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PSZAROD Chapter 4: Dragon Revived! Zero Flauschig! – I Hate Titling Things!

PSZAROD Chapter 4: Dragon Revived! Zero Flauschig!


Somewhere on Zi...okay, near the Team Blitz base...would you believe really close to the Team Blitz base? Okay, really close to the Team Blitz base (that just doesn't sound as dramatic, though!), a large Zoid raced across the sand. Even though it was morning, it somehow remained in dramatic shadow, much as Shineryuu and Mach had.

Not knowing its importance to the plot, the sleek Zoid galloped on, moving with a distance-eating lope typical of the Earth species that had long ago given its predecessor its name. Not that it knew anything about that, either. It was more concerned with the fact that it was running a bit faster than it would have liked. Switching its cooling systems on, it rumbled to its pilot, who of course didn't listen. Hmph. He sure could have a one-track mind sometimes.

Silver claws continued to strike the earth, and the angular white Zoid continued its run. Better than taking on giant killer Zoids, it supposed, which is how it had ended up trashed and then chopped up and used to evolve into what it was now and then sold to this nut years later. Hmmm. Then again, the Zoid decided, it was more than capable of going off on tangents itself.

 

Yet Another Excerpt From "Vega's Stupid Boring Diary Thingie":

Finally, they fixed Fury, but now the stupid ZBC is taking forever to decide if I should be let in their whole battle thing. Bah, I bet they're just afraid I'd beat everyone. It's not my fault I'm in the whole Backdraft mess, I just wanted a good Zoid to fight with. I'm not going to abandon my partner, or something.

We've been working on that whole telepathic communication thing, since it's handy in a battle, so I thought it could be from farther away, too. Got nothing better to do. I think we need to work on controlling it or something, because someone in the hanger is listening to this annoying station on the radio, and he's singing along in his head and it's driving me NUTS! Nooo...not this song again...

 

The mysterious Zoid drew ever closer to the Blitz base, although now the dramatic shadow on the thing had fallen somewhat, and you could see it was a canine of some sort. And since it was larger, any Zoid fanatic could immediately place it for what it was...but of course, we can't let on that the mystery Zoid and pilot happened to be a König Wolf and one Harry Champ. Uh, oops. Never mind. Anyway, Harry and his nice shiny new König Wolf continued on their merry way to the base. My, that's redundant. Where else would they be going, out for tea with a squad of Redler pilots?

 

Back at said base, Team Blitz's members were enjoying a nice, calm day for once. No food had been stolen, no coffeemakers exploded, no viewscreens smashed...and there wasn't a battle or anything else exciting scheduled that day. Of course, that did lead to some problems.

"I'm booored." Bit sat on the couch staring up at the oh-so-fascinating ceiling, wishing he had his Shield Liger superball to bounce on it. But it had disappeared since last evening, and he wasn't about to ask Rinon where it'd gone. He'd ended up sleeping in the Liger's cockpit, since it was the only Zoid he trusted to not fling him on the floor or something evil. Well, he trusted the Raynos, kind of, but he didn't really know it all that well either. Come to think of it, his back hurt. Cockpits weren't very comfortable to sleep in. Nope, not at all.

"HEY! Bit, did you hear anything I just said?"

Aaah! There she was! And she was mad at him!

"Um, eh he...I think I heard someone at the door, berightback." Bit skittered off to the door, fully intending to escape. However, when he opened it, he found a now rather confused Harry.

"Hey, how'd you know I was here?"

"Er, long story—woah, cool! What's that?"

Harry turned around to see the Wolf only a few feet away, leaning down in an attempt to see in the door. "Ack, no! Get back over there, you! You're supposed to be a surprise!"

"What's supposed to be a surprise? Oh, it's you."

"Come on, movemovemovemove...ack!" Harry had been pushing the Wolf's snout away from the door—or trying to, rather, and it had decided that now would be a good time to lift its head and make him fall over. "Oh, Rinon! You're here! Um."

"If that Zoid's for me, I don't want it. It looks annoying, like you."

"It's not for you! Unless you want it, anyway. Oof!" The Wolf had whacked him with its nose. "I came here to challenge you guys to a battle! And to see you, of course...my honey."

"Go away. I hate you! And take that stupid whatever it is with you!"

"It's a König Wolf, the king of wolf-type Zoids. Fitting, don't you think? And it's not stupid, it has an AI system almost as advanced as those in Zoids like your Liger Zero!" Harry added, turning towards Bit.

"I thought the only wolf-type Zoids were Command Wolves anyway." Bit said, blinking as the König Wolf turned to stare at him too.

