The Hinata Defense Force

By Cyberwraith9

Editing by The Silver Fox 06

Part III

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"TRANSMOGRIFY!"

Nothing happened.

Keitaro and the girls stood stock still as the glow about their Moggers faded slowly to nothing. Tamagar and the rest of his forces rested before them, growing in number with each passing second; More and more rose from the pile of appliances, shambling together on unsteady legs and propelled by mystic forces both strange and terrible.

Tamagar was frozen, like his opponents. His head tilted in confusion as the last light from their wrists faded, his gaping maw splitting wide in a hideous smile. "Was that it?" he asked, his arms spread wide. "Was that your ace in the hole?" He began to chortle a sickening, slow laugh at the expense of the so-called "Hinata Defense Force."

Keitaro was frozen as well. He was torn between being grateful that they hadn't exploded, or being dissatisfied that he and the others weren't now clad in high-tech armor that would allow them to kick Tamagar and his merry band of automatons all across the board.

It nearly broke his heart to hear Shinobu's shaky voice tremble from behind him. "S-s-s-sempai," she quaked, "W-what do we d-d-do n-now?"

"I think this is the part where we get squished." Kitsune muttered, backing up several steps.



"Squished hard, Lush." Tamagar assured her. "Go, my minions!"



The automatons leapt, crept, lurched and lumbered at the Hinata Housers relentlessly. Though they differed in size and shape, all possessed a surprising speed that caught the young people off guard. With shrieks and cries, the girls scattered to either side, leaving Keitaro to take the brunt of the charge. He did so on the strongest, most calloused part of his body; his jaw.

A circle of automatons surrounded the wayward manager as the rest broke off, chasing after the others. Motoko and Kanako turned to fight, but the rest concentrated on dodging about.

With a precise slash, Motoko took the blender (which served as its head) right off of one of the fearsome lackeys. The creature stopped for a moment, then lashed out and backhanded the warrior faster than she could parry the blow. She countered with another slash, this time cutting the creature in half and kicking the torso away. Three more took its place, already swinging at her with impossible strength.

"This is not working!" Motoko called, barely blocking the strike in time. "There are too many!"

Kanako grunted, using the Urashima Lotus Fist to shatter the television-chest of another automaton. "We'd be fine if {ugh!} Kaolla's ridiculous toys had worked!"

Shinobu ducked the grasp of a particularly gruesome creature, a conglomeration of electrical extension cords. The bodiless beast twisted and writhed at her, trying to snare her in its coils as she shrieked in fear, running about mindlessly. "What happened?" Shinobu wailed. "Su-chan promised that they would work!"

Kitsune backed up slowly, then stopped as she saw only a waddling refrigerator sliding itself slowly towards her. It stopped a short distance away, resting silently in front of her. For a half-second, she waited for the device to attack, but it hadn't yet.

"Hey," she snickered, thumping the plastic casing of the fridge's door, "Maybe we don't need that armor after all!"

The fridge's freezer door swung open violently in response, smacking the fox lady across the jaw and knocking her silly. It quickly closed, and the larger, lower main door swung open right after, knocking her to the ground. As she lay on the broken floor, the fridge began spitting small cubes of ice onto her prone body, bonking her frostily in the noggin.

"Okay…" Kitsune mumbled, "Who ordered the slacker on the rocks?"

A sudden yell burst from the gaggle that had surrounded Keitaro. They were tossed aside like rag dolls with a burst of explosive ki, revealing a panicked Keitaro wielding the Shisui. Grunting, he leapt up to his feet, sneakers squeaking and eyes scanning the battlefield.

Motoko and Kanako were holding their own…barely. It wouldn't take long for the machines to overpower them. Shinobu could not run forever, and Kitsune was currently enjoying an impromptu ice bath. Searching further, Keitaro felt a chill run down his spine; Tamagar was nowhere to be found.

Desperately, he waved his sword at the mechanical terrors, keeping them at bay for the moment. Raising his other hand, he practically put the Mogger in his mouth as he screamed, "SU-CHAN! CAN YOU HEAR ME?"

"No need to shout, Kei-kun!" Su's chipper voice buzzed from the white blockish device. "I can hear you just fine through the communi-link.!"

Keitaro leapt forward, slicing through one of the automatons as he continued to shout to Su via their invisible link. His voice grew more desperate with each swing. "Fine!" he shouted anyway, "So now how do I put that stupid armor on?"

* * *

Su's floating head frowned, bobbing above the garage/lab's floor. "Stupid?" she said with a tinge of disappointment. "My armor isn't stupid, it's brilliant!"

"SU-CHAN!"

Keitaro's tinny voice began wailing through the communi-link once more as a new series of crashes and metallic clangs echoed through their makeshift command center. Sarah's tiny hands flew across her workstation as she ran a diagnostic on the armor, sitting placidly in their cases to her left. "Su," Sarah muttered, "Are you sure you told him everything about the armor?"

"What's there to tell?" Su's head insisted cheerfully. "You put on the Mogger, you press the button, you say the activation code, and bada-BOOM!"

Sarah's head snapped around, sending her long blonde hair flying about as she looked up at Su's translucent noggin. "Wait," she insisted, "What was that last part?"

"AUGH! LEAVE MY SKIN ALONE!!!" Keitaro's communi-link connection wailed.

"Boom?" Su provided.

Sarah shook her head. "No, before that."

"Bada?"

"Keep going back." Sarah urged her friend patiently.

"THAT DOESN'T BEND THAT WAY!"

"You say?" Su's head tilted to the side, a serious gesture for someone whose body was nothing 'but' a head.

Sarah sighed, smoothing her red lightning bolt shirt. "A little further ahead…" she encouraged.

"Activation code?" the mad scientists finally spat out after a moment's recollection.

"Good, now put it together."

"Say the activation code. Bada-BOOM!" Su cried at last. "YAY! What did I win?"

Sarah ignored her, grabbing the microphone from her console and yanking it over to her mouth. "Keitaro!"

"OH GOD, THE BLEEDING!"

"Listen up, dummy!" Sarah gritted her teeth, eyeing the suits of techno-armor as she shouted into the mike. "You have to say the suit's activation code!"

Another grunt came with a few scrapes and clatters through the link before Keitaro spoke again. This time, his voice was a little calmer and more collected. "Fine," he half-shouted, "But what's the code? Su never told me-"

"Su!" Sarah screamed, "What's the code?"

