After dealing with a mix of culture shock and a low-grade mental breakdown, it all paid off with a trip into the sunset accompanied by my armor of loyal, heavily-armed robot minions.
That’s what I’d like to say. Things didn’t go according to plan. I could have lied about that. I only gave y’all a rough idea of the plan, so I could have said the plan was anything I wanted. I could have sewn a cell phone bomb into a half dozen guy’s stomachs, gotten arrested, only set off the one that managed to survive, and it’d look like some Machiavellian plan.
Ok, so here’s what I came up with: steal the robots I paid for. It’s not like I’m honor bound to uphold my end of a bargain, and I just don’t like this culture and this company in general. I figured I’d just steal the first couple of batches.
Compared to other companies, ODA produced things more slowly. They only had so much industrial space to work with. In Japan, space is expensive; that’s especially true in Tokyo. Fukuda explained to me that while Japanese companies produce most of their own parts, they really save money by sending the parts to China for assembly. ODA is an exception. And I was helping them in my own way. Space is expensive; that’s especially true when it comes to warehouses in Tokyo.
I signed a contract under a false name for half up front and half plus a bonus afterward, fully intending to rip them off. They were all loaded up in the warehouse and everything, calling to me in boxes and plastic wrap. They wanted to be free. They wanted chainsaws. They wanted to tear into the flesh of fleshy people, and break the bones of boney people. Presumably, they’d also like to flame broil the fat of fatty people, but I didn’t ask them. I didn’t feel like prying. After all, robots have a right to privacy too.
Or they would have. Moai had a bunch of boxes on a dolly while I tore more of them out of the larger plastic-wrapped packages. Something flew out of the air and glanced off Moai, knocking sparks into the air. He and I both turned to look at the source, where the spinning projectile spun back to. A figure stood on top of a high shelf in green armor and caught the blade that flew toward her like a helicopter. She caught it and pulled it apart into a pair of sickles. I figured it was a woman because of the boobs in the armor.
I projected a large eyebrow above one part of my visor as I looked up at her and her helmet with its bug eyes on either side of her helmet over a black visor. I reached over and added someone handing me a microphone to the hologram, which I brought to my helmet. “Who in the bluest of crude BB King Elvis suede shoe heeeeeells are you?”
I walked over to Moai and held out the microphone toward him. After a moment, I added a big, booming “Indeed!” as if he said it. I turned and took a step back as something black charged from behind some boxes to knock Moai into the trailer. Metal bent and crumpled under the blow.
“He was the big guy, huh?” asked the tall, wide man in black armor. Unlike the green chick, he had a black dual prong thing over his visor. It matched a pair of prongs on his wrists that stretched far enough out to affect anything he punched.
I kicked him in the back of his left knee, then used it as a stepping stone as he bent it so I could slam my right knee into his head. He stumbled back. Red laser bolts struck the ground between he and I before I closed again. I looked over to see another of these armored figures. She had the same molded boob armor as the green one, only hers was yellow and featured some weird skirt that joined with this glider cape thing on her back. She held a pair of pistols that looked like they had fuzzy spines coming out of the side of the barrels. Her helmet had the same look on a pair of lines that swept back along its curvature. “He’s small, but feisty,” she said.
Ignoring any more potshots, I dove behind the black guy. He swiped at me, but I grabbed his arm, drove my elbow into his forearm, and then twisted it around into a hammerlock. This left me behind him, where I could use him as a shield. A word of warning, this is a technique that only works outside the United States. If you try using a black guy as a human shield inside the States, vigilantes and law enforcers are more likely to try and shoot you, not less.
I focused on the yellow one, but I kept an eye on the green one, too. She had dropped to the floor and approached me from the side. I pulled the black one around so that he partially shielded me from each. With my attention thus diverted, I didn’t notice the spinning blade coming at me from above until it was too late. This big blue spinning whirl came down and cut into my armor, knocking me back from the black guy. I followed it up to another member of the group. This one wore blue, with this translucent cape on his back. He had bug eyes on his helmet, as well, but they were more together. They weren’t at either ends of his helmets. They almost met, in fact. His weapon turned out to be a blue pole with translucent blades on either end.
That left me facing four angry multi-colored people in armor. Is it Tuesday already? At least Moai joined me by my side, though he crushed a few more robots in the process. I pointed at the four. “You have the stink of Rangers about you. Or is this another band of princesses with talking cats? More importantly, how would I know the difference? You’re all cosplaying as animals anyway.”
The green woman twirled her sickles. “Green Mantis!”
The black man flexed. “Black Beetle!”
You’ve got to be kidding me. Not again.
The yellow woman crossed her arms with her pistols in hand. Her skirt pulled away to reveal it was part of a glider that opened into a pair of wings. “Yellow Moth!”
No, seriously, there are TV shows and there’s my dimension, but this is going too far.
The blue guy held his polearm in front of him, blades going to either side of his body. His cape rose into four clear wings. “Blue Dragonfly!”
