Chapter 1 - Art and Diaromas
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- Chapter 1 "Departure, Encounter, Battle"
"What should I do?" I sighed. There was no response. Just like always.
I didn't mutter that because I expected a response. I just wanted someone in whom I could confide a little, thus the sigh. Souga never talks.
Souga is the zoid I ride. His is classified as a Liger Blue, but I call him Souga because that sounds cooler.
The view on the screen in my cockpit is the same old scenery. It's just the sun shining in the blue, cloudless sky and the cluster of rocky mountains rising up with their deep canyons etched in between. Today, though, there's just one thing that's different. It's a single zoid. It's following the river as it moves through the canyon. It's sleek, yellow body looks very quick. Those two long rods that I can see are weapons like spears, and then on its back is probably a launcher because I can see something that looks just like a missile. It would be too dangerous and careless to get any closer.
The direction where that yellow zoid is heading is the location of the secret village where we live. At first glance, this region looks uninhabitable with nothing but mountain ranges, but if you keep following this canyon, it opens up into a vast area thick with greenery. Legend has it that 120 years ago...or possibly 150 years ago, the people who rode zoids were tired of all the wars, so they wandered to the edge of the wilderness and found this lush valley where they began living. Even now they live in obscurity making little contact with outsiders.
What type of zoid is that? If he is going to cause any harm to the village, I can't let him go any further.
"What should I do?" I sigh. There is no response. Even without a response, I know what Souga is thinking. I've been riding him since I was five years old, so we've been together for 11 years. This is what Souga is thinking, "Let's go. If it's to protect the village, we cannot shun the fight."
I can't make up my mind. Maybe I will have to do battle with him, but my Souga has hardly any missiles. All he can use are his claws and fangs. After all, we just went out for a little walk...Souga gets in a bad mood if I don't take him out for a run in the mountains at least once a day, and if it's just Souga and I, we don't need any weapons. But that other zoid is loaded with missiles. There is no way that we can defeat him unless we can get in close.
In terms of position, we have the advantage. I am on top of the mountain, and he is down in the canyon. He probably hasn't noticed that we are here. If we can maneuver well and ambush him, we can get on his tail. I've made up my mind.
"Let's go!" I muttered. Souga looked up and leaped towards the sky. That's always been his way. When I bark out a command, he does this without fail.
"Ah...no! No, no, no!" I hurriedly restrain him.
"You can't bark out! Quiet. Quiet, okay?"
- Chapter 1: Part 2
Souga pouted as if he had just been punished, and then I thought I saw him stick his tongue out at me.
Souga loyally obeys my command to be "quiet" and nimbly runs across the mountain without making a sound. We know the layout of the land here all too well. We turn down the back of the mountain and then descend into the canyon after having passed the yellow zoid. We find a mass of rock just the right size and conceal ourselves behind it. I formulate a battle plan inside my head. We will hide here and then wait for him to pass us. As soon as he passes us, we will jump out of the shadow of this rock and get on his tail. This position will create the best advantage for us to determine whether he's an enemy or a friend.
I increase the range of my auditory sensory system. As for Souga's ears, he can monitor sound 360 degrees and pick it up from any direction giving him an advantage. I can hear it now. It's the zoidís footsteps. He's 500 meters away.
I quiet my breathing and wait.
The distance is now 400 meters.
Then suddenly, the sound of the footsteps stopped.
An image appears on my screen, and it looks as if I have received a message. Showing on my screen is the form of a boy who looks young...almost like a small child.
"I am Ken from the Jin Commando Unit. I am riding a Hound Soldier. I have confirmed on my sensor that you are hiding just over there."
What? A sensor? So hiding like this was a waste of time?
"Disarm all of your weapons and show yourself at once. Otherwise..."
I can hear the sound of machinery now. It's the sound of a canon turning.
I sprang out from behind the large boulder. In the next instant, I hear a thunderous roar as a huge rock flies.
It was just in the nick of time. I hear thumping noises. They are the fragments of the rock raining down on Souga.
"That was just a warning shot. Um, either raise a white flag or send a message conveying your will to surrender..."
That was just a warning shot?! He completely destroyed that boulder.
Still, there's something strange about the way this boy is speaking. It's like he's reading straight out of a manual.
I heard the sound of machinery again. I can clearly see on my screen now. He's aiming his gun right at me.
"I will give you five more seconds. Raise a white flag or send me a communication that you wish to surrender. I will start the countdown now. 5..."
There's no time to think. Our only choice now is to attack.
We turn towards the enemy and start running.
We gain full speed by the second step. Quick acceleration is one of Souga's traits.
We draw near directly in front of the enemy zoid.
