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- Chapter 4: Festivals, Handguns, and A Major Turning Point


Bababababam.

 There's firecrackers bursting, and the beating of drums.

Ta-dah. Tatatata-dah!

"Ladies and gentlemen!"

 The Chairman raises his voice.

"To all those who have come to our venue, the gentleman and their wives, the old man, and the grandma yawning over there, just listen to what we have to say. To celebrate the prosperity of Enya, we're holding our annual three-day Sunlight Festival. On the second day of this year's festival there'll be an evening dance with drinks, and we'll be welcoming some amazing guests from the city."

 The chairman turns towards us. The gaze of hundreds of people who've gathered around the square are also turning to us as we stand on the stage. I feel a little nervous.

"Everyone here is traveling under the command of His Majesty the King, and happened to stop by our city, Enya, last night while on their way to defeat the Bio Zoids. These people have survived through many trials and still continue their journey for the sake of the world, their valor is unmatched, and their names are the members of the Jin Squadron!"

 There's cheers and applause. The name's a little off... but we quickly bow our heads.

"Now, thanks to the kindness of the Jin Bomb Squad, we'll be able to show you some of that valor. Today, we're going to show you a formal jousting competition as seen in the capital. That's why we'd like to ask you to clear us a big space in the center of the venue."

 The mayor of the city, who is next to us gives a nod. People move in an uproar. Town officials are stretching ropes around the area to secure a place for the jousting competition.

 The chairman raises his voice.

"This is the Sunlight Festival's Special Exhibition Match! Ken on the East side, the Jin Squadron's cutting-edge captain! His ride is the Hound Soldier!"

 The Hound Solder emerges from behind a building. The canopy opens, then Ken stands up and bows. But how did the chairman actually remember his name? Anyway, I'm not in the competition.

"To the West, under the Mayor's command, we have the hero of our city, the invincible champion, Hull!"

 A Cannon Fort appears. The applause for it is much greater than it was for Ken.

"It seems quite popular."

 Räte comments. The Mayor answers with a laugh.

"He's the champion of this city. And well, there's no one that can beat him, even the most well known in the world. Bwahahaha.."

 I'm pretty confident.

 The Hound Soldier and the Cannon Fort stand at either end of the street.

"I'll briefly explain the rules. Both units will charge down the road towards the center, and try to pierce each other with their spears while dashing by. Then, the Mayor will-"

"Yes. Begin!"

 The mayor raises his right hand and signals. The two Zoids start running with a loud rumble. They gradually pick up speed, holding their spears in front of them, and at the center of the arena, they collide with one another.

Bam!

 The ground shakes from the massive impact. Both of them run to the end of the street and turn around.

"Third time."

 Jin mutters.

"What?"

 When I ask, Jin answers in a whisper so that the mayor can't hear him.

"Ken will win in the third clash."

 Hound Soldier and Cannon Fort start running again.

"How do you know that?"

"The first clash is like a formal greeting, it's not serious. In the second one-"

Boom!

 They hold their spears steady and clash. It's a much more intense impact than before.

"They synchronize with one another, and then the third game is the real match."

 The Hound Soldier runs to the end of the street and turns around. The moment he starts running, I feel like the Hound Soldier's posture gets lower.

"This game is to test each other's momentum and posture. The movement speed, the angle of the protruding lance, the low center of gravity, the tension in their legs..."

 The Hound Soldier is running fast. It's entirely different from what I saw before. This is Ken and the Hound Soldier's serious mode.

Boom!

 The third clash. Ken pushes his spear up from the bottom. The huge body of the Cannon Fort flies through the air.

"Ken wins."

 The Cannon Fort falls backwards with a thunderous boom. There's a roar from the crowd. The chairman declares the winner.

"The winner is Ken, of Jin's Attack Squad!"

 Ken opens the canopy and bows. It's kind of cool. Then, a voice cries out just as the Hound Soldier is about to leave the field.

"I won't allow you to win and just take off like that!"

 I turn around, and it's the girl standing next to the mayor.

