-a n d-
Once the team arrived at the fairgrounds, Alisa went off by her lonesome. She wandered around and marveled at the spectacles. All sorts of games, food, exhibitions, and attractions abounded, and ambiguously safe-looking rollercoasters towered above. She had never been in a place like this before and was constantly being surprised. The colors, the people, the noises… it was all fascinating. An hour into their trip, she had visited an art competition, an animal show (taking care to stay far away from the stables), and had even rode a few rollercoasters.
All the while, she was keeping an eye out for her teammates. While she had purposefully gone off on her own, she did still want to see how her friends were doing. The fairgrounds were so large, however, that she couldn’t really find anyone. She had half a mind to go be useful and scope out the circus, but she was loving this. People-watching was good enough for her. Eventually Alisa bought a giant fried corn dog, a funnel cake, and a milkshake and sat down, a peaceful smile on her face as she watched the fairgoers go about their days. She drummed her fingers on the picnic table, munching on her food.
”You got room over there?”
Maya sauntered over towards the table Alisa was sitting at, a happy look on her face as she made her way over to the table, sitting down next to Alisa before she was given permission to do so. Maya looked a bit like a cowgirl in her current attire, wearing a low-cut cream-colored gypsy top, a pair of jean shorts, and tall cowboy boots that rose up to her knees. On top of her head of wavy brown hair was a comically gigantic cowboy hat that Maya had won at a carnival game, and in her arms were a slew of stuffed animals that Maya had won, which she let spill out onto the table.
”Turns out that after you win 10 of these in a row, they send security after you. Fun fact!” Maya said mischievously as she looked at her stuffed pile of loot. ”You want one? Here, take Fluffy.” Maya rested a large stuffed poodle in front of Alisa. ”Alicia, right? Sorry, bad with names.”
Alisa smiled- a bit nervously, perhaps- at Maya’s sudden appearance. She scooted over on the bench for her, making room. She wasn’t yet sure how she felt about Maya. Her arrival had been significantly overshadowed by Bex’s, and she certainly didn’t like Bex. But a stuffed animal certainly did make her like the Maya a little bit more. Sweet! Another to add to her collection. She laughed at Maya’s anecdote and took the poodle graciously, embracing it. “Ooh! I love him. Thanks!”
“Alisa,” she firmly corrected. “It’s alright, though... I know who you are! You’re Maya Kobayashi. Demonslayer… but you prefer Maya,” she supplied, before realizing this might be a strange thing to say and hurriedly followed up with, “I’m Alisa Fields, but my… alias, I guess, is Cybergirl. It’s nice to meet you!”
If Maya was perturbed by Alisa’s strange response, she didn’t show it at all, instead giving a cheery smile. ”Oh! Sorry, names are tough. Alisa. That’s a very nice name,” the Asian girl said as she removed the ginormous cowboy hat from her head, resting it on the table in front of them. ”You want to grab a bite to eat? I heard the cotton candy here is really good.”
“Oh, no, I already did! But you can have most of mine if you want.” Alisa pushed over her giant, barely touched portions of food to Maya. “I don’t like to eat a lot, so have at it.”
”I don’t know how you can have energy to beat up bad guys if you don’t eat,” Maya said with a snicker as she pulled the food in front of her, sticking a fork in.
“Oh, I’ll live without it! Sometimes I’ll even go a week or two without eating… I don’t really need it,” Alisa explained, not understanding that this might be extremely confusing or alarming to someone who didn’t know her well.
”More for me, I guess. Here, though, let me make it up to you.” Maya stuck her hand into her pocket, pulling out a handful of things. ”I got 27 cents...two sticks of gum...you like gum? Ooh!” Maya dropped two slightly-crumpled tickets onto the table in front of Alisa. ”They’re having pony rides here! We should do that. It’d be fun! Where else can you get pony rides, after all? Let’s do that!”
