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Chapter 3 - Defeat, Cooperation, and Determination



    Clang!

    An intense blow from the Bio Zoid's huge claws. A Cannon Fort falls over.

    Fwoosh!

    Another Bio Zoid breathes fire. A Command Wolf gets engulfed by the flames. A different Bio Zoid approaches the Cannon Fort that fell to the ground.

    "Hurry up, Souga!"

    I cry. Can we make it in time? I hope we can make it in time.


- Chapter 3: Part 2

    We encountered the battle on a scouting mission, while me and Souga were following Ken and his Hound Soldier.

    "I hear explosions coming from beyond the forest ahead of us."

    Ken said, so we started heading that way.

    As we run through the forest we enter a grassland, and all at once my field of view opens up. The sight before me is the worst destruction I've ever seen in my life.

    On one side, there are Bio Zoids swarming. It's not just one, but many. A sense of uneasiness crosses through my mind. I have a feeling this'll be a tough fight. Perhaps it would've been better to equip Gusoku, but it was easier to travel without it, so it was put into storage for now.

    On the other hand, there's 5 or 6 normal Zoids. Ken informs me of this as we run. Molga Cannory, Command Wolf, and Cannon Fort. Everyone is already bashed up. Some are collapsed on the ground and not moving. When I see the full picture, I doubt my own eyes.

    "Huh?"

    No way... The Bio Zoids are eating the fallen Zoids? Is that even possible?

    It's unbelievable, but that's the reality that's playing out right in front of me.

    "That's terrible!"

    Roooooooaaaarrrrr!

    Souga calls out as he runs.

    A Bio Zoid turns its long neck. Souga runs towards the center of it. Immediately behind him is Ken's Hound Soldier.

    Boom! Boom!

    Hound Soldier fires its pursuit missiles while charging.

    "I can't forgive this!"

    I scream, jumping towards the Bio Zoid. The Bio Zoid's claws are directed right at me, but it's too slow.

    Clang!

    The claws are diverted with the left paw. We continue.

    Crash!

    The claws on the right paw strike against the Bio Zoid's neck. It makes solid contact. The Bio Zoid flies backwards. I can't afford to wait to see the results. The next Bio Zoid is approaching the spot where Souga's about to land.

    Clang!

    We clash head on. The two Zoid's bodies get tangled up and roll across the ground. Another Bio Zoid rushes over and swings its claws at Souga.

    For just a moment, a flash of white crosses Souga's field of view. This is the brilliant weaponry of the Hound Soldier.

    Shyaaaaaaa!

    The Bio Zoid shrieks a demonic cry.

    Hound Soldier lands with a thunk and holds his ground, then abruptly turns and thrusts the lance into the Bio Zoid that's tangled up with Souga. The two Bio Zoids collapse and fall apart.

    "Midori."

    Ken's voice is surprisingly calm.

    "Are you okay?"

    Ken was usually too laid back and much more of a bleeding heart, but he was reliable in times like this.

    "Of course."

    I move Souga's body upright. The Bio Zoids seem flustered by the sudden intruders. They're gathering around us at a distance. One Bio Zoid is laying on the ground nearby. Probably the one I just beat. That one moves. It wakes back up. The long neck bends at an impossible angle and looks around. Under normal circumstances it shouldn't be moving. And yet it moves its head around, its face hanging like a marionette, then opens its wicked mouth and grins. My spine freezes.

    (Bio Zoids are immortal.)

    I've heard that before, but this is the first time I've been faced with that reality.

    (The sword... I have to use the Metal Zi sword.)

    I probably should have used it from the start, I think, but I didn't... because I didn't believe in the depths of my heart that Bio Zoids were truly immortal and I didn't have the confidence to use the sword.

    Its been only a few days since Souga even got the sword. Certainly, this sword is perfect for Souga, but I'm not used to fighting with it, or at least that seems to be the case, even though I've been practicing with Ken once a day in the middle of our scouting trips.

    "Midori."

    Ken says to me.