"Bada boom!" Su's head twirled, her holographic hair flying behind her. "Wheeeeeeeeee!"

Sarah sighed again, thumping her head against her console. "This is gonna take a while."

* * *

Naru cried out in pain as she was carried bodily to the ground. The cold, sharp metal claws of a Mechanoid duo clasped her arms and forced her to her knees. Her clothing was shredded, just barely intact enough to maintain decency. The cold tile slammed into her legs as they gathered the Defense Force in the remains of the appliance section.

Shinobu, Kitsune, Motoko and Kanako were all next to her, being similarly held by the conglomerations of mechanical monsters. The latter two struggled to no avail, tugging against their captors. The resident drunk and cook, however, merely quivered quietly as the Mechanoids' king stepped before them, leering with a sick sense of victory.

"So," Tamagar chortled, "All but one of your pitiful little band, kneeling before me as you should. So now, the cycle is almost complete. I ruled all, and was defeated. Now, with but a single boy to capture, I shall soon rule all once more."

Kitsune found new courage as the mechanical beast continued to rant endlessly. "You know," she looked up at him, "I always thought that comic book villains were dumb for gloating and talking and telling the hero about their evil plans. But you…" she shook her head, "You make Doctor Doom look like a social introvert with communication issues, hondo."

"Oh Christ…" Kanako murmured as Tamagar stepped forward. For a moment, he locked eyes with the House's slacker, matching her glare for glare. Then, without a word, he lashed out with a vicious backhand that took everyone by surprise and knocked her to the ground. The girls cried out in unison, but Kitsune remained defiantly silent.

"That mouth of yours needs some adjustment, girl." Tamagar snarled, pulling his hand back for another strike. Kitsune glared up at him, her lips trickling blood as they curled into a sneer. "Maybe a little more medicine will quiet you-"

"Stop it! Stop it now!" Naru sobbed and screamed.

Tamagar froze for an instant, and then turned to the trembling girl. His large metal shod hand shot forward, snagging her jaw between his massive fingers. Naru, to her credit, didn't make a sound. She merely quaked, glaring up at him with tearing eyes. "You realize that this is all your fault, don't you?" Her lips remained pressed together as he continued to speak as if to a child. "Had you not interfered with their love, none of this would not have happened."

It was Kanako who replied to that. "We aren't your puppets to manipulate, monster." she spat with venom in her eyes.

The comment took Naru by surprise; after all, if she hadn't interfered, Kanako stood to gain everything. Maybe she had misjudged the girl… "She's right." Naru insisted. "This is insane. Let us go!"

The great turtle beast smiled cruelly, shaking his massive, serpentine head. "No. No, I don't think so. Instead, I do believe I'll-"

The rest of his monologue trailed off into an incomprehensible scream as a small, silvery dart sliced into his shoulder, quivering from the force of the throw. Immediately, all eyes in the room, including Tamagar's, swiveled around to catch sight of the projectile's master.

Keitaro stood several meters back, his arm still raised from the shot. He glared at Tamagar, trying to hide his knocking knees with a ridiculously heroic pose. "Ready for round three?" he asked.

Tamagar reached around, pulling the Shisui from his shoulder. He acknowledged Keitaro's sword with a nod before tossing it back to the young man. "Impressive…" he allowed for the sneak attack, "But if you think your little toys are going to stop me…"

"Keitaro!" Naru screamed, leaning over so he could see her panicked face from behind Tamagar's leg. "Get out of here, you're no match-"

"It's all right, Narusegawa." Keitaro gave her a reassuring glance before zeroing back in on Tamagar with a scowl. "I called tech support." He raised his Mogger across his body, putting it level with his head next to his face. "TRANS-"

"Keitaro!" a tinny whine buzzed from the boxy device, "You promised!"

"Su-chan," he hissed out of the side of his mouth, "I don't think we have time for a magical-girl transformation speech."

"Pleeeeeeeease?"

With a heavy, disgusted sigh, Keitaro struck another pose. "Evildoers and not-nice people in general, beware!" he proclaimed loudly and unenthusiastically. "Your doom is upon you! You shall be punished by the most powerful force in the universe, the Hinata Protector-

"Hinata Defense Force!" Su's electronic voice insisted.

"-Hinata Defense Force!" Keitaro finished lamely. There was a poignant pause before he looked at his Mogger pleadingly. "Now?"

"Do it to it!" came the sing-song reply.

Sighing in relief, Keitaro pressed the button on his Mogger with an eager "TRANSMOGRIFY!" Just as before, the device came aglow with an aura of brilliant white that cast heavy shadows on the rest of the room.

A 'ho-hum' escaped Tamagar's wide mouth as he yawned loudly. "Yes, yes," he waved Keitaro off, "We've seen this all before. Mechanoids-"

With a smirk of his own, Keitaro added, "Hinata Armor White!"

The dull glow grew into a blinding light that engulfed Keitaro completely, bringing illumination to even the darkest depths of the ruined department store. Tamagar roared in pain as his optic sensors overloaded, forcing him to turn away. The rest of the girls squinted through the luminescence, trying to catch sight of their landlord.

Keitaro was nothing more than a silhouette now, and it was clear that whatever the transmogrification was doing, it involved removing his clothes. Sections of his outline flashed even brighter and grew bulkier as a covering began to appear over his body: segmented arm and leg coverings complete with plating; a chest piece that accented his wiry frame; a round helmet, complete with faceplate, fitting over his dark hair and protecting his noggin.

The light dimmed, revealing the brand-new Keitaro. He was clad in Su's turtle-themed armor, pure white from head to toe and gleaming with unknown and powerful alloys. He seemed dizzy from the aftereffects of the process, blinking heavily to chase the spots from his eyes. However, the impressive nature of his new look gave the girls hope, and was not lost on their turtle captor.

"Mechanoids, get him!" Tamagar snarled, jabbing his finger to indicate the armored warrior before them. His lumbering henchmen lurched forward in response, converging on Keitaro's spot with uncanny speed. The girls collectively cried out in horror as Keitaro found himself facing a gaggle of goons.

'Time to see if Su wasn't just blowing smoke out of her ass…' he thought, steeling himself with a deep breath. He still held the Shisui, which had somehow survived the transmogrification process. Swinging the sword in front of him, he raised the blade to block an incoming Mechanoid-

-and cleaved the creature clean in twain.