Alisa smiled, and then blanched, realizing what Maya was talking about. If it was possible for her to sweat, she would’ve been- there was no way she was getting on a fucking horse. “Oh, erm… I’m alright! I don’t wanna do that… Why don’t we go ride a rollercoaster instead?”
”Aww, come on! I already rode on a rollercoaster today. The pony thing sounds super fun, though.” Maya casually slid closer to Alisa, the taller girl’s shoulder rubbing up against the android, the smell of orange blossom perfume emanating from Maya’s body. ”I think it would be so cool if we could go together. Pretty please?” Maya batted her eyelashes, a frisky simper forming on her lips as Maya eeked into Alisa’s personal space.
Alisa crossed her arms and leaned back, an uncomfortable look on her face. “I have qualms,” she said, awkwardly, not looking at the girl with the puppy eyes in front of her face. “About… animal abuse. Yeah, um, that. I’ve heard that they really abuse all the animals at these fairs. I don’t want to, uh, contribute to that… Do you?”
”Animal abuse?!” Maya’s eyes widened, and she pulled back sharply. ”Why didn’t you say something, then? We have to go save those poor things! ” Maya quite literally jumped out of her seat. ”Let’s go! Right now! Every second we waste is a second more that those poor animals are stuck in those stables! Ooh, maybe we can convince Red Tornado to keep them in the base for a little while, until we can find them a home!”
Oh God, what have I done. Alisa stood, too, although much more cautiously. A horse rescue mission sounded much worse. “Let’s not get too hasty,” she placated and reached her hands out. “We both care a lot about horses-” A lie, horses were the worst animal- “But we’d be breaking our cover. Jeopardizing the mission and- and our teammates! Plus… Red Tornado is really strict, and he has a no-pets policy. We’d get grounded! Well, you’d get grounded, I’d get more grounded…”
”You kidding? This is important, Alisa! Those poor ponies...poor, poor ponies...” Maya shook her head in sadness at the thought. ”Being a hero is about being a hero, you know? Like, you have to stand up for what you believe in. And also take autographs, hopefully. Come on!”
Alisa shook her head violently. “But Red Tornado said that, um. He said if the new people get in trouble at the fair or breaks a rule on this mission, they’ll get kicked off the team!” That was absolutely not true, but sometimes lies were necessary.
”Come on, Alisa, loosen up!” Maya said playfully. ”We won’t get kicked off the team because we won’t get caught. I mean, I know I won’t get caught. And you probably won’t. You’re in good shape,” Maya said offhandedly. ”You sound awfully robotic right now. We’re superheroes, remember? This’ll be a walk in the park. Literally.”
Alisa blushed at Maya’s compliment, but kept her arms crossed and her eyes to the side. “One, that’s offensive to robots. Two, you don’t think two horses are conspicuous?” Alisa retorted.
”Three, who cares about a bunch of dumb robots? They don’t feel anything. And four, we can just take them out the back when the people in charge are distracted. I’ll make a distraction, and you take the horses out the back. Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy.” Maya rubbed her hands together. ”This’ll be just like Ocean’s Eight! Except with horses, and not a cash grab.”
Alisa suddenly scowled, looking pissed. She wasn’t sure if Maya knew about her metallic insides quite yet, but that was still… well, maybe true most of the time, but she didn’t like it! “There are robots with feelings,” she snapped. “Asshole.” She then pondered the plan for a moment and sighed. There would be no convincing Maya.
“Fine. But I’m distracting.”
”OK, OK, jeez.” Maya rolled her eyes. ”Whatever you say.” Maya stood from the table, gesturing for Alisa to follow her. ”Let’s go rescue some ponies! Woohoo!”
The duo arrived at the horse rides area, which only consisted of a small tent and a grassy area with a number of fences to mark the path of the ride. A few ponies were leashed to a metal fencepost nearby. Maya stretched her arms. ”Remember the plan. You keep the guy working the horses distracted, and I’ll free the ponies. Then, you meet me out there by that big cherry tree over there. Got it?”
