Disclaimer: I don`t own Zoids. Consider this disclaimer valid for the whole damn story :P
Foreword: I advise reading New Age before reading this story, most of the backplot is mentioned/built up over the course of it and you`re missing serious chunk of everything without it.
Oh, and listen to the long version of Requiem for a Dream while you`re reading this chapter >_> It fits quite nicely.
Requiem for a Dream
All in all, the Blitz Team had been rattled out of their collective stupor in a horribly ruthless sort of way, but in truth: It certainly beat the hell out of being killed.
"That thing would`ve ripped out the guts of the HoverCargo," Steven announced dryly, a bit of awe inherent to his voice. Brad grimaced and Jamie just rubbed the sore side of his head. Leena on the other hand...
"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!"
"The end of the world," Brad replied with a dry, utterly serious tone.
"Looks like they`ve nailed the Judge Satellites too," Steven added before Jamie or his daughter could even try to ask anything else.
"What do you mean?" Leon asked, glancing over at Naomi from where his eyes had formerly been glued to the radio. The woman was utterly somber, merely raising a sleeved arm and pointed up with one finger. Leon followed the direction until he was staring straight into the night sky, where a dozen faintly visible fireballs were waiting to be seen, each one a mixture of fading blue and deathly orange, vague shockwaves rippling off of each one.
It was almost beautiful, in a disturbing sort of way.
"Isn`t there a city or a town close by?" Leon asked, something stirring briefly in his voice. Whatever it was, Naomi only heard a faintness of it that sent a chill down her spine, and whether that was a good chill or a bad chill, she didn`t know.
"Romeo City, Leon. We`ve only been traveling there for three hours," she answered sarcastically. Leon nodded, mostly to himself. "I don`t think I`m going to stay on course though... The biggest city in the neutral zone isn`t exactly a good place to avoid getting nailed to a wall, right about now," she thoughtfully pointed out with the strategic tone of a soldier, though she`d never actually had any military experience.
"Then you can drop me off now. And my Liger," Leon replied, already undoing his seatbelt. Naomi facefaulted.
"If that place is a target, it`s going to need a defense," the older of the Tauros siblings exclaimed with the same fire that had once burned in the heart of Dan Fleiheit, one of his own ancestors.
"Are you nuts?"
"Is it insane to want to keep innocent people from getting slaughtered?" Leon asked, even the Gustav ground to a halt, the cockpit flipping open with a gasp of air. The cold, humid air of the desert at night stung like a bee for several seconds, and in that time, nothing but a deafening silence could be heard. Finally, Naomi answered.
"No, but would they do the same for you?"
"If you don`t help, you`re no better than the cockroaches you love snuffing out," Leon stated, hopping out of the cockpit without another word. By the time that Naomi had finished thinking up a comeback -
"Let`s go, Blade Liger!"
- Leon had already climbed into the cockpit of the Red Blade Liger, which was swift and agile in darting off and around the the trailers of the Gustav, as well as the Gustav itself, before taking off at a full run for Romeo City.
"I guess things are beginning early," Leyon muttered to himself, leering up uneasily into the early evening sky. It was just the kind of incident he`d been planning for all along, of course. Being an evil rogue Zoid scientist meant that he had to be prepared for any and all utterly unlikely events that most people would correctly deem utterly insane and not worth their team to even think about.
Of course half the joys of being an evil rogue Zoid scientist was when you were actually proven right in your seeming insanity. Then again, the end of the world as he had known it didn`t quite cause Doctor Leyon to break into doing the funky chicken and mockingly laughing like a cheap prick at all of the people who had called him a dangerous psychopath through the past oh say... Thirteen or fourteen years or so, but it was a tempting prospect for him...
"... Nahhhh," he muttered to himself, chucking the half-empty box of ramen noodles off to the side and then leaning back in his desk chair. Now why he was in his desk chair, eating ramen noodles in the middle of the early evening out in the desert was anyone`s guess, but the Whale King, Empress Heart(an old nickname he`d given to the late Rina Tauros), sat not too far in the background. It was a small Whale King, not like his old flying fortress of a carrier. No, that particular Zoid was now out of his and anyone else`s reach for the time being. Emphasis on the time being, of course.
