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Formula Sentai: Fullbringer! {History}

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Araxiel

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Prelude

Lap 1- Dash! The Man That Inherits Crimson​

Screeching echoed around the empty city streets, rudely awakening whoever in the neighbourhood was asleep- which, given that it was shortly after three in the morning, was pretty much everybody. A screeching as if from a giant bat, followed closely by the screeching of rubber tyres on pavement. The sounds darted back and forth, heard from different corners of the city, as if duelling.

Residents would have been shocked to see a large black shape sweeping past their windows, if any but a small minority could see it. For most, the sounds had no visible source, for the creature making them was a Hollow, of the Menos class, a creature seeming like a great black sheet had draped itself over a tower and taken flight. Its tattered robes flapped in the wind behind its huge-eared, fanged mask. The creature shrieked again and climbed higher, attempting to gain some distance on its pursuer.

From around a corner came a glorious sight, such as it was- although just as selectively-visible as the Menos. A red streak resolved itself into a sleek, shining red vehicle, a high-powered racing car writ large, its tyres making a screeching to match the bat Menos' as it gave pursuit.

Not for the first time this evening, its driver went through a cycle that began with lamenting his vehicle's lack of guns, continued on to scanning his dashboard and controls for anything that might be a switch for guns, before resigning himself to the fact that he still didn't have guns. He still wasn't sure what he'd do if he caught the bat. Try and ram it, he supposed.
Something caught his attention on the monitor. The readings from the Menos changed. The distance was closing rapidly...

'It's coming towards me. Great.' He would have confronted the irony in now being unhappy the thing he was chasing was now getting closer, if it didn't mean that he now had to figure out what to do that much sooner.
The Menos flipped, soared straight upwards, then went into a spiralling nosedive. The driver sighed, shrugged his shoulders, and threw the steering wheel to the right as hard as he could, like he'd seen in the movies.
On command, the car went into a spinout, its rear spoiler smacking the Menos right across its nose more by luck than by judgement, wringing a pained, confused screech from the creature. The driver attempted to congratulate himself, but was cut off halfway by the dawning realisation that he had utterly lost control of his vehicle.

'Nope.'
He wrestled with the steering wheel, only succeeding in cracking the car's nose into a bus stop and spinning it around again.
'Nope nope.'
The car careened sideways into an apartment block and rebounded off it, startling several cats into enraged flight.
'No way!'

Finally admitting defeat, the driver let the car disappear. It unravelled into red light and faded into the occupant's suit, an armoured red uniform that absorbed the impact as he dropped, still going at notable speed, to the pavement and rolled halfway down the street before coming to an undignified stop.
For several long minutes, a man lay face-down in the middle of the road. It was just past 3AM. He was wearing a red jumpsuit. He contemplated how life had brought him to this point.
Life was a harsh mistress, he conceded when a rubbish truck honked at him.

***​

"Hey, Kamumu, how did it go?"
"Uh, it's Kamui.' The young man who'd been [somewhat] driving the vehicle earlier, now clad in normal clothes, had barely got two steps into the converted trailer that served as his home and base of operations before exasperation had once more come calling. "Toymaker, don't you know how it went?"

The voice he'd answered to, a chirpy female voice, had come from a set of speakers in the trailer's cab. A screen next to them displayed only the words 'Toymaker: sound only'. Despite the lack of image, the voice's next reply definitely sounded like she was pouting.

"Well yeahhhhh, I sort of know how it went. But, y'know, let's have like a report, or a debrief, or something."
Kamui's eyebrow arched, and he sat down to consider how to reply, hands folded in his lap. "Well, it could fly. I didn't have much of anything to shoot at it. I hit it once with the spoiler, then I pretty much lost control and crashed."

"Oh man." Toymaker paused for a moment, every second confirming Kamui's suspicions that she barely had any more idea than he did about what they were doing. "Maybe I should've gone with planes after all..."
"What?"
"Nothing, nothing. Had to be race cars. No other way. Ahem, anyway, how did the glove work out?"

Kamui nodded politely. He hadn't noticed any cameras inside the trailer, but he was reasonably sure Toymaker knew what he was doing somehow. "It worked perfectly. My powers fueled it and the suit formed, just like you said. Even the car. It was a bit too powerful for me to handle, though."

"You'll get the hang of it. You're that type, after all. Anyway, got stuff to do. Laterrrrrr!"
A burst of static, then silence. While sitting alone and wondering what he'd gotten himself into sounded appealing, sleep struck Kamui as an even better idea.

***​

It was, thankfully, a much more sensible time of the day when Narehu elected to open a small Gargantia to send a Hollow and a squadron of her disappointing junk-Hollows through. The time of day and location were more or less arbitrary, as this was not much more than a proof of concept, but by coincidence it worked out to allow Kamui to get almost a decent amount of sleep before being woken up by a shrieking alarm.

"Why is this thing so piercing? And where even is it?" He searched, bleary-eyed yet frantic, around the dashboard to try to locate the noise. On cue, Toymaker's icons appeared on the screen, her voice just about chirping out over the alarm.

"Not much choice, guy. That's just how they come, for some reason. Would've liked a cuter noise, but tampering with it was low priority given all the-"
"What's it mean?"
"Hollows, Kamumu! Get driving!"
"Once I find them will this thing stop screaming?"
"..sure, let's go with that!"

***​

It was a frazzled Kamui that pulled up across the road from the Hollows, trying his best to plug his ears while steering. There was no mistaking the Hollow once he'd seen it- a spider-like thing, roughly humanoid except for the hunched, armoured back and four extra, multi-jointed limbs. The things around it were odd, though- like little, gangly men in black with really... cheap-looking Hollow masks, actually.

He jumped from the trailer gladly, as the alarm was less piercing from the outside. The Hollows paused in their task, the smaller ones scurrying around mostly aimlessly while the spider-thing dropped what looked like the grisly remains of a ghost.

"You can see us, kid?" It cocked its head. "What's that racket from the truck there? It's annoying."
"That's just how it comes." Kamui pulled on a padded glove, the back decorated in seemingly-random parts of car machinery arranged more for looks than functionality. "I- well, I guess you're a more manageable size? Gear... up."

On the command, a red light burst from the glove. The speedometer on the back leapt into life, summoning a reddish-hued cyclone around Kamui, accompanied by the sound of screeching tyres. He waved his arm, dismissing the wave of wind to reveal the same full suit of red armour he had worn much earlier that morning.
"Full... Red."

"If you're gonna look that showy, sound a bit more excited!" The spider, apparently a fan of the flamboyant, waved its arms, sending the little ones forward en masse. Kamui groaned a little, but gamely ran forward to punch a few out anyway. Things took a turn for the predictable when another two grabbed his arms, freeing a third to grab his legs, and all three to unceremoniously throw him to the spider Hollow. He rolled to a stop, hoping silently that the spider Hollow would take pity on his obvious pathetic state, and obligingly, its face exploded in a burst of blue and it jumped backwards into a building.

Wait, no, that wasn't right.

Kamui sat up and turned, as one, with the junk Hollows to look across at where the shots had come from. A blonde man with a ponytail and quite a cool-looking jacket sauntered around from behind the trailer. He looked around, Kamui noticing then that the man's right eye was hidden behind an eyepatch.
"Whoa, am I the first one here?" He span the gun in his hand and rested it on his shoulder, pumping his free fist in celebration. "Thought for sure she said the others lived closer. Hey, bro. Guess you'll have to pay close attention, and tell them how cool my entrance was."

