Vile: Fans of mine, PLEASE forgive me for posting nothing since last time. My ideas are running dry, but I'm gonna try and get them in order. Also, I should let you guys know something. Starting with this story chapter...

Opa-Opa: Vile's gonna have friends with him in the intros and outros of each chatper!

Vile: Couldn't have said it better myself, Opa-Opa.

Zia-Zia: So what happens here?

Vile: This is the prelude to what would be the first level if this was a video game. It also explains those Harutenians a bit.

Opa-Opa: That helps. Who's got the disclaimer?

Zia-Zia: It's on the first page. Remember, Opa-Opa?

Opa-Opa: Oh yeah... *sweatdrops*

Vile: *chuckles* Don't worry about it, Opa-Opa. It isn't often that a multi-chapter story writer doesn't give a disclaimer in every chapter. At any rate, enjoy the chapter, viewers!

Fantasy Zone IV

Chapter 3: What Am I Up Against?

Both Opa-Opa and Zia-Zia froze after hearing the deep-sounding voice. "Wh-who was that…?" Zia-Zia asked shakily.

"I know that voice." Opa-Opa said. "Where are you, Dad?"

O-Papa deactivated his cloaking device, appearing in front of them. "Hello, Opa-Opa."

"How long have you been there?" His son asked.

"A few minutes, actually." O-Papa answered. "I sensed an odd presence in the air, so I came to the location of where it was coming from. I arrived in this area to find you battling those fighters." This was partly a lie, but he couldn't let Opa-Opa know he was spying on him. "Your strength never ceases to amaze me, my son." Opa-Opa rubbed the top of his facial glass with his wing, laughing sheepishly. O-Papa then looked at Zia-Zia. "Your friend here has some prowess in battle as well."

"Uh… thanks." The pink-faced ship said hesitantly. She seemed a bit intimidated by the large ship.

"Hey, ease up, Zia-Zia." Opa-Opa told her, placing a wing above her facial glass near her bow. "He's huge, but he's a gentle giant outside of battle."

Zia-Zia relaxed when she heard that. "Oh, okay. Nice to meet you, sir."

"Please, call me O-Papa." The large ship responded. Zia-Zia nodded.

"Okay dad, let's get to the point." Opa-Opa cut in. "You said you knew about those fighters. In that case, spill it: What am I up against?"

"I must first be sure if those fighters are what I believe them to be." O-Papa told his son. "Tell me, where did those fighters say they were from?"

"They said they were from a distant planet in the Fantasy Zone… Planet Haruten."

The large ship let out a gasp. "Unbelievable… so it is them…"


O-Papa had a dumbstruck look on his face (as far as looks go on a Zerudian). "Harutenians… I did not believe for a second that that planet actually existed…"

"W-What are you saying, Dad?" Opa-Opa asked.

The large ship sighed and looked at his son. "Opa-Opa, this is much worse than I thought it would be. The Harutenians are a race that was only spoken of in legends. According to the legends, these fighters possessed a very strong power level… even stronger than the Dark Menon Force."

Opa-Opa gasped. "Even stronger than the Dark Menon Force…? No way…"

"I'm afraid so, my son. Ever since the Menon Force attacked the Fantasy Zone, it has been stated across the Fantasy Zone that the Harutenians are the ancestors of the Dark Menon Force."

"How could they be so strong? They looked primitive compared to Zerudians."

"It is because they are said to get their power from a source that spans the entire Fantasy Zone. Their rumored power source is raw negative emotions. They draw power from all negative emotions across this realm: anger, despair, fear… all of it. Every negative emotion experienced gave them power, giving them unparalleled energy. They nearly ravaged the Fantasy Zone down to colonies of slaves…"

"How horrible…" Zia-Zia breathed. Opa-Opa felt a hint of something else in her voice… guilt, maybe?

"Horrible indeed… the legends state that it was a miracle that managed to defeat them. Two heroes joined forces to combat them, but the main reason they were victorious…"

Opa-Opa was eager to know. "What, Dad? What did they do?"

O-Papa sighed. "That part is unknown. All chronicled pieces of the legend stop short of the method. Even the mural on the heroes' rumored home planet that depicts the legend has been damaged, the area depicting the method being broken off. There is no record of it anywhere in the Fantasy Zone."

Opa-Opa sighed. "So much for a quick and easy solution."

"Even without the method, there must be a way to defeat them. As strong as they are, they are not invincible."

All three Zerudians were silent for a few seconds, then Opa-Opa perked up. "Leave it to me!"

"Are you sure, my son?"

"Dad, I've saved the Fantasy Zone from mortal danger three times already. I've defeated the Dark Menon leader, you, and my own dark side. I know the Harutenians are stronger than all those challenges, but I don't care. I'm willing to put my life on the line to protect everyone."

'He's so selfless and brave. No wonder people call him a hero.' Zia-Zia thought in awe. Her facial glass began tinting, unknown to her.

"Hmm… all right." O-Papa finally said. "You have become very strong through your trials, surpassing your own father in strength. You are the only one who can save the Fantasy Zone again. I trust your power, Opa-Opa."

