Much as he dislikes to admit it, Marshall is still right. Driving out in an open road without any constraints feels immensely better. There's a sense of nothing being better than the wind whipping past him and speeding along the roads. Frankly, if he wasn't forced to follow this commissioner guy to the Highway Patrol, he'd be tempted to just drive off on his own. That sense of freedom is tempting.
But he knows he has a duty to do. What he was constructed for.
Eventually, they finally slow down into the parking lot. The building for the patrol's headquarters is actually kind of aesthetically pleasing, surprisingly. The cherry blossom trees don't hurt, either.
Standing out front at the ready is another man with a biker helmet tucked under his arm. Gunmax isn't terribly sure what to make of him, but he suspects that the man is here for a reason. He gets off of his motorcycle, glancing down as Saejima and Toudou exit from their vehicle.
The commissioner nods to the man before addressing Gunmax, "We were sure to select one of the Highway Patrol's best men. This is Kirisaki; from this day forward, he will be your partner."
Partner. The idea doesn't really sit well with him. The bitterness of what happened on the S.S. Washington still holds onto him, but he supposes that it doesn't matter now. Gunmax isn't able to argue the point, just accept the orders. Like a good machine does, right?
So he salutes Kirisaki, introducing himself the way he has before, "BP-601. Gunmax."
He doesn't understand why, but Kirisaki is smirking at him, like he's amused. "Looks like I've got my work cut out for me," he comments, saluting Gunmax in return.
Gunmax snorts a little. What the heck was that supposed to mean?
"Thanks for your support," Saejima informs Kirisaki.
"Let's just hope he's useful," Kirisaki remarks. "Right, kid?"
"I'm not some kid," Gunmax practically hisses.
Toudou glances up at the robot in an expression Gunmax doesn't immediately recognize; it's concern and he isn't sure how to deal with that. So he looks away, folding his arms. "Well. Please take good care of him, Kirisaki," Toudou requests. "We should probably head back, Saejima."
"Mm, good point. Good luck, Gunmax." Saejima presents him with a final salute before both he and Toudou take their leave in their car.
After the car is gone, Gunmax folds his arms and peers down at Kirisaki. "So? It's not as if you need to tell me the rules. They gave me that data before I woke up."
"Then I guess we'd better get on with patrol, shouldn't we?"
Wordlessly, Gunmax watches the man head towards his motorcycle. Admittedly, it looks a little funny to see someone so small seat themselves into a patrol bike just as large as his own, but the way Kirisaki sits himself into it comes naturally to the human. It's a bit odd, but it begrudgingly earns a bit of his respect.
To work immediately, he supposes. Not that he has the room to argue.
Patrol in itself doesn't function much differently than his data files imply. It's kind of strange having a partner to fit it all in, though. It was the expectation made in the beginning and he knows that, but it's still an odd matter to adjust to. Kirisaki's personality is less than professional, but doesn't have how Marshall behaved towards him at first which was the warm friendliness that Gunmax made the mistake of attaching himself to. Instead, Kirisaki seems a bit rougher and cocky, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, he's supposed to be one of the best cops in the Highway Patrol, right?
The time comes in which Kirisaki decides it's time for a breather. Which is fair enough; it'd be a good idea to fuel up their respective vehicles. And himself.
"You really need to learn to settle down," Kirisaki remarks, leaning up against the wall as he pops open a can of - something. To be honest, Gunmax hadn't been paying attention to what his partner was up to in the store.
That's not exactly what Gunmax was expecting to hear. The robot tilts his head as he opens his canister of gas. "What, it's not like I was being rowdy."
"If anything, you're the opposite. It's all business with you."
"I'm just doing my job," Gunmax mutters, opening his fuel line with a mental command. Less of a job and maybe more that he was constructed for it. What else was Kirisaki expecting, anyway?
His partner just shrugs and begins with, "I'm just saying you could stand to loosen up a little- what the hell are you doing?"
Gunmax stands frozen in the middle of pouring gas down his line. He really isn't sure he understands Kirisaki's question. "I'm... refueling?"
"Is that how you robots do it?" After scoffing at him, Kirisaki lifts up his can. "Why don't you try doing it like this?"