Kamui, confused, pointed at his own visored face. "Me?"
"I'm not talking to the gangly things." The man reached in his pocket, and pulled out Kamui's glove.
No, wait. Kamui checked, and he definitely still had his glove. This guy just had another one, exactly like it.
"Don't tell me that-"

"Gear up!"
"-yeah, you're-"
An invisible engine roaring, the man charged forward, clad in blue armour of a similar make to Kamui's, guns in his hands blazing away at the junk Hollows.

He bowed quickly to the man in blue and got up, pushing over the mook next to him and kicking another one in the head. "I thought Fullbringer powers were meant to be unique. Did Toymaker-"

"Yeah, it's the glove." Spinning around, he shot two more with surprising accuracy. "We're not Fullbringers, if you want to be specific." Zap, zap, two more. "Fullbringers. You spell it the same, but you pronounce the last bit 'jers', like 'rangers'. It's a pun."

And one that would have required a lot less explaining in a non-written medium. Kamui didn't worry about this, though, as he got to wrestling with another junk Hollow to stop himself feeling useless. A woman in pink armour suddenly pulled it away from him, though, and beat it several times around the head with a bow. This struck him as an odd way to use a bow, but he didn't want to question someone who gave the impression she knew what she was doing.

"You're kidding me," he opted to say instead, earning only a disapproving "Tsk" from the woman, who proceeded to open fire with her bow at a group further off. The weapon reminded him somewhat of a Quincy, though, like himself and the man in blue, she too wore the glove and armour shaped like a Formula One driver merged with his own car.

At this point, he was hardly surprised to see yet another man, this time wearing green, standing by himself observing the fight. He walked over, but this one seemed to be ignoring him.
"Blue." Judging by that, at least, he definitely wasn't talking to Kamui. "I thought Yellow lived closest. Why isn't she here yet?"

"I don't know where everyone lives, stalker dude." A few more well-placed blue shots bowled over the last of the junk Hollows, and the blue man came over to join them. "I only just got to the country, but I was still here before you. Right, red guy?"
"Uh-"
"See? And now we're done before we're all even here."

Before the green man could reply, he was yanked off his feet by a thread wrapped around his midsection. The spider, apparently, had regained his feet and was none too happy about being shot in the face. To Green's credit, Kamui could have sworn that the man gave no noise other than an exasperated sigh as he was thrown through the air and smashed into a building.

"Alright, buddy, what do we do?" Blue clapped a hand on Kamui's shoulder.
"W-will he be-"
"Yeah, he's had worse. I hear. So do we wait for Yellow, or what?"

Thankfully, before Kamui had to tackle the dreaded task of making a decision, a loud, angry yell announced the unsurprising arrival of a woman in yellow armour, smashing what looked like a large, wedge-shaped shield directly into the spider's face. It hit the ground at about the same time as Green.

"Alright, hold your horses, I'm here and I'm wearing the stupid thing." Her visor darted between the four of them, and Kamui could feel himself being judged and found lacking. "S**t, you all look like bigger tools than I feel. Can we get this over with?"

Blue steered Kamui in her direction while Green stumbled over to them and Pink did her best to ignore them. "Nice to see you too, pal. Our frontman here was just about to come up with our finisher."
"Was I? I mean, yes." Kamui salvaged the remains of his pride and drew the small blade at his side. He'd noticed the others all had them, though most of them seemed to be ignoring them in favour of the bigger, cooler weapons they had. But he didn't, and he figured if he made them all use the sidearm this would be less obvious.

'Let's go with this,' he started, holding it up and clicking the blade down so it formed a pistol. Blue, obligingly, actually put away the more impressive gun he'd been wielding alongside the sidearm, and for a moment Kamui thought he'd gotten away with it. However, he could feel Yellow's 'are you kidding me' look burning through both their helmets and the intervening space, and there was a long, incredubly awkward silence before the other three followed suit and lined up with their sidearms.

One multicoloured rain of beams, like an aggressive rainbow, later and the spider Hollow met an unceremonious end. The other four turned around before its body had hit the floor, and before he could ask why or what was even going on now, the Hollow exploded, knocking Kamui flat on his back once again.

***​

Without even announcing his intention to stay, the ponytailed guy- now back in sensible, human clothes- threw a large bag onto the top of one of the bunk beds installed in the living compartments of the trailer. He was the only one who'd stuck around and changed back- Yellow had left almost immediately, and the other two had exchanged a few words with Blue before heading off themselves.

'Man, putting six bunks in here was kind of optimistic. Anyhow, I'm taking top bunk.'
'I don't mind.' Kamui didn't, really. If the man was going to insist on staying, it was kind of academic where he slept. There were four bunks in the front end and another two in the back, which he gathered were, indeed, an optimistic move on Toymaker's part, and one that made a whole lot more sense now he realised she'd roped four other poeple into this as well.

A small, kind of battered business card interrupted his thoughts, as the ponytailed man proffered it.
'Sven Ichijoji. Not been back in the country long, so thanks for having me and all that.'
'Oh.' Kamui took the card. It was slightly singed on one edge, worryingly. 'Kamui Hoshino. Sorry, I don't have any cards...'

A while later, the sun began to set on the world of the living. It was safe, once again, from a hastily put-together threat, by an even more hastily put-together response force. At some point. maybe, when they get their act together, they will be known as...
Formula Sentai: Fullbringer!
 
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Araxiel

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Lap 2- Soar! The burning Ride Racers​

OP: Formula Sentai Fullbringer
We can barely hear over our passionate hearts
The starting pistol as it fires
Let's start a race with victory as the goal
Everything else gets left behind

So go! Our splendid racers!
There's no 'Stop' signs on the road we're taking
That roaring engine you hear is your very soul
Thunder past lap after lap, a race that never ends
Forever and ever

Keeping up a pulse-pounding pace
Here and there our road takes us
A race we never want to end. Burning hearts!
The future waits for us at the finish line
We'll reach it, and we'll never stop reaching it
Formula Sentai, ready, go! Fullbringer!

'Who are those other people, anyway? Did Toymaker get all of you involved?'
'She did at that.' Sven clambered up onto the bunk he'd claimed, out of sight. Kamui heard a packet of something opening, and Sven's next words were muffled as if his mouth was full. 'Not over-familiar with any of them, but she's a friend of a friend. Got a message with the glove saying they could use a hand down here, so here I am.'

Kamui had assumed he'd be more put out by Sven essentially inviting himself to stay, but so far it had been a decent change just having the company. It reminded him, he decided, of being with his brother when he was younger- if his brother was a fair bit taller, had a strange accent, and one eye.

Has he actually got one eye? Sven had been in the trailer for a couple of days, but Kamui had yet to see the eyepatch so much as budge. For now, he had the better of his curiosity, and was certainly too polite to ask.

'So, you know who the others are?'
Sven sat atop one of the spare bunk beds, his legs swaying back and forth. He didn't answer right away, but he looked thoughtful as he chewed a mouthful of cereal.
'Mmm, I know some of 'em. A bit. I think.' He looked down, and cocked his head to one side. 'Maybe.'
Could that be vaguer? 'The pink and green ones-'

'Oh yeah. Yeah, pretty sure I met those guys before. Pink sounds familiar. Green definitely does. He's exactly the same as when I last ran into him. Didn't expect those two to show up with gloves too. How many of these things are there?'

'At least five.' Kamui looked over at the console Toymaker usually spoke from, but it had been quiet all morning. 'Judging by the colours, our friend's been watching too much-'
'Stop!' Sven held his hand up suddenly, nearly spilling his cereal. 'Say no more. Let's just say we all know what she's going for there.'

'Seems like Yellow's not a fan.'
'Like we were saying the other day,' he replied, shrugging, 'optimistic. Would have been nice if she'd just picked four of your friends, but I guess she needed people with powers, right?'

