"Wooow…." said Hiromi as she surveyed the awesome sight around her. The highly technological setting that she just entered is off-limits to ordinary mortals who do not have the Key to the Pearly Gates known as the Access Code, and that alone was enough to take her breath away. "We're almost there…." Said Beckett, as they approached the rows of huge shelving that apparently held the assault vehicles of the base.

As they were nearing their destination, one can clearly hear the voices of another round of bantering.

"Look at me! I'm Don Camote!"(A.N.: camotesweet potato)

"You mean Don Quijote?" "Whatever!"

"But you do look like a sweet potato."

"Really? Watch out! Don Camote's gonna take down the she dragon!"

"ARGH! Get that thing away!"

"Playing with Max's staff is dangerous! Stop that!"

"Hey straighten up. The Major is coming."

As Hiromi's view went to their destination, she was taken by a knock of surprise by the sight that met her. Along with the girls whose faces she can barely recall, there were the boys, who were wearing the awesome, Industrial Revolution Era-inspired outfits that became the trademark in this Force. As Hiromi looked closer, she noticed that while the girls' uniform was simpler and the outer jacket was up to their waist; the boys' uniform has a high collar accented by a neat-looking ascot tie, the outer jacket was up to the crotch line, the belt was on the exterior and the shoulder parts have epaulets.

"Oh look who's here. It's your girlfriend!" teased Kanna.

"I TOLD YOU SHE'S NOT MY GIRLFRIEND!" yelled Takao.

"Yo Hiromi! Long time no see!" said Max. "So what's up?" Excitedly, Hiromi and the boys met up and started chatting, as Hiromi gushed over the 'coolness' of the boys' uniforms.

"So the groupie's paying a visit, huh?"

Hiromi looked back and saw Kyoju and Hiroya wearing similarly designed outfits, but both are in light blue, like those worn by the girls in the control centers.

"Wow! Even you're gonna be riding in one of those things?"

"Er, no" said Kyoju, "We're riding a repair craft. You see, we're on the technical side."

"A job for geniuses like us." Said Hiroya.

"Genius my anus. Just say that you're not as powerful as we are."

"Why you…."

"Now, now boys…." Said Beckett.

"But nevertheless, those uniforms are the coolest!" said Hiromi, "I love it!"

"What do you mean!" Takao said incredulously, "This is actually one of the lamest outfits for a mecha that I've seen! Can you say mulberry-bush-chopper-era?"

"Well, it's far better than the 'ultraelectromagnetic era'. You know; those colored spandex thingies with a big 'V'!"

The boys face faulted as they conjured an image of what she described.

Then, one of the attendants announced that the Kobu units have arrived and will be delivered shortly.

"And about time too!" said Kohran, "I told all of you that the boys' Kobu are nothing like you have seen before, right?"

"Uh, yes. Why?"

"You'll see what I mean in just a few minutes," said Kohran, with a mischievous grin on her face.

"I don't like the look on her face I tell you," said Kanna, as everyone in the hall expectantly stared at the conveyor shaft, which automatically rolled in the set of machinery that they were waiting for. But after the said objects finally came into view, they all face faulted when they saw their "…..unorthodox image," as Beckett managed to say.

Unorthodox it is. For even as the upper trunk resembled the other Kobu units in the base, the lower half of this batch has six legs, making it appear to have a humanoid spider appearance.

"See? I told you it's unlike anything you've seen before!'

"Indeed it is! Tell me Kohran-kun, how can you expect anyone to operate a Kobu with more than two legs!"

"Yeah, that would make us look awful!" said Takao, as he imagined the mechas stumbling around. "How are we supposed to fight like that?"

"Relax, relax" said Kohran. "The lower half has been programmed to match a spider's leg movement. What's more, it even has a "Skid Mode", which allows it to glide across a flat plane with little effort, a time and energy conserving method in situations such as chases on roads, highways or anywhere there is pavement!"

"Interesting," said Maria, as she surveyed the batch of Kobus lined up before them.

"And it doesn't stop there!" By that, Kohran gave a signal to the operators at the command center. Immediately, the blue and white Kobu's arms folded in, the head sunk back a little, the legs bunched up in an elaborate fashion, and sharp, blade like projectiles emerged from around the Kobu's shoulder area.

"Is that what I think it is?"

"A GIANT BEYBLADE!"

"You've got it!" said Kohran. "The engineers at CGS heavy Industries got the inspiration from the Sairan Coliseum incident five months ago. If you've forgotten, that's when Sumire-han's Kobu spun like a Beyblade. We have seen that it is an unorthodox yet effective way to add to our advantage against the enemy!"

