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Previous: Chapter 8

Planetary Fortress

The exit portal appeared for a brief moment, arriving Sardec as his destination. His times of isolation had come to its close. The space station he had been fighting to gain access to was a large battleground. Two sides of armored figures were firing their weapons at each other; wearing the same armors that he has seen back home and within the overlord vessels.

Sardec had arrived on a raised platform connected to two ramps, close to the central area of combat. He backed away to the back edge of the structure to hide himself from the line of sight. He took a look around, noticing the station was not entirely enclosed. Large curved walls with purple patterns embedded in them had surrounded the battleground, yet not forming a complete dome. The station was surrounded by a blueish orb, keeping a compressed atmosphere.



Directive 1

As Sardec kept himself hidden from the firefight, his helmet rang with an incoming transmission.


"Kellogg! What the heck is going on here? Why are the possessed fighting each other?"

"They are? That's strange. Perhaps they have split into sects for control of the station. You may be witnessing a revolution unfolding."

"Were they waiting for me to disable the security? Those damned parasites! Now what am I supposed to do?"

"Remain calm. I don't have a map or schematics back here, but the data does mention a map room near the central hub. Get to the map so we can figure out how to take control of this place. Let those Possessed battle it out. Don't get involved unless it's absolutely necessary."

"Alright, moving out."



A Third Party

Sardec walked back to the front of the raised platform, examining the Fort-I stationed near the ramps, then redirecting his attention to the battle. At the base of the platform was a wide open area. One party of Possessed were at the lower wide ground with a heavily armored vehicle supporting them. Across the field was a ramp leading to a much higher platform where the second party were fighting back, alongside some of the creatures of the planet, yet appearing blue and gold. At the front of the higher ramp was a unit operating another Fort-I, directed at the enemies below. 

Sardec spotted a small ramp close to the center of the field, leading to an enclosed area, with a long curved ramp connecting to the raised platform. 

He slowly took a few steps down the ramp, and saw an elite Myth371 face his general direction. He saw it vibrate and lob an energized sphere at a high angle. He watched in awe as it traveled far across the Possessed below. Soon enough, he realized the creature was aiming at him and activated Twilight to evade the incoming fire.

Sardec shook his head and hurried to the Fort-I nearby, grabbing ahold of its two handles. He pointed the machine gun carefully at the one Myth371 that was aware of his presence and fired a controlled burst of bullets at it, striking it down. The bullets penetrated the creature, continuing their travel and striking the metal wall across the field, alerting the other Fort-I gunner. The gunner turned its turret and began firing at him. Sardec positioned his head behind the Fort-I's projected energy shields, protecting himself from the incoming fire. He stood back up and fired back at the gunner, killing it. Elite Black Mayflies returned fire as another Possessed unit took control of the Fort-I. Sardec blasted the incoming stingers out of the air. Suddenly, a red targeting laser was shining on his Fort-I.

"SIR, MOVE!" exclaimed Twilight.

Sardec reacted fast and used Twilight to dash to the side as an orange laser struck the Fort-I, causing it to explode. The heavy artillery vehicle advanced and fired up the taller ramp, destroying the enemy Fort-I. Elite Myth371s concentrated their fire on the vehicle while the enemy sniper readied its aim at Sardec. Sardec saw the targeting laser coming at his position and used the Brand's Gift backpack to thruster away from a second orange energy strike. He equipped the F-ADV HatredSpine and directed a volley at the enemy sniper, forcing it to evade to cover. 



Directive 2

Sardec used this opportunity to advance down to the open area, steering clear of the party at that level. He activated Brand's Gift's main thrusters to float above the floor, removing the sound of his footsteps. He arrived at the small ramp and entered the enclosed area. Inside was a series of holographic projection screens and a single console. Sardec accessed the console and poked around the data, coming across a map of the whole station. He accessed his personal HUD and downloaded the map. Afterwords he received a second transmission.


"Excellent. You found the map. What I need you to do now is-"

Suddenly the lights of the station grew dim as the ground shook.

"What just happened over there?"

