Big Trouble in Castle Japoness
Faust, Gartland's grand fuhrer, makes a speech to his people about how the ruler of Peterburg, Emperor Alexander, isn't concerned with the future of Terra II, so a call to arms is made to "restore justice."
A huge wave of Gartland tanks assemble outside the borders of Peterburg with an order to unconditionally surrender sent to the emperor, but there's no reply. Shogun Ieyasu is among the other rulers of Terra II denouncing Faust's "holy crusade;" Faust believes Terra II will only truly be united once under his rule.
Panther, one of the Saber Dolls, is enraged by Ieyasu's remarks about Faust, and asks for the go-ahead to assassinate him, though Faust denies her the privelege - he claims a perfect leader should ignore all criticism. Faust leaves the room but Panther is still riled up about it, though Tiger tells her that although they always wish to please Faust, they will only take orders from him, and never disobey him.
With Tiger out of earshot, Luchs tells Panther that Castle Japoness is having an open house tomorrow, so if she's really that geed up to snuff the old guy, she could slip in then without much notice.
Funnily enough, the next day Otaru and Lime are having a ball of a time at the fair there, and Otaru is still entranced with how much Lime acts like a human child. Hanagata is never far behind, and he creeps up to complain about how Otaru took his marionette on a date - how eccentric! As his best friend, Hanagata wishes he'd do normal things like take real flesh and blood dudes on dates, though his plea for friendship falls on deaf ears.
Hikozaemon dashes through the halls of Castle Japoness - he's got big news to report to the shogun! Gartland is seeing his statement as outright criticism towards them, and given their rather hostile nature, that could cause retaliation of some kind! ... this also falls on deaf ears, because a dummy is in the shogun's place. Why? Who knows.
Otaru and company head inside Castle Japoness, and see portraits of the previous shoguns - from Shogun Ieyasu I to Shogun Ieyasu X, all of whom look identical. Hanagata explains that they're "pure clones," while ordinary citizens are "secondary clones." Ieyasu happens to be in the room and is intrigued by Lime, but is knocked down by some children before he can properly chat with her. Lime helps him to his feet and scoots on her way.
An intruder breaks through the electrified fence at the Japoness checkpoint - it's Panther! She knocks the guards on their asses and makes her way towards the castle, though the guards manage to report this to the others via radio.
Otaru and chums are checking out the various historic vases of Japoness; Hanagata marvels over their beauty, while Otaru merely sees a hunk of junk. Lime accidentally steals one of the vases, setting off an alarm and attracting all the guards in the castle, including Baiko and Tamasaburo. They believe her to be the intruder reported earlier, and are outright shocked she's trying to steal a priceless vase - Lime doesn't even realise the thing she's holding is priceless, or even a vase, and ends up breaking the thing while playing with it.
Amidst the frenzy, Hanagata is most ticked off because he's also being chased when he wasn't even responsible - he'd only tried to fix it, after all! (and made it break even worse, but that's hardly an issue right now) They come to a fork in the path; Otaru and Lime go right, Hanagata goes left, and all the guards choose to chase only him. He's understandably miffed about that, too.
Hanagata manages to catch up, and all three of them duck into some broom closets (one of which is out of order), successfully evading the mob. Although out of danger, Otaru hears a strange voice whispering in the darkness.
The guards give chase!
Otaru's curious to investigate, but Hanagata clearly doesn't like being a fugitive, and the group tiptoe out... only to be caught by Baiko and Tamasaburo. The chase starts anew, and this time the imperial guard request for backup - cue the Saber Marionette Cherry Blossoms, marionettes designed for combat!
They're desperate for a way of getting these things off their tail, and that gets Otaru thinking - Hanagata had called him his best friend earlier on. And best friends will always stick together, and do anything for each other, right? Hanagata wholeheartedly agrees, his heart aflutter.
So Otaru trips his ass up and lets him get swamped by the Cherry Blossoms, tripping them up and creating a rolling boulder of marionettes barrelling down the hallway.
They hadn't accounted for one thing, though - what if they run into a dead end? Yep, that's what happens, and there's nowhere else to run. Conveniently enough, it's also a hidden elevator, so Otaru and Lime soar to safety, leaving the imperial guard stumped.
The lift dumps them off at the end, right in the chamber of Shogun Ieyasu! Otaru bows before the ruler, though he claims that isn't necessary; he warmly greets the two of them and deduces that Otaru was the one who "awakened" Lime. He's curious to know what all the ruckus is elsewhere in the castle, and Otaru takes the blame for destroying the vase, apologising profusedly.
Lime tries to say she did it, but Otaru silences her. The shogun wants to know why he'd stand up for a marionette; if he sat by, he'd avoid all punishment and he could just buy a new one, but Otaru says that nothing could replace Lime. Not that Ieyasu had any complaints in the first place - a vase is a vase, life goes on! He says he'll inform the garrison of what happened and allows the two go go home..
... only for Panther to bust through the ceiling! She introduces herself as a servant of Lord Faust, and announces her plan to kill Ieyasu. Otaru stands in the shogun's way, but is knocked aside by the saber doll; upset that Otaru's getting mistreated, Lime ploughs into Panther, shoving her into the next chamber.
The two scrap some more and Otaru chases after, only to get attacked himself. In the midst of being strangled, he takes the time to notice that Panther has been laughing sadistically the whole time, expressing emotions just like Lime can - albeit a bit more murder-orientated. She then hurls him through a wall, eventually coming to a stop against a glass tube...
The fight between Lime and Panther is interrupted as water floods out of the tube, and out steps a new challenger - another marionette! Panther isn't impressed, she'll take them all on, but the new marionette calculates the opponent's capabilities and their current battle environment...
... and by hitting the floor in just the right spot, causes the floorboards to throw themselves at Panther, strategically severing her shoulder cables. Despite her right arm being disabled, she's still keen to mop the floor with everyone in sight...
Only for the "everyone in sight" tally to raise from three to a gazillion, as Ieyasu returns with the entire castle's worth of guards and Cherry Blossom marionettes at his disposal. Ieyasu tells her to bring a message to Faust - no good will come from a forced takeover. Panther merely scoffs and escapes through a window.
Lime and the new marionette tend to Otaru to see if he's okay, while Ieyasu is impressed - if this one man has awakened a second marionette already, he might be the man he's looking for.
Panther returns to Gartland and is suffering the consequences for her disobedience - she wanted to please Faust, but he does not approve of soldiers following their own orders. Luchs appears amused.
Otaru walks home with Lime, who quite enjoyed the romp they had at the castle, and is even pleased that she made friends with Shogun Ieyasu, and also that new marionette! Cherry introduces herself, and states that she will forever be at Master Otaru's service. Although embarrassed by the gesture, something's picking at Otaru... aren't they missing something?
Oh, they just left Hanagata back at the castle to get interrogated and horribly tortured by Tamasaburo and Baiko! It was nothing important at all, no sir.
Who the hell built Japoness Castle?! Forks in the hallway, broom closets inside broom closets and halls that lead nowhere, not to mention the fact that with how long they spend running around, there must be five miles worth of hallway in that castle. Later episodes show there's even more ridiculous crap built into the place.
Yes, that victory with the floorboards is total bullshit. No explanation is given as to how the hell it's meant to work, nor is such a tactic ever used again.
For the interested, here's all of the Ieyasus shown in the gallery.
I'm wondering if the image of Ieyasu X is an homage to the Terminator 2 movie poster, though I could just be spewing bull.