Kamui nodded, appreciating the easy segue away from the topic of him not actually having four friends. 'Five people with powers and free schedules who can drive... although I guess road laws don't really factor into it that much.'

***​

The sound of Sven's laughter didn't manage to carry across town, to where a flock of small dark-winged creatures were hard at work swooping and diving around the heads of a crowd of people. The ordinary folk couldn't see the birds, but could feel a little of their energy being drained each time one of the things passed.

Narehu allowed herself a cackle as she observed the process on her screens, then made a mental note that her diabolical laugh wasn't quite up to scratch just yet. More practice, indeed. Behind her, Rush yawned elaborately.
'What are these? More of the junk things?'

Narehu would have objected to her foot troops being described as 'junk' if they'd been anything but. 'Not quite, my lady. The birds are produced by this Hollow here.'

The view on the screen shifted to a Hollow resembling, oddly, an upright, conical beehive. It paused in its movement, sucked in all the birds, then spewed them out again. 'Since the birds are part of it, we can save energy by sending it through alone, and its collection abilities are also more efficient because of-'
The Hollow disappeared from the screen, knocked sideways by an unseen force.

***​

'Pedal to the metal! Green and Pink are already there, guys!'
'This is a truck.' Kamui gestured to the steering wheel with his free hand while he argued with the screen. 'Whatever you want, this thing is not that fast. And why didn't the alarm go off?'

'Why didn't-' Toymaker's voice trailed off into mumbling. Vague sounds of rustling papers and boxes falling over drifted through the speaker. '...piece of- anyway, just go with it for now. Gotta go talk to my suppliers. Ciao!'

The speaker cut off abruptly. Sven and Kamui looked at each other and shrugged.
'Just go with it?'
'Just go with it.' Sven patted Kamui's shoulder, and pointed off in the distance. 'Hey, there they are.'

Green pulled back on the cable in his hand, drawing his weapon- a heavy, studded mace ball- back to his grasp. He stood casually, glancing around. 'Simple enough. None of the foot soldiers this time.' He touched his fingers to the centre of his visor, draping the mace over his shoulder. 'The other three may not even be necessary.'

Pink, having apparently not done much up to this point, seemed to agree by default. She looked over as the trailer pulled up, and waved her bow towards the floored monster in a 'what can you do?' sort of fashion.

Dismounting the vehicle along with Sven, Kamui was just about to open his mouth to say something that doubtless would have been clever, before a sudden torrent of small, black birds rushed by and almost bowled him off his feet. He instead opted for 'Gear Up', Sven following a second behind. Not a moment too soon, as the odd hive-looking Hollow was upon them in an instant. Green was, once again, sent unceremoniously flying, with more of a sigh than any actual cry of pain. Kamui decided not to dwell on this for now, and drew his sidearm blade to defend himself.

Its birdlike claw clipped him across the chest, knocking a spray of sparks from his suit. He spun on his heel in a way that would have been pretty fun if he hadn't been smacked in the chest, but managed to keep his footing. As his reward, Kamui was treated to a flashy display of pink and blue as his two standing team-mates took the sensible option of shooting at the enemy.

The first few bolts struck home, Sven's gun to the fore and Pink's bow to the back, but then the air was filled with the birds again, swirling in a miniature cyclone around the Hollow. Dispersing, the birds left only empty air and a few very confused people in bright costumes.

***​

'Aya Takahashi.'
The woman in pink was now no longer in pink, but was in a slightly-too-clean-looking white tracksuit, and more to the point, was in the trailer with Kamui and Sven. Apparently for want of any other leads after the Hollow disappeared, she had elected to stay with them after Green traipsed off.

I see, Kamui thought to himself. I'm going to have to wait till they each reveal-
'Oh, and the green guy's Nagayuki Toda. We're not that well acquainted, but we got caught up in the same Soul Society stuff a few years back.'

He blinked rapidly while Sven, rummaging for another bag of cereal, stuck his head up and made that sort of 'Ohhhhhhh' noise people make when they finally realise where they remember a person from.
'You aren't going to let him introduce himself?'

'Nah, screw him. If he's not going to stick around,' Aya explained, taking a handful from the proffered bag of cereal and picking a few raisins out to stick in her mouth, 'no reason I have to cover for him. He's a self-centred jerk.'

At this point, the conversation got awkward and died down into general cereal-crunching noises. Kamui dearly wished they had some way to track the Hollows, of course- beyond Toymaker's intermittent screeching alarm- but it had become pretty clear even before Aya introduced herself that they had no such thing. If they did, of course, he would be able to track down the bat-like Menos and... probably not do much to it again.

'You know Toymaker?' For want of anything else to talk about, Kamui elected to prode for information on the one thing that [presumably] connected them. Aya paused for a moment, as if deciding how much to say, then nodded.

'Yes,' she said diplomatically, 'but I did promise not to reveal her name. The Soul Society incident I mentioned? She was pretty closely involved.' She folded her legs and drummed her fingers on her knee. 'I was younger. Didn't really know what I was doing with myself. I was... well, not really involved with someone, but projecting pretty hard on them. Wasn't great for either of us."

"You were a Quincy, right?" Silently, Kamui gave thanks to Sven for diverting the conversation away from what was shaping up to be quite a personal topic.

She nodded. "The bow kind of gave it away, right? I was. Past tense. I lost my powers for a while after this incident. I guess Toymaker remembered me, though." Shrugging, she pulled out the glove, and Kamui could see that the mechanisms on the back were virtually identical to his and Sven's, even close up. "I've got powers I'm familiar with again, and something to use them for. My life is, somewhat, back on track. That said, I do prefer blue to pink."

"I ain't swapping." Sven shot back, deadpan. "But having you around is going to come in handy- for finding that walking nest of birds, and also that big bat sucker my man here's been on the tail of."

It took Kamui a second to realise Sven was talking about the bat-like Menos, and another second to wonder how he knew. Toymaker, maybe? He realised he had no idea how much information she shared with each of them. This would have continued to trouble him, had not the alarm chosen that convinient moment to go off.

***​

One individual who did have the devices necessary to track both the Bat Menos and the Birdhive Hollow, and was in fact currently engaged in doing so, was Narehu. The Menos itself intrigued her, and presented a possibility. It wasn't part of their forces, for certain, but she was convinced it could be of use. Rather, it had given her an idea for a new train of research.

'But first,' she rounded on Birdhive Hollow, currently standing in her lab fiddling with its toes, 'you must return to the Living World. As an efficient collector, you need to make yourself useful. Lady Rush requires all the energy we can muster for her war effort, and is too busy to manage the activities of peons such as you and I.'

Very good. I'm getting the hang of people management. Not that this is a person. Nonetheless, Narehu was growing more convinced of her management skills by the minute, adding them to her repertiore as an invaluble minion. More so than Whelm, of this she was certain. Birdhive Hollow shambled off, not nearly as inspired by Narehu's rousing speech as she had hoped, but back to work regardless.
The figure of the Bat Menos drifted across her screens once more. Promising, very promising...

***​

'Don't bother asking where I was last time.' Yellow smacked a single bird out of the air with her shield, grumbling at its ineffectiveness. Maybe the red dork had been on the money about the stupid little blaster things.

A small bolt of green picked off another bird. It seemed this was the right tack, but shooting them individually was painfully slow. Green tracked his blaster around, carefully selecting another target. 'I wasn't going to. Your presence wasn't necessary, frankly.'