"I guess I did good to make s`many preparations..." He mused, thinking to two particular projects of interest. The Duality Project that had spawned the Shadow Fox, and then Project Blue. With a grave, knowing grin, the supposedly mad scientist stood up, resolving to watch the end of the world on his feet for once.
And then he looked around.
No one was watching...
"WHO`S RIGHT NOW, ASSCLOWNS?!"
And with that, Leyon Martin broke into dancing the funky chicken and mockingly laughing like a cheap prick.
There was a stir within the back of a specially modified cryogenics trailer being towed as part of a five Zoid convoy by an unmarked, mostly white-colored Gustav, standard issue by the lack of heavy armament or reinforced crab-like all terrain legs like some models of the Zoid. It was being accompanied by four unmarked Godos Zoids, each of which was also apparently unmodified, despite being military issue.
The problem with the trailer was that the cryogenics were geared primarily for Zoid cores, no one had ever really bothered to try and find out how the Ancient Zoidians had crafted the pods that held so few of the once millions-strong species known as the Organoids.
Such was why, whenever Borealis stirred even slightly, the three armed guards in the chamber they were keeping the half-asleep creature in would all take aim at an assumed kill spot. Nevermind the fact that many Organoids - particularly the younger ones - were close to bullet proof. The chamber was kept frigid of course, all three of the men were having to wear specially crafted bio-warfare capable heat suits, their only fields of vision being directly in front, and even that was partially obscured since the plastic goggles they wore kept fogging up every few seconds.
Finally though, the red-black-and-blue Organoid stirred once more, managing to get to it`s feet in a daze. All three leveled their guns assertively, Borealis was too busy shaking the frost off of himself to even pay attention to them.
"Sir... The thing is waking up..."
"Don`t shoot it unless it attacks," a voice responded through the iced-over loudspeaker.
What hit me?
Suddenly, a foul screech echoed around the convoy, and almost instantly, every one of the Godos went down in flames, a single green streak plowing through the lot of them before slamming down through the glass of the Gustav`s cockpit and drilling through to the ground, killing the pilot instantly in the process. Safety mechanisms did the rest, and the Zoid ground to a halt seconds later, all three guards suddenly terrified in the extreme.
"I don`t like this..." One of the guards said, pulling down his mask and frantically searching around in one of his pockets as the cryogenics stasis unit shut down completely, then removing a pack and a lighter. A few seconds later, he took a deep drag off of his cigarette. It left him frigid from the neck up, but at least it calmed him down a bit.
"I-" He was cut off from continuing further as a new Voice filled the minds of all three. Normally they wouldn`t have heard it, but an Organoid`s true Voice was audible to anything with a mind, while it`s other voice tended to be audible only to it`s Bound partner.
You? You`ve been havin` a bad day, haven`t`cha? Borealis began, though the Organoid seemed to be trembling every few seconds in the cold. Ya been DRAFTED OUT OF A FUCKING PEACEFUL life to come drag my sorry inhuman ass OUT OF THE GOD DAMNED DIRT after I have a NERVOUS BREAKdown, and hey, that cigarette is looking MIGHTY FUCKING GOOD right about NOW!
All three of the men stared blankly.
Wanna SHARE IT OR I`LL KILL all of you, a pause due to a random twitch, then it continued, excuse my language, I`m just a HARMLESS ORGANoid, yanno? Just makin` my way through life with NO PROBlems, did I mention I`m a harmless, GOOD NATURED LITTLE FRIEND of all LIFE, both TECHNO and ORGANIC!?
All three continued to stare, finally starting to exchange glances at each other in worried, disbelieving silence.
Yanno? I just I just I just, OH GOD MY EYES ARE MOVING INDEPENDENTLY and hey, looky there, an ASSAULT RIFLE is AIMED at my FACE! Borealis announced as all three leveled their guns on his snout, ready to fire in an instant, even though fear and disbelief held them back. Oh god, oh god, oh mother of - MY RIGHT CLAW HAS JUST VANI-oh wait, there it is - god, just DON`T KILL me!
