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- Chapter 4: Defeat, Cooperation, and Great Determination


"What is that?"

 Seki muttered.

 It was around the time I was collecting stones for the furnace, so we could make dinner. As I turned around, Seki was looking up at the sky.

 I follow Seki's gaze, and see something flying in the twilight. It looks like two Zoids are flying intertwined.

"What's that thing?"

"Hey, if you're talking about Zoids, just ask this sister here, Rätelme Faironess."

 Räte immediately enters commentary mode.

"It's no wonder that you haven't seen it, Midori. Flying Zoids are quite rare. The first one is a Bio Raptor Gui. It's a type of Bio Zoid. The other one is..."

 Räte's explanation gets interrupted.

"Maybe the other one's a type of Zoid that even you don't know about, Räte?"

 As I say that, Räte turns around and laughs.

"Its been greatly remodeled. It's essentially a gargoyle type. In any case..."

 Räte looks back up at the sky.

"It looks like they're fighting."

 Come to think of it, I can hear the sounds of shells exploding.

 Räte turns to me.

"Let's go, Midori."

"Yeah."

 Seki's voice calls out as we're about to run.

"Wouldn't it be better to wait for Jin to get back?"

 Jin and Ken went out to the forest to collect firewood. It's true, it's not a good idea to get separated before contacting Jin and the others.

"Yeah, you're right. So, maybe that can be your role... P-lease?"

 Räte winks at Seki on that last note.

 Seki looks a little miffed.

"You're not leaving me any choice, are you?"

"Oh, and then... if you could prepare dinner, that'd be greaaat!"

 Räte starts running. I wave at Seki as I run after her.

"Appreciate it!"

"You're horrribblllle!"

 I hear Seki's voice behind me.


- Chapter 4: Part 2

 As we approached, we realized they were not only fighting in the sky, but also on the ground... I mean, the ground fight was definitely more impressive.

 Transport Zoids are being attacked by a group of Bio Zoids, and one after another they're being eaten. A dinosaur-shaped Zoid is attacking the Bio Zoids, but there are just too many enemies.

"What's that?"

"That's the Red Horn Bone. It's a powerful Zoid, but just one isn't enough to protect them."

"We have to help."

"Naturally."

 Räte's Hebby Rhimos increases its speed. I also push Souga with all of my might.

"Midori."

 Her tone is joking, and her mouth is laughing, but her eyes aren't laughing.

"Let's draw the enemy's attention over to us."

"Roger that."

Bam!

 At the same time that the missile launches, Räte sends a communication to them.

"This is Jin's Commando Squad, from Nakato. I don't know who you are, but everyone who's fighting against the Bio Zoids, just hang on a little bit, we're going to help you."

Ba-boom.

 The missiles explode and the Bio Zoids leap back. They turn their long necks to look over. The Red Horn also turns towards us, and a communication opens.

"I'm grateful to see you."

 What appears on the screen is a happy young woman.

"My name us Amu. We received orders from the king of Ya Han, His Majesty Yah Lichthuchenstein IV, who's concerned about the recent emergence of Bio Zoids..."

 I don't think this is the time to introduce yourself in such a relaxed manner, but... as I'm thinking that, a number of Bio Zoids rush through the gap towards the Red Horn.

(They're done for!)

 The moment I have that thought, the Red Horn wields its long tail and swings its back. While turning, it swings its neck to threaten the Bio Zoids coming from the right, and hits the Bio Zoids coming from the left with its shoulder. This person seems sure of their skill.

"When we approached the Knights to form a small, special dispatch team for the purpose of investigation, we found that there were many of them in Ya Han..."

 The woman's greeting seems like it'll continue, but I can't afford to relax. Some of the Bio Zoids are running this way.

 I place Souga in front of the Hebby Rhimos and grip the sword.

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


 The thoughts of the sword become words, and rise in my heart.

 The first Bio Zoid approaches.

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


"Slash!"

 I turn my sword sideways.

Shriek!

 I look to the side at the first enemy as they scream and collapse, then turn my sword towards the next enemy.

"Midori."

 It's Räte's voice.

"One's coming in from the left."

"All right."

 I understand, but it can't be helped. I can't cut two enemies at the same time.

"Slash!"

 The second body is cut down. At the same time, I turn towards the third one... but not in time. A sharp claw swings down towards Souga, and connects to Souga's shoulder.

Clang!

 I hear a sharp sound that comes with an impact. Souga... isn't afraid. The large sleeve over the shoulder catches the claw.

"We did it! Thank you!"

