Volume 9

The story starts in the desert of Kastenpo, with a cloaked Headdliner and his fatima looking on the remains of a battle. This one happened awhile back: the suits are in very bad shape and the knights flags haven’t been recovered by the country they belonged to. The Headdliner takes not of all the gouges to the suits and notices that there’s been no looting of the parts and that the pilots are nowhere to be found. He wonders who they might have belonged to as he’s heard of no casualties of late. The fatima is speaking in Japanese, and he asks that she not do that as the town they are headed to doesn’t look kindly on those from where they are. He is Muse Van Reyback, and she is Ssizz, one of Ballance’s masterpieces. Ssizz notes that her sister Machi is here in Kastenpo and Reyback tells her that after they get what they’re looking for, they’ll pay the ailing Dr. Ballance a visit.

Muse is amazed that other than the main damages tothe suits, that there’s been no other damages or missing parts. While he’s thinking out loud, they’re attacked by Plate Worms, which feed off metals and mortarheadd parts. Explains the lack of looters! Ssizz tells Muse that lasers can’t hurt them and his first instinct was to use his metal blade. Skirmish finished, Ssizz walks off. Muse asks her a question realizing that she’s walked off. Realizing that something’s not right, he runs after her…to find her above the corpse of a dead fatima. The fatima used all her remaining energy to bury her dead headdliner. Muse tells Ssizz that he should have realized where she was and that he’s unworthy of her partnership. She thinks otherwise, aknowledging his abilities They give the fatima proper rest and go to leave themselves. Above them, something goes to attack…but doesn’t. Above them is one of the Lords of the Land….the Thunder Dragon! Oddly, he smiles at Ssizz, then takes his leave. Muse observes that he could have easily destroyed them had he wanted to since no mortarheadd can stand up to them. Ssizz seems happy, as they leave for Dragon Road.

It’s then noted that it’s been a month since the death of Colus III.

In the town proper, Muse finds storage for his dorrey (mortarheadd carrier) from an old fellow wh says he hasn’t had any trouble and that he could care less what suits he has in storage, he’ll keep them all. Muse isn’t amused (sorry, couldn’t resist.), but none the less, keeps it with the old man while he checks out the town. The place is full of colorful characters, headdliner groupies, bounty hunters…some guy who looks like a detective? And…this…PLAYBOY. Muse wants to show Ssizz the town but sees an altercation between one of the groupies and a low level headdliner who wants to make her his flavor of the night. At another table, the…playboy is asked by a smoking hot young lady to break up the fight but he begs off, saying that he’s no match for the likes of them. (Riiiight.) He then makes such a scene that the woman spends the next few panels consoling him.

During this disgraceful display of masculinity, the headdliner wannabe has knocked a few people out and prepares to take his prize. Not so fast, as a long haired fellow ask them to “be knightly” and let the lady go. Mr. headdliner says hell no and who is this guy to make him. He then goes to draw his sword. Muse, being the chivilrous knight that he is goes to help the “courageous young lad” before he gets chopped in two, but is stopped by the detective looking guy.

Seems he didn’t need his help anyway: by the time the wannabe goes to lunge, he falls to the ground. The long haired man tells the crowd that his heart has been disintigrated and that he’d die within the hour if not attended to. Muse realizes that he was in the presence of a Diver: a sorcerer.

Angrily, he turns to the “detective”, asking him if he had any idea about it. Doesn’t look like he is, but he doesn’t think that fighting in this town would be good as one is labeled a brawler. Muse asks for his name and he declines, walking off to the puzzlement of Muse.

In the meantime, the Playboy’s table is getting more crowded…by beautiful women. Another lady has arrived and the first doesn’t seem happy. The detective knows who the first is right away: the Ninja Tomoe. He isn’t sure why she’s here or what she’s doing with the playboy but it’s none of his business. He reads a letter from home. This is the first mention in the FSS of Christine V, who is still a child and brawling. He seems horrified that she’s fallen in love with Blreno, and wonders if he’s lost his edge for falling in love with his fatima. Finishing off this scene, playboy notices Muse and invites him over for a drink but Muse is disgusted. When asked if they know each other, playboy declines but smiles….

Running up to the long haired man is a young girl. She scolds the man, who she calls Ting for being so reckless. He says that he was merely amusing himself until he meets up with Aisha, to give her something she had forgotten. He then tells her that he’s there for the only purpose of seeking new scouts for the Mirage Corp and that he can’t go back until he finds some more. He brings up Allen Bradford, then takes off to find Aisha.

Night has fallen and Muse notices a Headdliner and Fatima outside the window traveling in the knight. SSizz wants to travel with Muse, but being seen with a headdliner can bring duels…

…Much like the one that’s going on outside somewhere in the city. Another headdliner and mortarheadd has fallen to someone who fights in the night. Pretty easy battle too…

The next day, Muse is back out in the city, looking for a certian location in the city that Voards gave him. Before he can get very far, a young lady with a bag of groceries falls down the stairs giving him one hell of a peepshow in the process. Nervous, he helps her pick up her things. Both seem taken with each other, let’s see where this is headed as she leaves something behind in her haste to get away.

