Disclaimer: I do not own Zoids.

New Age
Celebration! Blow-Out After the Royal Cup!

"And last of all, I propose a toast. To competition, to challenges new and old, friendship and glory, but most of all, I propose a toast to Bit Cloud and the Blitz Team!" Leon Tauros shouted, earning a number of cheersfrom those gathered. All of six hours ago, the impossible became reality, Bit Cloud had defeated Vega Obscura in one of the most epic battles since the days of the first Royal Cup over a century earlier. From there, it`d been nothing short of a chaotic celebration. The Blitz Team had foregone the parade option for various reasons, settling instead on the more intimate idea of using a local resturaunt on the edge of the town near the Blitz Team`s home base to host a party composed of close friends and former opponents.

The crowd that had gathered there was as varied and eclectic as the tournament itself had been. Members of virtually every significant or memorable team the Blitz had faced off with in the past were present, from both members of the Fluegel Team to the Fuzzy Pandas/Zaber Fangs/Sabre Tigers/Tigers Team to Vega Obscura and Stigma Stoller, everyone was gathered in celebration. Even then though, old rivalries played themselves out as Vega and Bit played a game of checkers against one another, practically ignorant of the toast that had just been made while Leena and Naomi tried to best one another repeatedly in every arcade game they could get their hands on, though it was probably the first time the two were actually benign in their competition.

Leon lowered his glass and gingerly took a sip, he`d never been one for alchohol but tonight was a rare exception to the rule. Brad Hunter did the same, as did most of the others present at the celebration. The tender, a grizzled looking fellow by the name of Harabec(though most everyone had come to nickname him 'Beck' for the evening) was actually having to strain to keep up with all of the orders, the others who worked there weren`t doing much better but they managed.

As for the two 'stars' of the night?

Bit and Vega were still deadlocked in a game of checkers. "Your move," Vega commented, sipping his drink through a straw. "I`m thinkin`, gimme a minute," Bit replied, taking a bite out of the thirteenth chili dog he`d ordered. Perhaps it wasn`t that odd but for some reason, Bit Cloud was impossible to fill up tonight. "I`ve given ya five, now make a move already you old git," Vega chided jokingly. "Ah shyeddap ya whipper shnapper," Bit replied, going along with it if only to get a kick out the way Vega blew half of his drink out of his nose and fell otu of his chair as a result.

"Works everytime," the new champion thought, taking a split second to cheaply switch around several pieces and give himself an advantage. By the time Vega had scraped himself off of the floor with the help of an over-attentive young woman with green hair by the name of Abbie, Bit had completed the trick, and calmly proceeded to move another of the game pieces as the younger opponent settled back into his chair.

"Your move," Bit said with a nod. "Holy... Look over there! Dude! Leon just ripped Naomi`s top off!" Vega gaped. Bit, being the idiot savant he was, quietly did as Vega had yelled, giving the boy just enough time to rearrange the pieces once again in such a way that left them deadlocked like before, though this time Vega was intent on having just a slight advantage. "No he didn`t," Bit mumbled, turning back towards the table to find the pieces rearranged again with Vega only smiling knowingly at him.


"Like an open book,"
Vega thought, practically saying it with his expression. "Oh, like you`re much better?" Bit seemed to ask back with an expression or two of his own, focusing again on the game while Vega returned to sipping his drink.


"Sounds like Leena finally got one on Naomi," Jamie commented monotonously. "And this surprises you?" Leon asked. "Five... Four..." Brad began to count down, taking another sip of his beer before beginning to eat. "Three... Two... One."


"So much for that victory," Jamie and Brad said in unison. "And this surprises you?" Leon asked again in one of those 'what else is new?' voices. "Sounds like they got one heck of a rivalry," Beck commented, finally finding a few seconds to stand still and polish off a glass. "Oh, they try to kill each other every other week," Brad replied as if it was as simple as giving the weather. "... Yeah, that sounds like a heck of a rivalry," Beck said with a nod.

