynne and Reno had spent the last hour looking for work that might make the kind of money they needed. “Ugh! This is hopeless! Not a single pirate's treasure map or chest full of booty or anything.” Lynne sighed dejectedly and slumped down onto a rusty metal bench. Reno nodded and patted Lynne's shoulder. “Well when ya decided we weren't gonna be doin' any piratin' ta get the money we needed ya kinda killed our chances of makin' a decent wage.”

Lynne looked up at Reno with determination. “We can't be pirates though! That's bad guy stuff! I mean like it's the most awesome bad guy stuff but still.” She looked back down at the ground and sighed slowly. “There's gotta be some way we can make money beating up bad guys or something...” Just then a loud blast of music and fanfare started blaring from down the street. Lynne and Reno were not the only ones to notice, though. All kinds were drawn to the vibrant trumpeting of the announcement being broadcast.

“Ladies, gentlemen! Androids and mutants! Cybernetic freaks, splice addicts and every other kind of low life in Barbados! May I have your attention!” A small man in a far-too-ice-for-this-sort-of-place silk hat and ringmaster's suit was on a large soapbox in front of a grand arena. Atop the arena was a truly massive billboard, flanked by swaying spotlights.

“Yeeee! He said androids! That's us!” Lynne clapped her hands as she pushed past people to get closer to the grand display. As she got closer she took a better look at the billboard and saw it had a picture of two humans punching each other in the face. Splashed across the top in vibrant lettering was written FREEBOOTER'S FIGHTING LEAGUE. The man with the megaphone continued to speak.

“In six hours the Freebooter's Fighting League will be having its open mixed martial arts tournament!” The people oooh'd and murmured amongst themselves. “You'll have a chance to sign up now, and in six hours we'll have the preliminary combat, followed by the ladder matches! The winner will be gifted two hundred thousand spacebux and a personal contract from Pirate Queen Nosferatu herself! The rules this year are sim-” The man found himself forced to duck as a bullet blew a hole through his hat. The big blue beast of a humanoid holding the smoking gun snarled.

“Zog yer damn rules! Let us sign up!”

At that, the crowd surged forward like a tidal wave, desperate to get into the Freebooter's Arena to sign up. Lynne and Reno were swept up by the tide, forced to move forward or be trampled by a shouting throng of eager pirates and thugs.

Serval was having no luck in finding Ifrita and as a result was having worse luck finding any money. That changed as she walked past an alleyway and noticed something out of the corner of her eye. Sitting right there on the ground was a shiny golden stack of folded spacebux held by a pin. “O-oh! Lucky me!” She reached down for the cash, only to suddenly have the pile of glittering gold bills jump away, deeper down the alley. “Hey!” She mewled as her tail hiked up. “Come back here money! I need you!”

Again she approached the spacebux and again they jumped deeper down the alley. Every time Serval reached for the cash it moved away and she didn't realize that she was being lured into the dark depths until a sinister chuckle echoed off the walls surrounding her. She squeaked in fear and went rigid as she heard unseen shuffling around her... then an illuminated pair of golden eyes lit up in front of her.

“Oooh. Girls, look at what the cat dragged in!” The woman was clearly an android like Serval was. She was modeled after a Kira human, about Serval's height, with short blonde hair. She wore a black t-shirt and denim hotpants. Black and red stockings raced up her thin legs. However, every inch of her arm's covering was removed, revealing mechanical parts and wiring laced between them. The exposed servos whirred robotically.

Serval slowly started to back up, but she found herself bumping into another body. Before she could turn around she was shoved onto her hands and knees. The feline's servos thrummbed briefly as she caught herself, and when she looked over her shoulder she saw... the exact same android. “W-w-what?” All around her, duplicates of the robot grinning sadistically at her emerged from the shadows, their eyes glowing bright.

“You made a mistake coming into gangdroid territory, kitty cat.”

Serval struggled to her feet, her ears down tight, tail ticked in and knees shivering. “Look whoever you are...”

“Kelly series one through five.” The bot in front of her said.

“Right... m-miss Kelly robots. Please, if you j-just let me go...”

“What? You won't tell anyone we did this? You'll do whatever we ask?” They all chuckled softly as Serval righted herself a bit more. The feline was put off by the taunting but she managed to stammer out.

“N-no. I... I w-won't have to destroy you...”

That made the gangdroids laugh bitterly. “What was that? You're shaking like a wet cat and you have the gall to threaten us? Kelly 2 and 4. Grab her arms. I'm gonna tear her power core out with my bare hands.” The two girls at Serval's sides strode confidently towards her and their arms buzzed as they reached out for her.

