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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, '08, 6:13 am
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Part Four: Hack and Slash

(Governor Hope's mansion, High District of Paseo)

Through the corridors and rooms adjoining the office of Governor Jonathan Hope, several voices could be heard, crying out in protest and denial at some unknown outrage. The various maids, servants, and androids working in the mansion, despite being able to clearly hear the laments coming from the office, did nothing to placate them, or even to investigate.

They had heard them repeatedly over the course of the past few years- as the governor explained, it was a simple radio drama based on a television series- "Starring most of the original cast! ^_^" he was quick to add.

Sighing as he leaned back in his easy chair, Hope listened as an electric violin blared from the radio, followed by a male voice announcing, "Time Gal: Nightplanet, Part Five was written by Howard Rossman, and directed by Richard Bloom. It starred Nicole Carson as the Fourth Professor Luna, Karen Milene as the Fifth Professor Luna, Morris Wall-"

Knock knock knock. The knocking at his door drowned out the radio broadcast. Hope turned the radio off, then called to the door, "Yes?"

"Governor Hope, there's a small group to see you," a female voice replied back. "They say it's important."

"How important could it be?" Hope replied. "I'm busy enough trying to get enough vaporators and desalination plants running, and I'm trying to get that spaceport in Uzo finished by the end of the decade. Sophia City's facing an imminent disaster with that poison gas surrounding it, Oputa's nothing more than a collection of Quonset huts and a public toilet in its town square, and that new colony... what was its name? Pizza?"

"Piata, Sir."

"Piata, yes. They're already demanding that we build a spaceport there, too! Four houses and a road in the middle of nowhere, and they want a spaceport... I'm doing my best to get everyone on Motavia enough food and water to live, but... everyone just wants these luxuries! Sometimes I think it's just for the best if I just tell LaShiec, 'It's YOUR mess now, Pal!'"

The door flew open. A blue-haired woman in a business suit approached the governor, her eyes narrowed in anger, as she told him, "Sir, don't say that! You know he'll just crush this planet just like he's crushing Palma!"

"I know, Athena, I know," Hope replied. "It's just... It's hard, trying to figure out what's best for Motavia. If I just decide arbitrarily, I'll just turn into another LaShiec."

"See? You already know that's what Motavia doesn't need right now," Athena said, the anger leaving her face as she smiled. "Again, I apologize for bothering you, Governor, but your visitors are still waiting. They brought the password."

"The password?" Hope asked, confused. "I have a password?"

From the other side of his door, a pale hand reached into view, balancing a small plate. Sitting on the plate was a slice of yellow cake, decorated with whipped cream and a fresh strawberry. A sly masculine voice whispered, "Hold it higher, Lutz! I don't think he can see it!"

"I'm holding it as high as I can..."

Hope chuckled, recognizing the two voices. "Ah. I suppose I can accomodate my visitors for a few minutes, then," he told Athena. "Send them in, please... and collect the password."

"As you wish, Sir."

Athena walked to the threshold of the office, retrieved the plate from Lutz's hand, then set it on the desk in front of the governor. "Shall I send them in now, or in two minutes?"

"Now would be fine, Athena," Hope said, eyeing the shortcake. "Thank you."

"You're quite welcome, Governor," Athena replied. She headed out of the office, then spoke to Lutz for a second, pointing him towards the office. Once she left, the other door opened, revealing Lutz, Tairon, and Myau.

"Hope, forgive me for saying so," Tairon said, "But you need a better security system than me bribing the secretary!"

"Don't you know how expensive shortcake is these days?!" Myau added.

"Forgive me, gentlemen, but it's necessary in these times." Hope blinked, then looked at the group of three. "Miss Landale isn't with you. Has something happened to her?"

"Err..." Tairon and Lutz looked at each other uneasily, before Lutz replied, "You could say that, Governor. When we fought LaShiec, he-"

"He brainwashed Alisa, and now she's his queen!" Myau blurted out. Tairon groaned and slapped the palm of his hand to his forehead, wincing, as Lutz sweatdropped.

"What?!" Hope replied, surprised. "When did this happen!? Why wasn't I told?!"

"We fought LaShiec two days ago," Lutz said. "The announcement was made yesterday over every television channel on Palma..."

"And nobody saw fit to tell me?! How am I supposed to know what's going on when nobody tells me what's happening on Palma and Dezolis?!"

Maybe if you weren't stuffing your face full of shortcake, Tairon thought.

"And there's more, Governor," Lutz added before Myau could voice Tairon's thought. "We suspect your life might be in danger."

"Danger? How so?"