"Checking right now."

Sardec used the console to run a station diagnostic. 

"The gravity stabilizers are being sabotaged! This whole place is going to fall apart. Sorry Kellogg, I have to go."



Self Destruct Sequence Activated

Sardec hurried out to the wide area. Now with the map in his HUD, he knew exactly where to find the engine room. He fired at the armed enemies with the UNS-III ShadowArbit as he made his way to the outer ledge. He took a look below at another structure floating below and leapt off. He landed on the smaller structure and turned around to a support catwalk leading downwards. He reached the end of the catwalk, seeing that it simply branched off to connect to other small platforms. He looked below and saw another set of platforms connected to other support catwalks, He leapt down and repeated the process, arriving at a wide platform, located at the bowels of the station, at the edge of the atmosphere orb.

He saw the controls to the gravity stabilizers keeping the space station suspended in space, being tampered by an elite Stalker and two elite Demsters. The elite Demsters turned to Sardec and began spinning towards him. He backpedalled and fired HatredSpine volleys at them in an attempt to slow them down, but to no avail. They charged forward and knocked him further back than a usual Demster. He got back to his feet and switched to the ShadowArbit as they spun again. He carefully watched their heads spinning and fired a shot at them in the head, causing them to stop spinning, now dizzy. He grabbed the Comet-II and fired two magazines at their exposed areas, splattering their entrails on the floor.

The elite Stalker turned around and growled at Sardec. It crouched down and watched him closely. Sardec took a wide stance and stared back at the creature. The elite Stalker lunged towards him. Sardec used Twilight to evade and tossed Collapsar at the creature's position, drawing it in and exploding. The Stalker's entrails splattered across the floor, with some on Sardec's Magma armor.

Sardec hurried to the gravity stabilizer controls.

"Hygeio, are you any good at repairing electronics?"

"I'm not sure. Give me a shot!"

He placed Hygeio at the damaged console. The VOID span around and transferred parts of its energy to the console. Within 10 seconds the console was repaired for use.

"Wow. Ten seconds flat. That's really fast!" exclaimed Twilight.

"Alright, everyone be quiet! I have to concentrate!" added Sardec.

The lights of the station became bright again and the platforms adjusted to an even level. The sounds of the rumbling station stopped, and the gunfire resumed.

"Glad to know they appreciate my work."



Directive 3

Now that the Fortress' destruction was averted, Sardec sent a transmission to Kellogg. 

"What happened? Are you alright?"

"Had some setbacks. Everything should be good for now, except those Possessed are still fighting each other. I managed to find some peace and quiet down here though."

"You saved the Planetary Fortress? Excellent. This place is vital to our cause."

"I have been meaning to ask how so. Back at the Banished Battlefield, you said it could be used as a super weapon, correct?"

"Yes."

"How can I secure it under our control?"

"You need to find the security controls. Your map shows it's in the outer region of the station. Be cautious of the low gravity in that sector. Once you reach the Weapons Center, I will tell you what to do next. Understand?"

"I understand. Over and out."



Escape Vessel

As Sardec made his way back to the central hub, he saw that the elite creatures had been killed, the heavy artillery vehicle had been destroyed, and the lower party secured the upper ramp. To the right of the ramp was a long hallway leading to the outer sector of the Fortress. The victorious party of Possessed saw Sardec approach the mouth of the hallway and fired at him. He used Twilight to dash out of the way and activated Nirvana to fire back.

ShadowArbit in hand, Sardec returned fire as he made his way behind the destroyed vehicle for cover. Bullets and lasers struck the wrecked vehicle as Sardec devised a plan. He popped out of cover with the HatredSpine and fired volleys at their direction. As they evaded, Sardec hurried into the hallway and found a button. He quickly pressed it and a blast proof door slid down, shutting the mouth of the hallway and encasing Sardec inside.

Sardec walked to the other side of the hallway as it decompressed. Everything went quiet as he spotted another button. As he pressed it, a second door opened, leading him outside of the atmosphere orb and into the vacuum of space.

