Captain Maguro landed softly on the rooftop next to Private Ebi, cowering behind cover. "Update, rookie. What are we looking at?"
"It's the Texas Steak, sir. He's got . . . he's got something, sir. I don't know what it is. He's stronger than I've seen him before, we set up a defensive position here once Lieutenant Tamago went down."
As if to punctuate his words, another steak sauce blast arced overhead, knocking another hole in the beleagured Miso Building. Captain Maguro could hear the cackling of Steak over the sound of crumbling sticky rice and tofu. Maguro frowned. They'd tangled with Texas Steak before, but unlike the Philly Cheesesteak he'd always seemed one of the more . . . calm and uncomplicated villains. This sort of behavior wasn't like him at all.
"Will she be okay?"
"She was sauced, sir. She'll be okay, but she'll need quite a cleaning to get back on the front lines."
"She's a good fighter. I don't like this - Texas Steak is strong, but he's not this strong. He shouldn't have taken out Tamago. Still, I'm here now. We'll take him down and figure out what's going on. Everyone ready?"
"SIR, YES SIR."
Captain Maguro surveyed his forces. Private Ebi, Private Ika, Private Unagi, and their international transfer who went by the name of California Roll. It was a good team, and it shouldn't be an issue to overpower the Texas Steak. Still, Tamago shouldn't have had trouble either. He'd have to be careful.
The squad broke out on both sides of the rubble and instantly Private Ika was caught by a steak sauce blast. The smell reached Captain Maguro just as he realized his mistake.
That's not a normal steak sauce blast. That's A-1.
"Pull back! Pull back, for the love of Rice!" Too late. Private Ebi flew backwards, smashing against a wall and going limp. Private Unagi dodged back, firing wasabi bolt after wasabi bolt, trying desperately to reach cover as Captain Maguro laid down a field of suppressive pickled ginger. California Roll leaped to defend Ebi, firing almost his entire root in seconds before being knocked to the edge of the roof by a horseradish bomb. It didn't help - Private Unagi was clipped by another A-1 blast and collapsed as Captain Maguro fired everything he had at the disturbingly strong Texas Steak, dropping behind a flimsy salmon-skin ventilation shaft as the madman cackled wildly.
Backup. We need backup. Captain Maguro grabbed for his handrollphone just as another A-1 blast severed the ventilation shaft completely. He had barely enough time to hit the emergency button before the top smashed down on his body, pinning him to the rooftop. He felt his consciousness fading but knew that he'd summoned the cavalry at the last moment, leaving him nothing to do but listen to Texas Steak's final ravings.
"Stay away! Don't come near! I can barely control this, you must destroy me immediately! I beg of you, stop me, stop this . . . before it devours us all!"
No. No. I have to call them back. I have to warn them . . .
With a flutter of red and white on the rooftop he knew it was too late. General Toro was here. With a flash, he raced towards Texas Steak, out of Maguro's line of vision. Maguro heard a splattering, a scream, and an explosion, and a charred body slammed down in front of him, smoking slightly. Toro. Still alive, with luck. Maybe . . . maybe I can tell him . . .
Maguro wrenched himself forward, summoning reserves of strength he hadn't known existed, and reached the body just as it turned to face him.
"I . . . I tried to stop it . . . please . . . believe me . . . the negative dimension, it was . . . I couldn't . . ."
With his final strength, Maguro turned to look at the spot where Texas Steak had stood. The air was rumbling already, and he turned to see a building maelstrom, tearing pieces of the wall and rooftop apart effortlessly. The being inside laughed madly, then raised his head slowly to fix Maguro with glowing malevolent eyes and a twisted grin like a bad cut in a piece of fish.
Captain Maguro only had time for one thought before the being knocked him straight through the Miso Building.
Negi-toro. May Rice have mercy on us all.