"Dammit, man! Put two and two together!" Myau said, leaping onto Hope's desk. His hairs bristled beneath his blanket as he continued, "LaShiec has robots! Alisa knows you hate LaShiec! LaShiec has Alisa, probably in more ways than one! LaShiec knows Alisa knows you hate LaShiec! LaShiec sends some robots! You have a robot problem! Honestly, how dense can some Palmans be?!"

"That... that'll do, Myau," Tairon replied, stunned. "Thanks, I think."

"Not a problem!"

Hope scratched his chin, his brow burrowing in thought. "I see," he said after a while. "This is serious news, then. If they intend to take care of me, then... ANDROcops. More than likely, that's what LaShiec will send."

"Probably. I don't know if your own guards will be able to handle them," Tairon replied. "You should probably hide, Hope."

"Nonsense." Hope sighed, then looked Tairon in the eyes. "If I run from LaShiec's robots, then that just opens the gates to his rule. He'll start imposing his rules, sending more robots, building more prisons... No, Tairon. I can't, and won't, condone that."

"Very brave. But what do you plan on doing?"

"Tairon, I have an idea," Lutz said suddenly. "If I'm right, it should get you out of harm's way for now..."

-=-=-

The town of Eppi, hidden deep within its namesake forest, was at ease. One of the hubs of the rebellion against LaShiec, the villagers had, several months ago, helped Alisa out by getting her in contact with Governor Hope. They had told her of Doctor Luveno, and the skeleton key Hasim, the village's leader, had hidden in Camineet. Their information had also led her to the Espers of Motavia, where she had met Lutz and Tajima.

They were about to be repaid for their kindness and aid.

There was no warning, no signs of trouble-the robots had descended upon the village like a swarm of locusts, support fighters close behind them, swooping in for the kill.

Shots rang out, swords sung as they struck against the POLEZIs sent to take care of the forest village. Up above, lasers flickered to life and bombs were dropped, as the robots, shouting battle cries and demands to surrender, went for their laser rifles.

The smoke from the village could be seen from Camineet.

"Mama! Mama!" A purple-haired woman, sitting on the roof of her house, called down to her mother. "Something's going on in Eppi Forest!"

"What? What are you talking about, Rainy?" Suelo asked, peeking her head out a window. "Oh, my God... Arturo! Cutruss! Come to the window!"

"What's wrong? Suelo, is everything okay?" Rainy heard her father asking.

"Did Rainy electrocute herself getting us free HD again?!" Cutruss asked. There was a dull thud from inside the house, then the two men joined Suelo at the window.

"Why's the forest burning?" Arturo asked. "Campers?"

"No... look at those red dots," Cutruss replied. "See those? They're fighters. I think there's some criminals in the woods."

"But that many fighters?" Suelo wondered. "They have to be against LaShiec... Oh, no. One of them's starting to turn around."

Rainy glanced at the horizon, her green eyes widening as she saw one of the red dots starting to turn towards Camineet. Three more of the fighters descended into the massive column of smoke pouring from Eppi. She heard her mother say, "Rainy, everyone. You know that abandoned warehouse at the outskirts of town?"

"Of course. Comin' down, Mama!"

Rainy grabbed the edge of the house, then swung herself inside through the window, nearly knocking her brother down. "I'm there a few days a week, scavenging spare parts. What's up?"

"Arturo, get Janey," Suelo said. "Meet me at the warehouse in twenty minutes. Cutruss, Rainy, get the emergency kit from the basement, and all the insta ramen. I'll get as much of the canned stuff as I can- we'll have to hide out there for a while..."

-=-=-

Two hours later, at the Castle in the Sky, LaShiec and Alisa smiled as one of their robots described the details of the raid on Eppi. "Hundreds dead, Majesties," it said, its voice emotionless, "And hundreds more captured. Some fled, but my subordinates are hunting them as we speak."

"Excellent work, Commander!" LaShiec said. "We'll put in a good word for you at R&D to have your combat AI upgraded!"

"AI upgrade? You mean..."

"That's right, robot," Alisa interrupted. "You'll be a captain with a day or two."

"Oh, I'm so happy! I can finally get that loose wire in my left calf repaired!" If it was capable of expressing emotion, the POLEZI would have been beaming with pride and waterfall tears.

"We'll see to that as well, Commander. Dismissed!"

Once the robot left the throne room, LaShiec turned to Alisa, hints of smiles on their faces. "Well, Alisa, my love, you provided us quite the catch. The rebels are hamstrung."

"As they deserve to be, Reipard," Alisa sighed, settling in LaShiec's arms. She smiled slightly as his arms tightened around her body.

"Now, the big question, Alisa... what should we do with the captives?"