Unsure of what exactly Kirisaki means, Gunmax watches him briefly drink the contents of his can. It does occur to him that there is a line that does travel to his fuel tanks, but the data he has from since he went online informed him of the direct route to his tanks. There's an alternative to the data - interesting. An alternative to rules.
With a shrug, he drinks the gas down. It's sort of weird, in comparison to how he was fueling up before, but he can actually taste it this way. It's a bitter, harsh flavor, but that's not necessarily bad. And it makes him feel normal.
Gunmax decides he likes it.
"Not bad, huh?" Kirisaki smirks up to him.
"Guess not," Gunmax responds as he finishes the 'test run'.
Kirisaki turns his attention back to his can. "Try not to smile too much, Gunmax - it might get stuck that way."
It occurs to him that his partner his right; he is smiling. He hasn't felt that happen since he received his shades from Marshall. Granted, that's just over a day ago, but he knows he hasn't been online for awhile.
It's a long time for a few day old robot, he figures.
"Heh," he huffs out to himself before he goes to finish his can of gas.
The nice thing about the patrol is that it was fairly quiet. At worst, there were speeding issues, but Kirisaki warns that at night is usually when the gangs hit up the streets - which is probably where they'll both end up after Gunmax has all the data for the roads memorized. That part won't be an issue, Gunmax suspects. It's just data and he already feels fairly natural on the motorcycle. The bigger part has been adjusting to Kirisaki's company, but he's finding that he doesn't mind the other man at all. If anything, he's a lot different than what Gunmax was expecting.
They haven't talked much; it's mostly Kirisaki being a smart ass, but that kind of behavior doesn't irritate Gunmax. He'll admit that he kind of admires it and wishes he had the skill with words to use on Fields a few days back.
"The stuff I have to do is just leftovers and it's boring." Kirisaki shrugs as they both go in to park at headquarters. "Anyway, I guess this means you're officially off duty."
"What am I supposed to do?" It blurts out before Gunmax can think of a less ... lost way of putting it. There were expectations for him to follow his programming and just worry about the Highway Patrol; what's he supposed to do outside of that?
Kirisaki snorts. "I'm not your babysitter, you figure it out."
After a moment of awkward silence, it occurs to Kirisaki that Gunmax really means that he isn't sure what to do. The patrolman takes off his helmet and rubs the bridge of his nose. "Oh boy. All right, so this is the part where it's going to be up to you. You know where you can go recharge, right?" Gunmax nods in confirmation; he's had that data since he woke up. "So you have your own designated area. But you can do whatever you want right now until we both go back onto shift. You're free to do whatever."
Free to do what wants. Gunmax hesitates; he isn't sure what that would be, other than driving. Watching TV with Marshall was nice, but he doesn't want to do that right now and he isn't sure if he wants to again. He doesn't really want anything else except maybe the open road.
"You think about that; I have things I need to be doing. I'll see you here again when our next shift starts, Gunmax." Kirisaki boards off of his motorcycle.
"Right. Uh, Kirisaki?" Gunmax sits upright, looking towards his partner; the human pauses and turns to look at him. "Thanks for today."
A smug smile follows from Kirisaki as he gives the robot a brief salute before heading down the parking lot into headquarters. Gunmax debates on what he should do. All he can think of is that he can either go out driving more or go recharge. One habit quickly is becoming more typical to do than the other considering he didn't have a whole lot of other options on the shipping vessel before he arrived here.
Gunmax reluctantly boards off of his motorcycle before he heads towards his own little section of the garage.
He pauses, then looks at the garage door. To his surprise, as he tests it, it's not locked.
Still, he backs away and goes to stand in the corner. It's less comfortable, ironically, than a berth, but he understands it just takes less room this way. It's not like he should have to worry about the luxury of comfort.
He's metal. He's a machine. It's not as important.
Gunmax powers himself down.
The only time he's seen light has been the day he was turned on. There, his primary functions were checked. After everything seemed to be in working order, he was shoved into here. This storage unit.
He tried asking why. It was explained that it was expected he would be shipped in approximately four weeks.
At first, he dealt with it. It was unfair, but he dealt with it.
After the initial week, that was harder to be content with.
The door opens to his surprise. For a brief few blessed seconds, he hears water, but sees only darkness beyond the doors, imply night time. It's an engineer, checking on him, making sure he's properly running.
Finally, he speaks.