Then it happened in the blink of an eye. Serval held her arms out at her sides and two forcefield pulses knocked the girls off their feet. They gasped as the attack struck them in the stomach. They were launched forcefully against the walls and their bodies twitched and sparked as they jerkily found their footing, mechanical bodies shuddering with instability for a few seconds. As they got back up, Serval formed a forcefield bubble around each fist and she wasn't trembling anymore.

'What the hell is going on here?! Wreck this pussy!” Kelly-One barked orders belligerently and gestured towards the feline android, then her four minions rushed her. The two undamaged ones were quickest to close the gap as they both charged her from the front. Serval ducked under their fists and rose up into a sweeping uppercut that caught the both of them. With a sparking flash from the forcefield bubble surrounding her fist, they hit the floor with a crunch. One of their face plates had been knocked off, revealing a pair of blank cameras and a voicebox broadcasting profanities.

As they struggled to get back up the other two Kellys charged from either side. One aimed a roundhouse kick at the back of Serval's head while the other tried to sweep her legs out. Both of these attacks were stopped by a forcefield surrounding her lithe body. Then she expanded it rapidly to blast both attackers away at once. They let out a synthetic screech as they were slammed against the walls of the alley once more, but this time there was a loud snap and crunch as their bodies hit. The two Kelly unit's boedies had had enough at this point. With shocked expressions on their faces, their bodies just crumpled apart, sizzling as circuits burned out and parts collapsed, leaving a pair of smoldering junk piles and little more.

“Error. Error. Kelly-Two off-offline.” “K-K-kelly-F-four-our Off... line...” Their eyes went dark with a final sizzling pop firing from their ears. Serval turned towards the three survivors, her body twitching slightly as the forcefields she had been projecting started to shudder and falter. By the time the glowing fields dissipated from her hands, Kelly-One was making her attack.

The blonde gangdroid aimed a heel kick at Serval's nose. The feline put her hands up to project a forcefield out of reflex but only got a sizzling spark. “Warning, f-forcefield battery l-” She was cut off as the kick struck home and forced her head to whip back, servos protesting noisily. The other two Kellys rushed in on Serval to take advantage of her being stunned. One punched her in the gut, forcing her to double over, and the other slammed her elbow into the back of Serval's head, causing a blast of sparks to blow out of her ears as she hit the ground. Her vision was flickering with static as the gangdroid girls started to approach her.

She almost thought it was some kind of visual error when a blast of red flames engulfed one of the Kellybot's heads.

The Kelly unit that was on the wrong end of a blast of fire found her head ignited quite well. “Gaah! Damn it, th-thermal event in core CPU! Ov-overloading, boss!” With that, her flaming head detonated, leaving her shuddering body to stumble awkwardly and a few errant jolts to fire from her neck before she collapsed to her knees. At the entrance of the alley stood Ifrita who still held her smoking hand pointed at the gangdroids.

“You hurt Serval.” She snarled.

“Damn! Look lady, it was a mistake! A misunderstanding!” Kelly-One put her hands up as she quickly backed off along with her remaining duplicate. Ifrita was not placated by this and stalked slowly down the alley, her glowing red eyes illuminated in the dark.

“There will be no more misunderstandings made on your part.” Ifrita bared her long fangs and hissed, her tall body's joints buzzing as she launched herself at the two Kellybots. The last duplicate stepped forward to swing a punch at Ifrita but the thermavore android batted the attack away and countered with a chop that took the Kellybot's head off. It arced through the air, twitching and sizzling from ruined wiring.

Kelly-One turned tried to get away, having realized she was fully outmatched, but Ifrita grabbed her by the neck. “Look crazy lady, please don't do anything that'll void my warra-shiiiiiit!” Ifrita punched her other hand through Kelly-One's back. Ifrita's hand exploded out through Kelly-One's silicone breasts and clutched her glowing power core.

“That... I.... I... Errrrrrorrrrrr....” Her head slumped forward, golden eyes going dim. Ifrita dropped the sparking body and power core, then turned to scoop Serval up in her arms. With her friend, she was much more delicate and gently cradled her. 'Serval, are you alright?” Her voice lost it's usual terse tone and was quiet and tender.

Serval's eyes flickered with dim light. “M-m-my forcefields... r-ran out of power. I... I am sorry, Ifrita. I lost. I'm weak.”

Ifrita shook her head and leaned down just enough to gently touch the tip of her nose against Serval's. “Negative. You are not weak anymore.”

Serval managed a smile as another spark fired out of her ears. “Y-yeah? You mean that?”

Ifrita for her part seemed to realize how nice she was being and allowed her frown to return a little. “Hmph. As long as you prove your strength and are not so pitiably damaged next time.”