"Hrrm... very good question, my love." Alisa looked into LaShiec's eyes for a few seconds, then said, "Have the robots interrogate them as to other rebels. When we're finished with the rabble..." Her lips suddenly pulled into a seductive smile as she whispered, "Have them executed, Reipard. Publicly. Run their blood into the sewers of Algo with the rest of the trash, and throw the bodies into Kueri."

"You know, Alisa, that's a very good idea," LaShiec said. Starting at her chin, LaShiec traced a line up Alisa's cheek with his finger, stopping at the corner of her mouth. "But, that seems a bit... wasteful, don't you think?"

"The rebels are waste."

"True, Alisa dearest, that is true..." He smiled, then tapped Alisa's lips with his finger. "Yes. Let's have them killed. But... I have another idea. One I think will satisfy you, Alisa, my dear."

"Oh?" Alisa asked, amused. "What did you have in mind?"

"You shall see, Alisa..." Taking an arm from around Alisa, LaShiec pressed a button on his throne's armrest. There was a short beep, then LaShiec said, "Send him in."

Seconds passed, and a tall man entered the throne room. A gas mask was strapped to his face, and a tattered and stained lab coat clung loosely to him as he strode towards the throne.

"Yeeeeeeeeeeees, Your Majesty?!" he asked, his voice a high-pitched wild shriek. "How can my eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil research benefit you-" Immediately, he stopped dead in his tracks as he saw Alisa, sitting in LaShiec's lap. Pointing at her, he screamed, "You! I've seen you before!"

"I've seen you before!" Alisa replied, leaping from LaShiec's lap. Fiercely drawing her sword, she demanded, "How did you survive!?"

"Aaah, you thought you killed me climbing Baya Mahlay, but!" He coughed terribly, and the man was heard hocking up bile and phlegm beneath his mask. He swallowed the mess with an effort, then continued, "You failed to take into account my auto-resuscitation vest! It restarted my heart and kickstarted my brain after you stabbed me, girlie!"

Alisa took a step towards the man. "Watch who you call 'girlie,' scum," she said, her voice firm.

"I think you need a taste of..." He moved his coat back, revealing a belt buckle covered in circuit boards and freezer tape. "My newest innovation! The PoCkEt RoCkEt Mark Triple-I! (He pronounced it "Triple I.") Prepare to get blown to bits by my technological genius!"

"Doctor, that is enough!" LaShiec rose from his throne, his staff already in his hand. "Alisa, my dear, I take it you and the good Doctor Mad have already been aquainted?"

"We have," Alisa spat, staring down the doctor. "Twice."

"She ruined my experimentations on Musk Cats, and then she raided my Baya Mahlay workshop!" Doctor Mad protested. "Hours of work, down the drain because Little Miss Girly She-Warrior felt like going on a killing spree!"

"I said 'Enough,' Doctor," LaShiec grumbled. "Doctor Mad, please, show some respect for your queen."

"What the F?! Your queen, Kingie?!"

"Mm-hmm." Alisa sheathed her Laconia sword, then crossed her arms and smirked at the Doctor. "Which means you do what Reipard or I tell you to do."

"Well, craps." He coughed again, then asked, "So, LaShiec, what can Mad do for you? Got any Musk Cats you want experimentationed on? Toaster constantly burning your bride's toast? TV antenna need a bit of tin foil?"

"Well, Doctor, it's about a couple hundred visitors we're gonna have from Eppi Forest," LaShiec said.

"Prisoners?! Why, LaShiec, Kingie, have I got the thing for you!" Grininng beneath his mask, Doctor Mad pulled a haphazardly wired remote control from his pants pocket, then said, "This little sucker I call the Super Killer! Just push this button, and it injects potent truth serum into your prisoner! When you're done interrogating them, you've got this button-" He pointed at a button marked "LAME," saying, "Which sets 'em free. Boooooor-ing! So, I've got the FUN button!"

Doctor Mad pointed at a third button on the remote, simply marked ">=D". The doctor explained, "Just push this button, and ten seconds later, your prisoner's brain explodes like an overripe watermelon! Get a maid to clean it all up, and I'll have it experimented on and converted to fully automatic in no time!"

Alisa sweatdropped, and LaShiec asked, "Doctor, two questions. First, what the hell are you talking about?! Second, no, I don't think that's what I need. How much do you know about the robot cops?"

"Ah, the POLEZI and ANDROcop models!" Doctor Mad rubbed his hands. "Just give me a few hundred thousand more Meseta, and four months, and I'll have that POLEZI/DX model prototyped for you! And by 'four months' I mean 'one day to slap it together half-assed and the rest of the time to play Tetris!' But I'll be damned if I'm telling you two that!"

"That... won't be necessary," LaShiec continued. "How about Plan C I asked you about last year?"