    "If we keep going like this, they'll surround us and burn us away with their fire. To use Metal Zi Weapons, they have to be brought into close range..."

    "I know."

    I hold up the sword.

    "Let's go!"

    "Ha!"

    The two of us run simultaneously.

    "My song is the sound of slashing, and my dance is the glimmer of a white blade."

    The thoughts of the sword echoe in my heart.

    "The path we walk is a wicked one, and those who obstruct it, we will kill."

    The Bio Zoid opens his mouth and breaths fire. I jump towards it.

    "Break!"

    The power of the Metal Zi blade is amazing. The Bio Zoid collapses with a single blow, but the Bio Zoids are swarming. How many Bio Zoids do we have to defeat...

    As we slash through the third Bio Zoid, Souga loses his balance. I turn around and see another Bio Zoid's claws pulling at his hind leg.

    "Oh no!"

    Once I realize, it's already too late. Souga's body is overturned.

    "Midori!"

    I hear Ken's voice. He seems to care about me while we're fighting.

    "It's okay."

    I answer anyway. I'm not confident that it's really okay, though.

    I roll Souga's body until it makes a full rotation, then we quickly stand up. There's a Bio Zoid in front of us. This one, it's the big guy who stood out from the rest. His huge nails swing down towards Souga's head.

    Crack!

    There's a terrible impact. So strong that it's clear that Souga's armor has broken.

    "......"

    I don't speak. What I feel is real fear. The genuine fear that Souga might be killed is paralyzing my entire body. The Bio Zoid pulls its long claw out of Souga, sticks out a purple tongue and licks along its claw. Souga's body shakes. It feels like something is pulling him. As I turn around, a number of Bio Zoids are biting into Souga's body and trying to eat him. No way, these guys... are really trying to eat Souga alive? My mind is completely blank, I don't know what to do. It's like this isn't even reality, but a nightmare...

    "Stand up!"

    That voice snaps me back to reality. A communication from Jin is coming in.

    "If you lay down in battle, you'll be killed. Even if it seems an impossible task, you have to stand up, right now!"

    Jin's Rez Wolf jumps into view. He wields his sword skillfully while running over. With every swing, a Bio Zoid collapses. The Bio Zoids that had bitten into Souga are turning away from him now, and all at once they turn towards the Rez Wolf. It jumps in and out of the flames, swinging the sword through the air, and slashes one more before landing with a thud by Souga. The terrifying Bio Zoids move away from us just as the tide swells. I gather my courage and make Souga stand up.

    "Okay, Now, Räte."

    "All right, let's go"

    At the same time I can hear Räte's communication going on.

    I hear a loud shot, then...

    Bambambambambambam!

    There's a sound like the earth is rumbling, then explosions detonate all around us.

    "But how? Did you fire all of the Heavy Rhimos' missiles and guns at the same time?"

    Jin grins.

    "Good work. We've gotta keep those guys on their toes."

    Rez Wolf holds its sword up high. At that sight, one of the Bio Zoids turns and runs away. Soon, the other Bio Zoids follow. As they're leaving, the biggest Bio Zoid, the one who sank his claw into Souga, turns his attention to Souga with a flicker of his eyes. The red eyes convey a sense of deep animosity.

    Rez Wolf howls towards the sky.


- Chapter 3: Part 3

    Having determined that the Bio Zoids were actually gone, the cockpits of the Zoids start to open and people begin to emerge. I also get out of the cockpit and try to figure out Souga's condition. As it turns out, Souga's seriously wounded after all. There are scratches and cuts here and there, but the wound on his forehead is the worst. There are clear marks where the Bio Zoid's large claw tore an open wound.

    "I'm sorry, Souga."

    That's all I can say. When I look carefully, there's a blackish purple substance around the wound on Souga's forehead. Come to think of it, that Bio Zoid had a strange color on one of its claws. I decide to wipe it off for now.