"Thanks, Dad." Opa-Opa said, giving a thumbs-up with his wing.

"According to legend, Planet Haruten will be using nearby planets as bases. You will have to liberate those planets if you want to reach Haruten. I will have my officers find the nearest base and activate a warp gate that leads to it."

"Right. I'll head to the base and get ready to head out." The hero said. Then he turned to his new friend, who looked worried. "Don't worry about me, Zia-Zia. I can do this."

The pink-faced ship nodded. "Good luck, Opa-Opa." The blue-faced ship gave her a thumbs-up. Deep down, though, she was still worried. 'Can he really do this alone?'

*A Little While Later*

Opa-Opa was in the Zerudian army base, all set to head out. The Gold he collected from the Harutenians was stored in a bank system and ready to transfer. A Parts Shop was also ready to be deployed. He was about to head for the main room and the warp gate when…

"Opa-Opa, wait!" The Zerudian heard a voice shout. He turned around and saw Zia-Zia running towards him.

"Zia-Zia? What's up?" Opa-Opa asked.

The female Zerudian sighed, then spoke confidently. "I'm going with you!"

"Wait, what?"

"Opa-Opa, it's dangerous out there." Zia-Zia said. "You could get yourself killed, and I don't want that to happen. You're the only friend I've got."

Opa-Opa's eyes widened behind his facial glass. "I… I am?"

Zia-Zia nodded. "My parents were killed during the Dark Menon Force's third attack, and I never really had any friends. I've been alone the last couple of years." She walked closer to him. "If you die, I'll be alone again, and I don't want that." Opa-Opa had a sad look in his eyes. The female Zerudian looked away. "Also, for some reason, I feel somewhat responsible for these Harutenians attacking the Fantasy Zone. I don't know how, but that thought just lingers." Zia-Zia turned her face back to him. "So please, Opa-Opa, let me fight with you. I may not like fighting, but I want to help you defeat the Harutenians."

Opa-Opa was silent for a bit, and then he spoke. "…All right. I'll need all the help I can get. We'll do this together!"

Zia-Zia brightened up. "Yeah, just like the legend!" They shared a high-five with their wings. Then, Opa-Opa's internal communicator went off.

"Opa-Opa, are you ready?" O-Papa's voice called from the main room.

"Yeah, but there's a slight change of plans." Opa-Opa answered. "Remember Zia-Zia? She's coming with me. We're going to fight the Harutenians as a team."

"Hmm… I didn't expect this, but it's no trouble. Since Zia-Zia has a similar weapon system to you, she can utilize the Parts Shop as well. We pulled up her data on a database, however, and her weapon compatibility isn't the same as yours. She can't use some of your weapons, but we have others that are compatible."

"Great. We'll be there soon." Opa-Opa deactivated the communicator and turned to his friend. "Well, let's get going. The Fantasy Zone needs us."

"Right." Zia-Zia said, nodding. Both Zerudians raced off toward the main room, reaching said room within a few minutes. O-Papa and several scientists were there, ready to activate the gate.

"This is it, you two." O-Papa told them. "Are you certain you want to do this?"

"You don't need to ask, Dad." Opa-Opa said. "I've made my decision to battle the Harutenians, and I'm not turning back."

"Me neither." Zia-Zia spoke up, stepping forward. "Opa-Opa's my only friend, so I want to help him and make sure he comes back alive." Opa-Opa looked at her, and she gave him a thumbs-up, which he returned.

"All right. The warp gate has been set for Planet Safforika, the closest planet occupied by the Harutenians. Take out the enemy generators, then eliminate all the stragglers. Then we can set up the next warp gate."

"Just like old times…" Opa-Opa mused. The Dark Menon Force used the same tactics. The Harutenians must've been their ancestors. "Let's go!"

"Activate the warp gate!" O-Papa said to the scientists. The scientists began pushing buttons.

"Energy charge has begun!" One scientist said.

"Energy levels at 73%!" Another called out.

'This is it. I'll have to prove myself as a four-time hero.' Opa-Opa thought.

'Now I'll see what he had to go through. I hope I'm not a burden.' Zia-Zia thought.

"Energy charge complete!" The first scientist said.

"Activating warp gate!" A third scientist said, pressing a button. Electricity began crackling in the room, swirling around a generator on a wall. Soon, a massive blue gate formed from the electricity.

"All ready! Let's go, Zia-Zia!" Opa-Opa called out.

"Yeah, let's go!" She responded. The two Zerudians dashed forward and jumped toward the gate, disappearing into the blue vortex, which closed behind them.

"Good luck, my son. You too, Zia-Zia." O-Papa mused. "The Fantasy Zone is in your hands… the legend has begun anew."

Vile: Ah... feels good to have posted something after so long!

Opa-Opa: So Planet Safforika's first? Okay, I'm game!

Zia-Zia: I can't wait for the next chapter!

Vile: I'll have it in once I think of something, but for now, this chapter ends.

Opa-Opa: Don't forget to review, everyone!

Zia-Zia: And check out Vile's other stories, too!

Opa-Opa & Zia-Zia: See ya next chapter!

Computer Voice: Vile, logging out.