Alisa gulped, staring down the equine animals. Their beady eyes… their giant teeth… their horrible faces all gave her goosebumps. If she had a heart, it would’ve been beating in her ears, but her body settled for a light shaking. “Yeah, yeah. Got it.”
Once Maya left, Alisa walked up the counter, smiling broadly. “Hello, sir, can I-” She then practically threw herself into the table, breaking it with the force of her weight and fall, and began to scream. “MY LEG! MY LEG! Oh god, I’ve broken my leg! I’m going to sue all of you!” A more astute watcher would’ve noted the lack of any tears, blood, or a twisted leg, but this seemed enough to distract the employees. They rushed to her side, offering first aid and apologies.
Maya gave a thumbs-up before dramatically ducking down, rolling out of the line of sight of the pony rides operator and stealthily moving towards the place where the ponies were kept in captivity. As Alisa did her task, Maya quietly made her way over to the fencepost, holding out her hand. A small puff of red mist materialized at her palm, and in a split second Blood Moon appeared in her hand. With a single, precise stroke, Maya sliced free all the horses. ”Run free, horses! Run free!” she whispered, as her eyes flitted over towards Alisa. ”This is a bit over-the-top,” she muttered as she quietly made her way towards the cherry tree, the horses running wild into the plains.
Alisa wasn’t dumb enough to just walk away, so she ushered Maya over as she continued to fake-wail. “My friend is going to take me to the hospital, and then we’re going to sue you and your stupid horses! Right, Ma...ria?”
”O-oh, yeah, right!” Maya jogged over, helping lift Alisa off the ground. ”Let’s go, Stacy! I know a great lawyer that’s going to sue the pants off of you guys!”
Alisa hobbled away with Maya. She limped for a good few moments, putting her weight on Maya, before standing up once they were out of sight. “That… was actually easy!” She also hadn’t had to see a horse, which was great.
”Jesus Christ, you’re heavy...yeah, that was great! We did it!”
“It’s rude to call a girl fat,” Alisa teased.
”I didn’t say you were fat,” Maya retorted with a smirk.
“Not true! You totally did. Meanie.” Alisa playfully pinched a piece of skin on Maya’s arm.
”Hey!” Maya giggled, swatting back at Alisa. ”Stop that!”
Alisa swiped at Maya’s shoulder with her fist, laughing. “Oh yeah? Take that!”
Maya laughed again. ”Bully!” She wound up a fist in response, before stopping. ”Oh my God, Daisy came back! She seems to like you!”
Indeed, right behind Alisa was a tall white horse, which promptly breathed down the back of Alisa’s neck.
With a slowly dawning look of horror on her face, Alisa turned around to stare at the horse. The beast was far taller than her, and it breathed down her neck, going as far as to nose her shoulder. Alisa could only stare for a moment, stock-still, before she let out a blood-curdling scream and ran behind Maya.
“Get it away from me! Oh my God oh my God oh my God-” Alisa clutched Maya’s arms, using her as a human shield.
Maya stood in confusion for a few moments. ”Alisa, you realize it’s a...” The realization then dawned on her, and Maya began to start uncontrollably laughing, in dolphin-like spurts of squeals and giggles. In between laughs, Maya managed to choke out, ”You’re...hah...afraid...hah...of...HORSES!” She then continued laughing hysterically, as if this was the funniest thing she had seen in years, while Daisy nuzzled his nose against Maya’s outstretched hand (Maya’s other hand being wrapped around her stomach, as she was belly-laughing quite hard).
Alisa blushed scarlet, backing away in the meantime. “I am not! And it’s not funny. They’re… they’re freakish! Look at it!”
Daisy the horse stared back at Alisa with doleful eyes.
“It would kill you all in your sleep if it could!”
