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Friends and Enemies
A Virtual Mekton Story

RIVALS

Tokyo

"You ready for your match today?"
"Hai, I am ready, they are only children...and I have one of the best programmed VMs available. Losing is not really a problem." the slim figure said as he shrugged into a battered Bomber jacket.
"You seem very confident, today is a random match-up across the Lightweb. Are you prepared to cooperate with your unknown partner?"
"You are worried about this match." he said. A statement not a question.
" I worry about every match. Matches are money, money is influence, influence is power. You would do well to remember that."
"Yes, Sempai." he walks to the door. "are you ready?" She smiles back " I'm waiting for you."
Locking the door behind him Ryuichi Masaki went to work.

Geocity (north side)

"HEY JAIRED ARE YOU READY YET?" Chiisai hated waiting. He showed up early in the vain hope that Jaired Grey, slacker extrordinaire (in his opinion) would be ready to go to The Arena.
"Hey, keep it down, this apartment isn't that big - go upstairs and talk to him" Melissa Grey admonished him. Chiisai only smiled at her as he dashed up the stairs.
Without missing a beat Chiisai rounded the stair corner an barged right into Jaireds room "What's taking you so long - get caught in the cables again?"
Jaired didn't even look up from the computer screen " No Baka, I'm just finishing compiling my VM - made some changes last night and they didn't take fully.".
"Let's see it then"
"Naw, I'll let it suprise you - just before I blow you into random pixels"
"Now it's your turn to be stupid - today is the doubles tournement at the arena, you know, the one where WE are going to team up and Blow the other guys to tommorow and beyond?"
"Huh? That's today?" A slow smile crept across Jaireds face "Cool, this will be a perfect test."
" A perfect test of what?" Chiisai was starting to get agitated, Jaired saw.
"I'll let you know on the way." Jaired got up from his terminal and started throwing stuff into his grey backpack.
Chiisai dropped onto Jaireds bed sighing. Secrets were as bad as wating he thought.
"C'mon let's get out of here" "Ya, ya I know..and finished" Zipping up his bag Jaired Looked at Chiisais comfortable form "race ya to the Bikes " he challenged and bolted slamming the door behind him.
The two boys thundered down the stairs "Can you two possibly make any more noise?" Mrs. Grey asked as they flew past.
"Why, yes I could" answered Chiisai as he flashed past " would you like me to try?"
"No thank you - you be back before ten, young man" she warned her son "Or Else." "Yes Mom" came the call back. Mrs. Grey shook her head and chuckled, The youth of today.

Geocity (south side)

Robert Barkley was not a happy camper. His VM club president comes in expecting the impossible. "But you can't put a structured power pool into the DeathDealer" he whined " it simply won't fit".
The object of his whining was Ronnie (Rotten, to his enemies) Richards. "Look you geek, I want a morphable weapons array that will do what I want in the matches. I am not interested in problems, that is your job. I tell you what I want and you make it. I don't know why I keep you around." Barkley wanted to knock that five thousand credit sneer right off of Rottens (financially) perfect face. He couldn't, he knew, because Rottens father would simply buy the school, kick him out and then Barkleys chances of a good job after graduation were slightly less than nothing.
"Look, you are already crowding the limit and the disk. Here is the back-up from last week, use this and leave me alone to work on it. If you don't do that at the very least, then I won't accomplish any work at all and you don't get what you want." Ronnie was bit suprised at his pet worms sudden defiance. Oh, well I'll just have to take him down a peg or two later, mustn't let the peasantry get to uppity.
He snatched the disk out of Barkleys hand "If it isn't ready for the monthly tourney I'll remove you from the student Committee on Computer Technology " he hissed. "Whatever, just get out".
Barkley watched the retreating back of the citys richest kid. "God gave him enough money, why doesn't he rent a clue or buy a brain." He muttered turning back to his hopeless task.