 She's looking at Ken. This child is Shion, the mayor's daughter. She seems to be around the same age as Ken, but looks a little shorter.

 Shion points her finger at Ken.

"Next time, you'll be competing against me!"

 This child seems strong-willed.

 Ken also seems a little confused.

"Oh, uh, that's fine, I guess..."

"Then, the game will take place tomorrow morning, and the event will be a showdown of Zoid Fried Rice!"

"Huh? What? What's that?"


- Chapter 5: Part 2

 The next day, we were invited to have lunch with the mayor.

"Oh, sorry, she's a selfish girl. Ahahah."

 The mayor pours some liquor for Jin while he laughs.

"And what's this about fried rice?"

"Yes. Actually, on the last day of the festival that we hold in this city, the Sunlight Festival, it's customary for Zoids to put on a big show for the people by making huge quantities of fried rice, using giant woks. Every year, several Zoids participate and wield their arms of choice."

 I imagine Souga waving a wok. Somehow, I can't decide if it looks stupid or not.

"That's where you'll be competing with my daughter, to determine who is better at making fried rice. Bwahaha."

"But..."

 Ken refutes.

"I've never made fried rice."

"Is that so? Bwahaha. Nahh, it doesn't matter. At a glance it looks like you might have some girls that are good at cooking. You can compete with them."

"Whaaaaaat?"

 Räte is clearly reluctant.

"Me... making fried rice..."

 Seki doesn't seem too confident, either.

 I... concentrate on the meal, rendering me speechless.

"No, hahaha, you're right. Since you'll be competing against my daughter, I'm thinking about offering a grand prize for the game."

 Räte's eyes shine.

"Prize?"

"That's right. If my daughter wins, I'll ask a small request. It's a simple request."

"Well, what if we win?"

"I'll give you the greatest treasure of my homeland."

Bam.

 Räte hits the table.

"I'm in!"

"Then it's a deal. Bwahaha."

"Whaaaaaat?"

 Me and Seki's voice harmonize.


- Chapter 5: Part 3

 In the morning, the time for the decisive battle has come.

"Ladies and Gentleman!"

 The chairman raises his voice.

"Today is the final day of the Sunlight Festival. The day of the annual Zoid Fried Rice competition. The rice is already ready, the ingrediants have been prepared, and the huge bowls have had hundreds of eggs cracked in preparation. But..."

 He stops talking for a moment and watches the reaction of the crowd.

"Of course, as everyone remembers, today there's going to be a Special Fried Rice showdown."

 The hall roars with excitement.

"The Sunlight Festival's Zoids Fried Rice special showdown!"

 At least he remembers the correct name.

"The rides for today are Hound Soldier, Hebby Rhimos, and Liger Blue Souga!"

 We enter with the Hound Soldier at the front.

"In the west, we have the daughter of the mayor, Shion!"

 There's a grand applause. You can hear voices yelling "She's so cooooool!"

 When I see her, I laugh.

"Um, that's uhh..."

 Räte answers.

"That's the Lesser Bamburian. It's a red panda type, I believe?"

"Can it stand up?"

"Possibly?"

"The judges are five famous gourmet cooks from our city, and as a special guest judge, we have invited Jin, the commander, and the mayor to also vote."

 Jin and the mayor both wave from the stage.

"Then, start cooking!"

"Let's go."

With Räte's call, our battle begins. She attaches the wok to the horn of the Hebby Rhimos and ignites the chin burner. Hound Soldier pours oil with a giant ladle attached to one of the spears. Souga grabs a bowl in his mouth and waits for the pan to warm up.

 When I look at our enemy, I can see she's skillfully handling all of the work by herself, with her Lesser Bamburian. It feels like she's going to be impossible to beat. The Zoids that aren't involved in our little wager have also begun cooking around us.

"Midori."

 I hear Räte's voice. I pour the eggs into the pan. Hound Soldier stirs them inside the pan. The eggs are frying so fast that they start sputtering, but I don't care.

"When the eggs are half-cooked, it's time to add the rice."

 Seki says, riding inside the Hebby Rhimos. It's her recipe for making the delicious fried rice that had been prepared yesterday.

