Wherein the Brave Police blunder around and through a series of prompts that don't seem to come with a map attached.

Title: Directionally Challenged, Pt. 1

Warnings: Random prompts create random ficlets.

Rating: PG

Continuity: Brave Police J-Decker

Characters: All of 'em

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

Motivation (Prompt): An open post where I asked for people to please drop prompts for me, and I attempted to write them as fast they appeared. This is something I intend to continue with the Brave Police, as tiny cute ficlets are so easy and fun!

[* * * * *]

Drillboy - first thunderstorm

[* * * * *]

Power Joe had powered down for the night alone, just like normal. The BP units didn't even need technicians for this anymore: hook up four power cables, two data input/output cables, and the monitor link-in to the other units at their recharge stations. The rig-arms kept the cables at the right height. They just had to position their backs against the repair cradles' support bars and reach behind themselves to make the actual connections. Easy as driving.

McCrane still did the connections for Drill Boy, but that was because keeping Drill Boy from wriggling free required Dumpson to hold him in place until the recharge protocols kicked in. The brat had a surfeit of energy and the attention span of a ooo shiny! Telling him to keep still only kept movement at the forefront of his spastic thoughts. Fortunately, some Chief Engineer by the surname of Toudou had come prepared for sentient robots with an inability to sleep on command. Apparently, his brother's children had a similar problem, and he hadn't wanted to have to stay up half the night in the maintenance bay coaxing reluctant mecha to sleep.

The similarities between growing children and the BP units was sometimes eerie. Saejima had suggested bedtime stories before Toudou came up with this idea, which had brought about two men leaning back in their chairs enjoying a drink and speculating on what would be a good bedtime story for five meter tall manmade robots. They decided on classic mystery stories for children, or possibly police files for unsolved crimes. None of the mecha ever questioned why translated copies of 'The Nancy Drew Mysteries' and 'The Encyclopedia Brown Series'showed up on a shelf outside the Chief's office door, but everybody knew where the entire Sherlock Holmes series migrated to the day after the series first appeared. McCrane only gave the books up under duress, and only if a mecha swore on his paintjob that he'd return them in the same condition they were loaned out in.

Anyway, the nice thing about being hooked into the computers for the night was the external protocol transmission. Otherwise Power Joe was absolutely sure McCrane would stay up all night worrying about philosophical ideas, Dumpson would wake them all up with those weird dreams about Miss Ayako he had that sent his engine revving hot, and Drill Boy would just never shut down. Ever.

Especially not tonight, with the wild lightening show and thunder booming afterward. It actually hadn't occurred to any of the Build Team to watch the weather forecast out of anything but routine, but Yuuta had recognized the implications of an incoming thunderstorm. Having gone through this three time before, their Boss had wised up to the way of new-built mecha with human hearts. Namely that they thought they were prepared to face their first large weather event - but inevitably ended up outside his window at all hours, optics huge and overly-bright as they hesitantly tapped on the glass and asked if lightning really would zap their Super A.I. to cinders.

Deckerd, at least, had the excuse of simply being new. The Build Team had been too dang proud to ask their more experienced leader about it. Shadowmaru was never going to live it down, but he'd been outside Yuuta's window, too. The ninja had been fine right up until Vice-Commissioner Azuma off-handedly mentioned how the military typically didn't bother repairing jets that were hit by lightening, on or off the airfield. Turned out that Azuma had just been trolling Shadowmaru in petty revenge for taking his parking spot the week before, but that hadn't kept the Ninja Detective from suffering a minor panic attack when the thunder started rolling.

None of the Brave Police were vulnerable to lightening strikes, no matter the anxiety and pain a direct hit caused. Yuuta had patiently explained that to them, just as Chief Toudou had explained it to him during a tearful 3 AM phone call when Deckerd had first asked the question. He hadn't thought Shadowmaru needed 'The Talk,' or he'd have done it before the shaken purple mecha appeared out of nowhere to wake him up at midnight and lose 50+ Ninja Cool Points by admitting the Vice-Commissioner had thoroughly freaked him out.

Once Yuuta spotted the incoming weather and reminded them of their embarrassing first storm experiences, McCrane had taken it upon himself to give 'The Talk' this time. Commissioner Saejima had choked on thin air and given them an astonished look after overhearing that, strangely. He'd recovered quickly, of course, and complimented them on their maturity. He'd given the Boss a weird look, though, when McCrane credited the boy with the idea.

