AREX 2980 reviewed the cargo manifesto via the data upload from Screen Face 79936D. Within the brightly lit hold the audible clicking of mechanical calculations was easily covered up by the frantic gagged sounds of the new acquisitions that had not yet been fitted with their own Motor Control Chip. It also covered up the merry ringing of the AREX's Bellneck, Windy, whom mmph'd pleasantly as she hobbled about, utilizing her free will through voluntary service not for escape or retribution, but to make appraisals of the column's spoils on her own.
In human speech that tried hard to sound cultured but came off only as technically accurate and cold, the AREX affected a chortle of sorts.
2980: "My Dear, you seem to forget yourself. You have performed your recent duties with 98.6% level of adequacy. Might I suggest that you reevaluate your current level of stamina and a more worthy use of it's expenditure?"
The curvaceous servant just smiled as best as she could under the auto-tape.
Windy: "Eyef juff fonfid t sief fuff fuu fot, Muff Loff!"*
*"I just wanted to see what you got, My Lord!"
The remaining un-chipped gals switched their gagged pleads and grunts of futile exertion against their bonds to more aggressive cursing at the gagged, bound, & WILLING young-looking lady in the frilly French Maid uniform that had hopped before them.
If emotions were directly transferrable, as in the case of the often lamented change of their leader Nomad to Nomoko, 2980 would have visibly shown disappointment. Though this drive did add an amount of NoMAIDs within standard parameters to the population, none seemed to be suitable to add to his own personal staff, as was acceptable practice permitted to a processor of 2980's station.
"Muff Loff, Muff Loff!"
AREX 2980, though distracted by Windy's urging, was familiar enough with his personal valet that she would not make such audacious chatter unless there was something she deemed of critical importance to her master.
After moving towards the Bellneck and letting loose another burst of clicking, it stated:
2980: "What a miraculous conclusion you have arrived at for the product of an imperfect species" it contemplated.
The mechanical monstrosity stood over a fresh chipped Maid, part of the bounty, and her resemblance to a certain well-known µ-Wave Positive Entity with Divinity skills of a supreme level was striking -not just by itself- by the failure of all involved in the operation to have missed it. A self-diagnostic revealed no errors, which means even the Robolord itself did not process the probability. And this particular subject did not show any 'mystical' power use during capture. Another anomaly. The calculations of many possibilities took merely moments.
"Windy, I have formulated a new objective for you. This Maid will be in your charge. You are to assist and supervise this subject in all of your current duties."
At the exasperated "mmph", the Robolord continued.
"I assure you, as I have indicated appropriately in prior events, this new task does not alter your current role. Begin the task as directed."
Windy: "Fank Fuu, Muff Loff!"
The Robolord's spindly metal fingers touched the tape adorned chin of this latest acquisition, and nodded its cranial sphere in satisfaction.
2980: "This one will make a superlative addition to my personal staff."
But this course of action came with risks that confounded calculation. Though the maidifiable certainly had a high measure of aesthetic appeal, she also exuded powerful µ-Waves. Even though her captivating eyes were clouded, demonstrating the influence of the Motor Control Chip on her forehead, a dim spark of individuality remained regardless. This abnormality proved this entity had an un-gauged power that was dangerous.
In addition, there was Nomoko. When the leader was transformed from satellite to gynoid by a high elven princess [which most AREX's, in the safety of their own processes considered a "downgrade"], it had ignited an obsession with µ-Wave Positive Entities. Such circumstances have resulted in Nomoko taking a personal interest any time a "Magi" was involved in a Recruitment Drive. All other Robolords were to assist to this end, with µ-Wave Positives or even potentials being transferred directly to Nomoko upon discovery. Due to the hazard prospect from either Nomoko or the capabilities of the maidifiable involved, this fiat was consistently executed.
Though AREX 2980 tallied a 99.897% probability of compliance with this directive, there was one disturbing subtext:
2980 must have this Maid.
"This µ-WPE will require my personal attention for quite some time."
The new maid was fitted with a Dispiriting Collar, granted by Nomoko specifically for the handling of a µ-WPE, before sequestering her along with an unusually large contingent of maids, including AREX 2980's personal favorite, Windy.
Or was the unit Windy now "2nd favorite"?
Within the administrative block of a drone storage node, the unconventional environs would deter scrutiny, and allow 2980 to appreciate its new and growing obsession, until such a time as it deemed satisfactory to notify Nomoko of her existence.
Thirty days should be adequate. Or perhaps sixty.
But it was only 19 days until it all fell apart via a raid. From AMAZON.
II. HEROIC RESCUE
"Fields to White Knight, Fields to White Knight."
"This is Braidy -go ahead Strawberry."
"All Fremp activity deactivated in a safe radius. Permission to exfiltrate."1
"Granted. But I'm coming down there."
"Roger, White Knight."
Everything about this was wrong. Except for their victory.
This operation was supposed to have been a heavy infantry attack upon a Fremp technology depot, but it had ended up turning into a Maidevac mission for an embedded maid harem. Usually, if reality differed that much from reliable intelligence, that meant bad things happened, but if this was some sort of elaborate trap, it had never been sprung.
The Depot's Holds had nothing but Seekers, Recruiters, Beedubs, & associated 'bots for standard column assaults. It was fortunate that Fields had a Rifle unit on standby, since the CAT Suited troops that were the bulk of this mission were not meant for any sort of delicate extraction.