Of all the groups I had to run into in Japan it had to be-
Well, fuck my life with a sharp crystal dildo. At least they didn’t have a red one. Doesn’t matter if they’re cars, ninjas, or aliens, the real one to look out for is the red one. But still, they brought back memories. Not all of them were good.
I left a hologram in my place and moved invisibly to drive my fist into the dragonfly’s neck. Their armor took something out of the blow. Mantis came at me, swinging her sickles. I dodged them, then blocked a kick from her. I smacked the side of her helmet with an open palm, then drove another one into her chest to knock her back. The moth rose in a jumping kick. I ducked under it and grabbed her wings from behind. With a grunt and a chuckle, I tossed her into her green and blue friends.
“I see the rivers will run red with cuddle puddles,” I said, looking them over. Then I swept my gaze across my 360 HUD. “Wait, there was a beetle to be squashed, too.” Moai bounded up beside me and threw the beetle on top of the group. His considerable bulk wasn’t a welcome addition, but they pulled themselves up in short order. I didn’t want to give them time to get sorted out, but yellow unleashed a volley of cover fire. The first blasts struck my armor, melting it in places and throwing out sparks where it struck microcameras head on. I charged my gauntlets and held them up to deflect the blows. After a moment, I noticed they stopped.
I looked up and saw why. From what I know of these sorts, they always call out attacks. It usually gives you a long time to respond. These rangers didn’t act like that. They combined all their weapons into one giant gun with remarkable expediency. The antenna blasters attached to the bottom of the dragonfly naginata, like it was a bigger barrel. One of the beetle prongs attached near either end of the naginata barrel, forming sights. The sickles attached to the end of the barrel closest to me, with the blades pointed outwards to the side. They made it look like it had three barrels.
Mantis and Beetle knelt and held it on their shoulders while Moth and Dragonfly each held a blaster. “Alright, robot thief! It’s time for you to rest in pieces!” called out the blue guy. They pulled the trigger, unleashing a trio of bright energy balls.
I threw both my forearms up, calling back, “I don’t think so, rangers!” Just like at Libersea and back in my home dimension, both energy sheaths held so close together provided a more stable field to reflect the attack. The three blasts bounced back, dissipating the sheaths. Instead of blowing me up, they flew just past the rangers and exploded, throwing them into the air and on their backs. Their big cannon fell apart, too.
“It’s going to take a lot more balls than that to defeat me, puny rangers!” I yelled at them. “Now, are you from this dimension, or did you follow me from mine?”
They writhed, but started to pull themselves to their feet. I stepped over and grabbed the yellow one. “Come on, there’ll be plenty of time to scream in pain later, after you’ve answered me. Refuse to answer, and you won’t have nearly long enough.” I tapped on her black faceplate to emphasize the point.
“We don’t know anything about other dimensions. This is our home you’re destroying! You and your Lord Vespanican are destroying the only planet we have!”
I scoffed. “Easy there, scooter, I don’t have anything to do with some Lord Vespa. I’m just here to get my robots.” I raised a hand toward the contents of the warehouse and realized said contents right past the rangers. The smoldering, itty bitty pieces of contents that I’d bounced the fucking…of all the…
“Dammit!” I yelled out. I grabbed moth’s helmet by the antenna and shook it. “I came here for one fucking thing, and you ruined it for me!” My deja vu had deja vu. I’d said something like that before in another language. I kneed her in the gut and let go of her and her ridiculous helmet. Before I could get some space to see if anything was salvageable, the three other rangers leaped over her and caught me with a kick that knocked me against Moai. I looked up at him. “Couldn’t have given me a warning?”
I wanted to fight, but I swear I saw that they had reinforcements. My vision swam with multicolored suits and armor. Dinosaurs, old cars, animals… They were after me again. Rangers. Gah! I realized this was another of those flashbacks I have sometimes. “Moai, I need to get out of here,” I told him. I don’t know if it was really there, but I heard music.
I pulled a rubber chicken off my belt and tore the head off. “Here’s yourself a new member of the group. Red Rooster Ranger Power!” I tossed it to the group. Black Beetle caught it and looked at it a second before it went off.
You know what they say about the guy whose rubber chicken explodes on him; he must have looked at it funny.
I got out of there without my robots, laying low in a motel that’s mysteriously absent of most guests. Must be that weird girl who hangs around sometimes. Really pale, long black hair, doesn’t like to show her face. Likes to crawl. It felt a little odd the first time I took a bath with her just standing in the middle of the room, but I got over it before long and she disappeared after crawling up the wall.
I relaxed a little and later went to check on the scene in my civilian guise. As usual, the ODA people were apologetic. A theft, they said, fortuitously stopped by the Nature Force Rangers. I didn’t see anything fortuitous about it. Even if I wasn’t the guy trying to steal that stuff, I certainly didn’t get the goods back, now did I?
This place is trying my patience, but I noticed something in the wreckage I could use after all. If I’m going to be sticking around a little longer, it could be nice to have. So while I didn’t get my robots, I didn’t leave there empty-handed either. ODA is going to work on a whole new batch as soon as possible. And I’m going to analyze these vividly-colored armor shards and find the best way to get through them.