|I know everything about you...
by Tsuneo Tateno
- 1 -
It was a cold winter morning.
It's windy, but the sky was so blue and clear.
Sound of hydrogen engine, and warm, broad back of Isamu. Rio was in heavenly happiness. She almost going to sleep.
She was riding on backseat of her brother's bike heading to the Arena, the biggest VIRTUAL MEKTON VRcade in Geocity.
She found a middle aged man pulling a stall of Yaki-imo(sweet potato roasted on hot pebbles). It was Shouichi Takizawa, the father of her teammate, Leon. Rumor says he was once a famed Yakuza boss, but now he is a janitor of Intron High, and pullung a stall in holidays. Rio doesn't know the reason, but Takizawa has a lot of debts.
Rio greeted him by waving her hand.
Shouichi answered her by a soft smile and bow.
"Best day to eat Yaki-imo". Rio thought. Yaki-imo is one of most popular fast-food among Japanese highschool girls. Especially, in this season. All-natural, high-fiber, sweet, hot, and cheap. More than anything else, Rena can eat this.
Her friend, Rena has 'special talent' to see things Rio can't. She told she can feel the past when she touch things: but it is uncontrolable. This mean she feel deadly pain everytime she try to eat meats. So she only eats vegitables. And her family's too much traditional custom prevent her from those foods sold at stall. Rio still remember how Rena smiled when she first eat a Yaki-imo.
"Drop by his stall after battle. I'll treat it to you and girls", Isamu suddenly said.
"How did you know what I'm thinking?"
"I know everything about you, Rio" Isamu said in his carm toned voice. Rio knows he is smiling under his helmet.
"Why not? I've been changed your diaper when you were a... au!" Rio pinched his thigh with all her might---90kg of grasping power.
"You never know." Rio muttered to herself. She was happy, but somewhere in her heart hurts.
- 2 -
"Too late!", Maki complained.
It was 11:12. Rio and Isamu late 12 minutes.
"Ohayou-gozaimasu(Good morning, sir)" Rena and Chisato made a polite bow to Isamu.
"Yo!(Hi!)" Leon just smiled like a wild tiger who found long waited target.
"Sorry. My brother overslept" Rio apologized.
"It's because you forced me to shave and take a bath." Isamu said.
"Ah, so" Maki grined at Rio. Rio casted her eyes down.
"I almost believed that you two are too much affected to Musashi Miyamoto" Leon laughed.
The Swordmaster Musashi Miyamoto late over 2 hours at his duel with Kojirou Sasaki on purpose of make him irritate. Musashi's old movie was on-aired at TV last night and they know Rio won't miss it.
"He surely do it if I didn't live with him" Rio said with a sigh, but her sigh contained happy feeling.
Isamu amazed at number of audiences on Arena. He almost thought Rio cheated him to make him attend World Championship Tournamant again. But he know it was already finished in August.
Most of audiences were girls of Intron and Kurosawa High/Juniorhigh schools. Many of them weren't VM players: they came to have a look at Rio's 'mine brother'. Girls murmuring each other and made a shrieking commotion everytime he take a glance on them.
He noticed Arena's fastfood stand recording a high sales. And he saw several girls buying Delux VM Kits and making ID at R.E.D. Maki's father smiled happily and bowed to him.
"I see", Isamu understood. "I'm not cheated by Rio. It's Maki"
Isamu felt slight headache and tireness. "Maki maybe more efficient tactician than Musashi, if she meant to give this to me" Isamu thought and stared at her.
Maki smiled to him victoriously.
- 3 -
Rio and her team 'Knights of the Wind' is known as girls only VM team. All of the team members are skilled as champions of local city And team's engineer, Maki Akanezawa is renouned for her nimble and deadly VM designs. KOTW is surely one of the most strong team in Geocity.
On the other hand, Isamu Daiba, called himself as 'Maverick', is the most feared pilot in the city. His skill is so incredible that it is believed that his VM, Helldiver never got hit from enemy. He battled against any VM by his humble propeller plane looks like WW2 German dive bomber 'Stuka'. Rumor says his kill record contains several World Champions and the legendery game designer himself.
"Now, the best team of the city challanged to the uncrowned monarch on 5vs1 match! The battle begins on 11:00 of next Sunday, at the Arena!"
