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TEEN: Shooting Star Rider (Season 1: Cosmic Forces) (Chpt 12 up)

Dec 23, 2009
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Okay, time for the debut of my newest series: Shooting Star Rider. Hopefully everyone will find it interesting. Now, on with the show. (Warning: contains mild language)

Star Struck

Inside the Milky Way galaxy a peaceful planet resided. A beautiful world full of life. The planet known as Earth. But little did the denizens of Earth know that their world would soon be turned upside-down in preparation for what was to come. All thanks to one being.

Drifting in the depths of space was a lone figure. He was a tall, noble-looking man wearing a blue and black cybernetic bodysuit with matching armor, knee-high boots, gauntlets, and shoulder plates, with splashes of red, silver, and gold complimenting it. On his back was a backpack-like structure that resembled cylinders, blue in color, with silver “blades” on them. There were various silver Tron lines on his body, specifically his biceps, torso, and thighs. On his chest, smack in the middle of his breastplate, was a symbol: an arrowhead-shaped gold shooting star with a black background surrounded by a red ring. His head was protected by a cyber-like helmet, mostly blue but with twin silver plates resembling a spiral galaxy where his ears would be with the same symbol that was on his chest in the middle of them, with long, spiky metallic purple hair that dangled between his shoulder blades. A reddish-silver visor was shielding his eyes, making it very hard to see them, but what can be seen is that his eyes had slit pupils. A mask-like structure was covering his mouth and nose, effectively hiding his true self from the universe.

As this alien being was drifting through the cosmos, he looked like he was exhausted and injured. But he pressed forward, seemingly being guided toward a certain location. Soon his visor started beeping, causing his weary eyes to perk up slightly. He looked ahead and saw Earth. He heaved a relieved sigh before slowly making his way toward the planet. Soon the planet’s gravitational pull grabbed him and he began his descent to the surface.

At the time a young couple were sitting on a bench in the middle of a city park, watching the stars.

“That was a lovely date, sweetie,” the young woman smiled.

“Agreed,” the young man said. He then looked up, “Oh! Look! A shooting star! Let’s make a wish.”

Both closed their eyes and made a wish before opening them again. However, as they did their eyes widened in horror.

“Um… sweetie?” the young woman gulped. “Why is that shooting star coming right at us?”

The young man replied nervously, “M-Maybe we should move out of the way.”

The two hastily ran away from the spot. No more than a few moments later the “shooting star” crashed into the very bench they were previous on, tearing apart part of the ground as it traveled across the park before coming to a smoldering stop. The young couple peeked out from their hiding spot, eyes wide with shock and fear, only to duck for cover when something emerged from the smoldering path of the “shooting star”, revealing itself to be the same man from before. However, before they could get a proper look he was engulfed in a flash of light and soon changed.

He was now dressed in a futuristic, and rather alien, outfit, mostly blue and red, with matching knee-high boots, and gloves. His eyes were revealed to be a desert gold color, his skin was fair, his ears were elf-like with soft spines on them, and his mouth was lined with sharp fangs. He staggered to stand, clearly hurt and exhausted, before slowly walking away from the crash site.

“I-Is that… an alien?” the young man asked nervously.

“I-I don’t know…” the young woman gulped. “W-We should report this.”

The duo quickly fled to report what they had just witnessed, the alien man completely oblivious to them. He slowly hobbled forward but didn’t get very far before collapsing to the ground, exhausted. He closed his eyes before falling into the depths of unconsciousness.

Several hours later the alien man was stirring. He could hear voices around him but was unable to comprehend what they were saying because of his fatigue. He slowly opened his eyes to see several scientists examining him. They all went silent as he awoke, clearly surprised to see him regaining consciousness. They backed up a bit, uncertain of how this alien would react. One scientist, who was a handsome man in his 30s with chestnut brown hair, green eyes, and a gentle face, approached the now awakened alien.

“Hello,” he said gently. “Do you understand me?”

The alien man nodded weakly.

The scientist smiled, “That’s good to know. How do you feel? You sustained quite a bit of damage upon crash-landing on this planet. We’ve been doing our best to heal you but it appears you’ve been carrying your injuries for quite some time. My name is Dr. Arthur Brisbane. Can you tell me your name?”

The alien man replied weakly, “O-Obsidian… Glitch…”

The various scientists gasped in surprise, clearly having not expected the alien to speak the same language as them.

“Obsidian Glitch, you say?” Dr. Arthur pondered. “I must admit I’m surprised you speak the same language as us. Or is it maybe because our languages are similar enough that it seems like we’re speaking the same language?”

Obsidian nodded, saying in a weary tone, “I’m… speaking Constellenese… my race’s… language… Our languages… must be similar… enough to the… point we… can understand… each other… without issue…”

Dr. Arthur smiled, “I see. That is most fortunate, as I’d be worried about a language barrier that would make it hard for both sides to understand each other. Now, I would like to ask you more questions but I think you should rest first. It’s clear you’ve had a long journey and you're very weak and still recovering from your injuries. We can discuss more when you’ve gotten some well-deserved sleep. We’ll do our best to help heal you while you rest. So, for now, close your eyes and sleep, Obsidian, as you most definitely need it.”

Obsidian nodded weakly before closing his eyes and falling asleep instantly. The various scientists began working to heal him while not awakening him.

A day had passed since Obsidian had crash-landed on Earth. He was still sound asleep while the scientists watched over him. News of the extraterrestrial had spread like wildfire, and various reporters were trying to enter the laboratory where the young alien man was, but the security kept them at bay.

A little while later Obsidian opened his eyes. They had more sheen compared to the previous day.

“W-Where… am I?” he asked weakly.

Dr. Arthur turned to him, “Ah, you’re awake, Obsidian. Good. You’ve been asleep for quite some time. Though I dare say you needed it. Now, I’d hate to bombard you with questions after you just woke up but if you don’t mind I want to know some things. First off, can you please tell me what your race is and what planet you’re from?”

Obsidian took a moment to shake the mental cobwebs out of him before replying, “I’m a Constellaton. My homeworld is Constellatron, which resided in a nearby galaxy.”

Dr. Arthur quirked an eyebrow, “Wait. ‘Resided’? Did something happen?”

Obsidian clutched his head, tears pouring out of his eyes.

“Constellatron… has been destroyed…” he wept. “And it’s my fault…”

Another scientist asked, “How was it your fault?”

“I failed my people,” Obsidian said sadly. “I tried to protect our world from an outside force… but failed. Constellatron… is gone… and my people… have been scattered to the cosmos…”

“Do you remember what this ‘outside force’ was, Obsidian?” Dr. Arthur asked.

“N-No… my memories are… fragmented… I… I barely remember anything…”

Dr. Arthur replied, “I’m not surprised. You took some serious mental damage when you crashed here. But I’d be willing to bet that’s not the reason for your memory loss. I think it was the destruction of your homeworld that did the damage, and crashing here only further compounded the issue. But from our scans of your mind it appears your brain is repairing itself. Slowly, as the trauma is bad, but repairing itself, nonetheless. You should eventually get your memories back, but it will take time. Is there anything else you can remember?”

Obsidian took a moment to think before replying, “Yes… my people are considered the guardians of the universe. We fight against hostile races that seek to conquer and rule. Especially… Virons.”

One scientist quirked an eyebrow, “Virons? What are Virons?”

“A savage, violent, predatory race. They come in all shapes and sizes. And they all have one purpose: to devour all life in the universe. They serve under the Viron King. My race, Constellatons, are their natural predators. We are able to keep them at bay and prevent them from devouring other worlds.” His eyes widened, “And… Earth is one of their targets!”

The various scientists gasped in shock, exchanging worried expressions.

“Earth… is a target to the Virons?” Dr. Arthur asked. “Why?”

Obsidian clutched his head, trying to remember, before replying, “I… I don’t remember exactly… but they are predators that devour other beings… It could be something as simple as treating Earth as food to wanting to use Earth as a stepping stone for the Viron King’s desire to conquer. I’m not totally sure right now. But I know that Constellatron kept them at bay. But with my planet destroyed… nothing will stand in the Viron King’s way now. Earth is in danger.”

“Is it possible for Earth’s current technology to fight these Virons?” a scientist asked.

Obsidian took a moment to observe the lab he was in before gaining a frown.

“No, nothing here is suitable enough to tackle even something as simple as a Hellmett,” he replied. “You need more advanced technology. The thing about Virons is that they tend to remain in an energy form invisible to the naked eye. They ride the energy waves of the universe to travel and attack planets by destroying their equipment so they can leave their ‘prey’ defenseless. When their ‘prey’ is cornered and/or injured, they’ll change their ‘frequency’ to become solid and enter the physical realm so they can catch their ‘prey’ and devour them. Messily, I might add. They’re only vulnerable to certain types of weaponry and technology, none of which you possess. If Earth doesn’t go through a massive upgrade it’ll be devoured.”

“I see…” Dr. Arthur pondered grimly. “Do we have enough time to upgrade our equipment to better fight Virons? Otherwise we’ll be at their mercy.”

Obsidian observed the lab again, taking a long moment to think things over before he turned to Dr. Arthur.

“At the rate your race is going, no,” he replied. “But I might be able to help speed up the process and give you the tools needed to fight Virons.”

One scientist asked, “But what about your mental damage? Won’t that hamper things?”

“I remember enough to ensure you’ll have a chance to have everything you need before they arrive. Virons, while dangerous, are not very bright. They’re also hiveminds and tend to function more when there are other Virons. But that also means they’re pack hunters and will use their superior numbers to overwhelm their ‘prey’. But, given what kind of technology you Earthlings possess, I can work with it to ensure you’ll at least have a fighting chance. My mind may not be in peak condition, and my memories are fragmented, but I’ve retained enough that I can, at the very least, give you the tools needed to fight back. I don’t know how much time we have before the Viron King makes his move, but hopefully I can give you the needed leg-up in preparation for the Virons arriving.”

Dr. Arthur pondered for a moment before nodding, “Okay, you have a deal, Obsidian. And in exchange we’ll provide you the materials you need. And give you a form of home since it’s clear you have no place to go. And it would be better if we continued to monitor you to ensure your recovery and prevent problems with… malcontents, let’s just say.”

Obsidian looked confused, “What do you mean?”

“We’ll discuss it later. For now, let’s get to work.”

However, Obsidian’s middle started to growl, prompting him to clutch it. Dr. Arthur chuckled lightly.

“But first I think some lunch is in order for you, Obsidian. You probably haven’t eaten in a while. After you’ve eaten we’ll get to work. Follow me to the cafeteria so you can have a bite to eat. I hope Earth food is suitable enough to you since you’ll be eating it for a while.”

Obsidian nodded, managed to stand up, and followed Dr. Arthur to the cafeteria. When he entered he could smell various wonderful yet strange smells, causing his mouth to water.

“What are these incredible aromas I’m smelling?” he asked.

“Today is burger day so that’s probably what you’re smelling.”

He looked confused, “Burger? What’s a burger?”

Dr. Arthur explained, “It is basically a patty of ground meat, usually beef, on a bun. It can have a variety of toppings like cheese, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, ketchup, mustard, and even a fried egg. I recommend trying a bacon cheeseburger as your first Earth food, as it’s a good entry point.”

“Okay, I will.”

After ordering some food Obsidian sat down at a table. Soon a tray of food was given to him. It contained a juicy bacon cheeseburger with a side of fries and a soda. Obsidian took a moment to observe this strange new item to him before picking up the burger, sniffing it, and biting down on it. His eyes widened in surprise.

“Is it to your liking, Obsidian?” Dr. Arthur asked.

“Stars of the nebula, this is the best thing I’ve put in my mouth!” the alien exclaimed.

He began devouring the burger with gusto, making the scientist chuckle lightly. It wasn’t long before Obsidian had polished off his tray of food and drink.

“That was delicious. I’ve never had anything like that before. Most of my meals back on Constellatron consist of Virons, Bug Fragments, Kurkus, Droyphids, Skrygars, and sometimes Gargagons and solar plasma. If this is what you Earthlings eat I could seriously get used to it. While it’s not enough to fill all nine of my stomachs it certainly perked me up.”

Dr. Arthur looked up, surprised, “Wait. That’s what your race eats? I mean I remember you saying that your race is the natural predator to Virons but what are Kurkus, Droyphids, Skrygars and Gargagons? Are they other races of aliens, too? Do you prey on other species, too? And what are Bug Fragments?”

“Yes, they are other races. There is a reason my race are called the guardians of the universe. Kurkus and Droyphids are hostile races. Kurkus are large, fuzzy, violent creatures that often use flamethrower-equipped machinery as weapons. They’re nasty creatures, killing anything that isn’t one of them on sight. But they taste good fried in their own oils. Droyphids are an aquatic race, similar to fish, only with tentacles for limbs. The often use special suits filled with water to move around on land, and those suits are often armed to the teeth things like Vulcan guns, saws, drills, and more. But if their suits are destroyed they’re defenseless. They make for some good soup, though. As for Skrygars and Gargagons, they’re beasts that can be found on various worlds. Gargagons are very dangerous but they are very vulnerable to the cold, while Skrygars are flying reptiles that hunt fish and Droyphids. As for Bug Fragments, they’re chunks of Virons that have broken off upon killing them. Well, sometimes, as killing Virons isn’t the only way to get Bug Fragments, and in order to get them you need to kill a Viron at a precise moment. They can be used as sort of a secret currency in some worlds, but my race merely eats them. But this bacon cheeseburger was way better than any of that. I could get used to Earth food.” He sighed and stood up, “But enough of that. It’s time to get to work, as we don’t know when the Virons will make their move.”

Dr. Arthur nodded, “Yes, let’s get to work, Obsidian. We appreciate the fact that you’re going to help protect us from these Virons. And maybe you can also explain how you can fight them and how you travel through and breathe in space on your own power.”

“In due time. Let’s get to work. Hopefully I’ve retained enough of my memories to ensure that Earth will be properly prepared by the time the Virons begin their invasion.”

A month passed since Obsidian crash-landed on Earth. During that timeframe he, along with the brilliant minds of Sci-Tech Laboratories, were able to revolutionize Earth’s technology. By the time the springtime flowers were in full bloom Earth had been almost completely remolded into a new, super-advanced society.

One day, Obsidian was coasting through what looked like some sort of cyber energy road that existed over the surface of earth. He was in his transformed state, seemingly scanning everything as he went. He stopped at a certain point, looking around, before tapping one of the spiral panels on his helmet.

“Dr. Arthur, this is Obsidian. Do you copy?” he said.

A brief pause before a voice replied, “This is Dr. Arthur. I read you, Obsidian. How does the Cyber Wave Realm look to you so far?”

Obsidian replied, “Everything seems to be stable. I’m still scoping things out but so far the various ‘roads’ that are now intertwined with Earth’s technology seem to be working fine. Information and data seem to be flowing nicely on these roads, there are no signs of breaks in the network, and everything seems to be connected just fine. Looks like our fast but hard work has paid off.”

“Any signs of Virons yet?”

“None that I’ve seen thus—” but then he noticed something. “Scratch that last report! I see Hellmetts incoming! They’re heading for a Sky-Monorail! Looks like the Viron invasion has begun! I’ll report back once I’ve dealt with them! Over and out!”

He ended the transmission before rocketing toward a location where something was approaching a moving monorail train that was suspended in the air. When he got near he could see the enemies attacking the Sky-Monorail system.

The creatures looked like round monsters with black bodies, blood red eyes, small fang-filled mouths, black devil tails, were wearing an orange construction helmet with black devil horns, and were wielding various weapons like hammers, drills, and pickaxes. Their attacks on the track and platform had caused the Sky-Monorail to come to a screeching halt.

“I knew it! Hellmetts! Looks like it’s the basic variant. Time to do some Viron Busting!”

His right hand transformed, now becoming some sort of arm cannon. He took aim and fired reddish-gold energy blasts, striking several Hellmetts. This diverted their attention away from their task and was now focused on Obsidian. They brandished their weapons at him, trying to intimidate him.

“Not happening!” he growled. “Eat this! Vulcan!”

His arm transformed again, now becoming a brown and silver Vulcan gun. He took aim and began pelting the Hellmetts with energy bullets. Several Virons were destroyed by the attack, their bodies shattering like porcelain, but the remaining ones managed to survive by ducking under their helmets.

“Wanna play hard to get, do ya?” the alien snarled. “Then maybe this’ll change your tune! Mini Grenade!”

His arm transformed back to normal, but shortly afterward a brown, round grenade-like bomb formed in it. He hurled it at the surviving Hellmetts. When it collided with one it exploded three times, tearing the creature to bits. The caused the remaining Hellmetts to become nervous, starting to back up. Soon they made a break for it.

“Oh no you don’t! Flash Step!”

He vanished in the blink of an eye before reappearing in front of the fleeing Hellmetts, who now looked terrified.

“Time to finish you off! Cannon!”

His arm transformed, now becoming a new type of arm cannon, with this one being bulky and box-like with an elongated nozzle. He took aim and fired it several times, striking the Hellmetts with a vengeance. The remaining Virons were killed as their bodies broke to pieces, causing Obsidian to relax and transform his arm back to normal.

“I’ll have my snack in a moment. First I need to check up on the Sky-Monorail, since the Virons forced it to stop. Frequency Change!”

His body glowed and become laced with static-like energy before a flash of light, showing his body had not changed. However, he had become visible to the people down below, who were shocked to see the blue armored warrior suddenly appear. With grace and dexterity Obsidian managed to make his way into the train, where terrified people were waiting. Many stumbled in shock to see the blue warrior appear.

“Is everyone alright?” he asked in a concerned tone.

“W-We’re fine,” a man who looked like a conductor said. “But who are you? And what happened?”

“This Sky-Monorail was attacked by Virons. Hellmetts, to be exact. That means the invasion has begun. More will follow. I killed them so the Sky-Monorail should be able to run again shortly. As for who I am… well…” he took a moment to ponder before saying, “Call me Star Rider. Now, I need to finish cleaning up the Viron corpses but you should be okay for now. But the invasion has begun, and Earth is now in terrible danger.”

“Will you help protect us, Star Rider?” a young woman asked.

“Yes, I will. It’s my duty to protect races like humans from the vicious predators like Virons. Count on it. Now, I have some cleanup work to do. But do know that the fight for humanity’s survival has just begun. Farewell for now. Frequency Change!”

He soon vanished in a flash of light, reappearing where the Viron corpses were. He lowered his facemask and licked his lips.

“Snack time.”

As he began eating the remains of the Virons the Sky-Monorail soon started to move again and before long was coasting safely. As he watched the Sky-Monorail chug along, still eating the Virons, he looked up at the sky.

“It has begun. And unlike how I failed Constellatron, I will NOT fail Earth,” he said solemnly. “For now I’m known as Star Rider. And I will protect this planet until my dying breath. But Earth needs more protection than I thought. How can I expand Earth’s defenses without causing more problems for the humans here?”

Next Chapter: The Cyber Guardian Project
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Time for the next chapter of Shooting Star Rider.

The Cyber Guardian Project

It had been a few days since the first Viron attack had taken place. Slowly but surely Virons were starting to appear on Earth. Fortunately, due to the work of Sci-Tech Labs, they were able to combat the Virons, alongside a certain blue-armored warrior. But everyone knew that their effort was only the start of what was destined to come.

Obsidian was on his way back to Sci-Tech Labs. He was in his Star Rider form and was coasting through the Cyber Wave Realm, keeping his eyes and ears open for any Virons.

“We’ve had a few attacks thus far,” he said to himself. “Fortunately, not a lot of damage has been done. Yet. And it’s only largely been Hellmetts, Cannoirs, Mach Hawks, and Red Ironjaws, which aren’t too tough. But more will come. This is just the appetizer. The main course has yet to be served. We need a more effective way of battling Virons, as I’m only one man, and the tougher Virons won’t be as easy to take out with the special Viron Vacuums we developed. There must be a way for humans to combat Virons directly. But how?”

He then came to a screeching halt, his eyes wide. He looked at his hands before clenching his fist.

“Of course! Give humans the tools needed fight back with their own personal warriors! That way they can have a pocket version of a Constellaton like myself on hand whenever they need it. And to give them more power to fight stronger foes we’ll create special weapons based off of both the powers of a Constellaton like myself and the Virons themselves. Fight fire with fire! Brilliant! …But wait. I don’t remember all of my race’s powers. Or all the variants of Virons. I’ll probably remember more about the Virons as I see them appear. And while I’ve come to remember a chunk of some of the more exclusive powers my race has over my time on Earth I don’t remember everything. …I’ll just have to make do with what I do have and add more data to Sci-Tech Labs as I go. But Earth needs this idea implemented as soon as possible to better fend off the Virons. I’d better report back and tell the people of Sci-Tech Labs my idea. It’s worth a shot.”

With a nod he quickly traveled the energy waves that make up the Cyber Wave Realm and made his way back to Sci-Tech Labs. As soon as he arrived he quickly ran up to Dr. Arthur and explained his idea to the scientist.

“Hmm… I see…” Dr. Arthur pondered. “So you want to create a special AI cyber warrior that everyone can use to fight the Virons more effectively. On top of that you want to create weapons based off of you race’s powers along with the Virons themselves. That’s actually quite brilliant. Give the people the power to fight back and not solely rely on you or the Special Viron Corps the government has created. Yes, that can work quite well. Good thinking, Obsidian. The only issue I have is… how are we going to design the basis for this project in the timeframe we have?”

Obsidian took a moment to ponder before replying, “How about using the basis of my combat form, aka my ‘Star Rider’ form: using that to lay out the blueprints and framework for the project? Considering my idea is to basically put a pocket version of a Constellaton in the hands of the people it would make sense to use a Constellaton’s body to make the blueprints for the project. And since I’m the only Constellaton you’ve got, you can use me to act as the framework for our new plan.”

Dr. Arthur nodded, “Yes, that makes a lot of sense. Though using you, or rather your combat form, as the basis might be rather invasive to you. After all, we need to pretty much copy your very frequency and energy structure to get the necessary data to build this project. Are you sure you don’t mind us poking and prodding you to get this information?”

“We don’t have much of a choice. If it helps protect the people of Earth from suffering a similar fate to my world then it’ll be worth it. As for what we should call this project… how about the Cyber Guardian Project?”

Dr. Arthur smiled, “You’re a good man to be willing to let us invade your body so we can get the needed data for this idea. And I feel the Cyber Guardian Project is a fitting name. Alright, let’s get to work, as time is of the essence. We need to get this project off the ground ASAP. Also, how will we distribute the weapons you have in mind?”

Obsidian pondered for a moment before replying, “How about in the form of special chips that you can insert into the terminal that’ll house the Cyber Guardian that’ll create the weapon. A… Combat Chip if you will. And we need to allow the Cyber Guardians to emerge into the ‘real world’ in case the Virons decide to change frequencies when stalking prey. Maybe install a button that can allow the Cyber Guardian to emerge from the terminal to fight.”

Another scientist said, “Umm… Obsidian… I hate to be the Devil’s Advocate, but you do realize that means more malicious people could use Cyber Guardians programed to be evil to cause terrorist attacks? That might be putting too much power into the hands of evil humans to cause crimes and destruction.”

Obsidian looked shocked, “W-Wait. Humans can be good AND evil!? How?”

Now it was the rest of the staff to be confused.

“Yes, humans are capable of good and evil. And they can switch sides with the right motivation. Why? Have you never experienced such a situation before?”

Obsidian’s eyes were wide, “N-No… I never have. I’ve only seen morality in black and white because that’s how it’s always been for me. My fellow Constellatons can further assess my statement. Every race my people have encountered thus far are either wholly good or inherently evil, with no middle ground or anything. This is the first time I’ve meet a race where they can be both good and evil and are able to switch sides with the right motivation or incentive. I… I never knew that was possible.”

Dr. Arthur gained a sad smile, “Yes, sadly, it’s the case. Humans can be both benevolent and malevolent, can defect to one side or another with the right incentive, and can be even morally grey. It all depends on the individual and the reasons behind it. There is no set in stone nature for humans, as we can sway from one side of the pendulum to the other without much persuasion. For example, there was once a philanthropist who stopped a major war with terrorists, but it cost him pretty much his entire fortune so he started stealing charity money from various charity drives he hosted to replenish it. He was eventually caught in the act at a special gala and arrested for it, his reputation destroyed because he was stealing from honest folk who were just trying to help out the less-fortunate. On the flipside of the coin, there was a pickpocket who stole meager amounts of money from various people but was caught. However, with some rehab and plenty of support he was able to turn his life around and now works for a company as a security guard. It shows that humans can become good or evil if given the right motivation. That’s how humans are.”

It was like Obsidian’s mind was frozen in shock. He was completely unable to respond to this new information. He stumbled a bit as he tried to process what he had just learned.

“T-This is news to me…” he said, placing his palm on the left side of his face. “I never knew something like that was possible. This… might take some time to adjust to, as I’ve only been exposed to entire races that are either good or evil. But if that’s the case I can see your point. That would be putting too much power in the hands of those who would use it for ill. But given the fact that Virons can change frequency to hunt their ‘prey’ better we still need to find a way to better fight that tactic. Otherwise any humans caught in that could be devoured. …Anyone got any ideas? I’m coming up blank because this is the first time I’ve heard of a race possessing both sides of the spectrum in terms of morality.”

Dr. Arthur replied, “We’ll think about it as we go. For now, let’s get to work on the project itself. We’ll figure something out regarding that dilemma, but let’s focus on the actual Cyber Guardian Project first. As we humans say, ‘we’ll cross that bridge when we get there’.”

Obsidian nodded, “Yes, good idea. We’ll think of something to work around that issue. But, for now, let’s get to work on the actual project so we can further prepare humans for the fight ahead.”

Another scientist said, “May I suggest an idea? While using you as the basis for the project is great, we should allow the option to have people create custom variants of Cyber Guardians. It’ll add more diversity, and it’ll help create possible combinations for people to capitalize on, like using a Fire element Combat Chip with a Fire element Cyber Guardian, as it’s clear that Virons come in more elements that what we’ve seen thus far.”

Obsidian nodded, “Yes, that’s a good idea. That way everyone can have a Cyber Guardian that best fits their needs and tastes, while also opening the door new possibilities, niches, and strategies. And yes, Virons come in a bevy of elements, so being able to better fight against them by exploiting elemental advantages would be ideal. I at least remember all the ‘basic’ elements that exist, along with several ‘sub-elements’, so that’ll make things easier. But let’s get to work before more Virons start invading.”

For the next week and a half the brilliant minds of Sci-Tech Labs, led by Obsidian, rapidly created the Cyber Guardian Project, with Obsidian using his own body and energies as a basis. They also worked on creating various Combat Chips for Cyber Guardians to use as weapons against Virons. By the time the second week had ended the Cyber Guardian Project was in full-swing.

Obsidian was in his combat form, scouting an area in the Cyber Wave Realm. He seemed to be looking for something, as his visor was guiding him to a certain location.

“Okay, the break in the network should be around here somewhere…” he said to himself.

Just then his attention was diverted to a jumbo holo-screen that had an ad on it.

“Attention! To better combat the Viron invasion Sci-Tech Labs, led by Dr. Arthur Brisbane, using the brainchild of Obsidian Glitch, we are pleased to announce the latest project is ready. The Cyber Guardian Project. Now you can have your own AI cyber warrior in the palm of your hands to fight the Virons. But that’s not all. Combat Chips have been created to complement these powerful cyber warriors. Now you can delete Virons with greater efficiency with powerful weapons such as Cannons, Vulcans, Grenades, Swords, and more.

“And it gets better. Deleting Virons has a chance of them leaving behind data that can be converted into a new Combat Chip. Basic Model Cyber Guardians, complete with genders, are now available for order, but you can also request a custom-made model, both in design and element, to make your special Cyber Guardian yours alone.

“And in addition to obtaining a Cyber Guardian you will be given a starter pack of Combat Chips to get you off the ground, along with some blank Combat Chips to download data remains of Virons and convert them into new powers for your little warrior. So don’t wait! Order your Cyber Guardian today and the power to defend Earth will now be in your hands.”

He placed a hand on his hip, “I’m glad everything worked out. Using my own body as a basis to get the basic data and blueprint for the Cyber Guardians was a good move, as it eliminated all the guesswork in creating an AI warrior for the common folk to use. It’ll boil down to the individual’s skill and talent in commanding such a powerful weapon, it should help make it easier to fight Virons. And while I wasn’t able to remember all the Virons and any abilities they have at the time I was able to remember a good 68% of the powers we Constellatons use, thus was able to create several different types of Combat Chips. While Virons, especially ones that haven’t appeared yet, will yield more data for use to create more Combat Chips, especially since my memories are still fragmented. Slowly I’m remembering things, but it’s gonna take some time before I’m in full working order. Especially since I know there are more powers my race possesses but I can’t remember them. Now, enough of this, I need to get back to work and find that network break so I can repair it.”

He made his way further down the Cyber Wave Realm, searching for the network break. As he did he could see the people down below working with personal devices to order their own Cyber Guardian, making him smile from behind his mask.

About a week later the Cyber Guardian Project was in full swing. Now most of the population possessed a Cyber Guardian and a handful of Combat Chips to fight against the Virons. The populous felt a great deal of confidence knowing they now had the power needed to tackle the threat of Virons head-on.

At Sci-Tech Labs Obsidian was eating in the cafeteria, munching on what looked like five hotdogs with various toppings, fries, and a drink. Dr. Arthur Brisbane walked in, smiling.

“Obsidian, I’ve got to hand it to you,” he said with a smile. “The Cyber Guardian Project is a runaway success. Now the world has the power to help fight off the threat of Virons with their own two hands. And creating the Cyber Terminal for the Cyber Guardians to reside in was also a good idea, since it meant we didn’t need to bother modifying most current tech like smartphones and tablets to contain the Cyber Guardians. And with everyone walking away with a handful of Combat Chips to start them off we can now fight this invasion on an equal footing. Truly a stroke of brilliance. And using your own body and combat form as a basis to give us the needed data to get this project underway as quickly as we did was most appreciated. I hope you didn’t mind us poking around your body in order to get the needed data.”

Obsidian finished his mouthful of food before replying, “It was for the cause. Even if I felt a bit uncomfortable it was for the best, as it allowed us to get everything we need as quickly as we to get this idea underway. And I must thank you for coming up with the Dimensional Chip idea. A government-distributed chip that allows a Cyber Guardian to materialize in the real world for a short time. While it limits some of the effectiveness of Cyber Guardians, since Virons can simply change frequency on a whim, though it does take up a lot of energy. It will also prevent those who would use Cyber Guardians to commit acts of terrorism and crimes. I’m still wrapping my head around the concept that humans are capable of both good and evil, which is causing me to re-evaluate several of my beliefs, but in time I’ll be able to accept such a thing. Though it won’t happen overnight, that’s for sure. But I’m glad that the project is a success. Now everyone stands a chance against Virons, thereby preventing me or the Special Viron Corps from having to run around everywhere and deal with them. Especially since I’m still dealing with the guilt of failing my people.”

Obsidian became rather sullen, his eyes losing their sheen and heaving a heavy sigh.

Dr. Arthur asked tenderly, “Do you remember what happened that caused your planet to be destroyed, Obsidian?”

“…No, but I do know it’s my fault. I don’t remember the details but I remember that I was fighting someone, which prevented me from saving the planet. But that’s all I can piece together right now. Sorry.”

“It’s okay, Obsidian. It’s clear that, despite not remembering the event, you can feel it in your heart that you failed your people. Or rather ‘hearts’, in your case, as you have three hearts. But I worry that whatever destroyed your world could come here and repeat the process.”

Obsidian became depressed, “That’s a distinct possibility, as I know the ones responsible are still out there. And that’s a possibility I dread, especially since I’m effectively handicapped because of my memory damage. I can’t fight at full power yet so I worry that whoever or whatever is still out there could come here and repeat the process all over again.” His eyes became stronger and his expression hardened, “But I won’t let that happen again. The weight of my failure may hang heavily on my shoulders but I intend to rectify that mistake and prevent it from happening to another world. Even if it kills me I’ll find a way to ensure that Earth doesn’t suffer the same fate as Constellatron did. That I promise.”