Instead of the usual whimper that sort of statement might get from Serval, she instead giggled and nuzzled herself against Ifrita's chest. “Yes Ifrita. I will try harder next time.” Ifrita just stared dead ahead. She didn't trust herself not to blush should she look down at Serval's curled up body.

And so Lynne, Ifrita, Serval and Reno have survived their first day at Barbados Station! What dangers will this grand freebooter's tournament have in store for them? Will Illusion Grande seek his revenge then? And will Interrobang's underwear snatching be foiled by that strange voice? Find out next time in Densetsu no Batoru 4: Legendary Assassins!

Part 4: Legendary Assassins

After he heard the tinny but calm feminine voice speak to him Interrobang had frozen in place. However, after a solid five minutes of playing statue, he came to the realization that he was alone in the room, and possibly the whole ship. Once he ascertained that none of those robot girls had come home he cleared his throat. “Yo! Uh, hey, you saucy ghost voice! Identify yourself!” he shouted at the ceiling.

The voice spoke again. “I am AI model XB-88-A, programmed for interplanetary travel calculations, ship system monitoring and a variety of assistance protocols. Please identify yourself.”

Interrobang cleared his throat and rolled his neck. Once he regained his composure he stroked his index finger across the rim of his shiny sunglasses. “My name is Interrobang Updog! I am the greatest pirate to ever live... y'know, besides Queen Nosferatu.” He started to pat himself down to find some salt to throw over his shoulder for invoking the name of the dreaded pirate lich.

“Processing... processing. Identification found. Pirate Interrobang Updog, D-rank pirate threat, issued a Bronze Bounty for accidentally dinging the paint on Lord Balrog's royal cruiser.”

“That smoky blowhard came right into snailspace right in front of my ship! HE owes ME an apology!” he spat back at where he assumed the speakers were.

“Please relax mister Updog. I am merely reciting your galactic permanent record. If there are inconsistencies then it is not because of me.”

“Yeah yeah, okay. My bad.” He rubbed the back of his head and pouted. “So uh, hey miss Exbie!” He switched quickly to a grin, finding his nickname for the AI clever. “Could you do me a favor and NOT mention I stole all of the girls' saucy underpants? Like I gotta have this whole scene where I call them up and be all like 'Foolish robot babes!' so I can really feel clever, ya dig?”

Exbie quickly chimed in with a pleasant beep. “If you wish to remain hidden from the owners of this vessel then quickly make your way to the cockpit. Two of them are approaching the personnel entrance.”

“Wh-wh-what?” His eyes went wide as saucers and his sunglasses threatened to slip off of his long nose, but he grit his teeth and sucked in air until his chest puffed out, then broke into a sprint out of the room and to the left.

“Other way.”

Interrobang skidded to a halt, spun on a heel and bolted the RIGHT way this time. He dove for the cockpit and the doors slid closed just as Ifrita entered the ship, carrying the still-damaged Serval.

Ifrita was doing her best to look stoic with the small, damaged fereian purring happily in her arms. She walked across the entrance and into the repair room where their three auto-repair stations were located and laid Serval out onto the one programmed to repair her. As she laid flat on the cushions, several dozens of micro-manipulators rose up from under the table, topped with a dizzying array of scanners and tools. Ifrita leaned against the wall and watched as the tools detected bangs, dents and tears in Serval's grey-furred body,

The door to the repair bay opened about halfway into the repairs. Lynne and Reno stepped through, looking first to Ifrita and then to Serval. Seeing her damaged, Lynne ran up and placed her hands on the edges of the table. “Serval! Hey, are you okay?” she asked worriedly.

“Ye-ye-ERROR yes! I am fine thanks to Ifrita. She saved me from-from-from gangbots!” A spark fired out of her feline ear.

“Oi, yer a big hero now ain't yas?” Reno chuckled and her big frame whirred as she leaned over to nudge Ifrita with her elbow.

Ifrita closed her eyes and furrowed her brows. “Shut up.”

Lynne bounded over and poked the thermavore's cheek. “Oooh, you know heroes should get a kiss from the people they save! It's how it goes in the stories.”

“Shut. Up.” Ifrita insisted through clenched fangs.

“Oh-oh-oh don't worry ERROR miss Lynne! I-I-I already kissed her!” Serval chimed in pleasantly.

Ifrita's body briefly lit up with a red flame, making Lynne and Reno jump back. “Shut UP!” Her shoulders shuddered with anger, but the blush on her cheeks was undeniable.

“Oh come on! Stop being grumpy for like five minutes. We have good news!” She claps her hands together and smiles with distracting enthusiasm at Ifrita. She glared back for several long seconds before her facade broke and she arched her scaly eyebrow.