Maki remembered her income of last week. Isamu's photo sold really well to girls of Intron High/Junior High. She sold photos at $1.50 each: its actual cost was only 25cents. She cannot stop smiling. Her family business going very well today. She believe she'll get extras from her father.
Maki stoped her happy culculating time, as the Screen shows gray sky of East Front stage.
Rio, Rena and Maki worked out the plan of operations. They know very exact data of Helldiver---actually Rio had a newest dupricate of Isamu's Disk itself. They know every optional equipments of Helldiver. Maki is sure that they can't lose.
Maki take part of ECM as always. Her Zephyr's ECM will blind Helldiver's sensor from 20km away. Then Rena's Reppu and Leon's Mistral make ranged attack from outside of his sensor range while Rio's Hayate and Chisa's Fuuga distract him.
"It's a perfect tactics." Maki thought. "We can win even if he is the Creator of the World"
Knights approached to Helldiver. Rio planed to attack at 15km away from Zephyr. Helldiver body is stealthed, but Zephyr's efficient sensor arrays never miss a flying target. But Rio could find Helldiver very easily. He flew high altitude that everyone can detect him without Zephyr's guide.
"He flies as always" Rio thought. "as if there is nothing other than himself..."
"The target is in sight. Take the formation Alpha, Knights" Rio commanded. "...3km ...2km ...1000 ...500, 4, 3, 2, 1, Engage!"
At the same time, Diver's wings suddenly exploded.
Knights cried out in surprise.
Next moment, Helldiver was in 5km behind of them.
"...Teleportation...?" Chisato whispered with complete surprize on her face
"No! It's Booster Pack!!" Leon shouted and gnashed her teeth with vexation.
"Who said diver's structual max speed is slower than Fuuga!?" Paniced Maki cried.
"I forgot his major is Aeronautical Engineering!" said Rio.
"Now I understand why Isamu-san looks so sleepy. He created this equipment last night. Very sagacious" only Rena kept her out-of-place calm grace as always. She even smiled under her helmet.
"Rena! Why you are so....arrrrgh! He is approaching! Approaching! Somebody help me out!!"
"I'm on it!" Chisato answered and turn back toward Zephyr in full speed.
Fuuga is the fastest VM in the Knights, but Helldiver was even more faster... He flies in Mach 14... nearly 3 times faster than Fuuga!
"So... Maki is in this way..." Isamu yawed diver's nose slightly.
Isamu didn't know Zepher's exact position. Maki still beaming him Sensor Jammer ECM. But course of Fuuga gave him a clue. Her ECM totally blind his sensor, but it won't blind view from canopy. He know his sharp eyes never miss a target unlike sensors.
"I can't catch up! Maki-chan, get away from there now!" Chisato shouted.
"I can't escape from that speed!" Maki cried. "OK, Isamu, I'll show you the power of my new Skysweeper. Can you evade this without your sensors!?" She fired her boasting long range cannon.
"Maki, NO!" Rio shouted.
Helldiver evaded the beam at ease, but Zephyr's 60-degree wide beam with 16km range also showered over other Knights.
"Whoa!" Leon screamed as she saw her screen almost blinded by flashing beams. But the beam didn't arrived to her because Fuuga's Phoenix Wings refrected the beam to somewhere.
Maki revealed her exact position by herself. Isamu didn't overlook her mistake.
"I have you now..." he pulled the trigger. Then he smiled deprecatingly---he unintentionally said his old quote he didn't used for a several years.
He fired 3.7cmBK from 4km away...almost maximum range of the gun. The shot penetrate Zephyr's torso accurately and wrecked it to thousand pieces.
Isamu already started turn manuever before his target analyser confirm the destruction of Zephyr.
"Damn!" Maki throwed her helmet to the floor as she poped out from her Pod.
"Why me,Isamu! Do you have any grudge on me!?" She shouted on screen, knowing he can't hear her curse.
"Because you have too good ECM..."
As Isamu's low voice came out from speaker, audiences burst out laughing.
Only Maki felt she got gooseflesh all over.
She picked up her helmet and checked it. Switch of the microphone was in off.
"Why he know what I said.....?"
- 4 -
"Maki-chan!" Chisato cryed as she saw Zephyr exploded.
"Isamu-san..." she mutterd.
Helldiver dropped the boosterpacks and slowed down to under-Mach speed.