Dr. Arthur’s expression softened, “We appreciate all you’re doing, Obsidian. It’s clear the weight of your failure is very prominent in your mind. But you are taking the needed steps to prevent another tragedy like what happened to Constellatron. Your family would be proud of you. You’re doing everything you can to save our race from being destroyed. Just like a true member of the Constellatons. Now, I’ll let you get back to eating.” As he was turning around he then said, “Oh, right, I almost forgot. That was a good idea you had before we finalized the Cyber Guardian Project. Installing a failsafe in each Cyber Guardian’s core, specifically their emblems, to activate when they receive critical damage and pulse out to avoid being deleted. Naturally, having back-up data of any Cyber Guardian is vital, but that one little safeguard will ensure that the Virons can’t delete a Cyber Guardian in the heat of battle. Do you Constellatons have that same feature?”

Obsidian took a moment to think before replying, “I… I don’t remember. We might, but I’m not sure. There are chunks of my memories that revolve around my race’s powers that I can’t recall. I know I’m not remembering certain aspects of my people’s abilities, otherwise we’d have even more Combat Chips to use. So I’m not sure if we Constellatons possess the same safeguard or not. And I doubt analyzing my energy data will decode that. Whether my race has it or not I don’t know, but at least the Cyber Guardians have it so they can’t suffer a grisly fate at the hands of those predators. Any little bit of protection to ensure our hard work pays off is vital, as you never know when it might come in handy.”

Dr. Arthur nodded, “Indeed. Now, I’ll leave you in peace, as you must be hungry after all your hard work these past few weeks. At least we know the people of Earth now have the means of fighting back against this alien invasion. Thanks to you.”

He walked out of the cafeteria, allowing Obsidian to continue eating undisturbed.

“Yes, we have the tools needed,” he mulled silently. “But I hope it’ll be enough. And now that I know that morality isn’t linked to any particular species I have to be on the watch for malicious humans and Cyber Guardians, as they could easily make the situation worse. I just hope we have enough time before the Viron King goes full-force. Or worse… them. The ones that destroyed my home. We shall see.”

Next Chapter: All That Glimmer is Not Gold
Time for the next chapter of Shooting Star Rider. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence)

All That Glimmer is Not Gold

It had been a few days since Obsidian made his pledge to protect Earth to Dr. Arthur. He was walking down the street, keeping an eye out for any issues. He was in more civilian clothes consisting of a blue t-shirt, camouflage pants, fingerless gloves, and boots. The shorter sleeves on his shirt ended up revealing what looked like some kind of computer structure built right into his right arm. The people of Earth were bustling about, talking about their new Cyber Guardians, performing Combat Chip trades, and engaging in other conversations.

“I’m glad that the Cyber Guardian project worked so well…” Obsidian said silently. “It’s definitely a good start. But the worst has yet to come, so I hope the humans of this world are getting ready for it. Though I’m not sure why Sci-Tech Labs decided to make certain, more powerful Combat Chips be rarer than weaker ones? Seems a bit counterproductive. Is it something that Earth does normally? Do they limit the production of certain items to boost sales? That’s certainly an alien concept to me. Guess I’ll ask Dr. Arthur later why that’s the case.”

Just then a voice stated, “Hold it right there, alien boy!”

He stopped and turned around to see a trio of individuals walk up to him. It consisted of one female and two males, all around the same age.

The young woman had fair skin, bright green eyes, long black hair tied up in a large braid, a petite body, and long legs. She was dressed in a rather fancy blue minidress studded with various jewelry, green stockings with a red spiral weaving up them, and silver high-heeled shoes.

The young man on her left was large and chunky, easily towering over her, with messy dirty blonde hair, green eyes, a rather large chin, tan skin, and thick arms and legs. He was dressed in a blue sleeveless muscle shirt, brown khaki pants, kneepads, and bulky sneakers.

The last young man was shorter than the rest of the group, reaching the girl’s shoulders in height. He had brown fluffy hair, matching eyes, fair skin, rather unflattering glasses, and a rather scrawny frame. He was dressed in a maroon casual button-down shirt, a blue bowtie, tan pants, knee-high socks, and brown shoes.

“Can I help you?” Obsidian asked.

The young woman stepped up, “I’m Julia Glimmer of the Glimmer Family and heir to Glimmer Corp. The big guy next to me is Thomas Buffer and the short guy is Daxter Code. And I take it you’re Obsidian Glitch, right? The alien who crash-landed on this planet about two months ago?”

“Yes, that’s me. Why do you want to know?”

Julia stated strongly, “I come on behalf of the Glimmer Family and Glimmer Corp. You have access to Sci-Tech Lab’s technology, correct? Well my father wants to make you a deal. In exchange for a sizable profit he wants you to help him access Sci-Tech Lab’s exclusive technology. It’s all for the cause to help Glimmer Corp prosper and become the best technological company around. You will comply, as it would be in your best interest.”

Obsidian said silently, “I’ve heard of Glimmer Corp and its CEO, Cray Glimmer. Not the type of person you want to associate yourself with. From what I’ve heard he’s willing to resort to shady things to get an edge over his rival company. If he got ahold of Sci-Tech Lab’s exclusive technology it could be a problem.”

Thomas stated, “Hey! Quit your daydreaming and answer Julia!”

Obsidian heaved a sigh before saying, “Unfortunately, it is in Sci-Tech Lab’s best interest not to associate themselves with Cray Glimmer. So the answer is no. And no amount of money will change my mind. Sorry, but I refuse to have the hard work of honest people be used for someone with a reputation like Cray Glimmer.”

He started to turn around and walk away.

Julia snapped, “I will NOT take that for an answer! My father expects you to comply to his generous request. You WILL comply. It’s for the greater good. Surely you want what’s best for humanity?”

Obsidian replied cooly, “Best for humanity? Or best for Cray Glimmer’s wallet? Sorry, but my answer is no and will remain that way forevermore. So don’t waste both of our time and just accept it. I have no intention of letting a rather shady individual like Cray Glimmer gain access to important information and technology to line his pockets with more money. I may still be shedding my black and white view of morality but even I can see that someone like your father cannot be trusted with Sci-Tech Lab’s top-secret and exclusive content. So you’re just going to have to accept the fact that your father won’t be getting his mits on the hard work of honest individuals so he can gain more money.”

Obsidian began walking away again, clearly not wanting to deal with this group.

Daxter sneered, “Maybe because you’re an alien you have no understanding of how things work around here? Or did your crash-landing make you stupid?”

A voice then stated, “Daxter! That is a rather despicable thin’ to say! Obsidian may be an alien but ya have no right to act high-and-mighty because of it! It’s almost like racism, and ya know racism is terrible!”

Everyone turned to see a new figure approach on a bicycle. He was a middle-aged man with tan skin, black hair that was clearly getting thinner, fish-like lips, grey eyes, and a potbelly. He was dressed in a simple green shirt, a blue vest, brown pants, white shoes, and a headband. Strapped to the back of his bicycle was a food cart with his logo and various supplies.

“Who are you?” Daxter asked.

“The name’s Mack Sinker, local seafood chef and dealer,” the man replied. “And ya have some nerve treatin’ Obsidian like that. Yes, he’s an alien, and yes, he’s learnin’ how Earth works day by day, but that doesn’t mean ya can talk down to him like that. It’s almost like ya got some sort of beef against him because he’s an alien, almost like racism. And everyone knowns that racism is a terrible thin’ to be subjectin’ someone to. It’s clear he understands that lettin’ someone like Cray Glimmer access to Sci-Tech Lab’s exclusive technology is askin’ for trouble. Just because ya offer him a whole lot of money doesn’t mean he’ll bite the lure. So it might be in ya best interest to not harass him into givin’ in and lettin’ someone as shady as Cray Glimmer have access to information that is too important.”

“Like we’re gonna let some random seafood cook talk us out of a lucrative business deal,” Julia snarled. “Besides, what do you know about Sci-Tech Lab’s technology and information?”

Mack countered, “Don’t ya know how to be respectful of yer elders, little missy! And while I may not know as much as Obsidian does in terms of Sci-Tech Lab’s exclusive technology, nor do I like technology that much, I know enough that givin’ Glimmer Corp access to such important data is a bad idea. So why don’t ya head on out, as it’s clear Obsidian has no interest in dealin’ with ya and yer shady ‘business deal’. Unless, of course, ya want me to twist ya up like a wet noddle.”

Julia growled, “You’ve got a lot of nerve. Thomas, send this washed-up fish monger to the curb.”

Thomas cracked his knuckles, “I’m on it, Julia.”

However, when he tried to punch Mack, the seafood chef not only blocked the attack, but managed to lift Thomas up over his head, spun him around, and threw him onto the pavement, stunning Julia and Daxter.

“Ya see that? That’s the result of a protein and calcium-rich diet!” Mack laughed. “If ya strongman can’t handle me and these muscles then yer outta luck. Now git and leave Obsidian alone!”

Daxter turned to Julia, “Come on, Julia. We’d better get out of here.”

Julia bit her bottom lip before turning to Obsidian, “I will be back. And you will agree to my father’s offer. Just you wait!”

She, Daxter, and a dazed Thomas quickly scampered off, leaving Obsidian and Mack alone.

Mack turned to Obsidian, “Ya doin’ alright, Obsidian? I hope I was some help to ya there.”

Obsidian gained a small smile, “I appreciate what you did, Mack. It was clear they weren’t going to take no for an answer. How’s the fish market business been for you?”

Mack laughed, “Caught me some big ones just the other day! Swordfish, tuna, salmon, and char. They’ll make fer perfect filets and steaks fer my menu. But I’m glad I could help ya. But ya know that they’ll be back, right?”

Obsidian sighed, “Yes, that’s a fact. It’s clear that Julia has never had the word ‘no’ be used against her. And I imagine her father is no different. But even though I’m still learning things about Earth I know that giving a company with a rather untrustworthy CEO access to very important data for their own gain is a bad idea. But I know they’ll be back. They don’t seem like bad people but, unfortunately, it’s clear that Julia gets what she wants so she’s not accustomed to hearing the word ‘no’ used against her. But given the fact that her father is the driving force behind both her attitude and her attempt to gain access to Sci-Tech Labs it’s clear that more encounters will follow. But I appreciate what you did, Mack, as it made them back off. For now, anyway. But it’ll give me a reprieve and I can inform Dr. Arthur about Glimmer Corp’s attempt to gain access to its technology, since it won’t be the last time they’ll try.”

Mack nodded, “I hear ya. But I’m glad I could help ya. Just because yer an alien doesn’t mean people should talk down to ya like yer an inferior being. That kind of treatment of others makes my blood boil. It’s clear yer seekin’ shelter from whatever happened to yer home planet and are still learnin’ the ins and outs of this world. I swear, givin’ people a hard time because they’re tryin’ to adjust to a new home doesn’t sit well with me. It’s like disrespectin’ a foreigner who just moved in to another country fer the first time. Only in yer case yer worlds and lightyears away from where ya belong. If ya ever need a helpin’ hand, don’t hesitate to ask little ol’ me.”

Obsidian smiled, “Thank you, Mack, that means a lot to me. It’s hard to adjust to a new home, especially after mine was so brutally taken away from me. So I appreciate the assistance, as dealing with such people takes a lot out of you. I can tell Julia and her ‘lackies’ are not bad people but they’re being influenced by bad individuals. And even if Cray Glimmer wasn’t such a shady guy I wouldn’t share Sci-Tech Lab’s secrets with him, as that would be violating Sci-Tech Lab’s trust in me. After all, I’m trying to make allies, not enemies, as I’ve already got enough of the latter. But, again, thanks for your help. Hmm?”

Suddenly his attention was diverted, looking toward the direction Julia and her group went. His eyes became intense and his body stiffened. This change in demeanor didn’t go unnoticed by Mack.

“What’s up?” the seafood chef asked. “Do ya detect somethin’?”

“Yeah. I think I detect a Viron. And a strong one at that. Hold on.”

He closed his eyes for a second before opening them. His pupils had vanished and were seemingly replaced with what looked like a radar screen. A couple of pulses were released from the center of his eyes into the “screen”, with a blip appearing on them. He closed his eyes and opened them again, revealing they had returned to normal.

“Yeah, I just locked onto a Viron. And it’s a doozy. Sorry, Mack, I gotta run. Nice talking to you and thanks for helping me.”

He bolted in the direction of where the signal was coming from, moving at speed unheard of for a man.

“Ya’ll be careful now!” Mack called to him. “Don’t bite off more than ya can chew!”

Obsidian ran quickly toward where his target was. Soon he heard a scream. He turned a corner and saw a terrible sight.

There was Julia in the clutches of a large being. It looked like a large cybernetic humanoid. Its body was mostly a black bodysuit with brown armor on its chest, lower arms, and lower legs. Its feet were blood red, its head was brown with static-like hair, red eyes visible from a sinister visor, and an almost mechanical jaw with a savage underbite.

It was holding Julia in one of its arms, with the other having transformed into a gatling gun, pointing it at Thomas and Daxter, who were frozen in fear. On the ground, at the monstrous being’s feet was a Cyber Terminal, possibly belonging to Julia.

“My, what a tasty morsel we have here,” the being said with dark delight. It diverted its attention to Thomas and Daxter, “You two goons stay out of this, as she’s my dinner now.”

Julia cried, “Thomas, Daxter, don’t just stand there! Help me!”

“Now be quiet, my little meal. If your friends get any ideas…”

He then started to spin his gatling gun before firing it at the two males, who hastily dodged the attack.

“Well, now that I got my point across, it’s time to go enjoy my dinner. Frequency Change!”

The large Viron vanished into thin air, taking Julia with it.

“We have to save Julia!” Daxter stated.

“Yeah, but how?” Thomas asked.

“Dolt! Pulse in your Cyber Guardian and we’ll get him before he makes off with Julia! Use that control panel off to your left to send Knuckler in. I’ll send Strag in as well. Hurry!”

Both young men nodded, pointed their Cyber Terminals into what looked like a control panel for electrical equipment.

“Pulse in, Knuckler! Go!” Thomas stated.

“Pulse in, Strag! Go!” Daxter shouted. “Save Julia!”

Two new beings appeared in the Cyber Wave Realm.

One was a large, bulky Cyber Guardian. He had green eyes, a yellow cubic head with a red bulldozer-like jaw and a blue gem on his forehead. He had a red torso with grey collar, dark grey arms, dark red hands, steel grey gauntlets, black legs with yellow linings on each sides, and red boots with gray soles. On his chest was an insignia: a golden fist with a teal background surrounded by a red ring.

The second one was a large, humanoid beetle-like Cyber Guardian. He had an electric blue and yellow armor-like exoskeleton with silver plates here and there, a large, prolonged blue horn on his head ending in a cross, short round antennae on each side of it that seemed to generate electricity, sturdy armored legs ending in a single, spiked foot, armored fists, and his face was mostly covered in silver and blue armor with only his bright yellow eyes being visible. On his chest and the sides of his head was an emblem: a blue beetle horn with a black background surrounded by a green ring.

“Strag, Knuckler, you have to find Julia!” Thomas instructed.

Strag replied, “No worries there, as she and that creepy goon are just in front of us! Let’s zap him!”

Knuckler banged his fists against his chest in a gorilla-like fashion, “Yeah, yeah! Let’s get ‘im!”

Outside Obsidian was observing the situation, his eyes narrowing.

“Those Cyber Guardians are up against a Berserker Alpha, one of the strongest types of Virons,” he said silently. “Unless they have some decent Combat Chips they’re out of their depth. I’d better Pulse In and be ready to jump in before that Julia girl is devoured.”

The Berserker Alpha Viron groaned as it saw the two Cyber Guardians approach, making Julia hopeful.

“So, you are the pets to those humans?” the Berserker Alpha growled.

“Hand over Julia and we’ll make sure your deletion is as painless as possible!” Strag stated.

“Yeah, yeah! Hand her over or have a Knuckler Sandwich!” Knuckler bellowed.

“Tch, such noisy insects,” the Berserker Alpha huffed. “Alpha Barrier!”

It summoned a barrier but instead of it forming around the Viron it formed next to it. It then put Julia inside the barrier, effectively trapping her.

“You stay put, little morsel. I’ve got some noisy insects to splatter.”

The Berserker Alpha walked a bit ahead of the barrier that encapsulated Julia and prepared for battle. Knuckler and Strag pounded their fists together and prepared to go on the offensive.

“Bolt Ring! Combat Chip go!” Daxter stated, slotting a Combat Chip into the slot on the right side of the Cyber Terminal.

Strag’s right lower arm transformed, now looking like a Tesla coil. He took aim and fired a fast-moving electrical ring at the Berserker Alpha. However, the Berserker Alpha smirked and dodged the attack at the last second, surprising both Daxter and Strag.

“My turn!” Thomas stated. “Rock Throw! Combat Chip go!”

Knuckler summoned a large rock and hurled it at high speed with all his strength.

“That won’t scare me!” the Berserker Alpha stated. “Iron Fist!”

Its left fist became enlarged, now coated in bulky iron and heavily armored. It swung its fist forward and smashed the rock in midair.

“No way! That thing can use Combat Chips, too?!” Daxter sputtered.

The Berserker Alpha replied, “I don’t know what Combat Chips are, but I have a bevy of useful attacks at my disposal. Like this! Vulcan!”

Its right fist transformed into a Vulcan gun before pelting Strag and Knuckler with energy bullet fire. The two did their best to weather the attack.

“Two can play at that game!” Strag stated. “Thunder Gatling!”

His right arm transformed into a gatling gun similar to the Vulcan attack, only it was yellow and green in color. He pointed his attack at the Berserk Alpha and started to fire electrified energy bullets at it. To the Cyber Guardian’s horror the Berserker Alpha merely pointed the Iron Fist forward and used it to soak up the attack, without any repercussions.

“That’s the best you’ve got?” it sneered. “This’ll be even easier than I thought.”

Knuckler charged in, “I’ll pound you! Yeah! Knuckler Punch!”

His fist became enlarged and heavily armored as he charged at the Viron. The Viron reared back the Iron Fist and threw a punch, causing both armored fists to collide. At first it looked like a stalemate, but then Knuckler howled in pain as cracks formed on his fist. The Viron smirked again, reared back the Iron Fist, and punched again while Knuckler was trying to recover. The force of the attack shattered Knuckler’s hand, causing the pieces to scatter all over the place, much to the Cyber Guardian’s shock. He clutched his broken fist, trying to recover. The Viron sneered, pointed the Vulcan attack at Knuckler, its eyes gleaming.

“Say goodbye! Vulcan!”

It started pelting Knuckler with energy bullets, tearing chucks off of Knuckler’s body. Knuckler cried out in pain. Suddenly, Knuckler started to glow and a female computer voice could be heard.

“Knuckler, Pulsing Out.”

Knuckler turned into a bolt of energy and vanished, returning to Thomas’ Cyber Terminal in bad shape.

“No! Knuckler!” Julia wailed in despair.

Strag stomped his foot angrily, “Now you’ve done it! Eat this!” He started to channel electrical energy into his horn, “Horn Bolt!”

His rear ignited with rocket power and he raced forward, pointing his electrically charged horn ahead of him. The Berserker Alpha merely smirked.

“That won’t stop me!” it cackled. “Squall!”

The Vulcan gun vanished and was replaced by a cyber fan. It pointed it forward and started generating energy. Before Strag could complete his charge the cyber fan released a powerful cyclone of wind that seemed to be laced with leaves. The attack swept Strag up, making him scream in pain as he was mercilessly torn by the attack.

“No! That’s a Wood element attack!” Daxter sputtered. “Strag is weak to Wood!”

When the attack waned Strag was pretty torn up and was seemingly floating in the air. Then the same female computer voice could be heard.

“Strag, Pulsing Out.”

Strag vanished in a flash of light and returned to his Cyber Terminal in bad shape. Julia’s eyes widened in horror as she saw her last hope vanish.

“Pitiful! Truly!” the Viron cackled. It turned to Julia, eyes gleaming with delight, “Time for the main course.”

Julia tried to slink as far back as she could inside the barrier as the Berserker Alpha started to close in.

“N-No…” she whimpered fearfully. “S-Somone help!”

“Hah! No one can save you now!”

A strong voice then said, “Wanna bet, you sorry excuse for space debris? Mini Grenades!”

Before the Viron could react three Mini Grenades came out of nowhere and bombarded it with explosive power, making it cry out in pain and sending it flying. Julia’s eyes became hopeful as she looked around for the attacker.

“Who did that?!” the Viron roared. “Show yourself!”

“My pleasure, my prey,” the voice said.

Soon Obsidian appeared in his combat form, to the surprise of the Viron and the hopeful delight of Julia.

“Who are you?!” the Berserk Alpha sputtered.

“I’m Star Rider,” Obsidian stated strongly. “And I won’t let you make a meal out of this young woman. You may have defeated those Cyber Guardians, but let’s see how you fare against a Constellaton!”

“A-A Constellaton!? There’s one of you on this sorry excuse for a world?!” the Viron sputtered. It then dawned on it, “No… you’re the reason why our past attacks have failed on this world! You’ve been defeating my fellow Virons as they appear here on the Viron King’s orders!”

Obsidian smirked from behind his facemask, “That’s correct. And you’re about to become my prey for trying to eat this young woman! Take this! Great Cannon!”

His arm transformed, now becoming a yellow boxy cannon with an elongated nozzle. He took aim and fired repeatedly at the Berserker Alpha, blasting it with intense power, causing even more damage with the spread blasts that the attack created.

Julia’s eyes were hearts as she saw Star Rider fight off the Viron. She looked about ready to swoon as she watched her defender fend off the evil creature.

The Berserker Alpha staggered to stand, “Not bad. But I won’t go without my meal of this maiden! Vulcan!”

Its arm transformed into the Vulcan gun again and launched the attack.

“Flash Step!” Obsidian stated.

He soon vanished in a blur, causing the attack to miss entirely, much to the Viron’s shock.

“Where are you!?” it sputtered. “Show yourself!”

“If you insist,” Obsidian’s voice taunted.

He soon reappeared behind the Berserker Alpha, who froze in horror.


His arm transformed again, now become a long greatsword. As the Berserker Alpha started to turn around, Obsidian viciously slashed it in half, making it scream in pain as its body fell to the ground. It lay on the ground, slowly dying.

“C-Curse you… Constellaton…” it wheezed.

Obsidian huffed, “Say what you want but I won’t let the Viron King have his way with Earth. Now, it’s time to say goodbye.”

He used the Greatsword, reared his arm back, and impaled the Viron in the head, splitting it in two, causing it to finally die. The Alpha Barrier that surrounded Julia vanished, depositing her rather roughly. She looked up at Star Rider, hearts in her eyes.

“You saved my life,” she said, a blush on her face.

“The job’s not done yet. First I need to return you to the physical plane, as more Virons could appear.”

He retracted his Greatsword and scooped Julia up in a rather romantic bridal-style, making her blush more.

“Frequency Change!”

They both vanished from the Cyber Wave Realm and reappeared in the real world, to Thomas’ and Daxter’s surprise. He gently put her down, making her look lovingly at him.

“Thank you for saving my life,” she said.

“It’s a Constellaton’s duty to protect the weak from threats like Virons,” Obsidian said. “Think nothing of it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to clean up that Berserker Alpha’s corpse.”

“What’s a Berserker Alpha?” Thomas asked.

Obsidian replied, “A Berserker is a type of elite Viron and comes in four ‘flavors’: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Epsilon. They act as the right-hand subjects of the Viron King and tend to be the ‘captains’ of his army. They lack several flaws that lesser Virons possess. They are independent thinkers, thus lacking the hive mind problem that lesser Virons like Hellmetts possess. They also have multiple types of attacks, giving them a wide range of options compared to the single type of attack each individual Viron possesses, with at least a basic idea of strategy. They can also communicate in the same language as Constellatons, which is similar to your world’s English and have higher reasoning abilities. But they are no less vicious or predatory. That Berserker Alpha would’ve most definitely made a meal out of you if I hadn’t swooped in before it was too late. You were very much out of your depth when you ran into that Berserker Alpha: not only are they strong, but smart enough and resourceful enough to overcome such enemies. You need to get stronger Combat Chips and brush up on your battling skills if you want to stand a chance against such an enemy, as you got lucky this time.”

“But why do you need to clean up its corpse?” Daxter asked. “Won’t it just vanish?”

“Sadly, no. Virons may be composed of different matter compared to humans and animals, but they are still living beings. And you should know that leaving meat out to rot is dangerous, much less a corpse. A Viron corpse needs to be disposed of lest it create similar problems. A decaying Viron corpse can spawn other Virons, or at least attract more, which is considered the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is a rotting Viron corpse will deteriorate and start infecting other systems with bugs, glitches, and corruptive energies. If it gets into a data mainstream it could spread like a plague and shut down an entire city.”

“That doesn’t sound good…”

“No, it’s not. So just because a Viron is made of different matter compared to you humans, it’s still a form of living creature. Thus leaving it to rot is dangerous, just like leaving any other corpse out to rot. It needs to be disposed of properly. Now, with that being said, I need to take care of that Berserker Alpha corpse before it starts deteriorating. You three get out of here, as there is a chance the Viron’s corpse could attract other Virons. And since Berserkers can command lesser Virons it’s possible for more to show up. And with two of your Cyber Guardians in bad shape you are in no condition to fight. You should get out of here while you can before that Berserker Alpha’s corpse attracts other Virons. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got clean-up duty to tend to.”

He then vanished in a flash of light, to Julia’s dismay.

“Wait!” she cried out. She looked dejected, “He’s gone… and I didn’t get to kiss him for saving me.”

“K-K-KISS HIM!?” Thomas sputtered in shock.

Daxter held out a Cyber Terminal, “By the way, Julia, here’s your Cyber Terminal. Cherry is okay but she was worried about you.”

Julia took her Cyber Terminal and put it in a pouch on her hip.

“Now let’s get the heck out of here before more Virons appear.”

Julia looked crestfallen, “Yes, let’s beat it before we get ambushed again.” She looked longingly at the sky, “Star Rider, my beloved Star Rider. Come back soon and sweep me off my feet. Like a knight rescuing his princess, make me yours.”

Thomas went white in horror as Julia said this. The trio then started to make their way down the street in hopes of avoiding any more Virons.

At the time Obsidian was eating the remains of the Berserker Alpha, seemingly gaining more power as he did.

“They got lucky this time, as I was within range of this Berserker Alpha,” he said between mouthfuls. “But they won’t stand a chance against other Virons if they don’t increase their arsenal of Combat Chips and improve their battling ability. But if a Berserker Alpha appeared, that means the Viron King is starting to send in the heavy-hitters. Which means I need to be more diligent and be ready for anything.”

Next Chapter: Pride and Joy

That's all for today. We've been introduced to the resident rich tsundere and her posse. What does this mean for later on? Tune in next time to find out.
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Time for the next chapter of Shooting Star Rider. (Warning: contains mild violence, light sexual suggestions)

Pride and Joy

It had been a few days since the Berserker Alpha attacked Julia and her group. Obsidian had since relayed both the presence of the Berserker and the fact that Glimmer Corp is after Sci-Tech Lab’s exclusive technology, to the disgust of the scientists. He was praised, calling him a model citizen, for seeing through the deception and not taking the bribe. But they also knew that Cray Glimmer won’t give up that easily.

It was a pleasant day. Julia and her friends were sitting in the park. Julia had an almost dreamy expression on her face, still clearly thinking about ‘Star Rider’ rescuing her the other day.

“O Star Rider, Star Rider! Wherefore art thou Star Rider??” she said in a dreamy tone.

“Are you still thinking about that Star Rider, Julia?” Daxter sighed.

A voice said from Julia’s Cyber Terminal, “She hasn’t stopped pining for him since that day. It’s frankly getting annoying.”

Julia took out her Cyber Terminal, saying, “But of course, Cherry. He’s my hero. My champion. A knight in shining blue armor who rescued his princess from the clutches of evil. How could I not think of him? Because of him I lived to see another day. And now I just need to find him to ‘reward’ him for saving me.”

“Forget him already,” Thomas grumbled. “You still have us. We’ll defend you from Virons.”

Knuckler nodded, “Yeah, yeah! We can kick butt, yeah!”

Julia countered, “Yeah? More like you got your butts kicked. That Berserker Alpha nearly sent you and Strag to the big recycling bin in the sky! Buck up and get stronger, otherwise I can’t put any faith in you two protecting me!”

Cherry sighed, “Julia does have a point there. That Berserker Alpha sure schooled you and Strag. Granted, it is considered a more elite Viron, but it’s still very concerning that it could topple you two with ease. And if that’s just the ‘Alpha’ variant, it makes me worried what the stronger versions are like.”

Julia replied, “That’s why I need to find Star Rider! So he can whip you two into shape and become my true champion to ensure that no Virons, elite or not, can cause harm to me ever again!” She gained a dreamy expression again, “And so I can ‘reward’ him.”

She giggled, blushing at the thought, to Thomas’ dismay and Daxter’s annoyance. Little did she know that a blue bolt of energy rocketed just above her in the Cyber Wave Realm.

Obsidian, now in his combat form, was charging along one of the many energy roads that the Cyber Wave Realm provided. He appeared to be on patrol. As he rocketed along he didn’t notice Julia’s group below him. Eventually he came to a stop in a certain part of the city.

“Okay, so far there aren’t any breaks in the network. No Virons to report. And no malfunctioning equipment. So far so good. Hmm?”

He looked below to see a young woman running away from a bunch of men in suits. She was a highly attractive young woman, with long blonde hair that reached her calves, baby blue eyes, a curvy hourglass frame consisting of a large bust, narrow waist, and semi-wide hip, thick thighs, and long legs. She was dressed in rather casual yet formal clothes consisting of a brown-white shirt, khaki pants, and dark brown knee-high boots. She seemed to be pretty desperate to get away from the men in suits, who were slowly gaining on her.

Obsidian growled, “What are those men doing? Is that young woman in danger? Well, I won’t allow them to hurt her.”

As the young woman ran, trying everything she could to get away, it was clear she was starting to lose steam. The men in the suits noticed this and tried to catch her while she was getting tired. However, in the blink of an eye a bolt of energy struck the young woman and she vanished, causing the men to come to a screeching halt.

“W-Where did she go!?” one sputtered.

“She couldn’t have gone far,” another said.

“Try to track her via her Cyber Terminal!”

They all took out their Cyber Terminals in an attempt to track the young woman’s only to detect no signal.

“No signal!?” another choked. “If we don’t find her the boss is gonna have our heads.”

Another replied, “Right. Split up! She can’t be too far away!”

The men nodded and split up in search of the young woman. At the time Obsidian was standing on an energy road above them. In his arms was the young woman, who seemed to be trying to process what just happened, her eyes wide with confusion. She looked around before looking toward Star Rider, who gave her a gentle look.

“It’s okay,” he said. “You should be safe now.”

“S-Star Rider?” she barely managed to say, having a gentle voice with a soft but noticeable foreign accent. “W-What’s going on? Wait… did you swoop in and snatch me away from those men?”

“Yes. You seemed pretty distressed as you were running from them. I was worried they were trying to kidnap you. So I snatched you up, changed your frequency so you can become an energy being like myself, and retreated to the Cyber Wave Realm to keep you safe. I even used my own frequency to hide yours and your Cyber Terminal so those men in suits wouldn’t be able to detect you. But are you hurt? What were those men? And what were they going to do to you?”

It took the young woman a minute to fully process all this before realizing how intimately she was being carried in his arms, being carried bridal-style, making her blush.

She shook her head before replying, “I wasn’t in any real danger, Star Rider. Those men work for my father as butlers. I… had run away from home again and they were chasing me to bring me back. So I wasn’t in any danger.”

Obsidian’s eyes widened, “So… then my interference wasn’t necessary? Oh dear… That’s not good. I thought they were trying to kidnap you or something. I guess I owe you and them an apology.”