 At last, the words leap from my mouth. Who am I thanking? Masakuni, who gave me the Gusoku? Or Seki, who recommended that I equip it, or perhaps Gusoku itself?

"You too! Slash!"

 We slash through the third body. The rest of the Bio Zoids fumble and withdraw a little.

"Go, Souga!"

 I make Souga jump right into the midst of the Bio Zoids. Slash! Slash! The Bio Zoids collapse with every swing of the sword. As I'm fighting, I'm starting to get the knack of fighting with Gusoku. I don't have to avoid every enemy attack, like I did before. All I have to do is use Gusoku to absorb the hit. Another one jumps from the side. I lunge into the enemy's chest while blocking their fangs with the Kuwagata helmet.

"Slash!"

 I swing the sword. The Bio Zoid screams and falls to the ground. Souga roars with his head held high.


- Chapter 4: Part 3

 I've slashed through 10 opponents, and finally reached the Red Horn. The Hebby Rhimos, which lacks Metal Zi weapons, is standing between us while Souga and the Red Horn confront the Bio Zoids. The Bio Zoids seem cautious, they're moving away from us, and no longer attacking. You can tell at a glance that they're ready to run away in fear. Thanks to me, we're able to take a break.

"Under such circumstances, His Majesty the King has decided..."

 The woman's greeting is still going. Even while she's fighting she's still smiling, and since she continues to gracefully carry out the greeting, this person is, in a sense, amazing.

"That beloved daughter of His Majesty, her highness Sona Margarita Lichthuchenstein, and her highness' own Zoid, will be sent to carry out this investigation."

 It seems the introduction is over.

"So..."

 Räte asks, as she fires the electromagnetic gun at the group of Bio Zoids.

"This uh, this Sona person, where are they?"

"They're fighting against the enemy Zoids in the sky."

 Looking up, two Zoids were fighting on equal ground.

"Of course, that's no Bio Raptor Gui, right?"

 Räte tries to confirm.

"That's right. The princess's Empressa is equipped with a variety of weapons, and is based on the beautiful Saint Gail. Its most venerable treasure is the great sword, the Flash of Dawn 'Burenbaster', and it's equipped with various weapons to be able to respond to any battle, and..."

"Yes. Well then..."

 Räte points her laser cannon at the sky.

"I'll have to say hello to Sona."

"Oh, well, given the situation, if you're careful, you'll probably be able to meet her... but, just..."

"Just... what?"

"Please call her 'Princess' instead of 'Sona'. Otherwise..."

"Otherwise?"

"She can get very angry."

"Oh, ok."

 Räte feels a little nervous.

 I also feel a bit uneasy in the cockpit.

"Princess."

 Amu calls out.

"The people of Nakato, they'd like to say hello..."

 A new communication opens.

"I'm busy. If it's a greeting they want, leave them behind."

"I understand that. So, if you could just hold on a minute, I thought — Well, I wondered if maybe I could help you out?"

"I'll leave that up to you."

"Of course! Wellll then."

 Räte fires the beam gun.

Boom!

 Intense sparks fall from the air when it hits the Bio Zoid. For a moment, the Bio Zoids' altitude falls. Suddenly, the Saint Gail's sword radiates with the shine of Metal Zi.

Crack!

Grraaahhhhhhh!

 The flame of Bio Raptor Gui's life is extinguished. It crumbles mid air and falls to the ground.

"Midori, Räte, are you all right?"

 Another communication pops up. It's Jin. I turn around and see Jin's Rez Wolf and Ken's Hound Soldier running towards us.

"You're here!"

 For some reason, I'm so happy about that.

"Of course we are. Why did you leave without your friends?"

 Then there's a communication from Ken.

"You're uninjured?"

"Yes!"

 I make a peace sign with both hands.

"Now let's go."

 The two start running and firing. At the same time, the snarls of the Rez Wolf and Hound Soldier echoe above the sound of the bombardment. The horde of Bio Zoids breaks apart, and they start to flee.


- Chapter 4: Part 4

 The battle is over. Jin, Ken, and Räte are still firing gunshots at the escaping pack of Bio Zoids, but they're only a threat meant to drive them as far away as possible. I sheath the sword I was holding.

"We heard it all from Seki and came here in a hurry, were we able to help?"

 Ken's face is a little red. I understand that he came here in a hurry, and is worried.

"Of course, thank you."

"Instead..."

 Seki comes up behind Jin.

"Since the dinner preparations had to be thrown out along the way, please help me out with that later."

(Ah, that's right, she was in the middle of making it.)