"So? And if you don't want to fight, maybe 5 times the prize money and all the paperwork already being done would change your minds?"

"Money?"

"Paperwork already done? And oooh, shiny!"

"Well, looks like the Doc is convinced...and Ballad too. Where's Shineryuu and Jamie? Oh, well, I'll go look for them—"

"Oh no you don't, Bit sweetie. You're not going anywhere..." Rinon grabbed Bit by the arm and dragged him back to the gathering. Harry, of course, went nuts at the word 'sweetie', and ended up being held in mid-air by the König Wolf, which looked as if it were as eager to escape as Bit.

"Why you...geh...PUT ME DOWN!...so, do you accep—OOF!" The Wolf had done as it was asked...or, more accurately, dropped Harry.

"Yeah, sure!" The Doc agreed before Rinon could protest.

"All right, then!" Harry wasn't about to give anyone time to change their minds, and quickly jumped back into the Wolf's cockpit. "Oh, yeah, one more thing."

"If it involves my name and the word 'date', I don't want to hear it."

"But—"

"Aha! I knew it! Now GET LOST!"

Harry shrugged sadly, and then quickly perked back up. "Okay, fine. But I'll be seeing you soon! Ah ha ha!"

And with that, the König Wolf was off, this time at a full run.

"Sheesh, I was just going to ask if she wanted to borrow the book I was reading."

"Raoooo."

"Okay, and the date thing, but still. She could've let me finish my sentence."

"Rfff."

"No, I DON'T want you to bite her head off! DON'T SAY THINGS LIKE THAT!"

No one is quite sure how Zoids can create the whole anime 'sweat drop' effect, but they can. And the König Wolf was managing to do so quite well.

 

Back at the base...again...Rinon had decided to pass the time making a "list of reasons why we hate Harry". Bit, puzzled, had asked why, at least until Rinon threatened to chuck his Shield Liger superball in the garbage disposal (how cruel!). He had the promised to shut up and run off to his room to hide it...and later was found to have climbed out a window, doubtless to escape.

Time dragged on. Mach got sick of the list-making and ran off as well, people drank coffee, and no one noticed the Doc was gone, off working on some ever-so-secret project.

"Hey, is that one of those CAS things?"

Alas, for it seemed nothing was to remain secret today.

"Hey, didn't you see the 'keep out' sign?"

"When you're trying to avoid people, it's always a good idea to hide places like that." The organoid tilted his head to one side. "What're you going to call that thing when it's done?"

"Well, it actually is almost done, it just needs paint and some finishing touches." The Doc was obviously delighted to have an audience that wouldn't go babbling or wanting to test it out on the Liger early, and he cheerfully started pointing out all sorts of thing about the new armor. Mach zoned out, his concentration returning in time to hear: "...and I think I'll call it...the Flauschig!"

Does their whole family go on and on like this? I should meet that Blade Liger the Zoids here talk about and ask it if that Leon fellow does this too.

 

Harry arrived home in record time, probably because the Wolf was a lot faster than his older Zoids. And it could stop a lot faster, too.

"Grrrr."

"Learn to slow down? But I just came up with idea for a love poem to write and Idon'thaveanypaper!" Harry dashed off, leaving the Wolf standing outside the entrance to the hangar. It decided this wasn't a problem so long as it didn't rain, and switched its cooling systems to full. It didn't like long runs.

"I wonder if we should bring it back in."

Robots?

"Yes, I think we should. But then, YOU wanna try and get it to move?"

Noisy robots. Those must be the ones Harry had talked about, the ones that were going to be piloting the other Zoids. Well, the Wolf didn't think much of them. One noisy person was enough. It lowered its head and growled.

"Be quiet, you."

"AAAAH! It's gonna eat us! Run away, run awayyyy!"

Well, apparently the noisy robots didn't speak Zoid. Note for future reference, resume cooling sequence.

 

"Your move, kid."

"My name is Jamie." The "kid" in question studied the chess board in front of him, finally deciding to move his rook over. He tended to be a more cautious player, defending as best he could and then waiting for his opponent to get bored or frustrated. This technique worked very well with Bit (the only person Jamie had ever seen fall for the old four-move-checkmate trick five times), but Mach seemed to have a very similar strategy, which was making for a long game indeed. Of course, since he wouldn't be going out in today's battle and neither would Shineryuu (her paperwork was still somehow held up) and Mach, it didn't really matter.

Reaching out with one armored paw, the organoid turned long blue claws and picked up his queen with a delicate grasp for something so pointy. He moved it a single square. "Check."