"2... Um, uh! Uh! Uh!"
The enemy's rider is panicking. It's too late for panic at a time like this.
We explode a punch into him. His armor is torn, and his body moves sideways. Still, why is he continuing that deliberate countdown without assuming a defensive position?
What a weirdo.
The impact was extremely close. We're in trouble. The enemy wasn't armed with just the one missile.
In order to evade the bombardment, we start running while I get a look at our surroundings. Another one over there. That one is a wolf with a red body running straight towards us. Then behind him is a zoid shaped like a rhinoceros.
A new image appears on my screen. This time it's an older man with a slovenly beard.
"Our intent is not meaningless destruction. We have no reason to fight."
I faced the new enemy and switched my communication signal to on.
"So you're inquiring by bombing me!"
"It's a girl?!"
He sounded somewhat surprised. A girl driving a zoid is not that rare.
"What do you mean that it's a girl?!"
As we talk, the distance between us gets less and less.
"I will not fight a girl."
"What? That's...discrimination against girls. It's sexual harassment!"
I am so upset now.
"Say what you will, but I have no intention of fighting a girl."
The enemy was right in front of me now. He kicked both back legs against the ground and jumped. At the same time, he raised his front legs over his head.
"Sexual harassment cannot be forgiven!"
"I can't take it back now. I'm sorry!"
In an instant, something flashed white across my screen.
I swung my front legs downward. Souga's claws ripped into the enemy...at least they were supposed to...but nothing happened.
What happened? Did the enemy nimbly dodge out of the way? It didn't look like he did.
The red zoid ran beneath the bottom of Souga. I tried to jump over the enemy and land on the other side of him. But, I couldn't do it. Souga's front legs wouldn't move and fell back to the ground from above his shoulders.
Souga tumbled across the ground. If I wasn't wearing my seatbelt, I'm sure I would have been ejected. I try to get Souga's legs back on the ground to stop his rolling...but...I can't do it. That's strange. Something is weird here. Souga is no longer responding to my commands.
Finally, we stop our roll. I take off my seat belt and jump from the cockpit.
- Chapter 1: Part 3
I screamed despite myself.
The first thing that caught my eye as I landed on the ground was Souga's decrepit state.
"His front legs!"
They are twisted at an impossible angle with sparks flying out of the wounds in his body. He is in discernable pain.
People came out from enemy Zoids. A boy from a yellowish one. An old man from a red one. Two girls from a rhinoceros type. The focused on me and gathered around while I was stupified at the sight of the Souga.
"Relax, you were struck with the back of the sword." The old man spoke.
I took a step forward.
"Well, no, I didn't plan on fighting with you..."
The old man took one step back.
I clenched my hand into a fist and took another step forward.
"It's a misunderstanding. I don't plan on fighting you."
The old man took a step back while raising both hands as a symbol of surrender. But, I don't give in.
"How dare you do that to my Souga!"
"Stop! I won't fight a..."
I punched in the old man's face.
The old man fell on his back.
Both girls threw themselves at me. I was crushed under their weight and fell to the ground.
The girl with glasses bent over me and spoke.
"You're, probably, Midori from Kageri village?"
Certainly that was my name.
The girl stared at me.
"This girl is..."
The other girl stared at me too. I stared back. It was a little, strange, having three women scuffling and staring at each other on the ground.
"I'm Seki of Jin's commando unit."
The girl with glasses named herself.
The other girl named herself.
"We're going to meet the elder of your village."
"To meet my grandfather?"
"Yes. To meet the Zoid pilot of Zoid pilots, Mr. Haqqu."
It seems like I jumped to the wrong conclusion. These people weren't bad people. The two girls freed my body. Seki, who stood up before, pulled my hand and brought me up to my feet.
"Do you understand?"
The old man had risen back up.
"I'm Jin. I'm leading this commando unit. I've heard about you. The recklessly spirited girl who pilots a blue lion type Zoid who stays at Mr. Haqqu's home."
Now that I look closer, he wasn't likely old enough to be called an old man. I could even say he was a little sexy. Minus the long strand of blood dripping from his nose.
I remembered. It wasn't the time to have a carefree chat.
A voice called out. When I turned around it was the boy from the yellowish Zoid... Called Ken... looking at the state of my Souga.
"Just the shoulder is dislocated. I'll fix it right away."
The boy looked over his shoulder, "My Hound Soldier is very severely wounded."
"Ah, umm, well..."
I hesitated a little as I spoke.
Ken smiled cheerfully.
