Title: Caught in Traffic (Pt. 1)

Warnings: Creating a background. Deal with it.

Rating: G

Continuity: Brave Police J-Decker

Characters: Gunmax, Shadowmaru, Brave Police

Disclaimer: The theatre doesn't own the script or actors, nor does it make a profit from the play.

Motivation (Prompt): Gunmax - desk

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("Fanon says Gunmax is a slacker. I disagree with fanon. Why? Let me tell you…")

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Gunmax was a difficult mecha on a good day. The rest of the time, he was the Devil on two wheels. His transfer into their unit, as one could imagine, hadn't been easy.

What the Brave Police hadn't realized the first time they'd met Gunmax was that the Motorcycle Detective had been working with Highway Patrol independent of them for months. Really, looking back at it, it was a marvel they hadn't heard of him before this. Well, okay, not that big of a marvel. The Brave Police were specialists. They were assigned cases, and they went out on them, and then they returned to the Decker Room. Gunmax had been an experiment in adding the BP series to the patrol cop force. He'd been a regular policeman in everything but the 'man' part. He'd been the Motorcycle Detective on paper, but other than the odd label instead of a family name, his name didn't stand out from the Highway Patrol's reports. The other BP units had actually used his information in cases assigned to them, but there hadn't been any clues in the paperwork that another of the BP series was up and about.

To be fair, he'd never encountered them, either. His job had required frequent, extensive, and regular patrol work, with the occasional detective case thrown in. Their work was irregular at best, and their work required them to be out in the city on a case-by-case basis. He just wasn't around headquarters all that much, compared to them.

It was odd, however, how well Gunmax had blended into the police force. He'd been designed to do so, obviously, but none of the Brave Police managed that particular trick. Not that they'd ever had much of an opportunity to try, considering how they'd been immediately assigned to a separate task force, but it was a little weird that he'd been in the same damn building complex as them and they'd never noticed him before this.

Still…there was more to it than that.

It started with a simple question.

"Where's Gunmax?" Yuuta asked, and most afternoons they didn't know. At first, that was okay, because the green mecha eventually showed up at some point every day. They just didn't know when he'd get there, and they didn't know where he was coming from or where he was going when he left. But he was really, really irritating, so they were glad not to see him most of the day. He showed up when they had a case, and that was good enough for a while.

Except that it eventually dawned on them that Gunmax wasn't there.

"Where's the bastard sleep?" Power Joe asked one morning as they walked from the garage where they'd charged the night in the repair cradles. Six repair cradles, not seven, and six Brave Police slowed their walk as that suddenly filtered through their standard exasperation to strike a chord of curiosity in them. McCrane looked to Dumpson, who looked to Shadowmaru, who blinked and shrugged the same question at Deckerd.

"He's gotta sleep somewhere," Drill Boy pointed out the obvious later, staring at the empty seat at the desk they had cleaned out for Gunmax. And by 'cleaned out,' that really meant they evicted 46 soccer balls from its depths. Drill Boy had sulked for at least an hour that he'd had to relocate his ball stash elsewhere. Now he sulked because he'd cached them somewhere else (Shadowmaru yelled at him two weeks later for blocking the air ducts in the ceiling), but Gunmax wasn't using the desk they'd cleared out. Which was odd, now that he thought about it. "Doesn't he do reports?" he wondered out loud, standing up to go mess around at the desk.

"Drill Boy," McCrane began to chide him, but the crane hesitated. Curiosity stopped him from starting in on another lecture on respecting privacy, but also - even from here he could see that the desk drawers were empty. That was strange, wasn't it? He'd seen Gunmax filling out reports. Where were they?

Deckerd saw his expression and stood up to join Drill Boy at the desk. "…how odd," their leader concluded softly when opening all the desk drawers revealed nothing more than a polishing cloth and a box of ammunition for a Magnum. Oh, and a pen that looked like it'd been chewed on. Gunmax had issues with his mouth beyond just what came out of it, apparently.

"What, is it inspection time and nobody warned me?" came a wisecrack from the door, flavored with distinctive English, and the entire Deckerd Room froze into a tableau of guilt.

Power Joe and Dumpson straightened up in their chairs, suddenly intensely interested in the soap opera channel. Look at those housewives and their drama, you two big mecha, you. Shadowmaru pretended to be in deep thought. You know, like y'do when you're a ninja. Deep thought. Air duct and infiltration type deep thought, mmhmm. McCrane had no way to hide how he'd been leaning over to peer at Gunmax's desk, but he oh-so-casually turned to give Gunmax a disarming smile as his Super A.I. scrambled for an excuse. All he was coming up with was a big fat mouthful of foot. Deckerd, their great leader the doofus, just stood there with a deer-in-headlights look firmly in place.

