Two days have passed since Ray had been separated from the team. Without a full four, they were only authorized to perform in minor missions. Border patrols, interception of very small outbreaks, and the like. The search for Ray himself and the Gem Claw have been unsuccessful. Ray's absence had taken its toll on the other members of the unit. Glenn hardly spoke. Jace spent less time cleaning and stating facts about his weapons and more time mindlessly doing nothing, usually involving him fidgeting with objects. Ashe convinced herself she was unaffected, but Glenn and Jace knew better. She was actually behaving differently than when Ray was around. She smiled and laughed more often, said hello and seemed less angry. Almost as if she was a new person entirely. It didn't take long for Glenn to take notice of the changes.
"Yep...we've got to find that guy ASAP..........."
Night fell over the land. The hooded man with a cloak draped over his entire figure arrived at his normal time, where he was greeted by his associate.
"My lord! It's done!"
"Is it? Are they all working as intended?"
"Yes. They are all fully functional. And the new chips you requested also work exceptionally."
"Let me see them in action..."
The man led him toward a testing chamber, a few other men were standing around a robotic figure. After hooking up some wires, the men left the glass cylindrical cell. Immediately the drone began to move. One of the men gave a thumbs up to another, and a few more buttons were pressed. The drone lifted its arms up perpendicular to its body and began to shift. It no longer looked like a robot, but one of the scientists operating it. A perfect clone. The hooded man was pleased.
"I see...the Holo chips work very nicely. Is there any set timeframe?"
"No. From what we have tested, the amount of time one can remain shifted is infinite. However, as you may notice, there is a few minor flaws."
The robot’s cloned image would fade a bit every so often, as if it were unstable. The hooded man seemed to show little signs of caring.
"That is natural. Until we can secure the rest of the Gems some of the kinks will be very hard to work out. You have done well. Install the external plating to all drones, and have them placed on stand-by."
"Right away my lord."
The two men began to walk out of the chamber and back into the room that overlooked the production line. The drones were reassembled onto a conveyer belt and robotic arms began to fit them with armor like plates, on the thigh, shin, chest, forearm, and head areas. The drones were then activated and walked themselves off of the conveyer. As the hooded man gave commands though a microphone, the drones obeyed without hesitation. He assembled them in one large row. There were at least one-hundred thousand.
"They are certainly a-"
The underling was stopped by a siren and flashing red lights. The warning was clear: an intruder.
The hooded man remained emotionless. "This could be a good opportunity to test our new toys."
He spoke through the microphone again. He ordered several of the drones to capture the intruder alive. And they peeled out in search of it.
"A bit late for that, wouldn't you think?"
The men turned. Their intruder was standing before them.
"You! How did you get in here? Those doors are locked!"
The hooded man calmed his underling and spoke. "I see you have made it here." He lifted his arm toward the glass and smiled. "Would you like to see how far our production has come?"
The intruder folded his arms. "I'm flattered, but I believe you know why I'm here. I've no interest in your production, but what I am interested in is to see it shut down."
The hooded man continued to smile. "Good, good! An excellent speech. However, try as hard as you might. You alone cannot stop what has already begun. Our work has been created to take arms against an entire military. Do you think you could just barge in here an wipe them out singlehandedly?"
"No, but I can certainly hit them where it hurts most." He lifted a large sword and pointed it toward the hooded man.
"Ah yes. I'm not sure if you are aware, but we need a few more pieces for our soldiers. And you have delivered one unto us. Surrender your blade, and you may leave us unharmed. Refuse and we will pry it from your cold, dead, hands." The hooded man's smile grew slightly wider. Several drones flooded the room, cutting off the intruder. "You've no hope of escape. So what will it be? Will you cooperate, or will you ensue your own demise? We have more drones here than the fleas crawling on your head."
The intruder lunged forward without saying anything. The hooded man's underling stepped in front as to guard him, but the intruder spun around behind the hooded man and swung his sword from behind. Looking much more nimble than he appeared, the hooded man jumped out of harm swiftly.
"Don't think this is the last time we will meet." The intruder said. "But make sure you don't die before I kill you personally!"
Knowing he didn't have another opportunity to attack, he dashed through the drones that advanced upon him. An icy blue fire had surrounded him and he bowled over every robot as he ran out of the doors from which he came. He was gone within seconds.
"Shall we send more drones, my lord?"
"No. It's too late for that. His power is much greater than I thought. Let us focus back on our main objective."
"Yes my lord. He did say he would be back again, did he not?"
"No. He said we would meet again. But I assure you, it will not be here."
"I understand. I will re-organized the drones at once, my lord."
"Good. And while you're at it, see to it you clean up the mess in here." The hooded man walked from the room.
Shadus sat as his desk. His head was buried in his hands out of frustration.
"What do you presume we do, Master Chief? If those aliens get their appendages on that piece of mithril the results could be dangerous!"
"Calm down, Jasra. I understand your concern. But not to worry. We'll make sure they don't find it."
"I hope so."
"Are you sure about this, Jasra? Entrusting these difficult missions to a D-Class unit in the first place?"
"Absolutely. They possess much potential, Master Chief. I'm certain they can handle it. It just requires them to cooperate with the utmost teamwork."
"I hope you know what you're doing. I can't have our soldiers being killed off."
"Trust me, they are more-"
"Excuse me, sir!" A petty officer entered through the doors and saluted.
Master Chief turned toward him and returned his salute. "I'm assuming this is important, Petty Officer? And who are you calling 'sir'? Remember your place."
"My apologies, Master Chief. It's about Hadron. He was found lying unconscious just outside the base!"
"What? Hadron? That screw-up from unit AE-Z?"
"Yes, Master Chief. He's also in possession of mithril. Right this way!"
The petty officer and Master Chief departed immediately. Shadus sat back and released a seeming sigh of relief.
"Thank you for delivering the Gem, Ray..."