"I... can I go outside?" He tries not to wince at the way his voice sounds, quiet and pleading.
The mechanic doesn't even look at him. "Your readings are normal."
"Please. Just for a minute-"
The door shuts on him as the engineer leaves. He stands and slams his fist on the door. "Please! Please, just for a few seconds! PLEASE!"
Gunmax practically flinches out of recharge, stumbling forward as he holds onto the front of his helm. What the heck kind of dreams are these, anyway? Is this normal? He almost wishes he had someone else to ask. Maybe another BP model or something.
But he's the only one in this entire station. Sure, the Brave Police are in Nanamagari, but it's not as if he has regular contact with them.
He shrugs. Whatever. Maybe it's just normal. But that certainly didn't occupy all of his time, not by a long shot. It's a few more hours until his shift starts again with Kirisaki.
The robot snorts through his vents, aggravated. The dream didn't help his attitude much either. It makes his decision clear enough.
He goes to his motorcycle, boarding it before he exits out of the garage. It's time to hit the road for awhile, he expects. The same sense of freedom from before will probably be good for his senses.
Over the course of several days, Gunmax finds himself adjusting very quickly to Kirisaki's presence. Although the exterior of his partner can be gruff, Gunmax is able to have witty exchanges with him - which actually makes their time together very enjoyable. Adapting to a more human lifestyle is interesting, considering the contrast he had for the first few days on the S.S. Washington. It's... it's a good change, Gunmax determines. He even finds some good rapport with the others of the Highway Patrol.
The routine is interesting, to go from patrol to his own sense of relaxation. Joyrides are probably the main hobby he's formed, and it's good practice as well. Eventually, he's taken to cleaning his gun and listening to the other patrolmen, whether they're listening to the radio or watching TV during their break. It's been pleasant.
He thinks to himself that it'd definitely be okay if he did this for the majority of his time online. It's what he was made for, so why not?
It's close to their next shift. It's been about a week with Kirisaki, which means they've started night shifts about a day ago - which has definitely been more exciting by comparison. He won't admit it, but he's looking forward to another shift with his partner. The gangs make things more interesting at night, and Gunmax enjoys showing off.
He puts his chin into his hand, watching idly at the news. A giant panda had been in the city, which... was a thing all right, but granted, Gunmax's mental case files indicate a lot of interesting events. The Brave Police naturally became involved and he's watching the repeat of the news. Frankly, he'd been hoping to see them in action, but it's sort of... less than impressive. Some of his internal data has images of J-Decker and he'd been hoping to see him, but the panda, of all things, caught Deckerd mid-combination.
"How so very capable of them," Gunmax mutters not-so-subtly, which earns a laugh from one of the other patrolmen.
"Think things would have been different if you were there?" the patrolman asks with a grin.
Gunmax shrugs. "Oh no! I guess we'll just never know, will we?"
"By the way, shouldn't you be on patrol by now?"
"...Mm." Gunmax glances to an empty parking space. "He hasn't stopped by yet."
"You don't have to wait for him, you know."
"It'd just be so impolite to go without him," Gunmax remarks with a faint grin.
"Suit yourself, Gunmax."
Truthfully, he's getting a little worried about Kirisaki's tardiness. Mostly, he just hopes that his partner isn't in trouble of some kind.
He keeps an eye on the news, shaking his head a little bit at the Brave Police's antics. Eventually, the familiar noise of the engine belonging to Kirisaki's motorcycle catches his attention; Gunmax looks up to see his partner finally arriving.
"You ready to get out of here, hotshot?" Kirisaki calls out for him.
The lack of apology isn't much of a surprise nor an expectation. Gunmax just grins and starts up his motorcycle in order to follow Kirisaki out from the garage.
"Watching the Brave Police, huh?" Kirisaki remarks as they get to the open road.
Gunmax shrugs. "Maybe it's just bad timing, but I wasn't all that impressed."
Kirisaki laughs sharply. "No, I think you have them marked right. A lot of people make a big deal about them, but we're just as hard at work, aren't we?"
A small bit of pride increases in him to have his friend's approval. "What can I say, I think herding a panda shouldn't be so hard. But it wouldn't be terribly flattering either, would it?"
"They can have the pandas. Let's just stick with street gangs and call it good. You're in a good place, Gunmax."