 Now that I've remembered, I'm feeling hungry. Even if we start preparations now, we're still going to have to eat late tonight.

"I'll try to follow those Bio Zoids from the sky."

 The communication comes from Sona.

"I might be able to discover something along the lines of a Bio Zoid nest."

 Amu bows her head at the computer.

"Please, be careful."

 Räte waves her hand.

"Good luuuuck."


- Chapter 4: Part 5

 Delicate music is played from stringed instruments beneath the chanedelier. The smell of savory food dishes floats under the soft light. There's a long table, large enough for 10 people to be seated, with tall, cushioned chairs. All of them are beautifully sculpted. A pure white tablecloth framed by lace lays over the table. Räte told me earlier that this liquor that produces bubbles is called champagne.

 There are women in the room wearing white aprons... They seem to be maids... but they walk calmly, holding their plates with both hands.

"Mock turtle soup."

 One person places a plate in front of me and bows gracefully before leaving.

 That night, we no longer needed to prepare dinner. One of the wagons pulled by a transportation Zoid had been converted into a dining room, and Amu invited us for a meal.

"Um."

 I look left and right, not knowing what to do, and Seki whispers.

"The spoon on the far right, with the round tip."

 I take the spoon while imitating Seki.

"There are two ways to scoop soup: From front to back, and from back to front. After scooping, hold the spoon vertically and carry it to your mouth without making any noise. Actually..."

 Seki looks around the room and laughs a little.

"I don't think you need to be too particular. It's not like anyone's watching."

 I carry the soup to my mouth with a little relief.

 At the far end of the table, Jin and Amu are drinking champagne and talking.

"Is it really okay? To eat without waiting for the princess's return?"

"I don't mind. There's no sense in waiting, as I don't know when she'll return. You see, the princess has an obsessive personality, and she could chase her intended target forever."

"Aren't you worried?"

"Yes. But the princess pilots a very good Zoid."

"Even so, you only have two combat Zoids, and the rest are non-combat personnel Zoids for traveling..."

"This is what the princess wanted. This isn't an official visit, it's a stealthy journey."

"So you want to be less noticeable?"

"Yes."

"There seem to be a lot of transport units for that."

"We've reduced the number of people and luggage as much as we can, but we also need people who take care of us, people who can prepare meals, people who can take care of someone in the case that they get sick, nevermind that we need our favorite dining table, and a bathtub..."

"Why so much for a dining table; wouldn't it be, at best, this large?"

"No, it wouldn't fit in one wagon. So we split it into two..."

 That's amazing.

 Now, the maids are bringing dishes. This time it looks like a fish dish.

"Midori."

 Seki whispers.

"If you don't want to drink your soup, you can set it down."

"Huh?"

 I rush to finish my soup.


- Chapter 4: Part 6

 When I finish my meal and go outside, it's dark. There isn't any moon tonight.

"The princess will be back by morning."

"Well then, see you tomorrow."

 After finishing my greetings with Amu, I turn towards Souga and the others, but a darkness appears at the edge of my vision.

"What's that?"

 Seki turns when she hears me.

"What's wrong?"

 I look down and stare at the darkness.

"There's something there. Something big and black."









"Hey, have they come back?"

 Jin whispers.

 I stare into the darkness. It's not clear. I can't hear any footsteps. But I can certainly feel something approaching.

"That's?"

 Jin says while staring into the darkness.

"A shinobi (ninja) Zoid sneaking through the darkness. He hides like a shadow and creeps like a snake. Once he appears he runs like the wind, jumps like a bird, and cuts down his enemies in an instant, then the next moment he disappears. A black shadow that brings death. The champion of the night. The strongest of assassins. And... My nemesis."

"What do you want to do?"

 Ken asks. Jin thinks while stroking his chin.

"Of course, I'll intercept him. But, even so..."

 Jin turns his gaze to the sky.

"There's no moon tonight. If it's too dark, we'll be at a disadvantage."

"If it's light you need..."

 I hear a voice. As I turn around, Amu is standing there with a smile, the same way she always smiles, and is followed by her maids.

"If you're fine with flares, we can prepare them for you."

 A smile appears on Jin's face.

"Thank you, but since this is a private battle, I wouldn't be comfortable using such precious ammunition."

"Don't worry about it. We have lots of them."

 Amu gives the order. The maids start to hurry.

"Don't go out of your way."

 Jin rushes to his Rez Wolf, and shrugs them off.

"I'm going too."

 When I try to follow him, Ken takes my arm and holds me back.

"Don't go."

"Why?"

"Because it's the commander's orders."

"Yeah. But..."

