Karen and Kim prodded Lucy with their foam swords, making her stumble backward a few feet.
“Snap out of it!” Shouted Karen advancing a little bit, brandishing her foam sword at Lucy.
“MechaGaim obeys Mechanica. You will submit to Mechanica.” Replied Lucy in a dull monotone.
Beth grinned as she helped Zoey into a silver bodysuit, rubbing her hands over the girl’s body as she did. Once Zoey was all zipped in, she placed the conductor’s hat back onto her head before reaching over to her dice tray.
“It is MechaGaim’s turn,” she said as she rolled a few dice. “She connects with a swing and breaks Aria’s guard, knocking her prone, but Space Kitty stands firm!” She shouted, watching as Lucy swung her foam sword in a massive arc, the blade brushing off both Karen and Kim. Karen shouted out in pain and stumbled back a few feet before groaning and falling to the floor.
Beth then raised a finger and wandered up behind Lucy. “Mechanica teleports back onto the battlefield,” exclaimed Beth before dropping her finger.
Kim gasped and pointed. “Mechanica!” She yelled, her face filled with rage. “Where is Ulla!”
“I’ve brought her back to you!” Smiled Beth, doing her best evil laugh as she did, raising a hand and pulling Zoey back into the middle of the room.
Zoey blinked and posed. “Dread Train Ulla!” She shouted robotically. “Feel the power of the Mechanical Empire!”
“Ulla! No!” Yelled Kim, utterly mortified by the reveal of her friend’s robotic form. Beth laughed again before raising a finger and starting to talk.
“Ulla makes her attack, and Mechanica teleports to Aria,” she said moving across to Karen.
“Overdrive punch!” Shouted Karen, softly swinging at Beth. Beth raised her hand and quickly dashed over to her dice tray and rolled a few dice before smirking and returning to where Karen was stood, frozen mid-swing.
“Aria fails to land the blow, allowing Mechanica to counter using her shock gauntlet!” Grinned Beth, dropping her hand and grabbing Karen’s tummy.
Karen started to twitch and scream as she felt the electricity running through her body. Beth quickly wrapped her arms around Karen and guided her to the floor with a wide smile on her face. “Too slow!” She mocked.
Karen twitched on the ground as the electricity paralyzed her muscles. Kim turned to attack Mechanica, only for Zoey to push into her from behind.
Beth pressed her foot into the fallen Karen and cackled as she raised her hand and moved her victim off the battlefield.
Aria hit the floor with a thud, her muscles sore and burning. She looked up at Mechanica and let out a groan. “You’ll never turn me,” she growled. “I’ll never be a robot.”
“They both said that.” Smirked Mechanica. “Ulla came willingly. But Gaim begged me to stop,” she continued, obviously taking great delight in the situation.
“You utter witch!” Shouted Aria, pounding her fists on the floor and shakily pushing herself up. “I’m going to break you in two!”
“You’ll fail like the others, you are by far the dumbest of all of them,” mocked Mechanica, reaching into her suit.
“How dare you!” Screamed Aria, her rage building as she squeezed her fists into tight balls. She quickly advanced, pulling back her arm back, lining up to punch Mechanica clean through the heart.
Mechanica pulled out a glowing crystal and started to swing it in front of Aria’s face. “Now now, don’t be too hasty.”
Aria stopped her fist inches from Mechanica’s body. She stared at the crystal as it swung. “Why?” She growled, fighting the urge to just smash Mechanica in her smug face. But she knew she had to be careful, Mechanica wouldn’t be so dumb as to pull her here without a plan.
“Because this is a backup. A backup of your friends.” Smirked Mechanica. “And if this gets destroyed then your friends are gone forever!” She laughed, letting the crystal swing a little faster.
Aria dropped her arms to her sides, she wasn’t sure if she trusted Mechanica, but couldn’t risk losing her friends due to her rash actions if there was a hope of saving them she couldn’t throw it away unless there were no other options.
“Keep your eyes on it,” grinned Mechanica, watching as Aria’s eyes followed the crystal back and forth. “I have no qualms about destroying it, especially if you don’t at least hear me out.”
“Hear you out?” Asked Aria, her eyes darting from the crystal to Mechanica and then back again. “What do you even have to say?”
“I just want to talk,” smiled Mechanica. “I just want to talk to the heroes of Earth, to see if we can end this pointless fighting,” cooed Mechanica softly.
“What, you think I’m just going to let you waltz in and take over?” Replied Aria, gritting her teeth. She kept focused on the crystal, trying to work out the best way to disarm Mechanica so she could retrieve her friends safely. She wasn’t sure how the crystal worked, so she couldn’t just destroy Mechanica, she needed a way to incapacitate her.
“You’re not listening to me,” replied Mechanica firmly. “You’re not paying me your full attention, because deep down you just want to destroy things, and that suit lets you do that without people calling you out on your violent tendencies.”
“That is rubbish and you know it,” shouted Aria, the crystal still holding her full attention.
“You’re going to fight and punch until your tire yourself out. You’ll have gotten nowhere, just swinging on the spot,” added Mechanica. “Your friends will still be trapped and you’ll just be too tired to do anything but watch.”
“No!,” shouted Alla, her eyes slowly starting to grow heavy from the movements of the crystal in front of her eyes. “I’ll rescue them.”
“Will you? Do you even have the energy? Carrying around those heavy gauntlets?” Continued Mechanica. “And not just the weight of their metal, the weight they carry on your mind. Every loss is a mark against you, every failed punch a damning indictment of how useless you are.”