Yanno, I`m just havin` a suitably BAD FUCKING DAY right about now - my best friend`s probably gone clinically insane with a murderous rage, my old bond-pal has snapped and gone utterly ballistic, she`s probably either dead or something just about now, my right eye`s blind from frostbite and my balls that I don`t even have are HURTING very badly and clanking together since they`d probably be made of SOLID high GRADE STEEL, BEHBEH!!! ... If I had them, that is, SOOOOO anyway, why don`t ya be a nice little human and give your new pal, Bore-FUCKING-alis a nice, long drag off the ol` deathstick, WILL YOU?!
The Organoid leaned forward with a howl, all three men dropped their guns and screamed, though the apparent leader also dropped his cigarette. Borealis lunged for it, but it was at about that time when the side of the trailer shattered from an external impact, which materialized itself in the form of a green tinted Organoid who held a certain resemblance to mandible-lacking Specular, landing on the ground with an agile crouch even as the cigarette came to half-way through it`s inevitable fall.
Gravity was fast, Borealis was quick, Spectacle was incomprehensible, diving forward again with an echoing, mechanical growl, it`s clawed hands shooting out at the exact moment and locking firmly onto Borealis` tail, just as a green aura shot out in slow motion around the first Organoid, shifting until it was nothing but a number of green spheres on the two jet units on it`s back, both of which promptly exploded into a full blown, fiery exhaust trail -
How wayward the young can be...
- and promptly shredding back out through the opposite side of the trailer, blowing another hole through another fifteen inches of reinforced titanium alloy in the process, dragging along Borealis for the ride.
MY CIGARETTE! DAMN IT!
... Wayward indeed...
The two Organoids soon vanished over the horizon of the evening sky.
The middle of the blasted out, smoking ruins of what had once been one of the most important temples on ancient Zi, now little more than a glassed over look into the flames of Hell itself as two tyrannid Zoids slugged it out, two Organoids waging a mental war with one another and two pilots - brothers and enemies at once - seeking nothing short of each other`s mutual demise in the process.
Sparks lit the night, two thunderous roars and one colossal impact as the Razorwind touched down from a jump, the Geno Saurer skidding backwards to a halt in front of it. The two didn`t seem evenly matched in the slightest - the Razorwind was geared chiefly towards close range, bearing out six fierce looking laser saws, each humming distinctly and attached to primary arms like those of the basic Berserk Fury, while a Geno Breaker-styled horn extended out from the forehead, sparking off with bits of electricity in it`s own fashion. A pair of forward-curved blades at the tip of either side of the tail and Geno Saurer-like add-on claws to the hands completed the blue Fury`s dangerous armament, obviously geared towards melee rather than generalized combat like the Geno.
"Let`s go," Vega ordered angrily, charging forward with a howl of the thrusters in the Fury`s legs. Kale was a bit faster, only barely avoiding the three saws on the Razorwind`s left side, and even then having to lunge backwards in order to avoid a lethal swipe from the tail, which itself lead to another swipe from the saws.
"New armor, same pathetic skills," the older Obscura growled out, pulling the trigger as the Geno bent forward, bringing every gun in his arsenal to bear. The Fury rocked back as pulse cannons and heavy artillery rounds both slammed into it`s chest, halting the previous speed it`d displayed in it`s agile bladed dance and leaving Vega to have to work to recover, which he did with a masterful skill beyond his years in every way, bringing the Fury to speed sideways out of the line of fire and then booster jumping straight up when Kale tried to follow.
To the mutual surprise of both brothers, Kale didn`t predict what Vega was about to do.
In mid-air, Vega changed course, zooming down to the ground in front of his brother and lashing out with a virtual whirlwind of lethal, super heated chain-blades, scoring a direct slash across the right shoulder of the Geno Saurer. It was superficial damage, at best, but it did the trick thanks to Kale`s reflexes.
The smaller of the two tyrannids lunged back, the larger rooted itself firmly to the floor, saws twisting into a pair of veritable tornadoes of whirling death in the process.
"What`s wrong Kale, can`t hit me anymore?"
"You`ve improved a bit. Not enough though," Kale growled out in reply.
Both Zoids crouched low and prepared to attack again...
There are too god damned many of them!