The Arena

"Here they come" cried Jennifer Randall.
"Where, I don't see then" Isa Shinzato said.
"No suprise there - maybe you need new glasses" Jennifer teased
"These ARE new glasses you round-eye" Isa shot back "Oh, I see them now - Jaireds leading on the bikes"
"Bet you a soda Chiisai wins." Jenny challenged
"You're on - Jaireds got a three car lead."
Pedaling for what he was worth Jaired looked back at Chiisai " Hey, Sportsfan, gonna let a mere computer geek beat you"
Looking back wound out being a Bad Idea. Jaired hit a pothole and went flying and then skidding across the pavement.
"Watch where you're going and you might actually get there sometime" Chiisai cried as he flew by.
Muttering things that were not meant to be heard Jaired picked himself off the ground and dusted himself off. There goes another jacket.
He picked his bike up and walked over to the small group. "You OK there?" Isa asked looking closely at him.
"I'll live - think. At least my gear isn't screwed. You gals playing today?"
"No. Isa and I got to work later on." Jenny replied
"Bummer" Chiisai mourned " Here I was hoping to win a date off of you tonight"
Jenny turned to Jaired "Is he always this impudent?"
"No, sometimes he forgets to be polite about it - he forgot his Cave Club"
"Ugh. Me Want Ooman." Chiisai grunted behind Jaired. "See what I mean?"
As they started inside Isa looked over t Jaired " You know you just lost me a bet - you owe me now boy."
"What? What did I do now? I didn't have anything to do with your bet!" Jaired protested futily.

Inside the Arena was Bedlam.
A voice over the PA was calling the next players to their pods. "Be back in a minute - gotta throw some stuff in my locker" Jaired called as he headed toward the back.
"Must be nice to work here" Chiisai remarked heading to the sign in counter.
"My, My, the mighty Grasshopper is jealous I do believe" Teased Jenny. "Who me? Never in his dreams!" Chiisai snorted.
Isa was watching the match in progress - a pair of custom Virtual Mektons were fighting it out in a small arena. The two tiny images were closing on each other. A red humanoid was skimming over the ground with large energy sword and a pistol. Opposing the red humanoid (the computers tagged it as "Flintlock") was a squat four-legged turreted monstrosity (tag read: Dancer").
Tiny missiles raced out of the legs of the quad and sought out the Flintlock with suicidal glee. The Flintlock started dodging and weaving, but a few still hit, ripping off a large sheet of armor from the pistol arm and the torso. Still closing the Flintlock fired its small pistol and missed the Dancer as it skipped out of the way.
"Hey Jenny, isn't that Mark and Sue out there?" Isa gestured to the ongoing fight.
"Think so, but I thought that Dancer wasn't finished".
"Well it will be in a moment - Mark just took off one of her legs with that greatsword of his" Chiisai remarked.
"Typical male. Always thinks that brute force will win over manuverability". Jenny replied.
"There is no problem that a sufficient application of firepower won't solve" Chiisai shot back smugly.
"I'll give you both something to think about if you don't keep down - I'm trying to watch Sue finish of Mark" Isa cut into the budding arguement.
"What? Ohmygod she coded an entangler into that thing." Chiisais attention was back on the match.
"Told you, you over traditional asian you." Jenny smiled.
"One of these days, Jenny, I am going to take you out"
"Not on your life, boy, I already have a boyfriend."
"You know what I mean" he growled back.

Back in the computer room running the ongoing bout, Jaired was finishing checking his disk for errors that his home system might have missed.
"You know, there are some out there that would consider verifying compiled VMs on the master system Cheating" Jaired spun to face the voice.
"Yessir. However, Mr Lambert, there has to be SOME benefit to working here. Even as a lowley cashier." Jaired grinned at his boss.
"Well, I suppose so.....so whatdaya got here?" Mr Lambert asked coming up behind Jaired.
"Just my latest and greatest project - Mistwalker".
"Impressive - a bit thick in the code though - just what does this section do?" Mr Lambert asked pointing to a section on the screen.
"Ah, well that I am particularly proud of...and I ain't going to say either. Watch todays tourney and you'll see."
" I Know, you and whatsisname - you know that exchange student you hang with."
"Chiisai"
"Yeah, him. Any way you're up on the Lightweb in 20 minutes. Better get cracking if you want you disk verified before the match."
Taking the hint Jaired shut down the terminal "Yesssss bosssss, right away bossss. Is there anything elsssse bossss?"
"Impudence will get you nowhere young man. Good luck today. Now get out of my computer room before I fire you!" Mr Lambert laughed.
"Bye!"

