“Let the battle begin,” Graystone bellowed as a Greyhound appeared opposite Zero. Lexel immediately recognized the sinister silicon stalker, it was the same thing that had attacked them in the streets and tried to ambush them. But they always had struck from the shadows, and always in packs. Where were all the others then? What was going on here? Lexel couldn’t be sure but she was deeply concerned about the fairness involved – something told her Zero was waltzing right into a trap.
Laser blasts erupted from the Greyhound to herald the true start of the match. The energy bursts slammed into the semi-stone ground merely inches from Zero who already maneuvered to avoid a target lock. Zero recalled the tactical capability known about the Greyhounds and quickly applied the data to his strategy. Their mounted lasers were little more than modified laser handguns; limited range and power. They would only be effective at short ranges at best and their Thermal Talons would require contact to bring to bear which meant melee combat. As for the Midnighter grenades, well, here in the middle of an arena fight he was fairly sure they wouldn’t even be an option.
Zero’s analysis confirmed what he was already planning; avoid his foes strengths and make use of his own. The Talons could potentially pierce his armor but he could out maneuver the Greyhound easily enough. His reinforced frame was more than adequate to defend against the laser blasts unless they managed to hit with precision at a vital area. But his enemy had only the possibly acquired prior knowledge of their previous encounters. It had no usable data on his new-found weapon systems, and at that thought Zero’s gateways glowed with glee.
With a subtle mental command he diverted the power of some redundant circuits to activate the connected network of linear motors now mounted inside him. The flow of energy powered them into a growing wave of potential force that began to condense collected particles of matter filtered from his internal thrust reserves. It really was ingenious when you thought about it; his system had always filtered out particles and molecules out of the air that it collected to store. Now they were being put to use as ammunition, which was being focused and accelerated.
As Zero established his aim, designating the grim Greyhound as his intended target he found himself interrupted. A vicious volley peppered him from various directions, disrupting his aim. The offensive actions alerted his sensors to the immediately disclosed location of several other Greyhounds. With the revealed ranged rogues his entire battle plan was now wasted. But he could still remove this distracting decoy before him he decided.
Adjusting his firing solution Zero released a pair of piercing particle beam projectiles that ripped into the helpless hound in a blinding flash of fury and force. Zero took satisfaction in the strike that now resulted in a sputtering pile of scrap before he turned his attention towards the circling snipers. However, what awaited his shift is strategy was silence and shadow. The Greyhounds had vanished once again, leaving Zero to scan with his sensors in an attempt to spot them.
Frustration began to fill his firmware as he found himself forced to wait for the next attack. His foes had impressively been altered somehow, where he expected their flaws he couldn’t find them. It was almost as if they had studied him and adapted just as he would have. But how could they, they hadn’t had the countless hours of simulations to experience as he had. Not unless Graystone had somehow incorporated data from the project into these pets for the sole purpose of removing the prototype.
The one thing he could appropriate for his own interest was something the project had never managed to test; his armor mode. If he could link back up with Lexel then perhaps together the two of them could turn the tables on this tactical trap. Zero made the decision and turned to try and make it back to his partner.
“I wouldn’t advise it,” Graystone cautioned from behind Lexel, a gun pressed at her side. “Remember, we all want to keep things fair and balanced. Let’s just enjoy the challenging contest we have now.” Zero noticed the words were emphasized by increased pressure from his firearm against his captive.
Another series of blasts struck at him once more and his chassis complained as some of the concussions connected. The threat to Lexel once more engaged his edited prime directive and this time Zero found the protocol even more than just a hardwired impulse. It was the final straw, something in his core cracked and his software shuttered. Nothing was going to harm his friend.
“Release her, now,” Zero warned as another barrage of blasts rained down on him. “Or else,” he added to the ultimatum. The gesture made Graystone giggle to himself, just as Zero expected. “Or what, there is nothing you can do you pathetic pup,” Graystone spat. “You are in a strategically weak position by every possible perception, your only option is to lie down and die.”
“Negative,” Zero countered, grateful that Graystone refused. He was seriously going to enjoy educating the manipulative man in the errors of his erroneous logic. And now, it was time for class to begin.