The young woman shook her head, “No, don’t worry about it. If anything you did save me. You see… my father oppresses me with very suffocating rules, preventing me from ‘mingling with commoners’ and pretty much locking me up in my own home. My house is pretty much a fancy prison to me at this point. I routinely try to run away so I can just get some time to have fun and enjoy life, if even for just a few hours. I crave freedom but I’m pretty much locked inside a gilded cage. It’s been like that for years, even back in my home region of Scandinavia. I can’t take it anymore so I run away pretty much every week, though I don’t get too far. If anything, I might finally get my wish thanks to you. Please, I beg of you, don’t send me back home or into the clutches of my butlers. Would you please let me accompany you for a while and spend the day together? Please?”

A voice then said, “Lady Pride, are you sure it’s a wise idea to ask Star Rider to escort you around for the day? He might have work to do.”

Pride took out her Cyber Terminal from a pouch on her hip, replying, “Knightmare, I’m aware of that. But maybe he could make the exception this once? I may not get another chance like this, and you know how I feel about my father’s rules and how he pretty much locks me up. Please, Knightmare, just let me have this chance.”

Obsidian replied, “It’s fine with me. I was just on patrol but it’s not anything major. I could spend the teracycle with you if it’ll make you happy. After all, no one should have to feel like a prisoner in their own home.”

Pride looked elated, “Really!? Thank you, Star Rider!”

She hugged him around the neck and nuzzled her head against his, surprising him. She then noticed something. She leaned back a bit to look at his eyes.

“Wait a minute… Your eyes… your pupils are slits. Your voice sounds familiar. Your hair color… Are you… Obsidian Glitch!? The alien man who crash-landed here roughly two months ago?”

Obsidian’s eyes widened in surprise. He shifted his head away for a moment before retracting his face mask, revealing his lower face, and turned to her.

“You’re pretty sharp,” he said. “You’re the first person outside of Sci-Tech Labs and anyone associated with them to figure out that I’m Star Rider. You were able to connect the dots surprisingly easily. I’m impressed.”

Pride giggled, “I take pride in my intelligence and observational skills. Your pupils alone was what clued me in, and it just snowballed from there. I’ve also noticed that whenever Star Rider is around Obsidian Glitch vanishes and vice-versa. Frankly I’m surprised others haven’t figured it out, as it’s not exactly that big a leap of logic. But I’m willing to keep it a secret… if you let me spend the day with you.”

Obsidian cracked a small smile, “I already said I would so that would be appreciated. And like I said, no one should have to be a prisoner in their own home. Now, let me show you something interesting. Something that most humans wouldn’t be able to enjoy.”

She smiled, “I’m all for it.”

Obsidian’s facemask returned before saying, “Hold on tight and put your Cyber Terminal back in your pouch for good measures. Time to show you how we Constellatons view the world.”

Pride nodded, placed her Cyber Terminal back in its pouch, and wrapped her arms around his neck. After ensuring she was secure, Obsidian turned into a bolt of energy and rocketed through the various energy wave roads and up into space. He came to a stop. Pride had closed her eyes during the whole event and was slowly opening them.

“Where are we?” she asked.

“Take a look, Pride,” he replied.

Pride opened her eyes and they soon became wide with wonder and delight. They were standing on an energy wave road just above the planet’s atmosphere, allowing them to look down at the planet and see into the depths of space. Her eyes were sparkling like a kid at Christmas as she observed everything.

“We’re… in space!” she said excitedly. She then realized something, “W-Wait a minute! I can’t breathe in space!”

Obsidian replied, “Well, you can now. Because I converted you into an energy being you can breathe in space. It’s only temporary, as once we return to the planet’s surface to continue our outing you’ll regain the need for oxygen. But you’re basically the same as me right now so you don’t need oxygen at the moment. Take this chance to enjoy the sights, as this is how we Constellatons look at the world.”

Pride was dumbfounded by what she was just told but clearly took full advantage of it. She looked at the stars, the planet below, and everything she could see, drinking in every detail she could.

“It’s almost like a dream…” she said. She then gained an idea, “Hey, I’d bet Knightmare would like this. Um… is it possible to Pulse In a Cyber Guardian like this?”

Obsidian nodded, “Yes. Just point your Cyber Terminal at the energy wave road to Pulse In Knightmare.”

Pride nodded, took out her Cyber Terminal, and pointed at the energy wave road, “Pulse In, Knightmare!”

A beam of energy was fired and soon a new Cyber Guardian appeared. Knightmare was a massive armored knight, more than twice the size of Obsidian in sheer height, covered in heavy armor. His armor was a light purplish grey with dark red highlights, strong armored arms and legs, black hands, silver feet, a head shaped like a knight’s helmet with a red plume, glowing yellow eyes behind his knight visor, and gave off a noble air. On his chest was his emblem: A grey shield with a royal-like crest on it with a red background surrounded by a blue ring. He looked at Pride and Obsidian before diverting his attention to the stars, his eyes flickering with joy.

“This… is amazing!” he said, his voice projecting off a gentle yet noble tone. “I never thought I’d get to see something like this. The stars are so beautiful, and looking down at the planet makes me forget all my troubles. It’s… magnificent.”

Obsidian smiled from behind his facemask, “I know, right? This is how my people view things. When looking down at a world from this perspective it just makes all our troubles go away. It gives us a sense of freedom and purpose to stand on one of these energy wave roads and just observe the stars like this. Isn’t it great?”

Pride nodded, “It most certainly is. By looking down at Earth from here I feel like all my woes and troubles are just vanishing into the depths of the cosmos. It’s amazing how such a simple change of perspective can make all the difference.”

Obsidian then became tense, his eyes shifting in the direction Knightmare was. Knightmare also sensed something.

“What is it?” Pride asked.

“I sense Virons approaching,” Obsidian replied.

“As do I,” Knightmare stated.

Just then a handful of Virons appeared. Some looked like stationary cannons on a base with wheels that had a head strikingly similar to the Cannon Combat Chip. Others looked like the front of a motorcycle with a vicious face, a flaming tire, and flames coming out of exhaust pipes. And the remaining ones looked like spaceships with a double disc inside their bodies.

“Those are Cannoirs, Hot Wheelers, and Space Blades!” Obsidian stated. “They’re not super tough but they can be tricky.

Knightmare stepped up, “Leave them to me! It’s my duty to protect Lady Pride and I’ll prove my mettle!” His left hand transformed, now becoming a massive spiked mace easily the size of Obsidian, stating, “Kingdom Krusher!”

He fired his mace directly at the Virons, revealing it to be attached to an extendable chain. The massive mace smashed through the Virons like they were made of glass, effortlessly destroying all of them in one attack, before the chain retracted the mace back to Knightmare’s arm. Obsidian’s eyes were wide in surprise but his expression melted into a smile.

“Well, well, I’m impressed, Knightmare,” the alien smiled. “You are certainly a high caliber Cyber Guardian. Compared to two I met a few days ago you certainly are a cut or two above them without question. Taking out all the Virons in one attack is pretty impressive. While those Virons aren’t in the same league as the Berserker family, they’re not exactly pushovers, either. Especially in such numbers.”

Knightmare bowed politely, “Thank you for the kind words, Obsidian. Or should I call you Star Rider?”

“Call me Star Rider when I’m in this form, as I’m trying to keep both sides of me separate for security reasons.”

Pride smiled, “Just like a knight protecting his maiden, Knightmare is a very reliable Cyber Guardian.” She then heard a beeping and looked at her Cyber Terminal, “Hmm? Looks like some data has been downloaded into my Cyber Terminal.”

Obsidian looked down before replying, “It appears some data from the Virons has been downloaded into your Cyber Terminal. You must have some new Combat Chip data that means. We’ll check it out later. Right now let’s return to the surface before more Virons appear. Plus I’m certain Pride would like to see the city and have some fun.”

Pride nodded, “Yes, let’s.” She pointed her Cyber Terminal toward Knightmare, “Pulse Out, Knightmare.”

The female compute voice stated, “Knightmare, Pulsing Out.”

Knightmare vanished in a bolt of energy and returned to the Cyber Terminal.

Obsidian looked at the remains of the Virons, which were slowly drifting off into the cosmos, saying, “Normally I’d dispose of those Viron corpses, but it’s safe to leave them this time, as the cosmic energy waves will scatter and disperse their remains where they can’t cause trouble. For now, let’s focus on giving you the teracycle of freedom you’ve been craving, Pride.”

Pride wrapped her arms around Obsidian’s neck before he turned into a bolt of energy and rocketed back to the planet’s surface. He reappeared in an alleyway, still carrying Pride. He gently put her down, making her smile.

“Pulse Out.”

He transformed back to normal. The two poked out of the alley, trying to detect Pride’s butlers, but couldn’t sense them.

“Okay, the coast is clear. Let’s go and have a bit of fun, Pride.”

Pride smiled, “I’m all for that. Let’s go before my butlers detect me or Knightmare. I want to get as much fun out of this day as possible before I have to go back home.”

The duo nodded before they ventured into the heart of the city. For the next several hours they explored the city. They went to the arcade to play some games, ate at a restaurant, had some ice cream in the park, and went to an amusement park. Both were having a grand time, clearly enjoying the day and each other’s company. Soon the sun was staring to set.

“I guess time’s up,” Pride said, a hint of sadness in her voice.

“I hope I was able to give you a good time, Pride,” Obsidian said. “I admit I’m still adjusting to Earth and all that it can offer. A lot of this was pretty new to me, too.”

She smiled, “Obsidian, this was the best day I’ve ever had. I can’t remember the last time I was this happy and had this much fun. Thank you. You really did a great thing for me today. For the first time in years I was free. All because of you and a misunderstanding. I can’t thank you enough for it. But I guess I’d better head on back before father really blows a gasket. But I have a few choice words of my own to tell him. He won’t know what hit him. Again, thank you, Obsidian, for giving me the freedom I craved and the fun day I’ve been desiring for so long.”

She hesitated for a second, a blush forming on her face, before she kissed him on the cheek. His eyes widened in surprise, clearly not knowing what to make of that.

“W-What was that?” Obsidian asked.

“It’s called a kiss,” Pride replied, a small blush on her face. “Never heard of kissing before?”

“No, I haven’t. What is it?”

Pride’s blush got brighter before replying, “It’s a sign of affection. People kiss each other to show affection to another, be it a family member, a friend, or a lover. Because you did something major for me I felt the need to reward you with a little something. Thank you.” She then thought of something, “You know, Obsidian, we’re very similar. We’re both foreigners from distant lands adjusting to a new life. We both have high expectations
by others on our shoulders. And we both are learning and experiencing things for the first time. We’re two of a kind. We understand each other. That’s something I find to be wonderful and amazing. It really puts into perspective the new bond we’ve just forged together. Thank you, Obsidian. You made me very happy today. One day I hope I can repay you.”

Just then the duo saw Pride’s butlers run up to them, clearly exhausted.

“We… finally… found… you… Lady Pride…” one panted.

“That… was… your… best… attempt… yet…” another wheezed.

“Now… you’re… coming… with… us…” a third gasped.

Pride stood up, “Fine. I got what I wanted so I’ll go home quietly.” She turned to Obsidian, a blush rising to her face again, “Thanks again, Obsidian. I owe you big time for this. Hopefully this isn’t the last time we’ll see each other. Take care of yourself.”

She walked away with her exhausted butlers, leaving Obsidian alone. He heaved a heavy sigh before he started to make his way back to Sci-Tech Labs, strange emotions swirling around inside of him.

Later Pride and her butlers made it to a large mansion looking more like a castle nestled in a far corner of the city. They opened the door, revealing a lavish interior. A man stepped up as Pride entered.

“Well, young lady, you certainly gave our butlers a runaround,” he said in a stern voice with a more noticeable accent compared to her. “Where were you this whole time? How could you have evaded our butlers this entire time?”

Pride replied cooly, “That’s my business, father. I just had the best time I’ve had in years. All thanks to one misunderstanding by one kind man that snowballed into an amazing day. Now, I’m going to my room.”

She walked past her father, who stated, “You’re not going anywhere, young lady. You deliberately disobeyed me and—” but was cut off.

“Oh, give it a rest, father!” Pride snapped, stunning him. “I’m sick of your suffocating rules and trapping me inside this house! You’re making me miserable by keeping me locked up in this fancy prison! You are always saying I ‘shouldn’t mingle with commoners’, but you’re forgetting that, as the heir to Cream Industries, I have to establish connections with the common folk so I can promote business! The more you lock me up and oppress me with your rules the more I’ll come to hate you! And the less likely I’ll do anything to support the company! If you don’t grant my wish and free me from this gilded cage then I won’t help you run the company and I’ll hate you! I won’t stand for it anymore! Either you grant my wish or you’ll lose your heir and daughter! Now, I’m done with talking to you! I’m going to bed, as I refuse to associate myself with such an oppressing dictator!”

She stormed off, leaving her father stunned. A woman soon approached her, clearly her mother, as she resembled an older version of Pride. She heaved a sigh as she touched her husband’s shoulder.

“Honey, maybe we should just grant her wish,” she said gently. “It’s true what she says: she’s miserable being trapped in this house. If we don’t grant her the freedom she seeks then she’ll not only come to hate us but she’ll run away from home more often. Dear, maybe you should consider letting her have what she craves. Whatever happened today that allowed her to avoid our butlers and give her the day of fun and freedom she desired clearly meant the world to her. It might be in both our best interests, and Cream Industries’ best interest, to grant her wish and stop locking her up. She is our pride and joy, hence her name. By locking her up we’re treating her like she’s a prisoner. Maybe it would be in our best interest to just let her have the freedom she craves. If we don’t we run the risk of losing her. Think about it, dear. It might be better granting her what she seeks instead of constantly trying to lock her up.”

Inside her room, which was a lavish room with a fancy bed, dresser, a desk with a computer, a divider screen, and a full-size mirror, Pride was getting changed behind the divider. Knightmare’s Cyber Terminal was docked in what looked like a recharging station near the computer. Knightmare waited patiently for Pride to finish changing. Soon she emerged in a satin nightgown, still hot under the collar.

“…Lady Pride, you don’t hate your father, do you?” Knightmare asked tenderly.

“Not yet, but I’m heading in that direction,” she replied. “I just wish he could see that all he’s doing is hurting me and making me miserable. I don’t want to be the princess locked away in the tower like all those old stories. I want to be free. Is that too much to ask for? If he doesn’t grant my wish he’ll lose not only his heir to the company but also his daughter’s love. I don’t want to hate him, mind, but if nothing changes then I will come to hate him. If it wasn’t for Obsidian misreading the situation I was in I wouldn’t have had such a fun day. Along with finally having the nerve to stand up to my father and his oppressing rules. I just want freedom. If he finally frees me from his suffocating rules then I’ll be willing to do what he wants when it comes to the company. But locking me up like a princess in a tower is only going to make me hate him more. He either frees me or loses his heir and daughter’s love: that’s the ultimatum I’ve given him. And if he knows what’s good for him he’ll grant my wish. But enough of this. It’s time for bed, as I’m exhausted after such a fun day. And I got a few new Combat Chips from those Virons you defeated earlier. Goodnight, Knightmare. See you in the morning.”

Knightmare nodded, “Goodnight, Lady Pride. Sweet dreams.”

The screen on the Cyber Terminal went dark. Pride turned off some of the lights in the room before laying down in bed. She turned off the lamp on her bedside table, blanketing the room in darkness. She tucked herself under the covers and shifted to one side. She smiled as she looked out her window.

“Thank you, Obsidian,” she said gently. “Because of a simple misunderstanding you gave me the best day I’ve had in years. I owe you a big debt for that. You… ended up my first true friend. Thank you for freeing me from my gilded cage, if only for a few hours. I hope we can see each other again soon, as I really enjoyed my time with you.” She then gained a blush, realizing something, “I think I’ve developed a crush on him. Well, he is handsome, charming, kind, sweet, and caring. I don’t see why I can’t develop a crush on him. Hopefully I can see him again soon.”

She soon drifted off to sleep, still thinking about her fun day with Obsidian, clearly happy.

Next Chapter: Chip Calculating Conundrum
Time for the next chapter of Shooting Star Rider. (Warning: contains mild violence, light sexual suggestions)

Chip Calculating Conundrum

It had been a couple of days since Obsidian and Pride met and spent the day together. Obsidian was in the Cyber Wave Realm, heading toward a certain location. On his visor was what looked like a GPS, guiding him to his destination.

“Okay, I should be nearing the break in the network,” he said to himself. “According to Dr. Daniel, part of the network road got damaged due to a lightning strike late last night. It should be coming into view soon. Hmm?”

He came to a screeching halt and looked over to his left. There, sitting on another energy wave road, was a strange green hexagonal crystal. He gained a frown as he saw it.

“Uh-oh… I was afraid those would start spawning now that the Cyber Wave Realm is up and running. I’d better deal with it first before some stray Cyber Guardian discovers it and it gets out of hand.”

He jumped down to a lower energy road and approached the crystal. He took a moment to analyze it before he began reaching for it.

Just then a familiar voice could be heard, “Star Rider!”

He turned to see Knightmare walk up to him, making him smile from behind his facemask.

“Oh, hello Knightmare,” Obsidian said. “You look well. How’s Pride doing?”

Just then a screen next to Knightmare appeared and soon Pride’s face could be seen. She gave a wide smile as she saw Obsidian.

“Hey, Star Rider!” she said cheerfully. “I’m glad I get to see you again. And sooner than expected. What are you doing?”

“I’m tasked with dealing with a break in the network,” he replied. “A lightning strike last night caused some damage to an energy wave road and I’m out to fix it. What about you? What are you and Knightmare doing?”

Knightmare replied, “I’m running a personal errand for Lady Pride. She asked me to place an order for something she wants. The Girl Scouts are getting their cookies up for sale and Pride wants some Thin Mints and Tagalongs. Hmm?” He then noticed the green crystal, “Hey, Star Rider, what’s that crystal behind you?”

Obsidian hesitated, taking a moment to observe the surrounding area, much to Pride’s and Knightmare’s confusion.

“Is it something dangerous?” Pride asked, concerned.

“Well…” he hesitated to say. He took another look around before saying, “I guess you’re trustworthy enough to know. Just don’t tell anyone, as I’d be worried about what could happen if this information became public knowledge.”

“You have our word. Right, Knightmare?”

Knightmare nodded, “By the way of the knight’s code, you have my word.”

“Fine. This is a Mystery Data Crystal. Data fragments that get caught in energy flows that accumulate together and crystalize into these strange items. They appeared on Constellatron, too. Well, rather than explain it, you should examine it. Knightmare, decode this data.”

Curious, Knightmare walked over to the Mystery Data Crystal, held out his hand, and began analyzing the data. As he did the crystal began to disintegrate and the data flowed into his hand. When the crystal was gone an icon appeared on Pride’s Cyber Terminal screen.

“Hmm…” she said. “Looks like a Combat Chip data. Hold on.”

She took out a blank Combat Chip, slotted it into her Cyber Terminal, and began downloading the data onto it. In a few seconds the download was complete and the Combat Chip popped out, now containing the data. She took it and looked it over.

“Huh… this is a new chip I haven’t seen before. Give me a second.”

She put it into a slot in her personal computer and analyzed it before the data and name appeared.

“My computer says it’s an Alpha Mark Cannon. What’s an Alpha Mark Cannon? I’ve never heard of it before.”

Obsidian explained, “It’s a chip that comes from a type of Viron called a Shield Cannoir. They started appearing just recently so Sci-Tech Labs hasn’t had the chance to fully decode or analyze them yet. They’re basically an evolved Cannoir Viron. They’re of the Snipe Element compared to the regular Cannoir’s Null element. When they’re not active they close the shields on their fronts, making them impervious to damage except Pierce attacks or hit with their weakness: Wind attacks. The Mark Cannon chips they provide allow the user to lock onto the first opponent their targeting reticle finds from any angle, stun them, and shoots them. They’re good for getting around enemies that hide behind obstacles or barriers, because the attack cuts through them. Auras are another story: even Snipe element attacks can’t pierce them easily. But they’re pretty useful. The stunning effect from the lock-on can trap a fast-moving target in place for the cannon to attack. It does have a downside: your Cyber Guardian is immobile during the attack, so it leaves you vulnerable to attack, which is one of the advantage the Cannon chips have. Plus you can only shoot a few times while the Cannon chips can shoot multiple times. But they’re useful regardless.”

Knightmare said, “So these Mystery Data Crystals contain Combat Chip data?”

“Not quite. That’s one of three things they can contain. They can have Combat Chip data, a fistful of money, or a handful of Bug Fragments. Before you ask, Bug Fragments are fragments of Virons that have broken off and crystalized. They can be used as a secret currency in some places, though my race just eats them. You can farm them by killing a Viron just as it’s about to launch an attack, which will cause a few to appear, depending on how many Virons you managed to destroy with that technique. I forget exactly what we Constellatons call it but it has a name. Also, Mystery Data Crystals come in four versions: Green, Blue, Red, and Gold, in ascending order. And the higher the color, the more valuable the ‘reward’ is inside the crystal. Green are the most common and spawn pretty often. Blue doesn’t spawn too often but they’re decently common. Red spawn rarely but they have some of the best ‘prizes’ inside them. While Gold are as rare as their color, only spawning about five percent of the time, and will always have the highest quality reward. But the reason why I don’t want people learning about these Mystery Data Crystals is because fights could break out over what could be a measly 100 Bytes. So please keep this quiet, Pride and Knightmare.”

Pride nodded, “You have our word. And maybe we can help you clean them out whenever they spawn. Though I might be more inclined to keep it a secret if you… take me out on a date.”

“What’s a date?” Obsidian asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“It’s kinda what we did together last time. Where a guy and a girl hang out, spend time together, and do various activities like eat out and such. There are a few extra layers to it compared to hanging out normally but that’s the gist of a date. But you do know that you can’t keep it quiet forever, right?”

“I know, as eventually a curious Cyber Guardian will find one and spread the word. But, for now, since Earth has been scrambling to prepare for the Viron invasion, I want to keep it on a low profile until the world settles into a more desirable formation. Anyway, now that I’ve told you about those Mystery Data Crystals, I have to get going and find that break in the network, which should be nearby. I’ll catch you two later. Hopefully you can get some good cookies from the Girl Scouts. Oh, and as for that ‘date’ thing, I don’t see any harm in doing it again. It was fun. Anyway, see you later.”

He jumped back onto the original energy wave road he was on and raced off.

Pride said to Knightmare, “We need to do our part to help Star Rider get Earth into a better state so we can weather the storm that is the Viron invasion. Right, Knightmare?”

“Right!” Knightmare nodded, clenching his fists.

What neither of them knew was that a pair of eyes and ears overheard the conversation before slinking away.

Meanwhile, Obsidian was making his way to the break in the network.

“Okay, it should be just up ahead,” he said. His eyes widened as he noticed something, “Hey, there’s a Cyber Guardian waiting by the breakage. A female, judging by it. And is she arguing with her Operator?”

As he approached there was a female Cyber Guardian arguing with her Operator on a screen. The Cyber Guardian soon detected the incoming Obsidian and turned around, nearly stumbling as she did.

“No way!” she sputtered. “Star Rider?”

The Operator said excitedly, “Star Rider!? Where?! Where?!”

Obsidian came to a stop, “I thought I recognized that voice. Julia, and I take it you’re her Cyber Guardian: Cherry. Right?”

The Cyber Guardian nodded, “That’s right. I’m Cherry, and you’re already acquainted with Julia. Be warned, as she’s fangirling now that you’re here. But what are you doing here, anyway?”

Obsidian took a moment to look Cherry over. She looked vaguely like a nurse. Her body was mostly covered in a teal bodysuit with a pink line going down each of her sides, with a cherry red breastplate, small but noticeable breasts, matching shoulder plates, gauntlets, and high-heeled boots, black hands, silver soles, and spots on her shoulder plates that seemed to hold red bombs. Her head was encased in a helmet that vaguely looked like a nurse’s cap, cherry red in color, with shortcut pink cyber-like hair with matching locks framing her face, pink eyes, and a white plate on her forehead. On her chest, in-between her breasts, and on the sides of her helmet was her emblem: a red cherry-shaped bomb with a blue background surrounded by a yellow ring.

“Star Rider!” Julia cried out happily. “I’ve been waiting for the day I’d get to see you again!”

Cherry said dryly, “Pay no mind to my Operator, otherwise she may orgasm if you talk to her. But what are you doing here? There are no Virons to fight.” She then got nervous, “…Are there?”

Obsidian replied, “No. I’m here to fix the break in the network. It was caused by a lightning strike last night. I would’ve been here sooner but I had to make a quick side stop to take care of something. Now, let me get to work. But what are you doing here?”

The nurse Cyber Guardian replied, “Julia wanted me to place an order for her at the shopping mall. A new style of minidress that she saw in a fashion magazine. It just went on sale today. However, this energy wave road is the only one that leads to that particular store. So I can’t go any further until it’s fixed. Good thing you showed up, as Julia was about to blow a gasket. Now please fix the road.”

Obsidian nodded, opened up his right arm gauntlet, revealing the computer-like structure fused with his arm. He pulled up a holo-screen and started to work on it, releasing pulses from it. As he did the energy wave road started to slowly rebuild itself. Cherry took note of the appearance of the computer-like structure.

“Star Rider!” Julia said happily. “Oh, how I’ve longed to see you again! Have you been defeating those vile Virons?” She then got nervous, “…There haven’t been any more of those Berserker ones, have there?”

Obsidian, who was still focused on his task, replied without looking at them, “Attacks have been less frequent the past few teracycles. Though I probably did nip an attack in the bud a couple of teracycles ago by intercepting some Virons when I was out in space briefly. And there haven’t been any other Berserker Virons since that teracycle. I’m not sure if it was a scout for the Viron King or just got here the fastest. But Sci-Tech Labs is aware that a Berserker Viron appeared recently and are preparing more defenses against such powerful enemies. Tell me, Cherry… you don’t look like a very combat-able Cyber Guardian.”

Cherry sighed, “Sadly, no I’m not. I act more like a secretary for the Glimmer household, keeping schedules organized, monitoring data, and helping keep all the equipment running properly.” She then said in a hushed tone, “And considering I’m the only Cyber Guardian who wants anything to do with the Glimmer Family, as Cray Glimmer treats Cyber Guardians as deposable assets at best, the entire mansion would fall apart without me. It’s a dirty job but everything in the mansion would come to a screeching halt if I wasn’t around, despite me hating Cray Glimmer and his ego and money fetish. So I just grin and bear it, as it gives me a sense of purpose.” She then said in a more audible tone, “In battle I’m more of a medic-type Cyber Guardian. I’m a Null element with the Recovery sub-element laced it. I do have some combat powers, mostly my Cherry Bombs, which I store on my shoulders. They inflict low damage and a random status ailment on the enemy. Emphasis on the ‘random’ aspect, as even I don’t know what each Cherry Bomb will cause when I use them. It’s like playing a game of Russian Roulette with my opponents.”

Obsidian, who was still working on the energy wave road, asked, “Then how do you defend yourself against stronger enemies?”

Julia puffed up her chest proudly, “I happened to use my family’s wealth to get ahold of several rare and powerful Combat Chips. Stuff like Aura, Mega Vulcan, Hyper Cannon, Warrior Sword, Great Axe, Gaia Hammer, and others. Cherry may not be the best battler but with my collection of rare and powerful Combat Chips she can mow down our enemies one-two-three. Even Knuckler and Strag can’t stand up to the might of my Combat Chips.”

“So you resort to using your wealth to get ahold of rare and more powerful Combat Chips to compensate for Cherry’s lackluster battling ability? Do you practice battling at all? Like using the arcade’s Cyber Battler to train against other Operators?”

Julia looked proud, “They wouldn’t stand a chance against me so I don’t need to. Sure, occasionally I’ll use Thomas and Daxter as test subjects but Cherry and I don’t need practice. Our powerful Combat Chips take care of business.”

“Then I’m afraid I’m rather disappointed,” Obsidian said simply.

Julia looked stunned, “W-What do you mean?”

“You need to practice battling more. You can’t rely on raw power to win your fights. Yes, rare and powerful Combat Chips can overwhelm your opponents if they’re not prepared for it. But what would happen… if they were prepared? What would you do if your ‘strategy’ of spamming powerful attacks failed? As someone who has been through a lot of battles I can say with certainty that relying on raw power won’t cut it. It’ll only get you so far before someone who is strong and skilled comes around and is able to defeat you. You need a strategy other than spamming your best attacks. I may have access to several powerful abilities, but sometimes the simple and practical solutions are the best. For example, a handful of Mini Grenades can be surprisingly useful if used strategically. It’s not just about raw power. It’s about using your head, as you never know when you might fight an opponent who is both strong and smart and is able to get around your powerful weapons. I suggest you practice Cyber Battling more and not rely too much on your most powerful attacks. Because knowledge and strategy is more powerful than raw might.”

Cherry said, “He does have a point, Julia. Knuckler and Strag are easy opponents, or rather test dummies, for us because we can easily overwhelm them with our rare and powerful Combat Chips. But we might not be so lucky against an opponent who uses their brains more than their brawn. We should take that into consideration, as it might help us in the long run.”

“I… I guess…” Julia said apprehensively. “But most opponents are beneath us. They wouldn’t stand a chance.”

“That’s still no excuse,” Obsidian said, still repairing the energy wave road, which was nearing completion. “It would be in your best interest to practice. There are a type of Cyber Guardians that act as training dummies for people to practice their battling ability. They’re called Combat Trainers, and you can get them pretty cheap. They come in various types and levels so you can practice with different strategies. Plus they are basically drones so you don’t have to worry about them rebelling or kicking up a fuss for repeated defeats. With Cyber Battling becoming popular it’s a good idea to brush up on your fighting ability. After all, as someone who has fought tons of battles I know that experience is the best teacher. Now…” The pulses from his arm-mounted computer vanished, revealing the repaired road, “Done. The network has been restored. Now, let me just analyze the strength of the road and see if the data flow has been restored.”

He began working some more on the screen hovering above his arm, checking various things. Julia was watching with interest, though it was clear she was more interested in Star Rider himself than his work. After a few minutes he retracted the screen and covered up the arm-mounted computer with his armor.

“Okay, everything is operational. You can proceed to your task.”

Julia said in a coy tone, “If you’re not too busy maybe you can come with us to place the order?”

“I—” but before he could answer a beeping noise could be heard from his arm-mounted computer. “Hold that thought.”

He pulled it up again and checked what it had detected. His eyes narrowed as he saw the results.

“Sorry, no can do. Virons have just appeared in the southeastern area of the city. You’ll have to handle the shopping yourself. But I suggest you seriously consider what I said, as you never know what could happen if you end up fighting a foe that’s both strong and skilled. Now I gotta jet. See ya.”

He jumped up onto another energy wave road and rocketed off, to Julia’s dismay.

Cherry said, “Come on, Julia. Let’s get the shopping done now that the road is fixed. And he isn’t wrong, you know. We should consider the idea of practicing our battling ability. Even if we have to use Combat Trainer Cyber Guardians it might be worth our time and money. Now let’s go before you start pining about Star Rider and forget the whole reason we’re out here.”

Julia sighed dejectedly, “Okay. But I WILL make Star Rider mine one day! Just you wait!”

The duo didn’t notice that the same pair of eyes and ears that had overheard Obsidian’s and Pride’s conversation also overheard Julia’s, concocting a devious plan before slinking away.

Later that day Obsidian was coasting through the Cyber Wave Realm. He looked pretty satisfied.

“Okay, I took care of those Virons and got a nice meal out of it,” he said with a smile. “It included a few new variants, for Earth, anyway, whose data I copied and can take back to Sci-Tech Labs for more analysis and help create the associated Combat Chips to distribute. The new ones included the Turbine, Red Fangfin, Bomb Bee, and Space Mage, which means more of their other ‘family’ members will follow soon. At least there hasn’t been any other Berserkers since that one time, which is good as they are too dangerous for Earth to deal with right now.”

Suddenly he heard a familiar voice scream, causing him to come to a stop.