Jamie countered with a knight.

"Man, you guys are weird. How can you sit for three hours doing that?" It was Bit, who looked as if he had crawled out a window and run around outside while being chased by a Gun Sniper until climbing back in a different window. Which he had.

"Don't you have a battle to be going to?" Mach sent his queen into retreat, plotting a different avenue of attack.

"Yeah, I just came to get some food when you-know-who isn't guarding the fridge." Bit walked over to the aforementioned appliance, which still sported a scorched coffeemaker-shaped mark on its front. Of course, he wasn't paying attention to such things. He was more concerned about being ambushed and then chased out to the hangar and then chased by a Gun Sniper and—oooh, bagels!

"I suppose we'd better go with them...just in case." Jamie carefully picked up the chessboard and followed Bit to the Hover Cargo, trying his best not to let any of the pieces slip. There went a pawn. Oh, dear. "Bit, could you please wait up?"

"Don't worry, I've memorized the board layout already. And I promise not to cheat."

"Show-off."

 

The Liger Zero wasn't wearing a CAS this time. Nay, it was going to stay in its nice pretty white armor. Besides, the Panzer was no good against speedy things, the Schneider not very good for things with guns, and the Jäger was still smashed up. Bit wondered why the Doc hadn't fixed it yet. Usually he was so quick to repair the Liger's pretty shiny armors. Oh, well, maybe he was working on some new project. Leaning back in his seat, Bit watched as Harry's Whale King landed, and the König Wolf fairly pranced out followed by two Command Wolves.

Not just any Command Wolves, mind you. These were gold and silver. Chrome gold and silver, at that. They sparkled. They glittered. They flashed in the afternoon sun like a pair of...shiny Command Wolves. It was really one of those things one had to see for one's self, rather than read about with a bunch of fancy words relating to being shiny. These Wolves weren't just shiny—they ate, slept, and breathed SHINY. Of course, Zoids don't eat, sleep, or breathe, but you get the picture.

"What the heck is he thinking? Those Command Wolves are practically walking targets," Ballad said, the hint of a laugh in his voice.

"What do you expect? It's Harry, remember? He doesn't think!" Rinon leaned forward in her seat, a mad grin crossing her face. "And I'll be getting another chance to blow him up! AH HA HA!"

"I still don't get why we hate him now."

"We just DO, Bit! Besides, he's annoying, and stupid, and he wears a funny coat, and..."

Rinon continued to rant on as the judge set up the battle, Bit rolling his eyes and instead focusing on this new Zoid. The König Wolf...the king of wolf Zoids, Harry had called it. Regardless of name, it was pretty impressive: at least as big as the Liger Zero, and sporting a pair of large booster-cannons on its back. This wouldn't be like the time he fought Harry's Dark Horn, Bit knew. This Wolf looked like it was a creature of speed and agility, the same as his Liger. Of course, if he was going to get a chance to fight it, he'd have to watch out for Rinon—

"Ready, FIGHT!"

As Bit had predicted, the König Wolf was immediately under fire...and easily evading most of it with the aid of its boosters. Hopping from side to side, it flipped down the scope on its neck, covering its face. Why would it be doing that?, Bit wondered. Everyone was in plain view, and it's not like they were allowed to shoot for the cockpit...which was probably beneficial to Harry's health.

"Heh, you're not the only one with fancy attack names now. GO! Super-Ultra-Shiny Buster Strike Flaaare!" Both Command Wolves trotted to the König's side, and fired...not their guns, but their smoke dischargers. Except there wasn't any smoke, just what looked like—

"GAH! BLINDING!" Bit covered his eyes too late as the flares exploded, light reflecting off the shiny wolves in a psychedelic, eye-searing manner. Everything was gold and silver chrome and light and he couldn't SEE.

"Waugh!" Something tearing, and then a crash...sounded like the Gun Sniper.

"YOU BIT OFF ITS LEG! Stupid Wolf! Stupid Harry! I'LL KILL YOU BOTH!!"

Definitely the Gun Sniper, and it was probably going to fire, blind or not. Bit flattened the Liger to the ground, as sure enough, another barrage of missiles went flying every-which-way...including towards the Shadow Fox, which was currently trying to evade an enemy it could see, but its pilot couldn't.

The Command Wolf jumped away as the Fox used its smoke dischargers in an attempt to level the playing field, leaving the Fox to get hit by missiles its pilot now really couldn't see. "This just isn't our week," Ballad said, trying to pick up something on sensors as his vision slowly returned and the smoke cleared. Where were the Command Wolves? And for that matter, where was Harry?