 Räte also takes my arm to hold me back.

"If you go after him, you'll be in danger."

 Being held at both sides, I can't move.

 I turn to Seki, and she gently shakes her head.

"We have to leave this to Jin."


- Chapter 4: Part 7

 Flares are launched. I'm blinded by the dazzling lights for a moment. In the flood of light, the black figure of the enemy emerges. A figure that's running without making a sound...

"Is that... a Hammer Rock?"

 Räte begins her usual commentary.

"Yes, that's correct, but if you think it's a basic Hammer Rock, you'd be making a big mistake."

 The light of the flare dies out, and the enemy vanishes into the darkness. The howl of the Rez Wolf echoes.

"The battle will start soon."

 I hear Amu's voice behind us.

"Once the battle begins, keep launching the flares so that we can keep the lights on."

 A black shadow jumps up. The flare rises into the air. A white object shimmers on the shoulder of the Hammer Rock, illuminated by the light.

"That's a Metal Zi sword!"

"Its name is 'Shien'. A long-handled ninja sword. It was originally painted black, but you can't hide the shine of Metal Zi."

 Jin grabs his sword as well and raises it up.

Clang!

 Jin's sword 'Kadzuchi' and the enemy's sword 'Shien' collide with a fiery scattering of sparks. Jin slashes, redirecting the enemy's sword sideways. However, the enemy flies into the air using the recoil of the collision, and moves away from the Rez Wolf with a mid-air flip. It's surprisingly light. Jin's sword cuts through the sky.

"It's also equipped with Combat Claws and Dart Guns, but this fight will probably be centered around swords."

 Räte's commentary continues. On that note though, why does Räte know so much about this Zoid?

Oowwhhooooo!

 The Rez Wolf charges forward with a howl. The enemy lands without a sound. Rez Wolf thrusts its sword at the landing spot.

"He did it!"

 I think so, because it looks like it'd hit from the timing. But, the enemy's movement is faster than expected. They land with a roll, grab their sword, and jump to attack.

 Suddenly, I notice that there's no strength in Ken and Räte's hands as they hold me back. Both of them are engrossed in the fight.

(This is my chance!)

 A shake off their hands and run towards Souga.

"Midori!"

 I hear Ken's voice.

"It's pointless to interfere!"

 I look back when Ken says that, with a slightly troubled face.

"I'll be careful."

 I answer with a peace sign as I run for Souga.


- Chapter 4: Part 8

 When I get to the cockpit and look at the screen, I find that the Rez Wolf and the enemy are still violently slashing at each other.

"Let's go, Souga."

 I charge in with Souga. The enemy is keen on fighting the Rez Wolf, and doesn't seem to notice me. I'm not sure about rushing in like this, and I ask myself, 'is this really OK?' but then, Jin's nemesis is my nemesis.

 I grip the sword while running.

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

 The thoughts of the sword become words, and rise in my heart.

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

 We approach the enemy's side. They haven't noticed us yet. I swing the sword down without hesitation.

"Slash!"

 I think I'm about to collide with the enemy's sword, but the moment I think that, the enemy disappears in an instant.

"Huh?"

 I almost crash into the Rez Wolf from the momentum. He gets away in a hurry.

"Umm..."

 When I look around, a communication comes in.

"Midori, above you!"

 It's Jin's voice. I look up in a hurry, and see the enemy rapidly approaching with his sword held up.

"Oh no!"

 I swing my sword.

Clang!

 The swords collide. The next moment, I feel a light shock. The enemy kicks off of Souga's head and jumps up. It seems I've been made a fool of, and I feel frustrated. I run Souga right to the enemy's landing point.

"Interesting."

 Another communication opens. However, there's no video, only audio.

"I'm not familiar with this Zoid, who are you?"

 The audio seems modulated, and it sounds eerie.

"Why don't you give me your name first? And why don't you show your face?"

"A name is not necessary for a shinobi. It's similarly pointless to show my face. The only thing that matters is the next mission."

 I lunge at the enemy and swing the sword horizontally. The enemy catches it with his own sword.

Clang!

 I swing the sword down from above.

Clang!

 Then pretend to swing it downwards, but instead jam it straight forward.

Clang!

 Every attack is parryed. The enemy's movements are fast.

 The enemy jumps back to create a gap.

"By the way, I notice that's a sword hammered by Masakuni."

"So what?"

"What's the name of the sword?"

"Souga."

 I attack the enemy. He counters.

Clang! Clang!

"Is there something inscribed on it?"

Clang!

 Even though I don't answer, Jin answers instead.