Keitaro stared in awe as the metallic foe cried out with one last screech of horror before it slid apart, falling to the floor into useless components. He hadn't intended to put that much force behind the blow, and yet the creature lying in a useless pile of junk at his feet said otherwise. "Holy…"

"Wow…" Kitsune murmured, the first of the girls to find her voice. "Someone's been eating his Wheaties…"

With a renewed sense of conviction, Keitaro let fly a crazed war cry and leapt into the group of Mechanoids, swinging his sword with deft dexterity and incredible power. The slower creatures, fresh into this world and powered by evil magic, were nonetheless powerless to stop Keitaro. One by one or in groups of two and three, they fell to the might of his blade, powered by the awesome strength of his turtle armor.

Sensing a shift in the battle, Tamagar took a cautious step back. "Methinks it's time for a quick withdrawal to rethink the situation. Mechanoids, kill them all!"

The rest of Tamagar's forces, holding behind their leader, leapt forward at his command. Their master slipped away down the department store's isles while his creatures converged on Keitaro's position. Already, the Mechanoids were overwhelming Keitaro with sheer numbers. He was rapidly running out of room to wield his sword, finding himself the focus of an unwanted dog pile.

The girls stood as one, now free from Tamagar's clutches and ignored by his minions. Naru looked to the rest of them, finding a nod at each one that she met eyes with. They knew what they had to do. "Are we going to let that moron have all the fun?"

"Did everyone catch the activation sequence?" Kanako asked. Again, they all nodded. "Very well." She looked to Naru in a rare gesture of charity. "Narusegawa-san, would you do the honors?"

Naru smiled. "I'd be honored, Kanako-chan." She adopted a stance similar to Keitaro's. The girls quickly followed suit, filing up behind her in another 'V' formation. "Ready? TRANSMOGRIFY!"

They all pressed the Mogger's red control, activating the armor teleportation as they spoke their individual command codes:

"Hinata Armor Pink!"

"Hinata Armor Black!"

"Hinata Armor Blue!"

"Hinata Armor Y-yellow!"

"Hinata Armor Purple!"

The Mechanoids halted their attack on Keitaro as the room once again grew impossibly bright. Keitaro managed to get his head out of the pile, looking towards the source of the photonic starburst, his techno-faceplate filtering out enough light so that he wasn't blinded. Unfortunately, he nearly plastered the inside of his faceplate with the mother of all nosebleeds at the sight of his five tenants, stark naked and kept humble only by the fact that they were silhouetted into dark shapes by the transmogrification process.

Plates of armor and components teleported onto their bodies as the light faded, leaving the battlefield considerably altered; five new armored warriors now stood where five helpless girls had cowered at the might of Tamagar's army, ready to do battle to defend their home, their honor, and their manager.

Naru was the first to recover, shaking the spinning dots from her vision. Her fists curled at her sides, dangerous weapons on par with any sword Keitaro or Motoko could wave about. "Everyone okay?"

"Better than okay," Kitsune looked herself over, glancing back at her cute armored buttocks. The curve of the design, front and back, did wonders to accent her sexy figure. "I look fabulous."

Shinobu looked down at her own feeble chest plate, blushing in embarrassment; hers was the smallest. "I think there's something wrong with mine…" she mumbled softly.

Motoko was similarly blushing at the exposure she felt in her armor, even though it technically covered everything. The problem was, the shape of the armored plates left little to the imagination.



"Hey!" Kitsune glanced over at Kanako. "How come Goth-Girl's armor is different?"

Kanako ran a hand along her helmet, finding a pair of sharp triangular projections on either side in place of the turtle shell grooves the others' possessed. Unlike the rest of them, her armor had a distinctive cat theme, right down to the painted claws on her forearm guards.

Su-chan's voice buzzed in Kanako's Mogger/forearm guard, answering Kitsune. "Since Kanako came with her own pet, I thought she should have a-"

"Could we have a fashion discussion later, please?!" Keitaro screamed from beneath the lumps of machinery. As soon as the transmogrification process had completed, the Mechanoids had lost interest, taking up their attack on Keitaro once more. It was all the manager could do to keep them from crushing him, much less fight back.

"Whoops." Kitsune and the others ceased the useless banter, rushing forward in one big group to help Keitaro. They reached the pile and began tugging on the beastly creations with their augmented strength. Appliances and machines went flying as the girls discovered for themselves just how strong they had become. Even little Shinobu, who had poked at the pile with great trepidation, quickly found out that she was more powerful than the pathetic henchmen could ever be. In a matter of minutes, Keitaro was free and reunited with his tenants, and the Mechanoids were still collecting themselves from where the girls had tossed them.

"Thanks," Keitaro panted, accepting helping hands from Naru and Kanako. He picked up his sword, seeing that Motoko had hers as well. The rest were unarmed, but after seeing the Mechanoids' relative weakness firsthand, he wasn't concerned in the least. "Shall we?"

They responded with a chilling cry that tore at the Mechanoids' black souls as they witnessed the Housers charge forward, crashing into their ranks and tearing them apart.

Kitsune singled out the refrigerator that had been tormenting her earlier. With her newfound strength given to her by her lilac armor, she tore the door from the machine and began beating it with the cover. "The next time-" WHAP! "You give me ice-" WHAP! "There had damn well BETTER-" WHAP! "BE!" WHAPWHAPWHAP! "ALCOHOL WITH IT!"

Naru and Kanako ran side-by-side, tearing into the nearest conglomerations of appliance-monsters with a berserker frenzy. Their fists and feet flew like rain, hammering helpless, slow-witted monstrosities left and right. Possessed of a brand new courage and unfettered rage, they decimated the enemies ranks, dropping even Keitaro's jaw (and he had witnessed their ferocity firsthand on multiple occasions).

Shinobu was the only one to really hold back for the first few moments. She ran up to one of the Mechanoids, but came to a screeching halt with a tiny shriek as the creature reared up at her. "N-n-no!" she squealed, shoving her hands out to defend herself. "S-stay aw-w-way!"

The creature was knocked almost sixty feet back by her push, driven through several displays and flying apart at the mechanical seams. It took Shinobu nearly a minute to come back around as she stared blankly at her hands in disbelief.

But Motoko?

