AN – Sorry everyone, it took me a lot longer than I hoped for to write this chapter. I'm going to split a few of the chapters into two parts: one dealing with the New Century Zero timeline and the other, the Guardian Force timeline. Thanks for the reviews, they make my day!
I'm also looking for a Beta reader (or two), if anyone's interested.
Special thanks to Ibeyla (ShadowRebirth37) for putting up with my random questions and just being there to talk to :)
Van sighed in relief that no one was following him. The Liger slowed to a stop, turning to face the direction he came.
"Man, I was afraid she'd chase me after I left. She's completely out of control!" Van mused out loud, scanning the sky to make sure the green aerial Zoid he saw in the hangar wasn't approaching.
The white Liger, which he had yet to learn its name, roared in what was an unmistakable laugh.
"That's not funny!" Van complained.
Something fell from the sky and impacted with the ground behind Van and the Liger, causing a large dust cloud to surround the Liger.
"What was that?" yelled Van.
A cackle from behind him made Van turn the Liger around. In the middle of the newly created crater was a black capsule of some sort with what appeared to be a robot inside. It had a reflective black visor where its eyes should have been and it's 'hands' had different colors, blue and red.
"The Liger Zero versus the Backdraft team. Battlemode 0999. Ready? Fight!"
"A battle? But where's the opponent?"
"Right here, kid. When we win, you'd better hand over the Liger Zero!"
"They're no better than bandits." Van said as he looked around for the opponent.
"I can't let them win. But I don't know how to fight with this Zoid and it seems they're using camouflage."
A schematic popped up on a screen in front of Van, showing the Liger's weaponry. It's almost like he understands me. Van glanced at the screen, seeing the Liger's underbelly cannon, the tail gun, and a "...Strike Laser Claw?"
The Liger roared, seemingly liking that option. "Well, we've got to find them first." Van said, scanning the landscape. "They haven't attacked yet. When they do, we can try to track their muzzle flashes."
A roar from the side of the Liger caught Van off guard. He's right next to me! Van and the Liger jumped sideways, twisting to face where the roar came from and firing the shock cannon. While it didn't hit the Sabre Tiger, the resulting smoke cloud showed the outline of the Saber Tiger thirty feet away.
"There!" Van yelled, urging the Liger forward.
On the screen, the Strike Laser Claw option was blinking.
Outside the Liger, the cheek guards flipped out and started glowing. The claws on the front legs and the joints glowed a bright gold. The Liger jumped in the air, turning and drawing back the right claw before plunging it into the Saber Tiger's back, cutting off its back mounted weaponry. The Liger landed slightly behind the Tiger, the glow disappearing and the cheek guards returning to their normal position.
"Wow, that's as strong as the Blade Attack." Van stated.
Shots hit the side of the Liger, almost knocking it over. The Liger roared in frustration. Van wasn't feeling much better either.
"I can't fight them unless I'm in close combat but how am I supposed to do that when they keep running and hiding?"
Several shots came from behind a rock and precisely took out the Helkats one at a time, each one dropping their camouflage as they fell to reveal that they had been equipped with Gatling units. There had been five of them; it would have been almost impossible for Van to fight them alone. But who was the mystery Zoid that took them out?
"OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH! The winner is... Liger Zero." the Judge said, raising his blue hand slightly.
The lid closed and the Judge blasted off.
The Shadow Fox walked out from behind the rock, Brad opening a link with Van.
"Let's hurry up and get out of here. The Judge may not be here any more but that doesn't mean they won't try something else."
"Okay. You lead the way. The Liger got me lost."
Brad laughed. "Sounds like the first time Bit was in it. It stopped in the middle of nowhere."
His expression became unreadable, all trace of emotion gone. "Hope you didn't scratch it, Bit's ready to kill you as it is."
"Why? I know I borrowed his Zoid, but that's no reason to get bent out of shape."
Brad sighed. "You don't get it. The Liger Zero wouldn't let anyone pilot it until it met Bit. And even after that, it doesn't even let anyone get close to the cockpit. How you're in there is a mystery to all of us."
"Oh, I see..."
Van was silent on the way back to the base, thinking about the strange Zoid he was in. It was almost like it had a mind of its own, which reminded him of Zeke and BEEK, to an extent. His expression changed as he thought about his missing companion. What was going on back home? Would Dr. D be able to fix things or would the two of them be stuck in this time forever?