"It's the name of the Zoid that this child is riding in. The child asked Masakuni to make that the inscription... Or rather, she forced him to do it."

"Ha. It just gets more and more interesting. For Masakuni to even allow such a thing. And that Gusoku..."

 The enemy fights back. It's fast!

Clang! Clang!

 The second and third shots are received by the sword, but I can't make the third strike fast enough. Instead the attack is received by the large sleeves over the shoulder.

Bam!

 The enemy pulls back a little and takes a break.

"As expected, from the shoulder of Gusoku Myoukou. I can't even scratch it."

"What do you mean?

"How do you use it without even knowing its name?"

"Huh? Oh, um, well..."

"Oh, that's because..."

 Jin answers instead.

"When Masakuni explained it to her, she apparently wasn't listening very well..."

 The enemy laughs, ha! They don't need to explain any further.

"Interesting. Really interesting. Then, let me show you how impressive they are; Myoukou's helmet, Myoukou's arm guard, and Myoukou's hanging armor."

 The enemy jumps.

"Go ahead, take a swing at my body!"

 I hold the sword and try to intercept. Then, all of a sudden another Zoid jumps into my field of view. It's Jin's Rez Wolf.


Clang!

 Above Souga, the two Zoids clash off of one another.

"I have to ask that you refrain. I don't want us to risk injury, no matter how small the chance. Also..."

 The Rez Wolf lands and immediately jumps at the enemy.

"Don't involve people who have nothing to do with this. Your opponent is me!"

(Why is that? I guess there's something special between this guy and Jin?)

 I think for a bit. Meanwhile, the Rez Wolf and the enemy move violently to slash at one another.

 I hurry after him, but the Hebby Rhimos moves in front of Souga.

"Midori."

 Räte starts a communication.

"Give them a little time. He's not an enemy."

"Huh?"

"That person is Tsukamoto. His Zoid is Tobizaru. They're mercenaries from the city."

"Huh? But he's Jin's 'Nemesis'..."

"You're right. In the Zoids Swordsmanship Division of the martial arts tournament held every year in the capital, these two have clashed in the finals for the last three years. That's why they don't have other practice partners, so that when they meet each other again, they are using their own personally honed martial arts skill."

 Is that really true? No matter how I look at it, it looks like a serious fight...


- Chapter 4: Part 9

"Hey, you two fighting over there."

 Räte calls.

"Why don't you end it here? It seems the princess is back."

 When I look up, I see the Saint Gail flying down in an aggressive manner, illuminated by the light of the flares.

"What's all the racket down here?"

 The communication is coming from the princess. Räte answers.

"Yeah, it's just a little bit of sword practice."

"It's pretty enthusiastic."

"By the way, how'd it go? What was the result of your tracking?"

"Ah. About that..."

 The princess thinks for a moment before saying anything else.

"It's a long story. We'll talk about it tomorrow morning. Tonight, I'm tired."

"Of course. As you wish."

 The Saint Gale lands. The light of the last flare fizzles out, and the darkness of the night returns.


- Chapter 4: Part 10

 The maids lower a dessert plate. I was expecting a fancy breakfast this morning since yesterday's meal was so crazy, but it's surprisingly simple. The two people playing their stringed instruments finish their song and bow out.

"Well then."

 Amu looks at the princess.

"Breakfast is over..."

 The princess nods and turns to Seki. Seki stands up and hangs a large map on the wall.

"I'd like to start a conference. The purpose of this conference is to exchange information between the countries of Ya Han and Nakato, to deepen our understanding of Bio Zoids, and to use that information for future research and defensive measures. First of all, the results of our past surveys are..."

 I'm a little uncomfortable. I'm not very good at this sort of thing.

 In comparison, the princess is perfectly composed. She's listening in a still posture, with her back straight. I'm sure she's used to this kind of meeting. Last night was pretty complicated, so we agreed to have the meeting after breakfast the next morning, and now we're all feeling crisp.

 Jin looks tired, sitting in the seat next to the princess. It seems he drank two shochu brought by Tsukamoto last night. I wish he didn't drink until he ended up like that.
Shochu: A Japanese liquor, often distilled from sweet potatoes.

 Tsukamoto is doing a little better than Jin. He has an open notebook and is sometimes taking notes. Their martial arts skills may be even, but when it comes to a tolerance against sake, Tsukamoto seems to be the superior one.

 First, Seki reports their findings, and then Amu makes a report, and the debate begins. Seki and Amu are the main speakers. After that, Räte offers some detailed explanations. I'm just... bored, though.