Maya rolled her eyes. ”Ah, yes. How could I not be scared of its intimidating glare, and its ominous neighing.” She laughed again. ”So, is your backstory your parents being killed at the Kentucky Derby? Or were you captured as a child by a gang of palominos?"
“No. My mom took me to a farm once, and had me ride a horse… and it kicked me so hard it dented my abdomen. Dented it! It also ripped out my hair. I had to get a whole new set.” Alisa still huddled behind Maya, watching the horse carefully as it stared at her with scheming eyes.
”Hey, I get it, we all have our phobias. You should've told me sooner and I wouldn't have- holy shit, wait a fucking second, did you just say DENTED?!”
“Yeah, so? It kicked me here-” Alisa knocked on her stomach, and a faintly hollow sound echoed- “and I got a giant dent.”
”Did you just say. Dented.” Maya repeated, more as a surprised statement this time as her eyes widened.
“Yes. Is your hearing alright?”
”...I am speaking to a robot.”
“I mean, I prefer android, but you didn’t realize that? I thought Katana would at least brief you a little.”
”No! I thought you were, like, an energy armor type! Not a fucking robot!”
“So? Do you have a problem with that?”
”Yes,” Maya said bluntly, scratching the back of her head, still looking a bit shell-shocked.
Alisa’s eyes then went wide, looking hurt. She had started to think that her unnatural origins might not have been as big a deal as she thought, but was she wrong? “... You do? Why?”
"I mean.." Maya's eyes twinkled. ”Why didn't anybody tell me? That is, like, so cool! Can you turn into a car like a Transformer or something? I didn't realize robots could be so...normal!" Maya started to check Alisa out. ”So, you're 100% robot? This is all metal?" she asked, gesturing at Alisa's synthetic body.
“... Mostly stainless steel, silicon, and plastic, but with some other alloys too…” Alisa’s hurt look morphed into one of confusion. Such a quick turn-around! “I don’t know what a Transformer is, so no, and yes, I am 100% synthetic.”
”Shit. That's why you weighed so much. I was starting to think you just filled up with Hot Pockets back at the base.” Maya laughed. ”So if you're a robot, can you, like, do my chores too? If you don't run out of energy or something?"
“I’m not that kind of robot, and I’m not doing your chores. I already have extra.” Alisa then raised a brow. “You haven’t told me anything about you, Maya.”
”Fair enough." Maya sat down, withdrawing her hand and signalling for the (very confused) Daisy to run off, which the horse then did. ”What do you want to know, then? It’s not going to be as cool as the whole ‘being a robot’ thing."
“It’s really not that cool. But where are you from? What are your abilities? How did you come to be with Katana? Why are you here? Stuff like that.”
”I’m from a little place called Gotham City and I’m here to carry this team," Maya said with a prolonged stretch of her arms, not a drop of sarcasm on her face. ”Me and Katana both use swords, so it was kind of a natural fit. Here, let me show you. Senshi!"
Maya held up her hand, and the katana phased into existence right in front of Alisa’s eyes
Alisa snorted. “Cool sword, but if you think you’re gonna ‘carry’ the team…” She then put a little thought into it, and smirked. “Tell you what. If you can beat Talon, Rain, and... let’s say, Brightheart in a fight, then you can say that.”
“What’s special about the sword?”
Maya gave a confident smile. ”I could beat both of those Batman wannabe emos with one arm," the girl boasted. ”Brightheart, no way. She is so hot. Jesus. How do you not get self-conscious?" Maya exhaled loudly. ”Damn. Anyway, this is Blood Moon." Maya held up the sword. ”There’s a whole-ass demon in here. Pretty cool, right?"