Drill Boy, oddly enough, had sat completely still the whole time, green optics big and intent. Getting struck by lightning wasn't something that would have entered his head, probably, but none of them were taking the risk of a drill-tank bursting out of the street in front of the Tomonaga residence because the youngest BP unit didn't think about it until the booms started. Dumpson had been sure to hook the brat around the neck and tussle with him as the rain started to fall after dark, trying to distract him. The combination of logical explanation and distraction seemed to have worked.

Or so they'd thought until they got off shift and headed to the maintenance bay to recharge. Dumpson had towed Drill Boy outside to take the long way around the building and let him play in the puddles, but that backfired spectacularly. Drill Boy's wailing preceded his running entrance into the maintenance bay, with Dumpson yelling as he tried to keep up with the one-mecha stampede. It'd taken all three of the elder Build Team members plus Shadowmaru as backup to convince Drill Boy that the sky wasn't out to kill him.

Okay, so Power Joe might have casually terrified the brat before McCrane got to him. It was amazing what excess electricity would do to their systems, really, and the risk of giant metal objects getting hit by lightening was pretty high. As Drill Boy hyperventilated despite Shadowmaru running through a ventilation exercise with him, Power Joe got the feeling that, uh, maybe he shouldn't have thrown those kind of facts at the gullible newbie.

Still, he refused to feel bad - alright, too bad - about it, because a scaredy-cat Drill Boy was a Drill Boy who submitted meekly to being tucked into his recharge station for once. It took nearly half of a 'Boxcar Children' book as read by Power Joe and McCrane, a canister of jet fuel split halvesies with Shadowmaru, and Dumpson calling Miss Ayako for an update on just what kind of danger she was putting herself into this week in the name of researching a new story, but the littlest BP unit's systems finally calmed down into acceptable hook-up parameters.

Sheesh. All this because Drill Boy was afraid to go outside into a thunderstorm. None of the others remembered being that scared of weather.

…Power Joe was having some trouble with that 'not feeling bad' thing.

The kid still had a fearful expression plastered over his face, even after the recharge protocols kicked in and made him doze off. Power Joe had delayed the protocols himself until he was sure the youngest Build Team member had fallen fast asleep.

Which was why he was so confused when he woke up the next morning with Drill Boy snuggled close, cabling stretched across the room and face a picture of peace as he slept blissfully, wrapped up safe and secure in Power Joe's arms.

[* * * * *]

Shadowmaru and Power Joe - martial arts movie marathon

[* * * * *]

"Jackie Chan."

He typed intently. "Of course. Do I look a fool, Master Power Joe? Jackie Chan is a given." Because he really was. If Power Joe hadn't put the man's movies on the list, Shadowmaru would have. There were classics, and then there were classics.

The power shovel bent over his shoulder and looked at the list. "Bite me, mutt. Oo, 007 movies? Didn't you know you liked James Bond, too." He glanced up, looking at the empty desk where their resident British git usually resided. Shadowmaru snuck the fourteen 'Mission Impossible'movies into the list while he was distracted and scrolled up so they'd hide among the already-approved movies. The ninja had a thing for the theme song, okay? It ran fairly continuously through his head during missions involving stealth. "Think Duke likes James Bond?" Power Joe asked, oblivious to the sneaking.

"I think Ilike them," Shadowmaru said dismissively. "Sir Knight would hardly want to sit through a movie marathon with us. Ah, I'll take that one, thank you kindly."

"'Kill Bill'?" Power Joe read off the screen. "Should I know that one?"

"Hmm, maybe. We'll see what your tolerance for gore is, my friend." Oops, now the power shovel wouldn't back down even if he had to hide under his desk afterward. Shadowmaru knew that mulish look. He added another movie to the queue to counteract the gore. Hopefully, that'd let the Build Team sleep sometime in the near future instead of coming online at all hours trying to calm one of their team members. McCrane would have his wings for bookends if Power Joe had nightmares about blood-covered women in wedding gowns, because the crane mecha wasn't nearly as covert about planning that hypothetical wedding as he thought he was. Although the idea of Colonel Seia in a white dress sending a giant robot into a panic attack was rather funny.