“That sounded like Cherry.” He quickly pulled up the holo-screen on his arm and did a scan, “No, there are no Virons. What’s going on? Let me track her and find out what’s happening.”

His scanners started releasing a signal to detect where Cherry was. He soon locked onto her.

“Okay, she’s not far off. I’d better hurry in case she’s in danger.”

He raced off, tracking the signal. He soon saw what looked like an enclosed area in the middle of an energy wave road. He then saw Knuckler and Strag trying to break it down to no avail. Taking a closer look he saw Cherry seemingly engaged in a Cyber Battle with an unknown Cyber Guardian and appeared to be backed into a corner. Obsidian jumped across a few energy wave roads to reach the battle.

“What’s going on?” he asked Knuckler and Strag.

“Julia and Cherry got ambushed by this Cyber Guardian named Hacker,” Daxter said from a screen near Strag. “He forced her into a Cyber Battle with an ante rule: whoever wins gets a rare Combat Chip from the loser. And Hacker is winning!”

Thomas, who was less-than-thrilled to see Obsidian, added, “We’ve been trying to bust this stupid wall he made so we can rescue Cherry before she loses but we can’t even dent it.”

“That’s because you need to deactivate it,” Obsidian said. “It’s your standard refractive barrier. You can’t blast it nor break it. You have to shut it off at the source. But who is this Hacker guy?”

He looked into the enclosed area to get a good look at Hacker. He was a rather small, robotic Cyber Guardian. His main body was a silver cylinder with a large see-through dome on top of his head, revealing his “brain” and various circuitry and machinery, with glowing yellow eyes with green dot pupils just underneath the dome, a wide mouth on a hinge, long silver metal arms that were longer than he was tall, ending in bulky black hands with fingers that were capable of opening up, four short silver legs ending in black feet with a single green spike. On the top of his head and the back of each hand was his emblem: a rather sinister-looking green face similar to a Hot Wheeler’s with a teal background surrounded by an orange ring.

Cherry gingerly got up, “We’re in deep trouble, Julia! Hacker is gonna clean our clocks if we don’t step up our game!”

Julia held out a Combat Chip, “I know just the thing! Aura! Combat Chip, go!”

She slotted in a Combat Chip, causing a glowing whitish blue aura to form around Cherry.

Hacker said in a rather digital tone, “That won’t stop me. Ethan, if you’d please?”

A screen showing his Operator appeared. Ethan was a tall man with brown hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. He was wearing rather unflattering glasses, a white collared shirt with a green tie, with blue pants with a brown belt. His feet couldn’t be seen from the screen.

“On it, Hacker,” he said confidently. “Air Blast! Combat Chip, go!”

He slotted in a Combat Chip that caused Hacker’s hand to transform, now looking similar to a blue jet engine.

Thomas laughed, “Hah! He expects to beat Julia’s Aura chip with that wimpy attack! Julia is gonna turn this around.”

Obsidian, who was analyzing the barrier, replied, “Don’t be so sure of that. Ethan is using a very clever strategy. He knows the weakness to Aura and Barrier type Combat Chips. Watch.”

Hacker pointed the jet engine-like cannon at Cherry and fired a quick burst of wind. When it struck the Aura it instantly blew it off, leaving Cherry wide open, to Thomas’ and Daxter’s surprise and Julia’s horror.

“W-What happened?!” Julia sputtered. “M-My Aura was blown away!”

“Yeah, yeah!” Knuckler sputtered. “How can a wimpy chip like that blow away such a powerful defense?”

Obsidian replied in an almost bored tone, “Wind attacks, regardless of how strong they are, can blow away Auras and Barriers. Even if the attack doesn’t actually make contact it can blow them away just by the force of the wind itself. And it won’t regenerate when it’s blown off, unlike when an Aura ability breaks normally because it was hit with a strong attack. So Julia not only wasted her Aura chip but Cherry is wide open to an attack. Ethan knows his stuff.”

Ethan chuckled, “Precisely. I spent a lot of time analyzing the power and abilities of Combat Chips. All in my quest to obtain the rarest and most powerful ones. I’m even willing to engage in Ante Battles in my mission to find and obtain what I seek even if they’re looked down upon. And now with Cherry wide open, it’s time to go on the offensive. Hacker!”

“Roger that!” Hacker stated. He pointed both hands at Cherry, causing his fingers to open, “Hack Attack!”

He fired several small bombs from his fingers that pelted Cherry with surprisingly intense power, making her cry out as she was thrown into the barrier. She struggled to stand up, clearly on her last legs.

“Cherry!” Julia stated. “Don’t give up! Use this! Hyper Cannon! Combat Chip, go!”

She slotted in another Combat Chips, causing Cherry’s right arm to transform into a red cannon. Despite her weakened state she took aim and fired several rounds from it.

Ethan replied, “Two can play at that game! Gamma Barrier! Combat Chip, go!”

A gold-colored barrier formed around Hacker. The Hyper Cannon bombarded the barrier with intense firepower, engulfing Hacker in smoke. However, when the smoke cleared the barrier was still standing, to Cherry’s horror and Julia’s shock.

“No way!” she sputtered. “Even after getting bombarded by multiple Hyper Cannon shots the Gamma Barrier is still standing! Then I’ll use my own! Gamma Barrier! Combat Chip, go!”

A gold-colored barrier formed around Cherry, who was still struggling to stand.

“But won’t Ethan just blow the barrier away like he did the Aura before?” Strag asked.

Ethan smirked, “I’ve got other plans in mind. Quadruple Mini Grenade! Combat Chips, go!”

He slotted in four Mini Grenades, one after the other, causing them to form in Hacker’s hands. He threw them one at a time toward Cherry. The Mini Grenades struck the Gamma Barrier, exploding multiple times. To Julia’s horror one of the Mini Grenades popped the Gamma Barrier, allowing the remaining explosions to strike Cherry and send her flying. She crashed in a heap near the back of the barrier, closest to Knuckler, Strag, and Obsidian, smoldering.

“How did those Mini Grenades break the Gamma Barrier!?” Thomas sputtered. “Considering the Hyper Cannon is stronger yet it didn’t break Hacker’s Gamma Barrier! What gives?”

Obsidian replied, “What gives is the fact that Mini Grenade explodes multiple times. Gamma Barrier can repel up to ten hits before it breaks. Mini Grenade explodes three times. So by throwing four Mini Grenades, which explode three times each, he effectively blasted the Gamma Barrier with 12 attacks, allowing the last two explosions to strike Cherry. While Hyper Cannon can only fire a maximum of seven times, three attacks too short to break Hacker’s Gamma Barrier. Now… Got it! I fully decoded the refractive barrier. Now… Mini Grenade!”

A Mini Grenade appeared in his hand. He threw it on top of the refractive barrier, striking the center point. The Mini Grenade exploded three times, causing the refractive barrier to shut down, to Ethan’s and Hacker’s alarm. Obsidian quickly raced forward.

“Gale Sword!” he stated.

His arm transformed into a new sword that was transparent and seemed to have Wind energy flowing around it. He gave it a swing, releasing a gust of wind that blew away Hacker’s Gamma Barrier. He swung it again, creating another gust of air that knocked Hacker onto his back. He lunged at a defenseless Hacker, who prepared himself to be impaled.

Ethan cried, “Okay! I surrender! Please, just don’t hurt Hacker!”

Obsidian’s sword came to a stop just inches from Hacker’s face, who looked at it with nervous eyes. Obsidian held his sword in Hacker’s face for a few moments before walking over to the screen where Ethan was.

“Ethan, look, I understand the appeal and value of rare Combat Chips,” he said in a gentle tone. “But there’s a reason Ante Battles are looked down upon. How would you feel if you lost a rare Combat Chip to someone else? Wouldn’t that make you upset? Think how others feel about that kind of thing. They work hard to obtain such Combat Chips, either from Virons or hunting them down from Chip Dealers. I suggest you stop these Ante Battles and think about how much more meaningful it would be to earn rare Combat Chips the right way. It would be in everyone’s best interest if you take into consideration how others feel about losing something so valuable and stop these Ante Battles. Hacker’s a strong Cyber Guardian and you clearly know your stuff. Wouldn’t it be more rewarding if you obtained a rare Combat Chip from busting a Viron or obtaining one as a gift from a friend?”

Ethan nodded, “Yes, I understand, Star Rider. You’re right. I’d feel awful if I lost a rare Combat Chip to someone. I guess I didn’t take that into consideration. I’m sorry. I hope you can forgive me.”

Obsidian nodded, “Yes, I can, especially if you intend to obtain Combat Chips the right way from now on. You clearly have the knowledge and skill needed to find and obtain rare Combat Chips so use it to your advantage instead of forcing people to hand over theirs through Ante Battles. If you can keep on the straight and narrow when it comes to Combat Chips from here on out then I don’t see any harm in letting you and Hacker off the hook.”

Ethan smiled, “Thank you, Star Rider. I promise I’ll be good from now on. Maybe we could trade Combat Chips sometime?”

Obsidian smiled, “I’d be down for that. And as a sign of good will I’m going to download something into your Cyber Terminal. Give me a second.”

He started to work at the holo-screen on his arm, seemingly downloading data onto Ethen’s Cyber Terminal. When the download was compete Ethan slotted in a blank Combat Chip, installed the data, and the chip popped out, revealing a new form.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“It’s a new Combat Chip that comes from a Viron that recently appeared,” Obsidian said. “It’s the Piranha Fang Combat Chip that comes from the Red Fangfin Viron. It hasn’t been released yet since the Viron in question just appeared. I was heading back to Sci-Tech Labs to give them the data I had collected for it and a handful of other Virons that appeared so the associated Combat Chips can be created. Take it as a sign of goodwill and to seal the deal.”

Ethan looked elated “Thank you so much! I promise I won’t do any more Ante Battles. Thank you for showing me some mercy, especially since I didn’t deserve it. Take care and I’m sorry. Hacker, let’s go.”

Hacker nodded, “Right. See you around. And I’m sorry, too. We’ll talk trade some other time.”

The female computer voice then said, “Hacker, Pulsing Out.”

Hacker vanished in a burst of light, followed by the screen showing Ethan vanishing.

Obsidian gained a small smile from behind his facemask before turning to see Knuckler and Strag helping support Cherry.

“Do you see what I mean now, Julia?” he asked. “That Ethan and Hacker knew their stuff and spamming your most powerful attacks failed to overcome him and his strategies. You need to practice battling more so you can become stronger and more skilled. It’ll prevent you from losing against such opponents. Now, I’ve gotta go and report the new data to Sci-Tech Labs. I hope you’ll consider what I’ve been telling you, Julia, since it’ll help in the long-run. See ya.”

Before Julia could say anything Obsidian rocketed off back to Sci-Tech Labs.

Cherry, who was pretty beat up, said, “He’s not wrong you know, Julia. Maybe we should consider picking up a few Combat Trainer Cyber Guardians to practice our strategies with. We would’ve lost the battle and you would’ve lost your Warrior Sword Combat Chip to Ethan and Hacker if Star Rider didn’t show up. We need to brush up on our tactics if we’re to defeat more skilled foes later on.”

“I guess…” Julia said.

“Well, what’s important is that Cherry is safe and Julia still has her Warrior Sword chip,” Daxter said. “So all’s well that ends well. Now let’s get going.”

The group nodded and began making their way down the energy wave road. Cherry was still beat up but she was able to walk with Knuckler and Strag to their next destination. Julia was debating the idea of training but seemed to be against it.

“I just need stronger Combat Chips,” she said silently. “Then I’ll really impress Star Rider. Just you wait. I’ll sweep you off your feet, Star Rider, at how amazing I am.”

Next Chapter: Battle of the Hearts

We have been introduced to the resident Higsby. And Julia... hasn't learned a thing. Tune in next time to see what happens with our heroes.
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Time for the next chapter of Shooting Star Rider.

Battle of the Hearts

It had been a few days since the battle against Ethan and Hacker. There had been a couple more Viron attacks since then, with several containing new breeds that Earth had yet to see. Obsidian bravely fought them off, collecting any data on them to give to Sci-Tech Labs to better prepare the planet for more invasions.

One day, Obsidian was relaxing in one of the city parks. He had just polished off a candy bar and was merely enjoying the springtime atmosphere. As he leaned back on the bench, he closed his eyes, allowing him to absorb the beauty of nature.

“Earth is a beautiful planet,” he said to himself. “Humans are an interesting race, yet they have their charms. While I’m still baffled at the concept of a race that can be both good and evil, depending on the individual, I will admit it does open my eyes to such possibilities existing. At least the food is good. Better than anything I’ve ever eaten in the past, even that I can remember. At least, aside from the Viron attacks, things are peaceful here. I just wish it could continue this way forever.”

As he relaxed he didn’t notice that a familiar figure was slowly tiptoeing toward him from behind. As he closed his eyes to take in the peaceful feelings a pair of hands covered them, startling him.

“What the?!” he sputtered.

A familiar voice giggled, “Make a move and you’re a goner. …Guess who?”

“Wait… Pride!?”

The hands removed themselves, followed by a playful giggle, and soon Pride’s head poked out from behind him.

“You know, Obsidian, you’re supposed to pretend you don’t know who it is,” she said playfully. “You have to make at least one fake guess to play along.”

Obsidian turned to her, “Pride, I’m surprised to see you. Wait. Does this mean what I think it means?”

Pride sat down on the bench, smiling, “That father finally relented and granted me my wish? Yes. Considering I wasn’t even speaking to him since that day we spent together he finally gave in, as it’s clear his daughter’s love was more important than his rules. Now I’m free to come and go as I please. Though in exchange I do have to do work for Cream Industries, especially field tests, but I consider that a fair exchange for finally having the lock on my gilded cage undone. And it means I can spend time with you, my best friend. I’ve been waiting for this day for years. And I owe my newfound freedom to you, Obsidian. It’s because of one misunderstanding that I not only got the freedom I’ve been craving for years, but now I’m in a better relationship with the rest of my family. And it makes me so happy. Thank you, Obsidian, for being the catalyst that helped me break free from my shackles and grant me the freedom I’ve yearned for since I was little.”

She planted another kiss on his cheek, making his eyes widen in surprise.

“Y-You’re welcome, Pride,” he said, a small blush forming on his face.

A blush formed on Pride’s face, making her giggle, “Still not used to kisses yet, are you? Well, you have plenty of time to get used to them. But, again, thank you. That one misunderstanding you had snowballed into something amazing. And I’m forever thankful.”

A voice then chuckled, “Bless my filet of sole, is that Pride Cream?”

The duo turned to see Mack ride up on his bicycle.

“Hello Mack,” Obsidian said.

Mack chuckled, “Well, I didn’t expect to see two lovebirds out here. But I’m even more surprised to see ya out and about, Pride. Doesn’t yer father have some pretty strict rules?”

Pride nodded, “Yes. Or at least he used to. Thanks to Obsidian here those rules have been alleviated. Now I finally got the freedom I’ve been craving since I was a young girl back in my home region of Scandinavia. And I intend to make good use of my newfound freedom. So expect to see my face around town more often. Oh, and by the way, thanks for selling my chefs those Icelandic arctic char filets the other day. They were good.”

Mack smiled, “Glad to hear it on both fronts. I can only imagin’ what it’s like to be trapped inside all day. Youn’ folk like yerself need to be out in the sun and have a good time. Well, anyway, I gotta run. Got some deliveries to make. Y’all take care now, ya hear?”

He started to peddle his bicycle and rode away from the duo.

Obsidian turned to Pride, “What did he mean by ‘lovebirds’? We’re not a type of bird.”

Pride giggled, “There’s another meaning to that word. I’ll tell you some other time, Obsidian. Right now let’s take advantage of my time outside and have some fun.”

She stood up and gently tugged at Obsidian’s arm. He stood up and the two of them started to walk down the street together. They began exploring the city, checking out some shops and seeing the sights. They soon came to a new shop.

“Hey, this shop wasn’t here before,” Obsidian observed.

Pride looked at the sign, “It looks like it’s a Combat Chip shop. Let’s check it out.”

They entered the building. There were various shelves and displays of countless Combat Chips of all types. No one was at the counter.

“Hello? Anyone home?”

A familiar voice said, “Just a second.”

Obsidian’s eyes widened, “It can’t be.”

Soon Ethan walked out from the room behind the counter.

“Welcome to Ethan’s Combat Chip Shop!” he said. “How can I help you?”

“So you started a Combat Chip shop, Ethan?” Obsidian asked, surprised.

“I don’t think I know you. Have we met before?”

Obsidian chuckled nervously before saying, “We met the other teracycle. Normally I wouldn’t disclose this information but seeing how I already messed up. It’s me, Obsidian Glitch, aka Star Rider. I tend to keep my two personas separate for security reasons but we met when I was in my Star Rider persona when you forced Cherry into an Ante Battle and I intervened. Remember?”

Ethan’s eyes widened, “Wait! You’re Star Rider!? Come to think of it, your eyes, or rather your pupils, and hair look familiar. And now that I think about it both Star Rider and you showed up at the same time on this planet. Guess I should’ve put the pieces together. But who’s this young lady? And does she already know?”

Pride giggled, “I’m Pride Cream of the Cream Family and heir to Cream Industries. I found out about the whole Obsidian/Star Rider thing on my own. You see Obsidian and I met because of a misunderstanding on his part and I managed to put the pieces of the puzzle together and was able to deduce that he and Star Rider are one and the same. It was fine as it granted me the best day I had in years so it was worth it. I already know about the whole secret identity thing because I figured it out myself. You’re free to talk openly about it around me since I’m already aware of it.”

“Oh, I see. You’re the heir to Cream Industries? I thought your father was known for being rather strict about keeping you at home?”

“He was, but thanks to Obsidian and a little ultimatum from me I’m finally free to come and go as I please. It does mean I need to do some extra work for Cream Industries, especially field tests, but I consider it a fair exchange for finally being let out of my gilded cage.”

Obsidian turned to Ethan, “So, Ethan, you went into business with your Combat Chip collection. I take it you just opened up?”

Ethan nodded, “Yep, and I owe it to you, Obsidian. You were right about what you said and I felt bad about it. I decided to make amends by offering my services to spread the love of rare Combat Chips and offer my knowledge on them. I just opened up shop yesterday. I offer chips for sale or for trade. And with that out of the way, what can I do for you?”

Pride looked around before saying, “I might be up for a few trades, Ethan. I’m looking for certain chips to fill out my collection. Do you have any Bubble Shots?”

Ethan smiled, “Sure do! Got quite a few of them. What do you want to trade for them?”

Pride sorted through her collection of Combat Chips before saying, “How about I trade you a Hyper Cannon in exchange for three Bubble Shots?”

Ethan’s eyes lit up, “You have a deal, Pride!”

He collected three Bubble Shot chips and held them out. Pride gave him one of her Hyper Cannons in exchange.

Ethan said, “I’m surprised you’d be willing to trade a fairly powerful and rare chip for three lesser ones, Pride?”

She replied, “I have a lot of rare and powerful Combat Chips thanks to my family’s wealth and resources. But I don’t have as many common chips as I’d like. Yes, I could just use my family’s wealth to get them but unlike Glimmer Corp, who throws around their money in hopes of getting what they want, I don’t want to resort to such methods. Besides, I have some strategies I’d like to try out but I lack the needed chips to pull them off. I value strategy over power and you’d be surprised at how useful something as simple as a Mini Grenade can be if used strategically. Though something tells me you know your stuff when it comes to strategy. But moving on, do you have any Zap Magnet chips?”

Ethan nodded, “Yup. Just got a good dozen or so this morning. What are you going to trade for them?”

Pride looked at her collection before saying, “I’ll trade you a Great Axe in exchange for four of them. Sound fair?”

Ethan smiled, “You got yourself a deal, Pride. I’m liking you more by the minute.”

Ethan took out four Combat Chips from his display and held them out. Pride gave him one of hers in exchange, putting the new ones in her pouch.

“Now, do you have any Grass Seeds?”

Ethan nodded, “Yup. I got plenty of those.”

Pride sorted through her collection before saying, “I’ll trade you a Bubble Barrier for three Grass Seeds.”

“Sounds good to me!”

Ethan took out three chips from a shelf over to his left and held them out. Pride gave him one of hers in exchange.

“Now, let’s see… Do you have an Alpha Barriers?”

Ethan nodded, “Yup, got plenty of them.”

Pride looked through her collection before saying, “I’ll trade you a Mega Vulcan in exchange for four Alpha Barriers.”

“You’ve got a deal, Pride.”

Ethan took out four chips from the display behind him and held them out. Pride gave him one of her chips in exchange, placing the new ones into her pouch.

“Now, for the last trade, do you have any Air Burst chips?” she asked.

“You got it. Got at least a good two dozen or more. What will you trade in exchange?”

Pride took another moment to observe her collection before saying, “I’ll trade you an Ice Grenade in exchange for four of them. Sound good?”

Ethan smiled, “I’ve been looking for an Ice Grenade for a bit now. You’ve got yourself a deal.”

He took out four chips from another side of his display and held them out. Pride gave him one of hers in exchange, putting the new ones into her collection.

“I like you, Pride,” he said with a smile. “Not just because you’re offering such nice trades, but it’s clear you value and understand that every Combat Chip, rare or otherwise, can be useful. Compared to Julia, who I battled the other day, she just spams her best attacks and hopes the opponent can’t retaliate in time. But you clearly understand strategy and the value that any Combat Chip can offer.”

Obsidian smiled, “As do I. As someone who has seen more than his fair share of battles, most of them being life-and-death, I appreciate the value of a solid strategy over just spamming your best moves and hope the opponent can’t fight back. Anyway, hope business will be good for you, Ethan. And keep the whole Star Rider thing quiet, okay? I’m trying to keep both sides of me separate for security reasons.”

Ethan nodded, “No worries on this end, Obsidian. I’ll stay hush-hush about it. Come back any time and spread the word while you’re at it.”

Pride smiled, “We will. Thanks Ethan.”

The duo left the chip shop and started to walk down the street.

Pride smiled, “I’m glad Ethan was willing to make so many trades with me. I’ve got some fun strategies and combos I want to try out with these Combat Chips.”

Obsidian smiled, “I’m glad to see you understand the value of strategy. It’s a shame Julia doesn’t, as she thinks the raw power of all her rare Combat Chips is enough to win the day. Against an opponent like Knuckler or Strag, maybe, since they’re not as strong as they think they are. But it is a different story against a smart and skilled foe like how Ethan and Hacker were when they fought. But I am curious to see what your strategies and combos are.”

As they walked down the street Julia, Thomas, and Daxter emerged from a building behind them. They were chatting when Daxter noticed the duo.

“Hey! Isn’t that Obsidian?” he said. “And… isn’t that Pride Cream of Cream Industries with him?”

Julia’s eyes flared dangerously, “Pride Cream!? What’s she doing with Obsidian!?”

Thomas scratched his chin, “Cream Industries? Why does that name ring a bell?”

Julia snapped, “Meathead! Cream Industries is the arch-rival to Glimmer Corp, my family’s company! The aggravating thing is that Cream Industries has always been at least one step ahead of Glimmer Corp, resulting in a bitter rivalry between the Cream and Glimmer families.” Her eyes widened in shock, “Oh no! She’s not trying to get a business deal with Obsidian, is she!? So Cream Industries can gain access to Sci-Tech Lab’s exclusive technology!? No! I won’t allow it! If Cream Industries gets ahold of Sci-Tech Lab’s technology before Glimmer Corp my father will go on the warpath! I need to break up this little powwow before Glimmer Corp loses to Cream Industries! Again!”

She charged ahead, racing toward Obsidian and Pride. Thomas and Daxter raced after her, trying to keep up.

“Hold it right there!” Julia stated strongly.

Obsidian and Pride turned around to see Julia come to a screeching halt just short of them. Thomas and Daxter soon followed, panting.

“Oh, it’s you, Julia,” Pride said, deadpan. “Whattya want?”

Julia pointed her right pointer finger at them, “I won’t allow Cream Industries to gain a business deal with Sci-Tech Labs! I made the generous offer to Obsidian for access to Sci-Tech Labs technology first, blondie! And Obsidian WILL comply to my father’s generosity. Isn’t that right?”

Obsidian replied bluntly, “No. I told you already that I’m not interested in your business deal. Nor is Sci-Tech Labs, as they want nothing to do with Glimmer Corp’s rather shady methods.”

Pride brushed some hair out of her face, “And for the record, Obsidian and I are not discussing a business deal. We’re simply spending time out on the town together. Besides, Cream Industries knows that Sci-Tech Labs is off-limits to any and all technology companies. Even though Cream Industries is in Sci-Tech Lab’s good graces we don’t want to make any business deals with them because we know the information and technology Sci-Tech Lab has is too important to be used for marketing purposes. You’re simply jumping to conclusions about what Obsidian and I are doing. After all, he’s my best friend and I’m just spending some quality time with him. So you’re barking up the wrong tree, Julia, as there is no business deals going on here. It’s just two friends hanging out and having a good time together. It’s not that difficult to figure out. Sheesh.”

Julia snapped, “I don’t buy it! You’re trying to smooch up to him so you can get Cream Industries access to Sci-Tech Labs and all its great technology. Well I won’t allow it! I got here first so get in line! Or would you rather face me and my friends in a Cyber Battle?”

Pride gained an annoyed scowl before it changed to a confident smirk, “You and I have a Cyber Battle? That should be worth killing some time. And I was looking for some test dummies to practice some new combos I cooked up. Fine. In fact I challenge all three of you to a Cyber Battle. If either of you can defeat Knightmare then I’ll step aside. But make no mistake: Knightmare is a one-man army. The arcade is just around the corner. Let’s use the Cyber Battle Machine to get this over with.”

Julia laughed triumphantly, “I’ll crush you with my rare and powerful Combat Chips! If Thomas or Daxter don’t crush your tin-plated sissy first. Let’s go!”

Julia marched toward the arcade, with her “lackies” following her. Pride rolled her eyes, grabbed Obsidian’s hand, and gently guided him toward the arcade. They soon arrived, entering the building and making their way toward the new Cyber Battle Machine. A Cyber Battle had just wrapped up, allowing them to move in.

Julia instructed, “Thomas, you go first. Give Pride and her sissy in double-knit the one-two punch with Knuckler.”

Thomas smirked, “Be my pleasure, Julia.”

Pride smirked, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. The could be goose eggs instead.”

Both took their positions on opposite sides of the machine. Several people gathered around to see what was going on.

“Pulse In, Knuckler!” Thomas stated strongly.

“Pulse In, Knightmare!” Pride said calmly.

Both Cyber Guardians entered the machine, causing a projection to appear. Knuckler appeared first, clanging his fists together. But his eyes widened in shock as Knightmare appeared, who towered above him.

“Hello… tiny,” Knightmare chuckled.

“T-T-That’s Knightmare?!” Thomas sputtered. “He’s huge!”

Obsidian said sagely, “Size can be a weapon in it of itself. But size doesn’t always matter. Don’t you Earthlings have a story called ‘David and Goliath’? But we’ll see if ‘David’ can beat ‘Goliath’ this time.”

Julia stated, “Thomas! Stay focused! You can beat him!”

Thomas regained his focus, “Right! Leave it to me, Julia! You’re going down!”

Pride merely said, “Bring it on.”

Flashing words appeared above the two Cyber Guardians reading, “Battle Start”, indicating the fight was about to begin.

“Knuckler, give Knightmare a taste of your Knuckler Punch!”

Knuckler pounded his fists against his chest in a gorilla fashion, stating, “Yeah! Yeah! I got it!” His right fist became enlarged, “Knuckler Punch!”

He swung a punch at Knightmare, who remained still. But when his fist connected against Knightmare’s heavily armored hide it did nothing. Then, after a brief delay, Knuckler howled in pain, stumbling back, shaking his hand.

“Ow! Ow! Ow! That hurts! He’s hard!”

Pride smirked, “Knightmare has a powerful defense on his side. Your punch tickled him. Now, it’s our turn! Combo time! Bubble Shot! Combat Chip, go!”

She slotted in one of her new Combat Chips. Knightmare’s right hand vanished and became a cannon that looked like the front of a firehose. He took aim and fired a blast of water. The attack struck Knuckler, hitting him with mild damage but also encasing him in a large bubble.

“Now! Zap Magnet! Combat Chip, go!”

The firehose cannon vanished and was replaced with a large horseshoe magnet. Knightmare held it forward and activated it. Knuckler, who was still trapped in the bubble, got forcefully, and quickly, dragged over to Knightmare, bubble and all, before latching onto the magnet. The magnet released powerful electrical energies that fried Knuckler with intense power, popping the bubble and paralyzing him in the process.

“Hey! That attack did more damage than it should!” Daxter sputtered. “How come?”

Obsidian replied, “Whenever an opponent is trapped inside a bubble, any Electric damage they take while inside it is doubled. And if the opponent happens to be a Water Element the damage is instead quadrupled. And if struck while on a Sea Panel that damage is octupled. Pride used a very clever strategy there. And it involved some of the new chips she got. She’s smart.”

Pride smirked, “Now, Knightmare, smack him while he’s still paralyzed!”

Knightmare nodded, “Right!”

He jumped back a bit, returned his right hand to normal before transforming his left one into the spiked mace. He then started to spin like a top, displaying speed unheard of for someone his size. Just as Knuckler was starting to recover from the paralysis Knightmare made his move.

“Royal Wrecker!”

He slammed into Knuckler, smashing him hard with the mace, sending the bulky Cyber Guardian sky high and dealing heavy damage. After reaching a certain point Knuckler seemed to be suspended in midair.

The female computer voice said, “Knuckler, Pulsing Out.”

Knuckler turned into a bolt of energy and vanished, returning to Thomas’ Cyber Terminal badly damaged. Thomas looked devastated while Julia and Daxter looked horrified.

“That doesn’t bode well…” Daxter gulped.

Julia managed to recover before instructing, “Daxter! Get in there and take down that nickel-plated twit!”

“Y-Yes ma’am!” Daxter hastily replied.

He scampered over to the Cyber Battle Machine as Thomas sulked away. He gulped before pointing his Cyber Terminal at it.

“Pulse In, Strag!”

Strag soon appeared inside the machine. Pride took a moment to observe Strag before smiling. Shortly afterward the words “Battle Start” flashed across the arena.

Strag pounded his fists together, “I’ll make sure you fall, Knightmare!” He started generating electrical energy in his horn before saying, “Horn Bolt!”

Rocket energy erupted from his rear and he raced forward, pointing his horn as Knightmare. Knightmare merely stood still as the incoming attack drew closer. Strag slammed his electrified horn into Knightmare’s stomach, creating a smoke cloud.

“Bullseye!” Daxter stated confidently. “A direct hit!”

However, his confidence turned to horror as when the smoke cleared Knightmare was unharmed. Strag’s eyes bulged as he saw his attack do no damage to the massive knight and began backing away.

“That tingled a bit,” Knightmare said simply.

“N-No way! He took my Horn Bolt like it was nothing!” Strag sputtered.

Pride smirked, “Like I said before Knightmare’s got a very solid defense. And that’s not even considering his special defensive ability. Now it’s our turn! Grass Seed! Combat Chip, go!”

A green capsule formed in Knightmare’s hand. He then threw it in the center of the battlefield. The capsule sank into the ground and soon grass formed, confusing Strag and Daxter.

“You trying to cultivate crops or something?” the electric beetle Cyber Guardian asked.

Just then two large blades of grass emerged and ensnared Strag, lifting him off the ground slightly and immobilizing him. He began to panic as he tried to escape.

Pride smiled, “That’s not all I have planned for you. Tornado! Combat Chip, go!”

Knightmare’s left hand became a cyber fan. He pointed it forward before activating it, releasing a vicious tornado from it. The tornado soon took form underneath Strag and became larger. It also started to gain a green tint as it seemingly absorbed energy from the grass underneath the Cyber Guardian. Strag screamed in pain as he was viciously assaulted by the attack.

“W-W-What’s happening!?” Daxter sputtered.