    Eventually, people came out of the other Zoids and started a conversation with Jin. They were villagers from the town ahead. There were rumors that strange Zoids were infesting the forests and grasslands, and when they came to check it out, they came across a group of Bio Zoids. The villagers thank Jin countless times. However, such conversations only sound empty to me, like something happening far off in the distance. All I can hear is the screaming in my head about Souga's wounds.

    "Midori."

    I suddenly hear a voice close by. When I turn around, Ken is heading this way. His breathing is ragged; it seems like hes been running. A bandage is wrapped around his forehead, which is slightly smudged with blood.

    (Ken, he was injured in the battle.)

    I didn't even know.

    I feel so ashamed. I couldn't afford to think about Ken at the time. Ken was always concerned with my well being during the battle, though.

    (I'm sorry.)

    I try to say that, but Ken opens his mouth first.

    "I heard from the villagers, and it's bad news. The enemy Bio Zoids used some kind of poison."

    "Poison?"

    Come to think of it, I feel like I've heard that somewhere, on some rare occasion...

    "It's a strong poison that can be fatal to Zoids. Some of the enemies have a single discolored claw that turns purple, and if they land a hit, it can be life-threatening..."

    A strong poison that can cause fatal wounds? Purple claws? No way, that...

    "That's a lie!"

    I cry.









    But it wasn't a lie. It was reality. Souga was poisoned.









    Soon, everyone helped to wash away the poison, and Seki gave me first aid, but I could clearly see that Souga was getting weaker.

    "Don't move, Souga. It's important to preserve your strength."

    Seki consulted with Jin to help regain control of the situation. She seemed the most familiar with this.

    "Let's set up camp here today. In the evening. Either the poison will beat Souga, or Souga's vitality will surpress the poison, but either way it's a game of physical strength."

    "But this is dangerous. The Bio Zoids may come back."

    "Yes. We have to be wary. But regardless, we can't just move Souga."

    "All right. We've got no choice, then."

    The villagers called for support. A total of 10 Zoids circled around Souga. Camp was set up, as well as a cooking fire. Everyone moved and worked together to protect Souga. The only thing I could do was offer encouragement while stroking his body.


- Chapter 3: Part 4

    The night is starry and full of clouds.

    I sit on the grass and watch over Souga. Souga didn't move beyond occasional quivering. He has stopped using any unnecessary strength, and now he's fighting against the poison in his body, but I keep getting worried, and sometimes I can't help but speak. Each time, Souga answers me with a little flash of light in his eyes.

    "The villagers made some stew."

    Seki comes over. She has a dish in her hand.

    "I don't want to eat."

    I'm hungry, but I still don't feel like eating.

    "You have to eat."

    Seki sits next to me.

    "If you don't feel like it..."

    Seki scoops up some stew with the spoon.

    "I'll feed you."

    "Eh?"

    Seki smiles.

    "Yes, now open wide."

    Even still, I feel awful. I take the plate and the spoon, then bring a spoonful of soup up to my mouth.

    Seki hugs me. It's a little awkward, but it makes me feel better.

    "Hey, why don't you want to put Gusoku on Souga?"

    Seki asks. I can't answer. I mean, I don't really know. If he was wearing the Gusoku, he might've been able to avoid this wound. I... silently bring the stew up to my mouth.


    "You know, I..."

    Seki keeps talking; she doesn't wait for my answer.

    "I feel like I understand. You and Souga have always been friends, ever since you were little. You want to continue being friends for a long time. Just like now... But when you go on an adventure, you can't be that way. Souga must be the strong, dependable adult."

    I don't agree. That's not it at all. It's me that I feel has to be the adult, not Souga...

    "When Souga gets better, let him wear the Gusoku."

    "Do you really think it'll be okay?"

    "It'll be fine. I'm sure of it."

    I look up at Souga while lifting the stew to my mouth. A star in the sky streaks over Souga. The villager's stew tastes a little bitter.









    "Let's go!"

    I urge the Blitz Sworder forward.

    "Grrraaahhhrrr!"

    Brastle Tiger breaths fire.

    I drag the Blitz Sworder upwards to avoid the flames. I feel like Blitz Sworder's feet might've been burned, but it turns out to be my imagination.