The Fox's radar beeped, and it turned around in time to have a Command Wolf slam into its back, smashing it onto its belly and taking out the gatling gun.

"So much for walking targets. ACK!" The landscape flooded with light again, confusing Ballad long enough for the Wolf to blast the Fox in the back, taking its combat systems off-line.

"Okay, that's it. We now don't like WOLVES either." Ballad sat back and waited for the battle to end, muttering darkly and wishing he could remember where he'd put that pair of sunglasses he'd bought a while back. Or had he loaned them to Naomi? He couldn't remember. The Fox muttered to itself too, although it sounded more like a giant electric can opener in doing so.

 

"Strike...Laser...CLAW!"

"Electric Fang!"

KA-ZOW! The König Wolf had grabbed the Liger's front paw in its teeth, and the two attacks crackled and blazed around each other, electricity and laser, as the Wolf tried to force the Liger's leg back and the Liger tried to knock the wolf down.

Bit leaned on the controls as if he were the one trying to push the Wolf over. "Come on, come on." And then his eyes caught a flashing red light on the display, and Liger rrrfed in warning. No, not those systems again! Bit cursed the earlier battle with Shineryuu that had probably left the Liger's leg still a bit vulnerable. Oh, if only the electric fangs would give out first...

They didn't.

"Uwaaaa!" The Liger's right leg rocked with the force of a few small explosions, and the Wolf jumped free, Harry firing the cannons at the Liger's shoulders and jumping away even as Bit brought the Liger to its feet. It was limping, and the Wolf wasn't. Bit grit his teeth, and then yelped and covered his eyes as one of the Command Wolves, wherever it was, used its flare attack again. Argh, just as his vision had been clearing. Now he could only see spots, spots, the König Wolf lunging for the Liger—woah! The Liger ducked in time, rolling to the side that wasn't injured and firing at the retreating wolf, who jetted to the side with its boosters.

"Looks like for once I have the advantage, eh?"

"Heh...for now, you do, anyway. Come on, Liger!" Roaring, the feline Zoid again returned to its feet, charging Strike Laser Claw...on its hind legs this time. "Yaaah!" The Liger leapt for the Wolf, who boostered away, again out of his reach. Not giving up (when had he ever?), Bit waited for the Wolf to try for another bite—which it did—aiming for the Liger's right shoulder, of course. Hoping the Liger would hold together, Bit took the hit rather than dodging, using the momentum to roll the Liger onto its back. Kicking out viciously with its hind legs, the Liger smacked its claws into the Wolf's hindquarters, sending it twisting back through the air at an unnatural angle.

"Crud!" Releasing the Wolf's hold, Harry jerked it to the side and out of the Liger's reach. Both Zoids lay on the ground for a few seconds before getting up, the Liger favoring its right front leg and the Wolf staggering on damaged hindlegs.

"Ah, a bit more even now, you think?" Bit was still squinting, but it didn't take sharp vision to spot damage like that.

"Argh!" Not bothering to respond, Harry fired at the Liger again and ran as best the Wolf was able. Why hadn't he kept his distance in the first place? Stop running, fire, run, repeat.

The Liger Zero rocked as another blast hit home, Bit not able to dodge properly or catch up with the König Wolf, which danced annoyingly just out of his reach. The stupid thing kept using its boosters when he got close, compensating for its damaged legs. "Heh...don't suppose you could carry the Panzer armor right now, Liger?

No...Bit, next time he fires, we should charge him. Even if we get hit...

"Got it."

Any second now...incoming! WHAM! Staggering yet keeping its feet, the Liger Zero ran towards the Wolf, taking five more shots before it got close enough that Harry realized he'd made a mistake...again. The Wolf sprung away, too slow this time, and the Liger Zero pounced. It wasn't a very impressive pounce—more of a flop, really—but it did the trick, slamming into the Wolf's already damaged hindquarters, one set of the Liger's claws taking off a discharger and the other stopping just short of the booster-cannons.

Had he not been wearing a safety harness that made such things rather difficult, if not impossible, Harry would have been bashing his head against the Wolf's console right now. Stupid, stupid, STUPID. Sure, the Wolf hadn't frozen yet, it was too stubborn for that, but it was only a matter of time before the Liger Zero got up and finished him off. It wasn't like he could go anywhere.

And then he remembered something. Something rather important.

"These things can turn!"

Booster-cannons swiveled around, and Bit found himself wishing that the Liger Zero's neck was somewhere other than it was now.

