Joe started entering downtown 10 minutes later. He could hear the mole tank before he could see it. It was making a racket along with causing a hell of a mess. Joe couldn't drive anywhere. Most of the streets had a lot of debris.
The debris Joe could somehow get around but the sinking ground had him a bit on edge. The mole tank had undercut big swaths of downtown and now the tunnels had started to collapse. He needed to find a link up point. He couldn't just sit and wait. That would make both him and the God Phoenix stationary targets. The mole tank might miss the G-2 but not the God Phoenix. Berg Katse was surely waiting for them.
He needed a road that he could drive straight for, at least a kilometer. It took another 5 minutes but Joe found one. It was one of the main roads just outside downtown. He could hear the God Phoenix's engines somewhere close overhead.
Joe never questioned how he could hear those engines in the middle of battle where you could barely hear one's own heartbeat.
If he had, Joe could link it back to his basic training that being alone was not good. The God Phoenix was the team's space. Like the ultimate fort. Each team member carried a piece of that fort. When they all got together what they created was amazing. Anyone that tried to destroy it was crazy, stupid or both. They would defend the God Phoenix and each other till their last breath.
Crescent Coral was another story. That was home. God or the fates or whatever looked after that. That was their reward for sacrificing themselves to Gallactor on behalf of the human race and the Earth.
Joe hid in an alleyway till the God Phoenix was just overhead. Joe turned onto the road and started driving. Link up was always best at a little over the God Phoenix's minimum forward air speed. Which was 100 km/hr.
"Sorry I'm late Ken. I'm ready to link up now."
Joe was ready for some verbal lashing but, surprisingly, didn't get any.
"I understand. Let's do this." was Ken's response.
Joe was looking ten seconds ahead for debris. His eyes saw something that his brain was going to dump into the don't worry about it bin. The God Phoenix was reaching for him when something told him not to go. Joe wiggled out of the God Phoenix's grasp without truly knowing why.
His brain went into review mode. A puppy. What puppy? Joe looked back down the road and saw him. He was barking at the mole tank. He was also trying to wake his mother.
" Little one your mother can't wake up. Run, hide. You can't fight that mole tank."
That was the thought that was going through Joe's head before Ken interrupted him.
"Joe! You out of your mind! What are you doing?!"
" I'm going to go save that dog. Don't mind me."
Joe gunned the engine and headed for him.
"Joe it's too dangerous. Come back."
Joe heard Jun but he never verbally responded.
" Jun. I can't just leave him there. He can't defend himself."
Ken knew it was better not to argue with Joe.
"Ryu, let's give Joe some cover."
" Whatever your doing Joe. Do it quick. The mole tank is headed this way." Ken thought.
Joe was trying to get as close as he could without scarring him. He was only a couple of meters away when the ground started to give way.
Joe backed up as much as he needed to and then left his car and started running.
Inside the mole tank:
The commander didn't believe his luck. One of the KNT out in the open.
"That's G-2 from the Science Team Ninja. Kill him!!"
Joe barely heard the laser. He made a flying jump for the puppy.
"It will be ok, boy. I'm going to take you to this great ship. Wait till you meet my friends."
Joe picked up the dog and tucked him under his wing. He started running back to the car. Joe saw the God Phoenix buzzing the mole tank.
The commander now had two targets. Spoiled for choice he said:
"We'll teach you a lesson. Swat down the God Phoenix!"
Ryu, kept his eye on Joe. Once he made it back to the G-2 he was safe.
The mole tank fired again. Joe dove for cover. He was only 30 meters from his car. Tucking the puppy close he took off again. Joe never saw the mole tank turn around and fire.
Ryu, watched in slow motion as the missile closed on Joe and Joe closed on G-2.
Joe heard the explosion and automatically dove for the ground. He felt like someone hit his helmet with a baseball bat. The last thing Joe felt was the puppy squirming under his wing and the blood filling up the left side of his helmet.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Here are some of the Romaji explained.
Ani (older brother)
Ani (older brother)