    Swoosh!

    The black insect-type Baratz Zoid, the Blitz Pepsis, rises to follow me. That's not good.

    "Failed again?"

    I ask. A boy on the screen... Yuu, answers.

    "I can't help it. His instincts are strong and his reactions are swift."

    I'm a little irritated, but it's only what I feel in my heart. I put on an outward smile.

    "Well then, let's do our best next time."

    Yes, I have to do my best. Yuu and I should get back to the village as soon as possible.

    I bank with the Blitz Sworder. My Blitz Sworder attacks and draws the attention of the Brastle Tiger, and my intent is to create a gap for the Blitz Pepsis to stab it.

    "Midori."

    It's an incoming communication from Ken.

    "Are you here with us?"

    "I'm on a nearby cliff."

    When I look around, I see the Hound Soldier on a little road by a small cliff, just a ways down the path.

    "The Commander's waiting at the village entrance with the other villagers. In case we can't stop the Brastle Tiger."

    (I've caused everyone a lot of trouble.)

    I only reflect for a short moment.

    Then Ken briefly explains his idea.

    "Now, if you can lure the Brastle Tiger here..."

    Even if I don't ask outright, I know what Ken is thinking. It'd be difficult to hold it down without hurting it, but Ken is the best person for this job.

    "I understand. I'll lead him there."

    I dive into a sudden descent to catch up to the Brastle Tiger.

    "Yuu."

    "Yeah?"

    "I'll guide him over to the cliff, so wait at the top."

    "All right."

    Below, the Brastle Tiger opens its mouth and waits to breath fire. I make a sudden dive towards it.

    (Let's do our best.)

    I'm eager to test myself. Yes, because I'm the one responsible for this.


- Chapter 3: Part 5

    It all happened this morning when me and Seki were watching over the poisoned Souga. The villagers came and spoke to me.

    "In the depths of the nearby mountains, there lives a brilliant individual named Senka, who's studying Zoids. Will you come with us to see them?"

    I think of Souga, and answer immediately.

    "Yes, please! We have to hurry!"

    The villagers look at each other.

    "We'll go now."

    "It's better to go in the Blitz Sworder. Then you can fly around in the sky."

    One of them nods with a simple 'yeah.'

    "It'd be encouraging if the doctor would come here. There are many others who are wounded and hurt."

    "Ahh, yeah... The doctor is welcome, but... there's no Zoid for them to ride."

    "Oh..."

    Seki asks.

    "Is there some sort of problem?"

    "No, that's not it..."

    "The reason they built their laboratory in such a secluded mountain region is because they're doing dangerous research..."

    "It's a research project to activate the instincts of a Zoid, to strengthen its fighting abilities, but most of the time, like today, the instincts go wild and it escapes..."

    "The last time I went there, I saw the flames pouring from the runaway Zoid..."

    "Huh?"

    Seki and I look at each other.


- Chapter 3: Part 6

    The concerns of the villagers were becoming real.

    It was close to noon when the Blitz Sworder that had set out was able to make it back.

    "This is bad!"

    The courier jumps out of the cockpit and shouts.

    "The Doctor's Zoid ran away again."

    The villagers gather around.

    "Location?"

    "Nearby. A runaway Brastle Tiger that's heading for the village."

    The villagers start running. They're getting their Zoids ready to go.

    I can't sit still, either.

    "Excuse me, please take me with you."

    I jump on the Blitz Sworder.

    As we get into the sky I can see the Brastle Tiger.

    "This is Midori, the Blitz Sworder in the sky. Brastle Tiger, please answer."

    A communication starts.

    "Yuu, here."

    The man on the screen is young, maybe even still a minor. I'm surprised.

    "... Are you the doctor from the laboratory?"

    "I'm an assistant. I'm riding the Blitz Pepsis above the Brastle Tiger."

    If you look closely, you can see the bee-shaped Baratz flying over the Brastle Tiger.

    "Where's the doctor?"