"Now!"

"Right!"

 I throw the rice into the huge pan right away.

Fsssshhhhhhh.

 The eggs and oil sputter, but I don't mind.

 Ken puts in the other ingrediants.

"Oooohhhhhh!"

 The crowd roars. I turn around, wondering what's going on, and see that the Lesser Bamburian is standing up.

"It stood up. It stood up. Fuuga is standing up!"

 The chairman is screaming.

 But the enemy didn't just stand up. The wok is shaking vigorously and the contents are flying up in the air.

"What is she doing?"

 Seki answers.

"That's an advanced technique of throwing the rice up in the air, so that the heat of the air and the heat of the flames will wisk off the moisture."

"I have to do this, too, then."

 Räte looks around.

"Ken, call over the Brastle Tiger for me."

"Huh? I think that might be overkill, but..."

 Ken brings that Brastle Tiger.

"Let's go!"

 Räte throws the contents of the frying pan high in the air. The Brastle Tiger breaths fire.

Roooaaaarrrrr!

 The very next moment, black rice is raining all over the venue.


- Chapter 5: Part 4


 In the end, the game was decided without a vote. Mainly because there was hardly any rice left in our wok.

 We and the Lesser Bamburian, a total of four Zoids in all, are called to the front of the Judge's table. I open the canopy and bow to the judges. When I look at the Lesser Bamburian... Wait, that's? Those clothes that Shion is wearing... they might be... a wedding dress?

"Ahahaha!"

"Now then, it's time for you to hear my only wish. My wish is..."

 The mayor looks at Ken.

"I want you to marry my daughter Shion, Ken."

"Eh?"

 Ken's eyes and mouth open wide.

 The mayor scratches his head.

"Well, yes, yesterday my daughter seemed to fall in love when she saw Ken's brilliant appearance. Even when she offered him that game challenge, it was to keep him from leaving the city right away. That seems to be her way of thinking, and she really wants to get married. She's a selfish and determined girl, so you're in trouble. Jeez. Bwahahaha."

 Ken desperately speaks up.

"But I just met your daughter yesterday and I'm not that old..."

"Of course, of course. I understand. Normally, I would've liked you to go out as friends first, so that you could get to know each other better, until you were a more reasonable age. However, you're a traveler, Ken. You'll be leaving today. It can't be helped with a mission of such importance. So when it comes down to it, we have no choice but to get you two married before you leave..."

"But I was told that..."

"Thank you, it's nice to meet you formally."

 Shion's face is red and her eyes are misty. This looks.... really serious...

"Haha, yes!"

 Räte claps her hands.

"By any chance, was this the treasure that we were going to get when we won?"

"Bwahahaha. Of course, I wanted you to take my daughter Shion, the most important treasure of our family, as Ken's bride..."

"Wait, so no matter who won, the prize was the same?"

"Yes, that's right. Bwahahaha."

"Ken, the ceremony is already prepared. Come with me."

 The Lesser Bamburian takes a step.

"That's not good."

 Hound Soldier takes one step back.

"Ken."

 The Lesser Bamburian is approaching Hound Soldier.

"O-Oh no, that's not good."

Slam, the canopy closes, and Hound Soldier flees.

"Ken!"

 Lesser Bamburian throws its giant wok and runs after him.


- Chapter 5: Part 5

Tap.

 That's what it sounds like. A dry popping noise. Maybe a gunpowder explosion. Though, it's quite far away. Tap. Tap. Tap.

 I hear a lot of noises, but they're not real. I grew up in a mountain village, so I know. It's a counterattack by the surrounding mountains, who are angry about the sudden noise awakening them from their slumber. In other words, they're echoes. Only the first sound is real.

 That sounded like a gunshot...

"I wonder what that is?"

 I mutter.

 Normally, I'd get a quick response from Ken and Räte, but they didn't come with me today. Right now, Souga and I are the only ones here.

"Let's go."

 Souga starts running.