"I think I realized that by now!" Bit shouted back at his Organoid, even as the Liger rocked from yet another volley of impacts across it`s now brutalized body. Armor that had once glistened white had been tarnished a solid, charred black, blast marks were visible all over the once glorious Zoid, and even the pilot was starting to show wear and tear, sweat running in buckets down his face and chest, and everywhere else. Zeke was in agony, a red battle haze having overcome him by now.
Dodging wouldn`t have been a problem in most conditions, even under the Liger`s presently outnumbered, outgunned status, Bit could have managed to dodge at least half of the incoming shots - the catch was that he could only manage such a task when not surrounded on all sides.
And the bigger catch on top of this was that reinforcements kept pouring in by the truckload. Bit could have sworn that he`d taken down at least fifty Rev Raptors and twenty Helcats -
"STRIKE LASER CLAW!!!"
- along with the newly annihilated Scout Fox, the severed head vaporizing under the force of the Liger Zero`s golden claw, killing it`s pilot like so many others with a relentless ferocity that could be only passingly described at best.
"Way ahead of you!"
With ever more speed and agility, the Liger whipped into a barrel roll into the air, even though it had been standing completely still. The incoming Rev Raptor - still airborn as well - met with a sharpened, furious end, the still-glowing gold claws of the Zero stabbing ruthlessly into it`s stomach. Clawed feet and sturdy legs flew by the larger Zoid`s head, scraping against well-tested armor with a shower of ever more sparks and flame, only to be slammed down onto it`s back against it`s own momentum as the Liger completed it`s barrel roll.
And an explosion rippled beneath the proud fighting machine, Zeke and the Liger both roared with a defiance palpable only in dreams and for all of a second, the attack stopped.
But only for a second. Gunshots broke the silence like glass against a nuclear bomb, all Hell was breaking loose and Bit Cloud was right at it`s center. The Liger rocked, literally hundreds of explosions tearing across it`s sleekly bulky frame, and at the same time, Bit let out a scream of pain.
One of the explosions was the explosion of a round crashing through the side of the cockpit, tearing back out the opposite end. Bit himself was untouched by the actual slug - it was the size of a water melon at least - but the debris to follow took it`s toll and then some. Tortured glass and metal sliced through leather, cloth and skin, and in a second, Bit Cloud was transformed from a mere Zoid warrior facing death to a battle wounded soldier on the front lines of a war he couldn`t win.
Blood streaked down his face from a gash just above one eyebrow, one of his cheeks was cut from the base of the jawbone to less than an inch of one lip, another cut had scythed it`s way through his jacket and shirt, leaving a shallow, bloody wound down across his lower ribcage, stopped at the inner side of the left arm of the safety harness, while another series of cuts ran across the outer side of his left arm.
Another explosion, the Liger tumbled onto it`s side in pain only to roll over, and Bit paused only long enough to yank the shrapnel out of his harness, spit out some of his own blood and then brought the Zoid back up, instantly gunning down another Helcat in a blaze of flame and smoke.
Another explosion again though - no, wait, four of them wracked the Zoid in pain, and it went down again onto it`s stomach.
I can`t keep this up for much longer...
Again, Bit willed the Liger to rise, and again it came up in response, springing over another salvo of high powered, explosive slugs and corkscrewing through the air. With new invigoration, the thrusters that had formerly been knocked out on it`s back sprung to life again, shining a feral blue as it forced the Zoid down, almost against the whims of gravity. A pair of Rev Raptors and a Helcat paid the price - the Helcat getting crushed under the Liger`s weight, the Helcat`s exploding from getting shot in the throats and mouths a second later.
The stabilizers glowed a hot red, but the Zero lunged forward again and literally sawed the head right off of yet another Rev Raptor with a clean strike, carrying it through the air even further, landing behind that same Zoid and biting into the cockpit of another Helcat with a gush of crimson across one of the Liger`s sabered teeth.
Again, the Liger flew off of it`s feet to the side, bouncing off of the canyon walls and skidding down to the ground. Bit, bloodied, sweating and caught up in the frenzy of battle tried to force the Zoid to rise again though.
I... Can`t... Move...