Obsidian replied, “Whenever one of the Elemental Seeds is used, creating a type of special panel, it does more than just change the field. When combined with an attack like Tornado it not only turns the Tornado into the corresponding element, in this case Wood, but it magnifies the attack by two and a half times. In short, combining the Grass Panels from Grass Seed with Tornado turned the latter into a supped-up version of Squall. And since Strag is an Electric element, the damage is being multiplied further. To put it lightly, Strag is taking quintuple damage because the Tornado is now a 2.5 times stronger version of Squall combined with the double elemental advantage damage. So this is gonna hurt. And that’s not all those Grass Panels can do.”

When Knightmare ended his attack Strag came crashing down from above, badly damaged. He landed on another section of grass before trying to stand up but was struggling badly.

Pride smirked, “One more attack should do the trick. Flame Tire! Combat Chip, go!”

She slotted in another Combat Chip, which caused a large flaming tire to appear in Knightmare’s hands. He reared back and threw it at the defenseless Strag, who was still struggling to stand. The tire seemed to be getting stronger as it rolled over the grass, burning it up in the process. Before Strag could respond the flaming tire slammed into him, exploding on contact and sending the electric beetle Cyber Guardian flying. Strag was soon suspended in midair.

“Strag, Pulsing Out.”

Strag vanished in a bolt of energy and returned to his Cyber Terminal, battered and beaten. Julia’s jaw had dropped as she saw her second line of defense fall.

“W-What happened?!” Thomas choked. “How’d that Flame Tire do so much damage!?”

Obsidian replied in an almost bored tone, “Those Grass Panels had another useful trait. When a Fire element attack is used on them the power of said attack is doubled. So while Flame Tire is only a so-so attack in terms of pure power by combining it with the Grass Panels doubled it, making it much more formidable. While it also consumes the Grass Panels it’s a small price to pay for dealing a devastating blow. I’m liking Pride’s strategies.”

Pride turned to Julia with a smug expression, “You’re up, Julia. This is your last chance to back down. What will it be?”

Julia regained her focus, stating strongly, “I will crush you with my superior Combat Chips! Let’s do it, Cherry!”

Cherry protested, “Are you nuts!? That walking tank will flatten me!”

“Just do what I say and follow my instructions and we can win this!”

She walked over to the Cyber Battle Machine with confidence while Daxter sulked over to where Thomas was.

“Pulse In, Cherry! Let’s blast that metalhead back to the Renaissance era!”

Cherry soon appeared in the arena, which had reset now that a new battle was beginning. She gulped as she looked up at Knightmare, who towered over her small frame. The words “Battle Start” flashed, indicating it was time to fight.

“This’ll take you out in one shot!” Julia said confidently. “Warrior Sword! Combat Chip, go!”

Cherry’s right lower arm transformed into a massive sword that was nearly as long as she was tall, with a bulky gold and red hilt. Energy seemed to be generating in it before she gave it a mighty swing, releasing a huge energy shockwave at Knightmare.

Pride smirked, “Not happening. Alpha Barrier! Combat Chip, go!”

A barrier formed around Knightmare. The energy wave struck the barrier, causing both to cancel each other out, to Cherry’s horror.

“Warrior Sword, Paladin Sword, and Champion Sword may be powerful and rare, with their main draw being the one-time shockwave they can create. But if that shockwave is negated then they’re no different than a Sword Combat Chip afterward. So while Alpha Barrier can only negate one attack that’s all I needed to nullify the main draw of such a weapon. Now it’s our turn!”

Knightmare pointed his mace forward, stating, “Kingdom Krusher!”

He fired it on its retractable chain right at Cherry, who was clearly panicking.

“Cherry, attack the mace with your sword!” Julia instructed.

Cherry swung the sword at the incoming mace. The mace effortlessly shattered the Warrior Sword, not even slowing down, before slamming into Cherry and sending her flying, screaming. Knightmare retracted his mace back to his arm, looking confident.

Julia grit her teeth, “You want to play hard ball? Then try this on for size! Aura! Combat Chip, go!”

Cherry, who had just managed to recover, was coated in a glowing aura.

Pride smirked, “That won’t stop me. Air Burst! Combat Chip, go!”

Knightmare’s right hand became the same jet engine-like cannon as before. He pointed it at Cherry, who was clearly sweating bullets. He fired the blast of wind at her, striking the Aura and blowing it away easily.

“Not again!” Cherry sputtered.

“So Pride knows that Auras and Barriers can be blown away by Wind attacks too!?” Daxter sputtered.

Pride smirked, “Yes. I know my stuff.” She turned to Julia, “Are you going to give up?”

Julia growled, “Never! I’ll beat a big boobed bimbo like you one-two-three! Eat this! Gaia Hammer! Combat Chip, go!”

A massive hammer appeared in Cherry’s hands. She reared back and slammed it on the ground, creating rolling explosions that swiftly made their way toward Knightmare.

Pride sighed, “It’s impolite to talk about a woman’s breasts in public, Julia. But if you want to play that way I’ll return fire… Miss Washboard.” She instructed, “Knightmare, activate Titanium Body!”

Knightmare nodded, “Right!”

His body changed, now becoming a titanium silver color. When the rolling explosion attack struck him it did no damage, making Julia’s and Cherry’s eyes widen in surprise.

“I-It did nothing!?” Julia sputtered.

Pride grinned, “That’s the beauty of Knightmare’s exclusive defensive ability: Titanium Body. It negates almost all damage dealt to him. Combined with his already impressive defenses makes for a very powerful means of sponging hits. Knightmare’s got a defense that even real knights would kill to have.”

Julia growled, “We’ll just see about that! Cherry, the Gaia Hammer has four more shots left! Let them roll!”

Cherry gained an apprehensive look before complying. She slammed the Gaia Hammer down on the ground four more times, sending multiple rolling explosions. But the attacks harmlessly bounced off of Knightmare’s Titanium Body defense, leaving him unharmed.

Pride grinned, “Now, for the coup de grâce. Knightmare, finish the job.”

Knightmare lowered his defense, nodding, “Right!” He aimed his mace forward, “Kingdom Krusher!”’

He fired his mace directly at Cherry, who had completely given up in trying to fight back. The mace slammed into her and kept going until it smashed into a wall surrounding the battlefield, flattening her into a large crater. Knightmare retracted his mace back to his body. Cherry was crushed in the crater, clearly in pain.

“I’m gonna feel that tomorrow…” she groaned.

“Cherry, Pulsing Out.”

Cherry vanished in a bolt of energy, returning to Julia’s Cyber Terminal. Julia was devastated, falling to her knees.

“N-No… this can’t be right…” she sputtered. “I… I can’t lose to Pride… I can’t lose to my family’s arch-rival… There’s no way… How could my superior Combat Chips fail me!?”

“Simple: you lacked strategy,” Obsidian said. “Throwing around your strongest and best attacks will only work against opponents who can’t defend themselves from them. But when an opponent is strong and smart then you’re out of luck. Pride clearly knew her stuff and was smart enough to find very effective counters to your ‘superior’ Combat Chips with lesser ones. It doesn’t matter how powerful an attack is if it can’t damage the enemy. Power alone isn’t the true strength. You need to use strategy over power in order to win the teracycle. Pride certainly proved that. And it appears all those new Combat Chips she got from the new Combat Chip store really came in handy.”

One of the bystanders turned to him, “Wait. There’s a new Combat Chip store in town? Where?”

“Yes, there is. It just opened up. Leave the arcade, take a left, turn at the corner, and it’s about four buildings down. The owner is a nice guy and has a good selection. You can buy or perform trades with him, depending on what you’re looking for. Pride just performed a bunch of trades with him before she got swept up in this ordeal, gaining pretty much all those chips she used during the battles except the Flame Tire and Tornado chips, which she already had. Go check it out, as the owner has a good selection and is looking for business since he just opened up.”

This piece of information got the attention of all the bystanders, now discussing about checking out the new Combat Chips store.

Pride merely said, “Good work there, Knightmare. Time to Pulse Out.”

Knightmare nodded, “Right.”

“Knightmare, Pulsing Out.”

Knightmare vanished in a bolt of energy and reappeared in Pride’s Cyber Terminal. She put it back in her pouch and turned to Obsidian.

“Now, let’s get those sundaes we were discussing before Julia and her posse showed up,” she said with a smile.

Obsidian nodded and the duo started to leave.

Julia stated, “This isn’t over, Pride! My father will gain access to Sci-Tech Lab’s technology before Cream Industries does!”

Pride rolled her eyes, “I told you my father isn’t interested in making a business deal with Sci-Tech Labs. If he wanted access to their technology he could do so himself, as he’s in their good graces. But he knows that the technology and information Sci-Tech Labs has is too important and too sensitive to be used for anything business related. So he has no intention of gaining access to their exclusive technology because he understands it’s too important to be used for anything other than its intended purpose. Sheesh. Let’s go, Obsidian, and enjoy the day while we still can.”

The duo left the arcade, leaving Julia and her “lackies” behind.

“I can’t believe we lost so easily…” Thomas bemoaned.

“That Pride certainly can put her money where her mouth is…” Daxter sighed. “I guess we should take notes on how to perform better strategies if we want any chance to defeat her.”

Strag nodded, “Yeah, she really clapped our cheeks. Maybe some practice in strategy would be ideal. Especially something like using an opponent trapped in a bubble then hit them with an Electric attack. That’s something we could do, Daxter.”

“I was thinking the same thing.”

Julia stood up, a fire in her eyes, “I WILL beat Pride and show her AND Cream Industries that Glimmer Corp is superior in every way! Watch yourself, blondie, as I’ll trounce you with a vengeance!”

Cherry sighed, placing her face in her palm, “This won’t end well.”

Outside Obsidian and Pride were walking down the street, heading for the ice cream vendor. Pride looked quite proud of herself.

Obsidian smiled, “You really showed off some impressive tactics and combos back there, Pride. You clearly know the value of strategy. I’m impressed.”

Pride giggled, “What can I say? I know how to use my head. Now, the ice cream vendor is just around that corner. Time to have a victory sundae.”

The duo continued their way down the street, with Pride feeling good about her victories. They knew Julia would be back to start the conflict again, but they were ready for her.

Next Chapter: Danger Derailed

Catfight time. And Pride shows why she's one of the more competent characters in the series. Don't mess with this dame. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
Been meaning to post this chapter for a few days now but kept forgetting. Anyway, time for the next chapter of Shooting Star Rider. (Warning: contains mild violence)

Danger Derailed

It had been a few days since Pride faced off against Julia, Thomas, and Daxter. It was another sunny spring day. Obsidian and Pride were out together, enjoying a date. They were both eating sundaes at an ice cream parlor.

Pride smiled, “Yum, I love brownie sundaes. Especially when the brownie is warm and served with soft-serve ice cream. Reminds me of the brownies my grandmother used to make. And asking for salted caramel ice cream and hot fudge sauce was a good choice. How’s your s’mores sundae, Obsidian?”

Obsidian smiled, “It’s good, thanks for asking. Glad I asked for banana chocolate swirl ice cream, as it adds a nice little twist of flavor. It blends really well with the marshmallow sauce and crushed graham crackers, with the whipped cream and cherry to top it off. I gotta say, Earth food is much better than the food back on Constellatron. So many flavors, variety, and combinations to choose from. Even just a simple burger can be made in multiple ways.”

He suddenly became sullen, his eyes losing their sheen and going silent. Pride gained a worried expression.

“You’re still thinking about what happened to Constellatron, right?” she asked tenderly.

“…Yeah, and I know it’s all my fault. I failed my people and it cost us our home. And I know the threat is still out there, which makes me worried that Earth could potentially suffer the same fate.”

Pride gently gripped his hand, saying soothingly, “Don’t think like that. Yes, the threat is out there, but I know you will make amends for your failure and protect Earth from it and other enemies like the Virons. While you don’t remember the details of what happened I know you won’t let Earth fall victim to the same fate. You’ve become much more than you were before, Obsidian, and I know you can become even greater. Earth won’t fall victim to the same enemy that took Constellatron from you. Because I know you will ensure that threat gets stomped out for good. So don’t dwell on it. Let’s focus on the here and now. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Obsidian nodded weakly before he resumed eating his sundae. Pride could tell he was still thinking about it but didn’t press the issue. She returned her attention to her sundae, eager to polish it off before it got too melty. Soon both of them finished their desserts and went back outside to explore the city.

After a while they came to one of the city parks and sat down on a bench near a pond. They could see ducks floating along the surface, along with a few turtles sunning themselves on floating logs.

“Earth is a beautiful planet,” Obsidian said gently.

“Best planet I know,” Pride smiled. “And I’m glad you can appreciate our world’s beauty. At least things are peaceful right now.”

A voice then said, “Oh, hello, Pride. I’m surprised to see you out and about.”

The duo turned to see a young woman approach them. She was slightly older than them, had red hair stylized with curls that looked croissant buns around her neck, fair skin, chocolate brown eyes, and a fairly well-developed frame. She was garbed in a teal and red dress with a rimmed skirt, black thigh-high stockings, and dark blue knee-high boots.

“Oh, hello Miss Kathy,” Pride said. “How are you doing?”

“I’ve been doing fine. But what are you doing out and about? Last I checked your father had you pretty much under lock and key.”

“Yeah, that was the case. But now I’m free, thanks to Obsidian here and a little ultimatum from me. My father finally relented and now I’m free to do as I please. You look well. How’s the tutoring business been for you?”

Kathy smiled, “I’m glad to hear your father finally let you out. As for my tutoring sessions they’ve been going well. I’m currently teaching a young teenager with dyslexia how to properly read and write. But, wait. Did you say ‘Obsidian’? As in Obsidian Glitch? The alien who crash-landed here on Earth a few months ago?”

Obsidian gave a small smile, “Yeah, that’s me. Pride and I are now friends. But who are you exactly?”

“Oh, forgive me. My name is Kathy Albert, and I’m a substitute teacher, tutor, and special aid instructor. I mostly teach young students who have disabilities, but I also helped tutor Pride in some of her college courses last year. But I wasn’t aware that you two are friends. It’s nice to meet you, Obsidian. I must ask… is this a date?”

Pride giggled, “Yes. Obsidian and I are on a date. It’s nothing fancy or anything but he and I are on a date. Anyway, I’m glad to hear that you’re still teaching young people with disabilities. You were also so gentle and patient, and many students like you. It’s no wonder you became the go-to choice for students with issues or general studies.”

Kathy smiled, “Thank you, Pride, for saying that. I admit I enjoy helping other people get through their issues. It gives me a sense of purpose and that I’m changing lives for the better. So it’s a pleasant feeling whenever I help a student in need of some extra guidance.”

Obsidian gained a small smile, “That’s good to hear. The fact that you enjoy helping people is a good trait to have. I can see why you’d be very popular with students who suffer some sort of disability or need extra guidance. It’s nice to meet people like you.”

“I appreciate what you’re saying, Obsidian. It means a lot to me. Anyway, I better get going, as I need to take a train to my next session. It was nice talking to you and enjoy your date.”

She flashed a smile before heading down the street toward one of the Sky-Monorail stations.

Obsidian turned to Pride, “So she tutored you during college?”

Pride nodded, “Yes. Specifically social studies and biology. She’s very good, which is why father hired her to help me with some of my classes. She’s quite popular with her students. And the fact she enjoys helping people is an added perk to her job. Now, why don’t we get going and enjoy our date more.”

Obsidian nodded and the duo left the park and began their trek into the city. They stopped at a restaurant to have some lunch. As they ate and chatted Pride felt a sense of satisfaction.

“I love my time with Obsidian,” she said silently. “He’s such a swell guy. Hard to believe he’s an alien. I know that the purpose of these dates, and my flirting, goes over his head but I also know that he’s suffering from memory loss. From what I can assess he’s clearly forgotten what love is. Which is rather depressing to hear because of how important love is to one’s life. But I know that I need to be patient with him until his memories are restored enough to remember something as important as love. I know my patience will be rewarded one day. For now, I’ll just enjoy the time I’m spending with him and hope that I’ll eventually break through that barrier.”

After finishing their meal and paying the bill the duo made their way outside and deeper into the city. However, they soon heard a loud noise and saw smoke rising from a certain point in the city nearby.

“What was that!?” she said.

Suddenly, Obsidian’s arm-mounted computer went off. He activated it and a holo-screen appeared, showing Dr. Arthur.

“Obsidian!” he said. “A Viron attack has just occurred on the southbound Sky-Monorail! Two of the train cars are dangling from the track, having been separated from their wheels! You need to get over there as quickly as possible!”

Obsidian nodded, “Right, I’m on it.” He deactivated the holo-screen before turning to Pride, “Sorry, looks like our date is over for now. I’ve got work to do.”

Pride replied, “It’s fine. Just go. I’ll head over there to see if Knightmare can help in some way. But go ahead, I’ll catch up.”

Obsidian nodded, ducked into a nearby alleyway, and crossed his arms.

“Pulse In!” he stated.

He turned into a bolt of energy and entered the Cyber Wave Realm. He rocketed off toward the Sky-Monorail, Pride following from the ground. He soon arrived at the scene. The Sky-Monorail had come to a stop and two of the train cars were partly dangling off the track, with one of the doors having been broken off. He looked on top of the track and saw a bunch of Virons attacking the structure and equipment.

“We got Red Hellmetts, Blue Fangfins, Decay Drones, Bomb Tanks, and Stone Crafters!” he observed. “Time to get to work. Huh?”

He heard a scream. He looked down and saw Kathy dangling from the open door of the Sky-Monorail.

“Oh-no! Kathy! I have to hurry and deal with these Virons before she falls!”

He jumped onto the track where the Virons were. They hadn’t noticed him yet.

“Time to take these Virons down! Great Cannon!”

His arm transformed into a cannon. He took aim and fired several shots, blasting clusters of Virons. The attack diverted the Virons’ attention away from the Sky-Monorail and were now focused on Obsidian.

“That’s right, come at me!” he growled.

A mysterious voice then said, “Mind if I join in?”

A new Cyber Guardian appeared next to Obsidian. He was taller than Obsidian and resembled something of a shark-like beastman and was floating off the ground. His body was mostly white and grey, similar to a great white shark, with blue armor on his “hips” that had two “fins” on the front and one on the back, matching torso armor, broad silver and blue shoulder plates. Long, strong arms ended in armored claw-like hands with arm-mounted cannons and he had a long shark’s tail for legs. His head was encased in a blue helmet with a lens in the front, revealing two piercing yellow eyes with slit pupils, two spikes on top, orange cyber-like hair, and a fang-filled lower jaw could be seen underneath the helmet. On his chest was his emblem: a grey naval mine with a teal background surrounded by a red ring.

“Who are you?” Obsidian asked.

“The name’s Depth Charge,” the Cyber Guardian replied. “My Operator is Captain Typhoon, who is also here. Now, let’s deal with these Virons before they cause any more trouble.”

Obsidian nodded and both focused their attention on the Virons. The Virons charged at the duo, eager to kill their opposition.

“High Vulcan!” Obsidian stated.

His hand transformed into a Vulcan gun and he began firing a stream of energy bullets at the Virons, severely damaging several.

“My turn!” Depth Charge stated. “Torrent Torpedo!”

He fired twin torpedoes from arm-mounted cannons at the Virons. They exploded on contact, killing several that were caught in the blast. The Virons were now enraged and began launching their attacks at the duo. Both dodged the attack and got behind the Virons.

“Cross Grenade!” Obsidian stated.

A larger grey grenade appeared in his hand. He threw it at the Virons. It landed in-between a cluster of them before exploding multiple times, killing several. The Virons were now worried, as it was clear these enemies weren’t easy to beat.

Depth Charge grinned, “Getting cold feet? You’re all washed up! Captain! Let’s finish them off!”

A familiar voice said, “You got it! Torrent Sword! Combat Chip, go!”

Depth Charge’s right arm was replaced by a new sword that had a more rounded blade with a tank of water for the hilt. Depth Charge gave the sword a swing, releasing a massive wave of water from it that washed over the Virons, killing the rest of them.

“Not too shabby, kid,” the aquatic Cyber Guardian said. “I can see why people look up to you.”

Obsidian replied, “Thanks. You’re pretty hot yourself. But I gotta save Kathy!”

Depth Charge replied, “No need, as my Operator is already on the case. Look down.”

Obsidian looked down to see that Kathy was safe on the ground in the hands of a man. The man was wearing a navy-like shirt, brown pants, naval boots, a cape, and his head and face was concealed by a biker’s helmet with fish fins and visor. Obsidian’s eyes narrowed as he saw this individual.

“Is that…?” he said silently.

Suddenly one of the Sky-Monorail train cars broke off the track and separated from the others, sending it plummeting down to the ground. Obsidian quickly bolted, changed his frequency, and managed to get underneath the falling train car, catching it, showing tremendous strength. He slowly lowered the train car, which still had people in it, before putting it down on the ground. Everyone cheered as they saw Star Rider, making him blush a bit. Suddenly the second Sky-Monorail train car that had been derailed broke off, forcing Obsidian to catch it as well before gently lowering it to the ground.

Captain Typhoon walked up to Obsidian, still holding Kathy in his arms, “Ya did good there, Star Rider. Ya just saved a good dozen lives by catching those train cars. And thanks to ya and Depth Charge the Virons have been killed. Yer a true hero, young man.”

Obsidian’s eyes narrowed as he looked at Captain Typhoon, “You look very familiar to me, Captain. Hmm…”

Captain Typhoon replied hastily, “Now, now, let’s not get suspicious or anything. I’m just a Cyber Agent here to help protect Earth from the Virons. Alongside my teammates: Shadow Rose and Necromancer, we work with the government to provide extra firepower against the Viron invasion. So ya can rest assured we’re on the same side.”

Obsidian eyed at Captain Typhoon before replying, “Then I’m grateful to have a few extra pairs of skilled hands help fight the Virons. Depth Charge certain packed a punch. Hopefully Shadow Rose and Necromancer are also just as capable. Now, I need to clean up the Viron corpses. You take care of Kathy, as I’m certain she’s pretty rattled.”

Kathy smiled, “I’ll be okay. Thank you both for saving my life. It’s an honor to meet the Star Rider. Thanks again.”

Obsidian nodded before jumping back up to where the Viron corpses were, changing his frequency in the process. When he arrived
Depth Charge was nowhere to be found with the Viron remains.

“I guess he Pulsed Out,” he said simply. “Now, let me deal with these remains before they rot and cause problems.”

He lowered his facemask and began eating the Virons’ remains. At the time Pride was in the crowd of people, eyeing Captain Typhoon.

“That Captain Typhoon…” she murmured; eyes narrowed. “I can see through his disguise. I know who you are. Looks like a certain someone is moonlighting as a Cyber Agent. I’ve heard about that organization from father. A group of elite agents that work with the government to fight crime and deal with cyber threats like Virons. I’m not sure if I should be impressed that a certain someone is one of them. But who are ‘Shadow Rose’ and ‘Necromancer’? Guess we’ll find out someday. Hopefully their disguises are a bit more convincing than his. Well, at least everyone is safe so that’s what matters. And I guess Obsidian and I will have to have another date some other time, as I know he’s on clean-up duty with the Viron corpses. Hopefully he’s still got some room in his stomachs, since we did just have lunch. But, then again, he’s got nine of them so he most definitely has room to eat the Virons’ remains. Guess I better go home now that all the excitement is over.”

She started to walk in the other direction, heading home. Meanwhile Obsidian was eating the Virons’ remains, seemingly gaining more strength as he did.

“At least the government has assigned some new special forces to help fight off the Virons,” he said silently. “At least it means I won’t have to do everything myself. And at least Depth Charge was skilled and competent so that does inspire hope that this ‘Shadow Rose’ and ‘Necromancer’ are just as good. Now, let me finish up here before moving on. Hopefully the Sky-Monorail can get repaired quickly enough after this attack, as the worst is yet to come.”

Next Chapter: Every Shadow Rose Has Its Thorns

We're properly introduced to the Cyber Agents (of this area, anyway). They will play vital roles as time goes on. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
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This is long overdue but to my defense the past week has been quite the rollercoaster. Anyway, on with the show. (Warning: contains mild violence, mild language)

Every Shadow Rose Has Its Thorns

It had been two days since the Viron attack on the Sky-Monorail and the introduction of the Cyber Agents. Obsidian was causally walking down the street, observing the area as he did.

“Looks like this teracycle is pretty peaceful,” he said to himself. “Good, as we need a break from the Virons at least once in a while. But I know more will follow, as we’ve only been facing the first wave of them. And I’m still worried about any other Berserker Virons showing up right now, as Earth is still preparing its defense against them. They’ll be the biggest challenge to the people here. Fortunately, since Cyber Battling has become popular it does have the unintentional side-effect of training Operators and Cyber Guardians to fight against opponents with diverse skills and strategies like Berserker Virons. I just hope I’ve given Earth enough tools to give them a fighting chance at this point.”

He soon came to a florist that was practically overflowing with beautiful flowers. He stopped to take a moment to observe the flowers, a small smile forming on his face as he saw the various shapes, colors, and sizes.

“Earth is quite a beautiful planet. Such diversity. Constellatron, while nice, can’t compare to the natural, diverse beauty that Earth has. A shame it’s so out-of-the-way compared to other planets with life, as it could be a nice little vacation spot for some of the races in the universe. Well, I mean the benevolent ones. Not more invasive and/or malevolent ones like Virons.”

Just then a young woman walked out of the florist, carrying a potted plant. She was roughly the height of Pride, with long pink hair that reached the middle of her back, bright green eyes, fair skin, and a fairly well-developed frame. She was dressed in a blue and white blouse, brown capri pants, moccasins, and an orange bandanna around her neck. She gently put the potted plant down on the display before turning to see Obsidian.

“Hello, you must be Obsidian Glitch, right?” she said in a cheerful voice.

Obsidian nodded, “Yes. Who are you?”

“My name is Clover Thorn. I run this florist. I’m also a horticulturist and an environmentalist. I want to bring awareness to preserving nature, as nature only exists once and human development can easily destroy it. But unlike some folk who follow that path I prefer to use more rational and peaceful methods to raise awareness over more forceful methods like eco-terrorism. I often take people on guided tours in the nearby forested area to show them the wonders and beauty of nature.” She gained a sad smile, “But the new threat of Virons throws a massive wrinkle into the mix. Naturally, thanks to you and the work of people like Dr. Arthur we’ve been slowly but surely building up our defenses against this extraterrestrial threat. I just hope Earth can survive such a hostile enemy like Virons.”

Obsidian gave a sad sigh, “Yeah, there’s only so much that can be done. And the Virons are just the tip of the iceberg, as they’re just the foot-soldiers. More elite ones like the Berserker family are much more worrisome, as they lack the main flaws that more common Virons like Hellmetts and Mach Hawks have.” He shook his head, “But that’s not really a subject one should talk about when meeting someone new. I must say you do good work on these flowers. They all look so healthy and vibrant. And such a variety, too. You clearly know your stuff.”

Clover blushed, “Thank you for the kind words. Not only do I take pride in my flower-growing abilities, but they’re also another way I help spread the message about preserving nature. As if nature is destroyed, something as beautiful yet delicate as these flowers would cease to exist. I wonder… do you have flowers like this back on your world.” She then clasped her hands over her mouth, “My apologies! I forgot… your world was destroyed, which is both why you’re here and why the Virons are attacking. Am I right?”

He nodded, gaining a depressed frown, “Yes. And it’s all my fault. I failed to protect Constellatron from an outside force and now the Viron King is finally making good on his vow to attack other worlds, with Earth being one of them. It was fortunate that I was able to get here first so I could use what remained of my mental prowess to help build up Earth’s defenses, including the Cyber Guardian Project. While I’m slowly recovering from the devastation and damage I took it’ll be a while before I can get Earth into a more desirable state to better fight this threat. It’s a good thing that Dr. Arthur is such a powerful force in the scientific community. As well as being the main reason why Earth was able to fortify itself so quickly, as his pull on the other Sci-Tech Labs in the world and access to various resources is what got Earth to where it is in such a short time.”

Clover nodded, “Yes, I’ve heard about that, though not a whole lot. But I do know that Dr. Arthur has a huge amount of pull in the scientific communities of the world. Small wonder they were willing to listen to him when it came to preparing for this outside threat, especially since you are living proof that life on other worlds do exist. It was most fortunate that you two joined forces, otherwise Earth could’ve been devoured by the Virons by this point. Both of you did good work in preparing us for this threat, even if we’re still cobbling together our defenses. But Earth is a tough planet. We won’t let the Virons or their King get their way. Even if we’re at a disadvantage we humans find the way to overcome seemingly impossible odds.”

The Constellaton gained a small smile, “That’s one of the beauties of you humans. I’ve come to see just how resilient and resourceful you are within the short time I’ve been here. You still have a ways to go before Earth is in a solid enough position to combat this threat head-on, but you’re making good progress within the timeframe you’ve been given. Outside of my own kind I’ve only seen one other planet with the same amount of resilience and resourcefulness that you Earthlings have: Munoria. Even I can remember that. But you Earthlings are a more charming race, even if you’re the first race I’ve met that can be both good and evil, which, I admit, has forced me to reassess many of my beliefs. But meeting people like you is a real treat, especially after all I’ve been through.”

Clover’s blush got brighter, her voice getting more timid, “T-That’s sweet of you to say. W-Why don’t you come in for a minute? I’m brewing up some of my signature vanilla spiced chai tea and just finished making some organic maple granola mix. Would you like to try some?”

“I’m always eager to try new Earth foods, as the quality and variety you’ve got in that department is lightyears ahead of what my race normally eats. Sounds good to me.”

Clover smiled and guided Obsidian into her florist. Inside there were even more potted flowers, wreaths, bouquets, and various gardening tools and equipment. She gestured him to sit down at a small table off to the side, which he did, before retreating into the back of her shop. A few moments later she returned with some fresh tea and a small bowl of granola mix, placing it in front of Obsidian.

“I hope you’ll enjoy it,” she said. “They’re my signature blends.”

Obsidian nodded, picked up the teacup and took a sip from it, his eyes widening.

“Nice, very nice,” he said. “The flavors of this tea blend beautifully. Now, let’s try this granola.”

He took the spoon that came with the bowl of granola, scooped up a bit, and ate it. He closed his eyes as he savored the taste of it.

“Mmm, very good. The mixed berries give it some nice flavor while the maple tops it off with a sweet texture. You did a good job on this.”

Clover blushed, “Thank you, I appreciate it. If you want more just ask. Now, let me get back to tending to my shop.”

She returned to the back of her shop while Obsidian munched happily on his snack and tea. Before long the teacup was empty and the bowl was clean of any stray oats. Clover soon emerged from the back of her shop, carrying what looked like small boxes, and noticed he was finished.

“Oh? Finished? Or do you want some more?” she asked.

Obsidian shook his head, “No, I’m good, thank you. What’s that in your hands?”

Clover put the boxes down, replying, “They’re specially made boxed lunches that I often sell here. My flowers and plants aren’t the only thing I make here. I also make organic boxed lunches and that maple granola. Around this time I tend to get some customers wanting my boxed lunches as they are quite popular, especially with businessmen and construction workers. They only cost 500 Bytes but they sell like hotcakes, plus all the ingredients, sans the meat and cheese, I grow at home. Maybe you’d like one to-go?”

Obsidian stood up, “Yeah, that sounds nice. And if they’re as popular as you say then I’d better get a box before the lunch rush comes looking for some.”

He started to mess with his arm-mounted computer, to Clover’s curiosity, before ejecting what looked like money in the form of bills from it. The bills were silver in color, with a large “B” written in a somewhat cyber-like way in the center, a red ring around it, and numbers near the corners indicating their value. After ensuring he had the amount he held out the money.

“Here, Clover, 500 Bytes for one boxed lunch.”

Clover smiled and graciously took the money before handing over a boxed lunch. To her surprise Obsidian somehow scanned it into his arm-mounted computer, causing it to vanish.

“H-How’d you do that?” she asked, stunned.

“My race can store anything inside this built-in computer in our arms by turning an object into energy and digitizing it. Certainly makes for easy storage of pretty much anything of any size and any amount. I’ll eat it later, since I’ve got a feeling I might need it after dealing with something that’ll crop up. Thank you, Clover. Your stuff is delicious and your flowers are beautiful, only matched by your own beauty. You do good work. Take care.”