The Marshal flew down from the hovering ship to survey the battlefield and review the results personally. The tubular middle structure of the central stronghold was scarred and ripped by weapons fire. Smoke and steam was abundant. The fauna that once surrounded the entire area had been burned to the soil. Though it should not have been possible, communications postmortem indicated that the Robolord on site even seemed genuinely amused at the assault, which added another inexplicable element to the operation. The Rifle Squad that ILF'ed the Fremp, reported that it bemoaned "Bitter irony." before forced "shutdown".
The biggest surprise had come from the difficulty immediately after of forcibly dragging one defiant NoMAID from the scene. The bell around her neck, visible from the live feed, gleamed brightly.
Didn't those foolish girls understand? Didn't they realize who they were dealing with? What they were giving up in trade? Perhaps…just perhaps, they never had any will of their own to begin with.
Field Marshal Strawberry Fields oversaw the evacuation of the officers and infantry. A couple of her Greenskirts were cocooned in that all-too-familiar blue tape, but thankfully the immobilized were outweighed considerably by the unhampered, who hurriedly scratched the noses of the fallen while gathering weapons, ammo, technology, and about 30 or so of the NoMAIDs in preparation to disembark.
Or was it retreat?
Why did it always have to be retreat? It was a successful raid, but in retrospect, that's all it was. Braidy's forces were leaving the field that would be reoccupied by the enemy soon enough. She had often said that the true nature of the war was freeing maidified women, which they were doing more and more these days, but deep inside she knew that to truly win, AMAZON had to begin taking territory.
Until the Fremps were denied a place to lick their wounds and reformulate their sinister machinations, they would never stop coming, they would never stop enslaving, they would never-
Fields: "Marshal, ma'am!"
Fields: "Will all due respect, the cleanup is going well, and it's not safe for you here, even presently. This whole thing has been peculiar, and I don't like it one bit. I humbly request you re-board."
Braidy: "I know, Fields. What have we got?"
Fields: "Not much I'm afraid. Most Fremp technology is NS."2
Braidy: "I understand. Just give me a moment, ok?"
Fields: "Yes, ma'am."
As the Field Marshal supervised the remaining efforts in boarding the ship, Braidy walked over the ground, now with numerous blast holes, to where the group of Maids were, some being helped to their feet, others still awaiting such assistance, most in tears either with happiness, relief, or a combination of both. She detached her helmet and laid it down, earning her looks of sheer gratitude from several of the rescued.
But one of them just sobbed uncontrollably, and Braidy knelt down behind her. This one had an additional electronic device, a collar, now deactivated, around her neck. Hmm. And she was exceptionally beautiful, in a way that seemed not quite human, but also in a manner that the comeliness was not threateningly so. Braidy pulled her closer and the young woman leaned against her breastplate, tears still streaming down her face.
Marshall understood what she was going through. The scar on her own forehead and remnants of her symbiotic French Maid costume underneath her CATsuit were constant reminders even if she had forgotten. She whispered some encouragement.
"Remember this feeling for as long as you live. Keep this close to you at all times. Retain who you are, and never forget the fate that you have escaped. Remember that this is the taste of freedom."
She felt anger welling up, but it was not the time nor the place. There would be another battle…there always seemed to be. Still, Braidy could feel something else, something that neither her Armor's electronics nor her other senses could detect. There was something about this gal. Something familiar, something powerful. She straightened, grabbed for her helmet and raised her voice to the remaining ground troops.
"I've got this one. Double-time it now on the others!"
Braidy helped the ex-captive to her feet, well, to her heels anyway. Unfortunately her bonds and outfit would have to remain for a bit longer, as there still wasn't a manageable field method to remove either one. Just another wonder of technology to curse the Fremps for. Carrying her bride-style, Marshal Marshall Braidy activated her thrusters and flew into the air back to the ship's rear loading bay, just as the last of the flight-armored troops were finishing up boarding the others. They'd leave nothing but destroyed bots, smoldering buildings, and the AMAZON logo for the Fremps to remember them this time.
"Relay the order. Move out!" The ship's hatch began to close.
As the natural light from the atmosphere faded, the internal illumination snapped on. With sounds of engines coming to power and the bay door secured with a thump, Braidy sighed as the Bellneck, separated from the other ex-captives, alternated between teary-eyed looks of fear, pouting, and contempt at her current predicament.
"The counselors are going to have their hands full with this one…" the Marshal mused to herself, as she turned her head back towards the lady in her arms.
But it was then that it happened. Before Braidy laid the girl down next to the others, the ex-captive opened her tear-filled eyes and looked directly into Marshall's. It wasn't just that the lady's eyes were no longer opaque but now bright, as was with all that were lucky enough to escape the mind bondage the control chips provided, but as she looked into Braidy's own eyes, the Marshal felt something in her head, as if somebody was gently stroking part of her brain. And Braidy could swear that the faint blue markings now on the gal's face weren't there just moments before.
There was a youthful sounding female voice in Braidy's head. It was faint, but it was there. The ex-NoMAID woman's lips moved under the auto-tape as much as they could in sync with the words that only Marshall could hear:
"Kei…ichi. P-please find Kei...ichi."