His Magma boots shined brightly as they secured his ground to the exterior of the station. Each footstep caused the air within his helmet to rumble, serving as the only sound for him to hear. He followed the map to the location of the Weapons Center. He reached far to the edge of the station, spotting a large and wide platform encased in a flickering atmosphere orb. He positioned Brand's Gift, released the magnetic lock of his boots, and jumped toward the platform, using Brand's Gift's thrusters to guide him to a safe landing.



CrimsonQueen

Entering the faulty atmosphere orb, sound and oxygen returned, but gravity did not. Upon landing, Sardec reactivated the magnetic lock on his boots to secure his ground. He took several steps to the center before hearing a mechanic roar. Sardec stood still with the ShadowArbit in his hands. A large half metal, half organic wasp flew around and stopped at the center of the arena. Sardec's HUD identified the cybernetic creature as "CrimsonQueen". 

The CrimsonQueen unfolded its wings and several spinning crystals appeared, firing lasers at the ground. The mechanical wasp backed up and charged straight at Sardec. Sardec used Twilight to evade and prepared to strike back, but the creature did not stop. It missed its target and took a sharp turn around. Its wings unfolded and fired a cluster of heat seeking missiles. Sardec disengaged his magnetic lock and used Brand's Gift to propel himself away from the missiles. They followed suite and Sardec fired the ShadowArbit to destroy the missiles before striking a wall.

The CrimsonQueen saw Sardec's vulnerability and flapped its wings, once again charging itself forward. By the time Sardec was able to secure his feet on the wall, the Queen rammed him into the wall. It flew back and charged energy in its stinger. Sardec disengaged the magnetic lock, switched to the Comet, and fired a blast to propel himself away from the Queen's stinger laser. He redirected himself to land on the ground and tossed Collapsar at the Queen's position. The blast struck the Queen and it cried in pain.

Sardec secured his feet onto the main floor of the arena and awaited his enemy's next move. Rather than advancing on his position, the CrimsonQueen took to the sky and flew upwards in a spiral motion, spitting metal pods at the floor. Sardec stood still in confusion. He fired a Comet shell at one of the pods, causing it to explode with hot oil. Soon after, all of the pods simultaneously exploded, burning Sardec's armor.

The CrimsonQueen hovered above the center of the arena and released several spinning laser crystals, moving in straight lines. Sardec struggled to steady his aim at the Queen while also evading the lasers. He landed several shots at the Queen's wings before being struck by a laser and knocked forward. The laser crystals returned to the Queen and it stared directly into Sardec's visor.

It glided itself slowly towards him. Sardec walked back slowly and reached for the Comet. He fired several shells at the Queen's abdomen, but failed to cause it to flinch. The CrimsonQueen ignored every bullet and thrusted its stinger towards Sardec, striking him in the leg, causing its magnetic lock to short circuit. Only one boot kept Sardec grounded. Sardec grabbed the HatredSpine and fired a volley at the Queen, causing it to screech, but also throwing his own body at the ground.

As Sardec secured his floating leg to the ground, the CrimsonQueen unleashed a powerful battle cry. Its wings opened up and two laser crystals appeared by its body, firing twin lasers at Sardec. He activated Twilight to narrowly avoid them. Sardec accessed his suit ability and fired a green wave of geothermal energy, destroying the crystals and penetrating the Queen's shell. 

The CrimsonQueen screeched in pain and opened its wings again to fire two clusters of homing missiles before flying in spirals, dropping a set of explosive metal pods. Sardec deployed Nirvana to destroy the missiles. The explosions of the missiles caused the pods to explode in a domino fashion, damaging Sardec's armor. He deployed Hygeio to repair the damages as he readied the ShadowArbit.

The CrimsonQueen returned to the center of the arena and deployed twelve laser crystals, in addition to two smaller ones near its sides. The lasers traveled along the arena, moving in unpredictable patterns. Sardec watched them closely, carefully firing the ShadowArbit at each of them, destroying the crystals one by one. 