“...Fine. What.”

“We're gonna earn a butt-ton of spacebux in the Freebooter's League and be able to pay to have our ship fixed and docked here!” Lynne looked at her expectantly, waiting for any sign of approval whatsoever.

Ifrita snorted softly and her tail twitched. “Lynne, stop smiling like an idiot.”

Lynne immediately switched to a little frown. “Fooh. Here I was thinking you'd be excited to beat up a bunch of pirate dudes.”

Ifrita pushed off of the wall and headed out the door. “Just make sure the little furball is fully repaired before you drag her into your shenanigans.” Ifrita headed towards the dojo, and once she was out of sight, she allowed herself a sly smile.

An hour later, the four girls found themselves in front of the Freebooter's League arena, packed in with a ton of other thuggish men and women, most heavily armed and all of them ready to fight. The air was charged with the feeling that the crowd might explode at any minute.

Once again, the squat man with the top hat took the same podium he was shouting from when Lynne and Reno found him the first time. “Ladies, gentlemen, hermaphroditic worm people and gender-neutral killmechs! Allow me to introduce myself as Mr. Grandstand! It sends shivers down my spine to think of the horrific violence I am contractually bound to allow you to perpetuate on one another!” At that, the crowd unleashed all that pent up energy with a brutish cheer that sounded more like a war cry than a festive shout.

“Now I know what you're all thinking if you possess any form of sentient thought. 'Mr. Grandstand, I’d absolutely love to punch literally anyone in the face as soon as possible! When can we get started?!' Well allow me to direct your psychotically obsessive bloodlust to...” He snapped his fingers and a long wand appeared in his grasp, which he pointed at a building behind the crowd. “The Rumble Room!”

The building was nearly ten stories tall and solid concrete. Every window had heavy bars in front of it and there were no front doors, just an open entrance.

“The rules are simple. Everyone has thirty seconds to enter the Rumble Room. Once you're inside, fight like crazy! Your goal's to knock everyone else out of the building by any means! Guns, knives, cybernetics, acid secretions, just blast then through the walls if you gotta! The last eight standing will move on to the final battle! And-time-starts-now-GO!”

The sound of an airhorn blasting woke everyone up and got feet moving fast. The crowd rushed forward while Lynne, Ifrita, Serval and Reno stuck together.

“Tch, these fools are nothing but pathetic thugs and cutthroats.” Ifrita sneered.

As they rushed through the front doors, Reno hummed and clacked her metal jaws. “Aye, the lot is a buncha troggs but I saw a few dangerous faces in the crowd. Look over there.” She nodded towards a hulking green monster with oily flesh, three times the size of a normal human being. The beast was attacked by five rough-looking thugs at once but with a single swipe of its arm the men were hammered back with enough force to send the straight through a concrete wall.

“Smorc the Facehunter. Last of his kind cause he ate all the others. That one...” Reno drew the girl's attentions to a buxom doll of a woman with wide curves, a far-too-thin waist and wavy blonde hair. “Dat's Hello Hello. Sexbot turned assassin and an incredibly dangerous one at that.” She was surrounded by a ring of thugs but seemed unbothered as she applied some lipstick with a compact open. The goons cackled as they drew pistols on her and fired. However the curvy babe simply jutted her chest out with a robotic buzz, and didn't even look up as the bullets blasted back at the people who shot them. The projectiles fired back into their weapons, causing the guns to shatter. Utterly shocked, the thugs panicked and fought over one another to escape through one of the barred windows.

“An' the worst one I've seen so far.” She gestured towards a lithe woman in a business suit, wearing a black biker's helmet and white dress cloves. “Her name's Arsenal Ark. The CEO of th' galaxy's largest an' richest weapons compn'y. Does mercenary work fer fun.” Arsenal Ark casually approached a rushing gang of thugs, and with a snap of her fingers an inhumanly large rocket launcher materialized over her shoulder. The resultant explosion it caused sent dozens of thugs out of the building, blown clear by the blast in every direction.

Lynne pumped her fists, then drove one right into the face of a thug rushing her. “Awesome! I wanna fight them right now!” She tried to go rushing off but before she could get very far, Ifrita's tail tripped her on her face.

Ifrita chided Lynne as she jumped to her feet. “You bimbo. Conserve your energy for the final battle. They're all on a league above anyone else here.”

“Except of course... for myself.”

The girls turned to watch as Illusion Grande approached them. Thugs ran at him but he turned away their attacks with calm, casual gestures, sparing them no attention as every gentle blow caused them to collapse in agony. “You simple machines are so predictable. I knew you'd be here knocking your knuckles against barely-sentient peasants.”