"Oh, you want Plan C! Queenie, why didn't Kingie say something before?! Plan C, I can do for you! Got the tools and stuff in my lab!"

"Very good. When the prisoners arrive, I'll have them shipped to you directly."

"Faaaaaantastic!" Doctor Mad pumped his fist, then turned to leave the throne room. "I've always wanted to experimentation on people! Smell ya later!"

The doctor had left, but his stench lingered in the throne room for a few seconds. "Reipard?" Alisa asked. "What exactly is Plan C?"

"Ah, Plan C. Alisa, my love, Plan C is..." He whispered the plan to her, making sure to stress what exactly would happen to the prisoners. Once he finished, he asked, "I take it you approve, Alisa?"

"Oh, Reipard..." Alisa embraced LaShiec, then kissed him passionately. "I love you when you're so cruel to those rebel scum!"

"As they deserve to be," LaShiec replied. "After all, you're right. They deserve to be treated exactly as the trash they are."

-=-=-

"Aaaaallllll righty!" Cracking his knuckles, Doctor Mad inspected his first "patient," a dark-haired man dressed in camoflauge. "LaShiec and his new queen have special plans for you, though I wouldn't trust someone who wears the exact shade of lipstick his wife wears! Either he decided today was a great day to start wearing makeup, or he and Alisa got biiiiz-zaaaay last night!"

"Shut up," the prisoner replied.

"Oh, smile, damn you! It's your last chance, anyway!" Doctor Mad scratched his armpit, then took a jaw spreader from a tray covered in paper towels. Scratching himself with the spreader, he shoved it into the prisoner's mouth, forcing it open. "Now then! To brass tacks!" he continued. Taking a rusted, stained pizza wheel from the tray, the doctor continued, "Now, this won't hurt a bit, until I jam this down your throa... oh, why lie to you? This is gonna hurt a lot, this is gonna hurt like hell, and it's gonna hurt even worse once I start operating on you!"

Doctor Mad pulled the tray closer to him. In his free hand, he took an old power drill, setting a sharp drill bit into it. "Time for this art/military science project to get underway!" he shouted.

-=-=-

"Governor? There are four ANDROcops here to see you."

Governor Hope looked at Lutz, who was now dressed in a blue suit. "I imagine LaShiec sent them, Noah?" he asked.

"That's what they claim." Lowering his voice, he said, "Be careful, Governor. And get ready."

"Myau's under the desk," Hope replied, his voice also low. Out loud, he said, "Send them in."

Lutz nodded, then opened the door for the robots. The four marched in, one of them shouting, "Governor Hope!"

"Yes? What can I do for you?" he asked.

"Lord Reipard and Lady Alisa LaShiec have sent this squadron, Governor. They wish to know why his percentage of taxes, levied from the first of First-month to the thirtieth of Five-month, AW 342, have not arrived at the royal treasury."

Raising an eyebrow, Hope said, "Haven't arrived? That's odd, Commander. I swear I sent the letters of credit to Lord LaShiec. Certified mail."

"Lord LaShiec has received no such letter or payment. He demands to know where the sum of two million Meseta is."

"I'm telling you, I sent him his fair share," Hope protested. "Perhaps the courier stole it?"

"If that were true, we would not be having this conversation," the robot intoned. Its visor turned red as it continued, "Final warning: Where is the tax money due Lord LaShiec?"

"It's been sent, I swear to God, Commander!"

"He is obviously lying," one of the robots reported. "Voice stress has increased since the conversation began."

"Confirmed. Governor Jonathan Hope, you are now under arrest as per the authority granted me by the rulers of Algo, Reipard and Alisa LaShiec. Do you wish to go quietly?"

"I will not go quietly!" Hope shouted. "LaShiec got his money, robots! Check the royal treasury!"

"Request acknowledged. Prepare to die."

The robots raised their rifles, preparing to blast Governor Hope into infinity. Just as they started to fire, Myau leapt from behind the desk, magical energy charged around his body.

"Gi Brose!"

From behind the office doors, Tairon leapt from his hiding spot, levelling a laser rifle of his own at the robots' commander.

And Lutz tore his suit away, revealing his Frade mantle. He held his hands outward, crying out "Gi Flaeli!"

The magical energy from both spells combined immediately, starting to swell and pulse. Both Myau and Lutz shouted "Collabo Magic... EXPLOSION!" as the arcane energy gave one last surge, before erupting into a red and white sphere.

End of Part Four

What do LaShiec and Alisa plan for the prisoners of Eppi? What is Doctor Mad's Plan C? Will Suelo and her family be safe hiding in Camineet? And will there be any survivors of the Collabo Explosion?
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