Back up front Chiisai and Jenny were still at it, arguing over various points in the last round.
Isa looked up with a smile "Jaired could you PLEASE get these two to stop arguing - they act like they are already married!"
"Well, you can't stop nature" He cracked back.
For his Bad Attempt At Humor Jaired was pelted with ice cubes. "Hey, Pace(peace), didn't mean anything by it" he cried under the onslaught. "C'mon Chiisai we're up next. Let's get a move on to verify our disks."
"Fine, fine...just get me away from this uncultered barbarian amazon princess" Chiisai jumped away from the table as Jenny made a grab for him.
"He'd make a fine addition to Geocities Zoo" she hollered after them.
"I think she likes you." Jaired quipped at his friend as they handed over their disks and money
"Please get real my friend...but she is cute..."
Hey, I got pod three, what do you have?" "Seven." They were handed back their change and disks and moved away from the counter.
"Well, see you an the battlefield" Jaired started around to the pods.
"And so, our intrepid heroes gathered around their mighty machines and said 'please don't hurt me'" Chiisai intoned as he approched his pod.
Jaired just shook his head as he settled into his pod.

Inside the pod, the main screen was white with the words "Please insert data disk" scrollong across.
Jaired pulled out a joystick - a genuine Thruster 25000 and slid the connector into the waiting slot. Only then did he pull out his disk and drop it into the waiting slot. Whirring soflty the data cartridge slipped into the reciever and the screen muted itself while reading the information. Moments later panels started appearing and the controls manifested themselves. "Control Check, Please" floated across the screen now. It was an old ritual. Jaired ignored the message, he had started checking them the moment they started popping into existance. A minute or so later a new message scrolled across: ' Tournament mode: ACTIVE' the last word was flashing. A map appeared on screen and a voice sounded in his ear "You on-line yet..or did your disk crash?" "No little bug, I'm up...is CORA still working or did you de-rezz her torso again?" "Wise-acre, CORA, ah, my sweet CORA is just fine"
The computer overrode the teams transmissions 'Arena generation complete, no special environments detected. You have two minutes to observe the arena. Good Luck and good hunting'.
"-ed. What do you think?" Chiisais voice came back on.
"Just what are you blithering about? I couldn't hear a thing you said, the Computers voice overrode you."
"I was just asking if this team-up was what you wanted?"
"Hey, I can blast you to bits anytime...but lets concentrate on others today. Now about this section over here.."
The countdown continued.

Tokyo

There were few open seats at the Club Ryuichi observed when he finally got inside. "Is there something you are not telling me about tonights match?" He asked his female companion. "Of course," she replied "but you don't need to worry about that... all you need to do is win".
"Don't I always?"
"So far. Your pod is over there" she said pointing "get set up quickly, The match will start in about ten minutes. It would look very.... bad to have made arrangements, and have them fall through because someone was tardy".
She turned away from him and started moving toward the bar. "Oh, and just in case..good luck" she tossed over her shoulder.
Good luck indeed, Ryuichi thought. The only luck you bring is bad for others around you.
He started over to the pod.

Geocity (south side)

"Well, where is my VR rig?. Damn but it is hard to get things done these days. You dolts! Who told you to keep it in the pod...do
you realize how much this costs?"
"Yes, Ronald" came a chorus of voices.
"Well, now that everthing is set...does anyone here care to make a little wager on this?" Ronald asked as he sat in the pod.
"Sure, I've got five thousand on you Ronald" Brett Biff said.
Nobody bet against Ronald. That was unsportsmanlike to these stiff upper-crust society boys.
Ronald rolled his eyes "I ask about a small bet and he offers pocket change...is the console ready?"
Biff smiled back "Of course it is...but with DeathDealer you shouldn't need it."
"I know that, but it never hurts to be prepared." The screen started flashing "Ah, time to show the masses what good breeding
is worth". The pod sealed with a hiss-click.