Serval pinned her ears back as a blue field surrounded her body, shielding her from several enemy blows. Then she caused it to explode outwards, sending goons flying. “W-why are you here? Aren't you too pretty for this or something?”

“Ah, how delightful it is to see the rare spark of intelligence in an otherwise mindless automaton!” Illusion bowed deeply, and as he swept his hands aside, the graceful move sent two more pirates through concrete walls. “This display is utterly beneath me, I assure you. However, you humiliated me earlier by taking my spot in the queue. As payback I'm going to humiliate you all in the final battle.”

Lynne clenched her fists. “Ugh! Enough talk then; put your money where your mouth is!” She jumped up onto a random goon's shoulders and launched herself towards Illusion Grande, fist extended and ready to swing at his face. The male's cocky smirk turned to a grimace and in a flicker of a moment his hand was out, striking her in the gut and sending her spiraling to the floor.

As she clutched her middle and twitched, Illusion turned with a flourish of his long, purple hair and waded back into the fray. Reno helped Lynne back to her feet and Serval dusted her off, while Ifrita moved to keep goons from ganging up on her.

“A-are you okay, miss Lynne?” Serval looked her over. “You're shaking! How bad is the damage?”

Lynne grit her teeth. “I... it's like, minimal but it feels like this awful throbbing in my stomach! He hit me and...”

Reno interjected. “Pain.” With a few swings of her huge steel fists, she knocked a few yelling psychos off their feet.

“But none of us are designed to feel pain! We're not fetish-bots y'know!” Lynne wiped her mouth and lifted her trembling hands to assume a fighting stance once more, but faltered with a sharp gasp.

“It's a war model technique. They call it ”Love 'Urts” an' it causes agony in anythin' they touch. It's supanatural in origin an' as such it's even compatible with android sensors.”

“Pain, huh? I bet I can handle pain.” Ifrita spoke confidently as she continued to fight off enemies with a dizzying array of blows.

Lynne finally managed to recover, but the feeling... the pain was fresh in her memory banks. It consumed her thoughts, even as she was fighting. The idea that she might have to experience more of it in a fight with Illusion Grande...

That scared her.

The battle raged on and the four androids were soon part of a rapidly thinning herd of fighters. The common thugs looking to make a quick buck had run out of gas by now and were being picked off by the stronger fighters. By the end of the fight, the ten story building had holes blown through every floor and the ceiling was was slowly catching fire.

On the roof, the final pirates were blown off and through the flames, with Ifrita, Lynne, Reno and Serval finding themselves face to face with Hello Hello, Smorc, Arsenal Ark, and Illusion Grande. The two groups stared each other down silently, looks of intensity taded between the fighters. A moment later, an airhorn blasted.

“Aaaaaaaalright!That about wraps things up for our free-for-all!” Mr. Grandstand shouted through a bullhorn towards the roof. The device did an excellent job of amplifying his scratchy voice. “Alright then you crazy kill-freaks, come on down for the fiiiiiiinal battle! And to everyone else still alive that participated, good job on not getting killed and see ya next year!”

And so our heroes size up their rivals for the final prize of the Freebooter's Fighting League Tournament. They can only wonder what sort of freakish powers and incredible fighting styles these assassins without equal possess.

Who will they be matched with? What terrifying depths do Illusion Grande's powers reach? Why is Interrobang's last name Updog? At least one of these questions will be answered in Densetsu no Batoru Episode 5: Legendary Breasts?..

Part 5: Legendary Terror!

Freebooter's Stadium was the largest building on Barbados station. It was made of rusty metal that looked ages old, shaped into a human skull with exaggerated fangs. The jaws gaped, inviting in the throng of spectators, many of them survivors of the preliminaries, while high above them the empty sockets illuminated the dark of the station with a pair of spotlights. Lynne, Ifrita, Serval, Reno and the other warriors who had qualified for a spot on the tournament brackets were allowed access through a side entrance, away from the pressing horde.

They walked down a long, dark hallway. Illusion Grande was ahead of the group, his purple hair flowing behind him as he wore a satisfied smirk. Smorc, the massive green brute, cracked its knuckled, rolled its neck and spent precious little time not flexing its oversized bulk. Arsenal Ark was engaged in an argument over brands of bras with Hello Hello, the latter not raising her voice once or looking up from her compact mirror.

“Tch. What do you know about support anyways? You're just a robot.” Arsenal Ark crossed her arms and though it was hard to tell because of the shiny black visor, gave the fembot an icy glare.