"You're awfully quiet." Brad remarked.
"Just thinking about some things."
The only person that knew Van and Fiona weren't supposed to be here was Toros and while he seemed to absorb that fact fairly easily, Van wasn't sure how any of the others would react. He hoped Fiona hadn't tell anyone else. He sighed, wondering when the barrage of questions would begin. Toros must be waiting until they were a bit more comfortable with how things have changed before asking anything. For that, Van was grateful. When the time came, he wasn't sure if they could explain anything. He and Fiona had stayed up late to work on Dr. D's newest experiment, a way to increase the Blade Liger's speed to unbelievable limits. The last thing Van remembered was running some small scale tests and computer modeling. Brad's voice jarred Van from his thoughts.
"We're here. Doc wants you to go in the back." Brad turned the Shadow Fox around, going in side of the base where the hangar was.
"Alright." The Liger walked around the base and entered through the back, away from the hangar. The place looked like a maintenance bay with various parts, weapons, and armor pieces on racks and mechanical arms hanging form the ceiling and off walls.
"Looks like the Liger didn't take many serious hits. The armor will need to be fixed up a bit and I'll check the body over, but it looks like it'll be fine by tomorrow. I was worried when Brad said he found you in a fight, especially against the Backdraft Group." Toros remarked, standing on a platform the same height as the Liger Zero's head.
"I was worried too." Van said as he jumped onto the platform with Toros. "I don't know how Bit can fight with that Zoid, it only has a shock cannon and its claws."
Doc chuckled. "You haven't seen Bit fight. Or the Liger Zero's other armors."
"Yes, I designed different armors so the Liger can use them in different situations. They're so cool!"
Van smiled. Dr. Toros was a bit like Dr. D, but seemed to be obsessed with anything rare or shiny. At least he didn't give off the 'crazy scientist' aura that got Dr. D in so many... odd situations.
"Dr. Toros, was there something you wanted to see me about."
"Oh, yes. I wanted to talk to you and Fiona. We can talk in the strategy room, everyone else is in the lounge. I know things still must be confusing for the two of you, but I'd like to try to get to the bottom of this. Maybe we can help you."
Van smiled, hoping it was possible. "Thanks Doc."
"Don't mention it. Come on, Fiona should be there already."
The two walked through the door nearest them and followed the corridor until it branched off, one way leading to a door marked 'Strategy Room' and the other leading to more hallways. Opening the door, the two saw Fiona sitting at the computer drinking a cup of what Van knew to be salt-laced coffee. Hearing the door open, she turned around to see them enter.
"You're okay!" she cried happily as she ran to Van and hugged him. "Brad said you were in a fight. I was worried about you."
Van smiled and hugged her back. "I'm alright, thanks to Brad. It would have been a lot harder if he didn't show up when he did."
"You're lucky. Everyone told me about them. They want that Zoid and they don't care what they have to do to get it. They're worse than some of the bandits we've faced."
Van gently pushed Fiona back so that he could look her in the eye. "I've faced Prozen, Hiltz, and Raven. I'm not about to let some bandits get the better of me!"
"I know. But that doesn't stop me from worrying that something could happen. Especially since Zeke isn't here to bail you out."
Doc cleared his throat. "I hate to interrupt, but we should get started. Why don't we start with who Zeke is?"
Van nodded his head and sat down with Fiona on a bench. "Agreed. Zeke is my Organoid."
"Oh boy! I've heard legends about them, they were rare even centuries ago." Toros said, his eyes getting that familiar glint whenever anything rare or shiny crossed his sight.
Snapping out of his trance, he added, "To be fair, since this is new to the two of you, how about we alternate asking questions? That way we'll both be caught up on what's going on."
Van and Fiona looked at one another. Nodding to the other, they answered their unspoken question.
"You mentioned registering for battles. What kind of battles do you fight in?" Van asked.
"Well, Zoid battles are competitions. There's different ranks, opponents, rules and you win prize money." Doc said, almost glowing at the mention of money.
"Who would have thought people would fight for fun? At least that means there's no war." Fiona said happily.
"What can you tell me about Organoids?"
"I'll answer this one. Organoids can do a lot. They can fuse with a Zoid and increase its abilities, fly, and they have a chest cavity that can hold their partner." Fiona answered.