Tokyo

'Tournament mode: ACTIVE, No Partner recognized. Random Partner assignment: Enabled. Location: Geocity, North American continent. Name: Ronald Richards, Callsign: Megabuck$, Communication enabled....Do you wish to activate communications?'
Y E S
"Who is this? I demand you answer me right now" the flat voice of Ronald Richards invaded the pod. Ryuichi hastily muted the volume. An American... a whiny sounding one at that.
"I am Helldiver, and you WILL address me as such. What is the nature of the VM you are using?"
"Well, Mr Helldiver sir, I am Ronald Richards the fourth of Ronalds corporation and I am piloting the DeathDealer, the best VM tank ever designed." A boastful, whiny American Ryuichi revised his opinion of his 'partner'. Oh well, I've done more with less.
"Ronald-san, I am piloting a well armored fighter from your second world war. I will take high cover and spot our enemy. You will then close and assist me in destroying them. That is the plan. If you do not follow this plan I will exterminate you from the game. And no, I am not interested in hearing your protests.

Geocity (south side)

Who does this person think he's talking to. I am Ronald Richards of the Ronalds corporation! Ronald thought to himself. This foreigner from Japan doesn't know who I am....unbelievable! As soon as Ronald got over the shock
of being treated like...like some Commoner..The arena map dissappeared and the fight began.

Inside the virtual arena

The exit tunnels were made of blue ice. Stalactites hung from the ceiling and a layer of some sort of rock could be seen through the ice of the floor. Jaired slowly walked his VM out into the arena proper. The map preview did not do the terrain justice.
A large plain of ice extended into the distance, on the horizon a chain of volcanos were smoking.
Another VM materialized next to his. "WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT??!!" came Chiisai's yell over the team freaquency.
"This, my over loud friend is the Mistwalker (V 1.0). I told you that I was working on a new VM."
" I knew that, but I didn't know it wouldn't show up on my sensors - I almost ran over you before I saw you. How did you do that?"
"Trade secret."
" 'Trade secret' my arse, how did you do that?"
"I ain't going to tell you, especially not not in the middle of a game!" Jaired admonished his friend.
"Er, right. So, who do we go after first?"
"You are the 'tactical Genius' you tell me. I pointed out the best places to make a stand here, it's your job to make it all work."
Their conversation was interupted by twin bursts of cannonfire tracing their way toward the two mecha.
"Scatter! It's an air attack!" Chiisai ordered
Overhead an ancient Propeller powered fighter flew overhead. Chiisais VM started off toward the north shields forming up around him.
"I'm going this way" Jaireds VM gestured toward the northeast. "Just don't get out of range of me, I may not be able to help you if you get in trouble" Chiisai warned. "Don't worry about me - LOOK OUT!" Jaired said, spotting the plane coming back for another pass.
Chiisai lit off his thrusters and started heading toward the volcanos. The Stuka followed, something detached from the little fighters nose and fell toward the ground ahead of CORA. The CORA slewed to the left and the bomb cratered the ice plain and showered Chiisai with shards of earth and ice.
"That thing is getting a bit close Jaired, would mind doing something to help?"
"See what you get for tying everything into that power manager module, hold still for a moment." Jaired started aiming and as the fighter crossed into the sight he fired. The pilot, seeing he was the only flying target, dodged the blast.