 As I go down the gentle slope leading into the valley, I immediately understand what's causing the sound. One Bio Raptor is running towards us. Behind it is a dinosaur-type Zoid, the Death Raser. In its hand is a huge pistol... I'm not sure if it's good or not. From its size, that is, the size of its gun of course, it's a 6-barrel revolver. The previous sound I heard was probably the sound of the pistol firing.

"Let's go!"

 Souga runs at full speed towards the Bio Raptor. The Bio Raptor and Death Raser also notice us. I send a communication to the Death Raser.

"I'll help you!"

"I don't need you meddling."

 What appears on my screen makes me hesitate... a bitter, really bitter old man, with his mouth all twisted up.

"Withdraw, kid."

 I'm shocked, but I'm an adult, so I smile and answer.

"But I'm here to help you."

 I hold my sword while running towards the Bio Raptor.

"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."

"Slash!"

 I swing the sword horizontally.

Graaaahhhhh!

 The Bio Raptor's body collapses with a horrible scream.

"Heh."

 The old man snorts.

"How excessive."

 This old man isn't very cute. By the way, could this old man possibly be...


- Chapter 5: Part 6

 I put my sword away and turn to the Death Raser.

"Are you, by chance, Veauregard?"

"So what if I am?"

 I bow my head at the computer.

"I'm Midori, from the Jin Squad. My Zoid is Souga. Commander Jin gave me a letter to deliver to a Mr. Veauregard."

"Ha."

 The old man twists his mouth more. Maybe that's a smile?

"If that's the case, I'll have to invite you to our Zoid ranch to have a cup of coffee. If you don't mind having bad coffee, that is."

 Death Raser... No, if this old man is the legendary gunman Veauregard, this Zoid should be the sheriff Zoid, Gunz Raser... but it's starting to walk towards the valley.

Bzzzz, an unmanned Baratz flies in with a hum and lands on the Gunz Raser's back. It's clutching something in its legs.

"Good work."

 Veauregard says. Not to me, but to the Baratz.

"What did it bring you?"

"It's a bullet. It searches for the bullets I've shot and recovers them."

 I think it's a joke, and I think to myself "Why are these bullets so valuable?" but Veauregard answers without me having to ask.

"They're precious. They're Metal Zi bullets."


- Chapter 5: Part 7

 As I descend into the valley, I see the Zoids. There are two of them over here, and three more over there, lying in the meadow.

"This is the Zoid Ranch?"

"That's right. This whole valley makes up the ranch."

"Is there a fence?"

"Heh."

 Veauregard's mouth twists again. It seems that this is his smiling face after all.

"There's no fence that can lock up a Zoid. And even if there was, these Zoids won't go anywhere. The Zoids here are Zoids who have nowhere else to go."

 Now that he mentions it, the Zoids here are a little strange. When I give it some thought and look closely, I immediately understand why.

"They have no weapons."

 A Zabat without a laser gun. A Cannon Fort without its firearms. A Molga Cannory without the cannon is just a big catterpillar. And yet somehow everyone is just fine."

"They can't fight, can they?"

 I just ask.

 Veauregard twists the edge of his mouth.

"I don't think they'd be good at fighting. They're all old. They're Zoids who have come here to welcome the end of their lives."

 Elderly? The end of their lives? I know that Zoids live a long life, but I never thought about the specifics of it.

"Some are covered in scratches."

 When I mutter, Veauregard asks me.

"Your Zoid also seems to have a big scratch on his forehead...?"

 I don't want to remember that time. The fear of it. Souga's crisis, which was caused by my lack of experience. I suspect that those thoughts have become visible on my face. Before I can answer, Veauregard speaks.

"If you don't want to remember, you don't have to answer. You can seal your unpleasant memories somewhere within your heart. Until the day that you become elderly and can remember the old days with fondness."

 As he walks between the old and injured Zoids, Veauregard takes over the conversation.

"For Zoids, wounds are not a cause for shame. It's a record of the Zoid's battles. Each wound bares its history of surviving a crisis in its life. That accumulation of scars is the history of the Zoid, a testimony that it has fought and lived."

 When I hear that story I look around at the Zoids covered in wounds, and something seems different. Here are Zoids who have fought hard throughout their long lives, and have survived. For Souga.... and for me... what kind of battles lie ahead?