Chisato manuevered Fuuga to the back of Helldiver. Without the boosterpack, diver only has a half speed of Fuuga. Chisato felt Isamu troubling to get his fireing position.
"Chii-chan, please keep him busy, we'll reach there very soon" Rio said. But Chisato heard it in different meaning.
"I'm keeping him busy...?" Chisato thought.
"I'm fighting one-on-one with Isamu-san...?"
"I'm fighting with him equally...?"
Chisato felt 'his' all blood getting burning hot.
The Combative Instinct.
The instinct 'he' never thought he have.
Isamu was his ideal. When he was a child, he always dreamed to be a man like him. He dreamed that he'll be a air-force pilot and fight alongside with the hero like Isamu.
Everybody except his teammate have been treated him as cowardish abnormal. But now, he fight with Isamu, most deadly pilot of virtual world... and Isamu treat him as a VM warrior! He realized he is in his kid's dream.
Chisato did his best. He keep in mind he'll lose at the moment Isamu catch him in his gunsight. Chisato completely got diver's back position, only 50m away.
"I can get him!" Chisato couldn't stop his instinct to Ramming.
It all happened in a moment.
Suddenly Helldiver stalled while looping, lose control and start falling down. Next moment, diver's guns were fired from downside of chasing Fuuga.
Fuuga's torso brown off and remaining servos kicked up almost one hundred metors upward, then fall down to forest and exploded.
Great shouts of surprize and excitement arose from the audiences.
"Oh, gods...It's Konoha-Otoshi!!" one of the audience shouted.
"Don't you know!? Konoha-Otoshi(the Leaf Dive) is a legendary manuever that was used by Zero Fighter aces while WW2! It's extremely dangerous manuever that intentionally stall own Zero. I've never thought a Stuka can do it!" The collage student was almost moved to tears by excitement. "I wish I could get a copy of his action-control program!"
"I want it too..." Maki thought "...If he had any"
She knows none of such things are programed in Helldiver---because it is totally manual controled.
When Chisato popped out from the Pod, 'his' eyes shed tears.
He closed his eyes and take a deep breath. When he opened his eyes again, his face backed to usual 'herself'.
"Ah... Maki-chan, I'm sorry , I lost" she said . "But it was soooo exciting!"
- 5 -
Rio realized her tactics completely failed .
Now their sensors lost Helldiver. It disappeared with scattered fragments of Fuuga.
Helldiver somehow escaped from sensor detection. How? He maybe knows tricks we never imagine, Rio thought. But she is sure Isamu will be waiting for a chance from somewhere, even now.
"I should warn Maki not to move" she mutterd to herself. "It's my fault".
"Rio, your brother is damn good! If you don't have another tac, I want one-on-one with him!" Leon said in joyful voice.
"Rio-san, what is our Winning Condition on this battle?" Rena asked.
"Destroy Helldiver, or survival of one or more Knights ..." Rio answered. "...Hey, you don't meant to hide until timeup, do you?"
"No! Such cowardish victory is NOT my style! Can you proud on it, Rena!?" Rio objected.
"I just pointed out an easiest way to win" Rena said calmly. "I think Isamu-san is proud of you now. I believe he is hearing our transmissions now"
"You mean... he heard all our transmissions from first of all!?" Leon asked.
"Not while Zephyr jammed his sensor" Rena answered. "I mean now his radio analyser is fully operational. I don't think we can deceive him any more"
"You mean, we cannot talk about tactics after this?" said Leon.
Rena smiled like an antique Japanese doll. "I recommend not to use radio transmissions hereafter. He'll detect our posision even if our VM has highest cloaking or stealth devices."
"I know... He have a doctor's degrees of that sort" Rio said. "OK. We have no choice. Let's separate. Do not use radios until you find him. Try evasive manuever as long as possible, until others come up to relief. Understood?"
"Roger" Rena and Leon answered simulteniously. Then they turned their radio 'Receive Only'.
- 6 -
Leon choose a frozen lake as her battle ground. Her Mistral was only Water-adopted VM in the team. "I can't lose in underwater battle" she thought.
"Sea..." Leon remembered the cold sea of Hokkaido, under the virtual icy lake.
She has bred by Shouichi Takizawa, as a 'son' of fisherman. When she was 12years old 'boy', Shouichi suddenly said. "Listen, I'm not your father."