"Take THIS!"

A single shot rang out, and the unthinkable happened.

Its neck smoking and crackling, the Liger Zero stood for a brief second, and then collapsed in a heap—combat system freeze.

There was silence for a few seconds, and then:

"AH HA HA! I won, I actually WON for once!"

Bit merely stared at the Liger Zero's screen, taking its annoyed growl as a sign that his friend was otherwise okay. He blinked, and then shrugged. "Eh he he...guess you did."

"What? You're not going to...whine or something?"

"No, this was fun! And I should've seen that coming!"

Harry's left eye had started twitching. "You mean you're—"

But before he could finish, he was interrupted by an all-too-familiar voice.

"You haven't won just yet, pal."

"Whaaa? Hey, you were down!"

"Ah, but not frozen. All I had to do was borrow Mach, and bam!" Rinon grinned, her Gun Sniper (which was glowing a rather nice shade of blue, rather like the sky on a clear day...but that's not important right now) taking aim.

"Hey! Judge! Can she do that?"

The judge paused, waiting for a signal back from the database concerning obscure rules. "Sorry, no rules exist concerning your query, therefore none exist prohibiting it."

"But...it's an organoid! If even half of the stories about those things are true, you might as well let them send in another Zoid!"

"Sorry, no rules exis—"

"ARGH!"

"Bye now."

The König Wolf may have been stubborn, but as damaged as it was, it was doomed. A fantastic barrage of fire pelted the thing until something exploded, and it plopped forward, all systems frozen. Were it living, its eyes doubtless would have turned into swirly things, or perhaps Xes. It certainly was not pining for the fjords or any other similar overused expression. Nay, this König Wolf was down for the count.

Harry climbed out of the cockpit, ignoring the judge blasting off after having declared Team Blitz the winner. It didn't matter. His König Wolf was decidedly crisped...and he'd lost. Again. At least this time he'd managed to take Bit down with him. Yeah. Some comfort that was.

Scanning the horizon for Benjamin and Sebastian's Command Wolves, he didn't have far to look...there they lay, in still-smoking piles of shiny scrap metal. Joy. Sitting down on the Wolf's head and leaning against an ear, Harry waited for a Gustav or something to come and drag it back to the Whale King. Oh, look, one of the Command Wolves was on fire.

 

It was rather boring being a sleeper Zoid, the Guysack decided for the fifteen-thousandth-and-twenty-first time. Especially one such as itself. You didn't have much in the way of memory banks. That led to all sorts of annoying things, like forgetting what you were—

Database error. Please re-start.

It was rather boring being a sleeper Zoid indeed. The Guysack sighed—if it was possible for a Zoid to sigh. It was always losing its train of thought that way.

Could it be? A signal?

The little scorpion Zoid poked its head out of the ground, followed by the rest of its body, and launched itself at the rapidly-approaching unidentified blip with a hiss. All it had time to register was a blur of lavender and being swatted aside, and it was back on the ground.

Well, that was different. Of course, if there was no way it could continue pursuit, that meant it was...free? No, better report the incident, even with how little data it had. Scuttling off, the Guysack headed back to civilization. Several weeks later, it would end up scaring a bunch of patrons at a fast-food restaurant that just happened to be built exactly where an old Republic base had been, until someone had the presence of mind to pretend to be a Republican general and convince it that the chain's goofy mascot Death Saurer was not a threat and did not need to be chopped in half.

 

"Vega, I told you this wasn't a good place to test the Fury. It's full of random things like that sleeper Zoid, and—look out!"

The Fury calmly swerved around the remains of a Shield Liger and Saber Tiger, both long-dead, followed by those of several Command Wolves and a Molga or two. Vega lounged impossibly on its head, not only managing to stay on, but not have the wind knocked out of him at speeds that would make most Lightning Saix pilots nervous. All that happened to him was his hair fluttering in what seemed like a strong breeze. Whether this was the Fury's doing, or some stylistic device to make him look cool was unsure...but hey, even if it wasn't the latter, it had that effect.

Crossing his arms behind his head, he watched as the Zoid deployed a buster claw with little pause and sliced through a burnt-out Gojulas that was in its path. Then he remembered that this was probably some historical...battlefield...thing. "Oops. I'll have to go back later and stick it together, or something."

"Vega!"

"Man, Fury, you got me in trouble."

The sleek dinosaur shrugged what little shoulders it had and put on speed, skimming around blasted pieces of who-knows-what-Zoids like a skier would around poles.