As he walked away Clover’s entire face turned bright red, clearly flustered by the compliment. Obsidian was oblivious to this as he exited the florist and started to walk down the street.

“H-He called me beautiful…” Clover said shakily, clearly flattered. “He’s the first person to ever call me beautiful. My face feels like it’s on fire.”

Suddenly her Cyber Terminal started beeping, redirecting her attention to it, though she was still blushing. She took it out of a pouch on her hip and activated it. Her eyes narrowed as she saw the message that appeared on the screen.

“Guess I’ve got some work to do,” she said in a more serious tone. She then gained a look of annoyance, “And I gotta wear… that again.”

At the time Obsidian was rocketing in the Cyber Wave Realm in his Star Rider form. He was heading to a disturbance he had just been informed about.

“Okay, Dr. Arthur mentioned a Berserker Alpha has been detected,” he said. “I just hope by the stars of the nebula that Julia isn’t in its clutches like last time.” Just then he heard a familiar scream, heaving a sigh, “Like clockwork. Well, better get to her before it turns her into an afternoon snack.”

He raced toward a certain point in the Cyber Wave Realm before coming to a stop. He looked on a lower energy road to see another Berserker Alpha fighting off Knuckler and Strag, with Julia trapped inside another barrier. He couldn’t help but groan as he saw the two bulky Cyber Guardians getting beaten by the elite Viron.

“Not again…”

Strag managed to stand up, “We won’t lose this time! Daxter, let’s try that combo we practiced!”

Daxter nodded, “I was thinking the same thing! Bubble Shot! Combat Chip, go!”

Daxter slotted in a Combat Chip, which caused Strag’s right arm to become the same firehose-shaped cannon. He took aim and fired the blast of water at the Berserker Alpha. Before the Viron could react it was struck by the attack, encasing it inside a bubble.

“Now’s our chance, Strag! Hit him with Horn Bolt! Quickly, as the bubble effect won’t last long!”

Strag nodded and started to channel electrical energy in his horn before releasing rocket power from his rear and flying toward the trapped Berserker Alpha.

“Eat Horn Bolt!” the beetle-like Cyber Guardian stated.

He slammed his horn into the Berserker Alpha, shocking it with intense electrical energy that was magnified by the bubble, making the elite Viron screech in pain. Julia was looking hopeful while Obsidian was initially surprised but gained a smile behind his facemask.

“Well, I’ll be,” he said, placing a hand on his hip. “Daxter actually took Pride’s strategy and used it himself. And it was clearly very effective, as that Berserker Alpha got hit hard by that combo. Nicely played. Looks like there may be hope for that group after all. Still, can’t get too complacent, as that Berserker Alpha still has plenty of life left in it.”

Strag flexed a pose, “You see that, you damn Viron?! That’s how we do things here on Earth!”

The Berserker Alpha managed to stand, shaking its head, before growling, “Your celebration is premature, as I still have plenty of power left. Like this! Wood Grenade!”

A green capsule-shaped bomb appeared in the Viron’s hand. It then threw it at Strag, making contact and exploding three times while also causing Grass Panels to form. Strag screamed in pain as the Wood attack bombarded him, causing him to fall to his knees. Then large blades of grass emerged from the Grass Panels and ensnared Strag, lifting him up slightly.

“But that’s not all I’ve got. And now you’re vulnerable to my next attack! Flame Blade!”

His right arm transformed into a twin-bladed sword that was burning with fire. He charged over and slashed Strag with it, the Grass Panels increasing the damage that the burning twin sword dealt, burning up in the process. Strag screamed in pain before his body became listless.

“Strag, Pulsing Out.”

Strag vanished in a bolt of light, leaving Knuckler alone and causing Julia’s hope to start faltering.

“That’s what you get for showboating,” the Berserker Alpha laughed.

Knuckler pounded his fists against his chest in a gorilla fashion, stating, “Oh, yeah? Then let me prove you wrong, yeah!”

Thomas stated, “Don’t worry, Julia, I’ll save you! Crack Shot! Combat Chip, go!”

Knuckler slammed his foot down, causing a chunk of the energy road he was standing on to launch up before hurling it at blinding speeds toward the elite Viron. Before the Berserker Alpha could respond it was struck by the flying chunk of debris, stunning it, making Julia hopeful again.

“Two can play at that game!” the Viron stated. “Icy Fist!”

Its left fist became enlarged and was now dark blue with a silver hand.

“Flash Step!”

The Viron vanished before quickly reappearing right in front of Knuckler, to the large Cyber Guardian’s surprise. It then slammed him with the icy metal knuckle, dealing heavy damage and encasing most of his body in ice. The Viron then warped back to its original position.

“Golem Punch!”

It reared back its left arm, now having transformed into a massive rock golem arm, before hurling it at insane speed at the defenseless Knuckler. It smashed into the partly frozen Cyber Guardian, dealing a huge amount of damage and causing chunks of his body to break off, including his entire left arm.

“N-No way!” Daxter sputtered. “That attack did monstrous damage! How?!”

The Berserker Alpha smirked, “Wouldn’t you’d like to know. Now to finish the job. Flash Step!”

It vanished again before reappearing behind the badly damaged Knuckler. It gave the Flame Blade another powerful slash leaving deep gorges in Knuckler’s back that burned, making him howl in pain. His body then became listless.

“Knuckler, Pulsing Out.”

Knuckler vanished in a bolt of light, leaving Julia behind, who had a look of despair on her face.

“N-No!” Thomas sputtered. “Julia’s in trouble and we can’t fight back!”

The Berserker huffed, “I’ll give you an ‘A’ for effort, but an ‘F’ in your final grade. Now…” it leered Julia with hungry eyes, “…Time to have my meal in peace.”

Julia pressed herself as far back as she could inside the barrier she was trapped in, whimpering, “N-No…”

Suddenly a familiar voice stated, “Not on my watch! Mini Grenade!”

A grenade appeared and landed right at the Berserker Alpha’s feet, exploding three times and sending it flying. Julia’s eyes became hopeful again. Obsidian jumped down from his higher point and got in-between the Viron and Julia.

“Oh! Star Rider! My champion! My hero!” Juila cried happily, her eyes becoming hearts.

“Sit tight, Julia. I’ll deal with this overgrown bully,” Obsidian instructed.

The Viron managed to stand up, “Star Rider? As in the annoying Constellaton that has been muddling up His Majesty’s attempt to conquer and devour this planet? You have a lot of nerve getting in my way.”

Suddenly a new voice stated, “He’s not the only one, Viron scum! Vine Crush!”

Suddenly large thorny vines erupted from the energy road and ensnared the Berserker Alpha, crushing it in its grasp. Something then jumped down from a higher vantage point and got behind the trapped Berserker Alpha.

“Another Cyber Guardian?” Julia asked, confused.

The Cyber Guardian nodded, “Indeed. The name’s Venus, and I am Shadow Rose’s elite Cyber Guardian and part of the Cyber Agents! Star Rider, allow me to assist you.”

Obsidian took a moment to look Venus over. She was a female Cyber Guardian in a teal and green bodysuit, a breastplate shaped like an upside-down pink rose, forest green gauntlets with black hands and a thorn at each elbow, matching knee-high boots with a thorn on each kneecap, silver soles, and a rather well-developed frame. Her head was encased in a forest green helmet that had a vague Venus flytrap motif, with vine-like cyber hair protruding from behind that reached the middle of her back, teal eyes, four thorny vines protruding from her back, and shoulder plates shaped like Venus flytrap halves. On her chest, in between her breasts, and on the back of each hand, was her emblem: a green Venus flytrap with a brown background surrounded by a red ring.

Venus stated, “Allow me to assist you, Star Rider. It is the duty of a Cyber Agent to help protect the people of this planet from the Viron scourge. I’ll assure you I’m no slouch in combat.”

Obsidian nodded, “Fine. Let’s do this!”

The Berserker Alpha managed to break free of Venus’ vines using his Flame Blade, glaring hatefully at both of his oppositions.

“You will pay for getting in between me and my meal!” he roared. “Take this! Triple Arrow!”

Its left arm transformed, now looking like a mechanical bow. It pointed it at Obsidian and fired three large arrows at him. Obsidian was prepared to dodge but he realized Julia was right behind him.

“If I dodge those arrows will strike Julia!” he said silently. “Good thing I have something else to work with!” He then said aloud, “Reflect Shield!”

He summoned an orange shield that looked very similar to a Hellmett’s helmet. When the three arrows struck the shield, one at a time, it caused the shield to launch three instant retaliations via air shockwaves that slammed into the Berserker Alpha, knocking him back.

Venus stated, “My turn! Shadow Rose, if you’d please?”

A familiar voice stated, “On it! Honey Bomber! Combat Chip, go!”

Venus’ right hand transformed, now looking like a beehive. She pointed it forward before releasing a swarm of large, angry bees at the dazed Viron. The bees attacked the Berserker Alpha, exploding on contact and making it scream in pain, chunks of its body breaking off.

Obsidian stated, “Prepare to jump, Venus! High Vulcan!”

His arm transformed into the Vulcan gun again. He took aim and fired, pelting the Viron with energy bullets. Venus jumped up onto a higher energy road to dodge any possible stray fire, looking quite smug as the Viron’s body was torn apart. When the attack waned the Berserker Alpha looked like it was on its last legs.

“You little worms…” it hissed. “I’ll delete you!”

He raised up his arm that still had the Flame Blade and charged at Obsidian.

“Broadsword!” Obsidian stated.

His arm transformed again, now becoming a sword with a broad blade and a horseshoe-shaped hilt. The two swords clashed, with neither gaining the upper-hand.

“Shadow Rose, let’s finish the job!” Venus stated.

The familiar voice replied, “On it! Great Axe! Combat Chip, go!”

Venus’ arm transformed again, now becoming a massive axe that was nearly as big as she was. Using her other arm to steady the massive weapon she lunged from her higher vantage point while the Berserker Alpha was locked in combat with Obsidian. By the time the Berserker Alpha turned its head and realized what was happening, Venus cleaved it in two, causing its body to crumple to the ground.

“Curse… you…” the Viron wheezed. “The Viron… King won’t… allow you… to… succeed…”

Obsidian stated nonchalantly, “Maybe, but he’s been on my hit list for quite some time so he’ll get what’s coming to him soon enough. He’ll pay the price for attacking an innocent planet. Not that you’ll be around to see it.”

He used the Broadsword and slammed it into the Berserker Alpha’s head, bisecting it, ending the fight. With the Viron dead the barrier that had trapped Julia vanished, freeing her, her eyes were hearts as she gazed at Obsidian.

“Star Rider, my hero!” she cried happily. “You saved me again! Just like a valiant knight in shining blue armor rescuing his princess from the evil monster!”

Obsidian stated, “I didn’t do it alone, you know. Venus and her Operator, Shadow Rose, also deserve credit. Speaking of which,” he turned to Venus, “Thank you for your help. It certainly made things go much smoother. May I speak with your Operator?”

A screen appeared next to Venus, revealing her Operator, who was a young woman. Her head was covered in a cowl with a masquerade mask that hid her eyes, a dark green mantal over a black tight long-sleeved shirt that exposed her navel, and baggy khaki cutoff pants, though her feet were not seen.

Shadow Rose said, “I’m Shadow Rose, one of the Cyber Agents. You already met Captain Typhoon and Depth Charge the other day.”

Obsidian narrowed his eyes, “You look familiar.”

Shadow Rose hastily turned away, stammering, “Y-You must be mistaken, Star Rider. A-Anyway, you should get Julia back to the real world. Venus and I will clean up this Berserker Alpha, as both the Cyber Agents and Sci-Tech Labs want samples from such a powerful and intelligent Viron to further help their research in how to counter such threats. You take care of Julia before any other Virons show up.”

Obsidian narrowed his eyes before replying, “Fine. I’ll leave this Berserker Alpha to you, especially if Sci-Tech Labs want a sample for research. Considering I normally eat them it would be hard to get a sample from that. I’ll leave this to you.”

He turned around and scooped Julia up bridal-style, making her blush heavily, before changing frequency and appearing in the real world with her in tow. Thomas and Daxter were relieved to see Julia alive as he gently put her down.

Meanwhile, Venus was collecting the Berserker Alpha’s remains for research, with Shadow Rose overseeing it.

“Whew…” Shadow Rose sighed. “He’s sharp, as he saw through my disguise, as ridiculous as it is. But hopefully he won’t pursue it or try to get information on us Cyber Agents, since we need to keep our cover in order to avoid other enemies from identifying us. Especially since we’ve gotten wind that something is brewing in the shadows. A new threat will soon blossom, and we need to be prepared for it. So it’s in our best interests to keep our identities hidden to avoid retaliation from their agents.”

Venus nodded, “Indeed, Shadow Rose. Star Rider certainly is quick on the uptake, as he clearly knows who you are but seems to be willing to keep it quiet. At least for now. Anyway, I’ve collected the Berserker Alpha’s remains. And you should have some new Combat Chip data in your Cyber Terminal from the data collected. Now let’s skedaddle before Star Rider comes back. Or worse, more Virons appear.”

Shadow Rose nodded, “Right, let’s get going. Pulse Out, Venus. And good work.”

“Venus, Pulsing Out.”

Venus vanished in a bolt of energy before returning to Shadow Rose’s Cyber Terminal. The young female Cyber Agent heaved a sigh of relief before making her way back to Sci-Tech Labs with the new data.

At the time Obsidian was at one of the city parks. He had since left Julia with her group and had the boxed lunch on his lap. He opened it up, revealing a sandwich with meat, cheese, and veggies, a small salad with a dressing packet, a chocolate snack cake, a bottle of water, and some utensils. He smiled and began eating the packed lunch, clearly enjoying it.

“So, it appears that certain individuals here are moonlighting as Cyber Agents,” he mused between bites. “I guess it makes sense why they’re keeping their civilian personas separate from their Cyber Agent ones. After all, I’m doing the exact same thing. But now that I’ve met Shadow Rose that leaves Necromancer as the final Cyber Agent. I wonder who he or she is? And I wonder what their civilian job is? Guess I’ll find out shortly. But, for now, let me enjoy this boxed lunch. I can see why it’s so popular, as it tastes really good.”

Next Chapter: Necromancer’s Necro Magic

That's all for today. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
Time for the next chapter of Shooting Star Rider. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence)

Necromancer’s Necro Magic

It had been a couple of days since Star Rider and Shadow Rose teamed up to take down the Berserker Alpha Viron that attacked Julia. Obsidian and Pride were walking down the street together, enjoying the spring weather.

Pride smiled, “The weather feels so good, doesn’t it, Obsidian?”

Obsidian nodded, “Yes, it’s quite pleasant and comfortable.”

“What was the weather like on your planet?” she asked.

“Pretty much the same temperature year-round,” he replied. “Constellatron was pretty much in a perpetual summer, so there was very little variation outside of things like rain. The first time I saw snow was when I was out on a mission long ago, though I don’t remember the details too well. Curse this memory damage.”

She gave him a concerned expression, “Don’t worry about it, Obsidian. Your memory will come back in due time. Don’t try to force it to come back. Let it come back naturally, since it’ll be easier on you. I know there are critical elements laced in your memories but we’ll manage until you’ve recovered enough to fill in the blanks. Hmm?” She looked ahead, “Oh, there’s Kathy again. Why don’t we say hi?”

“Okay,” he nodded.

The duo made their way toward where Kathy was. She was looking nervous as she entered what looked like an antique store. After she closed the door behind her, Obsidian and Pride made it to the building.

“What kind of store is this?” Obsidian asked.

“It’s an antique store,” Pride explained. “They sell old and vintage items like furniture, pots, books, and other such items. Lots of women like buying antiques. I, personally, don’t see the appeal despite my mansion having such items from my homeland, but I know that many women love antiques.”

“Huh. Kathy didn’t strike me as the type who’d like to buy old stuff. But why did she look so nervous?”

The young woman giggled, “This store has another feature to it. The owner, a woman named Luna Cycle, is a fortune teller, saying she can tell your fortune, sense the voices of spirits, discover your desires, and even see into the future. That’s probably why Kathy is here, as Luna can use her crystal ball to tell her fortune. Though I wonder what exactly she wants to know?” She giggled again, “Maybe to find out who she’ll marry, perhaps? Let’s go inside, as I’m curious to see how this whole fortune teller stuff works.”

Inside the store Kathy was sitting in an antique chair in front of a desk. Standing at the counter was a young woman. She had long black hair tied in twin braids, pale grey eyes that looked like they could pierce your soul, fair skin, and a well-developed frame. She was dressed in a black and teal dress with a pencil skirt, a blue satin robe over it, grey stockings, and purple knee-high boots. She was standing over a crystal ball that rested on a purple cushion.

Kathy looked embarrassed as she looked at the crystal ball, “Umm… This is kinda hard for me to ask…”

“Take your time,” Luna said in a quiet, mystical tone.

“This… is kinda embarrassing…” Kathy’s eyes became stronger, “But there is something I need to know.”

“Hello, Kathy,” a voice said.

Kathy froze in terror and slowly turned her head to see Pride and Obsidian, her eyes wide in shock.

“What are Pride and Obsidian doing here?” she said in a hushed tone. “This is so embarrassing.”

Pride said, “Kathy, you don’t strike me as the type to want your fortune read. Any particular reason?”

Kathy replied in a flustered tone, “T-This is my first time.”

Obsidian quirked an eyebrow, “What is this ‘fortune telling’? Never heard of it before. Is it really possible?”

Luna said in a calm tone, “I need silence.”

Everyone quickly became silent as Luna observed her crystal ball. Her eyes were focused and unmoving as she gazed into the large blue orb, everyone tense.

“…I see… an enemy… from the cosmos… looking for… prey…” she said in a foreboding tone. “…I see… a woman… being caught in its clutches… I see… a shining blue warrior… coming to her rescue… I see… a reaper stalking its prey… I see… the reaper claiming a soul… Danger… will soon strike…”

Kathy looked scared, “W-What is this ‘enemy from the cosmos’? Is it a Viron? And what is this ‘reaper’? And what soul does it claim? It all sounds terrifying.”

Pride scratched her chin, “A woman getting caught by an enemy from the cosmos? Sounds like one of those Berserker Virons I’ve heard about. But what woman gets captured by it? Can you tell who the woman is?”

Luna gazed into the crystal ball again, “…I see… the woman… being stalked this very moment… the woman… is of wealth and prestige… Long hair… striking eyes… a commanding presence… She is the target…”

“That… sounds like Julia,” the Scandinavian woman pondered. “Don’t tell me she’s going to be a damsel in distress. Again. From what I’ve heard she’s had two run-ins with Berserker Virons, nearly becoming an afternoon snack both times. Is this another Berserker Viron? Or is a different Viron?”

Luna gazed in the crystal ball again, “…The enemy… from the cosmos… It is… a creature known for immortality… one that hunts during the night… A shadowy cape… blood-soaked fangs… a noble air…”

Obsidian scratched his chin, “Shadowy cape? Blood-soaked fangs? A noble air? …Wait a minute. That sounds like a Lunar Vampire Viron. That’s a type of Viron that hasn’t been seen yet here on Earth.”

“What’s that?” Kathy asked.

“Lunar Vampire Virons are one of the more elite Virons. They’re not in the same class as Berserker Virons, but they’re still pretty strong. They’re also more reasonably intelligent, as they lack the hivemind issue that other Virons have, though they aren’t capable of speech like Berserkers outside of a few words like ‘prey’, ‘delete’, ‘death’, and ‘food’. They get stronger at night but they’re still capable of fighting in sunlight without any issue. It’s just nighttime doubles their powers and gives them strong regenerative abilities. Especially if the moon is full, where they become borderline immortal. Their signature attack, Leech Life, allows them to drain enemies of their strength and energy and restore themselves with it. Like I said, they’re no Berserker Viron, but that doesn’t mean they’re pushovers, either. Even Constellatons have trouble with them because they can move like phantoms, phasing in and out in ghostly manners, which makes them hard to hit.”

“That sounds terrifying,” Kathy shivered.

Luna then said, “The Viron is making its move… the maiden is in trouble…”

Just then Obsidian’s arm-mounted computer went off, redirecting everyone’s attention to it. He activated it, causing a screen to pop up showing Dr. Arthur.

“Obsidian!” he stated. “We’ve detected a strong Viron’s energy signature! It’s at coordinates E708-550! Hurry!”

“I’m on it!” he said. He turned to Pride, “Sorry, gotta jet, Pride. We’ll continue our time together later.”

Pride nodded, “I understand. Just go. I’ll be fine.”

Obsidian nodded and quickly bolted out of the antique shop and made his way toward the designated coordinates.

Kathy looked confused, “Why is Obsidian going to that location? I mean, he isn’t going to try to fight that Viron, is he? How?”

Luna replied in a mystical tone, “The shining blue warrior… is closer than you think… and one you already know…”

“She knows…” Pride said silently. “Is it because she’s a mystic? Or is there another layer to it? I dunno… something seems off about all this…”

She started to make her way out of the antique store and chased after Obsidian.

“W-Where are you going, Pride?” Kathy sputtered. “Is she going to help Julia? But their family companies are rivals, if not enemies. Would she really be willing to help her arch-rival?”

Luna replied in a mystical tone, “The power to make enemies into allies… a web spun by the shining blue warrior… will bring our world to salvation… The maiden and the knight… will prove their worth… in due time…” She started to walk away, “…I must leave now… Please come back again…”

At the time Obsidian had transformed into Star Rider and was rocketing toward the location. His visor had a GPS with a signal, leading him to his destination.

“This is getting ridiculous…” he muttered. “Why does Julia always end up a damsel in distress? This’ll be the third time. I just hope I can nip it in the bud before the Viron catches her.”

He then heard a familiar scream, sighing defeatedly. He looked around and saw a creature dragging Julia away on a lower energy wave road. It looked like a vampire made from various angular shapes like triangles and trapezoids, with large fangs protruding from its mouth, glowing red eyes, cones for legs, wing-like arms, and long horns.

“Too late…”

Shortly afterward Knuckler and Strag appeared on the energy road, ready to fight the Viron. Its eyes flared as it saw the two Cyber Guardians. It somehow levitated Julia up out of its arms before encasing her into a barrier. It put the barrier behind a wall of what looked like cyber bats before facing the Cyber Guardians.

Strag pounded his fists together, stating, “Let’s send this fanged freak back to Transylvania!”

Knuckler banged his fists against his chest, “Yeah! Yeah! Let’s get ‘im!”

Obsidian was observing from afar, saying to himself, “Well, it’s no Berserker, and it only has a limited amount of different attacks. But I’d better be ready to jump in when the battle gets sour. Hopefully those two have gotten stronger since last time. At least the Lunar Vampire Viron is on a lower scale compared to a Berserker Viron so they should stand a better chance this time. Still, it’s no pushover, as its phantom-like traits can make it a tricky foe.”

Daxter stated, “We can win this one! Let’s go, Strag! Bubble Shot! Combat Chip, go!”

He slotted in a Combat Chip, which caused Strag’s right arm to become the firehose cannon. He took aim and fired it at the Lunar Vampire. However, it soon vanished like a phantom, causing the attack to miss.

“No way!” Strag sputtered. “It can move like that!? That’s not fair!”

Daxter stated, “Yeah, but it’s still giving off an energy signature. To your left! Blast it with Thunder Gatling!”

Strag pointed his left arm toward a certain point, transformed it into a gatling gun, and opened fire. The Lunar Vampire appeared just moments before the energy bullets were fired, getting pummeled by the attack, giving a screech as it did.


Thomas stated, “Help Strag, Knuckler! Use your new Rocket Knuckle attack!”

Knuckler nodded, “Yeah!” He reared back his right arm before saying, “Rocket Knuckle!”

He threw a punch which fired his fist forward like a rocket. The attack collided with the Lunar Vampire, dealing rather impressive damage, to Obsidian’s surprise. His fist then returned to him.

“Well, I’ll be…” Obsidian said, hand on one hip. “That was rather impressive. But the fight’s not over yet.”

The Lunar Vampire managed to stand up, saying, “Delete!”

It then vanished like a phantom again. Strag and Knuckler looked around, trying to detect it. Suddenly, it appeared and sank its fangs into Strag’s shoulder, making him cry out in pain.

“Strag!” Daxter sputtered.

“Get this thing off of me!!!” Strag shouted, flailing about.

Daxter noticed something, “Oh no! It’s not only draining your energy, but it’s regaining strength!”

Thomas instructed, “Knuckler, rip that fanged freak off of Strag pronto!”

“On it!” Knuckler stated.

He quickly grabbed the Lunar Vampire and with tremendous strength was able to pry it off of Strag, who fell to his knees. He then threw the Lunar Vampire onto the energy road and prepared to attack.

“Knuckle Hammer!” he stated.

His hand became a giant hammer. He reared back and slammed it down. However, the Lunar Vampire quickly vanished like a ghost at the last second, causing Knuckler’s attack to miss. The Lunar Vampire Viron appeared again, this time hovering near Julia’s prison. It gave a screech and released a swarm of cyber bats at the two Cyber Guardians. The bats started to bite and rip off chunks of both bodies, seemingly eating them. At the same time the Lunar Vampire started to get stronger. Knuckler and Strag flailed around, trying to chase off the bats but when their emblems were bitten they froze.

“Knuckler, Pulsing Out.”

“Strag, Pulsing Out.”

Both vanished in bolts of energy before returning to their Cyber Terminals, damaged.

“Oh no!” Daxter sputtered. “That thing knew that attacking their emblems would force them to Pulse Out because of the failsafe installed in them! Now Julia’s defenseless!”

The Lunar Vampire turned to see a cowering Julia.

“N-No!” she sputtered. “G-Get away from me!”

Just then a voice said, “Viron scum, prepare to be destroyed! Mini Grenade!”

A Mini Grenade came down from above and struck the Lunar Vampire, knocking it back, making Julia hopeful. Obsidian jumped down from above and got in-between her and the Viron.

Julia’s eyes became hearts, “Star Rider! My hero! My champion! You came to save me!”

“This is becoming a bad habit of yours, Julia,” Obsidian said. “But time for that later, as this Lunar Vampire still has some fight in it!”

Just then a voice floated down from above, “Care to make this a duet of death, Star Rider?”

Another Cyber Guardian appeared from the other side.

“Who are you?” Julia asked, puzzled.

The Cyber Guardian replied in a mystical tone with what sounded like an Irish accent, “I am Mysti, elite Cyber Guardian of Necromancer. Star Rider, allow me to assist you in reaping the soul of this Viron.”

Mysti was a female Cyber Guardian. She had blue skin, long white cyber hair that reached her ankles under a black stylized helmet, black sclera with gold-colored irises, and a well-developed frame, being rather pear-shaped. Her body was encased in a white and black bodysuit with a black-lacquered western-style armored corset for a breastplate, matching armored gloves and knee-high high-heeled boots, and blood red soles. On her chest, between her breasts, and on the sides of her helmet, was her emblem: a black reaper scythe with a gold background surrounded by a blood red ring.

“Star Rider, allow me to assist you in protecting that maiden from this otherworldly villain,” she said in a dark, mystical tone.

Obsidian nodded, “Fine, I accept. Let’s send this Viron to the hereafter! Zap Ring!”

His arm transformed into a Tessla coil. He pointed it forward and fired an electric energy ring that rocketed toward the Viron. It was struck by the attack before the Viron could react. While the attack was weak it was able to paralyze it, leaving an opening to more attacks.

Mysti stated in a rather dramatic tone, “Your soul is mine! Delete Beam!”

She fired twin beams from her eyes that struck the Viron, making it screech in pain. It started to become weaker, as if its strength was being drained.

“I’ve inflicted a bug that is draining the Viron of its strength,” she said. “Furthermore, it’ll prevent it from performing its phantom-like ability to dodge attacks. We have an opening, let us use it!”

Obsidian nodded, “Right! Yo-Yo Blade!”

His right arm transformed, becoming a strange, crab claw-shaped structure. He then reared back and thrust his arm forward, opening up the structure and releasing a bladed double disc on a cable. The attack slammed into the Viron and began sawing through its body, making it cry out in pain as the blade traveled up its body before retracting into the structure.

A familiar voice stated, “Our turn. Plasma Gun! Combat Chip, go!”

Mysti’s right arm transformed into a new weapon, now looking like a strange gun with a sphere filled with electricity for a base and a three pronged claw-like structure on a coil for a barrel. She fired a blast of fast-moving plasma energy that struck the Viron, paralyzing it.

“I’ll finish it off!” Mysti stated. “Reaper Scythe!”

Her right arm transformed again, now becoming a sinister-looking scythe. She dashed over and with it slashed the Viron in two. The Viron cried out in pain before it crumpled to the ground, ending the battle. The barrier and cyber bats that had trapped Julia vanished, releasing her. She looked up at Star Rider with hearts for eyes.

“Oh, my beloved Star Rider!” she gushed. “You saved me again!”

He replied, “I wasn’t alone. Mysti helped.” He turned to her, “Thank you for your help. May I speak with your Operator?”

A screen appeared, revealing Mysti’s Operator. She was wearing what looked like a Grim Reaper robe with a hood, a rather vampire-like mask that concealed her eyes, various necklaces and bracelets, and a black and white dress underneath the robe.

She replied in a mystical tone, “I am Necromancer, one of the Cyber Agents assigned to this location. You have already met my allies: Captain Typhoon and Shadow Rose.”

Obsidian narrowed his eyes, “You look familiar.”

She replied, seemingly unfazed, “Either way, thank you for your help. Mind if I collect a sample from this Viron to give to my fellow Cyber Agents and Sci-Tech Labs? They’ll need it for the future.”

“That’s fine. I got to get Julia back to safety anyway. I’ll let you take as much as you want for data so you Cyber Agents and Sci-Tech Labs can properly prepare for other attacks. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

He scooped up Julia, who blushed, before changing frequency and appearing before Thomas and Daxter.

A voice then called, “Is everyone okay?”

They looked to see Pride run up to them, clearly tired but worried.

“Pride?” Julia asked, puzzled. “Why are you here?”

She replied, “I heard about a Viron attack and tried to come to help. I should’ve known you’d be the damsel in distress again, Julia. I was able to track Star Rider’s signature and managed to get here. But it looks like the excitement is over. Are you hurt, Julia?”

Julia quirked an eyebrow, “Why do you care? We’re rivals and enemies, just like our fathers and companies.”

Pride placed her hands akimbo, “Just because our fathers and companies are rivals doesn’t mean I can’t be concerned for the life of a fellow human being, Julia! These Virons are serious threats, and if it wasn’t for people like Obsidian, Dr. Arthur, and Star Rider our world would’ve been devoured by now. So of course I was worried when I learned that you were in danger. Just because our families butt heads doesn’t mean I can’t worry about the life of another. Especially since, from what I’ve heard, this is the third time you’ve ended up in a Viron’s clutches. Despite our families being rivals and enemies that doesn’t mean I can’t try to save your life. Your life matters as much as anyone else’s, and we all need to band together during these times of uncertainty.”

Daxter said, “She’s right. We need to band together against this threat of Virons. And who knows what other enemies we might encounter along the way. I hate to say it but Pride’s got a solid point. Maybe we should stop bickering and start working together.”

Pride nodded, “Exactly, Daxter. You seem to get it.” She turned to Julia, “Listen, I know our families and companies are at each other’s throats. But this isn’t the time to be focusing on such facts. We need to work together in order to overcome these threats that loom before us. And since it’s obvious that Knuckler and Strag aren’t strong enough to take on these threats then I want to offer my help to bolster our defenses and give us a better fighting chance. As long as we keep fighting over our families’ feuds it’ll prevent us from being able to take on these Virons. I propose that we merge our little groups together so we can band together and fend off this threat as a single unit.”

Julia looked stunned, “Y-You want my group and you and Obsidian to join forces? Why? What’s in it for you?”