"I, uh, lost a soccer ball!" Drill Boy blurted out, and the whole room whooshed in relief when Gunmax slapped a hand over his visor. "Yeah, I can't find it! Do you have it? Because I think I kicked it up under your desk, and it's probably in the drawers, and I swear I saw it when you were here yesterday but now it's gone so I thought I could take a look but Deckerd said I couldn't go looking around in your desk without permission, and, and, ah," Drill Boy faltered.

"And you're a pain in the neck," Gunmax snapped, "until you get your way. I know, I know." He dropped his hand and sneered at the Build Team brat. "Keh. Like I know where your ball went?"

Like Gunmax was one to talk about being a pain until he got his way? But the Motorcycle Detective dropped it, and that was enough for everyone involved. Ugh, Drill Boy had just saved their bolts from another snit-fit a la Gunmax. They were quickly coming to the conclusion that they could do with less of those in their lives.

But now they were all curious.

It took them a week to figure out that the reason Gunmax didn't use the desk Yuuta had assigned him was because he already had one. It took Shadowmaru another week to figure out where it was located, because nobody was going to man up and outright ask the mecha. Even Deckerd couldn't manage to ask the Motorcycle Detective anything about it, but that had more to do with Gunmax's incessant handcuff jokes than anything else. For some reason, Gunmax kept giving the Brave Detective sly smirks and referring back to that day, and the way he did so didn't quite make sense. It left Deckerd a little flustered every time, and Gunmax merrily ran circles around his questions using that slight advantage.

Okay, fine. Different tactic: go over Gunmax's head.

Deckerd's hints to the Commissioner were met with an enigmatic smile, however. The man thought it'd do their Super A.I. good to sort personnel problems out themselves, and it probably would in the long run, but in the meantime he drove them half up the walls because he was incapable of not looking smug and know-it-all about it.

So that left Shadowmaru. He took a different approach entirely. Between him and McCrane, they sorted through the dozens of cases dealt with by Highway Patrol in the last three months, looking for any reference to Gunmax. To their surprise, he popped up all over the place. He and his partner had been involved in nearly all of the open cases dealing with motorcycles, gangs, theft, drive-bys, and simple traffic crimes on the open road. It made a kind of sense. There weren't that many actual detectives in Highway Patrol, so of course Gunmax had been assigned to those cases.

Shadowmaru quietly brought the case of Gunmax's ex-partner to Deckerd's attention. All the Braves knew about Kirisaki attempting to kill Gunmax and Deckerd, but the background between the Highway Patrolman and ex-partner was news to Shadowmaru. Deckerd just as quietly buried the information and told him to forget he ever saw it.

Reading through the reports yielded up a general location at last, and Shadowmaru ghosted off to the Highway Patrol building to search for their not-quite-missing Brave Police member. And thus began a frustrating week for the Ninja Detective.

Gunmax was an abrasive, blunt, Engrish-spouting cocky robot who stood over 5 meters tall. He kind of stood out in a crowd. Right? Seriously. The mecha walked into the Decker Room and stood out among his own kind, for pity's sake.

Yet, Shadowmaru lost him twice, two days in a row, five minutes after the green mecha sauntered into the Highway Patrol building.

Trying to follow the mecha was getting as annoying as dealing with him face-to-face was.

The Ninja Detective trailed Gunmax, crawling through the air ducts in his canine form, and determinedly kept the green 'bot in sight. He couldn't go by sound or smell, because one thing he'd discovered in the past three days was that Highway Patrol was thoroughly riddled with cocky men who smelled like motorcycles and asphalt, spoke random, badly-pronounced words of English, and didn't react at all when passing a 5-meter-tall mecha in the halls. The ridiculous amount of overconfidence Gunmax sported with practically an epidemic here. It raised the interesting question of whether the mecha had learned it from the cops he worked with, or if he'd come pre-programmed as a jerk.

There was something so casual in the way the Motorcycle Detective walked the halls. Shadowmaru had thought he'd be able to track the green mecha easily; there were only so many hallways in the building that allowed for someone four times the height of a normal human being. Instead, Gunmax hadn't even paused while ducking to fit through the back entrance and sliding in a half-crouch/half-crawl through the halls. The cops who encountered him stood aside without even interrupting their own conversations, only stopping to greet the robot before continuing on their ways once he cleared the hall. Shadowmaru had almost lost the green mecha again today because there were just no reactions left in his wake. In all the Ninja Detective's previous experience, most humans at least mentioned a giant mechanical being who'd passed by them!

Highway Patrol was so used to Gunmax he barely even pinged on their weirdness radar anymore. Shadowmaru didn't really know what to think about that.