"I knew." Leon answered. 'He' knew he don't looks like his father. There is no photo of mother, or that of when he was a baby(Shouichi told his mother was an American woman,and he left all the photos with her). Only once, he met a foreign oldman guarded by in black suited guys. The man told him he was a teacher of young Shouichi. Then he said "You looks like your mother very well..." Leon recognized the oldman is his real father.
However, Leon respected Shouichi than anybody in the world. Shouich taught him everything to live as a man among men---how to fishing, how to manage a ship, how to navigate, and how to fight. He once saw Souichi fought with a big shark to help a drawn fisherman. He killed the shark only by his knife. He never forget how he proud of his father when he won.
"I knew, but you are the only father for me." Leon shouted vigorously.
"Thank you... Thank you, Leon..." Shouichi sobbed. Leon had never seen his father shed tears until then. Leon had greatly shocked, but he felt his father really loving him.
"Your real father died last week. He was a head of very big organization" Shouichi said. "I had a big debt on him. He ordered me to bring you up as my son. I don't know the reason, but I couldn't..."
"Hey, stop it, father" Leon said. "I'm your son. I don't care who the heck was real parents, OK?"
"No!" Shouichi shouted. "You are not my son!"
Leon angered. "What do you mean!? You want me to get out of here or---!?"
"No... No..." Shouichi cried out. "Leon... you are my daughter..."
Leon can't accept the fact even now.
Her mind is of a man---man of sea, man among men. She hate spineless city-boys. She want to be a great woman like her father.... No, father is a man, not a woman.
"What kind of woman I want to be...?" Leon thought. "Like Rena... or Maki or... Rio?"
She remember how she felt when she met Rio first time. She fall in love with Rio at first sight. Leon redden to the roots of her hair by just remembering it. She don't want to think she is lesbian or something. Rio is a too good girl. And Leon have man's soul. That's all. Since when she befriend with Chisato, she understand the God do this kind of mistakes or tricks or whatever, very often.
Leon have never told her love to Rio. Surprisingly, she can keep her coolness in front of Rio. Rather, she become more boyish when she is with Rio. But, when she is alone, her heart burns like a wild hot overcharged powerplant.
She remember once Rio said that "I wish if Leon was a boy...".
"If I was a boy," Leon thought "do you fall in love with me...?"
Leon's face turned red and burned.
It was lucky that she was in the enclosed cockpit pod.
It was unlucky that daydreaming Leon didn't notice the coming of her target.
Isamu found a frozen lake from 3000m above. His sharp eyes found unnatural crack on the ice.
"Do they know what the 'ambush' mean?" He muttered.
It seems Leon is not good at hiding. But the thick ice will give her a good protection.
"Now I'll smoke her out from the lake"
Isamu select his specially made Incendiary Bombs. He culculate that 4 bombs are enough to evaporate 80% of the lake for instance. After that, he'll have one-on-one with her, as she wish.
Helldiver plunged into a dive.
Meanwhile, Leon was still in her daydreaming.
"If...I..." She muttered to herself.
"WArrrrrrrrrrrrrrh!!!" Leon got embarrassed by her own thought too much. She feel her face is about to explode by ashame. She unconsciously kicked Mistral's throttle pedals and pulled all the triggers at once.
At the same time as Isamu throw bombs, the ices of the lake suddenly exploded and evapolated. Explosive updraft with white vapors and cracked ices blown to diving Helldiver.
"What the---" Isamu reviled. Diver's canopy screen conpletely turned to white, although his advanced sensor continue to display falling bombs and incoming dangerous fragments of ice.
Next moment, suddenly the bombs exploded.
It was the Mistral. She straightly charged to Helldiver in its full speed. Diver's bombs blasted it's head and both arms, but it won't stoped nor slown down.
By reflex action, Isamu opened the divebreak and flaps on right wing. Helldiver went into a spiral tailspin but he could avoid head-on with Mistral. Isamu fired a desparete shot to Mistral when the two VMs passed each other. It blasted her remaining torso, but Isamu had no time to comfirm it. He must use all of his skills to recover from spiral tailspin. Diver's altimeter and compass turned like a crazed slot-machine, but he barely successed to recover. He saw the altimeter showed that he had only 10m left from the ground.