Gunmax certainly agrees with that.
One would think, perhaps, that after a bit of destruction from a giant panda - which is still a bit of a strange thought to accept so easily, but Gunmax is learning to - it would be a peaceful night. It seems though that there are other ideas from some.
Gunmax tsks to himself. "Well, criminals never have a good idea of when's a good time to take a day off, do they?" In return, Kirisaki chuckles.
Nowadays, so Gunmax has noticed, the motorcycle gangs have been packing up on stronger mods. It does cause more work for the Highway Patrol, and a lot more injuries. He supposes it might be part of why he comes as a good tiding for the patrol; robots are easier to repair than people, quite honestly. Gunmax can accept that. He's okay with his place, so long as he can protect this team.
The group coming at them from the opposite direction and open fire. Gunmax acts instinctively; he turns his bike in front of Kirisaki's, raising his arm to more or less protect himself. The bullets are surprisingly powerful. Where the hell are they getting these kinds of weapons?
"Gunmax!" Kirisaki sounds surprised and annoyed, but Gunmax isn't going to apologize for protecting him.
"I've got this!" the robot snaps back at him over his shoulder, raising his shotgun.
One shot and one of the bikes go down crashing, skidding over the street. Deciding that maybe messing with a giant robot on a motorcycle is a terrible idea, the rest of the gang turn tail and flee down the street.
The motorcycle on the pavement before them bursts into flames after its rider scrambles out and flees off the side of the road.
"Where are they getting these upgrades...?" Gunmax mutters, scowling at the burning motorcycle. "I guess we should follow that gang-"
"No." Kirisaki peers at him. "I'm going to. Don't follow me! I'm going after them!"
What? Gunmax turns his head to his partner. "But, Kirisaki-!"
"Shut up and do as I say!" Kirisaki snaps at him, turning his bike and driving down the highway after the group.
The temptation to follow is there; he wants to make sure that Kirisaki is going to be okay, but he has to make the choice to trust him.
So he does.
"Right," Gunmax says quietly to himself. "Whatever you say, partner."
That leaves him to do... what? He isn't sure. Maybe to go back and get repairs done, not that he's really all that injured. Scraped up at worst. He's already regretting letting Kirisaki drive off like that, but he said to leave it to him.
Which means what, exactly?
Forget it. He doesn't need to follow Kirisaki, but he can try to track one of the gang members that drove off. Doubtful that they would have taken off in a group. That, and Gunmax can catch up easily, no matter their mods.
"They can't do this," he mutters to himself. "CHANGE! Gunmax Armor!"
His motorcycle comes apart, attaching itself to his body; Gunmax takes to the air, making it all the easier to work on tracking down of them. He smirks to himself, peering down at a straggler on his own, someone in a red motorcycle.
That's more like it.
Gunmax dives down sharply, just stopping short of the pavement in order to get in the way of the gang member. At the sight of the flying robot, the man shrieks. Smirking, Gunmax fires his shotgun once, the front tire going out and causing the bike to smash through the road's barrier.
"Damn it!" the gang member curses, scrambling out from the wreckage as his bike bursts into flames.
Mentally commanding the motorcycle to come off his body, Gunmax approaches the man with his magnum in hand.
"Where did you get such power-packed mods?" the robot asks ever-so-politely while pointing his gun at him.
The human snorts. "You're asking me? Cut the bull - you know all too well!"
Well, if that wasn't such a way for him to lose the smirk. "What do you mean?" Gunmax demands.
"Your friend sold it to me, remember? It's good business!"
The immediate reaction he feels is utter denial. What the hell did this man think, accusing his partner like that? Gunmax practically shoves his gun further at the gang member. "Liar!" he snaps.
The man's voice quivers, his body trembling in real fear; a single gunshot from Gunmax would do more than just kill him, if the robot was so inclined. "I-I'm not lying! All the major gangs around here are Kirisaki's clients."
"That... that can't be-" Gunmax almost pulls back. What is he supposed to do?
It's quiet for a moment and the gang member stares at Gunmax, unsure of what the robot will do.
Gunmax stands up, but keeps his gun trained on him. "Well. Guess I'll have to bring you in for owning illegal modifications."
"What? After I-"
"That's enough!" Gunmax snaps at him.