Motoko was like the angel of mechanized death. She and her ominous blade Hina came swirling in like a mad whirlwind, slicing apart creatures faster than any of their eyes could follow. Earlier, she had feared that Su's idiotic contraptions would slow her down and impede her flow of chi. As loathe as she was to admit it, though, they just plain made her stronger. Even Tsuruko would not recognize her own sister as the blazing blue streak that sliced apart the unnatural offenders.

Within moments, the entire floor was littered with the body parts of the defeated and deceased Mechanoids. Blenders, television screens, washers, dryers, fridges and a whole host of other devices now lay askew everywhere. The only ones left on the field of battle were six huffing, heaving warriors, tired but triumphant in the end.

"And that is that!" Keitaro sighed contently, dusting his hands off.

Naru glared at him, stomping over so she could slap him upside his helmeted head. The blow didn't hurt, but it did knock him for a loop. "Are we forgetting about the GIANT TURTLE MONSTER THAT CREATED THESE THINGS?" she said loudly, waving her arms in the air.



"Whoops." Keitaro chuckled nervously, straightening his helmet. "Heh heh… Let's go?"

They were about to give chase in the direction Tamagar had fled when the components around them began to stir. At first, it was just a little quiver, hardly noticeable. But as Naru and Keitaro had argued, the movements had grown until the pieces of the fallen army were dragging themselves across the floor, slowly making their way into a growing pile in the center of the destroyed room.

Shinobu was the first to notice the offending components, pointing with a shaking finger as she watched the mound cultivate. "Um…Sempai?" she said meekly (more so than usual).

"What is it, Shinobu-cha…" his voice fled as he saw what she did.

Indeed, the entire impromptu team now noticed as the mound began to tower over them, shifting and swaying. A low, inhuman moan escaped the pile as it shimmied, rumbling through the floor and chilling them to the bone. They took several steps back from the strange sight, gritting their teeth and readying themselves for what was to come.

Kanako threw a look behind them, unable to see any sign of Tamagar anymore. "We have to go after that turtle," she insisted, "Before he does any more damage."

"We would be wise to deal with the problem at hand first." Motoko advised them.

With an agitated sigh, Kanako began sprinting after the long-gone monster. "Fine!" she snapped, "You handle the toys again! I'm going after their master."

"Kanako, wait!" Keitaro cried after his sister, but another lurch from the pile forced his eyes frontward again. With growing horror he watched the pile mechamorph into a loosely humanoid shape.

It possessed thick legs made of washing machines and dryers, with a chest of refrigerators, arms of lamps and cords and toasters, and armored with broken bits of everything. A large, unbroken wide-screened television sat atop the mess, flickering alive despite the lack of electricity. A pair of monstrous red eyes blinked onto the screen, focusing down upon the hapless Housers.



"Ahhhh," it groaned, flexing its new limbs. "Mechadon arises for the glory of Tamagar!"



"N-n-nice to meet you…" Shinobu wavered, taking several steps further back.



Mechadon's cruel eyes swept across the lot of them, narrowing as if they were real eyes. "The famous Hinata Defense Force…I shall enjoy crushing you for my master!"



"Famous?" Kitsune exchanged looks with Motoko, who simply shrugged. "I thought this crazy gig was only ten minutes old."



"Word travels fast." Motoko smiled, raising her sword. "Shall we live up to that reputation?"



Motoko's confidence ended when a bolt of pure blue energy struck her in her armored chest, knocking her back into a display twenty feet away. Kitsune and the others looked over in awe to find Mechadon's outstretched hand, still smoking from the energy bolt. "I shall not be as easy as my predecessors," he assured them with an electronic sneer.



Keitaro brought his Shisui about, gulping with fear. "Which round are we in now?"

* * *

Tamagar waddled out into the light of day, grinning to himself. "The fools should be discovering the true nature of my Mechanoids right about now…" he said to himself, pushing out of a crater their battles had left in the department store's walls.

What few people remained in the area screamed and scattered at the mere sight of him. He grinned at their fear, his downtrodden spirits bolstered at the sight of their unadulterated terror. Stomping out of the hole, he looked about for any other signs of trouble.



"And now to continue my conquest of this pathetic-ARGH!" He fell to his knees as something struck him in his shelled back, blindsiding him out of nowhere. "What in blazes?"



His serpentine head swiveled, finding a most unwelcome sight behind him; Kanako stood in her full cat-armor glory. Her stance was unmistakably aggressive, and her narrow eyes gleamed from behind the translucent faceplate. "You know," she scowled, "I don't usually agree with Konno-san, but she's right; You talk too much."



"Insolent whelp!" Tamagar snarled. His hand swept back faster than Kanako could react, knocking her off her feet and back into some of the surviving brick. Masonry cracked and thundered as she slammed into the wall, falling amidst a hail of broken stone and mortar. By the time she pulled herself out of the pile, coughing and groaning, Tamagar had caught up with her. His massive fingers snatched her by the back of her armor, hauling her off of her feet.

"Put me down!" Kanako shrieked, taking a useless swing at the monster.

His thoughts and emotions collected again, Tamagar was able to smile at her. "Child," he said sweetly, "Why do we fight?" He didn't let her answer, pressing ahead. "I was going to give you everything you ever wanted…love, companionship…" His eyes squinted, "The power to crush your rival."

"I…" Kanako struggled in his grip to no avail. Even with her super-strength, she was no match for Tamagar's mystical power. "I didn't need your help! I don't!" she cried. "My brother will love me for who I am, and not because he's been enchanted."

"You've seen the way he looks at her." Tamagar pushed, raising her to look into his malevolent eyes. "It's just the way you wish he would look at you. Wouldn't you give anything for that?" His voice lowered to a whisper. "Isn't he worth that?"

Kanako could only hang limply in his grasp. Her lips trembled as she considered his words. Tamagar was an evil, despicable monster…but did that mean he was wrong?

* * *

Shinobu squeaked and flinched back as Kitsune was tossed aside like a rag doll. The slacker landed on her rump, her armor carrying her across the broken floor in an uncontrolled skid that ended in a pile of shelves. "Kitsune-san!"

It was par for the course as far as their battle with Mechadon was concerned; at the moment, Keitaro and Naru were on opposite sides of the hulking mechanical man, taking swipes at it as they tried to confuse it. Neither Naru's fists nor Keitaro's sword could do more than a scratch to Mechadon's tough hide. Motoko had just now managed to drag herself back to the battle. Her chest plate was scorched and her pride was bruised, but she appeared otherwise fine.