"It was a best ambush I have ever seen, Leon..." Isamu heaved a sigh of relief. "If my bombing late a half second, I couldn't evade her Ram nor ground fall. I didn't expected she would attack by using that course in that timing. What kind of combat reflex can think and run that Kamikaze tactics so immidiately? I was underestimated her too much. She is truely a natural-born combatant. If she was a boy, she would be..."
Suddenly, Leon popped out from VM pod.
"????? What happened?"
Her face were still red, but at least she recovered from her daydream.
As she removed helmet, all the audiences in Arena gave her a storm of applause.
"Nice try!" Maki and Chisato ran up to her.
"Isamu-san praised you that it was best ambush attempt he have ever seen!" Chisato said and hagged Leon.
"Ur? ambush...?" Leon has completely confused.
"Yes! You almost defeat the Helldiver!" Chisato said with excite.
"Your battle cry was so cool! If you were a boy, I would fall in love with you!" Maki winked to Leon.
Leon turned to red again and hanged down her head.
- 7 -
"Leon-san... I knew you can't resist..."
Rena sighed as she saw the IFF of Mistral vanished.
Rena's VM, Reppu was in a trench. Unlike historical East Front, those trenches are scaled up for VM. Rena used this trench very effective. She hate war. A photo of a dead soldier is enough to give her a unbearable pain. Still, she loves historical study and talking about VM tactics with her teammates. It was good reason to withstand the pain of study for Rena.
Rena opened overview map on her HUD and roughly estimated whereabout of Helldiver. When think about positions of past battle areas and diver's speed, "I can catch him around here".
It was displayed as 'Castle Falkenstein', the fictional German fortress that used for siege battle game. It have numerous AI controled guns all over and attack any VMs approaching. But once she entered inside of the castle, the guns will be her advantage. It fires against ANY target. This mean the gunfires will tell her coming of Helldiver.
Reppu charged to the castle's main gate on south side. Rena threw a Thunderer grenade and dived into its blasting radious. The blast negated all of incoming fires from castle. She don't want to waste castle's guns. It will give her a precious advantage later. She used throw & dive manuever twice, then throw a Wrecker grenade to the main gate. It blasted huge iron plated double gate. Then she dove to inside.
As soon as she entered the Castle, defensive fires were ceased.
"Now the castle is mine" Rena smiled. "I'm looking forward your coming, Isamu-san..."
Rena choose the throne room in central tower as her fortress. It has many stained glasses that will be a fancy loophole when break it open. They opens to almost every direction except right overhead and below, and not enough wide to dive from there. Helldiver won't have enough shots to silence those guns.
"This won't be a perfect, but..." Rena thought. "I believe I can withstand his attack until coming of Rio-san."
A few minutes later, long-range beams on north side started fire.
"It's him" Rena thought, and sent a transmission to Rio.
"This is Rena, I found him at the Castle Falkenstein."
Rio didn't respond. But Reppu's sensor tells Hayate is approaching.
Rena knows Rio won't respond. She know Isamu will detect Hayate as soon as she respond. And Isamu will finish easier target first.
"Or..." Rena thought. "Do you keep your most precious target to the last?"
Rena broke strained grasses on the north wall, then shot her Bolter MG to incoming Helldiver. She hide behind a wall before she confirm its hit. She know Isamu would evade that shot easily--- if he can tricked by such a easy ambush attempt, he couldn't be a legend. Rio told her that he evaded ambush fire from a Ninja VM that have both stealth & highest cloaking equipments. She know the masters of archery can hit his targets in a total darkness, and another master can evade it. It is not strange that Isamu could do it. But she can't understand why Isamu could have such a technique on the game he hate.
"Love and hate may be two sides of the same coin" Rena thought. She worryed about Isamu. But she can't just waste time by worrying.
As long as sound of castle's guns, Helldiver rotating around the castle in counter-clockwise. She moved to another strained glass, then tried shot & hide manuever several times.
"He don't waste his precious shots" She thought, "I must make him waste his shots... Should I give him my arm or leg?" She want more fast flight system for Reppu. If she had faster speed than Helldiver, several indirect fires of Wrecker grenades will disintegrate him very easily. But she also understand Rio will hate such munchikenism, especially when she fight with her brother. Rena don't care 'the warrior's aesthetics'. She just care about happy playing time with her dear friends.
