While ferrying through deep space, Roger Buster and Draq's transport ship comes under unprovoked attack from a Dark Million battle station. They begin transmitting a distress ignal, but the assailant's tractor beam prevents them from escaping as the two are forcibly docked together.
Zoda saws the door down and boots his way in, taking the two hostage to query them on a shipment they made to a base on Lightning some time ago: what was in the cargo? The deliverymen have little to say; the warehouse they delivered it to was empty, but they would never welch on their customers like that. Zoda snatches their delivery records and looks for himself...
The contents appear mundane, but when used together they serve as ingredients to a biological weapon - just like the liquid-metal Blood Falcon! Zoda suspects Black Shadow is up to something nasty when Draq tells him he'll never get away with this - they have friends in the Galaxy Mobile Platoon! Roger told him to keep that hush-hush, but knowing that, Zoda finds he's made a better catch than he had suspected.
The Platoon are investigating the distress signal in the Galaxy Runner, puzzled over why the signal cut off so abruptly earlier. They receive a transmission from Zoda, showing off his captives and offering an exchange: if they can investigate Black Shadow's base on Lightning, he'll release Roger and Draq. Jody is in no mood to be his gofer, but he tells them this isn't even a threatening request; it could be a great help to their investigation, actually.
He signs off and the gang are quick to assume this is a trap - why would members of Dark Million be left in the dark on their own operations? Stewart believes Black Shadow must be trying to keep Zoda in the dark if he used a third party, Roger and Draq, to deliver goods for him.
Roger and Draq are thrown in a cell and thanked for being such helpful pawns. Roger tries fighting back against Zoda, but he's far too strong for him and kicks him to the far wall, before locking them in.
Miss Killer brings word of this to Black Shadow, who's merely amused by Zoda's snooping behind his back. She wishes to know what he's doing on Lightning, but he reminds her she is his servant, and to not ask questions above her station. She's eager to know what her master is hiding, and while Zoda's not about, she unlocks the prisoners' cell door...
The Galaxy Runner arrives on Lightning; a hostile landscape plagued with hazardous lightning storms. "A truly irritating place," as Jack calls it, but perfect to hide a secret base; most of it is underground and no doubt highly guarded. As they draw closer, hidden hatches open up in the cliffsides and heat-seeking missles are fired their way!
Four missiles? No problem for their shields. Several dozen missiles? Now that's another matter. The missiles alone drain most of their shield's power, only for waves upon waves of armoured vehicles to come rolling their way, each and every one of them armed to the teeth and surrounding their ship!
They receive another transmission from Zoda, thanking them for distracting the defence system while he can enter the base unnoticed. The turrets and trucks fire at the ship from every direction, and more and more come flooding out - there's no way they can keep up like this. Ryu suggests their F-Zero machines might be fast enough to slip through, so he, Jack and Jody head out while Dr. Stewart mans the ship.
The plan works a treat; their boosts allow them to pass or plough through the defences with ease. Meanwhile, Zoda arrives at the base's entrance, curious what his master could be hiding inside, when it begins to open up...
... revealing the Black Bull! Black Shadow had been expecting this visit and chases after him... leaving the door unguarded for Miss Killer to slip in!
The boost power begins to deplete in Jack and Jody's machines, though Ryu is in no mood to give up. The two of them use the last of their energy to propel the Dragon Bird ahead using the Sandwich Burst, getting him out of harm's way. However, Ryu finds himself staring down the barrel of a huge cannon pointed his way!
Out of nowhere, Roger Buster appears to save his skin! He and Draq have no idea who could have freed them from their cell, but now that they're out, they're keen to assist him in any way they can. As they lead him to the base, Zoda is still being pursued by the Black Bull...
... only for the paths to cross, bringing all five machines to the same plane. Black Shadow lauds the arrival of Ryu's Reactor Might to the mix, only for Zoda to boost ahead and send Roger's Mighty Hurricane spinning, forcing Ryu and Black Shadow to evade it.
Zoda slips inside the base and Ryu tries to follow, but the Black Bull bars him from entering. The Mighty Hurricane dogpiles onto Black Shadow's machine, giving Ryu enough time to enter while he deals with the enemy. Unfortunately, a single pulse of Black Shadow's Reactor Might sends Roger flying, and the big bad quickly catches up to Ryu.