"You mean….that thing will spin with us in it?" Takao said incredulously.

"Sort of."

The four boys got nauseous at the prospect of another ride in a spinning Kobu.

"Don't worry!" said Kohran. "The central cockpit is designed to move separately from the rest of the body. Besides, we don't want you puking around here." The boys heaved a sigh of relief as everyone else laughed.

The rest of the day was spent in the expansive, park-like grounds of the Studios that also served as a testing ground for the new Kobu units. As the visitors watched in the safety of the spacious maintenance craft, the Vitalis 635, the four boys literally stumbled their way into mastering their Kobus' controls. Even if they had undergone the simulation training, they have to adjust their minds to the Kobu's perspective, and one wrong step will, and does, hurt a lot. Takao proved this, as he held his derriere that was still smarting from Kanna's punch.

"I told you not to let your guard down." said Kanna.

"I know, I know,…(ow)" muttered the blue-haired fellow.

Next was the Beyblade mode. Although the cockpit did stay still, controlling the direction of the spin was another. The four mechs always end up bumping on racks, into trees or into each other. With their spin power all lost, the Kobus fell on their sides.

"You know guys," said Max, as he blankly stared at the ceiling, "All the racing games combined are kiddy games compared to this." The other three likewise stared blankly and nodded.

"Oh you dunces!" Kohran shook her head.

"Give them a break," said Kanna, "they're just new in the game."

"Okay, that's enough," said Maria. "Get up boys; we don't have much time." The boys groaned, but regardless, did as they were told.

In the maintenance craft, the observers watched bemusedly at the rookies' antics. "They sure have a long way to go," said the Chairman with a shrug.

"Are you sure they can make it before the time the enemies attack, Major?" asked Beckett. "It looks like they haven't even got a grasp on the Kobu's controls."

"I'm afraid we have no choice," said the Major, "They have to master the Kobu as soon as possible, because it's clear from the BBA reports that the enemies will not be waiting for us."

"True," said Beckett, "as you said, those boys are our only hope."

Hiromi sighed as she overheard the grownups' conversation. They sure have a lot of faith in them, but can the boys live up to their...no, the battlefields' standards?

"Are you worried?" said Hiroya, who was at the ship's controls.

"Wha! Uh, no! I mean…..how did you know?"

"Your sighs are obvious. But remember this: we are not staking our lives if we don't know what we're going into."

"You maybe right, but,…"

"Trust me," said Hiroya, looking straight at her, "I know. I'm a genius."

Hiromi stared at him quizzically, but Kyoju also glanced her way and gave her a reassuring smile.

"You boys sure are more confident than anyone else around here," said Hiromi, as she watched the boys in their Kobus, still stumbling, yet just as determined to get through this.


"ARGH!"

Pounding her fist onto the National Trust Fund Center's android-controlled counter, Sumire ranted, "You useless metal contraption! That money is meant for me! Why can't you execute such a simple order!"

"I'm sorry ma'm," said the robot agent, "But you're not to receive the money until you have officially resigned from the Kagekidan. You are officially enlisted as of now, so there's nothing I can do."

"Enough! Don't you know who you're talking to!"

"They don't; that's why they are effective as fund agents."

Sumire's head snapped towards the direction from which the voice came from "And just who are you?" she demanded, as a young man with razzled, platinum white hair walked into the Center's hall.

The man stared straight at her and with a slight smirk, said, "Let's just say that I have been assigned to watch everyone's moves. And as you can see, these babes know better than you do. You know you can't touch your family's money until you find yourself a better job that strutting on stage."

"Well I have just resigned! Why can't they understand that!"

"It's you who doesn't understand. You're NOT officially off the Kagekidan. Face it; you can't do anything else now than to return to the base like a good girl."

Sumire seethed with anger, then sighed. Picking up her luggage, she flounced past him and said in a lower tone, "Tell the Major that he's not yet won. I still have lots of connections that he hasn't heard of." And with that, she stepped out of the building.

The silver-haired man just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Hayata's right. That woman is a nut, and a hard one at that." At that moment, a young woman with short black hair, and a mole below her right eye just like Sumire's, walked in the hall and joined him "I heard everything. Yep, that woman is impossible. No wonder no one in the base can put up with her."