Yellow found herself on the horns of a dilemma- switching to the blaster would be as good as admitting Green was right, and she didn't want to give the dry-sounding jerk the satisfaction. On the other hand, trying to punch birds out of the air with a shield was clearly stupid. Deciding that maybe, both options kind of sucked, she elected to throw caution to the wind and charge the Hollow itself, shield to the fore. For her efforts, she recieved a tidal wave of birds to the face that knocked her flat on her back.

Spared further humiliation by the appearance of the trailer between her and the Hollow, Yellow quickly got back to her feet as the other three members of the team filed out and took up position.
"Gear Up!"

Green joined them as a storm of multicoloured energy transformed Kamui, Sven and Aya into their bright fighting forms. Sven tapped Kamui's shoulder with his gun.
"What's the play?"
Kamui felt flustered as, once again, Sven had put him in charge, but settled somewhat when he noticed that Aya seemed to be giving him the benefit of her attention as well. Green and Yellow, on the flanks, had already started stalking forward to engage the birds again.

"Gre- ahem. Green, Yellow, pull back. Wait for Blue and Pink to make us an opening."
Yellow's head shot around to focus on Kamui, sharply raising his fears yet again. In that moment of distraction, though, Sven and Aya both dropped to one knee and opened fire- individually-placed shots picking off specific birds in the flock. From the corner of his eye, Kamui caught Green stopping in place, then nodding thoughtfully. Toda? Was that his name? He seemed to be the analytical sort, so Kamui had figured he'd see the sense of the plan before Yellow. Just as he thought this, Green surprised him by firing a few shots overhead.

Two birds fell down at Kamui's feet and vanished. Green crouched beside him.
"Don't get distracted. Our opening's almost here."

A battle cry that sounded more annoyed than anything else signalled Yellow losing her patience and charging forward again. Birdhive Hollow responded as usual, but this time, the wave of birds seemed thinner somehow. Yellow stopped in her tracks, but braced behind her shield, birds bouncing left and right off the sheer surface. The Hollow barely had time to look around frantically for its depleted stock of birds before two blurs in green and red struck its flanks, a mace crashing into its head as Kamui's sidearm blade slashed an 'X' across its body. He spun on his heel, satisfied to note that Green did the same, and sketched a modest salute to the other three as the Hollow fell to the floor and exploded behind them.

He was three paces towards the trailer when a sharp screech pierced the air.

***​

Narehu looked at the numbers, tutting softly to no-one in particular.
"The second run was pretty disappointing. Barely got enough energy back to justify sending him out again..."

She drummed her fingers on the screen. Her other little project for the day, though, was looking to be going very nicely indeed. Independent though it was, the Bat Menos had responded to her summons nonetheless, eager to finish its attack on the kid in red. Having seen how helpless against its flying attacks he had been, Narehu felt satisfied that the mild, multicoloured nusciance would be out of her hair very soon.

***​

It is never a good state of affairs to be reminded of one's emotional state prior to being humiliatingly defeated hours before sunrise, yet Kamui found himself, once again, sat inside the cockpit of his oversized racing car. Once again, he resumed his futile search for a weapons switch. Once again, he resigned himself to not having guns, and began his pursuit of the immense bat-shaped shadow in the sky.

A blur of blue shot past his right. Kamui chastised himself for even being surprised at this point that Sven and the others could also summon cars- yes, there went a yellow one- because of course they could. Whatever witchcraft, machinery, or witch machinery Toymaker had employed in the gloves to copy his powers- a green and a pink one, both overtaking him- it clearly missed nothing out. And in some cases improved on things, he noted with some small irritation, because the blue and yellow cars clearly looked bigger.

Yellow jerked to one side, a dull red beam from the screeching Menos melting a furrow into the ground its tyres once trod. She brought her car around in a wide arc, coming back around Kamui's left to take up the rear of the formation. Sven settled in ahead.

"So, last time you span out, right?" His voice came through a small tinny speaker in Kamui's cockpit. Speakers but no guns? Great.
"I hit it with my spoiler a bit, but it wasn't worth it. I lost control and crashed." He thought of Sven's powers. "Say, do you happen to have guns on that thing?"
"Got no guns, but I got a plan. You might not like it, though."

"...that's never a good start." Kamui swerved hard to avoid another blast from the Menos as it swooped overhead, its scream ringing in his ears. He hauled his car around to keep on its trail. The others managed to drag themselves back into formation as Sven chimed in again.
"Sometimes you have to lose control a bit, right?"
"...no?"
"Yellow, give him a hand, would you?"

Kamui had no time to resign himself to his fate. His attention was entirely consumed by feelings of betrayal, and feelings of a heavy impact to his rear as Yellow unceremoniously rammed him.
"Spin out again!"
"Fine!" Kamui screamed down the speaker, petulantly throwing his steering wheel hard to the right. His car immediately began spinning wildly, going way off course-

It struck Green's car and rebounded like a pinball. Pink intercepted him again, bouncing him back. Sven's car swerved, spun around on point, and went into hard reverse. Through all the crashing and spinning, Kamui barely registered Sven yelling something encouraging and his car careening up Sven's like a giant ramp, still spinning crazily.

***

He came to in his bed, and promptly decided to vomit.

Sven reliably informed him that, as per his plan, it had indeed been 'awesome'. As intimidating as the Bat Menos was, a rapidly-spinning plus-sized Formula One car being launched into the air straight into its head had pretty effectively- and brutally- killed it. Aya had raised an eyebrow but nodded in agreement, more agreeing that the Menos had died than agreeing with Sven's assessment of his plan.

Toda, who seemed to be casually sitting around the trailer as if he'd owned it all along, curtly informed Sven that it had been pure fluke they'd even managed to hit the Menos at all, as Sven himself had been facing the wrong way and Kamui hadn't had the remotest control of his vehicle. Kamui just about managed to reassure himself that Toda didn't, in fact, own the trailer before vomiting again.

As a certain depressed, purple-haired Arrancar became more depressed and no less purple, an increasingly-lively trailer trundled along merrily into the sunset, and its next adventure.
 
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Lap 3- Stand! The Great Blaze God

no episode last week due to golf or something idk

Lap 3- Stand! The Great Blaze God

OP: Formula Sentai Fullbringer
We can barely hear over our passionate hearts
The starting pistol as it fires
Let's start a race with victory as the goal
Everything else gets left behind

So go! Our splendid racers!
There's no 'Stop' signs on the road we're taking
That roaring engine you hear is your very soul
Thunder past lap after lap, a race that never ends
Forever and ever

Keeping up a pulse-pounding pace
Here and there our road takes us
A race we never want to end. Burning hearts!
The future waits for us at the finish line
We'll reach it, and we'll never stop reaching it
Formula Sentai, ready, go! Fullbringer!

The steady drip of water punctuated what would otherwise have been silence. Kamui felt the chill gradually seeping into his bones like the water that had long since seeped into his shoes. The chamber was dark, smelled faintly of damp, and was small, yet even the smallest of sounds made an audible echo.

The woman sat across from him certainly looked like she was enjoying things even less than Kamui was, though he had a suspicion from the short time he'd known her that she looked like that most of the time anyway.
He coughed, earning a more direct glare from the woman. The slight clinking of the rings in her ears and brow bounced around the unpleasant chamber at the movement.

***​

Earlier that same day, Narehu had stood to attention in her lab. Her latest minion-***-test subject loitered next to her, partly blocking the view to the whiteboard she'd set up and altogether showing less decorum than she'd liked. Seated before her was Rush, at the very least pretending to pay attention, attended to by Whelm, who wasn't even pretending.

"And in addition to the breakthrough I found after last time's expedition and the intervention of the Bat Menos," she continued, "which will greatly increase our yield and thus our further deployment options, Nepenthestork Hollow here may not even require us to utilise said breakthrough."

