LAP 27
Beast Hunter

An otherwise still night in Mute City is interrupted by a haunting call - the howl of the wolf. This catches the ear of a lone racer prowling the streets, One racer prowling the streets hears this, and can't believe his ears. Talk of the sound is all over Falcon House the next morning, and Ryu, Burt and Clank are arguing over it being a prank or an ominous premonition.

They're interrupted by Burt's new employee arriving for his shift: Leon. He's been working at Falcon House for a week now, and everyone's got nothing but kind words for him, Lucy especially. Leon takes Lucy's cup, but accidentally drops it to the ground; the two pick up the pieces, Leon blushing as their hands touch.

Ryu teases Lucy back at Platoon HQ about Leon fancying her, but she refuses to believe it. They enter the command room to hear Jack having a row with someone, before stomping out in a huff; an unknown man is sitting in Lucy's seat! She politely asks him to clear off...

... only to have a whip lashed at her feet. The man laughs at them; he never knew the Galaxy Mobile Platoon were such scaredy cats, but before Ryu can rough him up, Jody enters and introduces the man: this is Beastman, a beast tamer who'll be helping them track down members of Dark Million. The Platoon may be focused on Black Shadow, but Beastman is after the peons; beasts like Bio Rex join the criminal organisation to escape his wrath. Jody partners Ryu up with him, because nobody else wants to.

Beastman is on the prowl in his Hyper Speed, and is all too aware Ryu is following after. He doesn't appreciate the assistance from small fry like him, and zooms off to explore the local club, before disappearing again. Jack catches up with Ryu and apologises for foisting the responsibility onto him; Beastman's one rough pup with a real attitude problem, and if Jack were in Ryu's shoes, he'd ditch the assignment.

Ryu reports to Jody that he lost track of Beastman, and she does not approve - they're meant to be co-operating! John Tanaka takes the call and tries to shame him into the assignment; after all, if Beastman's such a hardass, he'll put the Galaxy Police to shame! EAD quickly leaves the room for fear of being paired up with him. Well, there's nothing Ryu can do about it, he's got to follow this guy.

It begins to rain and Lucy is stuck outside without a brolly, when Leon approaches and offers his. They make their way to Falcon House with a bouquet of flowers Lucy bought to brighten the place up, and Leon reveals he's a part-time F-Zero pilot, and the two make plans to race together in the next Mute City race. Leon stops to ask Lucy something... but is too shy to let the words come out.

The Dragon Bird pulls up so Ryu can laugh at the two sharing an umbrella - Leon and Lucy sittin' in a tree...! He asks where Beastman is, but they know as little as he does. Ryu drives on and the two enter Falcon House, and Leon is asked to attend to a customer...

Beastman! Leon freezes up before delivering his coffee and hopes to get away without remark. The hunter knows the kid isn't from around these parts, and asks where he came from. Burt and Lucy leap to his defence, but Beastman looks like he's about to say something awful about poor Leon... when Ryu enters, saying he's got intel relating to Bio Rex. The two rush out, and Leon breathes a sigh of relief.

The Big Fang and a trio of Dark Soldiers have just blown up a bank, but the Hyper Speeder and Dragon Bird aren't far behind. Bio Rex breaks into a sweat at the sight of Beastman, and commands the robots to hold him back.

Beastman plays rough and slams them against the highway barriers, but Bio Rex manages to make his getaway using the warp gate. Ryu blames Beastman for faffing about and letting them escape, but the hunter isn't too concerned; he'll catch them himself.
While cleaning up Falcon House, Leon falls into a daydream, thinking wistfully of him and Lucy spending time together.

As night falls, the Hyper Speed sits in an alley on a stakeout, when Ryu delivers him some hot snacks. He urges Beastman to return to headquarters, there's clearly nothing to be found out here. Just then, the howl of the wolf is heard once more, and Beastman rushes to the top of the nearest building...

... where a wolfman is waiting for him!

The hunter makes the first strike, firing a few rounds from his pistol, but the wolf backflips between them with ease, landing on the roof's edge. He cracks his whip, but the wolf jumps out of the way and down into the city below.

