Set page style to Cave Set page style to Fanfiction Set page style to Parchment
Chapter 7 Main Chapters Chapter 9

Chapter 8

Kent Slade rapidly ran his mind over the situation. He knew that Chairman Rara had made finishing Himc his top priority after Kent had proven able to pilot Himc. Funding had been lessened for the other robots, so the Isolation Weapon he was now piloting had its generators finished only recently, and the people at the base had been feverishly installing them only a few minutes ago. The chairman had kept the Isolation Weapon here, and there were other original robots he had decided to scatter around the globe, in case a situation arose where Himc could not reach the affected area in time. Today's situation proved the value of his planning.

Slade could not recall whether the Isolation Weapon was always piloted remotely or whether pilots could be placed inside it. Slade himself remained on the RaRa island battleship, piloting remotely through a global Darling Wave relay. He had never actually synchronized with its real hardware. The only way Slade had previously piloted the weapon was in simulations, and not too many of them. He was simply the best pilot available on short notice, and so had been called on to pilot the Isolation Weapon. It had no permanent pilot.

He was extremely nervous; he hoped he'd be allowed to attack soon. Sitting around in front of the enemy did not seem to be a good idea.

Chairman Rara told him, "Ms. Rah is still getting ready, so in the interim I'll have to be your battlefield commander. The Isolation Weapon is made to split up your opponents, so be sure to concentrate on that. Attack now!"

"Affirmative, Chairman," Slade acknowledged.

While they were talking, Commander Sanada was talking to his Core Robots on the field. "You need to pull back immediately!"

Mitsuki Sanada insisted, "Wait a minute, Dad! We've never fought an Isolation Weapon with grenade launchers before, let alone eight of us! This time we might be able to beat it!"

"With its shield strength?" Cmdr. Sanada asked incredulously.

Yayoi pointed out, "We're too close to flee from it in any case. It'd cut us down as we retreated."

Ms. Hayase suggested, "Perhaps we ought to concentrate our fire."

By this time Kent had received clearance to attack, and had begun to move the Isolation Weapon. It consisted of small, fast white pods, and a lumbering, mammoth gray pod. Upon Slade's command, they lifted themselves off the ground and began to levitate in the air.

Aboard the Earth Defense Force artifact carrier, Lt. Schwael directed, "Fire!" All eight Core Robots shot at one of the small white pods. There was a massive explosion, and Kent Slade yelped. The fragments of the pod fell out of the smoke from the grenades' explosions.

"What!" yelled Chairman Rara, watching on his tablet computer in a grounded airplane.

Lt. Schwael pumped her fist as she and her counterpart cried, "Yes!"

Dee chortled from inside her robot. Mitsuki Rara, from inside her Core Robot, told Ms. Hayase, "That was a good idea."

Kent Slade drew a deep breath. The destruction of part of the Isolation Weapon had caused him pain through the mysterious nature of Life Sympathy. The other pilots had mentioned that to him, but he had only experienced it before when he briefly piloted an Earth Defense Robot. What he had just felt now was far worse pain, since it was more serious damage. It was a strong incentive not to lose. Slade ordered the small pods to scatter and begin the attack proper.

Chairman Rara had images of the battle taking up most of his tablet's screen and was grilling the officer in charge of the Parisian base on a subscreen. The chairman noted grimly that subscreens weren't nearly as useful when one didn't have a wallful of screen real estate.

"You're responsible for maintaining the Isolation Weapon," Chairman Rara stated, trying to keep the anger out of his voice. He was trying to make this an objective review of what went wrong and how to prevent it in the future. "I thought we'd determined its shields would hold up against their weapons!"

The officer was nervous but spoke well. "Sir, we may've underestimated the strength of their munitions. It might also be a fault in the power generator. The generator in the subunit that was just destroyed has given us problems over the past few weeks."