Rush rolled her eyes, clearly wishing for further explanation, she thought. "So what was the point?"
"Insurance, my lady, insurance. At any rate, his method, while different to Birdhive Hollow's, will likely yield a more reliable supply of spirit energy. Though not as much at one time, I must admit."

"Eh, sure." The Espada waved her hand towards the Hollow, a large, jug-shaped thing with spindly limbs and a stork's beak. "Send it out. Might be good for a laugh. Prep a bunch of the junk things too, this one looks kind of weak."
Nepenthestork Hollow turned to Narehu, moving its little hands in mute protest at the verbal abuse. It found no comfort, though, as the scientist was already on her way to prepare deployment.

***​

"Why the heck's it just sitting there?"

Sven and Kamui shrugged in unison at the question, leaving Aya to pout sullenly. Through the trailer's windscreen, they could see that, unusually, Yellow had arrived before them. She was busy brawling with a group of junk Hollows in a deserted plaza. Nepenthestork Hollow sat by itself, the mooks screening it from harm, swaying its little head back and forth.

"Man, it's just kind of..." Kamui cocked his head to one side as he and the others filed out of the trailer. "Sitting there on the fountain."
"Kicking his legs like a kid." Sven agreed. "Let's push it in and see what happens."
"Be careful." Toda strode forward, adjusting his glove. "It likely has some sort of trick power. Gear up."

Slightly put out that the subdued Toda had stolen the momentum by transforming first, Kamui and the others followed suit and charged in. Yellow saw them over her shoulder, gave a 'Tch' sound, and kicked away one of the junk Hollows. As the others were engaging the small fry, she battered her way towards Nepenthestork Hollow.

On being beaten savagely about its jug-shaped body with a large yellow shield, the Hollow fell to the ground and rolled away, waving its pathetic limbs. Its beak flew open, disgorging a wave of tiny human beings. As they ran, the small people grew back to normal human size, but declined to stick around.

Toda watched all this with an air of quiet analysis, as much as one can do that while shooting gangly, swarming creatures. Kamui, already feeling the pangs of responsibility, caught up to Yellow as she was rounding on the beaked Hollow. It scrambled to its feet unsteadily, holding its little hands up and trembling.

"This one's kind of-"
Then its beak yawned wide, the tiny people from earlier made sense, and Kamui once more regretted every decision in his life that led up to the current point.

***​

And thus, we return to the present, and the dank, dark chamber.
Kamui still couldn't figure out why water was dripping into the chamber. Then it occurred to him that it might not be water, and he decided to stop thinking about that.

He stood again, noticing Yellow roll her eyes. It felt weird thinking of her as Yellow in her civilian form. She looked as intimidating as she sounded- a tough, wiry sort of woman, all sharp angles, short, bleached hair, and various rings and piercings accentuating her sour expression.
"We already tried hittin' it."

True, her shield and their little blades hadn't really made a dent. They needed more power, somehow, unless the others were doing something outside. No way of telling. But Kamui was on another train of thought, now. He thought of the shield. Sven's gun. The little blasters they all shared.
"So how is it you bring out those weapons?"

She sighed, with the air of one asked to explain something obvious. "These gloves or whatever they are. They drain our powers, basically. Not got any of our old powers any more, me or the others, but the nerd reckons they're just fuelling the new powers. Those lame suits and stuff."
Kamui figured 'the nerd' was Toda, but he stood still and let her speak, as it was the most he'd ever heard her say at one time.

"So then when I try and use my old powers- figure it's the same for the others- that bludgeon pops out."
"The shield?"
The look she gave him made Kamui reconsider the finer details of what the weapon was.
"But yeah. Just try forcin' out whatever powers you had before. See what happens."
"I, uh... didn't have any before. These are the only powers I've ever had."

She looked at her glove again, seeming kind of offended. "...what, are these things making us copy your weird car powers or something?"
"Toda said something like that..."

"Who gives a sh*t?" The woman suddenly kicked the water, splashing a great plume of it at Kamui. "We're not gonna nerd our way out of here, are we?"

"No..." Already wet around the feet, having his head match didn't bother Kamui as much as he thought it would. "No, but... there's clearly something Toymaker was going for here. If we're all going to match someone's powers, why mine? Why not one of the others, who're stronger?" He was beginning to suspect there was maybe something particular to his powers. Something that made them suited to re-enacting a multi-coloured team kids' show. Better in a group...

A team...

He thought of how he'd been feeling the past few days. Responsibility. Sven letting him take charge. Toda and Aya, following his plan. He looked at... Yellow.
"What's your name?"
Her arms resolutely folded, she looked away for once. "I don't want any more part of this stupid thing than I-"
"Please." An edge of firmness crept into Kamui's voice. "If we can get out of here-"
"Ughhhhhh, Sora. Nichiyobi Sora."

Kamui smiled a little, tightening his gloved hand into a fist. "Let's see if getting to know you guys a little better does anything for this."

***​

"Just smack it real hard again." Aya fired an energy arrow at the Hollow's feet, causing it to run in the other direction. Toda tapped the middle of his visor thoughtfully.

"Nah, let's just tip it over." When it got too far in the other direction, Sven shot at its feet again. In this manner, they'd been forcing the poor Hollow to run back and forth for several minutes. Toda paced, tapped his visor, made various hums that presumably meant he was thinking, but said nothing.

Their pondering and bullying was cut short when the Hollow's jug body burst open. A blaze of red light shone from the tear, swirling around the blade of a long sword. Kamui and Sora leapt out after it. The sword stuck in the ground, a straight, double-edged longsword blade with a hilt shaped like an engine block, and the two escaped Fullbringers rolled to a halt either side. Sven nodded his head in acknowledgement, admiring the sword.

"Good stuff, man. Looks like some quality merchandise."
Kamui got to his feet, pulling the sword out the ground. "Merchandise? They're not toys, you know."
"Dude," he put his hand on Kamui's shoulder sympathetically, "they're a little bit toys."
"Whatever!" Sora took up position alongside the others. "Let's just get on with this. Kamui, do the thing."
"The thing?"
"I know you want to do it, so just get it over with."

True, he did want to do it. Now they were all together again, it felt right. It felt natural. Something deep inside him wanted to let it happen, so he gave in.

Kamui held his sword at guard. "Full Red!"
Sven spun his gun in his hand, letting it rest on his shoulder. "Full Blue!"
Sora angrily punched the air with her shield. "Full Yellow!"
Toda let his mace drape over his shoulder, touching his visor again. "Full Green!"
Aya held her bow out in front, raising her other arm skyward. "Full Pink!"

"Formula Sentai!" Kamui stepped forward, crouching low. The others mimicked the pose a second later. "Fullbringer!"
By now, Nepenthestork Hollow was frozen with terror. Not much of a fighter to begin with, it could only spin its arms in an attempt at self-defence as it was smashed to death in five different, multicoloured ways.

***​

"And now," Narehu said, spinning in front of her control panel with a flourish, "The breakthrough! The insurance! Our intake will-"
Rush, who had been watching the screens the whole time, growing increasingly bored, simply clicked her fingers in a 'get on with it' fashion. Somewhat annoyed but unable to tell her superior off, Narehu got on with it.

"Yes, alright. Lady Rush, please direct your attention to the screens." She threw several switches, opening another gate- this time, from a different part of the tower. On the screens, the Arrancars watched as the sky of the Living World split open, disgorging a pointy-nosed mask heading up an immense black shadow.