"Well, it's nice to be able to fly again, eh?" Vega leaned back on the Fury's head, ignoring Sarah yelling about the Gojulas for now. It was far too nice a day to worry about that.

 

"If he reads me one more draft of that poem, I swear."

"At least you aren't painted pink."

"Would you stop bringing that up?" The Wolf glared at the Leoblaze that was pestering it. It seemed annoyingness was rampant around here. At least its pilot was annoying only half of that time and showed signs of actually having a brain when he wasn't. This cat...thing...that his sister had bought was just plain an airhead.

"Anyway, I thought I'd make up a poem too! Do you want to hear it?" The Leoblaze sat down, the gatling gun on its back clattering as it shifted into an impossible position on the floor to avoid stabbing its tail blade through the ledge it was perched on. Without waiting for an answer, it continued. "There once was a Molga from New Helic City/That was painted blue, so very pretty..."

Okay, that was it. If someone needed to talk to it later, tough beans. The Wolf sent its systems into a full shutdown, diverting all power to self-healing...especially its legs. The last thing it heard was something about the Molga meeting a dancing Pteras named Ferdinand.

 

"Man, Liger...this time I'm gonna double-check to make sure that those systems in your leg are working right."

Bit was currently polishing the last few scorch marks out of the sleek off-white armor, which the Liger happened to not be wearing at the moment, as he had taken it off to fix it up. The Jäger, still broken—still!—was next on his list. Refusing to stay naked for that long, the Liger had insisted on donning the Schneider for the time being. While the Schneider was elegant and very pointy and deadly, it also made for a few awkward moments, like when the Liger had run to the hangar door to greet someone and nearly skewered them. And to make matters worse, the doughnuts it had sensed (the Liger was trained in the art of such things) had been not for its pilot, but a gift for that noisy Gun Sniper one, who had apparently locked the main door. The Liger had apologized and offered to carry the doughnuts (and attached note, doubtless containing a love letter or the like) to the Gun Sniper to be passed on to its pilot, but it hadn't gone over well.

"Hey, hand me that, will you?" Bit gestured vaguely towards the group of tools in a pile near the Liger, the feline Zoid somehow understanding which one he meant. With a careful grace it flipped the top blade on its head down, caught...er, whatever the thing Bit wanted was, it wasn't sure...with the tip, and flicked it neatly though the air to him.

BONK!

"Owwww, Liger, you missed!"

So maybe it needed to work on its aim. It was close enough, right? Moving the blade back into its usual place, the Liger Zero suddenly stiffened with alarm. Something was wrong. Very wrong. What that something was, it wasn't sure, but it had this nagging feeling at the edge of its senses that insisted not all was right with the universe. The Liger growled, even as Bit caught the tail end of his partner's worrying and stood up.

"What is it, buddy?"

"Not sure. And incoming transmission...on my systems?"

Bending its head down and opening its cockpit, the Liger Zero waited for Bit to get in before switching the communication systems on. Vega, of all people, appeared on the monitor...upside-down. "Hey, Bit!"

"What's wrong?"

"What do you mean, what's wrong?" Vega said, blinking. "Nothing's wrong."

"Oh...but Liger was sensing something ominous."

Correction, Bit. I was picking up the error in that signal's transmission, nothing more. The Liger 'sounded' embarrassed, and continued sheepishly. Sorry about that.

"Argh, is this thing wonky again? I thought they fixed everything, but the comm's been acting up. Am I showing up in neon orange?"

"No, you're upside-down."

"Well, that's a new one." Vega muttered, jabbing the controls with a finger. The transmission flipped over, but was now the neon orange color Vega had described. "Anyway, want to have a rematch?" In the background of the transmission, Bit could hear an interested rumble from the Fury, and then one from his Liger in return.

"Cool, sure! And yeah, now you're all orange-y."

"Greh. Stupid thing! Well, not now, I hafta test this thing a little more, according to Sarah." Vega stuck his tongue out at the screen, a reminder that while he might pilot a Zoid like a skilled veteran, at heart he was actually a little kid—a genius, yes, but a kid. "And besides, don't you want to wait until Liger's at its best too? I heard it got all smashed up...by Harry."

"Yeah, yeah, rub it in, why don't you. Thpthhhh." Bit mimicked Vega's earlier gesture. After all, he acted more like a little kid at heart, too. "How's the end of this week?"

"Fine. See you there. And I'll be bringing a little surprise with me as well. Ah ha ha!" Vega chuckled, and then switched off the comm before Bit had a chance to ask about it.

"Awwww, man! He did that on purpose! Now I'll have to wait forever to find out what it is when we fight him."