Laughter shortly erupted through the resturaunt as Omari, one of the Zaber Fangs, attempted to breakdance - with the allowance of the staff of course - only to land with a crash on his head and stiffly fall over. If not for the fact he actually got up with a slightly dazed looking grin, most of the people would have thought he was hurt.

Then there were those like Stigma, the Tasker Sisters, Jack Sisco and Pierce, all of whom had gathered up and were generally just monitoring the chaos with looks of amusement while playing cards or eating. It seemed Jack and Stigma had hit it off quite nicely, while the Tasker Sisters and Pierce had formed their own little card team and were presently busy racking up the wins on anyone who had the gall to play against them. If not for the benevolent nature of the party, a good many people would likely be leaving with their wallets empty.

In fact, out of everyone present only a few people who could have or would have been there seemed to be missing. Chief among these were Steve Tauros, Oscar Hameros, Harry Champ and Sarah Obscura, the latter of which had a viable excuse given that she and virtually everyone else who had been affiliated with the Backdraft Group but Pierce, Stigma, Doctor Leyon and Vega were all in jail at present.

Harry happened to be in the hospital, while nobody particularly knew where Oscar or Steve were.

They`d all probably keel over if they did.

Padre Medical Center, better known as 'that hospital for Zoid pilots.' Owned and operated by the Zoid Battle Commission, Padre Medical Center was a place where Doctor Steven Tauros had found himself several times before. Both of his children had been born here, his parents had given birth to him here, his wife, Rina, had regretfully died here and currently, this was the one place where he could settle an old score without that score running off somehow.

Cracking open the hospital door and ignoring the flailing, still-slightly irate Harry Champ, who was presently frothing at the mouth that he`d lost his chance to propose to Leena at a parade or some other massive event. He was here for more serious reasons than to check up on his daughter`s favorite plaything.

Stepping through the path between the dozen or so beds and finding himself greeted by a slightly overweight, reasonably muscled figure about his own height but a good bit wider, the Doc paused again. "Still smoking, eh, Oscar?" He asked, recieving a smirk in reply. "Hanging around Leyon on morphine after major surgery is enough to drive enough to smoke," Oscar stated with a shrug. "Ain`t that the truth," Steve agreed wholeheartedly. "He awake yet?" He asked. "He was awake a little while ago, but the pain killers got to him again... Seems as though he got lucky this time," Oscar answered.

"How bad was it?" Steve asked, grabbing a chair and pulling it up to the door. Oscar shook his head and took a drag from his cigarette before answering. "Internal bleeding from the stomach, ruptures on two or three internal organs, one of his kidneys might need to be removed, possibly a bit of damage to one of his testicles - " "That was a bit more than I needed to know." " - Four of his ribs and his collarbone are all cracked, he lost a few of his back teeth on the right side, black eye, nearly broke his nose, busted his forehead, got a third degree concussion, blew out an ear drum, broke an arm..."

"... Jesus Oscar, how the hell is Leyon still alive?" Steve asked in disbelief. "He`s too stubborn to die, you know that probably better than me... Christ, I still remember the time you two put each other in the hospital over Rina," Oscar answered with a shake of the head.

"Don`t remind me," Steven muttered annoyedly. "Yeah, he really bit the bullet this time. Leena okay?" Oscar asked. "Yeah, she got out of it without a scratch... I owe Leyon big time for this," Steve exclaimed gruffly. "Yeah. Wanna see if he`s awake now?" Oscar asked, snuffing his cigarette out on his thumb and dropping it into the ash tray beside him. "You still do that?" Steve asked. "Old habits die hard, especially the filthy ones. Ready?"

"As I`ll ever be."

A few seconds passed and Oscar gently slid the door open, stepping inside the private room that they`d recently moved Leyon into and immediately turning towards the downed figure on the bed. Leyon was still out like a rock, though he was holding the remote with his good hand while his opposite arm was held up in a cast and sling above the bed. It wasn`t a pretty sight given he`d actually been uninjured enough to laugh a few hours earlier.