"We've been able to confirm the fact that Bio Zoids are eating other Zoids, but it doesn't seem like they're using them as a source of nutrition."

"It's the same in our surveys. Again, they don't seem to be like us. We humans get the energy needed for us to live our lives by eating."

 The stuff they're talking about seems complicated.

"Perhaps it's related to the amazing diversity and rapid evolution of Bio Zoids?"

"Our researchers are divided on whether their evolution is the result of generational changes, or whether it's the individuals that are changing, but in any case, it seems certain that the Zoid's core is involved..."

 I look boredly at the map on the wall. A blue line is drawn on the map, marking the route that the Jin Commando Squad has traveled so far. I joined them at Kageri Village. There's an X marking the spot where we encountered the Bio Zoids. Looking back, I remember quite a few things. The first time I met Jin. It was when I was rushing head first into things, without knowing the true horror of the Bio Zoids. Our fun times at the lake. Even so, I'm full, the room's warm, the meeting is boring, and I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open. But I have to do my best to stay up. Don't fall asleep during a meeting... Don't fall asleep during a meeting...









Tmp.

 I feel something hit my shoulder.

 When I turn around, Ken is laughing in the next seat.

"The meeting is about to end."

 Ack! I was sleeping!

 I hurry and stretch my back.

"By the way..."

 I hear Jin's voice.

"We still haven't heard the results of the Princess's tracking last night."

"Ah. About that..."

 The princess looks at everyone with a sly smile.

"I found something interesting."









"What is this?"

 Finally, I speak up.

"They're dead? Are you sure?"

 It's the first time that I've ever seen this.

 The Bio Zoids that are cut by Metal Zi blades collapse in on themselves, for some reason. Thats been the case for all of the Bio Zoid deaths I've seen so far. But the Bio Zoids here are different. They fall down, but they keep the same shape as when they were alive, and they don't move. Many of them are strewn together in different ways.

"They're definitely dead."

 It's a communication from the princess. When I turn around, the Princess's Empressa is about to land.

"If you look closer, you can clearly see it."

 Empressa's cockpit opens and the princess steps out. Others come out of their Zoids as well. I decided to get out of Souga. I want to see the Bio Zoid corpses up close.


- Chapter 4: Part 11

"I found something interesting."

 At the meeting earlier this morning, the Princess had added:

"There is a Bio Zoid that attacks other Bio Zoids."

"Huh?"

 Jin frowned.

"Impossible."

 When I whispered that, the princess glanced at me.

(Shoot! I wonder if she's angry.)

 Amu immediately covered for me.

"I can't believe it."

 The princess nodded heavily.

"It's true. Last night it was already dark so I couldn't investigate further. I'm going to investigate more after this meeting..."

 The princess looked at me.

"Do you want to go as well?"

 Before I could answer, Jin answered first.

"It's something I'd also like to see."

 And thus, everyone came to see.


- Chapter 4: Part 12

"It's true, they're dead, I'm 100% certain. Because..."

 Räte points.

"The cores are gone."

"So it seems..."

 The princess looks over the Bio Zoids' corpses, which are heaped in endless piles.

"And they're all that way."

 The princess slowly walks towards the next Bio Zoid. We also start walking after her.

"What happened?"

 Ken asks.

"Cannibalism."

 The princess answers.

"I've seen it. It's a grim sight."

 The princess suddenly shakes her head and carries on the conversation.

"Last night, I followed the group of Bio Raptors from the sky. The sun went down over the mountains and eventually disappeared, but I could hear their footsteps, so I could still follow them. After a while, I heard another set of footsteps.

"Due to the limited number of flares on board, I decided to limit their use to a last resort, and began to seek out enemy movements exclusively by sound. Eventually, I could hear screams, and the Zoids crashed into each other. When I fired the flare I saw not a battle, but a completely one-sided attack.

"There was a new type of Bio Zoid much larger than the Bio Raptors. And the difference in power was clear. It hit the enemy's chest with a giant claw and punctured the core. The Bio Raptors were defeated one after another, without any way to fight back."

 A clear memory is revived in my mind. Huge claws. A Bio Zoid that devours the cores of other Zoids.

"It could be him."

 The princess turns around at the sound of my voice.

"Do you know something?"

"Did the claws have a strange color?"

"Well..."

 The princess turns her head.

"I couldn't see the color very well under the light of the flare, but..."

 The princess then points to the corpse of one of the Bio Raptors.

"Look at that scar. The claws were impressively long."

 I'm sure. I'm sure it must be the Bio Zoid that sank its poisonous claw into Souga back then.

"Even so..."