Units 1 and 2 were firing wildly at the fast-moving white pods, which were executing dizzying evasive maneuvers. These pilots were relatively inexperienced. They had not even been pilots for most of this campaign, let alone the war in the other universe which Mitsuki Sanada, Mitsuki Rara, Yayoi, Ms. Hayase, and Dee had been through. The pilots from the other world, as well as the bioroid D, were executing their own evasive maneuvers to decrease the chance that the enemy could hit them.

"Don't waste your ammo," Mitsuki Sanada crossly told the green pilots. Not only were grenades too slow to catch them, she also suspected that a lone round couldn't penetrate their incredibly tough shields. The two pilots ignored her, and when one finally did manage a direct hit, there was a strange sound from the location of the hit. Concentric circles appeared in front of the pod, as though the grenade were just a rock thrown in a pond. These were visible manifestations of the shields. The pod itself was undamaged.

"That's much better!" Chairman Rara congratulated the officer.

Commander Sanada shifted glumly in his seat. Himc's shields were strong, but the Isolation Weapon had the strongest known shields of any robot. He frowned as he amended his thought: the strongest shields he knew about.

Mitsuki Sanada was just reprimanding the pilots, "Why don't you listen? Do you think I-" and then she was cut off as the Isolation Weapon struck. There was a flash from the muzzles of the small pods, and a tinny reverberating sound. Tracers flew out of the muzzles towards the group, and two of the Core Robots were knocked down.

Lt. Schwael demanded, "Damage report!"

"Minimal damage to Core Robots 1 and 2!" one officer reported. Another agreed, "All units now returning to fight!"

Akane Yamano wheeled on Commander Sanada. "We weren't hurt?"

"It's because of the purpose of the Isolation Weapon," Cmdr. Sanada explained, "its purpose is to divide and conquer. That big gray one there is going to snuff out any robot it can catch alone. The big pod is too slow to destroy anything that can move freely."

Yamano asked, "Why aren't the little pods more effective?"

"They spend too much power on shields and engines, there isn't room for a bigger gun," he told her. "I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but we might be able to take them."

"We are watching the same screen, aren't we?" Yamano asked him skeptically.

Commander Sanada grunted and watched the main screen showing the fight.

Slade moved his small pods again, fired, and managed to knock more units down. He had even managed to get some hits on the good units. Unfortunately, everyone simply got up after he knocked them down, and no one was yet vulnerable to his main unit's gun. They just moved around too much. He had been able to split their group in half, roughly, but even that was difficult. After the destruction of the first small pod, he only had two small pods left. If there had been only a handful of enemies, he could've gotten them quickly. Eight robots were simply too much for two pods to handle.

From the pink Core Robot, Mitsuki Rara said, "We have to try and get another little pod." She dodged a shot, and said, "Let's all aim at this one!"

"Fire!" Lt. Schwael said, to help them all coordinate.

"Oof!" Dee said as her robot was knocked down by a shot. Ms. Hayase was barely dodging the other pod's attack. Mitsuki Sanada was trying to take evasive maneuvers, but Unit 2 collided with her, and they both fell on the ground. Only four robots were therefore able to shoot the small pod, and Ms. Hayase attacked a second later. A series of concentric circles could be seen through the smoke, and the pod flew on unharmed.

"You tripped me with my robot!" Mitsuki Sanada grumbled at Unit 2.

Chairman Rara demanded, "Isolate our worthless opponents!"

"Sir!" was all the reply Kent could take the time for. He wanted to say that the mathematics of the situation were against him, but he knew that his future father-in-law could count. There had to be some way he could pull this off. Maybe, Kent thought, he ought to start using the big gun, even though it wasn't very useful against moving targets. Even if it didn't cause any damage, it might distract the enemy enough to give him an advantage of some sort. Injuring or disabling even one unit would give him a serious advantage at this point.

"We can't let him disable anyone or anything," Cmdr. Sanada muttered. On the lam, their spare pilots and spare parts were perilously low.

"Another pod must be disabled," Yayoi informed the group. "That would give us a significant advantage." As she spoke, she barely dodged another attack, and D was knocked down by the other small pod. Mitsuki Sanada and Unit 2 had finally managed to get up.

