|EXCELLENT DANCE, CINDERELLA
AVirtual Mekton Story
"Hi, Akira!, Hi, Chiisai!"
By now, Chiisai was used to that, but Akira still wasn't. "I /hate/ you, Isami. How are you capable of recognize us before we are even close?"
"I have a friend with a radio transmitter, Akira". The kid was almost sure she was joking. "Ready to get ponded?"
"I am, but I don't see our other team mate, nor your's".
"He's at the RED with Maki", said Natsumi. She was one of Isa's team mates for today's fight. "I think they are planning something evil, since they are exchanging lots of side glances and whisperings around the main computer. And Lei-Ming is down at the burger shop with Auzzie and the others".
"They are spending a lot of time thogether, don't they?" said Chiisai. Akira rolled his eyes. Now they begin... why them all liked so much to exchange witty remarks at the VRcade?
"Kojiro, don't be slander!", Isa scolded Chiisai.
"...said the frying-pan to the kettle", answered him.
"It was that Western joke about 'don't stain me', right?" said Akira, to his own surprise. Boy, that was catching! Isami actually blushed for a second, then she was about to counter-fire when Jaired's arrival stopped the verbal fencing for a second.
"Good evening, boys", he greeted the other two kids. "Ready for today's challenge?"
"You know, Jaired, that 'boys against girls' is sooo clichè...", said Chiisai. "But I'll be glad to blast them to pieces instead of blasting you, for a change".
"You liar", said Lei-Ming, just arriving.
"You say, Lei-Ming, he's a liar 'cause he says they'll win or 'cause he says he really want to beat Isa?" asked Natsumi. Now was Chiisai's turn to look embarrased, but Isami looked angry.
"I am sure he would like to beat me! I still did not forgot what you did me on last Space Battle!"
"But Isa, you know I would NEVER do that outside the pod! Still, I would desire you would have forgotten it by now..."
"How kind of you". Isa looked apologetic.
"... this way I could trick you again with the same move!" All the kids could see little daggers flying from Isa's grey eyes towards him.
"I don't know why I let you a copy of my Gatillo for today's fight"
"Because Cora would not be a fair choice for today's fight, since no VM of yours has a weapon powerful enough to damage her, and this is not a Build-Yer-Own-Monster contest. And because your VM is one of the best designed ones I've ever seen and I'm even agreeing to let you a copy of Cora for tomorrow's fight if you like, in order of having a chance to pilot it!"
Akira raised a hand. "Remember me not to fight tomorrow".
The Strawberry Flavoured Penguin
The Strawberry Flavoured Penguin arena was one of the craziest virtual worlds, ever. It had small clouds conected by walkaways, like old platform games, and anyone falling from one of these would wraparound from above. It was the best place for a fight betwen flying and ground-bound mecha. It was also one of the funniest places to be around on a VM game.
Akira ended his pre-flight check of the Windwalker. His metallic gray, no-humanoid VM, standing on Walker configuration, was a sharp contrast with the Gatillo sitting beside him with the faceplate hidden behind the hands. "Why me", moaned Chiisai on the loudspeakers. The Gatillo Isa lended him was identical to her's, but for the color scheme: it was bright phosphoric pink with a large, white and red bullseye on the chest and the words "Kick Me" on black and red on the VM's butt. Isa's idea of a joke.
Jaired couldn't help to laugh. "<So, tactical genius, I see you...>"
"<Not doing so would be dificult>", interrupted Akira.
"...you realized our big advantage right now - they will be so busy firing at you that we'll have two unengaged team members! Brilliant, Kojiro-kun, brilliant!>", followed Jaired.
"<Yes, he's /indeed/ brilliant! Look how he shines!>", joked Akira. Chiisai growled.
The computer's voice interrupted the three kids. "Ready for launch on ten seconds. Board your catapults". After the time, the three Medieval-style catapults ("how different from the ones of a modern carrier and what a bad-taste in-joke", thought Akira) launched the three VMs to the virtual sky.
Running loggin search...