Power Joe continued to read over Shadowmaru's shoulder, innocently ignorant of the ninja's amused - if somewhat apprehensive - thoughts. "'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'? That seems...odd." Childish, he meant, but if the ninja was going to slide that one in, then he knew what movie he wanted. "'Kung Fu Panda,'" he demanded.

Shadowmaru added it without quibble, because, well, yeah. Giant panda plus martial arts? What wasn't to love? "We don't tell McCrane," he warned, because otherwise they'd have the crane sitting in on their movie marathon, and then they'd never even get through the opening credits of 'Kill Bill.'McCrane was positively precognitive when it came to protecting his team from trauma.


The ninja clicked over to a new screen, and the two BP units breathed in awed unison, "Chuck Norris."

There were classics, and then there was legend.

[* * * * *]

Duke and Gunmax - teaching proper English

[* * * * *]

Duke had been brought online with perfect English downloads. He also had Japanese language files. He spoke both languages equally well, as he should, although he politely refrained from mixing his language usage. Regina herself spoke four languages fluently, and she'd sternly lectured him on avoiding the social blunder of using words the Japanese wouldn't readily understand.

So it bothered him immensely for two weeks that Gunmax spewed both languages. Worse, the cheeky bastard didn't even do it right. He used the correct words, true, but he mangled English into Engrish every single time. Hearing the 'l' sound get transformed into an 'r' was enough to make Duke's language files try and crawl out of his processors. Gunmax spoke Japanese and English like a mad chef throwing words into a blender without a lid. Vowels and consonants slurred every which way at random.

Duke couldn't understand how a robot with a functioning computer could speak a language so badly. It was just vocabulary plus grammar and pronunciation data, after all. The Motorcycle Detective seemed to have a good grasp on the meaning of the words he used; his understanding for reading and writing rated far above his oral capabilities. Even his listening abilities were above his speaking, however, and that was the baffling part. Duke knew Gunmax could understand spoken English, which implied that he'd heard properly pronounced English before. He could read and, er, generally spell the words correctly. He could understand them when Duke said them aloud. He just completely failed when saying them himself.

That didn't sound like data file error. That sounded intentional, and deliberately antagonizing "that British 'bot" by mispronouncing English fit Gunmax's jerk personality like a glove.

Anger over the perceived slight built and built until finally, after two long Engrish-filled weeks, the Knight Detective lost his temper. He snapped at the green mecha in English, "Cease your disrespect! If you think your beastly usage is somehow a cute accent, you are sadly mistaken, and I will not tolerate your flagrant misusage of my native tongue any longer. Either quit your pathetic attempt at humor and correct your words, or stop using them altogether!"

The rest of the Decker Room stopped what they were doing and stared. Even Gunmax's notoriously irrepressible badass image took a short vacation as he gaped.

Duke just stood there, optics narrowed imposingly and arms folded over his hood. Shadowmaru seemed faintly puzzled as the ninja's Super A.I. obviously tried to translate the foreign words, but the Build Team just as obviously didn't have the first idea of where to even begin. Drill Boy didn't so much as blinked as his soccer ball bounced off his head and rolled away. Power Joe slowly reached out and muted his soap operas. Deckerd looked between his new lieutenant and old partner with a concerned frown as Gunmax's gape turned quickly to sputtering, then a furious expression of outright anger.

"Just where do you get off - " the green mecha started in a bare hiss, and ugh, the words were almost unintelligible. The Engrish was even worse when the cad was upset, apparently.

"Stop this insolence immediately, or I will cite you for disrespect and put you on report," Duke interrupted coldly. There was something deliciously right about putting the fool in his place using English instead of Japanese. He'd missed speaking it, to be honest, and his righteous anger over the disrespect shown to both himself and his Lady boiled over in his words. "Provoking a superior officer may have passed as acceptable behavior in the past, but I am not Deckerd." The Brave Police's leader jumped in his seat, recognizing the English pronunciation of his name. He seemed very worried and about to intervene, which was nonsense. Duke didn't need to borrow Deckerd's authority to put down Gunmax's adolescent stunt. "I have reached my tolerance level for your rude behavior. Mocking me carries consequences, and I will not hesitate to pull you up short using whatever means I find necessary if you do not curb your tongue!"

Gunmax's head jerked back as if the Knight had slapped him. He opened his mouth and shut it. Opened it.

Duke waited. One more push, Gunmax. He just needed one more stupidly persistent bit of Engrish to file a complaint.

