Sardec and the remainder of the scouting squad returned to Mining Site Delta, where Kellogg and the rest of the UNCC regime awaited. Upon arrival, they saw a lack of hostiles and casualty corpses piled up. The base was now clear.
"Julian Sardec! Glad to see you made it in one piece! How do you feel?"
"Very tired and bruised up, Kellogg. I don't think I can take this planet much longer."
"Don't pass out on me just yet. We have one more mission, then we're getting out of here. We've gathered intel from this base and learned the coordinates of a mining factory. This place supplies all of the tools the Kartinava are using. The surface of Hellus has proved to be a territory so hostile, it's no wonder why the Kartinava would use the Diathel to hide underground. This factory connects to a network of tunnels leading to smaller outposts. This will be the largest base we'll have to liberate."
"Do we have enough manpower, Kellogg?"
"We cannot afford to think like that. We have enough manpower. We all just need to believe in it. If we can steal some of the equipment there, we can bring it back home and reverse engineer it. If that means a better network to hide in, we should be able to expand our numbers for the cause. Are you ready, Sardec?"
"As ready as I can be."
"Good. Everyone else ready?"
The soldiers raised their arms and cheered.
"Roger! Let's move out!"
The UNCC once again had to travel on the surface to reach the final base. The exterior structure of the factory appeared twice as large as Mining Site Delta. Remote charges were once again placed on the walls. A series of blasts struck the outer wall. A dust cloud had filled the large hole created. The UNCC stood outside and fired their weapons blindly through the cloud. Alien sounds of panic and trouble were heard from the other side of the cloud. Within seconds, projectiles were fired towards the UNCC. The soldiers utilized the debris as cover. The dust cloud had settled and Knight-armored Diathel held a line of defense while Magma-armored units retreated.
A bullet storm had rained upon the debris cover. Nikida reached into her Merge backpack and grabbed a Flash Grenade.
"Flash out!" She shouted as she lobbed the grenade over cover. A splash-like sound was heard and the enemy was blinded. The soldiers rose from cover and fired at their disoriented foes. Down they were struck as the UNCC had advanced into the factory.
"Shoot the equipment!" Kellogg ordered.
The soldiers taking point fired at the factory staff while those in the back fired at lights fixtures, assembly lines, and catwalks.
Enemy reinforcements arrived with various grenade launchers.
The regime scattered in several directions and took cover. The Knight-armored units laughed and unleashed dark winds from their S.H.I.E.L.D. backpacks. Several soldiers scampered to get out of the way, drawing themselves out in the open and meeting their explosive doom.
"Explosive weapons out! Direct hits only!" Kellogg ordered as he readied his Gemini-32 rocket launcher.
Sardec swept his F-ADV Hatredspine during a volley, striking each enemy per projectile. The Nirvana VOID fired its laser at several enemies, stunning them. Sardec tossed the Collapsar VOID forward, drawing in some of the reinforcements. The VOID destroyed them, sending lava blood across the room. Both the UNCC and Kartinava ducked for cover.
"Careful Sardec!" Nikida exclaimed.
"I'm sorry. It seemed fitting to use the Collap-"
"Never mind that! Just keep shooting!"
Kellogg fired the Gemini at the remaining reinforcements when he noticed they began retreating.
"Ah shit. Not again..."
Two large mining robots floated into the room, preparing their rotary arm cannons.
"SCATTER NOW!" Kellogg shouted.
The soldiers ran in circles around the mining robots. The robots kept their backs at each other, covering a 360 degree view. Kellogg had the regime to continue use of explosive weaponry, following the same routine as the encounter at Mining Site Delta. Rockets, gloves, and shotguns were fired at the robots, causing them to flinch. Their mouths began glowing a bluish light
With little time to react, the soldiers took cover. The robots fired super heated lasers from their mouths and began rotating with their backs still facing each other. The lasers cut through soldiers behind thinner points of cover, mortally wounding them. Their mouths closed and compartments on their backs opened, lobbing large sticky orbs behind the thicker points of cover. Sardec grabbed those closest to him and activated his Twilight VOID, dashing from the orbs' path and deploying Catalyst to shield them. The orbs exploded, releasing a corrosive gas.