3 match(s) found
Location: Geocity's VRcade
Arena: Strawberry Flawored Penguin
UserID: Kojiro Battou
Location: Geocity's VRcade
Arena: Strawberry Flawored Penguin
UserID: Jaired Grey
Location: Geocity's VRcade
Arena: Strawberry Flawored Penguin
UserID: Akira Moto
C:>Warning! Game already started. Confirm anyway? s/n
At the Arena
Five minutes later, the six kids were fighting each other among laughs. When your foe just took a wallaby and placed it on his head as Command Armor, it's dificult not to laugh. Fortunatelly the Gatillo had not mouth to laugh, or the penguin Isami was wearing would have fallen. She avoided the Archon's fire and turned towards Chiisai's Gatillo. She wanted a bit of same-VM fight, but before she could close, Akira would start arming a missile and diving towards her. She broke the lock before he could fire, then led him towards Natsumi's fire. The land-boud Illumina fired on the Windwalker form above as it flew below its cloud, but missed, as it did one of the Edge's missiles. Then Isami got the Archon on her sights. She fired twice, the Archon's pinpoint shield stopping all four laser beams; then another two burst from the Illumina hit him, one of them slipping behind the shield. Jaired wasn't able of dodging the blast, but the armor took most of the shoot's damage, although a big crater on the Archon's leg showed the true strength of Natsumi's beam rifle. Isami droped her shields and fired again at the Windwalker. Then the other Gatillo came from below her visual angle ("Blast you, Kojiro! Not again!") and dropped its own shields to fire. But instead of firing, Chiisai raised again his shields and started frantically turning about.
Chiisai had take use of the Archon drawing most of the fire to move his too visible ("Very funny, Isa") VM below the cloud, then awaited for Isa to drop her shields before firing. He knew the Gatillo's beam rifles were unable to overcome its own shields. But when he was about to fire ("Like last Space Battle!"), he stopped. Something wasn't right. He could not say what it was, but he had the same feeling on the back of the neck he had each time his tactical knack told him that he was in a good position to be ambushed.
But they weren't going to be ambushed... they had asked the other gamers on the Arena not to interfere, and they had agreed -this kind of agreements were very frequent- and he was seeing all his three rivals... Still, he raised again his shields and let pass away the firing chance, looking at his sensors instead. Something very faint, behind and very high above them, hidden by the virtual Sun. He turned to bring his beamshields to bear.
"<SCATTER!! AIR ATT...!>" Before he could even complet the word or turn around, a 3.7 cm round blew his external shield to Kingdom Come, punched through his secondary shield and the right beamshield he had managed to place on the way, overloading it, and punctured the arm's armor. The round wasn't able to damage the armor and the internal damage was negligible, but the bullet destroyed his remaining reactive shield proyector. A second later, a second 3.7cm gun, unhindered by any shield, hit him square flat on the back of the torso. His VM exploded.
Isamu Daiba, "Maverick", didn't need to look at his target screen to know the target was no more. He knew that this tactic of firing the guns secuentially instead of linked would have destroyed even the powerful VM the Battou kid used other times. Then he adjusted his dive towards the most powerful VM remaining -would have been his primary target hadn't he been discovered. He fired both guns. The Archon's pinpoint shield took as much damage as it could, but the Disruptor-AP rounds tore the insides of Jaired's VM into scrap code bytes. Isamu took his black Stuka out of the dive, raising it just insultingly near the range of the other VM's -tagged Edge- swords. Its pilot tried to slice him, to no avail. Isamu regained height and turned for another pass.
Akira saw how his two teammates were shoot down on exactly seven seconds. He tried to return fire, but only managed to hose Natsumi's VM with fire as the Helldiver broke its dive passing among the two of them. Damned pilot, he tricked him again to do the same thing! The Illumina was badly shaken by the powerful Windwalker's chaingun, but managed to hold its feet. Akira wasted not even time to apologize as he dove itself into a cloud, then oppened its 'burners full open and tore through the cloud towards the other side, planing to surprise Maverick on his next pass. He came out of the cloud... right in front of the Helldiver's guns.
As he had burrowed itself while the Helldiver was busy flying away and dodging the Edge's swords, he was sure Maverick didn't see him. He was most surprised when both rounds tore one into each of his wings, blowing them. As his VM plunged downwards, Akira couldn't help but asking if Maverick had to rip his wings every time as an in-joke. With the Windwalker out of flight systems and falling towards a permanent warparound bucle, he was efectively out of the fight.