After this embarassment, she is horrified to think of what just happened to her. Seems the thing she’s missing is her credit card and how she makes the jump from losing her credit card to having ot resort to prostitution to get money for more groceries shows that she..well..pretty much has one thing on her mind.

Before her mind can wander into the gutter even further, Ting drops a new card in her hand….while complementing her on the best “all time beaver shot”. (Yes, this series goes from awesome battle sequences to gutter in a few frames.) She grabs the card and he issues her a warning: headdliners are being challenged by someone…and no one has returned to tell the tale. (SHe seems more interested in grilling him for Muse’s pnone number…) He bids her to be careful.

Elsewhere, in a restaurant, Muse is doing more reaserch. He sees a woman who he thinks may be Jabo Beat…bt she doesn’t look quite the same. Hitter surprised him, so he uses this instance to ask him where a place called Wax Trax is. Hitter seems to know, and he jets off. Hitter feels a little jilted…until he sees the woman that Muse thought was Jabo. Seems she is, and she sees through Hitter’s disguise, addressing him as Sir Kaien. Cover blown, she asks him what he knows about the young knight he was just talking to. Seems he knows a lot…down to the suit he pilots. So much for being undercover….Jabo wants to play catch up and they head off to Kaien’s place….

Later, the pilot of the Ashura Temple shows himself, and he takes out his frustrations on Tomoe. She’s supposed to giving him quarry to test the Temple on… and they’ve been less than challenging. Tomoe tells him she’ll do far better next time.

At Wax Trax, Muse is inquiring on some info from the barkeeper. He then runs into the detective again, when they hear the the Dark Knight is at it again..

Before we can find out what that is, we are taken to the bedroom of Kaien, who has just made Jabo his latest conquest. She asks what he’s been up to and we’re greeted to a flashback sequence.

The flashback starts with a Headdliner and his fatima sneaking around doing some thievery. The security of this compound asks the headdliner in charge for his help as the thief seems to be a headdliner himself. This headdliner, Michael Lester doesn’t seem too happy about interupting his early morning routine but does his job and sets off after the intruder. His fatima, Palsuet wakes as well, but Lester says that she’s not needed and leaves. The security guard asks Palsuet if she’s feeling well as the Doctor has just left her. She says that she’s fine but wishes her master, who calls her Palset, would gether name right for once…

The intruder is none other than Dougulas Kaien and has his fatima Auxo with him. He tells her that he wishes that she’d have picked a better master but she swears to never leave his side. They make for the gate to make their getaway, but Lester cuts them off with a ninja blade attack. They dodge and he attacks again. Kaien doesn’t see it coming as Auxo jumps in front of him saving him from the explosion, Lester tells him thta resistance is futile, but Kaie being the skilled headdliner that he is takes off in an illusion evasion, splitting his image into 4 parts. He then jumps the gate and escapes. Lester realizes at this point that his adversary was taught by Sword Sage Deimos Hierarchy, and that he was Dougulas Kaien.

Auxo is in very bad shape, perhaps on the verge of death. Kaien is beside himself when the vehicle of Dr. Prisen Corks pulls up and she believes that Auxo can be saved. In the meantime, she lets Kaien have it about what he did to her and how she got hurt. She also tells him that while she can be saved…there’s a good posibility that she wouldn’t be in the same shape as she was before.

Lester and Palsuet go out in the Pluto in search of Kaien, but a great sandstorm blocks his path. Kaien stole some valuable data from the fort and he’ll do anything to get it back. Palsuet knows that the suit won’t be able to handle the storm for much longer and forces Lester back to the fort against his wll. (Still pronouncing her name wrong.)

Kaien in the meantime, is trying to take that data out in the same sandstorm, and sets out looking for the place to take it to. While he’s lost, he comes across some fellow travelers, who don’t seem to believe he is who he says he is. He’s challenged by a beautiful woman…and promptly loses. Before he passes out, he seems surprised at her battle stance…While he’s out, he dreams about what Corks told him about Auxo: she will live, but as she’ll have to pretty much replace her body parts completely, there’s be little chance that she’d ever recognize him again, much less call him master. He comes to…

…in the encampment of the resistance…and with a paralyzing bracelet on. The young women who beat him up is amazed that he can move much less speak with it on. He asks about her battle technique and she tells him that he should know where it came from…his old teacher. the only other info she offers is her name: AT. She then leaves him in his cell to fend for himself.

In pursuit of Kaien, another suit lands at Lester’s camp: te Zakker and Sukhat, with his fatima Linsa, dripping with furs and bling. Maiyu chides Lester for making his fatima cook and do chores. Lester calls him an asshole of a headdliner, undeserving of the title.

Back with the resistance, AT tells Kaien of her plight as the government of U-hu is about to find their village, no doubt looking for him. She’d like to have him and the Schepelter help, but he tells her that Auxo is out of commision for the 120 days it will take to fix her up. Not long afterward, the government suits arrive at the village and AT heads out with the others to defend it. A young girl, Meeth brings Kaien food and he thinks about makinga speedey getaway, even though he still has the paralyzer on. He then thinks of those who got him into the mess: the sorcerer Mell Rince and the rest of the AKD.