Ryuishi was suprised. First of all, that other humanoid didn't show on his game radar, secondly that cannon of its fired for two full seconds. That was going to be hard to keep dodging - the beam could track across a wide area. "They are over on the south side of the ice shelf - head to where I am and stop them from getting into the canyons"
"I'm coming, I'm coming. You know this tank doesn't moveas fast as that plane of yours - I built this this for firepower, not racing!" "Move faster" Ryuichi snapped. "I'm almost there." Ryuichi could see the outline of the tank through the low level mist. Thing doesn't show up on the game radar eithr, Ryuici noted. This would be interesting between the two - I'd bet that that Iteki doesn't even have a clue about the other VM either.
Ronald was getting annoyed. That Jap pilot is entirely to arrogant to his betters. he thought to himself, Maybe I ought to put a round or through his wings to show him who is Really in Charge. He decided to wait, first that VM of Chiisais needed to be taken care of.

Outside the pods

"Hey Isa, get over here, you're missing it!" Jenny hollered over the growing crowds noise.
Isa waved over to her friend from the snack counter and started over to the observation holo. After worming her way through the Crowd. "What?" she said handing Jenny her owed soda. "Take a look"Jenny pointed "Who do we know that has a big ugly tank?"
"Huh?" Isa looked closer at the holo and frowned "That wouldn't be Rottens Deathtrap would it?"
"Hand the girl a prize, The tags just came up once everyone got in range of each other."
"Oh, god, Chiisai and Jaired are going to have trouble with this one."
"Dunno. Jaired is running some new VM he must of cooked up lately - you know that boy, he's practically attached to his games and computers"
"Jealous because he beat you last week?"
Jenny snorted "Not hardly - he got lucky"
"Sure he did, that's why you left in a huff after he blew away your main weapon"
Switching the subject Jenny pointed back at the holo "Looks like they're going for a running gunfight. Don't blame 'em either, Rotten may be a twit, but he can definitely build a good VM."
"He couldn't build a paper airplane and you know it. Hey! Jaired is running a tank also!"
"Smooth lines... I like his design better than Rottens - look at it move" Jenny flinched as a bomb from the fighter landed squarely on Jaireds tank. "That has Got to hurt."
They both watched the plane lift away from its bombing run....and run right into CORAs beam cannon. The plane flashed crimson as critical hits were assesed on it. On one of the side holos flashed "Critical Hit: weapons and sensors. Regeneration in progress."
Jenny looked at that with shock. Regeneration? That was a hard one to code in even a low level VM...much less a tournament capable one. "Looks like they are going to have an even harder time with this one" Jenny sighed. "Well, if we are going to be here awhile, why don't you buy us some munchies...we already have drinks".

In Japan

Ryuichis lady companion winced as the Stukas damage was posted. That was going to cost a few points of her take. Not that it really mattered, she thought idly. Money was moving so freely tonight that even if Ryuichi lost, it really wouldn't matter. Her benefactors purpose would be realized soon enough. Not that she'd tell Ryuichi, the poor fool had no idea why he was paid to play a game - he thought it would help bring back his glory. She waved down a waiter and ordered another drink.

Geocity (south side)

"Ronnie isn't doing so well today isn't he?" asked Brett.
"I told him that running a slow VM would put him at a disadvantage" one of the other clubmembers, Dale Arden, voiced.
"Yeah, sure you did" shot back Brett, "anyways I think it'd be a good idea to set up the Console."
"He won't be happy you did that without being told."
"He won't be happy about losing to those have-nots either" Brett nodded to the figures in the holo. "So go get it done alright".
Two of the group moved to a computer station on the other side of the room and started to wake it up.

In the arena

After the Stuka disengaged, Jaired and Chiisai led Rotten on a merry chase across the plains. Every time the two thought they had an advantage that tank would turn on its shield system and shrug off the damage.
The Deathpanzer dodged behind a hill of ice and did not come out from behind it.
"Hey, Chiisai-"
"Before you ask: No I haven't seen it go anywhere."
"I know that, I was going to tell you - it cloaked."
Chiisai bowed his head and muttered things about bad karma. "Wonderful. Just simply wonderful - if you know that then perhaps you would inform we as to where it has gone to?"