"I need to think about another way to deal with him."
She moved to east wall and broke another glasses then waited for target.
But suddenly, castle's guns ceased fire.
"Please don't tell me he found Hayate..." It could be his tactics that to lure her from the castle. Or, it could be...
Doubts beget doubts.
"I should wait Rio-san at main gate... I can help her from there."
Rena left the throne room and went down stairs of the tower.
She moves so carefully, expecially at near windows. He could be waiting for her careless move from the outside of castle guns range. Rena felt the stairs and corrridors so dark and weird. Rena never afraid ghosts or demons. She just feared Isamu's combat talent and Rio's sefety.
Just when she arrived to the first floor, sudden sound of gunfire roared at outside of castle. Next moment, Reppu got heavy hit and knocked out. The body tumbled along main hallway, then exploded.
Rena shrieked in her cockpit. Suddenly her cockpit shaken like a jucer-mixer. The screens flashed and blacken out and the sound of explosion hit her ears as sticks & seats vibrate heavily. She couldn't realize what happened. But the word on her screen told her a truth: <THIS COCKPIT WAS CRUSHED -GAME OVER->
Rena poped out from cockpit pod.
At the Arena, audiences including her teammates stared main screen with their mouth wide open.
Rena looked up the screen.
It was Helldiver. It was landed and hidden in the forested hill 1km away from the castle.
Castle's main gate widely opened and the dark hallway barely seen from there.
Helldiver sniped Reppu from there.
"Great shooting" Rena said with a sigh, and smiled with her doll-like grace. "I couldn't expect sniping from there."
"Nobody could..." Maki said with a shudder. "...except himself".
- 8 -
IFF of Reppu disappeared.
Now, Hayate is the only surviver of the Knights.
"Rena..." It is hard to believe Rena couldn't hold attack of an enemy, even if it is Isamu. She is most excellent tactician in the team. Her guerrilla tactics have been killed countless VMs in any combat arena. Boys fear her by calling 'the Witch' because of her tricky combat style.
"How did you tricked Rena, mine brother?"
Rio arriverd to the forest near the Castle Falkenstein. It's main gate is demolished. She knows it's crushed by Reppu's grenade. Just when she try to dash into the castle, Rio's sensor detected a blip just above of her. Rio tumbled to aside by reflex. Almost same time, trees and grounds exploded as it it got thunder strike.
It was Helldiver.
Rio threw her Tombo-Kiri naginata to the diver, then jumped. Isamu evaded incoming naginata as ease, but the rotating blade flew like a boomerang and raid to diver from behind. Isamu rolled and dodged. At the same time, Hayate charged from below to catch and dismember Helldiver. Helldiver drop bombs to distract her. Hayate evaded it but lost the chance to grab her target. The bombs exploded in the forest, then caused a forest fire.
As she catched returning naginata, she dived into the fire, hoping the smoke and updrifts from forestfire would distract her brother for a moment.
Helldiver looped and dived to Hayate. She threw naginata again, then stepped, jumped, and tumbled like a ninja. Isamu didn't fired Hayate while in evasive maneuver. He dodged naginata twice, then fired his deadly twin 3.7cm guns at the moment she catch the returning blade.
But, she didn't catch it, instead, she threw a burning tree to Helldiver. Isamu shoted down the tree instead of Hayate, then climbed to the sky by riding updrafts. Isamu saw Hayate picked up her naginata then dived into heavy smoke. "Nice move" Isamu muttered.
"He wasted two shots..." She stopped muttering, quite out of breath. She felt the previous 20seconds as if 20hours. "...He used one for Maki, one for Chisato, I don't know how many shot he spend to finish Leon and Rena, but he used at least 6 shots. I can throw my Tombo-kiri unlimited time, even if he crushed it, I can throw trees and stones"
Rio grabed a rock, jumped out from behind of a burning big tree, then threw the stone and naginata. Helldiver dodged, then fired his gun. Hayate tumbled aside. But the bullets won't hit her nor the large rock she hid.
Rio carefully picked up her naginata. "Missfired...? It can't be happen for him... but..." She wondered while watching Helldiver above. He fired twice again, to the completely wrong directions. Now he wasted another 3 shots. "What if he meant to give me a handicap...?" The idea annoyed her very much. Rio opened public-channel of communication system.