The robots took notice of the shield and approached, striking it with their rotary arms. The shield exploded, stunning them. Sardec unleashed a wave of thermal energy from his Magma armor. The wave phased through the two robots, dealing equal damage.
"They're vulnerable to lasers!" Sardec shouted.
"You heard him! Laser weaponry out!"
The soldiers quickly switched to laser weapons and unleashed a laser storm upon the robots. The robots became red hot from the blasts and steam began erupting. Everyone ran away as the steaming became more violent. The factory flashed with a bright light as the two robots exploded.
After the battle with the robots, the factory became silent. Remaining Possessed Diathel had retreated into the smaller tunnels.
"15 dead, sir!"
"Damn it. We're down to 235 people then. Let's search this place before more of them come."
The UNCC scattered about the factory, searching through the equipment. Kellogg and his group had entered a large backroom with a few incomplete mining robots, and one complete.
"Hello, mission objective."
Kellogg had accessed his radio transmitter.
"Snowden! What have you found? Any maps?"
"Even better, sir. There is a teleporter located in this facility. It should be able to send us back home."
"Perfect. I'll tell everyone to meet up with you. When you see another mining robot enter the room, don't be alerted."
"Excuse me, sir?"
"Got to go."
The regime had gathered into the teleporter room, carrying various forms of alien equipment. Kellogg's group had entered the room, holding their palms forward to signal people to stand clear. Shortly after, the complete mining robot was piloted into the room. An intercom sound was heard from the robot, amplifying Kellogg's voice from inside.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the spoils of our efforts. Snowden, how's that teleporter?"
"Still configuring the coordinates, sir. Oh wait. My mistake. It's ready. Opening the portal now! It should take us to our home base."
"Alright. Equipment goes first, everyone. Getting this machine is top priority."
The people lined up to enter the portal. After the robot and tens of people carrying heavy equipment entered, the portal suddenly closed.
"What the heck?" Snowden said.
"What happened, Snowden?" asked Nikida.
"I'm trying to figure that out. The teleporter needs to recharge before it can create another portal. It'll take a couple of minutes."
As they waited for the teleporter to recharge, heavy footsteps were heard coming closer. The remaining Knights with grenade launchers had returned and began firing.
"Guard the teleporter!" exclaimed Nikida. "Ensure it remains operational!"
Reinforcements began rushing into the room as well. Sardec deployed the Catalyst around the teleporter console and began firing from within.
"Just 30 more seconds now!"
The soldiers concentrated their fire on the grenade launcher Knights. Nikida fired her TII-3 Eternity pistols at one of the grenade launchers, causing the grenades within the barrel to explode, killing the Knight and the reinforcements around it.
"Shoot the grenade launchers!"
Within moments, craters were on the floor and the grenade launcher knights were no more.
"Teleporter ready! Pick off the rest of the hostiles!" shouted Snowden.
Shortly, the remaining reinforcements were eliminated. Another portal opened, ready to take more people home. Soldiers lined up in an organized fashion and entered one by one. After a set number of people entered, the portal closed again abruptly, leaving behind Sardec, Nikida, and Snowden.
"Very interesting. They were not carrying heavy equipment. The portal has a weight limit."
"It must be a new protocol." Nikida added.
"You don't suppose that's from our raid, do you?" asked Sardec.
"We can figure that one out later. Keep your weapons up. If the same reinforcements as last time come, we're doomed."
Sardec, Nikida, and Snowden waited anxiously for the teleporter to cool down. Nikida didn't want to admit it, but she knew they could easily be outnumbered. Within moments, thunderous footsteps echoed throughout the factory. The green dragon they had seen at the Hellus terminal had returned, strapped with loose broken chains. It stood on its hind legs and let out a strong battle cry.