 In the meantime, me and Souga now have a mission. That mission is to investigate the cause of the appearance of Bio Zoids and stop them. Can we do that? Or maybe, on the way...

 I vigorously shake my head, and stop thinking. Stop thinking so negatively. Anyway, for now, doing my best is all I can do.

"Do you know? How Zoids are born."

 Veauregard's story continues.

"When Zoids die, their cores split and break apart. That core becomes the basis for a new Zoid. This is where Zoids die, and where new Zoids are born."

"Then, the Zoids that were just born here..."

 I look around, but I can't find any such Zoids.

"They're not here."

 Gunz Raser points its long claws.

"They're in the barn. Do you want to see them?"

 I hastily answer.

"Yes, I really want to see them!"

"All right. But before that, let me read that letter."

 Gunz Raser heads for the small house next to the barn.









 I wait and sip the bitter coffee while waiting for Veauregard to read the letter. That said, I don't have to wait for long.

"Heh."

 After reading it, Veauregard turns his eyes towards the ceiling and sighs.

"It's too late."

 I'm worried. I think it's rude to ask about someone else's letter, but I still want to know what it said.

"What is it?"

 Veauregard doesn't answer, and turns to me,.

"Would you like me to show you the newborn Zoids?"

"Yes."

 When I get up, Veauregard goes to the corner of the room and brings a deck brush and a bucket.

"Take this and follow me."

 He walks towards the exit.

"Yes. But, uh... why do we need a deck brush to see the Zoids?"

"Don't you know what to use the deck brush for?"

 Veauregard turns around and twists his mouth slightly.

"You use it for cleaning."

"Huh!?"


- Chapter 5: Part 8

 Even though they're just children, the Zoids are bigger than humans. Therefore, the barn is also huge. Washing it from corner to corner with a deck brush is a huge task. But thanks to that, I'm able to take a closer look at the Zoids.

 Zoids who were just born take the shape of spherical cores. From there, they gradually become more Zoid-like. That being said, there are only kids here, and none of them are newborns. Even so, when I stop and look at the children, I hear a terrible voice screaming "I'm so tired!" in my head.

 I clean for two hours with Veauregard. When it's over, it's time to go. Except by the time we reach the corner of the barn, we're both tired. Veauregard sits down next to me and says "It's tough work." and twists his mouth a little. I think it'd be a little easier for us to get along if he could just laugh a bit...

"It's cute."

 When I look at the young Zoids, Veauregard replies "Yeah" and then mutters.

"At the very least, I must protect these guys."

 There seems to be something bothering him. He's anxious.

"Are you worried?"

 When I boldly ask, Veauregard answers me with mild hesitation.

"The letter you brought, it's some advice. Saying that Bio Zoids are causing damage all across the country, and that I should hire some Zoid riders so that I don't have to defend all these guys by myself."

"But it was too late...?"

"You saw it just a while ago, the Bio Zoids are coming."

 My heart beats fast in my chest. Maybe this ranch is getting worse now, too?

"Do Bio Zoids come here often?"

"There's a small swarm nearby. It's the underlings that came to check us out. Perhaps tonight, their unit will attack this ranch."

 I guess it really is bad. No matter how legendary the gunman, he's fighting all alone.

"So then..."

"Then..."

 Their voices overlap. Veauregard doesn't hesitate to take over the conversation.

"You'll have to leave the ranch before sunset."

"No."

 I refuse.

"We'll fight together."

 Veauregard frowns.

"If you're making that offer lightly just because you feel sympathetic for me, then think again."

"That's not it."

"Are you ready to go? Are you aware that Zoids aren't just pets? They're weapons. If you fight, you might get hurt. Think about it, our enemies are formidable. Can you deal with getting your precious little Zoid killed?"

 It might be my weakness that makes me hesitate for a moment, but only for a moment. I answer, once and for all.

"Let me fight at your side!'

 After a sigh, Veauregard replies.

"That's good then. Let's figure out a strategy. The enemy is a group of about 20 Bio Ziods. For this battle we only have two Zoids that can fight."


