- Fan Book EX Vol. 2     [Dimetrodon]

The Beginning of ZAC 2106
    The Central Continent, Ardannes

    Neo Zenebas Empire Army Master Sergeant Capri Conrad was driving a Dimetrodon. Behind him, the Grim Reaper was approaching.

    --How much longer can I run away? Five, ten minutes?

    Scraping together all the remaining good luck in his life, it would probably be about thirty minutes. Capri was not an especially pessimistic person, but the image of "being saved" wouldn't come to him, no matter what. The situation was that hopeless.

    The Reaper's name was Liger Zero. An extraordinarily strong enemy even among the Helic Republic Army High-Speed Combat Force, which was full of elites. He had to fight it one on one. And moreover, in a Dimetrodon. Capri's beloved machine could not be called a Zoid suited to direct combat, even in flattery. It was an electronic warfare Zoid--. A Zoid that guided its allies to victory by supporting the combat forces from the shadows, and at times commanding them.

    Capri tried simulating it as a test. Dimetrodon vs Liger Zero. The victory rate that the computer spat out was 7 percent. That figure was, to the end, simply comparing the combat power of both sides. In an actual battle, it wouldn't even be half of that. And that was assuming the skill of the pilots was equivalent.

    --Equivalent? Not likely.

    The Zero's pilot wasn't ordinary. Capri himself knew that best. Capri's platoon had been performing force reconnaissance in the Forest of Ardannes, searching for Republic Army positions, when the Zero had annihilated them on its own, and in just under ten minutes no less. It had concealed itself quietly so it wouldn't be picked up by radar or Laser Searchers, then emergency activated from a state of suspended power and ambushed the platoon. Of course, the Zero's output wouldn't have risen up. With that unstable machine, the pilot had put to rest more than ten Empire Army Zoids, including a mass production-type Geno Saurer. That was Capri's enemy.

    Certainly, in the last three years, the Empire Army had not lost once in head-on engagements. But even so, they had not yet been able to annihilate the Republic Army, and Capri felt like he understood why. The Republic Army was not dead yet. Not as long as the enemy had these true ace pilots, true Zoid pilots....

    Sensing the shadow of the Zero behind him, Capri released his third lot of chaff. It was aluminium flakes for disrupting radar. Disappearing into a rain of silver, the Dimetrodon quietly continued its retreat. This chaff, the deep forest of Ardannes, and the early twilight of midwinter had kept Capri alive this long. But it was still a full 30 kilometres until the ally front line. His chaff would run out in one more release, too. If the Zero's pursuit continued, he probably wouldn't be able to get away.

    There was a way he could be saved. Abandon the machine and escape on foot. But now that the Republic Army had embarked on mass-producing the new Gojulas, searching for enemy positions was an urgent matter for the Empire Army and the Dimetrodon was their most important enemy-detecting Zoid. For Capri, it was also the first large-scale Zoid the veteran had obtained. He couldn't abandon it.

    In that case, he would just have to fight. Even if it was 7 percent, or half that, if there was a chance of winning, he would fight and make it back alive.

    "Let's do this, partner."

    After stroking the control panel two or three times, Capri turned the machine around. And after releasing the last chaff at the maximum angle of elevation, he cut all power amongst the conifers.

    --That ambush earlier. That was brilliant. We'll do the exact same thing right back at him.

    That was Capri's intent. Drawn in by the chaff blowing up high into the sky, the Zero would definitely come to him. He would hide himself until it approached to point-blank range, where it couldn't dodge even with the mobility of a high-speed Zoid, and ambush it from an emergency activation. He would risk everything on that one attack.

    Capri was waiting for sunset with a feeling almost like praying. For this reckless ambush to succeed, he needed to attract the Zero until it was almost under his nose. Darkness was his only hope. But time passed slowly. One minute seemed like an eternity. A thought suddenly floated into Capri's mind, "Maybe the Zero's given up." Then he immediately changed his mind, "No." It was a cutting-edge electronic warfare Zoid that was precious to the Empire. That meant it was a great threat to the Republic. They would never overlook it.

    Eventually the sun dropped down, and when even its afterglow was about to vanish, Capri's skin suddenly got goosebumps. It was the Zero. The Zero was there. It wasn't that he was able to see it. It was the intuition of an enemy detector. Ahead and to the right. A distance of roughly 400 metres. At 300 metres he could see it. It approached further, with slow movements.

    "For the king of the beasts, you're awfully cautious, aren't ya?"

    Perhaps the chaff earlier had been too conspicuous. The Zero felt signs of a trap.

    200 metres. 150... 100. Even mixed into the trees, it wouldn't be strange if he was discovered any time now. He swallowed his feelings of wanting to shout and jump out. 80... 50. This was a distance that the Zero could cover in a single leap. 30 metres. Fortune was on Capri's side.


    The Dimetrodon activated. Its roar sliced through the silent Ardannes. The Zero turning around seemed like slow motion. The Dimetrodon bared its fangs and sprang upon it. Its aim was the throat. This too was like slow motion.

    --Chomp! Its fangs bit in, at full power. Even so, it couldn't break the armour. The Dimetrodon had no laser equipment like the Zero's fangs. Its output hadn't risen up yet, either.

    The Zero swung its head up. The terrifying power of a Zoid for melee battle. It swung the Dimetrodon, twice as heavy as itself, left and right. Capri's neck gave a scream at the intense, irregular centrifugal force. But if he was shaken off, it would all be over.

    He pulled the trigger as far as it would go. The Linear Laser Guns, Missile Pod and Concentrated Sulfuric Acid Gun fired, rapid-fire. They were weapons for use against small-scale Zoids, but these were point-blank shots. They ought to be effective.

    --Bam! The armour plates on the Zero's neck split and flew off. Even still, he didn't loosen off on the trigger. The rain of energy bullets drove into the Zero's body.

    --I've won. Just when Capri was convinced of that, something unbelievable happened. The Zero jumped. Twenty metres vertically, with the Dimetrodon still clinging to it. And then, throwing itself down, it slammed itself into the ground.

    A strong impact. Capri lost consciousness for a moment.

    "He's good......"

    Still hazy, he attempted to stand the machine up again. But it couldn't move. The Zero was leaning on it. It writhed frantically, but it couldn't move around. It was a hopeless difference in power.

    "I don't like this."

    Capri muttered quietly. The Zero's victory was already conclusive. It bared its fangs and swung its claws as it pleased. Yet it didn't finish him off, as though it enjoyed the Dimetrodon's resistance. Apparently the ambush earlier had made it quite angry.

    "That leeway is fatal on the battlefield..."

    Countless flakes of chaff were dancing all around. That was because the two machines had rolled along the ground after the collision earlier. This chaff became a revelation. What if the Dimetrodon emitted its all-weather 3D radar waves right now? Diffused reflections of electromagnetic waves. The area would turn into a microwave oven. Even if there was no damage to the Zoids, the pilots wouldn't make it out unharmed.

    Of course, that included Capri himself....

    "You make it back alive. Okay, partner?"

    He lightly stroked the panel again. And then, Capri slowly activated the radar.

    A few days later, Capri's Dimetrodon was recovered by the Empire Army. At the hands of another pilot, this Dimetrodon discovered two Republic Army positions by spring. It brought great gains to the Empire Army--.

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Translations by Falcarius! Images courtesy of Green Gairyuki!