The least he can do is arrest this damn guy, then investigate on his own.
After poking around in headquarters, he's found some disturbing pieces of information. The investigation is entirely on his own, so Gunmax chooses to say nothing to anyone as he looks into this matter. This accusation that Kirisaki would have anything to do these gangs...
Much of the weapons inventory of the Highway Patrol is missing. Modifications picked up from criminals are equally missing. Gunmax even went one step further and decided to hack into the surveillance tapes, and although they show no activity, he can see the distinct implications of those tapes being modified. And for someone like Kirisaki who's worked here so long... he'd probably have those kinds of skills of removing himself from the videos.
No. What if it's someone else? What if that gang member was just trying to make him nervous?
It's hard to say.
While Gunmax is getting repaired, he considers tonight. No matter what, he decides, he will not tell anyone. No, if it's true, then he needs to just trust that Kirisaki will turn himself in. He's a good man, he'll do the right thing.
Until then, Gunmax just needs to wait. That's all.
He watches Kirisaki pull up to park, his partner climbing out of his bike. "Tch, I lost them," he growls. "Gunmax, you all right?"
"Mm, I'm fine." Gunmax offers a small smile.
"Heard you managed to catch one on your own, though." Kirisaki gives a laugh. "I feel like I need to step up my game."
"It's okay. You can't help that you're getting old," Gunmax teases with a smirk.
"Ouch!" Kirisaki snorts. "Watch who you're calling old there, hotshot." He rolls his shoulders. "I'm calling it a night. I'll see you tomorrow."
Gunmax nods once. He debates saying something, but he isn't sure how he could bring up such a topic. So, he leaves it alone. Instead, he waves off his partner.
That's all he can do.
The days that followed are a bit harder. Gunmax is quieter and he's certain that Kirisaki has noticed the behavior, but he continues to do his best to act like nothing has changed. That he doesn't know anything. But it's harder to deny the information he's gotten. Kirisaki gets in later, sometimes he decides to go off on his own, but comes back empty-handed.
Gunmax doesn't get angry, but it doesn't help the suspicions.
Still, for all of his silence, for his hopes that his trust in Kirisaki would pay off-
There comes a day in which Gunmax returns from a joyride in order to meet Kirisaki for their shift.
He stands in the parking garage, seeing Kirisaki's bike, just not him. And he waits a few minutes before he hears one of the other patrolmen behind him.
"Gunmax... Kirisaki's- he's been fired."
The robot jerks. No. "Damn it," Gunmax hisses to himself, turning around and running out of the lot.
Down the front of headquarters, he sees Kirisaki leaving.
He has no idea what he would say, but he isn't ready to see his friend go. He had- he trusted him to do the right thing, he hoped.
"Kirisaki!" Gunmax shouts after him.
He isn't prepared for the angry, hateful look that Kirisaki shoots at him from over his shoulder. "I can't believe that you'd sell out your own partner."
"No! You're wrong!" Gunmax pleads.
The rage in Kirisaki's eyes are impossible to miss, and he hates knowing who it's aimed at. "Remember this: I will get back at you. I will make you feel my pain."
No words manage to come from Gunmax. Helplessly, he watches Kirisaki leave.
His shoulders slump. How could it have come to this...? What happened? Gunmax didn't tell a single soul!
Turning his head to see who the speaker is, he's not too surprised to see the chief of the Highway Patrol.
"Sir," Gunmax addresses him quietly.
"Did you know what Kirisaki was doing?"
"I-" Gunmax winces. "...Yes, sir."
The chief sighs. "Another patrolman found out not long ago and immediately reported it. When we looked hard enough, the evidence and the confessions were impossible to turn a blind eye to. I'm sorry to have had let go of your partner."
"Well. That's what laws are for." Gunmax tilts his head away.
"I understand your silence on the matter. But I hope nothing like that will happen again. We'll assign you a new-"
"I don't want a new partner," Gunmax hisses. "I can work without one."
The chief scowls. "This isn't up for discussion."
"No, it isn't." Gunmax turns away sharply, heading into the parking garage.
He'll do this himself.
Another week rolls by. Gunmax lashes out and cuts himself off from those he'd been acquainted with. It's hard to think of ever replacing Kirisaki, one of the few friends he'd made since he was powered on. He can't have a new partner. He knows that Kirisaki was a dirty cop, but it didn't make him less of a friend.