"Keep your voice down," Oscar said as an after thought, stepping aside and allowing Steve in before shutting the door and glancing down at the unconcious scientific genius in the bed. "Worse than you described him," Doc muttered under his breath. "Want me to let you take over for the night so you can settle it in private when he wakes up?" Oscar asked. "No but you can go order us all something to eat - assuming they`ll let him," Steven answered, settling down into the recliner next to Leyon`s bed and kicking a leg up into his lap.

It was going to be a long night, but that was okay with Oscar and Steven, all that was left was for Leyon to wake up.

Another hour had passed as the party continued before finally dying down, ending with Brad having defeated the Tasker Sisters, Jack, Naomi and Leena all at cards, Bit and Vega having taken their checkers game to a new level by playing five at once with Bit somehow pulling a win off and everyone going home happy and a tad inebriated save for the aforementioned Brad Hunter.

He had opted to stay behind and get something to eat while everyone else headed off. It`d been a choice made because of the simple reason that he hadn`t exactly finished his meal earlier before answering a challenge from the Tasker Sisters to play cards.

Brad Hunter wasn`t a major gambling man, but he had the luck and skill of a pro at it, plus he had come to enjoy games of money, chance and skill during his days as a mercenary, a job he had recently left to pursue his career as a member of the Blitz Team, though he would likely take at least a temporary leave to join the Fluegel team during the next Royal Cup several years down the road.

As it stood though, Brad had been a bit lazy tonight, ordering his food from the table he was at and idly shuffling cards while most of the staff had left for the night, leaving only Harabec to clean things upand cook up a breakfast dinner for his last customer of the night. He preferred to close things himself after all, Davids was a pretty understanding employer and most of his workers were local college students, leaving him to handle work during most of the day, which wasn`t a trouble given how light business usually was. For some reason though, the resturaunt always made just enough money to stay in business successfully.

The doorbell jingled several times and a new figure entered. He was about the same height as Brad himself, probably a little taller, definately just as lanky though, and wearing a black pair of jeans with a matching long sleeved shirt and a dark blue vest, along with a black baseball cap. The figure bore a passive resemblance to Harabec, but he was obviously younger. "Hey! Beck! Abbie here?" The fellow called out. "No! She went home a few minutes ago!" Came the reply from the kitchen.

"Damn," the newcomer grumbled, turning to leave before something caught his eye.

"Gambling man?" He asked. "From time to time," Brad answered. "You?" He asked a few seconds afterward, shuffling the cards patiently. "Every chance I get. I`m Marcus by the way, you?" The newcomer asked, introducing himself and pulling up a chair. "Brad," the Blitz Team member answered coolly, leaned back a bit in his seat. "How big a gambler are you?" Brad asked. "I`ve bet ownership of my Gustav before, you?"

"Usually small bets but I`m on a roll tonight... Say I bet you ownership of my Zoid against yours?" Brad asked. "What Zoid you got?" Marcus replied, leaning forward. "The Shadow Fox."

Marcus seemed to pause in disbelief. "Brad Hunter?"

"One and only."

"You`re on. I always wanted to try my hand at Zoid battling," Marcus replied with a competitive smirk, scooting right up to the table. "Shuffle up and set down the cards," he ordered, taking his cap off and setting it onto the table. "With pleasure. Hope your job doesn`t need a Zoid," Brad smirked. "I`m quittin` if I win or lose anyway, Zoid trucking is a good paying job but I need something with better pay... Like the wins from Zoid battles."

"Lemme guess," Brad smugly paused, setting down the shuffled up deck onto the table and continuing. "She`s named Abbie, dark green hair, pale complexion, nice build, works here as a waitress, attends a local college and has a severe distaste of Zoid pilots," he deduced. "You a stalker?" Marcus asked wearily. "No, just good at reading people. She didn`t exactly hold a lot of love for us when she was serving earlier and the college thing is a lucky guess since most of the people who work here seem to attend one or another and knew her better than an on-the-job acquaintance," Brad answered. "Pays to be good at reading people when you`re a merc," he added.

"Well, after you," Marcus offered. The game began in earnest shortly afterward.

"Did I mention she kept mumbling about her 'Markie?'"

"... Just shut up and deal already."

End Prologue

Author`s Note: Full A/N next chapter.