In the panzer Ronnie sniggered. Those saps would never find him now. He activated the cloak and his grav lifters the moment he went out of sight - along with his stealth, he'd never be found. Slowly he manuvered his tank from behind the hill. Just as he expected - both of his opponents were just standing there with out any idea of what was going on.

A small dish deployed from Mistwalker. Inside the gravtank Jaired was trying to locate his quarry. Shortly an outline appeared on the game radar- Rotten. "Chiisai?" "yes?" "Could I interest you in something?" "Depends." "How about a tank" "A tank? Would it be about so big with a big gun on top?" "Possibly, possibly." "Why, yes, I'll take 'tanks for 2000 Alex". "The answer is 'What is 300 meters to your left and closing'".
Chiisai rocketed straight up. Rotten fired an instant to late. The HEAP (High explosive Armor Piercing) rounds flew under CORAs feet and detonated harmlessly. The panzer appeared just out of the firing arc for Jaired to get a good shot. He fired anyways and was rewarded with a hit that tracked across the side and treads. Inside the panzer the computers voice was sounding a warning"Danger: energy resevior at 80%" Ronnie panicked and bolted back behind cover. Oh, god that was to close he sweated. I'm going to have to find a way to bleed off some of this excess power or I'm going to have trouble.
"Head into the canyons Jaired - he can't hide there" Chiisai called as he drifted into the gap.
"Ya, but will we be able to manuver in there as well - you know I don't like tight areas."
"Quit whining and get in here. Once you get under the lip it isn't so bad."
"Be down in a moment. I want to check something out - might be a crate".
Power-ups are starting to show, Chiisai mused "Be careful, you don't want to collect a bomb."
"Don't worry about me - worry for that loser Rotten."
Jaired smiled and headed toward the blip. Since everyone is otherwise occupied, time to activate MY cloaking systems.
The air rippled and Mistwalker faded away.

Down in the canyon, Chiisai switched systems from the gun to matter shields. A crate had appeared on his scope as well. With Rotten busy hiding, and that Stuka being stuck in the air...this one is all mine. He grinned and started clomping toward his prize.
Several turns later the ground started to rubmle. "Hey Jaired, whats going on out there?" he called.
"Volcano is starting to smoke. Don't worry I think it's only special effects."
"OK" Aha! There was the crate as he approached it, the casing faded away and a lightning bolt appeared "Weapons Upgraded" the computer announced. All Right! Chiisai thought gleefully, Now I can do some Serious Damage!

Above the canyons, The Helldiver was getting impatient. Looking at the readouts, it was going to be a few more minutes before the weapons came back on-line. The sensors came back on-line less than two minutes after being blasted.
Looking out his window, he spotted CORA. "Megabucks, the enemy is in the canyons, I am sending you the location" the cockpit made a chuckling noise and a map appeared in Ronnies display. "I got it, he isn't far from me now." Ronnie slowly lowered his tank into the canyon. "Do you see that other VM anywhere Mr. Pilot Sir?" "No trace of him... he could be hidden under an ice overhang or in a cave." "No matter, once I take out this one, the other won't be a problem".
"Just try to hurt it before he takes you out".
"That plebian? I Hardly think so!"
Hardly think is right. Ryucihi thought. So far all you have done is chased after them and waste your ammo. You've been on the defensive for this entire fight. Come to think of it we BOTH have been a little too defensive, maybe it is time to do something about that.

Behind the Panzer, Jaired was getting impatient. Typical of me, he laughed at himself, I get split off of my partner for a wild goose chase. Now I have this monster in front of me and Chiisai is hiding somewhere. Time to Do Something, he decided. Looking at the ice walls of the canyon he decided against the main gun, it would bring down to much debris if I miss and I wouldn't be able to get out. He reverted to Humanoid and manifested his warglave. Mistwalker closed on its prey.