"I don't think that's the case," said the young man, as he handed over his account card to the android teller, "If it is so, then she would've got the money then and there. I know you're wondering why they would put up with such a pain in the ass like her. It seems that she has a lot of use to those big-shots since after all, she's the only surviving member of the Kanzaki zaibatsu and inevitably, the key to the clan's moolah."

"Ah, you are a true-blue mercenary as always, my dear King." Said the woman in a syrupy voice.

"Well I should be. How can our new Beyblading career survive without cash, my dear Queen?"

"It was our biggest break to have this information scouting job. Nothing could be sweeter than a fat paycheck and a truckload of nifty Beyblade parts….and the best part is that, it's all legal!"

"And light years better than stealing crappy parts….."


"Looks like you guys are pretty beaten up."

The boys walked out of their Kobu units in a rather dejected fashion. Indeed, the tedious process of mastering their units has riveted their minds and found it hard to stand straight.

"Running these sure looked a lot easier than it actually is," said Rei, as he slumped against a railing.

"Your brains are still adjusting to the Kobus' reality," said Kohran, "When your minds were hooked up to the system, not only were you adjusting to what their eyes see, but also to what their hearts feel."

"Heart!"

"Oh get off my case," said Takao, "how can these things have a heart?"

"Who was it that said that Beyblades have a heart?" Hiromi cut in.

"Who asked your opinion!"

"But she's actually right," said Kyoju, "Your mechas HAVE a heart. Remember that it's your Holy Beasts that lie within those hunks of steel.'

"Exactly," said Kohran, "Those beings are what gives your units hearts. You said once that in Beyblading, you have to unite with your tops, right?"

"For the last time, they are not TOPS! They are BEYBLADES!"

"Just getting even," said Kohran, and then said in a more sober voice, "It's the same thing as running the Kobu. You have to unite yourselves with them. Not only will you have to give them your thoughts, but also your feelings! Only the will they trust you and give you their full power!" But seeing that the boys could only give her a blank stare, she tore at her hair and grumbled, "You kids are totally dense beyond belief!"

"Hey take it easy," said Kanna, "Like I said, they're just new to the game."

"But…"

"Considering their age," said Maria, "their minds still have difficulty coping with battle related stress. Let's give them some time to adjust…"

"Thank you for your concern," said Rei, as he stood up, "but I don't want to be a cause for drawback."

"But Rei…"

"After all, we ARE soldiers in a battlefield. Sure, we're newbies. But that doesn't make us less obligated to master this guy." As he said this, he hopped back into his unit, "Besides, Driger's in here as you said."

"Same goes for me," said Max, as he hopped back into his unit as well, "I don't want to disappoint my ol' turtle. And he's the one who said that he wants to join you guys in battle."

As usual, Kai didn't say a word, but he hopped back into his unit as well.

"But you don't need to," said Maria, "It's not a good thing to force yourselves in that state…."

"I don't understand a word that Kohran said, but something in me says that I've got to do this, no matter what," said Takao, as he hopped back into his unit. "Besides, you seem to be underestimating us." As the boys were latching on the cockpit's connectors to their uniforms' outlets, everyone else in the hall stared at each other.

"Hey! Don't you think the idea of battle has gotten into your heads!" cried Hiromi, "You don't have any idea what your going into!"

"Chill out. We are not allowed to be defeated, much less fall back. Besides, we have no intention of making Sumire clean up after us."

By those words, everyone knew that the boys have totally no intention of antagonizing, much less forget their difficult comrade.

"But guys!" said Hiromi, but the Chairman laid a hand on her shoulder and said, "Let them be, Hiromi. You know those boys; once they want something, there's no stopping them."

Sakura sighed and said, "I envy them. They're a lot braver than me eighty years back."

"Correction: They're a lot braver than ANY of us now," said Maria, "And we can't say that they have no idea of what they're going into, since they have been in it ever since the Sairan Coliseum incident. But I guess, their main motivation is that those beings that they have a strong attachment to, are in their units."

"Nevertheless," said Kanna, "it's still a wonder how they have forgiven the snake lady so easily," The quiet Iris just stared at the boys in their units, her thoughts apparently echoing Kanna's.

Kohran stared thoughtfully at them, then arrived at an idea.

"Hey boys! Get down from there!" she shouted as she strode up the main ramp. "I have an idea that might just work!"

"Eh?" The boys stood up in their cockpits.

Kohran snickered and asked the Major, "Project E557 is almost done right?"

"Yes. Why, do you intend to use it now?"

Beckett turned into squish head, bug-eyed mode. "Are you serious!"

"Oh yes I am," said Kohran, "Very serious."