Pride heaved a sigh, “Julia, does the word ‘survival’ mean anything to you? Are you that consumed by the Cream and Glimmer rivalry that you can’t see I’m trying to not only extend an olive branch but offering us a chance to overcome these Virons? You can’t let the bad blood that our fathers have for each other blind you to the truth. We need each other to survive this threat, and possibly other threats, too. Wouldn’t it be in everyone’s best interest if your group joined forces with Obsidian and me? That way we can fight as a single unit instead of being easy targets individually divided.”

Cherry stated from her Cyber Terminal, “Julia, Pride’s right. We can’t keep letting petty grudges get in-between our survival. As long as the Virons continue attacking we’ll be vulnerable. We need to band together in order to gain a solid fighting chance. This is no time to let the feuds of your fathers get in the way of Earth’s salvation. We need to join forces if we’re to stand a chance against these Virons. And, besides, it’s possible that Obsidian might have connections to Star Rider. So if you work with him and Pride you might get a better chance to see Star Rider more often, and hopefully not in the situation you normally end up.”

Julia seemed to be struggling to respond.

Pride gave a light sigh, “I’ll give you some time to think about it. But I suggest you take up the idea, as it would be in our best interests to stop fighting against each other and instead fight side-by-side against our alien threat. But I’ll give you some time to think it over, since it’s clear you can’t make your mind up just yet. When you’ve decided seek out Obsidian and me, as we often hang out together. We tend to go to the various parks to relax or head for Dandee Creamery Ice Cream Parlor for a sundae. Mull it over for a bit before giving your answer. But it would be in everyone’s best interest if we stopped bickering and started working together as one. Anyway, now that I know you’re safe I can continue my day. Just try to be more careful, Julia, as you only live once. But, again, I’ll give you time to mull it over. Now, I’m off, but I recommend you consider my offer. And stay safe.”

Pride turned around and began walking away, leaving a stunned Julia.

Obsidian looked at Julia, “She’s not wrong, you know. If everyone were to fight as a unified force then we’d stand an even better chance against these Virons. That was one of the downfalls of Constellatron, as the race failed to work in unison during a critical time, instead relying on me to do all the work. And, as you know, that ended in disaster. There is only so much one person can do. But when united the possibilities are endless. Now, I gotta go and clean up that Viron corpse. I suggest you take what Pride said into consideration, as it might benefit everyone if you humans stopped your infighting and started working together to face this threat. Now, I’m off. Think it over for a bit. It couldn’t hurt, right?”

He put Julia down before turning into a bolt of energy and returning to the Cyber Wave Realm. He noticed that Mysti was gone, leaving most of the Lunar Vampire Viron behind. He knelt down, removed his facemask, and began eating the remains of the Viron.

Down below, Julia was clearly conflicted about Pride’s offer.

Thomas said, “You know, Julia. It might not be such a bad idea. Both Pride and Star Rider do have a point. If we keep fighting among ourselves we weaken our defenses and it makes us more vulnerable to being killed. Maybe we should consider joining forces with Obsidian and Pride. It couldn’t hurt, right?”

“I… I guess…” Julia struggled to say. “I… I need more time to think it over…”

Daxter adjusted his glasses, “Well, Pride did say to take some time to think about it. But I agree with both her and Star Rider. United we stand, divided we fall. If we keep letting petty grudges get in the way then we’ll be easy prey to those Virons. And who knows what else is out there that could attack Earth. It might be in our best interest to join forces with the ones who seem to have any sort of knowledge on the enemies we’re fighting. Give it some time, Julia, but I do agree that it would be better in the long-run if we were to work together against this threat.”

Julia was still very conflicted, making Thomas and Daxter sigh defeatedly. They moved on, still thinking about Pride’s offer.

At the time Necromancer had arrived at Sci-Tech Labs. She was greeted by Captain Typhoon, Shadow Rose, and Dr. Arthur.

“I have collected the data on the Lunar Vampire Viron,” she said.

“How did yer encounter with Star Rider go?” Captain Typhoon asked.

“Well, like with you and Shadow Rose, he saw right through my disguise. He’s sharp despite the mental damage. But he seems to be keeping quiet about it.”

Shadow Rose nodded, “Yes, I noticed that, too. I’m guessing he’s not saying anything because we’re keeping his alter-ego quiet for his protection. So he’s merely returning the favor for us: there is a threat brewing in the shadows that we need to remain incognito to avoid retaliation from those enemy units.”

Dr. Arthur nodded, “Yes, indeed, Shadow Rose. We can trust Obsidian to keep your secret identities a secret. He clearly understands that. But I take it you have more to report, Necromancer?”

Necromancer nodded, “Yes. Before coming here my crystal ball picked something up. It tells me another being is heading our way
from the cosmos. One that is seeking the blue shooting star.”

“Another Constellaton, perhaps?” Captain Typhoon asked.

“Possibly, but it’s too far away for me to identify at this time. But expect a new visitor to arrive in the future.”

“Let’s just hope this visitor is friendly,” Shadow Rose said.

Dr. Arthur nodded, “Indeed, Shadow Rose. I’m not the praying type, but I hope to God that our next visitor will be an ally to us and not an enemy.”

Next Chapter: United

That's all for today. Will Julia swallow her pride and join forces with Obsidian and Pride? And who is this new visitor from the cosmos? Tune in next time to find out.
Been meaning to update this for a while now. Here's the next chapter of Shooting Star Rider.


It had been two days since Obsidian met Necromancer. He and Pride were relaxing at one of the city parks. They were seated at a bench, watching the ducks float lazily across the pond in front of them. Both had content expressions, enjoying the peace and tranquility at the moment.

Obsidian said, “I’m impressed with you, Pride, for extending that
olive branch, as you humans put it, to Julia and her posse. Considering that both the Cream and Glimmer families are pretty much at each other’s throats it was very big of you to make almost a peace offering. Especially since you’re right about the current threat. As someone who lost their world because our race didn’t unite against a powerful foe you had the right idea to try to get all of us under one flag.”

Pride gave a sad smile, “That’s true, but
for it to work it all depends on Julia swallowing her pride and putting aside our families’ animosity for each other. Naturally, if she does come around and we join forces I’m not expecting it to be a flawless, or even remotely smooth, relationship. But my question is… should we tell them the truth about Star Rider?”

He replied, “Let’s hold off for a bit. I’ve already put that into consideration and, for now, I’ve concocted a hopefully convincing lie so they won’t get suspicious or ask about it. It would be better if they figured it out themselves but, for the time being, it might be better to keep the whole Star Rider thing hush-hush. Hmm?” He looked to their left, “Don’t look now but Julia and the others are approaching.”

Pride turned to see Julia, Thomas, and Daxter walking toward them. After a few minutes the group was standing before Obsidian and Pride. Julia was clearly looking conflicted. She took a deep breath and faced Pride.

“Okay, Pride, you win,” she said in a reluctant tone. “I’ve thought it over and, with Cherry and the others encouraging me and giving me too many reasons, I’ve decided to accept your offer. This isn’t going to be easy but seeing how you are, unfortunately, correct about all this Viron stuff, and that the future of our world depends on banding together. So, you win: we’ll merge our groups together. Especially if it means I’ll be less likely to be eaten by a Viron like those ugly Berserker type ones.”

Pride gained a smile, “You made the right choice, Julia. We need to band together if we’re to have any hopes of surviving this alien threat. And considering how many times you’ve ended up in a Viron’s clutches it’ll be in your best interest to have more sufficiently powerful allies. However…” she stood up and walked a short distance from the group, her back to them, “There is a condition to this little merger. It’s nothing major or anything, but it might shake up the dynamic a bit.”

Daxter adjusted his glasses, “What do you mean, Pride?”

She replied, “It’s simple: Obsidian is the group leader from here on. And before you even start arguing, you need to face the facts. Obsidian knows more about this threat than anyone. Everything we have now to fight these Virons is because of him. Thus he’s the most qualified to lead since he has the knowledge, information, and resources to guide us to victory against these Virons. Plus, as the natural predator to Virons, he knows how they function and how to counter them. Plus he has connections to Star Rider, and I don’t think Star Rider would appreciate you giving one of his own kind grief. So you have to accept the fact that, given the situation we’re in, Obsidian is the best equipped for the task. Unless, of course, you want to get eaten by a Viron.”

Julia protested, “B-B-But I’m the best for leader! Not him!”

Cherry stated from her Cyber Terminal, “Unfortunately, Julia, Pride is 100 percent correct. Obsidian is the most qualified to guide us through this Viron threat. He knows the Virons better than anyone. And she is right that everything we currently have to combat this threat, like Combat Chips and us Cyber Guardians, is because of him. So, unfortunately, you can’t really argue with that. On top of that, your leadership has caused some problems for you, Thomas, and Daxter. Not to mention you’re danger-prone, as evident by those Virons that nearly turned you into an afternoon snack. It might be in everyone’s best interests to just swallow your pride and accept Obsidian’s leadership.”

Julia protested, “B-B-But my leadership is flawless! Right, Thomas!? Daxter?!”

Thomas and Daxter, however, were silent, gaining uncomfortable expressions. Julia became worried while Pride started to gain a smile.

“Thomas! Daxter!” the rich woman stated. “W-Why are you staying quiet?! Defend my leadership!”

Thomas gained a nervous expression, “Umm… well…”

Daxter chuckled weakly, “Umm…”

Julia looked devastated, “Y-You don’t think my leadership is perfect!? Why?!”

Thomas replied nervously, “W-Well… Julia… no offense… but… while your leadership has had plenty of good moments… there have been just as many… incidents that have caused plenty of problems for us.”

Daxter added hesitantly, “I-I agree with Thomas. Sorry… but maybe it might be our best interest to at least try to let Obsidian take the reins. He does have the most knowledge on the Virons, Combat Chips, and the threat we’re facing. So maybe it would be better if he takes charge. At least for now.”

Julia looked crushed at this reveal while Pride had a confident smirk on her face. Julia struggled to respond, clearly unsure what to do. She seemed to have a silent temper tantrum before taking several calming breaths. She turned to Pride, clearly frustrated.

“Okay, fine, have it your way,” she growled. “Obsidian can be the leader of our group. But he’d better not cause too much trouble for us.”

Pride smiled, “That’s better, Julia. And look at it this way… if Obsidian is the leader he could possibly lead you to Star Rider. They are the same race, after all, and he has connections to Star Rider. So if you let him take the reins then he could be the key to you seeing Star Rider more often. And, hopefully, not when you’re a damsel in distress. So there is some benefits to allowing Obsidian to lead, and I’m not just talking about our survival.”

Julia’s eyes lit up, “Wait. Obsidian could possibly lead me to Star Rider? Well… I guess that’ll be worth it. And if it means I’m less likely to end up a dinner entrée to an alien monster then so be it. Just don’t get us killed.”

“That’s his line,” the blonde woman snarked. She then turned to Obsidian, “Okay, Obsidian, now that our little group has been assembled, it’s time to start prepping ourselves for the Virons. Hopefully today will be a quiet day so we can start building our defenses. And maybe you could give us some insider information that might come in handy.”

Obsidian nodded, “Yes.” He stood up, “First, let’s go over some of the basics. I know it may sound obvious but the basics are essential. First, Virons come in various elements. Fire, Wood, Electric, Water, Null, Snipe, Pierce, Wind, and Sword. Fire burns Wood, Wood grounds Electric, Electric shocks Water, and Water douses Fire. Then there’s Sword slices Wind, Wind blasts Snipe, Snipe targets Pierce, and Pierce shatters Sword. These are the same elements that Cyber Guardians can come in. Also, there are some sub-elements: Recovery, Cracking, Obstacle, Cloaking, and Digit. These don’t have any sort of elemental strength or weakness and are more like supplementary powers to the ‘main’ elements. Exploiting theses elemental weaknesses is an excellent way to overcome various Virons, with the exception of the Null element and any sub-elements. Also, whenever a Cyber Guardian uses a Combat Chip that matches their element, be it the main element or sub-element, that Combat Chip’s effect is increased by 33%. So, for example, if Knuckler uses a Cracking Combat Chip like Crack Shot then the power of said Crack Shot becomes 33% more powerful.”

“Okay, sounds pretty straightforward,” Daxter nodded. “But something tells me it’s a bit more complicated than that.”

“Yes, that’s correct, as there are certain types of combo attacks that can either magnify those properties or create new ones. You already know of a few thanks to Pride. For example, using an Electric attack on an enemy trapped in a Bubble effect will double the power of the Electric attack and inflict Paralysis in the process. And combine that with Sea Panels to quadruple the damage. And there’s another interesting combo that you might not be aware of. If an enemy is frozen by an attack like Icy Fist, any Pierce element attacks that strike them is doubled.”

Thomas’ eyes widened, “So that’s how that Berserker Viron did so much damage to Knuckler! He froze Knuckler then hit him with a… what was it again? Golem Punch, maybe? That’s why Knuckler took so much damage. Now I get it.”

Obsidian nodded, “Indeed. That Berserker Viron knew its stuff. By freezing Knuckler in place then using Golem Punch allowed the latter to deal some heavy damage by doubling it. And Golem Punch isn’t exactly a weak attack to begin with, as it lives up to its name and the Viron associated with it. And tying into that combo, you can make your own version of it by creating Ice Panels and then hitting an opponent standing on one with a Water attack, freezing them in place. So you don’t need something like Icy Fist to pull off the combo if you don’t have it. A simple Ice Seed combined with a Water attack, or even just an Ice Grenade will create the Freezing effect. Then you can follow it up with a Pierce attack.” He gained an idea, “Hey, I just got an idea. Let me expand your repertoire of Combat Chips so you can pull off such combos yourself. Give me a moment.”

He activated the built-in computer in his arm, to the curiosity of everyone except Pride.

“Hmm… that looks awfully familiar…” Cherry said to herself.

“What are you doing, Obsidian?” Daxter asked. “What’s that?”

Obsidian replied, “We Constellatons have these built-in computers into our bodies. Considering we’re a race of energy beings, or, more accurately, quasi-energy beings, something like this is within the realm of possibility. These are built into one of our arms, though which arm depends on the Constellaton. They have a variety of useful functions. I’ve since modified mine to better accommodate the nature of Earth and its technology, as even after my hard work Constellatron’s technology was lightyears ahead of what you have. Now, give me a moment.”

He pulled up what looked like an inventory of different Combat Chip data, to the interest of the gang. He then took out some blank Combat Chips, inserted them into a slot on his arm, and began downloading the data. After repeating this process a few times he stopped, now holding five new Combat Chips. He held them out to Thomas.

“Here, Thomas, these are for you.”

Thomas’ eyes lit up, “Really? T-Thank you!” He took the Combat Chips and looked them over with interest, “Let’s see… I got an Icy Fist, a Golem Punch, an Ice Grenade, an Iron Fist, and an Ice Cannonball. How cool!”

Daxter turned to Obsidian, “Hey! What about me and Julia!?”

Obsidian replied, “Settle down, Daxter, I’m getting to you. I can only do one person at a time. Now, as I was saying, give me a moment.”

He started to slot in more blank Combat Chips into his arm, downloading new data into them. Before long he had five more brand new Combat Chips. He held them out to Daxter.

“Here you go, Daxter.”

Daxter’s eyes lit up, “Thank you!” He took the Combat Chips and looked them over, “Let’s see… A Zap Fist, a Bubble Spread, a Zap Sword, an Elec Pulse, and a Sea Seed. Cool! Thanks! These should make for some awesome combos.”

“You’re welcome. Now…” he turned to Julia, “It’s your turn.”

He started to slot in blank Combat Chips into his arm again, downloading data into them. Before long he had another five new Combat Chips. He held them out to Julia.

“Thank you…” Julia said hesitantly. She took the Combat Chips and looked them over, “A Grass Seed, a Poison Seed, a Grass Burst, a Poison Burst, and a Spicy Powder. How can these make for combos?”

“That’s easy. Grass Seed and Grass Burst work together. By creating Grass Panels you can then use Grass Burst to consume those Grass Panels and blast every enemy in front of you with a powerful Wood attack that gets stronger with each Grass Panel used. It’s a similar concept to the Grass Panel plus Tornado combo Pride used a while back, only the power of the Grass Burst can exceed even that if there’s enough Grass Panels to use. Poison Seed and Poison Burst function the same way, only after the Poison Burst has been used it’ll infect any enemy with bugs that’ll drain their stamina and damage tolerance. Not to mention Poison Panels on their own do the same thing to whoever stands on them. And Spicy Powder paralyzes the enemy, but it gets stronger when Grass Panels are present, dealing double the damage and doubling the duration of the paralysis effect. You need to work on your combos, Julia, so while these particular Combat Chips aren’t rare they’re still valuable. So I suggest you try combo attacks and you might be surprised.”

“I… I guess…” Julia said hesitantly.

“What about Pride?” Thomas asked. “Doesn’t she get some Combat Chips?”

Pride replied, “Obsidian’s already been rather generous in giving me new Combat Chips whenever I want. Plus I’ve been spending time at Ethan’s Combat Chip Shop to fill in any other blanks in my collection. So I’m pretty much good to go in that regard. But you lot need these Combat Chips to further bolster your defenses against the Virons.”

Julia looked up, “Wait, Ethan? The Combat Chip nerd who forced me into an Ante Battle for my Warrior Sword chip? He’s opened a Combat Chip Shop? Where? Why?”

Obsidian replied, “He took Star Rider’s advice to heart and now offers his service. He does sales and trades, depending on what you’re looking for. His prices aren’t half-bad, either, and he has plenty of knowledge on Combat Chips so
go to him if you need advice or want to identify a legit Combat Chip from a fake one. Just don’t expect him to give you a rare Combat Chip. Common ones, yeah, maybe, but not a rare one. He’ll sell them or trade for one of equal value, but don’t expect him to hand out a rare Combat Chip like it’s a free sample cookie at the mall. But if you’re ever looking for some new Combat Chips or advice on them and I’m not around he’s set up his shop on Echo Ridge Avenue, not far from the arcade where you three and Pride Cyber Battled that one day. He’s only been open for a short time but thanks to Pride and me spreading the word about his shop it’s become quite the hub of activity. Check him out if you ever need anything or have questions and I’m not around.”

Thomas looked excited, “Will do! Right, Dax?”

Daxter nodded, “Indeed. And I’m glad to see that Ethan had a change of heart after Star Rider managed to save Cherry from Hacker and was able to talk some sense into him. Looks like we have another shop to check out during our downtime. But, anyway, thanks, Obsidian. We’ll put these Combat Chips to good use. But how do you have them stored in that arm computer thing? Their data, I mean.”

“Constellatons can store infinite amount of data in our arm-mounted computers. That includes any and all data on Virons and the abilities associated with them. Sadly, due to my memory damage, and the rather rough landing I had when I came to this world, some of my data has been scrambled. I’m still in the process of restoring it but it’ll take some time. I’ve been able to regain some of that data by eating Virons, along with restoring fragments of my memories here and there. But like Star Rider, I’m effectively fighting handicapped due to the mental damage I’ve taken.”

Julia looked surprised, “Wait. Star Rider isn’t fighting at full power!? Why?!”

“Like me, the damage he’s sustained from the destruction of Constellatron, followed by crash-landing here, along with a fragmented memory, is preventing him from fighting at full-force. He’s forgotten most of his powers. …And so have I, for that matter. And given the fact I can’t fight at all right now means I’m in a rather… precarious situation.”

“What do you mean?” Strag asked from his Cyber Terminal.

“Thanks to a Viron attack the other day my core was damaged.”

“What core?” Thomas asked.

“Constellatons are quasi-energy beings, thus we have a core of pure, condensed energy deep inside ourselves. This is effectively the core of our beings, and where most of our powers reside. Normally our cores are well guarded but given the fact that I have yet to recover from my crash-landing here meant that the defenses around my core were damaged. A particular battle with a Viron managed to pierce those defenses and damage my core. The damage isn’t bad, thankfully, but my core is slightly unstable. And since my combat form requires my core to be stable I can’t transform without risking my core becoming more unstable. Worst case scenario, it could erupt and explode.”

“What happens if your core were to explode?” Daxter asked apprehensively.

“It’ll destroy everything within a 100 mile radius of me,” the alien replied simply. “It is a highly condensed sphere of energy, after all. Effectively, my core detonating would have about the same impact as a nuclear warhead.”

Julia and the others looked horrified at this information.

Pride looked concerned, “How long will it take your core to recover, Obsidian?”

“I don’t know. Usually we have a machine back on Constellatron that can repair the damage to one’s core, which would only take about a teracycle or two. But since Earth lacks that technology, and even with my help they have yet to re-create it, I must let it recover the old fashioned way: through time. It could take as long as a decacycle. I’m almost defenseless right now. Granted, I do have a makeshift means of defending myself, as I can still summon weapons like any other Constellaton, but my options are limited to weak and low-grade attacks like Cannon, Vulcan, and Sword. So while I’m not totally helpless, I’m not in ideal shape, either. I can’t fight as well as I’d like to. Unlike Star Rider who, despite also being handicapped at the moment, still has a fully functional core, so he doesn’t have to worry too much about it. But given the fact that he’s the only truly able-bodied Constellaton on this planet right now it does limit our defenses. So, until my core heals I act more like mission command for him, pointing him in the direction he needs to go to defend Earth and informing him of Viron attacks or any other issues that need his attention.”

Julia’s eyes lit up, “So you do have the means of contacting him. Then that means I can see him more often, and not when I’m in the clutches of a Viron like those ugly Berserker ones.”

“Sort of. I don’t have the means to contact him directly, as you need to have his permission to access his link code, among other reasons. But I can indirectly contact him via what you humans call SOS signals. We Constellatons just use a different frequency and setting to emit them. Basically, I activate an ‘SOS signal’ from my arm-mounted computer, have it sent to Star Rider along with the location of the problem, and he takes it from there. I can’t contact him directly as he has yet to give me his link code. He’s constantly on the move, but I can at least get his attention via the signal and point him in the direction he needs to go. So don’t think I can just open up a com-link with him and ask him to visit whenever we want, as he’s outfitted his com-link with a lot of security features to protect himself from outside forces that might try to trick or take advantage of his heroic nature. Constellatons are cautious like that, as it has happened before where someone hacks our com-links and tries to lure us into traps. It doesn’t end well for the perpetrator but the fact is that it has happened before. And why Star Rider outfits his with a lot of defenses for good measures. So, sorry, I can’t just contact him on a whim since I don’t have access to his link code yet.”

Julia crossed her arms in a huff, “Foo… that sucks. I was hoping to be able to contact Star Rider whenever I wanted.”

Pride gained a crooked smile, “Sorry, but there’s a reason Star Rider doesn’t open up his com-link to just anyone. You need his permission, among other things, and even another Constellaton like Obsidian doesn’t have that yet. So you’re just going to have to accept it. Maybe sometime down the road Star Rider will give Obsidian his permission and link code. But, for now, just accept the fact that he can’t call Star Rider willy-nilly. And he is working hard to defend our planet from the Viron scourge so we can’t bother him when he’s working just to satisfy your desire to see him. Maybe someday, but today isn’t that day. In any case, why don’t we go get something to eat? I hear a new restaurant just opened up near the southern end of the city, just a few blocks from the Plasma Energy Plant. The few reviews it has state that their food is good for equally good prices, and it’s not far from here. How about it?”

Thomas looked eager, “You mean that restaurant called Galaxy Gourmet!? I’ve been wanting to go to it since it opened but haven’t had the chance! But who’s buying?”

Obsidian chuckled, “I’ll treat us this time. I’ve been also wanting to check it out myself. Earth food is vastly superior to anything I’ve eaten before so I’m always eager to try out a new food joint or new types of meals. As long as they don’t have tofu or mushrooms then I’ll be fine.”

Pride giggled, “Don’t like tofu or mushrooms, huh, Obsidian? Despite the fact you eat Virons like they’re potato chips? Considering you’re quite the extreme omnivore I’m surprised there are some things you won’t eat. Though can’t say I blame you in that regard, as I hate mushrooms and tofu, too. You can rest assured that, after checking out the menu, there is only one thing on it that has mushrooms, and that’s the Swiss & Shroom Burger. So just steer clear of that one and you should be fine.”

Thomas looked elated, “You think Earth food is better than anything else you’ve eaten, Obsidian? That’s great! I like you more by the minute! Let’s go grab some grub!”

Daxter chuckled, “Always thinking with your stomach, Thomas. But either way I, too, have been wanting to check out Galaxy Gourmet since it opened but haven’t had the chance. And maybe we can talk strategies while we wait.”

Obsidian cracked a small smile, “Sure. Sounds good. Let’s go. Pride, you lead the way since you know where the place is. I’m still learning the various routes and locations of Echo Point City so you show us the way.”

Pride nodded, “Gladly. Shall we go, gang?”

Everyone else nodded in agreement. Pride guided the newly formed group toward their destination. Julia was still thinking about what Obsidian and Star Rider had said to her.

“Will learning strategies actually help me and keep Virons off my back?” she asked herself silently. “And will allowing that alien to lead us guide me to Star Rider? I hope so, as I want to ‘reward’ him for all the times he’s come to my rescue. I guess this isn’t so bad. I just hope father doesn’t blow a gasket when he learns I’m hanging out with Pride because of our family rivalry with the Cream family. But Obsidian better not screw things up for us, or we’re all dead meat.”

Meanwhile, another figure was coasting through the cosmos at high speeds. The figure stopped near the planet Pluto to check something on its visor.

“Yes, there’s no mistaking it,” the figure said. “I’ve got his signature. I’m heading in the right direction. So… he’s gone to Earth, like I suspected. I wonder if he’s been defending it from the Virons, as the Viron King has always had his fiendish eyes on it. Guess I’ll find out soon enough. Wait for me… Obsidian.”

Next Chapter: Lovelorn Lyn

That's all for today. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
Been meaning to update this for a while now but RL has been getting in the way. Anyway, time for the next chapter.

Lovelorn Lyn

It had been two days since the group had assembled. They were walking down the street together. Obsidian was in the lead, with the rest of the group behind him. Julia was still rather sulky that she was no longer the leader of the group but decided to accept it.

“So, what’s on the agenda for today?” Thomas asked.

“We’re going to one of the arcades to use the Cyber Battle Machine so we can practice combos,” Obsidian said. “Granted, I still can’t transform into my combat form yet but I can at least give you instructions and guide you through the combos that’ll give you an edge against your opponents. After all, even a Berserker Viron doesn’t use combos that often, so learning how to use combos will allow you to overcome such enemies. Especially since I know we haven’t seen the last of the Berserker family of Virons.”

Julia looked worried, “You think more will show up soon?”

“Yes, without a doubt. They act as the captains of the Viron King’s army, so they’ll always come looking for fresh prey to hunt. They also command the lesser Virons so where there’s Virons like Hellmetts and Cannoirs, the Berserker Virons won’t be too far behind. So it’s best to be prepared for them, as they’re the biggest threat out of the Virons outside of the Viron King himself.”

Daxter nodded, “Yeah, I hear you. And seeing how we’ve lost to two Berserker Virons already it would be in our best interest to learn better strategies to counter them. Plus there was that vampire-like Viron that beat us before. It was no Berserker but it certainly gave us trouble. So I’m all for learning some new combos and strategies if it means we can overcome these Virons.”

Pride smiled, “Now you’re talking. It’s best we prepare while there is a lull in the action for now. We should be seeing one of the arcades soon. Hopefully the Cyber Battle Machine is free so we can practice. I know Knightmare and I are eager to try out some new combos. Right, Knightmare?”

Knightmare nodded, “Right, Pride!”

“Good, I’m glad—” she then stopped. “Wait a minute. Knightmare, you called me ‘Pride’ instead of ‘Lady Pride’ like you usually do. Does this mean what I think it means?”

Knightmare got a bit sheepish, “Yes, Pride, it does. I’ve managed to override the programing your father put into me. All because of how you and Obsidian treat me. I was able to overcome the limits of the programing that your father installed into me and delete it, becoming more of my own individual compared to the pre-programed design your father had for me. So now I feel confident enough to refer to you as ‘Pride’ over ‘Lady Pride’. Granted, I will refer to you as ‘Lady Pride’ in the presence of your father but know that I’ve overridden and deleted the programing he installed into me. Now I’m more than I was before, all because of the way you and Obsidian treat me.”

Pride took out her Cyber Terminal and gently hugged it, “Oh, Knightmare, I’ve been waiting for this day. You just made me very happy. Thank you. You truly are the best. You’re like the responsible brother I never had. That means a lot to me.”

Knightmare stammered, “M-My pleasure, Pride. A-And thank you for feeling that way, a-as it means a lot to me.”

Obsidian smile, “I’m glad to see that you’ve overcome the limits that Pride’s father installed into you in hopes of reining in his rebellious daughter. This is exactly what I wanted Cyber Guardians to become when I designed the project: their own individuals with minds and wills of their own. Not just mindless programs for humans to order around, but rather an equal who can help with certain tasks that humans can’t do themselves. Especially with the Viron threat looming heavily in the air. Now, let’s get to the arcade and put some combos to work.”

The gang nodded and continued to make their way to the arcade.

At the time the Cyber Agents had gathered at Sci-Tech Labs.

“So, our unknown ‘friend’ will soon be upon us, Necromancer?” Dr. Arthur asked.

Necromancer nodded, “Yes. Now that this individual is closer I’ve been able to identify it. It is a Constellaton, a female by the looks of it. However, she seems different than Obsidian. Her combat form is designed differently, possessing strange components like a shield, and she seems to be of the Wood element.”

Shadow Rose quirked an eyebrow, “A shield? And is of the Wood element? That’s the first time I’ve heard of a Constellaton coming in other elements, since Obsidian seems to be of the Null element. Then again, it might mean that Constellatons come in all shapes and elements like Virons. Especially if it helps counter said Virons, as they are the natural predators to the hostile alien race. From what we know, the two races are similar, as they’re both quasi-energy beings that can change their frequencies at will and possess powerful weapons. So maybe some Constellatons just come in different elements like Virons. Though I wonder why this one has a shield? Is she some sort of tank-like fighter?”

Captain Typhoon replied, “I guess we’ll find out shortly. But Necromancer mentioned that this Constellaton is seekin’ out Obsidian. Is she a friend of his? Or maybe a family member?”

Necromancer replied, “That I can’t tell at this time, though her energy frequency seems to be different than his. If my foresight is correct, then she should be making contact with Earth in a matter of hours.”

Dr. Arthur nodded, “Then we should be ready for her, as she could help us fight off these Virons and better build our defenses against them. And possibly fill in some of the blanks in Obsidian’s memories and knowledge because of his mental damage. We should start making preparations for her arrival and hope she’ll be willing to help us.”

A couple of hours later the gang had emerged from the arcade. Pride, Thomas, and Daxter seemed satisfied and proud of themselves, while Julia looked a bit annoyed.

“I can’t believe Cherry lost to that one kid…” Julia muttered. “How could he have countered all my rare and powerful Combat Chips?”

Pride heaved a sigh, “It’s like we’ve been telling you, Julia. You can’t rely on raw power all the time, as it becomes useless if the opponent is both strong and skilled. There’s a reason why we came to this arcade to practice combos, so that everyone would stand a better chance against these Virons and potentially other threats. Raw power can only get you so far before it falls flat against a skilled and smart opponent. You really need to understand that, Julia, as it’s for your own good and your own survival. Not to mention Cherry’s survival, as if she can’t beat a basic model Heat Fighter Cyber Guardian, then she’ll be in big trouble with something like a Berserker Viron if put into action against one.”

“As always, Pride’s got a point, Julia,” Cherry chimed in from her Cyber Terminal. “That Heat Fighter Cyber Guardian is nowhere near as strong as a Berserker Alpha Viron, at least in terms of raw might and abilities. But we lost cleanly to him and his Operator because they were smart enough to outmaneuver our so-called ‘tactics’ and clean our clocks. If a Cyber Guardian of that level is able to take us to the cleaners then we stand no chance against something like a Berserker Viron. It says a lot that both Thomas and Daxter are improving and becoming more powerful battlers thanks to learning combos. Pride is right, as you really need to accept the fact that you need to learn more creative and powerful combos in order to overcome enemies as tricky as a Berserker Viron, lest you end up as a dinner entrée to one of them.”