Inside the Panzer the computers voice startled Ronnie "Warning: powersurge detected at 180". The moment the warning was finished being spoken a monstrous CLANG resounded as Mistwalker landed on the tank and struck with its polearm. Cutting through the shield and shearing off a slab of armor, the strike didn't penetrate, but it did wound the primary shield.
Bastard, sneak up on me like that will you? Ronnie thought, well "EAT THIS" he screamed as he fired and the close in defense system overode the power manager. The two weapon systems went off at the same time and both hit. Jaireds pin-point shield system blocked the CIDS, but the main gun hit square in his chest. The knockback drove him into the canyon wall and the overhang avelanched onto him, pinning his VM.

Outside the pods.


"How could Jaired be so stupid?" cried Jenny.
"With great ease it seems, now he is well and truly stuck. It'd serve him right if he got taken out for that."
"Rotten is an idiot, he won't take advantage of this, I bet he thinks that Jaired can't get loose, so he will go after him later."
"No bet this time" they watched as the panzer moved away from the rubble pile. "Well," Jenny commented "at least he didn't go through the armor. Jaired'll eventually dig himself out."

In the arena


"That fool is pinned, there is no way he could get out of that rockslide!" Ronnie protested.
"I still think you should have finished him while you had the chance" Ryuichi replied "And I also think you should go back and finish him".
"Well I'm not going back until we finish the other one....he ambushed me and I want to make him pay....slowly!".
"You arrogant - " Ronnie shut off the radio. Fool, NOBODY tells me what to do.

Above, Ryuichi ground his teeth. The only way to take care of both was to finish off the other mobile threat now. The debris covering the other VM, combined with its armor, would make a strafing attack a waste of ammo. A ping sounded and his display updated to show his weapons were active. He started lining up on the canyons.

"Smooth move, slick" Chiisai chided his friend.
"How was I to know that he had a close-in system?, Still , I'm going to be stuck for a little while."
"Really? Never'd guessed."
"I may be stuck, but I can still do something."
"Like what? Dig yourself out?"
"There is that,but I was thinking about telling you where that tank is."
"Do we HAVE to go through this every time? Besides, how do you know where he is?"
"Remember the trouble I went through to code in the grav drive?"
"Yeah. What's the point?"
"I tied it into my sensor array. That cloak of the panzers is useless against it."
Jaired could here the slow smile on Chiisais face. "And because yo-yo out there is using a grav drive he also shows up on your game radar... am I right?"
"Give the man a prize. He is located at 500 meters behind you, skimming the ground. Shoot a bit low and you should have a better chance of nailing him."
"Right. Is there any way to patch your sensor feed over to me?"
"Not while I'm digging myself out, there isn't"
"Well, I can always hope can't I?"
"Get set up, he's at 250 and closing."
"I'm already hidden under an overhang - "
"Careful, that's how I got here"
"DUH! I know that, as I was going to say, near the edge, so if it does fall, I'll not catch more than a few chunks."
"100 meters right in front of you, about.....5 meters up"
"Firing.....now."

With the power-up, Chiisais strike was devastating. Deathpanzers shields sucked up as much as they could and died.
The rest of the strike was absorbed by the armor. Inside the tank Ronnie saw his power spike right in to the red."Warning: battery at 95%, Warning: shield down. Warning: Cloak failure".
Ronnie returned fire, bleeding off some of the accumulated power through his Hammerbeam. The beams area attack virtually guranteed a hit, and the rock shelf didn't blow out... it evaporated.
Chiisai shot again at its now-visible target, hitting a tread unit and mangling a section of it.
Inside the panzer, Ronnie slaved his power module and main gun together, and his next shot was lost in an explosion.

Outside the pods.


"Look at that fight!" Isa squealed "I can't beleive he's going one-on-one with that monster!"
"I can, he's so stubborn. I'd bet he thinks he could take on both at the same time. Still, he isn't doing too bad."
"Jenny, you can be SUCH a nit at times , you know!"
The game computers voice came over the PA " Volcano eruption detected"
"Canyons, canyons" Jenny muttered...she looked at the holo-map and her eyes narrowed. "I can't beleive I didn't see it earlier... Isa, those canyons are made from old volcano explosions!"
"What do you mean?"
"Look, where is the volcano?"
"In the middle."
"Where is the ice?
"Everywhere in the outer canyons and further out" Isas eyes widened in recognition. "Boy, they are in trouble"
"AND they don't know it yet."