It just hurts that Kirisaki thinks so lowly, so brutally of him now.
So he becomes careless, reckless. Gunmax can still do his job just fine, especially alone, and he doesn't particularly care too much of how it's done, so long as it is.
Another case comes up, and finds himself driving ahead of one of the Brave Police members - Deckerd - and taking out something called a doublebot. He can only laugh when they remark upon his rougher decisions. They seem like a bunch of idiots, honestly. And ordered around by a kid, no less!
The chief of the Highway Patrol orders him back. And Gunmax can only give a helpless sigh, seeing the familiar car that belongs to Saejima and Toudou.
He leans against the wall as he sees Toudou approach him.
"Guessing they've had enough of me," Gunmax mutters.
Toudou looks towards the office. "Well. It doesn't matter; we were expecting to have you become part of the Brave Police eventually, anyway. This is just sooner than we expected."
"Too bad! Didn't mean to ruin your delicate plans, old man." Gunmax snorts. "What do you want?"
"I was hoping to have a word with you." Toudou gives out a soft sigh. "I know you've had a hard time of it in the past few weeks. Another change isn't going to help you immediately."
Gunmax shrugs. "Well, it's not like I have a choice, do I?"
Toudou shakes his head. Clearly, the old man isn't going to argue that. "Kirisaki wasn't honest with you or the rest of his team. I don't want you to feel the same way about us."
"So there's a big secret you want to tell me," Gunmax says flatly. "This ought to be good."
"It's about BP-600."
That... isn't what he was expecting. Gunmax frowns and crouches down to get closer to Toudou. "You know about BP-600?"
"I designed you and BP-600. I wasn't there for the construction, but I sent to schematics to America for the parts and labor." Toudou rubs the bridge of his nose. "You never met BP-600, and... you never will. What I want you to know, Gunmax, is that I didn't know what was happening. It's not how I would have treated either of you."
There's a soft grunt and Gunmax snaps, "Get to the point."
"...That's fair." Toudou folds his arms. "You're a cop. You know what it means for a prisoner to be placed into nearly complete isolation? Solitary confinement? What it does to a man is insane. After BP-600 was constructed, he was immediately placed into a shipping container for storage. Then they went to work on you. For that entire month, Gunmax, he was awake and aware and feeling. It got to the point that he made an ultimate decision."
He's quickly sure that he does not like where this was going, but he can't not know now. Gunmax clenches his hands tightly. "What happened to him?"
"...BP-600 jumped into the ocean after he broke out of his shipping container. He killed himself, Gunmax."
There's a moment of silence. The robot really isn't sure what to say. That the one constructed before him decided it was easier to die because of how he was treat - and Toudou decided it was easier to inform him just so that there's no secrets? Hearing all this after everything that's happened isn't really making him feel better.
He braces a hand to his helm. "I don't... I don't understand. Why did they-?"
"For some, a machine's just a tool. A lot of people don't understand most of you yet. Frankly, I'm still working on that aspect, too. But I wanted you to know what happened. I don't want there to be those kind of dark secrets."
Gunmax eventually looks down at Toudou a little more directly. "Who was he supposed to be?"
Toudou glances away, down the parking lot and towards the parked motorcycles. "BP-600 was supposed to be your partner. You were both constructed to work together. With his passing, though, you had to be changed. Reformatted to accept the new data. I hadn't finished updating the configurations for the Max Cannon by the time they were done. I won't upload them yet, not until you're officially part of the Brave Police."
"What if I don't want to be?"
"I'm not sure," Toudou admits.
A way of saying that Gunmax probably doesn't have much of a choice.
The biker lets out a humorless laugh. "Yeah. Okay. I get it."
"For what it's worth, I am sorry. Saejima and I will wait outside for you when you're ready." A small hand pats Gunmax's ankle before Toudou walks away.
In silence, Gunmax stands, braced against the wall. No, hardly any choice at all. He knows what he was made for. That he was made to help uphold the law. Even if Gunmax didn't want to be part of this, what other choice does he have? What else can he do outside of that?
All of them. All of the BP line has been made for one job. It was long decided for them before they powered on.
It's what they're made for.
Gunmax lets the air escape his vents before he heads to his motorcycle.