"Keitaro," Naru panted, ducking under Mechadon's enormous fist, "We have to come up with a plan! This isn't working!"

"I know!" he cried back, taking one on the jaw and swiping at Mechadon in retaliation. "I'm a little short on a plan at the moment," Another fist struck him upside his helmet, sending his vision reeling. "And these blows to the head are making it really hard to concentrate!"

Motoko leapt in with a shrill scream, coming at the monster with a colossal Air Splitting Strike that shook the entire building. Pieces of Mechadon's armor went flying, along with Keitaro and Naru, as the monster was rocked backwards on his heels. Suddenly, as Motoko finished the swipe, his arm telescoped forward, snagging her in his grip. "Augh!" she cried out as his hand began crushing her. The protective armor around her body began to creak and moan under the stress.

"Aaawuuuuaaaaa!" Shinobu danced from foot to foot, too scared to help, and too scared to think. "What do I do, what do I do?"

"Well," a voice sounded from her wrist, "Don't just stand there…fight!"

"Sarah?" Shinobu looked around, confused. "Can you see me right now?"

It was Su who answered this time. "We're watching you on the Viewing Sphere, Shinomu!"

"How?" Shinobu scanned the room again, "You're all the way back at the House, and I don't see any cameras."

A sudden, quiet 'myuh' from her feet grabbed her attention. She looked down, and nearly keeled over at the sight of the House's two pets decked out with movie equipment: Kuro somehow lugged a camera much larger than him on his shoulder, while little Tama-chan sported a boom microphone strapped to her shell. Both pets looked back up at her, giving her a tiny wave and an identical mewling before focusing their equipment back on the battle.

"Su-chan!" Shinobu wailed, "I wanna help, but…I just can't!"

"Why not? Sarah says your armor is operating at peak efficiency, so-"

"It's not that!" she sniffled, watching as even Kitsune hauled herself back up to try and free Motoko. "I'm just not strong enough. If Motoko-chan couldn't beat the monster with her sword, how am I supposed to fight without one?"

There was a poignant pause before Su's voice erupted from her wrist once more. "Ohhhhh, you need a weapon!" she chirped. "Well, why didn't you say so. Just say 'activate weapons' system,' and you'll be all right!"

Shinobu rolled the words around in her mouth. "Activate weapons' system? I don't-"

A mechanical, Sarah-like voice in her ear immediately sprang to life as luminous text began spilling across the inside of her faceplate. "Activating weapons' systems." the voice said calmly. Shinobu shrieked, falling backwards in surprise as several images and kanji flashed right in front of her eyes. The voice continued to request input. "Specify: Melee or ranged combat?"

"Melee? What's-"

"Command accepted. Now activating Yellow H-D-F Melee Weapon. Please press flashing indicator on left arm guard."

Looking down, Shinobu caught sight of a small, flashing panel on her left arm, blinking against the bright, neon yellow of her armor. Tentatively, she reached out and tapped it with her other hand. The air around her immediately began to shimmer and sizzle. Frightened, Shinobu squeezed her eyes shut, opening them only when she felt a strange weight enter her hands.

Cracking a single eye, she caught sight of a brightly painted frying pan resting between her hands, identical in color to her armor. Su's three-eyed delta pattern was revealed on the back as she turned it over in her grasp, examining the strange 'weapon.' "Su," she asked to thin air, "What on Earth is this?"

"Say hello to the Power Pan!" Sarah answered her instead. "Thumb the switch on the bottom for your mega-attack."

Shinobu saw the small button at the bottom of the handle, exactly where Sarah said it would be. She decided to leave it alone for the moment. Looking up to the ensuing battle, her heart still felt a beat of hesitation. 'Can I really do this?'

'Can you afford not to?' a small voice asked her as her friends were tossed about.

"YAAAAAAA!" Raising the pan above her head, Shinobu charged forward, legs pumping and lips drawn back in a shrill, ridiculous battle-cry. She leapt the remaining five meters between her and Mechadon, using the suit's powerful legs to carry her across the gap as she swung the pan up and around.

Mechadon, in the midst of grappling with Motoko and the others, was ill-prepared for the surprise attack from the Defense Force's quietest member. Pan blazing, eyes wild, Shinobu swept in and slammed the cooking utensil into Mechadon's massive head. The sheer force of the blow toppled him, forcing the beast to release Motoko as he fell to the floor.

"Holy crap…" Kitsune muttered, awe-struck as Shinobu landed in a heaving, scowling heap. "Way to kick ass, Shinobu-chan!"

Keitaro exchanged glances with Naru. "That looks like fun," his girlfriend quipped. "What did she say?"

Motoko, whose ears were sharper, spoke the activation code and began reading through her own suit's weapons. She already had her sword, and had no use for futuristic ray guns. However, there was an interesting feature that the Blue armor afforded her, designed specifically with her in mind. She tapped her flashing forearm, and said, "Shell Shield!"

A bright flash of light revealed a large, oblong shield that fit comfortably over her left arm. The main color scheme was the same light blue as her suit's, with dark blue veins running in a turtle pattern to complete the look.

Excitedly, Naru joined in on the fun, pressing her own flashing forearm. "Slam Staff!" A long pink shaft of metallic fury appeared in her hands, perfectly balanced and glowing with a soft aura of crimson power.

"Now that looks like fun," Kitsune said, running through her own weapons' menu. She pressed the flashing indicator, materializing her own weapon into the fray. Unfortunately, once the light had faded, she found herself with a bit of a conundrum. "SU!"

"Ye-es?" Su's voice drawled merrily from the communi-link.

Kitsune hefted the pair of heavy lilac broadswords, tugging at the chain in the middle that linked them together. "What the hell are these?"

"Oh," Su twittered, "Those are my new special weapon; Sword-Chucks!"

"What do I do with them?"

"Sword-chuckery," Su laughed as if she was being silly. "What else?"

With a terrible roar, the Mechadon lumbered forward and clobbered Kitsune while she was deciphering her new and highly idiotic weapons. She and the sword-chucks went flying back out of sight as the rest of the Defense Force gathered to hold him at bay.

Motoko took point, warding off his smaller shots with her enormous shield. "These weapons are helping," she grunted at another glancing blow, "But we still need an attack strategy."

Keitaro began scanning through his own weapons' inventory, speaking into the communi-link frantically. "Quick, Su-chan," he snapped, "What's my close-combat thingy?"