“I know more than some organic whose ego is bigger than her chest is. You're as flat as a board.” Hello Hello's reply was nonchalant as she applied a coat of red lipstick.

Arsenal Ark crossed her arms and grumbled under her breath. “Well the hormone therapy didn't help as much with my body as it did with other things.” She drummed her white gloved fingers against the sleeves of her suit. Upon hearing that, Hello Hello reached out to give the helmeted assassin a hug around the shoulders while her other hand was busy using the compact to get a better angle on her face.

“Yeah yeah, I know it's just teasing.” Ark grumbled and gave the wide-hipped fembot a bump and Hello Hello subtly returned it.

Meanwhile, Ifrita was heading the pack that she and her friends made up. Serval stuck close to Ifrita and Lynne walked behind Reno, her eyes glued to the floor. Reno looked over her shoulder to check on Lynne. Her thick, exposed neck joints buzzed loudly and she clacked her heavy steel jaws in silent contemplation.

“Oi, fireball. Yeh been quiet ever since th' fight in th' tower. S'not like ya ta not be bouncin' off the walls.”

Lynne shrugged her shoulders quietly and didn't lift her gaze. “Uh. Yeah. I dunno, I just feel nervous. Like we haven't been fighting a lot, you know? I'm still developing my martial arts programming and I haven't unlocked enough potential in my body. The old fighting programs were designed to utilize every ounce of power and speed I have. And... I've been thinking about that pain that Illusion Grande can make me feel.” She shuddered and clutched her arms tightly to herself. “It was unreal. The most negative experience I can imagine, and he barely touched me.”

“Hmph.” Ifrita grunted. Her long, red tail swayed as she butt in with an opinion. “If you are too cowardly to face Grande then I will do so. I am not afraid of this... this pain feeling. He will pay for trying to interfere with our mission.” Reno shook her head and Serval clamped her jaws shut, too timid to speak her mind on the subject. Besides, she couldn't bring herself to speak against Ifrita after saving her from being scrapped.

“I'm not afraid! I'm ready! I am!” Lynne clenched her hands fought back a shiver caused by her bravado conflicting with how she really felt. Ifrita's response was to narrow her eyes and look back towards the end of the hall.

The eight warriors stepped out into the arena floor. Unlike the outside of the arena, the interior was made up of obsidian steel, polished to perfection. The ground, the bleachers and even the flat, open ring shone. Far above the arena the ceiling was open to the rest of the station. The stands were filled with rowdy, shouting fight fans and the atmosphere of the stadium was electrified with excitement. The fizzing whoooosh of a small thruster could be heard high above, and from the hole in the ceiling flew in Mr. Grandstand with a junky-looking jetpack strapped to his rotund back.

“Alllllriiiiight! A group of cuh-RAZY animals like these eight psychos REALLY ought to be put somewhere dark and quiet for the rest of their lives but lucky for you, viewers in the stands and at home...” He turned to give one of the cameras broadcasting the fight a toothy grin. “...The Great Lich Queen Nosferatu herself has seen fit to unleash these bloodthirsty degenerates upon one another! For glory! For money! For the thrill of killing people on live Galaxy TV! Whatever gets them off about this, we're gonna have front row seats so you better have your splatter shields ready!”

The crowd violently cheered and yelled to the girls and assassins. Illusion Grande flourished his hands as he bowed deeply. When he stood back up he gestured to the fans. “You disgusting neanderthals are truly blessed amongst your wretched kind. It is rare for a war model with my kind of power to make a public spectacle of himself.” The crowd stopped cheering.

“Oi! Dis asshole sucks!” The rest of the crowd sided with the random heckler and shouted obscenities at Grande.

“Insolence...” Illusion Grande lifted a single finger and pointed towards the crowd. He gave them a look of contempt and a moment later a part of the stands erupted with an explosion. People cried out in pain as they were sent flying by the blast.

Lynne grit her teeth and assumed a fighting stance. “That bastard! I'm going to-” Before she could finish that thought, Ifrita placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Lynne, we have come too far for you to throw it away by being hasty. Save yourself for the arena.”

Lynne looked to Ifrita's calm gaze and lowered her trembling hands. She was thankful that she didn't have to admit she was too scared to attack him anyway.

“D-d-d-damn, folks! Looks like you'd best not piss off the handsome guy with the purple hair!” Mr. Grandstand seemed unfazed by the display of power. “Now if I'll have the short amount of attention you can spend on things not related to killing and/or being killed to look up here at the tournament brackets we can get started on sorting out who you'll all be fighting!”

Hovering behind Mr. Grandstand was a massive monitor. It flickered on with a loud buzz and showed off how the fighters would be paired off the in the quarterfinals. On the monitor was displayed...