“I’m going to save my friends and save the world from you!” Shouted Aria, her eyes continuing to grow heavier, the weight of her gauntlets at the forefront of her mind.
“Or you could just join them, look at them in there, they are so carefree, not a single worry in the world, look and you can see them dancing in the light,” smiled Mechanica, “don’t you want to join them?”
“I can’t see them,” replied Aria, shaking her head.
“Then you’re not looking close enough, they are in there, wouldn’t it be nice to be with them again?” Asked Mechanica, taking a few steps closer.
“I’ll be with them when I free them,” grimaced Aria, her eyelids fluttering a little as she watched the crystal swinging and catching the light, her mind still trying to work out a good way to steal the gem from Mechanica.
“And what will that do?” Grinned Mechanica. “Next week someone else will come and try and rip them from you, someone that you can’t punch into submission.”
“Then I’ll get stronger,” stuttered Aria, pulling up her heavy gauntlet, getting it into position for a swing.
“You can’t get stronger forever, you know that. Eventually, there will be someone who outclasses you. Someone who rips your friends away from you and leaves you alone. They won’t be as kind as I am. In a flash, your friends will be gone, and there will be no saving them.”
Aria shook her head and gritted her teeth. “I’ll get them back, I always will,” she snarled, doing her best to keep focused on the crystal while trying to find some chink in Mechanica’s armor.
“You’re willing to gamble them on your pride?” Scoffed Mechanica. “Such an ego, so self-centered you are willing to turn down my offer. An offer of a never-ending paradise for all of you.”
Aria just seethed, her rage almost bubbling over, her breathing growing heavy, crystal or not, right now she just wanted to lay into Mechanica. “I will never submit to you and your robotic delusions of grandeur!” She shouted.
“You’re going to sacrifice your friends,” Interrupted Mechanica. “I mean look at them in there, I doubt they want you around anyway, what a way to ruin paradise!” Laughed Mechanica, continuing to move closer.
Aria couldn’t hold it anymore she dived forward trying to punch Mechanica in the gut and grab the crystal with her other hand. However, Mechanica had obviously seen it coming, she dodged to the side, grabbing Aria’s hand as she did.
Mechanica tugged Aria’s arm to the side, knocking her off balance. “Sleep!” Shouted Mechanica. “Submit to me! Feel the weight dragging you down!” She continued pulling on Aria’s arm again before moving closer and pressing a foot into the back of Aria’s knee, forcing her to the floor.
Aria’s mind swam, her thoughts spinning out of control, the words of Mechanica pushing deep into her consciousness. As she started to fall to the floor she felt like a heavy fog was coming over her mind, wrapping it and sealing it tightly.
“Yes, feel your dumb, primitive mind fall apart, failing, breaking into small pieces,” mocked Mechanica, laughing as she stood over Aria. She held the crystal over Aria’s face and let it sway some more. “Look, into the crystal, look how it shimmers.” She purred.
Aria pulled her eyes open, staring up blankly at Mechanica. After a few seconds her eyes locked onto the crystal, looking at it gleaming in the light, she didn’t question it, her mind was too jumbled to even form a basic sentence.
“You’re so heavy, the light is pushing into your mind,” smiled Mechanica gently. “Yes, so tired, so exhausted, fighting has taken everything out of you, your arms and legs are like heavy lead weights dragging you down, like you are falling through the floor,” continued Mechanica, her voice taking on a firm rhythm, her words coming so fast that Aria didn’t have a chance to question or interrupt them.
Aria continued to stare up at the crystal, she tried to move, but Mechanica was right, her limbs were so heavy that she couldn’t lift them up off the floor. Her whole body was tingling with a strange unnatural warmth, and she just felt so lost, the crystal was the only thing that felt real.
“Join your friends,” cooed Mechanica. “There is no need to worry anymore, no need to suffer. Just let it happen, it is too late to fight, you can be at rest again. No more looking over your shoulder, no more proving yourself, it is time to relax, time to just let it happen. You are not in control and thus you don’t have to worry, just come into the crystal, come into its warm embrace.” Continued Mechanica, her voice growing softer and softer with each word, her sentences becoming a gentle lilting melody.
Aria couldn’t stop it, the sudden shock and the shine of the crystal, mixed with Mechanica’s soft words had fogged her mind, she had been kicked out of the driver’s seat of her own body and was now helpless to do anything but sink and surrender. The crystal glistened in the light as Aria felt her thoughts slowly slide into it, the whole world fading away leaving only the crystal and wave after wave of warmth caressing all of her muscles.
“I,” mumbled Aria, her mind tripping over itself as she fell into the crystal.
“Feel wonderful, I know.” Laughed Mechanica, bending down to hold the crystal closer to Aria’s glazed eyes. “Now join your friends, just join them.”
Aria fell fully into the crystal, spiraling through its many facets. She was on a giant parade float with Ulla and Gaim. People were cheering and taking their photo as they rolled down Main Street.
Gaim reached across and hugged her tight, kissing her gently on the cheek. “I love you,” she whispered gently into Aria’s ear, making Aria well up with tears. She was in heaven, this is all she could ever want.
Mechanica chuckled as metal cascaded over Aria’s body, stripping her of her looks and personality, leaving nothing but a generic robotic Knight. Aria had been a thorn in her side for too long and she wanted no reminder of the girl around. Even a personalized robot form was too good for her.
A burst of steam came out of the edge of the armor as it sealed tight, electricity starting to flow. Aria’s body twitched and spasmed as the software started to push into her mind, harvesting her combat skills and deleting anything that wasn’t needed. Mechanica laughed. “One more to go,” she smiled to herself.