Ryu catches up to Beastman and demands to know what happened; what had the wolf done to merit attack, or to flee? Beastman changes the subject and explains his family was slaughtered by a wild beast when he was young; he believed their kind to be extinct, but the hairs left by this wolf prove otherwise. They survived, and have had offspring. Believing the people of Mute City to be under threat, he'll stop at nothing to slay this creature! As Ryu returns to his vehicle, he hears a noise from the alleyway...

It's Leon! Shaken, the boy hesitantly explains... he was that beast. The two head to the park while he goes into further detail: his ancestors may have been monsters, but as the generations went on, they became more and more peaceful, until he might as well be domesticated. He isn't 100% beast, but the sight of the full moon triggers something within him, a beast that cannot be tamed.

To avoid Beastman and to help people in need across the galaxy, he became a wandering racer... and Mute City is no longer a safe haven for him. He's prepared to leave, but Ryu calls him out - is he going to leave Lucy without a goodbye? Is he going to drop out of the race? Leon is torn, but no matter what, he wishes to keep his inner beast a secet from her.

Meanwhile, Bio Rex is just about ready to flee from Dark Million, when Miss Killer bumps into him on the way out. He falls to his knees and begs her for help - Beastman is after him! That awful hunter has worked for Black Shadow since before he was born, but Miss Killer asks him, who is worse? If he flees, Black Shadow will grant him a fate worse than death like what happened to Zoda. She suggests the two of them attack Beastman at the upcoming race; Bio Rex is overjoyed at her support, though she appears to have ulterior motives.

The Mute City race is about to begin, with the participants performing a practise lap before the real deal. Leon is taking part, and he and Lucy are glad to be spending time together again... though Beastman is also in the race, and he's got his eye on them.

The race is underway, and the Big Fang is far out in front, but the Hyper Speeder is firmly on his backside. Just when it seems like Miss Killer is lending a hand, she boosts ahead, leaving Bio Rex to fend for himself - this is her race to win!

Jack makes small talk with Ryu, remarking that Leon looks pretty happy despite not putting up much of a race. Ryu explains it may be his last time together with Lucy, but Jody quickly reminds him he should be keeping an eye on Beastman. He boosts up to the leading pack, while Lucy and Leon hang back, enjoying themselves. Everyone else has boosted, so they figure they might as well keep up.

Lucy boosts ahead, but as Leon grips the lever he nearly gives in to his inner beast, boosting ahead for the sake of winning. He restrains himself; his goal is to stay by Lucy's side.
The Hyper Speeder drifts along Bio Rex's side, Beastman preparing to boost and ram him into the wall...

... only for Lucy to come out of her boost between them, giving Bio Rex some breathing room. Spotting an opportunity, he rams the Elegance Liberty onto its roof, hoping to smack Beastman, but he dodges just in time.

Leon can't believe his eyes, and the Platoon are just as shocked; Ryu leaves the race up to Jack while he and the others try to hoist Lucy's machine rightside up again. Try as they might, the pitcrew can't lift it, and Leon can only watch helplessly; he could lift it if he gave in to the beast, but that would mean...

It's for Lucy's sake, and he can't let her lie like this. He begins lifting the machine, transforming as he does so, and flips it upright with a mighty shove. Ryu carries the unconscious Lucy out of her machine, while a familiar figure steps towards Leon.

Beastman. Ryu steps between him, telling him he should set his priorities straight; Leon may be a beast, but he's as human as either one of them. The two draw their pistols, sights locked on one another... until Beastman withdraws. He allows Leon to live but never wants to see him again, and he departs in the Hyper Speeder.

After Lucy awakens, she visits Falcon House and finds Leon has gone without a goodbye. Standing in the rain, she kicks herself for not recognising the secrets he was hiding, when a figure appears holding an umbrella. It's Ryu. Maybe not the person she was hoping for, but it's good enough.

Burt's F-Zero Classroom: A viewer wishes to know more about Falcon House. Burt describes it as a place for F-Zero pilots to rest, offering coffee and cake as well as merchandise - gum, cups, shirts and diaries. It's open from 8AM to 9PM, though he may close early to personally help a patron in need.

If his dopey rat-tail haircut wasn't enough of a clue, Leon's identity is spoilt during the commercial break's eyecatch. Cheers, lads.