"That's impressive. I've only heard that they existed; none of the legends mention their abilities."
"My turn!" Fiona said cheerfully.
She thought for a moment. "What's so special about the Zoid Van took? The blond boy was so upset."
"You mean Bit and the Liger Zero. The Liger Zero is a very unique Zoid, called an Ultimate X. It has a black box attached to its Zoid Core, it can learn from past experience and memorize moves used against it. When an Ultimate X loses a battle, it comes back stronger than ever. Because of this, they are very selective of who they let pilot them. The Liger Zero has only let Bit into its cockpit, it refused anyone else who tried. The Backdraft tried to use the Liger Zero once, but it performed worse than a Shield Liger when they forced a pilot in it. That's why Bit was so shocked and a little hurt when you took the Liger Zero out. He's worried that the Liger might want you to pilot it instead of him."
"I see," Van said, sounding slightly dejected. "I didn't mean for anything like that to happen. It was the closest Zoid to the door and it opened the cockpit for me... I didn't know it was unique."
"What's the Backdraft group?" he asked after a minute.
Doc's face turned into a grimace as he remembered everything the Backdraft had done over the past year. "They're a group of warriors who use illegal maneuvers and their own rules. Most of the time, they confiscate the loser's Zoids. They'll do anything to win or get what they want."
The three of them continued asking questions and explaining for several minutes until Toros asked the big question: "You said you were working on your Blade Liger before you woke up here. Do you know what could have happened?"
"My best guess is that it happened when we ran a test on the improvements to the Blade Liger." Van said.
Fiona, more familiar with the details of the experiment, added what she could. "Dr. D came up with a way to increase the Liger's speed by displacing the air particles in front so they'd reappear at the back. It was supposed to create a slipstream effect, speeding the Liger along even if it was standing still when activated. Van and I stayed up late to run some small tests. We activated the system for a test. The next thing we know, we woke up in your beds."
"Hmmm. You were standing in front of the Blade Liger, right?" Doc asked.
"Yes, we were. How did you guess that?" Van said, slightly surprised.
"Just a guess. Whatever this Dr. D did probably only affected the space in front of the Liger. Its possible that nothing would have happened if you were elsewhere." replied Toros.
"Do you think there's any way that you could create the same experiment?" asked Fiona.
"I'm afraid not. That's nothing like I've ever done before." was the answer.
"Well, its settled then. We can't do anything without Dr. D. Can we stay and join your team? We could use a bit of a vacation anyway." Van said.
"Great! I thought you'd never ask. If you're fine with the Shield Liger, then we just need to give the Zoid Battle Commission your name and they'll assign you a registration number."
Doc brought up a judge from the ZBC moments later, saying an unregistered warrior would like to join the Blitz Team, using the registered Shield Liger. Van was slightly surprised to see a white version of the robot from earlier that day.
"Warrior," the judge said, adressing Van, "state your name."
"Registration approved. Registration number is 357514. Warrior, you have until the start of your next battle to input registration number into Zoid computer. Farewell."
With that brief goodbye, the screen dimmed as the transmission ended.
(Back in the Guardian Force timeline)
A beep signaled an incoming transmission. A dark haired man in a pilot's outfit pressed a button to answer, not bothering to disguise the annoyance on his face.
"I have a job for you. I need you to destroy a Zoid for me. It's contained in a storage unit but should escape soon. It's stronger than it looks; don't underestimate it. I want it destroyed immediately. Make sure the Core stops functioning. Coordinates will follow." said a man with white hair.
The transmission ended, after which coordinates showing a location not far from the pilot's current position. He smirked; it had been a while since he was told to destroy something.
"Shadow!" he yelled, making sure the winged Organoid took flight before firing up the Geno Breaker's boosters, anxious to get on with his assignment.
Raven normally hated his assignments. For most, he merely picked up parts at various bases, acting nice to people and transporting the large containers on the back of the Breaker. Why? Because that was what he was told to do. It didn't matter to him that his Zoid was the fastest land-based Zoid and that was part of the reason he was selected, he just wanted the freedom of doing what he wanted, not what he was ordered. He sighed, knowing that the months after the Death Saurer's defeat had softened him somewhat. A roar from Shadow made him smirk, knowing the Organoid was reminding him that he was still the most feared and respected pilot on Zi. No one else knew just how Raven had changed, with the exception of an Organoid and its owner, but they weren't about to tell anyone.