Lynne VS Hello Hello Illusion Grande VS Smorc the Facehunter Reno VS Arsenal Ark Ifrita VS Serval

The massive green monster that was Smorc stomped casually over to Illusion Grande and snorted down at him. It shook its shaggy gray mane and narrowed its scarred eyes at the war model. “You face pretty... pretty bad! Smorc want tear face apart! SMASH FACE!” Grande didn't even acknowledge the massive beast's existence as he walked past it and towards the waiting area set aside for the fighters.

Serval, meanwhile, seemed to be having a bit of a breakdown. She stared up at the tournament pairings, her optical pupils shriveled into tiny dark points. “I... I have to fight Ifrita? But she's gonna kick my furry synthetic buuuutt!” She mewled helplessly and sunk to her knees, and her big kitty ears splayed out in a display of hopeless kitten-ness.

Ifrita rolled her eyes. She looked down at the mewling, wailing waif-bot and crossed her arms. Her processor ran through a dozen ways to resolve this situation but every response she could think of simply annoyed her. “I don't have time for bawling weaklings.” Serval looked up at the tall, somewhat reptilian woman and fumbled through her shock and tears to try and respond but Ifrita just stormed off.

The crowd was getting restless. Chants that demanded the finalists fight started to echo across the stands. Not even the blast Illusion Grande had caused earlier dampened the mood of the excited crowd. Mr. Grandstand hovered over the ring and gestured towards the brackets. “Allriiiiight! Let's get this trainwreck rolling down the tracks! Up first is....” He paused, for dramatic tension.

“Reno Updog versus Arsenal Aaaaaark!”

The crowd began to cheer loudly. Reno nodded to her friends and gave them a thumbs up. Lynne walked up to her and gave her hard, chrome shoulder a thump. “Go get 'em Reno! Show this two bit mercenary what you can do!”

Reno couldn't help but grin. She reached down and ruffled Lynne's bright red hair. “Oi, ya don't gotta worry about me, fireball.” With that, she headed towards the ring, which was a shiny black plate with grid lines cut into it. Waiting for her, was Arsenal Ark.

Arsenal Ark rolled her neck and cracked her knuckles. “Reno, huh? I heard you were modified from a mobile military platform.” The helmeted woman took a few steps back as Reno entered the ring. “Considering that an MMP is a pair of walking legs with armaments attached to it, VERY heavily modified.”

Reno laughed and slammed her steel gauntleted hands together. “That's quite true. My husband is quite a pervert an' loves big guns. So's 'e made himself a big woman that packs a lot of heat.”

Arsenal Ark crouched a bit, watching her opponent's movements and waiting to spring like a coil at the word go. “Your man's got good taste. I'll try not to break anything vital.”

“Yeh an' I'll try not ta smudge up yer pretty suit.” Reno didn't move, save to point her arms at Arsenal Ark. She too, waited to be told to fight, while high above them Mr. Grandstand bellowed out the rules.

“Alright, so before we get to the first fight, I'll go over the terms of engagement! That's 'rules' to those of you kill-freaks that don't got so much brain matter. Now, you lose if you die, pass out, give up, or your body touches anything from outside of the ring! Other than that, go nuts! Fight dirty, use weapons, do what it takes! And with that, let's get this crazy bloodbath staaaaarteeeed!”

The sounds of airhorns blasting at the start of the match almost overpowered the sounds of the roaring crowd. Reno's arms unfolded, panels clattering as they whirred aside and her twin gatling guns deployed. A storm of bullets fired at Arsenal Ark, who responded by launching herself into the air, her helmet catching the light as she soared overhead.

“Firestorm heavy assault rifle, kinetic shot!” As Arsenal Ark called out the name of the weapon, she snapped her fingers and in a flash of light it was in her hands. She started to fall down towards Reno, opening fire against her. Bullets pinged off of her chest plating and face, leaving scratches in her busty chassis. Reno responded by readjusting her gatling gun's angle and fired up at Arsenal Ark as she fell.

The assassin twisted her body through the bullet storm and the shells never quite seemed to manage to nick her. “Wiry little bitch!” Reno's chest opened with an emission of steam, her breasts swinging outwards to reveal a large red rocket with a twisted, grinning steel shark face built into the front. “Lemme see ya dodge a missile!”

The missile streaked out of Reno's chest and the metallic shark jaws chomped viciously as it streaked towards Arsenal Ark. “Not good enough!” Arsenal Arm spiraled into a sweeping kick as she fell towards the missile. Her heel slammed into the side of the biting shark face and with a feral yelp the missile was sent flying back at Reno end over end. Arsenal Ark landed in a crouch just as the missile struck home.