    "There was no response when I tried to call. It's always like this when there's a runaway..."

    "What's going on?"

    "I can't hit it with the injection."

    "Injection?"

    "That's right. My Blitz Pepsis has had the butt part replaced with a medical unit. Its got a powerful sedative in it, so if I can sting it with this, everything will be OK."

    "Okay, then get it done quickly."

    "Obviously, it's not going to go smoothly when the other person isn't so happy about it..."

    "I understand. I can help."

    Thus, the strange battle between the Brastle Tiger and the two Baratz began.

    Whoosh!

    I fly around the face of the Brastle Tiger, deliberately making loud noises and leading it towards the cliff. Brastle Tiger swings his front paw and tries to catch me. In this crazy state, it's more like a cat than a tiger. I'm scared, it's a huge Zoid, but guiding it is more convenient.

    "Midori."

    I hear Ken's voice when I reach the bottom of the cliff.

    "Go. Get away!"

    I make a sharp turn to get some distance from the Brastle Tiger. Hound Soldier lunges. The Brastle Tiger notices it in time to hurriedly swing his front leg to meet him.

    Rooooar!

    Grrraaaoooo!

    The two Zoids collide with each other, screaming, and roll across the ground all tangled up. Ken tries to hold down the Brastle Tiger, but it has an overwhelming weight advantage. It changes its posture and throws a punch with the front leg. Ken gets up and fends off the attack. The Brastle Tiger makes an attempt to torch him with fire.

    "Ken!"

    I rush the Brastle Tiger's face. For just a moment, the Brastle Tiger's attention is directed at me. Ken furiously shoves against its body. The two Zoids fall to the ground with a crash.

    "Yuu, now!"

    "Oh!"

    Blitz Pepsis, who was waiting in the sky suddenly descends. Brastle Tiger tries to get rid of it with a swing of the front paw, but Blitz Pepsis is faster.

    The needle in the rear thrusts into its armor.

    "I did it!"

    Yuu's voice bounces.

    Brastle Tiger's movement gradually slows, and it eventually stops.

    "Thank you. Thanks to all that, I was able to regain control."

    A new communication comes in. It's the Brastle Tiger returning our earlier call.

    I was imagining an old man wearing a white robe when I thought about the good doctor, but instead it's a woman that appears on the screen.

    "It's okay for you to let go now."

    "Oh, right."

    Ken's Hound Soldier gets off of the Brastle Tiger. The two Zoids stand up.

    "By the way..."

    The doctor on the screen brushes back her long hair.

    "I heard there was a poisoned Zoid..."

    I hurry to answer.

    "That's my Zoid."

    "Was it yesterday that it was poisoned?"

    "That's right. He seemed like he had recovered a bit this morning, so I took him to the village to rest..."

    "Mild recovery isn't unusual. Symptoms bounce back and forth."

    "Oh..."

    I'm surprised. I heard that she was a good doctor, but could she really understand that just by listening to the story?

    "I don't understand?"

    The doctor laughs a little.

    "I understand. I can see it written all over your face. You're worried about your Zoid."

    The doctor moves the control stick.

    "Now, let's hurry."

    The doctor's Zoid runs off.

    "Right."

    I chase after with the Blitz Sworder.


- Chapter 3: Part 7

    The doctor's work after arriving at the village seemed to be swift and precise. They immediately examined Souga. Checking to see what type of poison it was, and administering an antidote. "He'll be okay. You can move him tomorrow morning." She said. However, the large wound on the forehead was likely to leave a scar. Aside from Souga, there were also several Zoids injured in the battle yesterday, but the doctor was treating them with care. That night, the villagers held a welcome party for us and the doctor, which we were excited for.









    In the morning Souga is healthy, so I take him to the town square.

    I climb out of the cockpit and face Souga. Whenever I want to have a talk with Souga, I do this. This way it feels like I can understand Souga's feelings. Gusoku is glowing under the morning sun. I equipped it to Souga, just as I had promised Seki I would, but he looks stronger than he did before. I don't feel uncomfortable about it anymore.

