(A/N: yes, a post that is on time! I feel so proud! And of course it's the one I had the hardest time writing. It's so weird, I love writing action fics but actual action fighting scenes I have trouble with, like this one, but hopefully its not too terrible. Tell me if I need to add more detail or whatever, because I'd be happy to oblidge! Enjoy the chappie!)

Chapter 9: Maiden Voyage

Rage. Pure rage was what guided Ichiro's sword as he swung mercilessly at the man, faster and faster as he went. He had initially gotten the man once in the back after his initial assault on Rio, but now they were in a heated battle, Ichiro advancing and the man blocking as fast as each of them could. The blonde felt like his arms were burning, how could they do this? How could they just waltz in and do that to Rio? To their town? The man finally went on the offensive, attempting to strike with one of his claw toed boots, hovering in the air to do so. Dodging as fast as possible, his armor clad torso still got nicked.

"Did I anger you, little boy?" He sneered, using his speed and high ground advantage to start backing Ichiro into a corner.

"Nice work, Shryke." The woman called from far off, pleasure things were seemingly going well.

"Yeah, I'll make nice work out of you after I'm done!" He taunted. Their blows were almost to fast to see now, both combatant's arms just a blur in a flurry of slashes, blocks thrusts.

"Don't leave me out of the party!" Rio's voice called out of the blue. Ichiro, not able to take his eyes off his opponent for a second, grunted

"Finally decided to join us huh?"

"Well I thought I'd get up and dance a little, and I can't leave my lovely dance partner waiting, can I?" Rio's hand immediately changed to a buster and fired a quick shot at Shryke's side to give his friend a chance to get out of the corner he was in. He then turned his attention to the woman who had decided to stay out of the battle for as long as she could.

"I was wondering when I'd get the chance." She smirked. Rio advanced, but warily, seeing as he didn't know what kind of weapon she possessed.

"Do I get the pleasure of knowing your name?" He raised an eyebrow.

"Naga, Naga Nebuloid, and that's Shryke Supernova. I guess you realize your reputation precedes you, X? Or should I say Rio Maverick?"

"A little bit of both actually." He replied, readying his buster, trying to hide the growing light from his charging it. He eyes flicked to said buster, and immediately pulled out her own gun, firing a barrage of shots in his direction. Rio made a splitsecond decision to take a hit to be able to dodge the others and save his charge shot. The appropriately fang shaped bullet about as long as his forearm hit him in his shoulder, exploding on contact. It very nearly threw him off balance, but he was still able to jump high enough to clear the rest of the bullets. Without a second to spare he fired his charge shot at Naga, seeing her eyes widen a bit. Doing what he felt like he had done a million times, he dashed, following the path of the giant energy bullet that aimed at his opponent to ensure the next shot was point blank. But what he did not anticipate was that her repeated firing at the bullet would dissipate it, and her leftover shots would hit him square in the chest. He turned it into a backflip and landed on his feet but it took a lot out pf him.

"I thought you'd be a little more challenging, X! A three year old could pilot that thing better than you." She let her pride seep through without hesitation. Glancing for the smallest moment at Ichiro, Rio saw that he wasn't doing very well either. It didn't turn out like either of them planned. These two weren't raiding the town for the chip, they had wanted to draw the pair of boys out in the beginning, to get right to the source. And they obviously had experience piloting their respective armors, they were prepared. Ichiro had started to get deeper cuts in his armor, in parts wherethere was only fabric to cover the joints he was even showing blood. Shryke was a master swordsman, that was for sure.

"Just tell us where the chip is boys! Then we can call this little spat off." Ichiro's opponent pointed out.

"Like I would hand it over to the likes of you!" The red armored boy pushed off the ground with all his might and prepared to bring his sword down on Shryke's egg head (bird pun lol). Shryke flew up to meet him in midair, claws at the ready. Ichiro's eyes shined with the look of a sly fox, he had been expecting his opponents move. Twisting his body just enough to avoid his claws, Ichiro fell behind the man, whipped out his sword and jammed it into Shryke's back, dismembering one of his wings. They both plummeted to the ground, almost tripping Rio as he backpedaled from Naga's shooting. He ducked behind a nearby house, hoping it would force her to come and find him or move forward at the very least. It sickened him that she was beating him by just standing at one spot. Remembering the test run from earlier, he wall jumped to the top of the building and began hopping rooftops. She spotted him about twenty seconds later, but he already had had plenty of time. Buster charged, he launched himself into the air, the arc of his jump taking him directly over Naga's head.

"Eat buster!" He screamed, pulling the trigger. The energy bullet propelled itself toward the woman like a comet, gaining speed as it went. When it impacted the ground, plumes of dust came up, like before they had arrived at the town, covering Shryke and Ichiro as well, the latter of which was limping away at a slow pace. Now all to do was wait, wait to see what happened when it cleared.