- Chapter 1: Part 4
Ken's Hound Soldier was able to move on its own. For my Souga it was a bit too much. After a discussion he would return to the village in deplorable shape, allowed to place the upper part of his body on the older sister's Heavy Rhimos and walking with his hind legs only. Because it was such an inconvenient way to walk it took many hours to get back to the village and it was twilight by the time we reached it.
"It's been a long time."
Grandpa came out to welcome us. Jin's Zoid, the Rez Wolf which was leading, paused. The cockpit opened and Jin's figure appeared.
"It's been a long time. You seem well."
Grandpa shifted his attention in my direction.
"It seems there was a kerfuffle."
Jin scratched his head.
"There was a little misunderstanding. Ah, only the Zoids were damaged, the passengers are completely unharmed."
"That's fine. By the way..."
Grandpa's expression became serious again.
"The letter the other day said there's something you want to discuss."
"We would like to borrow your wisdom."
"Is it a simple question?"
"It's a little complicated. Moreover, a considerably serious situation has occurred."
"Then I'll take time to listen to it later. When you put your Zoids into the hangar you should come to my home. I'll arrange for the people you need for repairs. Food is prepared and waiting."
"Sorry to impose."
I was a little impressed. Heeeh, he respected my grandpa.
When we went to the hangar the foreman had already come to it. We left Souga and the others to the foreman and went to the house.
At home Grandpa was on watch while drinking alcohol. Dinner was arranged on the table.
"Thank you for your hospitality."
Everyone sat where they wanted. Alcohol was poured. Grandpa and Jin began having a discussion while drinking. I wasn't really interested. I was more worried about Souga.
I finished my meal quickly and left my seat.
"I'm going to the hangar."
Grandpa looked over his shoulder and replied, "Yeah", and went back to his discussion with Jin right away.
"Ah, wait a moment."
I heard a voice.
"I'll go, too."
Ken raked in his meal in a big hurry.
- Chapter 1: Part 5
Souga and the Hound Soldier were being fixed in the hangar. I sat down near them.
"You're not going to assist?"
"No, I just came to see. Because the foreman gets mad when amateurs get involved. And then..."
I shifted my attention to Ken.
"Don't speak so formally to me."
"I understand. Ah, no, I mean... I get it."
We both smiled a little. Ken sat next to me. We watched the repairs together.
"You seem very refined. Perhaps, you're the son of a very rich family?"
"Not that much."
"If you're a young master why are you in such a dangerous job?"
There was a little time until Ken answered.
"I totally lost. Like before."
"Eh? What do you mean?"
"Even though things may look this way, I was strong in training. I didn't lose to anyone in the dojo. But in an important match completely lost. Everyone said it. 'You're skilled'. And, when the teacher announced, 'I was asked to to refer a reliable Zoid pilot for a special mission...', I didn't hesitate to jump at it. 'This is it!' I thought. I'll go on a journey and get thorough training."
Ken seemed surprisingly level-headed. Nevertheless, there was excitement when he said the word 'journey'.
"Hey, is traveling fun?"
"I'm not sure if I should call it fun or not but, how do I say it, it feels like my world is growing rapidly each time we go to an unknown place..."
Somehow I felt like I understood. As far as I could remember I always lived in this village and hadn't seen the world outside the canyon.
It might be nice. I'd like to go. But, it also seems a bit scary. I wonder if Grandpa would let me go.
- Chapter 1: Part 6
At night I couldn't get to sleep at all. I wanted to know what condition Souga was in; when I went to the hangar depending on the moonlight, I found Seki sitting down facing Souga.
I sat down next to her.
"What are you doing?"
"I heard a sound."
"Yes. Zoids aren't merely machines. So they aren't repaired just by connecting the injuries. A Zoid can only be said to be fixed when its life force permeates the spot that was repaired and it becomes one with the Zoid. Right now, while Souga is sleeping, its restoring its own body. So, if you strain your ears... I feel like you can hear the sound of its life force flowing..."
I tried straining my ears, too, but I didn't hear anything.
Seki smiled a little.
"When I look at Souga, I remember the Zoid I left in the capital. I wonder what it's doing now..."
"They look alike?"
"Why didn't you come together?"
"That kid had to stay in the capital."
It seemed like there were some sort of circumstances. Although I wanted to ask, when I looked at Seki's face in profile as she watched Souga affectionately, I restrained myself somehow.
"What did you come here for?"
"I was worried about Souga."
"I see. You were worried."
The conversation paused. When I looked at Souga sleeping, I felt a bit relieved and got sleepy. But, I couldn't sleep. I have to watch over Souga... I thought...
My eyelids became heavy and my head nodded.
((Chapter 1 is currently incomplete. I hope to have this finished as soon as possible.))