When the Motorcycle Detective finally reached the main office, Shadowmaru hunkered down next to his chosen vent cover and watched closely, waiting to see which office the green mecha went into. He was obviously here to work. He had a sheaf of reports in one hand, and there was a pen held between his teeth.

Gunmax stood up, dusted himself off, and strolled across the room. Well, strutted. There was something so intrinsically cocky to the mecha's walk that Shadowmaru had to grit his teeth just watching him. It nearly made him miss what Gunmax was doing. And that would have been a shame, because he hated it when he underestimated people.

With all the attitude, it was oddly hard to focus on the fact that Gunmax was strutting his way between the humans' desks with a contradictive care for where he set every footstep. The humans littered the passageways between their desks with waste bins and spare chairs. One sleeping cop even had his feet stuck straight out in the aisle. Gunmax didn't miss a beat as he navigated the obstacle course. The bins were dodged, the cop remained undisturbed, and Shadowmaru momentarily stopped watching Gunmax when he noticed that every other cop in the room was walking exactly like the mecha. They all moved like they didn't have a care in the world, but at the same time, they were extremely aware of their surroundings. 90% cover attitude, 10% actually looking like they gave a damn, but an astute observer could see how those percentages measured up to reality.

The dog mecha blinked. Then he blinked again, because he'd just lost Gunmax.

What the - ? No!

He narrowed his optics and glared through the vent. No, no, not again. None of the window shades on the office doors were moving. Gunmax hadn't left via any of the doors, and Shadowmaru knew none of the other BP series had stealth modifications like he did. The green mecha had to be in the room somewhere.

It took him a full minute to process the simple fact that he'd been scanning too high up. Even sitting down, a mecha was over twice a human's height. Or rather, he was if he was sitting in a chair meant for a giant robot. Shadowmaru had to reset his entire visual system when he finally caught on.

Gunmax's desk was level with all the other desks around him. His seat, however, was set into the floor. Instead of sitting with his chair at head-height for the rest of the room, the green mecha's head and shoulders were all that were visible across the sea of cops busy at their own work. The Motorcycle Detective had already made himself comfortable, idly chewing on the end of another pen and tapping a can of gasoline on his desk as he read over the reports spread out before him. And nobody was so much as looking in his direction.

Shadowmaru looked around the room. He looked at all the cops treating the robot like just another rookie, ignoring him but for the occasional greeting thrown his way. The Commissioner had said Highway Patrol wanted to kick Gunmax out, and after seeing Gunmax's descent into uncontrolled methods via the reports he'd combed through, Shadowmaru couldn't blame the department. He also couldn't blame Gunmax. Nothing had been stated in the case report's bland language, but reading between the lines had given a bigger picture on what Gunmax had gone through in the weeks prior to meeting the other BP units. Finding out his partner was a criminal must have been a shock, and Shadowmaru felt a twinge of sympathy for the massive betrayal.

Gunmax's behavior had settled slightly after accepting that Deckerd wasn't going to abandon him, but he still returned here when his shifts with his Brave Police unit partner were over. Thing was, new partners could be assigned. If Gunmax had stabilized, wounded Super A.I. feelings steadying out, that opened him up to being reassigned a new human partner. He might even want that, no matter what he tsked and Englished at certain mechas or little boys who pried at him about where he went or what he was doing when he wasn't around. Highway Patrol obviously wasn't in any hurry to kick their mecha-cop out, whatever their intentions had been sending him over to the Brave Police. Gunmax's desk was still here. His repair cradle had to be somewhere, too.

Shadowmaru had the sinking feeling that Gunmax hadn't been using his desk in the Decker Room because he was still being assigned shifts on the Highway Patrol roster. He certainly seemed busier than any of the other BP units, most of the time. The Ninja Detective began worming his way back through the ducts, already planning a few inter-departmental computer hacks to find out just what was going on. He didn't think it was Gunmax alone who was making this transfer so difficult, not any more. As Vice-Commissioner Azuma proved on a weekly basis, Police Headquarters was run by more politics than intelligence. Gunmax was BP 601, the first of the BP units assigned to another department. It was an experiment, but with experiments came status. If Highway Patrol let Gunmax go, they'd lose that special bit of glory he brought them.

Unless the transfer completed, Gunmax would never really join the Brave Police. That weakened the unit as a whole. Having a member who wasn't there did none of them any good.

Gunmax was a total asshole. He was someone who went out of his way to seem like he didn't give a crap and was too badass for words. He annoyed the entire unit to the point of shouting matches and insults.

He was also courageous, competent, and one of them. He made Yuuta laugh and Deckerd smile. Even Power Joe had grudgingly admitted that Gunmax was one of the good guys.

He belonged with the Brave Police.

'Brave up, Decker Room,' Shadowmaru thought grimly. 'We've got a fight on our hands.'

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