Almost in response to Bit`s words alone, the Liger unsteadily rose back up, defying it`s would be killers out of nothing but sheer, unadulterated spite alone. In surprise, the firing of the enemy Zoids all but ceased in an instant, and the charred, brutalized Liger creaked forward, sparks flying like guysers out of every stabilizer on it`s body, blood - human blood - staining one of it`s sabered fangs, the pilot barely clinging to both his sanity and his consciousness.
They were all frozen instantly by the time they had set foot on the ground to start rushing up the hill. Every last one of them was held in place by nothing but the force of two ancient minds, two inhumanly powerful wills that were even supressing the movements of the Zoids that were backing them. Atop the hill, Fiona Alysse Linette-Fleiheit and the woman known only as Riese stood together, hand in hand in a powerful gesture. The tattoos on their foreheads, the ones that signified their station in Ancient Zoidian society were both glowing a vague mixture of watery purple and a solid white background, outlined a thin blue.
"We were used once," Riese began, though Fiona continued:
"Centuries ago, by a man of equal evil and intelligence,"
"And equal foolishness. He sought to control a power beyond measure-"
"- And it consumed him in the process."
Vega let out a cry of war, ducking the Fury beneath several incoming shots from the Geno Saurer, but Kale was just too quick for him once again, jumping over the six laser saws and smashing the Geno`s tail across his the other Zoid`s head, only for the Fury`s tail-blades to rotate upward, raking down across the smaller Zoid`s gut.
"Keep dreaming," Kale replied, stabilizing the Fury just in time for his landing, only to realize an instant too late that the ground was faulty. Stone cracked and gave way in an instant, and the Geno Saurer promptly yielded to the floor`s collapse, only to be followed seconds later by the Razorwind. For a harsh moment, both Zoids tumbled down through levels of flooring before finally coming to a full stop, on the bottom floor of the entire temple, in utter darkness aside from the light that they themselves created.
Without another word, the two charged each other again, thrusters flaring in the dark, claws, saws and guns all blazing hot colors through the shadows as two brothers sought to kill each other.
As one, the two brought their free hands up and then harshly waved them down at the men and women scattered about the base of the hill. As a result, every last one of them went flying dozens of feet up and through the air instantly, thrown around like rag dolls before a telekinetic surge of power from the two Ancient Zoidians.
"The world has learned it`s lessons from the deeds of men like Gunther Prozen and Hiltz, it doesn`t want to repeat them," Fiona began this time, and Riese picked up at the perfect moment, eerily matching her old friend`s voice perfectly, word for word, tone for tone.
"And neither do we. We were pawns then, but we won`t be pawns again. Not to Prozen, not to Hiltz."
"And not to Rommel. The time of would-be dictators and world destroyers has ended, peace must reign."
"And only fools would seek to cause anything else."
It was at that moment, as most of the downed soldiers started trying to get up again, that both women held out their hands in unison, drawing a pair of pistols at random from two of their would-be imprisoners.
"No..." Bit muttered out, though the Liger`s cry of pain shut out his own quiet plea to the sight before him. He wasn`t there, no, but he was watching it somehow. From a distance, yes, but still.
Now they spoke as one, the guns dropping to their sides as the hands they`d clasped together rose up, held high between them like an ancient bridge.
"Never again," they began as one, slowly starting to raise their guns at once.
"Will we be used as pawns by Prozen, Hilz, or anyone else."
The guns and the hands holding them continued, until finally they started to slow down even further, approaching their final destination without pause, without regret.
"As our age comes to it`s end..."
"Don`t do it..." The blonde begged relentlessly, the Liger issuing another painful roar as explosions tore into what remained of the armor on it`s back.
"Please... Don`t... I need you right now, Granny..." Bit pleaded, watching everything like a prisoner of war being brainwashed into thinking like his own captors. He was powerless to stop it, he was probably going to die himself soon, but he didn`t want his only true family dying with him either.
"Put the gun down..."
"So, does a new one begin."
And with that, the guns found themselves leveled into either side of the two women`s head. With no hesitation, they both pulled the trigger.
The fighting halted instantly, Vega paused from the sheer emotional agony of his Organoid. Specular`s distress was so palpable that even Shadow seemed stunned, but Kale would have none of it, making his attack even while the Fury was motionless before him. A hard slam of every ounce of the Geno Saurer`s weight and the Razorwind staggered back, lashing out again only to find the Geno`s claws shooting through the close distance to hit the Fury in the head several times and then draw back.