Isamu planned to finish him, but a salvo from Natsumi's rockets made him change his mind as he had to avoid them. He did it with extreme ease, and got the Edge on his sights on the same movement. He grinned. He remembered his younghood days... "let's try something fancy. Just for fun".
He fired, not on the Edge, but on the cloud it was standing. The cloud, hit on its very, rigid center (the "anchor point" of the rest of the cloud and of the pathways that were attached to it), was knocked back, throwing the Edge off-balance and streching the yellow roads connecting it to other clouds. Then the streched roads returned to its normal status and the cloud bounced back, throwing the Edge like a sling... right into the Illumina. Isamu grinned again. Maybe he wasn't the best billiard player, but he still knew something. Two rivals down with one shoot. Then he turned and finished them.
Akira "ejected". Outside the pods, Jaired and Chiisai were staring each other and at Natsumi and Lei-Ming on amazement.
"Wow", said Jaired.
"Wow", answered Akira. It was silly, but after being defeated so soundly they couldn't think of anything else.
Isa saw on amazement how Maverick just put three of his teammates out of the fight on ten seconds. Before she could do anything, Isamu turned back and holed both her friend's fallen mecha with another salvo. The powerful bullets ripped through the mess of limbs that were the Illumina and the Edge, blowing both VMs into pieces. Then Isamu started turning towards her. Isa knew what was coming. She opened her VM's thrusters full open and headed right towards the enemy plane, heading just above it. With their combined speeds, she was out of the Helldiver's fire angle just before the plane (built along the lines of a historical WWII bomber, after all) could materially raise its nose high enough to track her. She slashed with her lightsabers, but failed as Maverick rolled its plane downward, her sword pasing through the empty air betwen both the Stuka's wheels.
Isamu feel surprised with the maneuver. To charge head-on at high speed was a sure way of getting shoot or crashing, but if properly done it was eficient as the reaction time was very small. He used it sometimes, but, he didn't expect one of these kids had enough guts to use it.
Isa looked back to the Helldiver. It was making a very ample turn instead of trying to get her tail, probably going for another head-on pass. When she turned back her head to the front, she let slip a small cry of surprise, then hold her VM's sticks firm as she quickly aproached a huge, silly-looking flying stork with a large warped bundle hanging from its beak on a collision course. A colorful bitmap explosion later, a scorched, feather-bared stork was threatening Isa with a clenched wing and the Gatillo had the bundle warped around its neck.
Isa grasped the cloth and ripped it, willing to get rid of the blasted thing as soon as possible, when she saw what was inside the bundle.
It was a shiny, V-8 slant Chevrolet engine. A "Double V-Max" PowerUp. She let slip a small sound of delight.
Isa didn't let pass the chance. She took the powerup, then turned back towards the again aproaching Helldiver. She oppened a channel.
"<Hello, 'Maverick'>". No answer. "<Would you dance?"> As an answer, Isamu oppened fire.
Isa kicked both turbochargers.
The Gatillo was shacken by the sudden surge of energy. The reactive shields glowed with a glorious blue light as they doubled its strength. They took the Helldiver's fire with ease, the rounds burning entirely on a twin flash of light. She flared towards the Helldiver, firing both arm guns. With the increased accuracy and maneuverability of the mecha, and the now unhindered Isami's reflexes, Maverick dodge was not so easy as always; he had to throw the 'Diver right hard to avoid both huge beams. As they flew past Isa switched again to lightsabers, now twice as powerful as before, but Isamu used their combined speed to get out of range.
Isamu glanced at his target analizer. Blast. Now these forcefields were so strong that his guns coyuld not penetrate them, not even with a lucky shot. He knew that the only thing he needed to do was to dodge her for some 30 seconds while waiting for the silly powerup to end, though.
For the next twenty seconds, Isa put the Helldiver under an astoundish volume of fire, but managed no hits. It seemed that Maverick dodged all her attacks with ease. But he knew better.