"Grrrroar."

"Oh, yeah. We...I should probably tell the others about this too, huh?"

 

"What do you mean, we're fighting Vega again?"

"Vega? Isn't he the one with the other Ultimate X? I can't remember its name. Something with umlauts."

"I like umlauts."

Well, it seemed that the rest of the team already knew.

"Hey, Bit, you'll never guess who just cal—"

"I know!" Bit said, interrupting Jamie. "Vega! All right, another chance to fight him! And oh, hi, Rinon, I havetogogetLigerreadynow..."

"Biiiit! It's not until next week! Get back here!"

"Nooooo!"

"...well, anyway. We were discussing the issue of me getting half of Bit's share of the prize money, yes? After all, the last time I faced our friend and his oh-so-cuddly lavender dino, the Shadow Fox kind of...you know...got a wee bit damaged?" Ballad was sitting at the table with a coffee mug in one hand and a forgotten pen in the other. The crossword puzzle he'd been doing had been commandeered by Mach when Vega had called, and the organoid was nearly finished with it by now.

"No, we were talking about umlauts. Do you know a five-character word that goes with 21 down?"

 

Time passed. To say that it passed uneventfully would be a lie indeed, but to also detail everything that happened would be really, really boring. Who wants to hear about how Team Lightning and some guy in a Godos singlehandedly stopped the return of the Neo Backdraft before it even began? Especially since that didn't happen. Team Lightning was actually on vacation, and they'd decided to—oh, wait. This is about Team Blitz. Okay. Back to the base, for the umpteenth time.

 

The corridors and hallways of the base lay curiously empty—even the hangar was empty. The Command Wolf of DOOM! no longer lay sprawled out in a heap on the floor, waiting for mysterious weapons systems to be fixed. The Liger Zero wasn't scaring any more delivery boys, the Gun Sniper...okay, okay, so the base was empty. The reason for this was simple.

Today was the day.

Rematch and all that exciting stuff.

And while the narrator had been babbling, Team Blitz had already left in the Hover Cargo at top speed, heading for an area with similar terrain to where the Liger and the Fury first fought, sans smashed-up Ultrasaurus and the like. Oops.

"Arewethereyet?"

"No. Bit, stop bouncing the Liger on the launch ramp. You're going to break something...or get a blade stuck in the systems."

The Liger Zero still wore the Schneider armor, even though the base armor was now usable. Bit figured that if the Fury had a surprise in store, an e-shield might come in handy. Plus, the Liger had said that the blades suited such a situation. Whatever that meant. Man, this was boring.

"Okay, now we're there. Bit? BIT?"

The Liger Zero had decided to leave already, the Hover Cargo's door thankfully opening automatically. Not even waiting for the launch ramp, it had bounded over the Hover Cargo's head and out onto the field.

"He'd better not have scratched anything." Standing only to walk over to another chair, Doc watched as the Liger was joined by the Gun Sniper and the Shadow Fox. Jamie would join them later if he was needed. As would Shineryuu...if she got her Wolf fixed in time.

"Mach, give me a hand, will you? Put down that book of crossword puzzles, you can do them later."

"I'm coming, I'm coming."

 

"And so it begins, eh?" Bit waited for the judge to arrive, impatient as ever. He stared at the Fury, whose ruby-red eyes blazed with a similarly eager light. It seemed to stare back. He wondered if it could sense that he was staring at it, and then decided that Liger was probably staring too, which made more sense.

"BIT! INCOMING!"

The judge capsule crashed down dangerously close to the Fury and the Schneider, which both had intelligence enough to bound out of the way. "Hey, watch it, mister judge-man!"

"My apologies. The guidance systems have been acting up on these things, I'm really not sure why. Well, at least I got here, unlike last time. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to be expecting to set up a battle and then find that there's no one there and THEN find that it's because you're LOST? And—"

"GET ON WITH IT!"

"No need to be so impatient. Pilots these days are so impatient. You want a battle? Fine? Ready, fight. Happy?"

"...well, that was different." Ballad said, the Fox yipping in confusion.

"Yes, yes, it was. So is this thing like...started now?"

"Yes, oh impatient kid with eggbeater-wearing dino. It is." The judge, still sulking, crossed its arms and turned its back on them. "I said ready, fight, what more do you want?"

"Okayyyy."

"Well, then...WHEEE!" Rinon's Gun Sniper ran forward before either of the two rivals could react, and fired everything it had at a surprised Fury, which dodged by flinging itself to one side, boosters on full.