    "Hey, Souga."

    I speak to Souga.

    "I wanted to go on a journey. I wanted to see the world. So, I left the village. I don't think that was a mistake. I still want to continue traveling. I want to go on more adventures. That feeling hasn't changed, but..."

    I'm at a bit of a loss on what to say. After thinking about it, I gather the words.

    "I feel like it was a mistake to join up with Jin. Jin's journey is not a game. It's a journey with a very important mission. I'm wondering now if it's something I can't do, and I'm trying to think about what to do next, but for the time being, I'm going to leave Jin and find some place to train, then I'll start my journey again..."

    Souga moves a little. His eyes immediately look down at me.

    (Do you really think that's the right way?)

    I feel like Souga's asking me that.

    "No way."

    I hear the voice clearly.

    "I want to go with them. I'll do my job well. The harder the mission, the more rewarding it is."

    Souga is talking... No, it can't be, it's a woman's voice.

    I turn around, and there is Seki.

    Seki looks at me with a smile.

    "I feel like that's what Souga is saying."

    "But... But I..."

    The words spin in my head while I think.

    "It feels like I'm failing because of my lack of experience... I mean, I don't think this trip would be possible for someone without experience..."

    "What is a veteran..."

    I hear another voice.

    When I turn around, Jin is standing there.

    "It's someone who has had a lot of experience with failure. No one can become a veteran without failing. Our unit is looking for someone who can gain from their experience, even if he fails. We are all ready to accept you as an official comrad, not just a companion."

    Jin raises his gaze. I follow that line to Ken, who's on Souga's shoulder.

    "Yes!"

    Ken answers proudly.

    "This is yours if you want it, Midori."

    Ken raises something that looks like a large emblem.


    "What is it...?"

    "Right, your sister will explain it to you."

    I hear another voice.

    I turn around, and there is Räte.

    "That's an emblem we've prepared for Souga. It's a symbol of someone who's riding an excellent Zoid, and also a sign that you're a member of the Jin Unit. Riding Zoids with a symbol like this is a dream come true for boys in the capital."

    Räte laughs with a smile.

    "Of course, that's only if you want it, Midori..."

    I look at Souga. Souga smiles and nods... or so it looks like. My reservations disappear.

    "Yes!"

    I make up my mind and turn to Jin.

    "I..."

    My chest is still tight, and my words don't last long.

    Jin decides to help me out.

    "Do you want to be our comrad?"

    "Yes!"

    I imitate Ken and puff out my chest.

    "I... I want this...!"

    "You did it!"

    Ken shouts. He attaches the emblem to Souga.

    Jin smiles.

    "Midori."

    "Yes!"

    "I welcome your participation."

- Bio Zoid "Reaper"


    When I saw the reaper Bio Zoid prop, created by the leading DHM Zoid Guru Risho Hoshino, I was amazed at the sense of design that I didn't think was possible from combining so many different parts. When I came up with the idea that it would lick the poison from its claws, I was impressed to see it reflected by the purple paint in its mouth. So I drew the illustration with a sinister, life like impression to support the design.

- Blitz Pepsis


    The Commando Squad Zoid drawings were finished, but some reader-submitted Zoids also appeared in the main story. The first is the Blitz Pepsis. The original unit, the Blitz Hornet, is an attractive design because it's so compact, but it's drawn closer to the scale of the Zoid 24, so some details were omitted because of that. I like the idea of the gatling gun tail, but the following year, "Killer Bee" came out as a part of the Custom BLOX line. That's some synchronicity!

- Tobizaru & Eika


    The 6th Zoid submitted by readers are Tobizaru (flying monkey) and Eika (sharp flower.) The props were already pretty complete, so the illustration mostly followed the appearance of the kits. (^^;. The heads seen on Imperial Zoids like the Hammer Rock and Helcat is excellent. Common parts are used. However, every design has a different impression, especially because of the structure that makes the gap parts look like eyes. I drew them with that thought in mind.

Chapter End


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