Black Shadow toys with his prey for a while, pressing his machine into the walls before suddenly driving on and leaving him be: he's not skilled enough to garner his interest. Inside, Miss Killer finds a research lab at the centre of the base; evidently an attempt at harnessing the Reactor Might's power to create biotechnology. The video footage shows a familiar figure contained in a capsule...
... it's Zoda! He too enters and is shocked at the sight of this: what's his body doing in a biotechnology chamber?! Black Shadow arrives to scold his servant for going where she doesn't belong, and has big news to tell Zoda: this is where he was created.
Created?! But Zoda was a gangster born and bred in the 21st century... right? Nope. Black Shadow reveals the real story: to defeat Ryu Suzaku, the greatest threat to his reign of evil, he created Zoda with the sole purpose of destroying him, and sent him back in time to the year 2051.
Zoda shakes with rage at this revelation: his entire existence, the reason he was born, was for one stinking mission?! He tries to clock Black Shadow in the jaw, but gets punched to the ground himself; it wasn't until he received his Reactor Might that his master saw any use in him. They are all Black Shadow's pawns, and Ryu Suzaku's intervention has actually been worthwhile.
Speaking of Ryu, his Dragon Bird bursts into the chamber and he points to Black Shadow - it's time they ended this! The lord of evil summons his Black Bull and leaves, prompting Ryu to follow; Miss Killer chases after them as well, leaving Zoda wounded on the ground.
The two machines return to the base's hall and begin ramming each other, but the Black Bull is the stronger of them and presses Ryu against the wall. The Dragon Bird has just enough power to pull itself away, though Black Shadow is in no mood to play fair. He snaps his fingers...
... and the entire base begins to explode. Miss Killer watches from outside, wishing for Ryu's safe return. The Black Bull races ahead as armoured doors close throughout the hall, the Dragon Bird managing just enough speed to slip through each of them.
Despite the predicament, Ryu tries once more to tackle the Black Bull, but another burst of its Reactor Might sends him tumbling back. The burning explosions mere inches from his machine, he initiates his boost and ploughs ahead, knocking the Black Bull aside...
... as he flies out of the entrace, flames following after as the entire base explodes. Out of the smoke flies the Black Bull, its pilot taunting him that he will return, as it boards a Dark Million battle station and flees.
A fire burning in his heart, Ryu vows to defeat Black Shadow one of these days... but Zoda claims he'll have that privilege instead. The very notion that someone could rule over him makes him sick; he'll destroy anyone who uses him like a tool and conquer the galaxy himself! Ryu is shocked to hear of Zoda's creation, but makes a similar vow to prevent him from achieving his goal. "I'll be waiting," Zoda snickers and takes his leave.
The Galaxy Runner docks nearby and all of Ryu's friends come running out to welcome him back. Each of them made sacrifices for Ryu to accomplish his mission today; the least he can do for them is fight hard for a better tomorrow!
Burt's F-Zero Classroom: Konsei and Saya from Kinto write in to ask: why has Zoda got such a sweet tooth? Burt claims he worked in a cake factory 150 years ago and lost his job because he gobbled so many, leading him towards his life of crime. His Reactor Might may increase his power, but it also heightens his craving for treats; Burt jokes that Ryu stopped taking black coffee once he got his, so maybe that's a sideffect.
This episode features a unique title card.
The sequence with the closing doors might be a homage to F-Zero GX's story mode, chapter 7, wherein Captain Falcon has to escape an exploding facility in much the same manner.
Man, isn't that revelation a real shocker, that Zoda was an artificial creation sent back in time to stop Ryu? Boy, it sure is helpful that the series takes place in a stable time loop!!
Fuck right off. The point of the twist is to show that even Zoda, the independent do-what-I-like scamp that he is, owes his very existence to Black Shadow, whom he loathes with a passion. The notion that Black Shadow ruled even over his very birth, and that blemish will hang over him for the rest of his existence.
Explaining it with time travel just seems like a needless complication to such a simple message. So, when in time did Black Shadow create Zoda? When was it determined that Ryu Suzaku was a threat worth creating a foe for? Et cetera. Given Black Shadow's know-it-all nature I don't think anyone would've argued if he had already made Zoda 150 years ago; we don't know how old the guy is, for goodness sake, and the following episode's bullshit prophecy almost suggests the war between Black Shadow and Captain Falcon is a constant fixture to the universe.
Long story short: I hate time travel and lazy usages of it like this make me hate it more.