"You don't have one yet." she answered, sounding sheepish.

"WHAT?"

"I told you the armor wasn't ready yet!" he heard Sarah shout at her mentor.

"C'mon," Su coaxed, "Think of it as beta-testing. Once they die, we can recover the armor and correct the mistakes!"

"SU!" Keitaro screamed again.

"Only kidding, Kei-kun!" she teased. "You do have the only long-range weapon available, though. Ol' Auntie Su didn't forget you!"

Naru dashed in for an attack run on Mechadon, her glowing staff leaving a trail of light as she spun it above her and slammed it into his midsection. The techno-stick flew in a flash of dazzling fury, guided by her gloved hands as she tore into the great beast with everything she had. Dryer doors and television screens went flying as the Slam Staff rained blow after blow upon the hapless drone of Tamagar.

Mechadon flinched back, then swept what was left of his massive hand out, knocking Naru aside. "Enough!" he rumbled. "No more trickery or toys, Defense Force! Just plain death!"

His undamaged palm raised and zeroed in on Motoko again, sending a blinding flash of blue plasma at her again. She was able to put her shield up in time, but still suffered the full force of the attack and was sent tumbling backwards.



"Now you…uh?" he paused before dishing out more Technicolor death, listening as a slow, steady scream became louder.



Out of the blue (actually, from behind one of the ruined displays) came Kitsune, spinning like a top. Her hands were carefully clutching one of her blades by the flat side. The other was spinning about her in a blur as she spun dizzily in Mechadon's direction. Before the massive creature could back up, Kitsune got close enough for the flopping blade to smash into him, tearing a large chunk out of his middle and drawing a fitful electronic scream from the speakers that served as his mouth.



"I think I got the hang of these things…" she muttered, trying to get the world to stop its revolting revolutions. "Now, where's the off-OOF!" A bolt of plasma caught her square in the back, knocking her motionless onto the floor.



"Ha!" Mechadon looked at the remaining member of the Defense Force, clutching her pan and trembling with fear. "Yellow suits you, my dear. Your cowardice is greater than the might of this team's combined pathetic power! Now…" His palm raised, he gathered extra power for a supreme blast, casting the entire room in a hellish glow. "Hold still, and this will be over quick."



"You got that right!"



Keitaro stepped out of the woodwork, clutching a massive cannon. The gleaming white tube of mechanical might was so large it took both hands to simply lift and wield. Still, Keitaro had no problems hefting it with his armor, and at the moment, its sights were set squarely on the sinister symposium of appliances.



"Say hello to the Buster Bazooka," Keitaro grinned, shifting the cannon to rest more comfortably in his grip.



"H…hello." Mechadon's electronic eyes filled the entire screen.



"Now say goodbye."



As the cannon disgorged a blinding flash of power, Mechadon failed to heed Keitaro's advice; instead, he merely screamed in mortal agony as the stream of pure energy ripped into his body, vaporizing most of it and sending what little remained on separate, permanent vacations.



Satisfied, Keitaro set the spent cannon aside. It had taken all of the weapon's stored energy, but it had definitely done the job. The rest of the girls re-gathered themselves around him, checking each other over to make sure they were all okay.



"This is quickly becoming one 'really' screwed-up day." Kitsune brushed some of the char off of her armor, restoring it to its pristine purple hue. "Can we just kill the damn turtle and get back? I haven't had anything to drink in almost half an hour."



"Oh man!" Keitaro suddenly remembered who they were missing. "Kanako!"



Naru winced inwardly at his concern. Idly, she wondered if he would have shown as much alarm if she was the one missing. "This way!" she said, leading the charge in the direction of their wayward teammate and the hulking brute she had gone to chase.

* * *

"Look at yourself," Tamagar glared down at the fallen, battered warrior, both amused and angry at her persistence. "Just look at what you're wearing!"

Kanako heaved, coughing as she clutched her aching ribs. She occupied one of many craters the massive turtle being had created using her body as a shot-put. The edges of her vision were growing darker with each blow she took. 'Perhaps,' she allowed between coughs, 'Going after the big fish alone wasn't the best plan.' Out loud, however, she was all sass and brass. "You aren't exactly a fashion plate yourself, Gabby."

His thick, rotund leg lashed out, catching her in a vicious kick that launched her into the air. He snagged her in mid-flight before she could go anywhere, once more bringing her to his face-level. "Even your silly little costume is different from theirs!" he sneered. "You're an outcast among freaks, and you know it!"

She was…at least, she thought she was. It killed her to think that Tamagar was making sense. "Shut up." she snarled, taking Tamagar by surprise as her foot kicked across his face, snapping his head to the side. "Just stop talking!"

"Defense Force?" Tamagar chuckled at the blow, his red optic sensors gleaming. "A super-team? Hardly. If they cared about you at all, they would be helping you right now. So where are they?"

"Right here, Sir Talks-A-Lot!"

Tamagar's throat rumbled as he turned around, spying the other five annoyances as they climbed out of the hole in the store. They sported some kind of new weaponry and determined faces set behind their faceplates. "The super-team!" he snarled, swinging Kanako around to act as a shield.

Keitaro stepped forward, his white armor gleaming in the sunlight. "You can just call us the Super…Mondo…Mega…" He trailed off. Turning to the others, he asked, "Um, what was our name again?"

"Wasn't it Turtle Squad?" Naru scratched her helmet.

"Wonder Warriors, I think…" Motoko offered helpfully. Her hand was at her blade, and her eyes never left Tamagar's malodorous features.

"I kind of like Mega Friends," Shinobu said quietly.

Kitsune looked over. "Hey, that's not bad-"

"No no NO!" Sarah whined loudly over their common communi-link. She huffed impatiently, wondering where the flair for the dramatic had gone in this day and age. "We're the Hinata Defense Force!"

"Go-go HDF!" Su chipped in.

"Right, right," Keitaro nodded, now remembering. "That was it. Anyway…LET MY SISTER GO!"

"Brother," Kanako shouted, "Just attack through me and be done with it!" She really meant it, too. With a sudden realization, she came to understand; none of this was Keitaro's fault. It was all on her head. If she had never come to the Hinata House, none of this would ever have happened. "Take him down, Brother!"

"Taking one for the team?" her captor snorted pure steam and barked a single laugh. "How noble."