 Seki, who's walking behind me mutters.

"This scene, it looks similar... to that time."

 Jin silently nods.

 The princess keeps talking while walking at the front.

"I had no choice but to listen to the sounds, because the flare ammunition ran out almost immediately. Before long, the sounds of the battle ceased, and I heard the footsteps departing, and when I came down to the ground, it was like this."

"Do you know where the Bio Zoid went?"

 After Ken's question, the princess points towards the valley.

"I can't say for sure since I was only listening to the sound, but it probably went there."

 It was a calm landscape with lush greenery, where I couldn't imagine such a scary Bio Zoid lurking.


- Chapter 4: Part 13

 After taking a look around and heading back to the Zoids, the maids set up a table in the field and prepared some tea.

"So, Princess..."

 After drinking a sip of tea, Jin asks.

"What are you going to do now?"

"Yes. Well..."

 The princess puts her cup down and thinks for a moment.

"It's time to report back to my country."

"Well, why not stop by the city of Nakato? If you go to the institute, you'll be able to get more information about Bio Zoids."

 After thinking for a moment, the princess answers.

"That might be fun?"

"Let Tsukamoto guide you."

 Jin makes the decision without asking.

 Tsukamoto withers a little.

 After finishing their tea, the princess and Tsukamoto leave immediately. As they're leaving, Tsukamoto jabs Jin in the side and says,

"Is it really necessary to escort the princess and take her to a safe place?"

 Jin laughs a little.

"I'd be worried about them having only two combat Zoids."

"So, it's also a shinobi mission? Even still..."

 Tsukamoto looks in the direction of the valley.

"Is he still around here?"

"It would be worth a look. Our people have been hurt by him, and they're holding a grudge"

"Be careful. It's a strong enemy."

"Yes. You're right, it's a very strong enemy."


- Chapter 4: Part 14

 We couldn't find anything that day, just searching around the valley.

 After finishing our meal later that night, I, Seki, and Räte were gathered around the bonfire, and I decided to take the plunge and ask Seki.

"I heard you mention earlier today..."

"Huh? What?"

"When you saw that Bio Zoid corpse, Seki, you said that 'it looked similar to that time'."

"Right."

"What happened?"

 Seki glances at Jin. As usual, Jin is practicing martial arts with Ken.

"I'd like to hear that, too."

 Räte says with a sandwich in her mouth.

"That I don't know, was it before I came to Nakato?"

"Yeah. It was over two years ago."

 Seki starts talking.

"A lot of Bio Zoid corpses were found in the mountains. It was a big fuss because it was close to the town at the base of the mountain. A lot of researchers and Zoids were dispatched from the city. At that time, I was still a student, and my research topic was the weak electromagnetic waves being emitted by the Zoids."

"Electromagnetic waves?"

"Yes. Just as our heart activity appears as a pulse, the core activity of Zoids appears as electromagnetic waves. If we examine those electromagnetic waves we can figure out a number of things. That was the kind of research we were doing. When I went to the scene, I brought my detector with me.

"It was the third day of the survey. The detector caught some strange electromagnetic waves. It was a stronger electromagnetic wave, a different magnitude from the weaker waves emitted by the Zoid cores. But the pulse pattern was very similar to the Bio Zoids."

 Seki continues to talk while staring distantly at the night sky.

"There was a heavy downpour that day, and thunder cracked. I was walking alone in the direction of the electromagnetic waves. When I reached the edge of the site, I heard a voice.

     'You can't go any further than this.'

"When I turned around, there were four Zoids, one of which had a man standing in the cockpit.

     'There's a rule that you can't go beyond this point without a Zoid escort.'

     'Well then...'

"I answered immediately.

     'Please escort me. There are Bio Zoids ahead. The detector shows that. I need to find out more.'

"The man, after a brief pause, said:

     'Ok. Please ride along with us, then. I'll escort you.'

"That man was Commander Jin. The Zoid was the Rez Wolf. They were leading the Jin Squad. The members were different from the ones now, though."

 I turn to Jin and Ken. They're fighting hard with wooden swords. I'm impressed that they do this every day and yet don't get hurt very often.

 Seki keeps talking while quietly looking at the night sky.

"I could barely see. It was a dark afternoon, and the pouring rain was obstructing my view. I couldn't hear any of the surrounding sounds because of the rain, but I think it was partially my fault. I was traveling through the mountains, relying solely on the electromagnetic waves.

"The lightning flashed and the surrounding area was illuminated for just a moment. Only then did we become aware of our situation. A myriad of Bio Zoid swarms were running towards us, and they were already just around the corner.