He tried to take her tail with a vertical scissors. The other pilot was not fooled and shoot at his plane's belly on the vertical. Isamu managed to jink, but Isa slashed at him with the sabers. He tried to make a barrel around her, but ended before Isa's guns anyway. He made a high yoyo, trading speed for height, to get into the faster mecha's tail. Isa simply reversed her VM and fired on him. He had to jink out of the beam's way, then Isa got his tail. He barely avoided another salvo, then dove on a controlled spin. Isa followed him on the spin, out-dove him, slashed at him with the sabers; as Isamu oppened the brakes to let her pass and dodge the swords, she fired at him from below. He recovered from the dive, almost breacking the 'Diver's wing as he pulled the stick hard to dodge her fire. She keept following him.
That pilot girl was good, Isamu realized. He knew by his analizer that the enemy VM was now almost as maeuverable as the Helldiver but it still didn't decrease the pilot's answer time, so what he was seeing was the girl's true skills. Impressive. No other pilot had survived him so long before, and although he knew perfectly that the girl's survival was only a consecuence of her temporal invulnerability (he'd let pass a few firing oportunities 'cause it would be of no good) the same turbocharger had given her a chance to show enough pieces of her repertory for Isamu to evaluate.
Then, as he started a hammerhead, rolling around the left wingtip, to get into her tail, Isa managed her right hand to get hold of the Helldiver's left wheel. "<Yatta!>", shouthed, and raised her other saber.
Isamu grinned. So do you think, he thougth. The Helldiver could not counterattack, but was not defenceless. He let loose the Stuka's bomb. The explosion shook both machines. The Gatillo's shields held, but Isamu hadn't hoped them to be penetrated. But the Helldiver's left wheel was cut off, freeing him. Once again the Gatillo's saber flew through empty air.
Still, he didn't like how his plane handled right now. A moment later, Isa fired again at him, and Isamu rolled his plane, deftly placing the other wheel into the beam's path. Now he was free of aerodinamic flaws, too.
"<Thank you>", radioed.
"Sugee!", thought Isami. "Now /that's/ a pilot". She kicked her thrusters full open, wanting to catch him and slice him with the sabers once and for all.
That precise moment, the blue shine of her shields flickered and went out.
"<Excellent dance. But now, your clock's bells struck twelve, Cinderella.>"
Isamu rolled around the Gatillo, got it into his sights and destroyed it
Isami's pod shook rather violently to simulate her VM catervaulting by the knockback before exploding, then the seal hissed as the "game over" sign flashed on the external screen. But she didn't open it.
"Isa, what a fight!", greeted Maki, but she got no answer. Isa's pod was still closed.
"Isami, come with us!", called Jaired. Still no answer. He excahnged a glance with Maki, them both of them aproached her pod.
When Maki and Jaired oppened Isami's pod, she was totally unmoving. Someone feared somewhat could have happened to her with the pod's strong movement, but then, when Maki helped her to remove her VR goggles, they could see her wide smile and hear them say on a extaxic, low voice:
"Excellent dance, Cinderella. Excellent dance, Cinderella. Excellent..."
Small pink hearths were almost visible on Isa's grey eyes. Chiisai's and Jaired's faces told whole volumes as they stared each other and sighed.
At the burger shop
The other kids had left -Akira and Jaired had work to do, and Natsumi and Lei-Ming were shopping at the mall, but Isami had spent at least a half-hour day-dreaming. She was sitting before a large soda, but she hadn't still even touched it. She had a dreaming expresion on her face, but that of Kojiro, sitting before her and before his empty orange juice, was less than happy.
"Oh, please, Isami, stop doing that!"
"Na..? Oh, sorry, Chiisai, I got distracted." (Don't swear it, thougth him).
"Isa, you've spent half an hour before your beberage without even starting it and saying nothing. What's going on there?"
Isa blushed. "He's so... cooooooooool!" Chiisai rolled his eyes up and left them up there to spare himself the trouble of moving them later. "And he flies so HOT!" Chiisai grumbled. "What's happening, Kojiro?"
"You liar. You are jealous!"
As Hell. "Jealous, me? Very funny, Isa, very funny."
"Yes, you're jealous 'cause he's much better pilot than you are!"
So she was talking about that. "Details, details. I'm not jealous of him, but you seem to have him on an altar just 'cause he blew you to bits."