***​

The Menos swept down from the sky, missing the team's heads by inches and clamping its jaws over the body of Nepenthestork Hollow.
"It's a Menos?" Aya kept her bow trained on it. "Something that big, we'll need the cars again!"

Toda backed away slowly, beginning to summon his as well. "Why would it come for just one Hollow?"
Drawing itself back to its full height, the Menos swallowed, then froze. Spasms rippled through its body. By the time all five cars had it surrounded, it was bent double, its mask twisting and warping into a long beak.

***​

"You see, as I was explaining before, Lady Rush..."
Rush's face was glued to the screen. The unusual display of rapt attention had Narehu's heart aflutter, but she resolved to fight it back, and try to let her scientific demeanour assume control.

"Yes, I, um.... I modified the Gillians, to.... oh... well, you see...."
"It's like he grew giant!" Rush stabbed her finger at the screen excitedly. "This is hilarious!"
Narehu's scientific demeanour, fighting a losing battle, retreated, leaving her to swoon to the floor and make excited noises of her own.

***​

Now the size of a building and swathed in a black cloak, Nepenthestork Hollow's beak yawned wide, swooping down on the cars swerving around its feet.
"Any bright ideas, wannabe boss-man?"

Kamui had one idea, and it was that he still didn't like Sora's tone. He turned his attention to Sven instead.
"Can we not do the thing we did last time? My guts are still spinning."

Sven was doubtless about to reply with some smart-alec comment when the beak scooped him up. Toda and Aya's cars struggled valiantly to evade, but the beak again exerted some kind of suction, drawing them helplessly inside.
Out of more pleasant options, Kamui elected to speak to Sora again.

"Well. Let's get in there."
"You enjoyed it that much last time?"
"We'll figure something out. The way things are going, we'll probably combine or something, right?"
The comms crackled, spitting out Toymaker's tinny voice. "Uhh, about that..."
"That sounds like good news. Tell me it's good news."

"Well... I could get the gloves to copy your powers, but... your powers kind of don't include combining? So the others' don't either? I guess?"
Thankfully for Kamui's stress levels, being swallowed whole cut off the communication with Toymaker entirely.

***​

Once again, being in a cavernous dripping chamber didn't appeal to Kamui. The water splashed around his tyres as he kept the car moving, for want of anything else to do.
"We have to be able to do something!"

"Dude, she said we couldn't." Sora shrugged, almost crashing into Toda as the motion made her take her hands off the wheel.
"We need more power somehow." Toda, for his part, didn't seem bothered by the near miss, instead driving calmly with the others while thinking. "Push as much power into the engines as you can."

"Then go spinning out of control again!" Sven piped up, leading Kamui to have horrible flashbacks.
"I think more control this time maybe?" He nodded to Toda. "More power. More control." He was beginning to suspect that his powers, more than the others, had another component to them. Beyond power and control. Something beyond a single person. "She said we couldn't, but... I don't think she knows much more than I do. Than we do." He turned his car around, circling around the others again. "Everyone, follow my lead. Keep control. Give it as much power as you can. And... and listen to each other!"

Sora's car span around, heading straight for Sven's. The nose cone turned up, and as the two cars collided, they stuck.
"Right now, we all have the same powers. We all want the same thing- to get out of this dingy prison."

A seam opened up down the length of Sora's car, dividing it in two. Toda's and Aya's came wheel-to-wheel with Sven's, attaching at the rear. The whole mess spun around, upending itself against the chamber wall. Kamui pushed the accelerator as far as it would go.
"Let's make this happen! Formula Combination!"

The red car slammed into place atop the blue. The front and back folded down, the front part opening out again into twin panels, displaying a fiery design over the machine's chest. Parts of the other four cars folded back, exposing joints, fists, hiding wheels. From the right shoulder that had once been the back of Toda's car, part of the back spoiler launched into the air. The giant reached up, grabbing it, and set the helmet on its newly-revealed head.
"Complete! DaiEnJin!"

The murky water churned around the giant robot's feet. It strained against the walls of the chamber, a mighty punch echoing like a bell.
"It's no good." Toda's voice reached the others, still eerily calm. "Even in this state, a punch doesn't have enough power to break out. As the Hollow's grown, so too has its power."

Sora scoffed, and strangely, Kamui now felt heartened by the sound. "If one punch isn't enough, give it a dozen!" She threw the controls back and forth, DaiEnJin's fists rebounding off the chamber walls. Kamui could feel the Hollow shuddering around them.

"And if a dozen's not enough..." He shifted the gears up to their maximum setting, knowing somehow that the others had done the same. "...we give it a hundred!"

Smoke and fire shot from DaiEnJin's exhausts as its arms became a blur of motion. Its fists, glowing red-hot, left shining trails in the air as they pummelled the wall again and again.
"DaiEnJin!" The five called out in unison. "Full Throttle Barrage!"

***​

If anyone were possessed of the rare quality enabling one to see ghosts and spirits, they would have been treated to a rare sight that day. Nepenthestork Hollow, still somewhat unintimidating a figure even in its enlarged state, rocked back and forth on its heels. Wracked with pain from within, it finally gave up and exploded, letting forth a great gout of flame.

Riding that flame, restored to its true gigantic size, came DaiEnJin. A hard-edged metal giant in five colours, tyres on its back spitting flame, the spoilers of its feet dragging up sparks from the road as it skidded to a halt. Behind its proud red helm, twin sets of spoilers crested its shoulders. It raised its fists in salute to the sun, lowering them slowly to rest.

In his cockpit, Kamui looked out over the city. He'd never been this high up before- he supposed he was in the head or chest of the thing, given the added height. Far down in the street below, he spotted the trailer he called home, and breathed a sigh of relief they hadn't stepped on the thing.
The comms screen, still mute, displayed Toymaker's logo, so he tapped the glass with his knuckle.
"How's that for impossible?"
 
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Lap 4- Stare! The Cyclops Comes To Town

Lap 4- Stare! The Cyclops Comes to Town

OP: Formula Sentai Fullbringer
We can barely hear over our passionate hearts
The starting pistol as it fires
Let's start a race with victory as the goal
Everything else gets left behind

So go! Our splendid racers!
There's no 'Stop' signs on the road we're taking
That roaring engine you hear is your very soul
Thunder past lap after lap, a race that never ends
Forever and ever

Keeping up a pulse-pounding pace
Here and there our road takes us
A race we never want to end. Burning hearts!
The future waits for us at the finish line
We'll reach it, and we'll never stop reaching it
Formula Sentai, ready, go! Fullbringer!

Narehu's hand tapped out a nervous rhythm on the desk. The video clip came to an end, so she played it again. And again. And once more for good measure.
She closed her eye, leaning back in her chair. A long, measured sigh escaped as she tried to compose her thoughts. There was a new, absurd reality dawning on her. She had to face it. But even giving voice to it, confirming its truth, would feel like losing something inside of her.

"They... they have..."
"They have a giant robot?"
Narehu's head snapped around to stare hard at Whelm. Even if he hadn't just said what he just said, she still would have been annoyed at the large-framed Arrancar for somehow sneaking up on her. Attention fixed on the screen, he gave no sign that he noticed her irritation.

"No," she replied testily, "They do not. That is not a robot. It's a solidified construct of spiritual energy, similar to the bodies which-"
"It does look rather a lot like a giant robot." Whelm's great, firey eyebrows twitched in what Narehu assumed was a mocking gesture, but was more likely to be genuine concern over the new threat. "We may have to take action ourselves."

