LAP 42
Don Genie's Fortress

No matter how hard he tries, Ryu Suzaku just can't overtake the mysterious newcomer to F-Zero racing, Berserker in his Red Bull. The cloaked competitor snags first place with ease, and despite his friend's loss, Clank can't help but be thrilled by this outcome.

Clank eagerly awaits Ryu's visit to Falcon House that night to show him his research: comparing today's race and archive footage of Captain Falcon, he and Berserker share remarkably similar cornering and boosting techniques. They must be the same person! Despite the boy's joy, Ryu just can't believe it; Falcon was sucked into a vortex, for god's sake. You don't just walk out of that.

He keeps that a secret, but Clank gets tetchy over how doubtful he is; he should've been the first person to notice the similarity! Ryu gets up in his case about why he thinks so strongly about this. The boy, close to tears, finally admits why: his boss, Burt, is actually Captain Falcon!

To prove it, he reluctantly breaks his promise to Burt and leads him to the hidden garage. Jody Summer just so happens to stroll in to assure Clank he was strong-willing to have kept this a secret for so long. And, hey, while they're all here, they might as well spell it all out: Andy Summer is Burt Lemming, Burt Lemming is Captain Falcon, and Captain Falcon is Berserker!

On the Galaxy Runner the Platoon are told of their upcoming race on planet Cryton; Ryu's been there before, but it's the first time for everyone else, and its reputation turns them off. The group were personally invited by the mysterious millionaire, Don Genie, who's rumoured to have made his fortune in shady arms dealing. Jack and Lucy politely decline the race, but upon hearing Berserker will be attending, Clank urges Ryu to join up.

The race is going in Ryu's favour for quite some time, leading the pack until the last lap when the Red Bull makes its entrance, rising quickly to first place...

... and snatching victory from under him. The Platoon are blown away, but this only proves it to Clank; that's gotta be Captain Falcon, no ifs or buts about it. After the race Don Genie congratulates Berserker personally in the garage, and Octoman and Bio Rex appear to send him Zoda's regards.

The Platoon watch them, Dr. Stewart explaining that Don Genie is one of the sponsors of F-Zero racing, and he must be eyeing up good racers to headhunt. The businessman introduces himself to the group and compliments Ryu Suzaku for being such a legendary racer; if Berserker wasn't such a successful addition to his stable, he might have been offered a nifty contract.

As he leaves, he mentions he owns a palace not far from the race track and offers to invite them for a visit sometime. Ryu stops Clank from chasing after them to ask Berserker to confirm his identity, reminding the kid there's no possible way Burt could have survived the vortex. The man's dead, son. Clank is reduced to tears and calls him a liar before stomping off.

While Don Genie disembarks, where Clank sneaks about one of his armoured transports unnoticed. The Platoon try to find him with no success, and have no idea where he could possibly be until Ryu takes into account the boy's one-track mind. He's probably in Don Genie's palace.

Ryu hits up the bar to seek the advice of Samurai Goroh: how does one break into Don Genie's palace? The pirate tells him to not believe what the Don says it is - the place is an armoured fortess. Nothing goes in, nothing comes out! The only way he can gain entrance is to attend... the Death Race.

The Platoon are briefed on this plan; the Death Race is the only way outsiders are granted passage into Genie's palace, but Jody isn't keen on the dangers involved. As far as Ryu's concern there's no other choice, and he proceeds to the palace regardless...
In the palace's hangar, Clank makes his way to Berserker's Red Bull, desperate to find a connection between the enigmatic racer and the noble Captain.

He hears Don Genie's voice from behind a door and listens in: he's got a fat stack of weapons to sell to Dark Million, and to thank them for being such excellent customers, he will lend them Berserker to race for their cause. Clank feels the barrel of a gun pressed to his head...

... and the guard leads him to the Don. He states if you're not buying guns then you've no business being here, and the guard prepares to execute the boy. Clank knocks the robot to the ground and tugs Berserker's cloak, expecting a heroic turnaround. Don Genie remarks he liked the racer so much he hired him without researching his background, and this will be an excellent test to prove his loyalty.

Berserker shoves the boy to the ground and is about to stomp him, when Genie suddenly remembers where he's seen Clank before - he's from the Galaxy Mobile Platoon! Well, won't he be an excellent hostage; with him, he can force the Platoon to join the Death Race! Nobody has ever defeated Berserker! Clank laughs. There's no way the Platoon would join his Death Race.

The Don is alerted to another intruder on the grounds, and he would like to join the Death Race. Gosh, that was fast! He remarks that Ryu's arrival will make for a good race, sure to please the watching Deathborn. Clank thumps the robot again and makes a second getaway.

The unruly masses of Cryton bet on who will survive the Death Race; Bio Rex, Octoman, or Ryu? Just when he thinks it can't get any worse, yet another machine arrives on the starting line: Jody's here as well! She just couldn't bear to leave Clank behind... and speak of the devil, there he is running onto the track, followed by robots!

The White Cat crushes the pursuers and the boy hops into the Dragon Bird. Well, they've come what they came for, but the Red Bull blocks their exit before Berserker plucks Clank from the cockpit. It's a rare opportunity for the Don to have such notable racers, they can't back out now! Clank tries to talk sense into his captive, but Berserker does not reply; Ryu thinks he's a fool for trying.

The Death Race finally begins with Ryu and Jody in the far lead, only for the Deep Claw and Big Fang to ram them from behind. Those two grunts have suffered long enough; today will be the day they get their revenge!

Jody and Ryu side-step to avoid another attack, getting behind their assailants and ramming them with the full force of their boosts. Octoman and Bio Rex's machines tumble and explode, sending them flying and leaving the two Platoon members to race with ease...

... until the Red Bull makes a reappearance, pushing the White Cat off the track and gesturing as he passes by. That's the same gesture Captain Falcon used to make! Clank watches the race from captivity as Berserker duels with Ryu.

A chunk of the wall is sliced apart and the Fire Stingray rumbles in, crushing his guards. Samurai Goroh to the rescue! He singlehandedly slices apart the remaining Dark Soldiers and scares off whatever new ones try ot stop him. The White Cat rolls in and Clank apologises to Jody; he's only led them all on a pointless endeavour.

Goroh's gang destroy the munitions warehouse, causing the entire palace to begin crumbling and exploding. Don Genie deems it wise to bail, just as Ryu and Berserker finish their race, with Berserker the victor.

The Red Bull leads the Dragon Bird down a path to catch up with Jody and Goroh, making that familiar gesture again before disappearing. Ryu thanks Goroh for his assistance, though the samurai tells him he isn't doing this for charity; there was some sweet loot he wanted to gank as well. The three machines escape the fortress before it crumbles, returning to their respective spaceships.

On the Galaxy Runner, Clank apologises once more for having been so foolish, but the two simply tell him not to run off like that again. He's still disappointed he never found out if Berserker was Captain Falcon or not, but Jody stares out into space. Under that mysterious hood lies someone they know and love...

Burt's F-Zero Classroom: We're overdue some info on Clank Hughes, aren't we? He's 11 years old, born on July 28th (the same birthday as Ryu!), his blood type is O and he's a total computer nerd, you might have noticed. His favourite food is Burt's curry and he runs an F-Zero fanpage; Burt's favourite section is the Captain Falcon gallery.

The next episode preview features Jack and Ryu sneaking into what they think is Miss Killer's bedroom, finding lots of dresses strewn about the floor... but a pair of black horns suggest it may actually be Black Shadow's room instead.

Please don't get excited about Deathborn.