     'What do we do? There are too many enemies!'

"Someone sent that communication. Jin gave them a resolute answer.

     'If you show your back to your enemy, you'll be dead. Stand your ground and attack!'

"The Zoids started running while firing their weapons. As the Bio Zoids attacked, a fierce close-quarter battle began. Then I noticed it, my whole body was shaking. It was my first experience with combat. I could see the fangs of the attacking Bio Zoids.

"Commander Jin was strong. One after another, he proceeded to slash through the Bio Zoids. But the Bio Zoids didn't withdraw. No matter how many of their comrades were defeated, they kept moving forward.

"Eventually, one of his friends slowed down."

     'Dai, what happened?''

"Fat beads of sweat were dripping from the forehead of the person he called Dai.

     'I took a hit to the leg. I'm having difficulty moving.'

     'Shit!''

     'I'm going to stay and fight here. Everyone else should go back to the camp and call for support.'

     'Are you sure?'

"Jin gave the orders.

     'Stand and fight! Everyone, protect Dai!'

"Jin's Zoids gathered together and surrounded the wounded Zoid.

     'Are you going to let your friends die?'

"I heard Jin mutter those words. For some reason, I started to feel unusually calm. Then something strange happened. The Bio Zoids passed right by us, while we huddled together. If I had noticed it earlier back then..."

 Seki's words abruptly stop.

"What do you mean?"

 When I ask, Räte comments.

"I think I understand. The mountains were full of the corpses of Bio Zoids whose cores had been cut out, right?"

"I see."

 I also understand.

"Maybe the Bio Zoids were trying to escape from something?"

"Yes. The Bio Zoids didn't want to attack us, we were just a hindrance because we were in the middle of the road. A truly terrible enemy was approaching us, coming from behind the Bio Zoids."

 Seki continues to talk, quietly.

"It was one of Jin's comrades that first commented on the incident.

     'Weird! The Zoids aren't moving like they're supposed to.'

     'Same here.'

"It wasn't just the Jin Squad. The surrounding Bio Zoids were also slowing down. The lightning flashed, and for a moment, the situation improved. At that moment, I saw it for the first time. A particularly large Bio Zoid was approaching us. On its back were large, long spines with a unique shape."

"It was the Bio Spino."

 Räte said.

"A Bio Zoid that emits electromagnetic waves that disrupt all Zoids."

"Yes. When I looked at the electromagnetic wave detector, the needle was off the charts. But by the time I noticed, it was too late. Both Jin's Zoids, and the Bio Zoids had extremely low motor skills. The first to be preyed upon was a Bio Zoid at the back. The Bio Spino effortlessly took its core, and approached us, moving to one after another, devouring cores along the way.

     'Isn't there something we can do?'

     'At this rate, we'll done for.'

"These heartbreaking communications came from his friends. Jin was desperately struggling to maneuver the Rez Wolf. At that moment, the lightning struck, and for a moment, the Rez Wolf was unshackled and regained its original movement capabilities. The shock caused me to fall off of my seat.

     'What? It was only for a moment, but it was able to move freely.'

"Jin said. I quickly understood why.

     'Lightning. The lightning is able to disrupt the electromagnetic waves.'

     'I see. I think we can use that.'

"Jin was thinking while stroking his chin.

     'We'll wait until the lightning strikes to act, then start to approach him. When we're close enough, we'll wait for the next lightning strike. At that moment, we'll all jump in at once and cut him down!'

     'But, our chance is only a brief moment.'

     'If you fail, you'll be done for... You know that, right?'

"Jin opened the canopy. Rain was falling into the cockpit.

     'You need to get out.'


     'Why?'

     'I'm going to kill him. I can't take you with me.'

"There was no time to fight about it. I had no choice but to obey. I got out of the Rez Wolf, but I really wanted to go, so I shouted back at the cockpit. 'You can't die!' Then he replied,

'I promise. There won't be a single victim.'

"The next moment, the lightning flashed and the Rez Wolf charged."

 Her words were interrupted. The flames of the bonfire were making cracking sounds.

"Then?"

 When I asked, Seki glanced at Jin and smiled.

"He kept his promise, and he continues to keep that promise."

- Saint Gale "Empressa"


 The second Zoid posted by the readers is the Saint Gail Empressa. It's a drawing that tries to give a brilliant and elegant impression, baring in mind the princess who pilots it. As an artist, the wings of the Buster Eagle on the back are still annoying, but as this is one of the main points, I was also motivated to get revenge against the mass production type Buster Furher from 'The First Story'.

Chapter End


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