"Not so fast!" She fired again, but this time, the Fury lifted one set of claws, whipping them apart and raising an e-shield, which easily absorbed the barrage of missiles and whatnot...although a few wayward projectiles grazed its armor, causing minor damage that at best probably only amounted to scorched paint. Raising its other buster claw and almost casually charging it, the Berserk Fury aimed it at the Gun Sniper and fired...only to have the beam glance off the Schneider's e-shield as it leapt in front of the Sniper.

"Don't think me saving you means I'm in love with you, or something."

"Yes it does! See, I knew you cared!"

The Schneider growled as the Fury fired for the Fox, and the feline Zoid blocked the beam once more. It didn't like people chasing its pilot.

"Doesn't!" Abandoning its first strategy for now, the Fury jetted forward, trying to ram the Schneider, which bounded out of the way. The tyran Zoid stabbed for it with a buster claw, missing by a few feet.

"Does toooo, sweetie!"

"Would you STOP that?" The Fury stabbed for the Liger again, whacking into its shield. "You're gonna make me nauseous, or something." The Liger countered another claw-stab with its face blades, scoring a lucky hit and throwing the Fury off-balance. "ARGH!"

"Hey, Rinon, keep it up! Mushy stuff distracts him!"

"Shut up, mister heart-eyes."

The Schneider snapped for the blades before Vega could recover, catching them in its mouth. "This thing has laser FANGS too!"

Vega charged the blades, but not in time, as the Liger sliced into them with its own charged teeth, ripping off their tips and tilting the claw-arm at an awkward angle.

"Grrr..." The Fury turned its head as the Liger rolled away, and bit off the rest of its left buster claw. A half-functional one would only slow him down, Vega surmised...and he could always do this.

"Yaah!" Whipping around, the Fury spat out the still-sparking claw at the Shadow Fox, which had been trying for a sneak attack. It hit the Fox square in the chest, and it flopped to the ground with a squeak, its jump cut short. "Nice try."

The Schneider tried for a Buster Slash seconds later, and met shield...at least until it collapsed, Vega jumping back in time and the Schneider ending up hitting the ground nose-first. Rolling out of the way of an attempt to stomp on its neck, the cat Zoid got back on its feet and swiped at the Fury with its claws, driving it back. Hissing, the Fury jetted to one side, turning the motion into a spin and whacking the Schneider across its left flank with its tail.

"Ooof!" The Liger rocked with the impact, being thrown onto its belly. Something had gone snap. Bit looked at the console. Great, he was now short a face blade and one of the side ones. And that face blade tearing off probably had hurt the shield...yep, there it was, blinking at him in annoying red letters that the shield strength would be compromised, and that the solitaire game would no longer function.

"Bit! Get back here! You need to change armor!"

"Doc, I don't think I'd do any better in the regular armor or the Panzer than I am now."

"No, this is a new armor! I was going to tell you about it so you could test it and stuff, but you kept disappearing."

"Well, that's not exactly MY fault...but okay, Doc, I'm heading back now. Guys, cover for me!" And with that, the Schneider ran like mad for the Hover Cargo, leaving the rest of the team staring down the Berserk Fury.

"Not again..." Ballad mumbled, and the Fox growled. "Shineryuu, will you get that Wolf out here!?"

"I'm working on it! No, Mach, I need that rock. Anyway, you guys hold on!"

"Easy for her to say, she hasn't had her Zoid's leg chopped off what...four times now?"

"Could we get back to the fight now?" The Fury, equally impatient, was tapping one hindclaw in the dust. It would much rather be fighting the Liger again, but these Zoids would have to do for now.

 

Bit stared at the new armor as the Hover Cargo's systems started to place it on the Liger. And stared...and...

"Er. Doc? Do I have to use this? It's...uh."

"Never mind that, it's nice and powerful. And what do you mean, it's 'uh'? It's shinyyy."

Bit shrugged and decided he could live with it. The Flauschig, as it was apparently called, did look strong, and that was what mattered, not that it was—woah, finishing. Time to focus on the battle again.

The Liger Zero, now sporting its new coat of armor, flew from the Hover Cargo in a flash of shinyness as Bit yelled:

"Go! FLAUSCHIG!"

 

I say, what an exciting battle. Too bad I'm barely even IN IT. Come on, Liger, you can beat him! Hurry up, Wolf. And the Fury's got a new set of armor too? Eh, that doesn't sound too good...hang on, guys! Next Zoids New Century Slash Zero...A Parting of Ways! The Wind, the Clouds, and a Disgruntled Shadow Fox! Ready, FIGHT!


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