With that, he withdrew, leaving Narehu to hold a strategy meeting with her most trusted advisor- herself.
They had, to some extent, succeeded in gathering enough energy to send more through. It might be possible to send an Arrancar through. Not one of Rush's potency, though. Perhaps a weaker arrancar, such as one of her minions. Whelm would not do. The great clod had no sense of subtlety.
In truth, although Narehu had long since decided that she would go through herself, she had to first engage in a long, self-deceptive period of contemplation, ruling out other candidates, before ultimately 'deciding' that she was the only one suitable.

"...just as reconnaissance," she said mostly to herself, but also in case anyone was listening, "and I should probably take some meatshields as well."

***​

"So she... went home?"
Assuming Sven was addressing him, Kamui was about to respond- probably something along the lines of not bothering him while he was driving- when Aya piped up instead. Thankfully, this let him get back to focusing on the road, and coincidentally spared the life of a small duck that happened to be in the trailer's path.

"Yep, straight home. It's great, I still have that little two-bed compartment in the back all to myself, while you three are all crammed in here sweating the place up."
"Pretty sure Toda doesn't sweat." Kamui silently agreed with Sven's assessment- Toda never seemed subject to the same vagaries of day-to-day living as he and Sven- and if Toda had any response to this, it was equally silent.

"Come to think of it," Aya went on, "it is a bit weird that we're all just living in this trailer now. I have an apartment. Pretty sure this is Kamui's actual house, and you're clearly not from around here, but what's my excuse?"

"The pleasure of our company." Toda finally chimed in with a dry retort, before clambering into the front passenger seat next to Kamui. He'd decided Toda was probably the most mysterious member of the group now that he knew all their names and faces. While he stayed in the trailer most of the time- ostensibly for practical deployment reasons, though as with Sven, Kamui was getting used to the company- Toda came and went as he pleased during the day. Often he'd come back with books and other items, sometimes an esoteric device that would make Toymaker sound concerned whie Toda fiddled with it. Of late, he'd been working on improving their detection system, which didn't seem like a big ask, given that it mostly just screamed deafeningly whenever a Hollow appeared... wherever.
Kamui glanced over to see what he was working on. Of course, he was levering up part of the dashboard to get behind the comms screen. Nothing out of the-

He did a double take, then swerved again to avoid the second duck of the morning. "Wh- what are you- don't take apart the trailer while I'm driving!"
Toda's eyes flicked up to Kamui for a split-second before returning to his work. Prising a plastic panel section off, he peered inside with the aid of a small torch. "Stay calm."
"I can't stay calm! What are you going in there for?"
"I'm not touching the engine."
"That's not what I'm concerned about! If you wanted to- agh, I don't even-"

***​

And thusly, minutes later, we find three of our heroes loitering outside the trailer, parked along a nondescript stretch of road on the outskirts of town. Toda was still rooting around inside, interrupted by an occasional displeased chirp from Toymaker. Kamui, hands jammed firmly in pockets, was wandering about, tapping his feet uncomfortably. Sven was seriously considering bringing him along to get food just to give the poor guy something to do, even if it would be a bit of a walk.

Aya appeared by his shoulder. "Man, he's a ball of nerves. Why is he our leader again?"
"Because he lucked out and got red." Sven turned and grinned, "Just kidding."
"I didn't think you were for a second there." She folded her arms, following Kamui with her eyes as he crossed the road and began stomping about aimlessly in the low grass. "I mean, I'm pretty sure he's the weakest of us. He comes up with good ideas sometimes, but..."

"His power's kind of a strange one. Seems like it gets stronger the more of a team we are. Heck, we managed to make that big robot thing work-"
She cut him off. "I refuse to believe we literally made a giant robot. Nothing, in any Quincy or Soul Reaper arts I've heard of, mentions giant robots."

"Correct, it's not a giant robot. It's a solidified construct of-"
There was an awkward pause. Sven and Aya looked around slowly to the source of the new voice, their gazes dropping a good few inches as they found it. A small, purple-haired woman in white stood there, frozen in mid-sentence.

Narehu turned slowly away from the humans, face in her hands. That was it, she realised. She'd completely blown her entrance. And for what? To quibble over a point of semantics?
"No. It's worth it." She clenched a resolved fist. "It's not a robot, after all."
"If it looks like a robot and sounds like a..." Aya trailed off. She leaned over to Sven. "...who is this? Is she a Hollow?"
He wiggled his hand noncomittally. "Kind of a... lame looking Hollow, but yeah?"

In response to this utter slander, Narehu drew herself up to her full height- a towering, intimidating five foot three- and planted her feet authoritatively. "I will have you know that I am no less a personage than an Arrancar, second-in-command to the Novena Espada herself, a key figure in the invasion of the- what are you whispering about?"
Sven sniggered. "Oh, it's, uh nothing really." He raised an eyebrow at Aya. "Right?"
"Oh yeah, yeah. He was just saying Novena means Ninth. That makes your boss the second least important Espada or something, right?"

Narehu's mouth gaped in scandalised silence for a full ten seconds before she snapped her fingers, unleashing a gaggle of junk Hollows at the two very insulting Fullbringers. Sven took the initiative and floored one with a solid right hook, buying a moment to pull his glove on. Aya followed suit, sweeping the leg out from under another and stamping on its chest.
"Gear Up!"

"Now that I see it up close," Narehu observed to herself, "it's actually kind of-"
A pink beam of energy shot terribly close to her head, provoking an embarrassing yelp. Mortified, she decided to stop trying to impress her wonderful scientific observations on these savages, and to just kill them instead.
Purple beams smacked into the junk Hollows around Aya as the Arrancar returned fire. Firing them out of one eye didn't look like it helped her depth perception any, even without the Fullbringer chucking minions into the way of the blasts.

"First enemy general is kind of underwhelming, eh?"
"I know I'm smaller than him, but who cares?"
"...what?"
Narehu fumed. "Forget it! I misheard!" To top it all off, she realised, the gag only works in English, since the Japanese word for 'underwhelming' doesn't contain 'Whelm'. If one were to assume that they were all supposed to be speaking Japanese, but rendered in English for the benefit of those reading and writing on a predominantly English-speaking forum, the joke wouldn't work at all. The whole thing was just a travesty. And for what? A lame one-liner? It barely even worked as a distraction so that Blue and Pink wouldn't notice their trailer driving off.

Because that was happening as well.

"Heyyyyyy! Todaaaaaa!" Sven waved his arms at the departing trailer, trying to catch its occupants' attention. Almost as an afterthought, he shot backwards over his shoulder into the crowd of Junk Hollows. "Is he... stealing the trailer or something?"
"Ha-ha!" Breaking from her self-referential fuge state, Narehu siezed the opportunity to brag about the thing she loved- her plans working. "You've fallen right into my trap, cretins. Right now, with the two of you out here, we have infiltrated your... stupid motorhome thing. It's currently being taken over by a very specially made Hollow of mine. And before you can say, 'after it!'..."

With a flourish, she produced a control and triumphantly poked a button. There was a long silence, broken eventually by the rumbling of dozens of booted feet. As one, Sven and Aya sighed, and turned to look.
"That's, like... a hundred of the crappy mook things."
"If that." Aya tapped her foot. "We get the shitty job this weekend, huh?"
"Well, good news is, I don't see Kamui anywhere around here. Maybe he and Toda can work this thing out?"

***​

He and Toda were not working this thing out.
Toda was currently waist-deep in the gutted dashboard, making occasional "Hmm" sounds to himself, which Kamui did not feel was an appropriate attitude for a man halfway into the dashboard of an out-of-control truck. He expressed this view, rather bluntly, earning nothing but another "Hmm" by way of debate. Resigning himself to his colleague's fate, Kamui got back to the far more immediate and sensible task of wrestling uselessly with the steering wheel.