Inside the arena

The concussion from the explosion knocked CORA off of her feet, That saved her from the panzers strike. Inside the panzer, Ronnie was beating his controls in frustration, He had a perfect shot, and missed. The eruption rattled his VM and he missed. Over the speakers, he could hear an ominous roaring/hissing noise. He turned his radio back on"Hey fighter-jock, whats going on?"
Below , Ryuichi observed, was going to be very uncomfortable for the ground VMs. "The volcano erupted, and a tide of lava is heading toward you, I'd advise getting out of the canyon."
"No, really? of course I'm getting out of this canyon if there is a lava wave headed toward me!"

Chiisai saw the tank turn and slowly start to rise out of the canyon and took a parting shot a it, nailing the underside of the tank .
A little more armor ablated and the shield collapsed again.
"Chiisai?"
"I'm busy right now." he replied
"Get unbusy then, or would you rather be well done? There is a lava flow headed toward you and I think that is considered a Bad Thing. By the way, the eruption knocked loose enough rubble - I'm free now."
"And here I was getting all of the glory, I guess I could share... a little bit anyways;"
"My heart overjoys at your generosity."
Chiisai fired his thrusters and lifted out of the canyon... right into a strafing attack the fighter was waiting for.
A thruster pod flared out and died as it was hit. Chiisai tumbled as he hit.
"You okay?" called Jaired.
"I'm fine, but CORA is down to jumping only, he took out half my flight system."
Lava started hissing by in the canyon eating at the rock and ice. Chiisai looked at the flow momentarily and switched his attention back to the tank "Are you here yet?" "Yup, I'm right beside you" "Where?" "Moneybags overthere isn't the only one that has a cloak." "No wonder you wouldn't talk earlier." Chiisai chuckled. "Shall we?" he asked. "Lets."

Geocity (South side)

"Ronnie's getting pounded, do something!" Biff shouted at the two at the console.
"We're trying, but the passwords to the arena system have been changed!" they yelled back.
"Don't give me excuses, DO SOMETHING!!!!"
They turned to each other, shrugged, and loaded a program.

Inside the arena


Ronnie was scared. HIs shield was down, the airplane wasn't hurting the other two fast enough "Warning: Power system overload iminent". He didn't have a clue what that meant. A moment later he learned.
The two VMs facing off against him fired at the same time.
His shields collapsed for the last time.
His RAM armor soaked up everything that remained.
His power core blew.
The explosion started from the rear of the tank and expanded from there, eating the armor on the turret, melting the exterior weapon pod, secondary shields flared and died, treads melted and there was a momnt of silence.
The explosion all but gutted the tank, it could still move (slowly) it could still fight, until it ran out of ammo, but it couldn't win anymore.
He was dead for all intents and purposes.

"WARNING: VIRUS DETECTED, WARNING: SYTEM FAILURE WARN-"
The pods shut down.
Outside the pods the holo flicked off, and the overhead lights died.
The two players emerged from the pods and headed down toward the exit "What happened?" "Dunno Chiisai, we were about to win and the system went down. Mannn, I'm pissed - we had that pissant rotten dead to rights and then this. I tell you, it ain't fair."
They met up with the girls and headed outside.

TOKYO

"You failed". She said
Ryuichi was not in the mood. "I did NOT fail. Someone crashed the system before I could have finished them"
"Irrelevant, you did not eliminate them. However, the club manager agrees with your opinion" She stressed the last word.
"I want to know who cost me my chance at victory - I know you know where to find experts that caould tell me the source
of this games problem."
"I do, why should I tell you?"
"Because You want a winner with an unbroken record to continue your business" Ryuichi shrugged "And I want revenge".
They stepped out of the club into the rain.


TO BE CONTINUED...

Story writen by Kencyr