"We aren't a team," Keitaro shouted at him, taking another step forward. "We're a family!" Both Naru's and Kanako's eyes went wide at his proclamation, but both were on the alert when he shouted, "Let's get him, guys!"

Tamagar was absolutely astounded when the rest of Kanako's friends charged forward, weapons brandished and mouths wailing with a haunting war-cry. He took several steps backwards, then dropped Kanako and began to run.

This proved to be a costly mistake; with Kanako out of the way, Motoko saw a clear shot. She exchanged glances with Keitaro, who instantly understood and nodded with a smile. "Boulder Cutting STRIKE!" they cried together, gathering their chi and projecting it in twin deadly slashes. The invisible force crashed into Tamagar's back, lifting him high into the air and then crashing him back into the ground.

The turtle beast sat up, rubbing his elongated head with a moan. His optic sensors came back on-line just in time to see a blur of yellow fury heading his way. "Uhn?"

Shinobu set her face in grim determination, forcing all of her fears and doubts behind her as she thumbed the switch on the end of her pan. The cooking implement came aglow with glittering golden light, leaving a streaking trail just as Naru's staff had.

She gathered all of her might, natural and synthetic, behind one titanic shot that she socked right onto Tamagar's kisser. An explosion of energy ripped into him the moment the glowing pan connected with his nonexistent chin, blowing him back across the pavement. Tamagar left a deep trench as he sailed through the tar and cement, kicking up a cloud of debris as he slowly slid to a halt.



"My turn!" Naru took off in a run, gripping her Slam Staff tightly. She plunged the end of the staff into the ground and took to the air in a power-assisted pole vault. Tamagar had pulled his head out of the pavement, spitting up a large chunk of road just in time to see Naru coming down on the opposite end of her arc. "Naru Mega-Kick!" she cried, slamming her boot right between Tamagar's eyes. The fluidic metal of his face actually dented inward, crunching as she leapt off of his head and landed with perfect form.



A soft clapping caught Naru's attention, drawing her eyes to Kitsune. The slacker had her Sword-Chucks tucked beneath an arm, and was applauding Naru's acrobatics. "Nice work, kiddo." she congratulated. "Now check me out."



Tamagar forced himself onto his feet, groaning and creaking at his stressed-out joints. "Meddling kids," he muttered, clutching at his damaged systems. Then he roared in pain as a pair of enormous blades sunk deep into his shoulders from behind.



Kitsune braced herself on Tamagar's giant shell, digging one blade out of him and using the other for support. Grunting, she looped the long chain around the front of his neck and began to pull, trying to choke the life out of him. "I take it back, Su," she called out, "These things are…uh-oh."



It occurred only too late to Kitsune that robots didn't need to breathe; Tamagar's pneumatic head swiveled one-eighty with a mechanical whirr, glaring at her eye-to-eye with as much hatred as the titanium turtle could muster. His eyes flashed bright red, then lanced out with twin lasers that caught Kitsune square in the chest, driving her off of his back with a sharp cry. He twisted about, tearing the Sword-Chucks out of his shoulder and tossing them aside.



"Perhaps you're right, Konno-san." he snarled, advancing on her. She crab-walked backwards, but he was quickly gaining ground. "Maybe I do talk too much. Well," his fists crackled with black energy, "What say we just get on with it, then?"

* * *

Keitaro knelt down by his fallen sister, cradling her head in his lap. "Wake up, Kana-kun." he murmured softly, pulling her helmet away. The armor slid off after a moment's work, allowing her luxurious black hair to cascade onto his legs. "Please wake up," he pleaded.

"Mmmm…Keitaro?" her eyes fluttered open, dancing about as they tried to focus on her brother above her. "Brother…wha…where…?"

"Shhhh…" Keitaro whispered, feeling tears of joy streak down his sooty cheeks. He removed his own helmet, then wiped them away, unashamed. "It's okay now. It's all okay." Reaching down, he hugged her desperately to his chest. "I was so worried about you."

"You…were?" It felt good to have his cheek rubbing against her neck, but disconcerting at the same time. From the angle they were sitting at, she could see the other girls renewing their attack on Tamagar, and doing a pretty damn good job of it, too. "I thought…Naru…" she trailed off.

"You don't get it, do you?" he pulled back, looking deep into her eyes. "Yes," he admitted, "I love Naru with all of my heart. But I love you too."

"It…it's not the same." She felt her own tears welling up in her eyes as she turned away. Then she gasped, feeling Keitaro's hand grip her chin.

"No," he nodded, "It isn't. But that doesn't make it any less powerful, or any less real. You're my sister…my family. And no matter what," he told her firmly, "Nothing will ever come between that. Not even Naru."

Part of Kanako shriveled and wailed at the confession; Keitaro loved her as a little sister, and not as a woman. It didn't matter that she was adopted, or beautiful, or sexy, or smart…Naru would always have him like that.

But…

Didn't she have him in a way Naru never would?

A frightened scream caught both of their attentions, drawing them back to the battle. There, Kitsune had fallen, weaponless, and was now about to be crushed.

"We have a job to finish, Brother." Kanako said stoutly. She pulled her helmet back over her head, feeling the servos in the device pull her hair up and out of the way. She would have to thank Su for that little consideration later.

"Let's give it to him, Sis." Keitaro pulled his own helmet on, helping her to her feet.

For the first time all day, Kanako came through with a genuine smile. "Hinata House style." she added. It made her heart soar to see the comment draw an identical smile from him.

* * *

Tamagar shrugged the other girls from his shoulders as they tried to keep him away from Kitsune, tossing them aside like the insects they were. Down on the ground, the freeloader couldn't help but whimper as Tamagar drew nearer, boxing her in against the wall of an undestroyed building. Her life suddenly flashed before her eyes…well, the parts of her life she hadn't been blacked out for, anyway.

"And so ends the reign of the Party Queen." Tamagar snickered. His right hand mechamorphed, turning into a massive energy cannon. "So, do you have any last words?"

"Urashima Double-Serpent Strike!"

In retrospect, Tamagar would ask himself why he turned at the sound of the Urashima siblings' combined voices. He would wonder why he did not simply finish off the one Houser at his mercy, thus shattering the rest of their morale and making them ripe for crushing.