"Bwahahaha! It's no uuuuuuuse!" Toymaker's usual intercom cackled at him, in a voice several octaves deeper and probably belonging to a Hollow. "I'm already fused with this vehicle! It's my body now!"
"Hmm."

"Just give uuuup! I'll even be a sport and let you out!" The trailer swerved, doors flying open, frightening several ducks and spilling half of Kamui's good cutlery onto the motorway. Kamui himself managed to avoid joining his utensils by virtue of his vice-like grip on the chair, as the Hollow seemed to take a petty glee in unbuckling his seatbelt every time he tried to secure it.

"Toda! Forget the alarm! Bail out!"
"Hm."
"I'm serious! Get the others and stop this thing from the outside!"
"Hm."

On a hunch, Kamui craned his head back to check the living quarters. Something struck him in the eye, rather painfully confirming his theory as it bounced away out the door.
"...Toda, it looks like pretty much all of your books fell out."
Silence.

"Kamui Hoshino."
The man in question swallowed. He didn't have much practice at guessing what, if anything, Toda was emoting, but he fancied a note of annoyance as his erstwhile companion wriggled backwards out of the dashboard, face and hands streaked with oil.
"Y-yes?"
"You would ask me to abandon this vehicle. Yet you could do so easily, but you do not."

"Is now really the time?" As if to illustrate his point, the trailer took a sharp turn and went offroad, in search of some sturdy trees to damage the paintwork on. By the sounds of things, it was succeeding.
Toda nodded. "Of course. Why do you ask me to leave?"
"To... to join the others. That's the best thing to do, right?"
"But you stay behind." Toda's gaze was steady and unblinking. He always had a serious look about him, but had somehow managed to accentuate this further. "I know why."

"Because..." The reality of being trapped in a speeding, runaway trailer managed to fade somewhat into the background for Kamui. "Because this is my home. I want to stay here."
"That's the decision of an individual. Illogical, but it follows. However, you are no longer an individual, Kamui Hoshino. You are the leader of a team. These are the facts as they are."

The terrain outside became more treacherous, throwing the trailer from side to side. Through all the jostling, Toda remained almost immobile, calmly steadying himself with a hand on the dashboard.
"Now, Kamui Hoshino. Think about your team. Think about the options. Make the decision that is most logical to who you are now."

Struck silent, Kamui realised he really didn't know Toda at all. He'd seen the standoffish demeanour and lack of emotional response and disregarded him, to a degree. He hadn't considered how he felt about the team, what his abilities were, how they could work together...

"Toda." He stood, no mean feat considering the- to put it mildly- bumpy ride. "Please, do what you can. Save our home."
"Our..." For a moment, Kamui saw an expression cross Toda's face, one he didn't have time to identify. "Hm. Very well."
He turned to the dashboard. "I will have to get a little rough. But I believe I have located the source of the problem. Gear Up."

Green light shone out the trailer cab's windows as it ploughed through a field of crops, scattering various irate farmers from its path. Inside, Toda hefted the weighted steel ball of his personal weapon. He stood motionless, calculating. A jolt in the trailer almost caused him to lose his footing, but something steadied him, so he paid it no mind. Precision was key...

"There." He cast the mace out on its wire, burrowing deep into the hole in the dashboard, rolling around, turning this way and that... finally, he felt it catch on the thing he was searching for, and yanked back sharply.
"I thought... it said the trailer was its body?"

Toda turned, prize in hand, to look at Kamui. The latter had his hand on Toda's shoulder, having arrested his unbalance earlier. The trailer was slowing to a halt, as he had calculated. His unreadable helmet shook side to side.
"That was a bluff. Here is the real Hollow." He held up a small creature, roughly the size of a baseball, squirming in the restraining coils of his mace's wire. "It was attached somewhere in the underneath of the engine, controlling the trailer remotely. Some repair work may be required."

"Bwahaha!" The thing squealed, voice a lot higher-pitched now. "You'll never take me alive!"
Kamui blinked twice. "We... just did, though."
It fell silent. "...well, this is awkward. Just kill me already."

***​

A light winked out on Narehu's control board. She cursed silently, then decided to curse out loud for good measure. Ignoring the Fullbringers mopping up the last of her Junk Hollows, she turned and stalked off towards a waiting Garganta.

It had been a good plan, in theory. Not enough power to send a full-size Hollow and an Arrancar through? No problem! Just bring along a really tiny Hollow with a sneaky ability, right?
Clearly, she admitted, at least one of the enemy wasn't a complete moron. Stepping through, she pressed another button, waiting for a moment to watch the modified Gillian emerge across the treeline.
"Giant robot that, idiots."

***​

"I'm... so... BIIIIIIIIG!"
Aside from being the size of a baseball, Kamui realised, now that the Hollow had been devoured and grown to gigantic size, that it was actually vaguely baseball-shaped as well. Its round body had several stubby limbs poking out, but it actually had the little baseball grooves as well.

"You'd better not come out with some sh*t like 'where were you?' or I'll shove you all up that thing's butthole!" was the battle cry Sora used to announce her arrival. It was kind of long but it had a certain something. Her Ride Racer drove into the Hollow's knees from behind, buckling it over. It rolled clear, using its round body to good effect, and kicked at the car with its stubby legs. Surprisingly, it seemed to do some damage, if Sora's amplified cursing was any indicator.

"Shall we, then?" Toda nodded to the giant Hollow.
Kamui nodded, hearing the Blue and Pink Ride Racers entering the fray. "Let's go, everyone!"

"Formula Gattai!"

The Ride Racers drove around in an almost synchronised display of speed, slotting together with a little more practiced ease than last time. The great metallic warrior stood up, fixing its helmet in place with a little flourish of the fingers.
"DaiEnJin! Complete!"

"Bwahaha! You didn't take me alive after all! I'm a ghost, remembeeeeeeer?"
"Wow, this thing's annoying." Aya shook her head at her display screen. "And you were stuck in the trailer with that?"
"It was a lot smaller, to be fair." Kamui willed DaiEnJin forward, stomping into close combat with the ball Hollow. "Now, I don't actually know how it-"

The Hollow's stumpy limbs burst, each splitting into multiple tentacles that bound DaiEnJin's limbs tightly. The sound of creaking metal echoed around the Fullbringers' cockpits ominously.
Aya piped up again. "Not to alarm you guys, but being in the arms isn't that cool right about now..."
"No problem." Kamui drummed his fingers on his dashboard. "Toda, that move you did earlier?"
"Hm."

DaiEnJin yanked its arm back, much as Toda had done with his mace, pulling the tentacles taut and hauling the Hollow up into the air. No longer anchored, it could do nothing to hold the mighty machine in place.
The tendrils began to steam as heat built up in DaiEnJin's fists, mixing with the smoke billowing from its myriad exhausts.

"Ready, everyone?"
The sound of five throttle levers clicking to maximum sounded even better the second time around.
"DaiEnJin! Full Throttle Barrage!"

***​

"Like a balloon, you say?"
Kamui nodded, then felt a little silly on remembering that Toymaker couldn't see him through the intercom. At least, he hoped she couldn't. The alternative was a little worrying.

"Yeah. All this time, I thought it was more like a baseball, but it really burst."
"Hmm~ But anyway, how are the others? Getting along? Feeling more like a team yet?"

Sven came stomping through the door, dumping an armful of grubby books onto a nearby seat. Toda, following behind, made a sort of quiet grumble, then began to organise his own payload. Aya, sensing that Kamui was looking over at the group, lifted a packet of plastic forks and gave a half-hearted thumbs-up.
"...I'll get back to you on that one," Kamui smiled.
 
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