“You’d be surprised,” Alisa told her. In truth, there was no way that Alisa thought Maya could beat any of the three of them. “Although, I did beat Viktor in our first spar. Also, yes. Aleen’a is pretty, but very nice!” Alisa then shook her head, looking skeptical for a moment, before sighing and letting her shoulders slump. “I guess I’ve seen crazier things. Like everything Zach does…”
”No, it’s actually a cursed sword!" Maya twirled it above her head with expert control. ”A single touch onto a normal person will leave a wound of unbearable pain," Maya said as she brought down the sword, prodding Alisa with it. ”I guess if you’re a robot, you don’t feel pain, though, right? Lucky."
Unfortunately for them, Alisa did feel pain. And the sword happened to hurt like a bitch. Alisa gasped and screamed, again, jumping back from the sword and Maya. “Ow ow ow ow- WHY WOULD YOU TOUCH ME WITH THAT?!” She nursed her still burning hand, knowing there was nothing she could do for it. The sword had gone straight through her “skin” and some of the metal of her hand, leaving a significant slice of her wrist that showed the metal underneath.
”Holy shit I’m so sorry!" Maya said with a start, immediately dropping the sword and reaching to take Alisa’’s hand. ”Fucking Christ, why did they program you to feel pain?!"
“My mom hates me, I guess?!” Alisa closed her eyes tight, biting her cheek and trying not to scream again. She relinquished her hand to Maya, letting her see it. “Ow, god, that hurts…”
”Hang on one second, it’ll be all better in a second. SENSHI, FIX HER!" Maya yelled at the discarded sword next to her. Meanwhile, Alisa’s wound started to grow worse, the metal around the wound starting to corrode and flake away, the unbearable pain only continuing to grow stronger.
Alisa’s eyes widened in panic and pain as the rest of her hand began to corrode. “Make it stop make it stop make it stop-” She barely kept from screaming, only moaning and buckling over. “Seriously, stop it, Maya! It’s not funny, my hand!”
”Stop panicking! The worse you panic, the worse it gets! It’s a demon curse!”
“MAKE IT STOP CUTTING OFF MY FUCKING HAND THEN!”
The pain eventually subsided, and Alisa’s hand slowly stopped evaporating. ”There we go. Sorry, Lis. Didn’t realize that you, err, would notice anything there. My bad.”
Alisa looked substantially pissed as she stared down at the missing portions of her left hand. There was a large hole in the spot where the back of her hand met her arm, extending to just below her thumb. Metal and wiring was exposed, and Alisa scowled as she flexed her hand with a bit of fine dexterity difficulty. “I’m going to have to get that fixed, now that my only left hand doesn’t work. Thanks..” ‘Carry the team’ her ass. Maya couldn’t even control her sword.
”You’re welcome,” Maya shot back sarcastically. ”Why don’t you give it a few seconds?” Maya looked down at her wrist, where her watch would’ve been if she had a watch. Indeed, as if it were magic (which it was), the place that the corrosion had occurred was now repairing itself, wires shifting back to where they were before and fragments of metal growing from where the gap had once been. Soon, the only indication that anything had ever happened was a slight scar where Maya had originally sliced through, and of course, Alisa’s memories of the horrible, agonizing pain.
Alisa flexed her hand again, looking surprised after the sudden healing. “Huh… I’ve never had a scar.” She then shrugged. “Don’t try that again. Seriously. If I were flesh and blood, you’d be in deep trouble.”
Maya nodded intensely. ”Yep. And I owe you a favor. Big-time. Anything you want.”
”I hate where this is headed, but yeah.”
“Hm. I’ll think about it. I mean, it won’t be crazy, but I’ll think on it.”
Maya sighed. This was gonna come back to bite her. ”Anyway, it was nice to meet you, Alisa! Don't forget to take Fluffy with you,” Maya added as she strolled back towards the fairgrounds.
“Oh, see you!” Alisa waved at Maya’s back, clutching ‘Fluffy’ in her hands. This had been interesting, but she still wasn’t sure how she felt about Maya. Only time would tell. She cast one last suspicious look at Daisy the horse, who was peacefully munching on grass, before walking off herself. Time to go find a rollercoaster… or maybe another of her friends.