- Chapter 5: Part 9

 At night, Veauregard and I are waiting with our Zoids. In front of the barn, we're sitting at a makeshift camp.

 We don't know where the enemy will come from. When the enemies arrives, I'll have to jump into Souga and go to protect the Zoids on the ranch. The Gunz Raser can fight long-distance, so he can fight without having to move, and will be protecting the barn at all costs. That's how we decided to divide our roles.

 The Zoids on the ranch are gathered around the barn as closely as possible. They seem to be aware of the crisis, and the Zoids are full of quiet tension. The ranch, lit by the moonlight, is sinking into a painful silence. And then the battle begins abruptly.

Grraaahhhh!

 The ranch Zoids roar and begin to move.

"They're here!"

 Veauregard shouts.

"Go, Souga!"

 I run Souga towards the escaping Zoids. Soon the enemies are visible, and surprisingly close. Maybe they got so close because they were sneaking quietly.

 Above all else, there's a particularly large Zoid behind them that looks like a small mountain. It has what looks like a helmet covering its face, and two silver shining horns.

"What's that?"

"Bio Tricera. The boss of this pack."

Shaaaaaaaaa!

 The Bio Tricera roars. At that, its Bio Zoid minions rush forward.


 I hold up the sword since I'm running alongside the escaped Zoids. The thoughts of the sword become words, and rise in my heart.

Bam.

 The sound of gunshots. When I hear it up close, the sound is stunning. One Bio Zoid collapses, but there are others. They approach the ranch.

(Good luck! I'm going now!)

 I scream in my heart as Souga runs.

 A Bio Zoid hangs by its claws from the back of one of the escaped Zoids.

"Jump, Souga!"

 We jump the rest of the distance. The Bio Zoid bares its fangs, but it's too slow.

"Slash!"

 We swing the sword through the air. The Bio Zoid's voice rises in a death cry. It lands with a thud and we angle the sword towards the next Bio Zoid.

Roooaaarrr!

 That's two of them down.

"Next!"

 I look around for an enemy, but... the slaughter has already begun. A Cannon Fort is lying on the ground. There's a Command Wolf twitching, but otherwise not moving. I can see the wounds where they've been ruthlessly eaten alive.

 I was too late. Because of my lack of strength, several Zoids are already lying defeated. Everyone is running desperately for help.

 The old Zoids here have built up a long history of fighting alongside their riders. The history of each one, and their future...? For all of it to end like this is absolutely unforgivable.

Bam.

 I hear a gunshot and a choking voice. As I turn around, a Bio Zoid crumbles and falls next to Souga.

"Don't lose focus."

 I hear Veauregard's voice.

"Didn't you notice the enemy approaching you? That was dangerous."

"I'm sorry. But, they're important Zoids..."

"It should be sad..."

Bam.

 There's a resounding gunshot, and another Bio Zoid falls.

"It's inevitable that one day their death will come. And because of their death, there is also life."

Bam.

 The sound of gunfire echoes.

"But save your tears until the battle's over."

 Yeah. That's right.

 I raise my head triumphantly.

"I'll protect all of the Zoids."

 I have Souga jump into the midst of the enemies.

"I won't let you kill anyone else!"

- Lesser Bamburian


 The fourth Zoid posted by readers is the Lesser Bamburian, Fuuga. I was aiming for a cool and charming scene for this Bamburian type, but I can't help but laugh (^ω^;. The actual Bamburian kit was a panda variation of the Bear Fighter, so I think the derivative lesser panda was a very natural progression of that idea.

- Gunz Raser


 The fifth Zoid posted by readers is the Gunz Raser. I created this design here based on the text of "Gunman Zoid" and didn't go any further. At first I was planning on a quick-draw system with a gun and an arm, but I settled for the sub arm with a holster and a gun. Gunman = Westerns was a fun correlation that I couldn't ignore (laughs).

Chapter End


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      This book was translated using Google Translate. Please be aware that there will be errors! If you notice anything that needs corrected, feel free to contact us and let us know.