There was a town along the route he took. It was slightly out of the way of his destination but Raven always enjoyed flying above towns and scaring people.
The town quickly came into view but something was wrong; Command Wolves were shooting at a black Zoid. Raven couldn't tell what it was, there was smoke and a shield. Since the Command Wolf pilots were using their external speakers, he guessed the mystery Zoid pilot was refusing communication lines. Raven stopped near the edge, wondering if they'd shoot at him and give him a reason to fight. He knew that if he actively inserted himself in the middle of the fight, he'd never hear the end of it from anyone back at the base.
"You're not welcome here!" was one pilot's cry.
"Go away, maverick!"
"What's the matter?" taunted one, "Are you scared of a few Command Wolves?"
Raven frowned, wondering who the pilot could be. It was almost like the kind of reception he expected to get at a few bases. How many other people are there that would be treated like this? He wondered.
The smoke began to clear as the wolf pack slowed their fire. The shield dropped and Raven gasped. There, behind the remaining smoke, was a Geno Breaker! It was black, but unmistakeably a Breaker.
"Where did that come from?" he yelled.
"P-please! I j-just wa-wanted some water..." came a young girl's voice, crying.
"Yeah right! We don't believe you!"
"So, you're not him. You're the bitch who helped out. Well, demon, it doesn't matter what you say. We'll get rid of you and the Zoid!"
"Grrrrr!" Raven's hand twitched on the Geno Breaker's controls, ready to fly forward as soon as they fired another shot. He didn't know who the pilot was but he was determined to put a stop to this. However, before the Breaker could move, a howl from the other side of town caught his attention. It was unlike any other Zoid he had heard.
A man's voice blared from external speakers "Leave her ALONE!"
A red Zoid with golden parts came running out, weaving around the shots form the Command Wolves. As the Zoid moved closer, Raven thought it resembled a fox with its long snout and pointy ears. It closed in on the lead Command Wolf, front leg joints glowing. It jumped on the Wolf with both front paws landing on its neck, severing the neck from the body.
Everyone stopped firing as one Command Wolf walked forward.
"Our business isn't with you. If you leave now, we'll forget what you just did."
The reply came quickly, spoken with obvious venom. "No one touches my sister and gets away with it."
The metal fox ran at the leader who had spoken, firing a single shot from the back-mounted gun. The bullet went straight through the gun of the Command Wolf, destroying most of its internal structure. Closing in, the fox clamped its jaws around the neck of the wolf. The gun popped up and swiveled, firing a single shot for every wolf. Raven watched in amazement as the Command Wolves fell over. The shots were so precise, they pierced vital electronics inside the Zoids. He noticed that they would be fine since the pilot never seemed to aim at the Core, a tactic Raven often used. He turned back to where the fox still had its jaws around the remaining Command Wolf's neck.
"I'm going to ask you a few questions. Tell me the truth and I won't rip your Zoid apart."
"Why did you attack that Geno Breaker?"
"We thought it was Raven."
The pilot of the fox was silent for a moment before saying, "Did you ask for identification? His is red, this one was black. Did you not think about that?"
The fox's jaws closed a little tighter.
"We thought it might have something to do with his Organoid, it's black after all."
"Hmph. I believe you."
The fox released the wolf, turning around to walk towards the black Geno Breaker.
In the cockpit of the Command Wolf, the man laughed. "Pathetic. He may be skilled, but he's just a kid. He's going to walk away?"
Almost as if in response to this unheard monologue, the gun on the fox popped up and rotated 180°. Still walking away, the fox pilot fired a single shot that pierced the Core of the Command Wolf.
The fox and black Geno Breaker ran off, quickly leaving the town behind them. Raven looked at his map, the two were going in the opposite direction he was headed. Annoyed, he swore to himself that he would find them so that he could learn how there was another Geno Breaker.
Pushing the boosters to their limit, Raven landed the Geno Breaker where the coordinates he received. He would have to be blind to not see the giant storage container set into the cliff. Dents accentuated the surface, whatever was inside wanted to be outside. The Zoid inside finally broke through, revealing it to be...
"A Helcat? I was sent out here to destroy a Helcat?"
AN — I hope everyone liked it, I enjoyed writing it. What do you think of it? Please review! They help make me a better writer.