Daxter adjusted his glasses, replying, “I’m inclined to agree. Especially after all the times we got our cheeks clapped by such opponents. Learning combos has been helping us improve and become stronger. While the real test would be against a stronger Viron like that vampire one, the fact that we’re getting better and more competent at fighting opponents with more complex strategies does inspire confidence. So it might not hurt to at least try to take Obsidian’s advice and start practicing combos, Julia, as it could make all the difference. Especially since Earth is fighting for its survival right now against an alien threat.”

Thomas said, “Yeah. Now enough of this combo talk. Let’s go grab something to eat. I’m starving. Let’s go check out Steve’s Tropical Rib place. Not only do they have good ribs and burgers, but great smoothies and desserts. Whattya say, Obsidian?”

Obsidian nodded, “Yes, sounds like a fine idea. And I am getting peckish. Hmm?”

He noticed that his built-in computer in his arm was beeping. He activated it, causing a screen to appear. The rest of the gang stopped to observe what was going on.

“What’s up, Obsidian?” Daxter asked.

“Strange…” he mused. “I’m getting an incoming reading of an unknown entity heading this way.”

Julia looked worried, “Is it a Viron?”

He shook his head, “No… it… it looks like a Constellaton’s energy signature. But it’s one I don’t know, as this energy signature isn’t familiar to me.”

Pride quirked an eyebrow, “Another Constellaton? And one you don’t recognize? I wonder who it could be?”

Suddenly, the beeping on the arm-mounted computer started getting louder. Then, without warning, a bolt of energy rocketed down from above, forcing everyone to scatter. The bolt of energy crashed into the ground, releasing sparks and smoke, and a figure soon rose from it.

“I finally found you… Obsidian,” the mysterious individual said, revealing it to be female.

She soon emerged from the smoke. She was shorter than Pride but taller than Julia, with pale skin, green shortcut hair, violet eyes, a mouth full of fangs, and elf-like ears with soft spines. She had a lithe frame with an average-sized bust, though much smaller than Pride’s, average-width waist, slightly wider hips, and long, lean legs. She was dressed in futuristic, and rather alien, outfit, mostly green and purple, with matching knee-high boots, and gloves.

“Who are you?” Obsidian asked.

The female remained silent before suddenly tackling Obsidian in a hug, much to Pride’s shock and fury. She started nuzzling against him happily.

“Darling! I finally found you!” she said happily.

“D-D-Darling!?” Pride sputtered. She turned to Obsidian, “Do you have any idea who this girl is, Obsidian?”

He looked perplexed, “Not a clue. Other than her being a Constellaton, that is.”

The female Constellaton looked surprised, “Don’t you remember me, Obsidian? I’m your destined partners and lover. It’s me, Lyn Burst. I followed you all the way here. I’m surprised you’d come to this rather backwater planet. Given the fact that the Viron King has always had his eyes on Earth I guess you’re just doing your duty as the greatest Constellaton and protecting a defenseless world from the Viron scourge. But I’m so glad I finally found you. Ever since that fateful teracycle when we were separated because of the destruction of our homeworld. I’ve been looking for you for quite some time, darling. And now I found you. Now we can be together once again.”

A nerve in Pride’s temple was starting to twitch but she remained calm, asking, “I’m sorry, but can you explain a few things to us. Like who are you and what is your ‘relationship’ with Obsidian?”

Lyn turned to Pride, saying, “I suppose I shou—” Only for her jaw to drop as she got a good look at Pride, “Stars of the nebula! You’re gorgeous! And how do you carry those enormous knockers!? Don’t tell me you’re a rival to me! I saw Obsidian first and I’m his girlfriend! So back off!”

The nerve in Pride’s temple began twitching harder but she said calmly, “Answer the question, please. Who are you? What are you doing here? And what is your relation to Obsidian?”

“Oh, very well. I guess I should educate you humans.” Lyn took a proud pose, “I’m Lyn Burst, a member of the Constellaton race. I came here to Earth to ensure that my darling Obsidian is not hurt or being mistreated. He and I are destined partners, especially after that fateful teracycle a few solarcycles ago, when he saved me from being overwhelmed by Virons. Since then I have a deep admiration for him. Though it’s to-be-expected, as Obsidian is the greatest Constellaton of all time.”

Daxter adjusted his glasses, which gained a gleam, “So… you’re a stalker of Obsidian.”

“I’m not a stalker! I’m Obsidian’s destined partner!” Lyn protested.

“She’s a stalker,” Pride said bluntly.

“Indeed,” Thomas nodded.

Lyn gained an annoyed expression.

Julia then stated, “And you’re wrong about Obsidian. The greatest Constellaton of all is Star Rider. Obsidian’s only mid-level at best.”

Lyn growled, “Don’t you dare talk about Obsidian that way, girl! And who in blazes is this ‘Star Rider’ you speak of? I’ve never heard of a Constellaton with that name. But he can’t be that good, especially compared to—OWOWOWOWOW!”

Pride had grabbed Lyn by the ear, saying coldly, “We need to have a little chat in private, Lyn. You’re clearly behind on the times.” She turned to the rest of the gang, “Please excuse us for a few minutes while I educate this alien about the current situation and whatnot.” She started to walk away, dragging Lyn by her ear, “Come with me, Lyn. I need to educate you before you cause more problems.”

Lyn protested, “OWOWOWOWOW! Let go of my ear! That’s attached! That’s attached! That’s attached!”

The two walked into an alleyway and out of sight and earshot.

Thomas turned to Obsidian, “Do you have any idea who she is?”

Obsidian shook his head, “No, I don’t.”

Daxter asked, “She claims you saved her from being killed by Virons. Does that sound familiar?”

“That’s not a unique occurrence. I’ve saved hundreds of Constellatons from being overwhelmed by Virons over the solarcycles. If I did save her it from such a fate it’d be one in the sea of identical events that have happened in my lifetime. And even if it wasn’t for my memory damage I wouldn’t remember every Constellaton I’ve saved, as no one’s memory is THAT good, much less mine.”

Julia huffed, “And how dare that Lyn girl dismiss the greatness of Star Rider. He’s a true hero and a knight in shining blue armor. My champion. My savior. And I plan on ‘rewarding’ him for all that he has done for me.”

She started to blush, placed her hands on her cheeks, and waggled her hips happily, to Thomas’ dismay.

Meanwhile, Pride and Lyn were taking about the current situation in the alleyway, out of earshot of the rest of the gang.

Pride crossed her arms across her breasts, asking, “Do you get what the current situation is now, Lyn?”

Lyn heaved a sigh, “I get it. To summarize, Obsidian is keeping his civilian form and combat form as separate identities, with the latter going under the title ‘Star Rider’, in order to protect himself from problems or malevolent entities. He’s also suffering mental and memory damage because of the destruction of Constellatron, having not healed before crash-landing on Earth, and said crash-landing further compounding issues. He’s using a lie about his core being unstable in order to keep the rest of your group in the dark about the whole until they either figure it out or something forces it out, whichever happens first. Outside of this Sci-Tech Labs and the government, the only other individuals who know about the whole ‘Star Rider’ thing are these ‘Cyber Agents’, someone named Ethan, and yourself. And Obsidian is currently fighting off the Viron threat and created these ‘Cyber Guardians’, alongside ‘Combat Chips’, to give civilians the same power and ability as us Constellatons to fight off Virons. I get the gist of the situation. Just don’t grab me by the ear again.”

Pride nodded, “Good, I’m glad you understand everything. Play along with Obsidian’s lie until the time is right. And since you came all this way you might as well help us fight off the Virons, as even with the Cyber Guardians and Combat Chips, some of us, like Julia, need to brush up on their tactics and strategies. So having another Constellaton around could help bolster our defenses until we get into a better position to defend ourselves, as we’re still cobbling our ability to fight back against this alien threat. We need help and you can possibly fill in some blanks in Obsidian’s knowledge thanks to his memory damage. But play along with what I told you and we can make this as easy and painless as possible.”

Lyn sighed again, “Fine, I get it. I’ll play along with this whole thing. Especially if it helps my darling Obsidian. Now let’s go back to him and the rest of your little group so I can start helping this defenseless planet.”

Pride sighed but nodded before the two girls emerged from the alleyway and rejoined the group.

“Uh… Pride?” Daxter asked. “What did you and our unknown ‘friend’ talk about?”

“I filled her in on the situation and what’s been going on with Star Rider and such,” she replied. “She now understands our current dilemma and has agreed to help us. The reason why I spoke to her in private as so not to ruffle anyone’s feathers regarding topics like Obsidian VS Star Rider and such. But that means Lyn is now part of our group since she wants to help and can provide us with any information that Obsidian lacks because of his memory damage. But we should get Sci-Tech Labs involved, as they’re one of the central forces helping Obsidian and Star Rider. So they need to know about our new extraterrestrial visitor and that she’ll help us.”

Thomas turned to the nearby road, “No need to worry about that, as I see a Sci-Tech Labs van approaching us.”

Everyone turned to see a Sci-Tech Labs van pull up.

“H-How’d they know where to find us and this new girl?” Julia asked, perplexed.

Knightmare replied, “They’ve probably known about Lyn for a bit now before she showed up, as they have reformatted several satellites to detect alien entities before they arrive. Largely thanks to Obsidian providing the necessary knowledge and equipment and Star Rider providing the maintenance and upgrades. So it’s not a stretch to think that they may have known about our new ‘friend’ for some time now, as they have the resources to do so.”

A pair of Sci-Tech Lab scientists emerged from the van and approached the group.

One, a woman asked, “We detected a new Constellaton energy signature. I take it it’s the girl with the green hair?”

Lyn stepped up, “Yes. I’m Lyn Burst, a member of the Constellaton race. I’ve been informed by Pride about the current situation. Rather painfully, I might add. But I’m here to offer my services and help now that I’m aware that the Virons are attacking your planet and your current defenses against them. I may not be the most knowledgeable but I can at least fill in some blanks that you might lack thanks to Obsidian’s mental damage. Along with providing some extra defenses against this threat. I guess you’ll take me to this Sci-Tech Labs; so I can go over certain details with you scientists, right?”

The other scientist, a male, nodded, “Yes, that is the reason why we’re here. Miss Lyn, please come with us so we can discuss things with Dr. Arthur.” He turned to Obsidian, “Obsidian, you should probably come with us as well so we can get some extra details regarding this new visitor.”

Obsidian replied, “I’m not sure how much information I can provide about Lyn, as I don’t know who she is or why she followed me here. But I’ll try to help out any way I can.” He turned to the gang, “You all go on ahead and get some lunch. Lyn and I will head to Sci-Tech Labs to go over certain details regarding the current dilemma and how she can help us. We’ll regroup with you later. Pride, I’ll leave them in your hands. Let me know if any threat arises so I can call Star Rider. And don’t bite off more than you can chew if such a threat appears.” He turned to the two scientists, “Let’s get going and see what we can iron out with this new addition to Earth’s ranks.”

The two scientists nodded and escorted Obsidian and Lyn into the van. Soon they drove off, taking the aliens with them.

Pride sighed before turning to the group, “Okay, let’s get on with our day. Obsidian said he’ll meet up with us later. For now, let’s go get some lunch. I’ll treat this time. We’ll rejoin Obsidian and Lyn after they’re done talking with Dr. Arthur and Sci-Tech Labs. For now, let’s just go about our day until our alien friends return.”

The remaining members of the group nodded and made their way toward the restaurant they wanted to visit.

At the time Obsidian and Lyn were being transported by the Sci-Tech Lab scientists. Lyn was looking Obsidian over as he closed his eyes and rested.

“So, Obsidian hasn’t recovered since that fateful teracycle,” she said silently. “And he’s using an alias for his combat form in order to keep himself, and these new friends of his, safe from threats. Maybe I should do the same? If I’m going to be helping Obsidian with protecting this world then it might be in my best interest to follow his lead. I’ll think about it and discuss it with these scientists at this Sci-Tech Labs. But, for now, Obsidian is back in my life. And I won’t let anyone steal him from me.”

Next Chapter: No Stopping the Leaf Gale Girl

That's all for today. The main cast has been established with this new addition. How will she contribute to the cause? Tune in to find out.
Been meaning to update this for quite some time but life kept getting in the way. Here's the next chapter of Shooting Star Rider. (Warning: contains mild violence)

No Stopping the Leaf Gale Girl

It had been a couple of days since Lyn arrived on Earth. Word had spread that another Constellaton had landed on the planet, hoping she can contribute to Earth’s defense against the Virons. She had quickly integrated herself into the group, along with helping the scientists of Sci-Tech Labs by providing extra information and helping with their projects.

It was a sunny spring day. Obsidian was patrolling the Cyber Wave Realm, having just fixed a break in the network. He was observing the surrounding area, keeping an eye open for any threats.

“No signs of Virons,” he said to himself. “Good, as we all need a reprieve from them. But I know this peace won’t last long. They’ll attack again soon; I can feel it.”

A voice called out, “Hey, darling!”

Obsidian turned to see an unfamiliar individual bolt up to him. She was female, wearing a dark green bodysuit with teal lines on her sides, various Tron lines on her torso, thighs, and biceps, forest green knee-high boots with silver soles and tops and having a slightly elevated heel, and a bright green breastplate. On her right shoulder was a dark green and teal shovel-like shoulder plate, while attached to her right forearm was a large green and yellow shield, and her left forearm had been replaced by a green and yellow cyber fan. She was wearing a green and yellow helmet with a teal visor, a facemask over her mouth and nose, what looked like a metal bar going across her face and over the bridge of her nose, spiky green hair protruding from behind the helmet, a trio of cylinders in a “Y” shape on her back, and on the sides of her helmet and on her chest, in between her breasts, was her emblem: a green tornado with leaves with a dark blue background surrounded by a grey ring.

“Who are you?” Obsidian asked.

“It’s me, Lyn,” the figure replied. “This is my combat form. Upon request from both Pride and Sci-Tech Labs I’m here to help you defend Earth. I was asked to help scout for any Virons since the gang have other plans today. So I’m here to help you.”

Another voice, this one familiar, said, “I take it you must be Lyn.”

The two Constellatons turned to see Knightmare walk up to them. Lyn’s jaw dropped from behind her facemask as the massive Cyber Guardian became level with them.

“Stars of the nebula, you’re huge!” she sputtered. “And you’re Pride’s Cyber Guardian? Are all Cyber Guardians this big or are you something of an exception?”

“It varies, depending on the situation,” the knight Cyber Guardian replied. “Cherry, for example, is about your size, while Knuckler is bigger than her. It all depends on the model and level of customization of Cyber Guardian. I’m a heavily customized model and I act as Pride’s guardian. But I take it this is your combat form, Lyn?”

Lyn nodded, “Yes, this is my combat form.”

A screen appeared, showing Pride, who observed Lyn before saying, “It’s certainly different than Obsidian’s, though I can see there is a resemblance between you two. But why is yours so radically different?”

“That’s because my combat form has changed when I underwent the coming-of-age ritual we Constellatons go through at the age of 16. As you may already know, we Constellatons are a warrior race, acting as guardians of the universe. As such, we all have the ability to transform into a more combative form. Normally our combat forms are of the Null element and not very impressive. But when we reach the age of 16 we perform the coming-of-age ritual where our combat forms change. This is called the Combat Style Ritual. Combat Styles are the Constellaton’s greatest power. Each one is determined by our respective battling styles, hence the name. There are four different forms: Grappler, Defender, Comrade, and Caster, each having their own pros and cons. We also change elements upon gaining our Combat Style form, although it’s limited to Fire, Water, Wood, and Electric, and it seems almost at random. And this transformation is permanent. In my case, my form is a Wood Defender Combat Style, which specializes in defensive tactics like barriers and shields, with my main attack being Leaf Cyclone, which is functionally identical to Squall, albeit a weaker version of it. So that’s why my form looks different from Obsidian’s.”

Pride scratched her chin, “I see. But what about Obsidian? His combat form is a Null element. Did he not go through the ritual himself?”

“Oh, he did, but his ended up being special. You see, when Obsidian went through the ritual he somehow gained access to all four Combat Style forms and can freely change the element at will. As a result he can switch between them and shuffle the elements to better adapt to the situation at hand without restriction. This is the second time a Constellaton has displayed this very ability, the first being Chaos Eclipse. This is because Obsidian has basically no limit to how strong he can become and how far he can evolve. He’s a very rare breed of Constellaton. So he tends to stay in his default Null form until he needs to shift to a more appropriate form.”

Knightmare rubbed his chin, “I see. So Obsidian can freely change his form to adapt to effectively any situation? That’s pretty impressive.”

Lyn nodded, “Yes. But from what I’ve heard and can assume he’s forgotten how to access his Combat Style forms. Considering Chaos is the only other one who can perform the same feat of changing into any of his Combat Style forms there is no way I can help him regain those powers, since my transformation is my default, and permanent, form. I hate to say it but he’ll have to recover more before he can draw out those powers again. Fortunately I’ve been working with Sci-Tech Labs to design special recovery chambers for Constellatons, though it’ll be a bit before they’re ready. But Obsidian is a very rare breed of Constellaton, which is why he’s considered the greatest of all Constellatons.”

Pride crossed her arms, pondering, “I see. So not only is Obsidian fighting handicapped because of memory damage, he’s even weaker than he could be if he could access his Combat Style forms. The destruction of Constellatron and the subsequent damage he took following was a majorly crippling blow for him. I wonder what his Combat Style forms look like. Though I can assume Defender looks just like yours, Lyn.”

“Yes, although I’m left-handed so my buster and my arm-mounted computer, are on my left arm. That’s why my left hand is semi-permanently transformed into the cyber fan that produces Leaf Cyclone, though it can transform into other weapons like any other Constellaton. With Obsidian, who is right-handed, both his buster and arm-mounted computer are on his right arm. That includes any weapons his Combat Style forms have associated with them, like the Electric element’s coil or the Wood element’s cyber fan. But, again, he can switch the elements at will, unlike other Constellatons, so it’s not set in stone or anything.” She turned to him, “Is any of this ringing any bells, Obsidian?”

Obsidian gently clutched his head, “It does… but I can’t recall much of it. Nor can I recall how to summon that very power at will. But… it does resonate in my mind, so I know you’re correct.”

Pride said gently, “Don’t try to force remember it, Obsidian, as that’ll only hurt you and cause you more mental distress. Let it come naturally and at its own pace. Besides, part of me feels like you want to forget some memories that lay inside your mind. Like how Constellatron was destroyed since it’s clearly weighing on you.”

Obsidian bowed his head down in shame and pain, making the two females and Knightmare concerned. They could see him tremble a bit, though they didn’t know if it was out of grief or anger.

Lyn looked nervous, “Well… I can tell you how it happened, but it might be opening up old wounds for Obsidian. Do you want to know now or maybe later?”

Pride turned to her, “Later, especially when Obsidian is doing better. While it would be better if he told us how it happened, now isn’t the time. For now, keep it quiet until either Obsidian is willing to talk about it himself or if he’s not around. While he’s worried that the same force that destroyed Constellatron could come after Earth it’s best to wait until he’s more comfortable about the subject to talk about it. Maybe talk about it with the Sci-Tech Lab scientists like Dr. Arthur so they can be aware of the possible threat and start figuring out strategies to deal with it. After all, the sooner they’re informed about the potential threat the better.”

Lyn nodded, “Yes, I understand. I admit I’m surprised that you care this much about Obsidian.” Her eyes narrowed, “What’s your relation to him? You’d better not be after his hearts.”

Pride replied smugly, “And if I am, what will you do about it? Obsidian was the best thing to ever happen to me, as because of him my life drastically changed for the better. So I’m willing to do anything to make him happy in return. And if it makes me happy as well then that’s a bonus. And there’s little that can stop me. I don’t back down from any challenge put in front of me, no matter who or what it is. Considering Obsidian and I have already gone on a few dates shows that we’re already very close. And I won’t let anything get in my way. Be it human, Viron, or alien, nothing will stand in my way.”

Before Lyn could retort, Obsidian’s arm-mounted computer started beeping, redirecting everyone attention to it. He activated it and Dr. Arthur appeared on-screen.

“Obsidian!” he stated. “And I see Lyn and Knightmare are with you. Good, as there’s a massive Viron attack at the Plasma Energy Plant just south of you! You need to go there and deal with the Virons before they shut down the entire city!”

“We’re on it!” Obsidian stated. He turned to the girls and Knightmare, “Let’s go, everyone, as we’ve got Virons to bust.”

Pride nodded, “Count me in! Right, Knightmare?”

Knightmare clenched his fists, “I’m all over it!”

Lyn nodded, although she seem hesitant, “Okay, let’s do this.”

Pride noticed Lyn’s hesitation, gaining a small frown, but focused on the task at hand. Obsidian, Lyn, and Knightmare rocketed across the Cyber Wave Road toward the Plasma Energy Plant. It wasn’t long before they saw the energy plant and the Virons littering its exterior.

“We’ve got Red Hellmetts, Crabbiers, Doomhounds, Arrow Sharks, Boom Tanks, Decay Drones, and Skitter Bombers!” Obsidian stated. “Lyn, be careful of the Doomhounds and Skitter Bombers, as they’re Fire element, while you’re a Wood element.”

Lyn nodded, her nervousness getting more noticeable, “R-Right, I got it. It’s a good thing my Defender Combat Style form comes equipped with a regenerating one-hit barrier, so I can at least take a hit in a pinch while it’s up.”

“Good, but hopefully these enemies don’t possess any Wind attacks, as Wind is the mortal enemy to Barriers and Auras,” Pride said. “Otherwise you can kiss that defense goodbye for the entire battle.”

Lyn looked surprised, “How do you know that?”

Pride replied nonchalantly, “I know my stuff. But time for that later, as if the Plasma Energy Plant is damaged badly enough, or even outright destroyed, this city could become nothing more than a fireball! Move out!”

The two Constellatons and Knightmare nodded before leaping into action. Knightmare transformed his left hand into his large spiked mace, much to Lyn’s surprise.

“Have a taste of my Kingdom Krusher!” he stated strongly.

He fired the mace on the retractable chain, smashing through several Virons. This attack caused the remaining ones to turn their attention away from the Plasma Energy Plant and now facing their new enemies. Lyn flinched as she saw the hateful look in their eyes, something that Pride noticed.

“Looks like Lyn’s not the bravest of sorts,” she said silently. “Maybe that’s why she ended up with a Defender Combat Style, as she prefers to play it safe in battle. Which makes me wonder if that’s one reason why Constellatron was destroyed: because the Constellatons banked too much on Obsidian while they retreated. I’ll have to ask later. For now, I’ve got work to do.” She picked up some Combat Chips, stating, “Time for me to show you what I can do! Spread Shot! Combat Chip, go!”

She slotted in a Combat Chip, which caused Knightmare’s right hand to transform into a strange looking cannon consisting of a turbine-like shape with multiple knobs on the largest ring and a cylinder-shaped nozzle. Knightmare took aim and fired a sphere of energy, which first formed by the knobs generating energy into the barrel. The sphere of energy soon erupted into multiple bursts of energy that bombarded the Virons with decent power.

Obsidian stated, “My turn! Triple Mini Grenade!”

He summoned three Mini Grenades and hurled them into clusters of Virons. The Mini Grenades exploded multiple times, blasting the Virons and sending the ones that survived the explosions flying.

Lyn took a deep breath, “Right, I can’t back down now. Eat this! Leaf Cyclone!”

She pointed her cyber fan forward, generated energy, and fired a green vortex laced with leaves into a cluster of Virons. Several of them were swept up by the windstorm, getting hacked and slashed by the attack, killing some of them.

Just then, one of the Doomhounds, which looked like a blue-colored hellhound, launched a fireball attack from its mouth at Lyn from the side. The fireball blasted the barrier around her, causing it to fizzle out, much to her alarm. The Doomhound fired another shot at her. She quickly raised up her shield in front of herself.

“D-Defense Shield!” she sputtered.

Her shield glowed moments before the fireball hit her. The flames were dispersed harmlessly around her, not causing any damage, making her sigh with relief. The Doomhound, however, wasn’t finished, and launched another attack at her while a second Viron, which looked like a cartoony bomb with short legs and a panicking face, scrambled toward her from the other side, glowing. Lyn panicked as she saw the two incoming enemies, ducking behind her shield in fear.

“Bubble Shot! Combat Chip, go!” Pride stated.

“Bubble Shot!” Knightmare stated, his right hand becoming the firehose nozzle again.

He fired the Water attack at the bomb-like Viron, trapping it inside the bubble and temporarily disarming its timer.

“Mag-Bolt! Combat Chip, go!” Pride stated, quickly slotting in the Combat Chip.

Knightmare’s right hand changed into the horseshoe magnet and activated it. It quickly dragged the trapped bomb-like Viron toward it and latched onto the magnet. The magnet shocked the Viron, with the bubble effect causing even more damage: paralyzing it.

“Smash it to bits, Knightmare!” Pride instructed.

“Right!” Knightmare nodded.

He raised up his mace and slammed it down upon the Viron, breaking it to pieces and killing it. Lyn, who was still hiding behind her shield, gave a sigh of relief.

“I never thought I’d say this to a rival… but thanks, Pride and Knightmare,” she said sincerely. “I owe you both one. If that Skitter Bomb had hit me while it was in countdown mode it would’ve blow up and dealt heavy damage to me. It would destroy itself in the process but it’d leave me in a very weakened state, especially when you consider my element.”

Pride gave a small smile before saying, “We’ll talk later. We still have Virons to destroy. Knightmare, get back into position.”

“I’m all over it!” he stated strongly.

Pride and Knightmare redirected their attention to the remaining Viron horde. Lyn slowly emerged from behind her shield, observing the situation.

“I need to do my part,” she said to herself. “Obsidian is clearly feeling guilt over Constellatron’s destruction so he’s fighting hard to save another planet from a similar fate. I have to be strong.” She then said aloud, “Time for me to get some actual licks in! High Vulcan!”

Her cyber fan transformed into a Vulcan gun and she opened fire on the Virons, pelting them with strong blasts. Pride smiled as she saw Lyn standing her ground.

“She’s clearly afraid, but she’s taking the needed steps to break out of it,” she said silently. “It won’t happen overnight, but she’s taken the first step. The first step is always the hardest one. But it’s the most important one. And it can lead to wonderous things.”

The trio of Obsidian, Knightmare, and Lyn soon whittled the Viron horde down to nothing, leaving only fragmented remains behind. Lyn breathed a sigh of relief as the last Viron died.

“That… was the biggest horde of Virons I’ve ever fought…” she said, clearly weary.

Obsidian stated, “The job’s not done yet. We need to dispose of their remains before they either attract more Virons or infect the mainframe of the Cyber Wave Roads. Lyn, it’s lunch time.”

Lyn nodded, smiling behind her facemask. Both Constellatons lowered their facemasks and began eating the Viron remains. Knightmare and Pride watched on, keeping an eye out for any other threats.

“Good work, Knightmare,” Pride smiled. “Once again you prove to be an utter wrecking ball to Virons. I couldn’t have asked for a better Cyber Guardian. One that’s like a brother to me.”

Knightmare blushed, “T-Thank you for saying that, Pride. Also, there should be new Combat Chip data downloaded into your Cyber Terminal from the Virons we defeated. And I think there was a few extra stuff that may have been downloaded into your Cyber Terminal, too.”

Pride observed her Cyber Terminal before saying, “You’re right. It’s not just some Combat Chip data, but also some Bug Fragments. About 22 of them, to be exact. Obsidian mentioned that Bug Fragments can be a secret currency or used for other purposes. We’ll hold on to these for now, since it might be safer to keep them out of the mainstream in case they could be dangerous if left unchecked. And who knows? Maybe we’ll find a Bug Fragment dealer or something down the road. Might be interesting to see how they differ from regular dealers who use Bytes as currency. While our alien friends are eating I’m going to download the new Combat Chip data into some blank ones, as we got quite the treasure trove from that battle. But keep your wits about you just in case another threat is nearby.”

Knightmare nodded and continued to watch the surrounding area diligently, while Obsidian and Lyn ate the Viron remains and Pride downloaded some new data into blank Combat Chips. After about 15 minutes the task was complete.

Lyn smiled, “Tasty. Virons always taste so good. Though I won’t deny Earth food is quite a bit better. And you don’t have to fight it before eating it. But what should we do now, Obsidian?”

Obsidian replied, “First, put your facemask back up. Then we’ll change frequency and head down to the ground level to see if anyone got hurt or how bad the damage is. Plus it’d be a good chance to introduce yourself, Lyn, as one of Earth’s newest defenders.”

“That means I gotta come up with an alias like you did. Something cool like yours. But what?”

“How about Leaf Gale?” Knightmare suggested. “It matches your element and is sounds like a cooler version of the Leaf Cyclone attack you have as your main attack. Does it tickle your fancy?”

Lyn looked at him before smiling, “Leaf Gale, huh? I love it. Then that’s what I’ll be called while in my combat form.”

“Works for us,” Pride giggled lightly. “Now get down there and check on the workers and such. Knightmare will remain here to keep an eye out for any other Virons. And since Knightmare can’t change frequency like you Constellatons and the Virons can he can’t make his presence known to the workers the same way you two can. Now go on, off with ya. Meet your new fans.”

Lyn blushed at Pride’s words but nodded. Both she and Obsidian placed their facemasks back on before changing frequency and appearing before the relieved workers.

“Hey, it’s Star Rider!” one said excitedly.

“But who’s the new girl?” another asked.

“I’m Leaf Gale,” Lyn said proudly. “I’m Star Rider’s new ally.”

Obsidian said, “There is also a Cyber Guardian who helped us further: Knightmare. He’s continuing to monitor the situation from the Cyber Wave Realm just in case. We took care of the Virons that were attacking the Plasma Energy Plant. What’s the damage report?”

One, who looked like the boss, replied, “Not great but not bad either. It’ll require some overtime but it’s all completely repairable. There shouldn’t be any disruptions to the city’s power, since you clearly helped stop the Virons before the damage could impact the city. We owe you our thanks. And give this Knightmare our thanks, too, as it’s clear it was a team effort that stopped the Virons. Now, leave the rest to my team and me. We’ll make sure the power plant is fully operational very soon. But thank you, Star Rider and Leaf Gale, for protecting us and destroying those Virons. And give Knightmare our thanks. Now, team, let’s get to work. We can’t let the hard work of our allies go to waste, right?”

“Yessir!” all the workers stated in unison.

“Good luck with that,” Obsidian said. “Come, Leaf Gale, let’s get going, as the threat of Virons is ever-present.”

Lyn nodded, “Right! Let’s do it.”

The two changed frequency and vanished, returning to the Cyber Wave Realm. After regrouping with Pride and Knightmare they left the Plasma Energy Plant. Lyn felt proud of herself.

“I… I actually faced a huge Viron horde… and won. Though I couldn’t have done it without Obsidian, Pride, and Knightmare. I feel… really good right now. Is this how Obsidian feels whenever he saves people from threats like Virons and other hostile enemies? It feels… intoxicating. It’s making my three hearts beat proudly. But also quite hard. My plasma was pulsing through my veins like mad. And yet… I have a feeling of satisfaction having confronted those Virons and saved lives. Is this what it feels like to be a hero to others? Is this… how Obsidian feels whenever he protects others? It’s… a wonderful feeling. Maybe this whole alter ego thing might be fun. And it might help me overcome my fear of Virons and facing dangerous enemies. Time will tell. But, for now, I’ll help Obsidian protect Earth. Though I wonder why he came all this way to this planet? I mean, it’s almost two galaxies away from where our homeworld was. So… why come to such a backwater planet in a rather desolate sector of the universe? What’s his reasonings for coming here? I guess we’ll find out someday. For now, I gotta focus on what’s in front of me. And I’ll beat Pride and win Obsidian’s hearts, just you wait.”

Next Chapter: Something Fishy

That's all for today. A short chapter but it focuses on Lyn's character and shows there's more to her than even she realizes. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
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