I... just realized I hadn't finished updating this on . I'm so sorry. Let me fix that.

Shanghai used her saber stance to poke and cut at her foe. With a real sword this would be a waste, with a vibroblade it was the best strategy. Committing to an attack would leave her open to the huge man's fists, or the railing he'd appropriated. Her vibrosword could cut straight through anything it's edge hit, regardless of force.

Her opponent sadly seemed to know that as well. He caught her attack with a hard parry to the edge, forcing her to step back. She responded with a cut towards his feet, stopping his advance.

She focused her eyes at his chest, trying to read his body's movements. As she did she noticed a faded nametag on the armor. 'Unzan.' Well, it seemed this Unzan was quite skilled.

She advanced again with a thrust that she turned into a slash. Unzan's parry lost him a foot off his makeshift club when she changed her attack.

In response the massive man stomped on the broken walkway. Shanghai was unbalanced by the shaking and immediately tumbled backwards in a roll. She felt some relief when the smashing attack designed to break her skull slammed into the ground in front of her instead.

Standing, she switched to a two handed kendo stance. She need control to beat this foe. She began advancing, slowly cutting at his arms and weapon. Forcing him to yield ground. Because eventually he wouldn't be able to retreat.

"Unzan!" someone yelled from above her. Shanghai sensed what was going to happen next, and flung herself off the causeway. She hit the ground and rolled as twin machineguns on full auto tore apart the causeway where she'd just been standing.

Her shoulder was hurting, and she'd lost her gun for sure now, but she couldn't stay put. She ran towards the opposite causeway, hoping that the mysterious gunner wouldn't be able to get a firing position before Yorihime caught them. The sound of Tewi's shotgun going off at least indicated that Unzan was going to be pinned for a bit.

She made it to beneath the causeway and opened up radio. "Report!"

"Back area is clear," said Toyohime.

"Reisen and I managed to pin the two spec ops so you're clear from them. They don't look Lyran," Yorihime said.

"I've got the cell number we're looking for. Number 182," Tokiko replied.

"Right, I'll find the target. Everyone else keep the enemy locked down." Shanghai ran down the corridor, then checked the next cell number. 183. Wait a second...

She turned around and ran back to the cell she'd dropped down next to in the first place. She put her face to the grate and yelled, "Are you Byakuren Hijiri?"

There was a pause then a woman's voice said, "I am. Are you here to kill me?"

"No, we're breaking you out. We need an aerofighter pilot you see. Now stand back." Shanghai swung her blade at the hinges. There was a ear piercing scream as metal clashed with metal, and her sword shuddered with the impact, but the cell door slowly collapsed into the hall.

The woman revealed was in fairly good shape for someone who'd been locked up for however many years. The only noticeable oddity was her hair had gotten that strange gradient color effect from having been bio dyed and then left untreated for a while.

The woman smiled at her despite the occasional gunfire. "Well miss, I suppose I'll trust you. I'm not sure what help one old warrior can be, but I'm sure this is merely part of the blessed Blake's plan.

Shanghai was glad her faceplate hid her raised eyebrow. "Sure. Anyway we need to move out. There's another group here, and they might be here to kill you. And given that one of them can rip these cell doors off their hinges, they have a decent chance of succeeding if we stick around too long.

Byakuren's looked surprised at that. "Wait, was he around 7 feet, with a scar on his neck?"

Shanghai nodded as she started moving. "Yeah, friends of yours?"

Byakuren laughed, then to Shanghai's shock, stepped into the center of the prison hallway. "Ichirin! Unzan! You can stop now!"

There was a pause in the gunfire. Then a woman's voice rang out, "Commander Byakuren!? You're free?"

"I think there's been something of a misunderstanding," said the newly freed prisoner. "Please tell Shou to get in contact with the leader of these mercenaries."

Byakuren looked at Shanghai. "You are mercenaries right? Forgive me if I assumed too much."

Shanghai shook her head and opened a radio channel. "Boss, things are a little weird. Looks like these guys might be friendly after all..."

Reimu narrowed her eyes as the two remaining craft circled. She hoped that meant she had the advantage.

Her radio crackled. "Mercenary mechwarriors. It is possible our attack on you was hasty. We are only looking to acquire one prisoner. After that we will leave the system. If your objectives do not oppose that of the Blessed Blake, then we have no wish to continue this battle."

Marisa's sigh came over the encrypted channel. "Whatta you wanna bet they're after her?"

"No odds," Reimu replied. She switched to open broadcast. "We're here for Byakuren Hijiri. If you're after someone else we don't care."

The aeromechs circled away to set up for another pass. "It is unfortunate that you allow money to blind you to truth and justice. We will have Hijiri, and no one will stop us! By the will of Blake!"

"The will of Blake won't save you from my autocannon," Reimu muttered while moving behind cover.

Sadly, the two aeromechs zoomed in on Marisa. Once again Marisa misjudged her Gauss rifle fire, and suffered more armor damage from the air strike. Reimu quickly adjusted her barrel to fill the enemy's flight path with shrapnel, but the two aeromechs finally transformed, using their jets to glide into a crater.

Reimu sighed. "Dammit, that Pheonix Hawk can snipe. And the crater's big enough to allow them lots of takeoff vectors. We've gotta rush them now!"

"Right!" Marisa whirled her machine around and started an earth shaking advance.

Reimu started her own charge, doing her best to keep as many boulders between her and the like enemy position as she could. Sure enough her caution was rewarded, as large and medium laser fire began streaking out from the crater as the two mechs popped their guns out like giant metal riflemen. Reimu smiled as she and Marisa got closer. There was no way the two light mechs could down either of her mechs in time!