Sardec and Nikida began firing at the creature, but it ignored their strikes and spat out green corrosive acid at Snowden. Only after, did the dragon avert his attention to Sardec and Nikida. As they battled the dragon, Snowden cried out in terror as the acid corroded through his armor, destroying his oxygen supply. Snowden gasped for breath, but only coughed violently from the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere. His sounds of struggling slowly became quieter as he was asphyxiated.
"God damn it!" cried Nikida. "We lost Snowden!"
Sardec scanned the dragon and identified its name as "Sigmund."
Sigmund flapped his wings, creating a gust of wind that pushed Sardec and Nikida away from him. He leaned on his hind legs and lunged at them. Nikida leapt and Sardec used his Brand's Gift thrusters to evade. They turned towards Sigmund's posterior and fired at his tail.
Sigmund flinched in pain and turned around to face them. He flapped his wings and hovered above the ground. He started shifting his neck, preparing to fire. Sardec grabbed Nikida's arm and pulled her near him as he deployed Catalyst. Sigmund vomited corrosive bile all over the shield. The shield exploded and sent the bile flying across the room, with some splattering on Sigmind's face. Sigmund screeched in pain and landed on the ground, trying to wipe the bile off his face. Sardec and Nikida took this opportunity to fire at his face. Sigmund turned away and covered his face with his wings. He swung his tail in their direction, blindly trying to sweep them away. They evaded narrowly and shot at the tip of the tail.
Sigmund grunted and moved his tail away, now turning toward them and raising his claws. Sardec attempted to grab Nikida's arm again, but narrowly missed without noticing and activated a Twilight dash out of the way. Sigmund's foreleg came down and slashed Nikida, pushing her away and breaking her Merge shield. Seeing her vulnerable, Sigmund fired several small acidic spheres towards her. She stepped to the side to avoid the spheres and fired her pistols at the dragon's eyes. As he flinched, Sardec fired another magma wave at the creature, striking his wings.
Sigmund was angry. He took a wide stance and let out another battle cry. He took a large leap in Sardec's direction. Sardec tried to evade, but was too close to the impact and fell on the floor. Sigmund pinned him to the floor and prepared his mouth. Nikida desperately shot at the creature's back, but failed to grab its attention. Sardec quickly deployed Catalyst a second time and tossed Collapsar into Sigmund's mouth and he prepared to vomit more bile. Collapsar became stuck in his mouth and exploded, causing great internal damage. Sigmund was knocked on his back from the blast and thrashed his body back and forth from the pain.
Sardec ran away from the dragon, getting closer to Nikida.
"I think you pissed it off, Sardec."
"He's mad because he's tired. We've nearly got him."
Sigmund got back to his feet and began flapping his wings. He hovered above the ground and fixated his eyes on Sardec. With one flap, Sigmund propelled himself forward, coming down at Sardec. Sardec used Twilight to evade, but Sigmund quickly altered course to follow suit, striking him with his horn.
Sardec was thrown across the room from the force and was stuck on his back. Sigmund shook his head and began walking towards Sardec. Nikida quickly fired her pistols at the dragon's wings, creating holes in his flesh. Sigmund screeched in pain and lunged towards Nikida, allowing Sardec time to get back on his feet. He limped in Sigmund's direction and deployed Nirvana to strike the creature's center back. Sigmund flinched and faced towards Sardec, only to see a magma wave fired at his mouth. The force knocked his face back towards Nikida, who then fired her pistols at the dragon's four eyes.
Sigmund had roared one last time in pain and dropped dead.
Gateway to Home
Sardec's strength had given out and he dropped to the floor.
Nikida ran over towards Sardec's limp body and held his head.
"Come on, Sardec! We've got to go now!"
"I... I feel so weak..."
"Don't have that attitude! Come on! Get up!"
"I'm sorry, user. I did what I could." exclaimed Nirvana.
Nikida put Sardec's arm around her shoulder and carried him to his feet.
"Stay with me, Sardec! We're going home now where you can finally rest."
Nikida helped Sardec limp towards the teleporter console, where she set a final portal to open. Within 5 seconds, a portal opened up. Sardec began slouching downwards. Nikida propped him back up against her and carried him through the portal. Several seconds later, the portal had closed shut.