The blast knocked Reno backwards and well lout of the ring. Her chest was sparking, caved in by the explosion. Several panels busted and showing scorched components inside. Steam rose from her arms as she laid outside the ring and the airhorns sounded off again.

“And Arsenal Ark is our winner! In a stunning display of acrobatic assassination she managed to take Reno out WITH HER OWN MISSILE!” The crowd, naturally, went wild while Lynne and Serval rushed up to help Reno to sit up.

“Hey, you okay?” Lynne helped to try and get a few of the broken panels back into place while Servalk fretted over wiring that had been damaged or knocked loose.

“Ahm fine, ahm fine.” Reno rubbed the side of her head as she grumbled to herself. “Coulda been worse, all this damage can be handled by th' supplies on th' ship.”

Serval nodded happily and gently hugged herself against the big chrome machine woman. “Good! It'd... you know. It'd be bad if we lost you!” She pouted at Reno and her big furry ears splayed.

Mr. Grandstand cut off the conversation by once again bellowing into his megaphone. “And now for the next fight! Can we get Smorc and Illusion Grande to the stage? These animals wanna see some bloodshed and mayhem!”

Illusion Grande walked into the ring while the crowd threw a cacophony of boos and jeers at him. “Stupid animals. You beat them and beat them and still they refuse to learn.” He looked back to the crowd and raised his hand again. When the crowd saw that the booing quickly died down to a murmur.

Smorc followed after him and glared at Illusion with red, baleful eyes. “YOU! Bad man always hurting people! Smorc gonna smash tiny bad man! Make his pretty face ugliest in the system!”

Illusion yawned loudly as he stared at the giant green beast. “More beast-gibberish. Barely even worth paying attention to.”

Smorc snarled. “Smorc MAKE you listen! Smorc make you PAY!” Before the start of the fight was even called it started to rush at Illusion, its massive hands gripping the arena floor to help propel it forward in a gorilla rush. Illusion watched it approach calmly, and once it was in striking distance, Smorc swung its tree trunk sized arm in a massive punch.

However, the punch seemed to strike nothing but thin air. Illusion had moved with such speed that he just seemed to blink into existence under Smorc's over-extended arm. Illusion strock the back of Smor's elbow with an open palm, and the beats howled out as his arm wrenched the wrong way with a harsh snap.

“I've fought in hundreds of battles and not once has a slathering animal or worthless machine managed to despoil my perfect beauty with their putrid hands.” Balling his hand into a fist, he stepped into a punch that slammed into Smorc's chest. A flash of purple light erupted out of Smorc's back from the impact, and everyone watching gasped in horror at the clean, circular chunk that had been blown through the beast's body.

“As worthless as any other vermin.” Illusion steps away from the giant corpse as it slumps to its knees, and them onto its side.

Lynne and the other girls simply couldn't believe what they'd witnessed. Lynne felt keen fear rising up inside of her once more, and she trembled. Despite herself, she found her feet moving herself away from the ring, her arms clutched to herself as the pain she felt earlier replayed in her memories, and the display of power ran through her processors over and over.

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Meanwhile, back at Alpha Complex...

Professor Agni hissed and flicked his tongue as his scaled fingers worked quickly over a keyboard. Jotun would only be momentarily distracted and he had to work quickly while he still had time alone in Jotun's office. “There! The logssssss of who accessed the combat data for our project. Why would Jotun go through sssso much trouble to hide thessssse?” He accessed the files, and the displays on the screen changed to show who had accessed the files and when.

Just then, however, the doors to the office clicked open. Agni looked up to see Jotun leveling an ice pistol at him. “Agni. You shouldn't be here in my office.”

“Sssssilence, you traitor! It wassss you! You deleted the androids' combat data!” Agni bared the fangs in his long muzzle.

“You're wrong. I didn't delete them. I stole them.” Agni tried to speak, but a flash of blue gas fired from the gun. It washed over Agni and his scaley body rapidly froze.

“You'll never get away with thiss-” Agni's hiss was cut off as his face was frozen over, his body now inert and stiff. Once he was totally frozen over, Jotun pulled a communication device from his pocked and spoke into it. As he did, his icy blue eyes slowly hazed over into a green tinge. “Master Genesis. Agni has been taken care of. The combat programming and this facility are now yours. It was far too easy convincing the defense forces to spend their whole budget on just three androids... and even easier to secure the combat programming to add to your already immense power.”

As he spoke, he walked over to one of the walls and hit a hidden switch. The walls parted slowly, revealing in three glass tubes the forms of Lynne, Ifrita and Serval. Their eyes opened and a neon green glow emanated from their pupils.

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