The CrimsonQueen became frustrated and prepared its body for another charge. Sardec examined its position and took a wide stance. As it charged, he deployed Collapsar and Twilight dashed out of the way. The moment Collapsar exploded, it struck the base of the Queen's wings, blasting them all off.

The CrimsonQueen's body continued charging toward the wall, striking it with full force. The Queen let out one final shriek of pain before short circuiting into destruction.



Catalyst

From the free-floating debris of the CrimsonQueen, a purple orb containing the pilot descended to the ground. Sardec examined the figure in green armor, identified as "Corrosion", as it landed. It stood on one knee, severely injured.

"Y-Y-you. H-Have. You have doomed... us all." 

The purple orb then exploded. As the dust cleared, the pilot was dead. A purple disc floated around the body, approaching Sardec.

"My former user is now dead. I am now in service to you. You may call me Catalyst." it said in a masculine voice.

"More floating helpers. I don't care anymore. What do you do?"

"I can create a protective shield. Would you like a demonstration?"

"No, no. I think I saw enough there. Look, I really don't have time for conversation. I have my people to save."



A New Revolution

Sardec examined the pilot's body and discovered a code. He accessed the map and found the direction to the Weapons Center security office. He walked forward and found the door to the office and entered the pilot's code, granting him access inside. Sardec entered the office and found a console. It was then that a transmission was received.

"You found the console! Excellent. Now listen very carefully. Enter these specific characters. 'Alpha, Ceruton, Icskin, Deadsten.'"

Sardec searched for the symbols representing those words. He entered the code in the exact order end pressed the enter key. The lights of the station became orange and the ground shook.

"The weapons are online. The Planetary Fortress is now under our control." Kellogg's voice began to downshift in tone. 

"Well done... human."

"What? What did you just say?"

Sardec heard footsteps approaching the office. He looked outside to see a figure clothed in a white iteration of Black Hole armor.

"Radian! How did you..."

"You are a fantastic worker human. You ask no questions. You will follow any voice that sounds human enough."

"The... the data?"

"I know what is missing from The Archives. Next time, ensure you duplicate the data rather than transferring it to yourself."

Sardec's heart was beating at an exceptionally high rate, yet his blood felt cold. He could not look Radian directly in the eyes. He could only look down at his own feet.

"You have caused quite a ruckus in these Turauz Resistance bases. With the Planetary Fortress in my control, my conquest on UBP116 will be complete."

Radian laughed.

"You didn't even check their faces to see if they were controlled by us. I must say again, your inferior intelligence makes you a great worker. Unfortunately for yourself, your services in the Kartinava army will no longer be needed."

Sardec grabbed the Comet and pointed it at Radian. The general immediately knocked the shotgun out of his hand and grabbed him by the neck, raising him high up and walked to the edge of the platform.

"Why does your kind resist so much? Why do the Turauz resist so much? We are much better caretakers of your own planets. Well whether you appreciate our work or not is irrelevant. I shall use what you have done as an example. They shall all learn to submit to our rule. Goodbye, Sardec."

With one powerful thrust, Radian tossed Sardec out of the atmosphere orb, sending him into the vacuum of space.



Final Goodbye

Sardec drifted away from the Planetary Fortress, witnessing it begin to fire cleansing beams to UBP116's surface. Sardec looked down at the planet as its gravity began to drag him closer. Sardec accessed his HUD to perform one final task.


"Hello. If you are listening to this, I am already dead. My name is Julian Sardec. I am a human and the universe's biggest fool. I come from the planet UBW-594244. The Kartinava race took over our planet. I tried to fight back, but now I have caused another race of rebels to fall to the parasite rule. Please forgive me... or not. I never meant to help the parasite. All I desired was freedom. Freedom to live a peaceful life. I thought I could achieve that if I put my mind to it. Now I see that all I can offer is destruction and failure. I'm not sure this will even survive the crash landing. But if it does, please know that I am sorry. I am... very sorry. Julian Sardec, signing out."

Sardec took a deep breath, looked at the planet ahead of him, and closed his eyes, picturing himself living in a personal shelter, enjoying a peaceful life.


Next: Chapter 10

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