"Oniisama(my brother)! Why are you wasting your limited ammo!? I don't need any handicap!"
"You really think I do such stupidity, Rio?" Isamu's answer contained a little upset feeling.
"But... Then, why...?" Rio was daunted.
"Did you forget what I have taught you, my dear? Always keep in mind the law of cause and effect. And don't lose global vision and coolness of mind, anytime." Isamu told with dignity. Rio felt she is admonished by her long lost father.
"You are wasting your precious time. Watch your back" Isamu said.
"?" Rio looked back. She heard a roaring sounds and shockwaves closing in on her.
Helldiver shoted snowy mountainside several kilometers away from this forest. The several million tons of snows squash the burning forest.
Hayate jumped to evade snowfall. She threw naginata to distract Isamu, but he won't tricked by it anymore.
Helldiver's twin 3.7cmBK fired. It hit and smashed Hayate's right arm, then the impact knocked her to the white hell of streaming snows below.
Few minutes later, Hayate crawled out of snow. She lost her right arm and head. Other servos are also badly damaged, but she could barely move. Rio felt her own body is completely shattered in shaking cockpit pod. But she still kept fighting spilit.
"Where... is him...?" It was snowy plain. Although, her NAV map tells it is forest. She felt danger. It was no place to hide from air-raid.
"I need a place to hide, for a while."
Rio checked her map and back-up sensors. She found a entrance of big cavern. Rio looked at her watch. Only 10minutes left.
"I know he'll surely come to finish me"
She climbs up mountainside to the cavern.
As Hayate stand the entrance to dark hole, Rio saw a familier silhouette in it.
Next moment, deafening heavy sound roared from inside cavern. Hayate's torso blasted and exploded on white snows.
It was Helldiver. Its wings were folded like a carrier-borned Zero fighters.
"Have you ever think about why I kept the wheels of Stuka?" Isamu said. "It is very useful, as you see."
- 9 -
Rio and Isamu's pods popped open.
Rio couldn't stand up for a while. She don't have the energy anymore.
"Are you OK?" Isamu walked up to her pod.
"I'm totally exhausted" Rio said as she removing her helmet.
"Hmm, it seems you are not sufficiently trained. I'll give you more training menu from tomorrow" Isamu said.
"Oniisama(my brother), you want me to dead!?" Rio complained.
"You did well...as a kid" Isamu smiled and rumpled up Rio's hair. Rio don't like him when he do this habit, but she felt it happy today. She didn't know her father also rumpled up Isamu's hair like this when he was a kid... when he learned new manuever at the long forgotten VRcade game.
As they back to the lounge, Knights girls and audiences welcomed them. "Nice fight!" "I'm soooo impressed!"
While Rio start talking with her friends, Shouichi Takizawa, the Leon's father come up to the Arena and bowed to them.
"Sorry, I must go" Leon said. "I must help my father's biz"
"Wait" Isamu stopped her. "$300 is enough to buy-up your Yaki-imo stall today?"
"$300!? You can buy-up us until tomorrow!" said Leon.
"Dealt" Isamu said. "Hey, boys & girls, I'll treat you Yaki-imo at Leon's stall!"
People shouted for joy and thanks.
"Hey, brother, what made you so generously today?" Maki asked him by slapping his back.
"Because you pay this one" Isamu shook a cigarette out of the pack and popped it between his lips.
"What!? Stop joking!"
"I know you sold my photos without my permission. I estimated you got about $350 from it, right?" Isamu stared at Maki.
Maki got paled. She actually sold 235 pics and got $352.50.
"Hey, Rio! You betrayed me!?" Maki blamed Rio.
"I just told him you sold his photos to girls." Rio excused. "I think you couldn't deceive mine brother anyway. He knows everything about us"
"OK, OK! I lost, it's all yours!" Maki get disparate. "But, promise me you treat us full-course dinner at Isurugi(5-stared restaurant on central Geocity) if we won next!"
"If you could" Isamu said, from smoker's square on the corner of lounge.
Rena and Chisato came back from outside of Arena with a lot of sweet-potatoes.
"Oniisama, come up to here while they are hot! It's all yours!"
Rio is calling.
Isamu crushed his cigarette out, then walked up to them.
Story writen by Tsuneo Tateno