Suddenly the infantry channel crackled to life. "Boss, things are a little weird. Looks like these guys might be friendly after all..."

"Why the fuck are they shooting at me then!" She replied. "They said they were after Hijiri too!"

"Apparently this is her old unit. They're here to rescue her," Hourai replied.

The open channel came to life again. "Mercenary commander. We wish to discuss terms for surrender."

Reimu slowed her mechs advance. After a few calming breaths she replied. "We accept your surrender. I am Colonel Reimu Hakurei of the Youkai Busters. I will give your unit full honors so long as you aid our escape."

"This is Lieutenant Shou Toramaru of the Blessed Wing aeromech unit. I accept your terms. Might I ask how you intend to escape?"

Reimu considered the matter. "You have a ship outta here? My jumpship can carry two dropships if needed, but we only have one jump ready."

"We have a ship on contract, but I doubt it is going in the same direction as you are." There was a pause. "I have word that Murasa has successfully returned to our dropship. We're capable of holding off the fighters while your infantry and the escaping prisoners evac to your dropship."

Reimu nodded. "Sounds like a plan. I'll tightbeam you our raidio frequency so your Murasa and our Chen can coordinate."

She clicked over to Hourai. "Looks like we got everything got talked out on this end. You have the target? If so find Newbie, pack up and leave!"

"Got it. Rin's got a lock on Newbie, so ETA is 20min."

Kogasa was wondering if it was possible to die from shame.

"I caught a prisoner!" the green haired mechwarrior said while pointing at her. "I think she's the one that took out my mech too."

The woman wearing a colonel insignia shook her head and sighed. "This mission wasn't about taking prisoners Sanae." The woman frowned. "But now that she's here we have to take her, or Loki'll narco interrogate her for all the info on our ship." The commander finally looked at her. "Congratulations PFC Kogasa. You're the prisoner of the planet Suwa, which continues to not exist officially. Betray us and Reisen here will shoot you."

Kogasa sighed. "Understood." Seeing as she had no weapons or mean of escape she nodded politely at the tattooed infantry woman with the shotgun who smiled and waved her forward. Kogasa allowed herself to be directed to a seating room, where the passengers could strap in and wait out the high G launch.

To her surprise several small children were playing at the front of the room when she entered. Two matronly figures stood watch over them, while three more mercenaries chatted in the back.

"Ah! It's one of the enemy!" I small black haired girl ran between Kogasa and the rest of the kids. "Don't worry Mai. I've got this one!"

Kogasa stepped in and waited to be pointed towards a seat. "Ahahaha... I'm kinda already a prisoner kid."

The one woman with odd gradient hair stepped forward. "Ah, that voice. You were the one who spoke to me while checking the cells weren't you?"

Kogasa started as she recognized the voice of the prisoner. "Ah! It's you. Then this whole operation was getting you out?" Kogasa sighed again. "Man, you were right about me having to be more worried then you."

The woman nodded serenely. "So it seems. However perhaps your luck will change. You seemed like a nice person when we spoke. I'll see about arranging better accommodations then I had at least."

"Are you taking in strays again commander?" one of the mercenaries piped up.

The other matronly woman chuckled. "It seems we have something in common, Ms Hijiri."

"Why is everyone standing in the goddamn doorway?" the commander's voice called out from behind her. "We're escaping remember?"

Kogasa waved weakly to the freed prisoner and followed the beckoning sword point towards the back, where she was pushed to the middle of the seating row. She strapped herself in then smiled weakly at Reisen. "So, planet Suwa. Is it better then that moon?"

"Nice place. Very temperate," Reisen said with a smile. Her voice lowered. "So while the tin men all sit in the front, you wanna tell us how you took out Newbies mech?"

Kogasa briefly weighed whether or not admitting to blowing up someones war machine was a bad idea, but given she'd probably face the firing squad if she managed to get back into Lyran territories, she decided it was best to look useful to these people, whoever they were.

Not to mention the fact that it had been a sweet kill.

"Well you see, I'd noticed they'd allowed a lot of the natural gas tanks to run empty, which means there's a lot of fumes..."

Planet Suwa

Nue whistled happily as she hopped out of the cargo bay.

Hiding in the storage area of the Word of Blake transport for three days had been annoying as all hell. Hiding inside a dropship fighting a space battle had been terrifying, even if the fight had been totally one sided. Waiting for the Jumpship to recharge at some lame ass system for another two days had been utterly terrible. And then there was the interminable day long trip down from orbit.

But now she was back on solid ground. And the people she'd been tracking had piled out of the dropship so fast she was able to just walk out.

From here out it was simple.

She walked away from the dropships towards an alleyway that was moderately sized, decently lit, and the quickest path between two hangers. Something some people would avoid, but anyone in a hurry wouldn't feel too bad about cutting through.

She could tell immediately by the flags around her, and the fact that the port seemed to be handling mostly domestic traffic that this place wasn't on the maps. No way in hell that any small world would out and out own this many dropships. This was good and bad. It meant security would suck, but getting a message back would be hard.

Still Nue was gonna stick to the numbers. Mug someone for their papers, forge a new set off the ones she stole, get a starchart and call in her bosses. It might take a while, and she might run up a bigger bill then normal, but that was okay.

After all, when the Word of Blake found out where Byakuren Hijiri and her errant crew had escaped to, they'd be willing to pay a whole lot.