The fighting continued from there, but Vega was now at a clear disadvantage.
In the cockpit of the Liger Zero, as Zeke finally gave in to his own pain and stress with a fit of what sounded almost like sobbing, Bit Cloud was dead silent. Power levels across the Zoid fluctuated violently, but this mattered very little to the bloody mess in the cockpit.
His head was hung low, his eyes were clenched tightly shut, blood ran down in droves across one side of his face, slicked even further with a burgeoning flood of grief stricken tears, added to by sweat. His jaw was painfully held tight, lips curled in an angry, mourning snarl and his hands gripped the controls like a dying man gripping the reigns of a horse. His nostrils flared briefly in a snarl, he was trembling so violently that his body looked as though it was threatening to give out completely and for the third or fourth time in one hellish night, and for the second time in one day, everything stopped.
And in that dead silence, everyone there could testify to hearing something that sounded like the snap of a thin twig.
And then, like a hellbent predator, the Liger Zero rose once more. Zeke had nothing to do with it this time, the Liger`s own core didn`t even have anything to do with it, the Zoid shouldn`t have even been able to move - but it did.
Every system was completely shot, the stabilizers weren`t functioning, the Zoid was practically dead in almost every way but the part about turning to stone. In the cockpit though, that was the source of everything...
Bit Cloud slowly looked up, holding his head up from the mournful bow he`d been in before. In unison, every other Zoid in the canyon took a step back.
Power seemed to flood out of the young man`s body, through every single cut that had been inflicted upon him. His blood tinged a magnificent gold, looking like a tattoo of some kind. The green irises of his eyes kept fading in and out, leaving only white to surround his dilated pupils for increasingly lengthy periods of time, but soon, he seemed to fade back to a deranged normal.
But that was when the Liger itself started to tinge golden in increasingly fast pulses of light, wobbling forward on unsteady legs like a drunkard. Stabilizers started functioning again, black scorch marks started fading away, armor that was gone seemed to rebuild on it`s own, ammunition that was spent somehow replaced itself, the blood staining one fang dried away and in a matter of seconds, almost all of the Liger Zero was completely repaired as if untouched in the slightest of ways. With one noticable exception...
The cockpit was still brutalized. It`s bloodied, angry pilot was still staring malignantly at the horde of Zoids that had so dared to hold him back from stopping the tragedy that had just taken place.
And as the cockpit itself slowly started to heal back up, propelled solely by this unknown power to defy destiny and alter reality on a traumatized whim, the Liger brought it`s head back and repeated history one more time, as it had in the same battleground so long ago, with a different pilot this time.
Alone, defiant, standing against a flood tide of enemies who seemed to know no surrender, no retreat and no mercy, it roared.
Confronted with the overwhelming force of a foe like none other in it`s recent history, the Ultimate X Liger Zero roared like an angry king at the top of the food chain looking down upon an insurrectionist attempt by his own lunch.
"I won`t let you get away with this," Bit growled out through tightly grit teeth, murder and revenge burning like twin, green suns built around all consuming black holes in his eyes. The blood drooling down his face had slowed now, his wounds had caked shut, but the sight remained a terrifying one. Tears were still streaking, sweat was still pouring, and as the last few inches of the cockpit sealed shut, good as new once more, his voice echoed silently, if only for Zeke to hear.
It was the same tone of voice used by both Kale Obscura and Bill Chapman in the moments that they had each gone over the edge. It was the voice of the Grim Reaper himself.
"Let`s get `em, partner."
And with those words, history repeated itself once more. Like Van Fleiheit himself, so very long ago but in the same canyon and in almost the exact same conditions, Bit Cloud reared back and screamed with a fire that forced even the Organoid, Zeke, out of his dazed, grief filled stupor of pain and suffering, rousing him into the fighting spirit one more time...
"IT`S SHOWTIME, ZEKE!!!"
Let the Hell continue breaking loose :P Expect the next chapter when it`s finished.
As always, enjoy, leave a review, Sh33p out and see ya next time!