The other BP unit seemed to realize that fact, too, or maybe he realized he was far too furious to say anything that wasn't going to be an intentional insult he really would get in trouble for. But where-as Deckerd tended to punch first when his temper went off, Gunmax's first instinct was to storm away in huff. The green mecha shut his mouth with an audible click, and his lips set in a grim scowl before he pivoted on one heel and stalked stiffly from the Decker Room.

Duke watched him go and sniffed disdainfully. That had gone well.

"Sir Knight," Shadowmaru started slowly, optics wide and hands up in a placating gesture, "is there, perhaps…a problem?" Whatever else the ninja was, a translator he was not. He'd gotten about one in ten of the English words said, and that was putting him ahead of the rest of the team.

"Not anymore," the British mecha said with great satisfaction.

Except that it had been a problem. He'd been expecting a few days of pissy-but-cowed Gunmax, perhaps another small tiff to test Duke's resolve, but then he'd genuinely expected the Highway Patrolman to man up and get over it. They had the potential to work well together, if only the green mecha would suck it up and start acting like a gentleman instead of a complete misbegotten bastard. Gunmax was more of a hotshot cowboy than anything else, and American cowboys had a code of honor Duke could respect. So once Gunmax got over being called out on his poor manners, Duke had expected him to drop into place on the team quite well.

Instead, he'd gotten an enraged and offended mecha on his hands. A ridiculously independent one, at that. Duke hadn't been quite clear on what Gunmax's actual role was in the department, but it evidently didn't require the green mecha to return to Police HeadQuarters every day. Or even every other day. From way Deckerd grew more anxious by the hour, this wasn't normal behavior even for what Power Joe jokingly called Max-fits.

By the fourth day, Drill Boy was forlornly piling his soccer balls on Gunmax's abandoned desk as if he were trying to get yelled at. Yuuta asked after the missing BP unit but seemed to accept the non-answer Deckerd hedged around. Power Joe and Dumpson gave Duke a wide berth, but that wasn't anything new. McCrane and Shadowmaru had their heads together, however, giving Duke scrutinizing looks he pretended not to notice. Later on, Deckerd called in to say he was going to do a patrol route with Gunmax instead of taking his off-shift. That implied that Gunmax wasstill working; he just wasn't returning to the Decker Room between shifts.

Duke didn't get it. If anyone should have been holding a grudge, it was him, not Gunmax!

Unless…it was barely possible that the horrid Engrish could have been a real thing, not mockery. But that didn't make sense. Not really, but…still. Just in case?

"Lady, perhaps you should check the Japanese Brave Police units' English language files for errors," he delicately suggested after a week of icy silence when Gunmax finally reappeared in the Decker Room for brief, hostile periods of time. It amazed Duke how effective a visor was when it came to glaring.

Not as effective as the narrow-eyed look of criticism Regina turned on him. That had him flinching in his armor. What had he done? "None of the BP units outside of Scotland Yard have English language files, Duke."

He reset his optics in surprise. "What? But, Lady - "

Suddenly, he was forced to re-evaluate the confrontation with Gunmax from the very beginning. That cast things in a completely different light.

Not offended and angry; embarrassed and defensive. Because…oh, dear. Well, now he felt like a total arsehole.

Of course Engrish instead of English. The reason his Lady spoke Japanese instead of English here in Japan was because so few of the Japanese personnel she worked with spoke understandable English. They comprehended more than they spoke, but the English words came out sounding…almost exactly like Gunmax's poor pronunciation, if Duke had bothered to make that connection. The idea of connecting human and robot under these circumstances simply hadn't occurred to him.

If Gunmax was speaking any form of English at all, it was an accomplishment in and of itself, because only the engineers knew the BP units' capacity for internal datapak expansion. Their Super A.I. were capable of learning, but there was a vast difference between adaption and life lessons and, uh, language lessons. The Highway Patrolman was working, not out of installed language files, but from the self-written datafiles made by someone picking up a second language on his own. With the amount of poor English Duke had seen and heard so far in Japan, Gunmax actually wasn't doing too badly. Had someone been teaching him, or was he absorbing it through general exposure?

The Knight Detective had the sinking feeling he owed Gunmax a profound apology, and maybe an English lesson or two.

[* * * * *]

[A/N: I realized just how much I was adding to these as I edited. Here was a good point to stop.]