"Well, he told me that it had.."
"...been an excellent dance, Cinderella", finished Chiisai with mocking annoyance.
"Why, yes. He's a coooooooool pilot and I just like him for being so good a pilot!" The kid kept rumbling. "I'm serious!", she protested. "He's able of out-fly anyone playing at present, with the only possible exception of Kyozo, and Kyozo doesn't pilot very often now."
"So, if I were to out-fly him, maybe actually shoot him down instead of just blowing his guns like that time, you would think I'm cooooooooooool and like me instead of like him?", Chiisai chided her.
Isami feigned a coquetry face."Well.... maybe". ... ... ... ... ... ... ... "Kojiro, why you so quiet?"
Change both shields to matter, no, better still, ranged, drop the 20-sized gun, smaller but more accurate gun, switch to gravitics, drop the improved armor to spare code for the... "Uhm? Ah, no, it's nothing. I was thinking on all the homework I've got for this weekend."
Isami finished her drink. "You ready?", asked him Chiisai. She noded. The kid offered her his arm and walked with her towards the bus stop. "Are you gonna go to your home alone?", asked him once they arrived.
"No, I'm going shopping with Rio first and then she?ll lead me home", answered the girl. "You can go unchain your bride?, joked.
"Now how /strong/ could sound this..." Chiisai laughed, then, after Rio came to the bus stop, he said Isami good-bye and headed towards his chained mountain bike.
Later. City center.
Rio and Isami exited the store, laughing, bags full of new clothing on their hands. The two girls were heading now to a jewelry shop, but as soon as they entered the underground passageway to cross the street, Rio stopped laughing. She tensed her muscles and put Isami near the wall. A moment later, a large shape stepped out of the shadow of an opportunely-broken light globe past the corner. A second, equally larger shape climbed down the stairs behind them and cut their retreat.
Rio put herself on guard and turned to have them at the sides instead of one on her back, but Isami saluted. "Well, hello, Buster, Bubba. Please, come on!"
The first shape aproached. It spoke, and it did that with the voice of Gabriel Boyd, one of the preferred muscles of "Rotten" Richards. "You Isami, Mr. Richards told you that he wanted to look at your game disk."
"Yes he said", talked the other shape, this one with the voice of his brother Rober. "He sent us to convince you that cheating him is no good".
"Don't tell me that he's still thinking I cheated him just 'cause I openned that silly tin can of him" answered Isami. "If he's stupid it's not my fault!"
"Please, Isami, don't make it worse", said Buster.
"We'll take your disk. Now", said Bubba.
Rio sized them both with her sight. "I think you'll find some troubles doing that."
"I doubt so", they answered.
"That was stereo, right, Isami?", said Rio. Isami smiled.
"That was no funny. Don't cause us troubles, girl, or you could get hurt". The two Rotten's gorillas aproached so both of them were threateningly close to both girls. Rio relaxed, smilling. "Good. I see you won't cause us trouble."
"Right, won't be I", said Rio. Then his brother put a hand on each browbeater's head and banged them thogether.
A few minutes later, both Daiba brothers had made quick work of the two Boyd brothers. "A good inter-family brawl", joked Rio. "What are you doing there, brother? I thought we had dated on the restaurant."
"I was killing time on the restaurant?s snack bar and I saw them spreading to enter the passway by both sides after you. I recognize an ambush when I saw it."
"Why didn't you join us before if you saw us?"
"I wanted not to bother your friend. My respects, mademoiselle."
Of course, Isami recognized the voice. She said, "........"
"She's rather timid, isn't she? I mean, that blind friend of you", asked Isamu to his sister.
"Isami? Timid?" Rio sounded surprised.
"She said not even a single word to me, not even to say 'good bye' when we left her on the bus."
Rio laughed. "That's because you gave her quite an impresion! You ought have seen her face when she oppened her pod after you defeated her this evening."
That has to be the one I played billiard with. "Was she angry?"
Rio smiled. "Rather just the opossite. She didn't stop repeating, 'excellent dance, Cinderella'... brother! are you all right? you just half-choked with your tea!"
TO BE CONTINUED
Story writen by LITTLE LOCUS