But, like any good villain, he was irresistibly drawn to the sound of a new heroic super-move, and so turned in time to see Kanako and Keitaro running at him. The turtle-clad streak of white ran shoulder-to-shoulder with the catty black shadow, kicking up a cloud of dust in their wake as they sprinted at Tamagar. At the last second, they took to the air, performing a single flip followed by a perfectly-synchronized double-kick.



With four feet slamming into him, Tamagar was propelled helplessly through the brick wall of the shop, sailing right over Kitsune's wailing head as he crashed through the masonry. Kanako and Keitaro landed on either side of the screaming slacker, helping her to her feet as they joined the others.



"Fantastic!" Naru exclaimed, rushing forward to meet brother and sister as they formed into their fighting unit. "You two were amazing!"



"Th…Thank you." Kanako couldn't help but blush at the compliment.



Even Tama-chan and Kuro came forth, their equipment swaying as they ran to their family. Su and Sarah could be heard cheering through the communi-link, mirroring the excited chatter exchanged between the Defense Force members. All of that came to a halt as the sound of bricks clattering and shifting sounded from the ruined store.

"So," Keitaro headed up the formation as Tamagar pulled himself out of the wall's ruins, "Are you ready to give up?"

"You pathetic humans," Tamagar sneered with disgust as his ruined body sparked, jerking wildly with each movement. "You think you've won, don't you?"

"Basically," Kitsune shrugged, taking up her Sword-Chucks once more.

Motoko gathered her chi, mentally preparing for a Cutting Evil Strike. "Surrender, Demon," she challenged him, "And we shall make this brief and painless."

"Speak for yourself," Naru grunted, pounding a fist into her palm. "I plan on going a few more rounds with Chuckles here."

"Well," Tamagar buzzed as his voice modulator faltered, "You have demonstrated great power. It really is a pity I have to destroy you with…the ULTIMATE TURTLE TERROR ATTACK!"

"Ah-hah." Kitsune yawned as Tamagar spread his arms wide and looked up into the sky. "What would that be, a pray for divine intervention?"

* * *

Deep down beneath the bowels of Hinata, where only the bravest and most foolhardy would dare to tread, resided the world's largest colony of mechanical hot-springs turtles. They had taken root in the honeycomb tunnels beneath the sleepy springs town with great gusto, creating a truly impressive establishment. Refuse of all types were molded to fit the colony's needs, brought in by its fleet of tiny seeker drones.

Suddenly, a silent cry went up through the entire colony; mecha-tama everywhere buzzed as one of the colony's drones activated their doomsday beacon, a signal reserved only for the gravest of dangers to their home.

They took a few seconds to gather en mass in the main chamber before swooping out, rushing to the rescue of their besieged brother.

* * *

The Housers stood in silence for a moment, watching Tamagar beckon to the sky in silence. It was almost hypnotic to watch him sway back and forth, all the while unaware of his true intent.

It was Kitsune who lost interest fastest. "Look," she said, "It's getting late. I'm missing my soaps, so…Motoko, why don't you do your thing?"

The swordswoman was about to step forward to perform the warding strike when a large shadow fell over the area, blocking out the sun and blackening Hinata's commercial district. Curious, their gazes drifted to the sky, soon rending their curiosity into abject horror.

Motoko fell to her knees at the sight of a thousand mechanical turtle drones swooping down from the sky, blotting away the large expanse of blue in place of an armada of metallic shells and flippers. Her sword clattered to the ground as her eyes grew to saucer-like proportions, her lips moving soundlessly, voice lost amidst the terror.

"INCOMING!" Sarah's voice warned them needlessly via the communi-link. The Defense Force fell to the ground, covering their heads and screaming in terror as the turtle drones fell upon them in droves, clicking their beaks and flapping their flippers.

"Yes!" Tamagar cried triumphantly, calling his brethren to him. "YES! COME TO ME, AND GIVE ME STRENGTH!"

The tiny drones shrieked as an invisible force grabbed hold of them. The discovery of this turtle imposter came too late as they were drawn in, molded and mounted onto Tamagar's body in place of his broken components. But the absorption did not stop there; soon, the great beast became even greater, bloated with the bodies of a thousand turtles.

The Earth quaked and rumbled as Keitaro witnessed the sun's glorious return. With returning hope, he looked up…

And up…

And up…

And up some more…

"Uh…guys…" he said hoarsely, his voice failing him. "Gu-gu-guys?"

The rest of his team looked up one by one, letting out gasps or tiny shrieks or (in Tama and Kuro's case) startled myuhs. There, standing on the street where the hoard of turtles had been, stood but a single monster.

A single, towering, gigantic monster.

"YES!" Tamagar cackled with glee, glaring down at his arch-nemeses. "AT LAST, I POSSESS THE POWER TO CRUSH YOU ALL WITH MY…Huh?" His attention soon drifted in another direction, away from the ants at his feet. Swiveling his neck, he looked off into the distance, gleaning something far out of sight over the horizon.

Impossibly, the turtle beast turned away from his foes, lumbering down the street and through buildings that stood in his way as he made his exodus. It took only a few massive steps before he was out of sight, though Keitaro and the girls could still feel his footsteps against the ground.

"What's he doing?" Shinobu asked timidly, dropping her Power Pan. Against a monster that size, she doubted there was anything the pan could do for her. "Where's he going?"

"Well, that was kind of rude…" Kitsune joked half-heartedly. "He just up and left in the middle of a fight."

Su's voice crackled over the communi-link, sounding grave. "I was afraid of this…"

"What, Su?" Naru asked.

"He's headed for Tokyo."

"What?" Motoko was the first to break the shocked silence. "How could you possibly know that. And besides, why would he-"

"There's no time!" Sarah insisted, breaking into the conversation. "Look, everyone just get back to the hanger bay."

"You mean the garage?" Keitaro said with some confusion.

Sarah began muttering with irritation. "Criminy," she mumbled, "YES, the garage. And step on it, we don't have much time."

"But what are we going to do?" Shinobu insisted into the 'link. "He's huge."

"I'm afraid we have no choice," Su lamented. "We're going to have to activate them."

"What?" Keitaro asked.

The response was ominous and vague, as all of Su's had been that day. "The T-Five." she answered.

=To Be Continued=

Holy Continuations, Batman! What are the Housers going to do? And what's this "T-Five" Su's talking about? Stay tuned for another exciting chapter of The Hinata Defense Force!

Oh, incidentally, I'm sorry for the woeful lateness of this chapter. I'll have the next one out much more quickly, I guar-on-tee!