Kent watched as the robots refused to remain isolated, constantly darting around. There was no other choice; he fine-tuned the aiming of the main gun.

"Sir!" one of Chairman Rara's officials barked on the plane. "The rebels' artifact ship is on the move!"

"Where to?" Chairman Rara asked, when he realized suddenly that he could see exactly where it had gone to.

The main guns of the artifact carrier lanced into the gray pod of the Isolation Weapon. Concentric circles blocked the impact of its multiple blue beam weapons.

Chairman Rara gasped and ordered, "Stop piloting robot now!" Even as he spoke, he knew he was too late; the carrier fired again. On his screen flashed the message that had made him gasp: MAIN POWER GENERATORS FAILING: MECHANICAL FLAW.

The main pod of the Isolation Weapon detonated fantastically. Kent Slade screamed at the top of his lungs, his hands involuntarily leaping off the sympathy orbs that linked him to the robot. The two small white pods crashed unceremoniously to the earth.

"Get on, now!" Commander Sanada ordered his Core Robots. They hurriedly got aboard. Almost before they were stowed away, the carrier began moving, racing for an ocean where it could submerge and lose the pursuit of the entire planet.

Chairman Rara's plane and Ayuko Rara's helicopter were finally cleared for takeoff, and they started on their journey to more secure locations. Their daughter followed on another flight.

Slade gasped and stared at the floor. Considering how much pain he had been in a moment ago, it seemed incredible that he felt totally fine now. He was entirely uninjured, surely he could walk a little. He took tentative steps, keeping an arm on the pilot chair for support.

Rara took a moment to ensure the line was as secure as possible, then said, "Slade? Slade, are you all right? Are you conscious?"

"I'm all right sir," Slade told his commander firmly in a hoarse voice.

Medical personnel burst into the room, really just an ordinary room off the main remote piloting floor of the main RaRa base on the fake island. Rara continued to speak, "Slade, the doctors should be there now. Just go with them and rest; you've done a good job, now you must recuperate."

"I'm quite all right sir," Slade told him, though his dry throat made his voice sound as though he were a zombie in training. The medical people bustled him onto a stretcher before he could make more protest. Chairman Rara knew better than to listen to it anyway. Slade was absolutely right- not being in the embattled Isolation Weapon, he had picked up no physical injury at all. The pain he had suffered, and the complicating effects of Life Sympathy, made his mental health hard to predict. He looked over the data on his tablet as his plane reached cruising altitude. Slade had removed his hands from the sympathy orbs so quickly that there was no time to measure whether he had been backwashed or not. Rara mulled over the unpleasant prospect that his future son-in-law might be shell-shocked, and one of his best pilots might never be able to use a robot again.

Aboard the Earth Defense Force carrier, the necessities of debriefings and feedings had ceased. Most of the key players in the force were now taking a few moments of rest in the common room. Mena wondered aloud, "Why is it that this ship is never used more? It could come in really handy against most robots."

Cmdr. Sanada told them, "I didn't really want to make something full of people a target, and neither did Rara. I took a risk with this ship today because I had to." He grinned. "Next time I ought to just abandon the robots and have this ship run away."

Ms. Hayase frowned. "I'm not sure our guns ought to have been able to pierce the Isolation Weapon's shields today. We've been very fortunate, and that makes me very glad."

"Yes, I can tell!" joked Alice impulsively.

Akane Yamano sighed, "It's most unfortunate that we were unable to hold that territory."

Yayoi said seriously, "I don't think any of us would care to repeat Kazuki or Mitsuki Sanada's experiences of being trapped behind enemy lines. I'm very glad that we were able to get out when we could."

Commander Sanada rubbed his hands together, then leapt to his feet. "In the grand scheme of things, it probably was just a nuisance raid," he laughed, "but at least it was a spectacular nuisance raid!" He began to laugh long and loud.

Chapter 7 Main Chapters Chapter 9