Chapter 4

"*KZZRT*" "This is Koji."

"Hey, it's Andrew."

"What can I do for ya?"

"Ok, well you know the armor thing?"

"Oh, that. Got any more ideas?"

"Yeah for the ability, I was thinking of adding an overcharge of nutrients to increase the user's physical health."

"So to heal them?"


"Ah, I know just the thing. Some Mithril 'oughtta do the trick. By the way, I took the liberty of adding something of my own. As part of the ability, there is an increase in the armor's integrity. This feature will negate damages by 30%."

"You're a bloddy genuis."

"Ah thanks. Anyway, this armor is yours is almost as good to go. It should be ready by the time you come home."

"I got to go now. Thanks for all the help." *KZZRT* *sniff sniff* "Good God, what is that smell!?"

Andrew stepped out to see soldiers gathered around a tall smoke. As he approached them, the smell became stronger. He pushed himself past the people to see what they had been gathered around—a body with a burnt face.

"What happened here?" a soldier asked.

"Probably just another body from yesterday's skirmish." said another.

"But why doesn't he have a face!?"

Andrew stepped closer to examine the body. Near the feet, he finds a discarded cigarette. "It can't be." He looked closer and wiped the scorch marks from the body, revealing it to be outfitted with Phoenix armor. "...Alan."

"Sergeant Smith!?" a soldier exclaimed. Suddenly, a call for help is heard in the distance. Several men rush to the one in need of help, only to find two more bodies with burnt faces. "I just found them here. I think they're George and Kent!"

"What's going on here?" the Staff Sergeant asked.

"Three bodies have been found, sir! We don't think it's from yesterday's battle."

"Let me take a look." He examined closely. "These are the bodies of George and Kent, alright. You said there was a third body? Where is it?" He is brought to the first discovered body. He took a close look and saw a large gash in the face. "This appears to be Sergeant Smith."

A gasp among those listening. 

"Who could have done this!?" asked a soldier.

"This has to be the works of-" Andrew silenced himself. "Crap!" he thought. "If I say anything, I may be next in line!"

"Enough" the Staff Sergeant exclaimed. "I had spoken with our Commander last night and we agreed to continue our advance. What with the invasion yesterday and these murders, it's too dangerous to stay still waiting. We must act now and advance while we still have a chance! We will be riding off in the 4x4s in 40 minutes. Any questions?"

"Sir, no sir!"

"Good. Prepare yourselves."

Andrew stayed silent during this time. He kept himself busy by cleaning his weapons. "Alan Smith is dead" he thought to himself. "Why was he chosen to be killed? It's got to be the traitor! I know it is. But does he know that I know? George told me, but I'm still alive. Maybe it's all a trick! I'm next in line! I really should have written a will. What will happen to the armor? It can't be a secret for much longer, and I do NOT want it in enemy hands. What if I die today? I'm going to die, I'm going to die! Oh God, oh God, oh God."

While Andrew catastrophized, a soldier approached him. "Hey."

"AH! HUH!? Oh, hello there."

"You alright, bud?"

"I've been better. These murders are getting to me."

"I hear ya there. Just hang in there. We have to stay strong. Well, we should get going soon. The vehicles are to take off in a few."

"Ok, thanks."

Andrew stepped into a 4x4 and waited. The vehicles took off and the base was left empty. As they moved, the soldiers in waiting began conversing. "Where do you think we'll stop?"

"Not sure. We'll know when it happens, I guess."

"Do you think we'll be winning today?"

"I wouldn't count on it. These strange happenings indicate they've had the upper hand."

"Man, I really hope I'll live to see the day where we are victorious."

The vehicles began to slow down. "Expect the unexpected, Meta." Andrew said to himself. The soldiers rushed out, weapons at the ready. Strangely, this area had no signs of enemy life.

"What is this?" a soldier asked. They searched the whole perimeter, only to see no enemies, no supplies, and burned buildings. "Area is secure." They got back into their 4x4s and headed off, further into enemy territory. The next destination was up, and the soldiers rushed out again. Still no enemy signs and all buildings were seen to be burned. "This is weird," said a soldier. The next two places were of the same scene.

"This seems familiar," the Staff Sergeant said. "This... this is another one of their tricks! It's the scorched-earth method! They've been leading us to nowhere!" He then began to shout incomprehensible words at a fast pace. Suddenly, everyone's radio receivers begin to buzz. *EMERGENCY EMERGENCY* *KZZRT* "This is your Commander speaking. It's a trick! The Southern Army is now invading our primary base. All soldiers must report here, STAT! *KZZRT* "Damn it! I knew it! ALL SOLDIERS GET BACK INTO THE 4X4S! SOUTHERNERS HAVE SET FOOT ON NORTHERN SOIL!" The vehicles drove at their highest possible speeds back to the base. From there, the soldiers transferred to dropships. The ships flew for about an hour before reaching their destination. The soldiers dropped from the ships at great speed. Andrew was the last to drop out, followed by his ship being blown up by a rocket.

The soldiers spread out after getting a clear landing. "SHOW NO MERCY!" the Staff Sergeant said. "MAKE THEM REGRET THEY WERE EVER BOR-GAH!" A bullet pierced his head, causing him to drop dead.

Andrew ducked for cover from enemy fire. He thought to himself, "They will not get my armor... MY armor. MY ARMOR!!!! His entire body filled with adrenaline in a matter of seconds. He jumped out from cover and bolted for the weapons bunker, shooting all that come in his path. Suddenly, he is forced to a stop. "Northerner! Attack!" Before his eyes, stood 20 enemy soldiers, as well as a battle tank. He ducked for cover again and switched to the RPG-31. He stood up and fired a rocket in their center, blowing up all but the tank. The tank's cannon began to charge. "Crap crap crap!" Andrew ran perpendicular to the tank, toward cover. *POOOOOOOWWWWW* The shot missed completely, and Andrew remains alive. He stood up and fired a rocket. *FSSSHHEWWWWW* *BOOM* The tank remained intact and charged again. "Crap! What will it take to destroy that thing?" he thought as he reloaded another rocket. *POOOOOOOOWWWW* *FSHHHHEWWWW* *BOOM* The tank was in a state beyond repair. Suddenly, the top hatch opened and the operator stood out, firing from a shotgun. Andrew was struck, causing his armor to become tattered. He ducked for cover and loaded another rocket, then stood up again. "Go to Hell!" he said as he fired an entire rocket at one person. *FSSSHEEEEEWWW* *BOOM* Andrew sighed. "Just several more yards." 

"Need a hand?" said a familiar voice. Andrew looked up to see the four Cygni-armored soldiers.

"Yes, please! I need to get into the weapons bunker. It's an emergency!" 

"Say no more. We'll help you get there."

"Thank you, brothers." Andrew got back to his feet and switched to his TB10-LW. They ran at great speed toward the bunker, shooting remaining enemies in sight, and ducking for cover here and there.

"We're here!" a guard said.

"Great!" said Andrew. "Keep me covered while I get inside.

"Need help inside?"

"No, I'll handle this one alone."

"Got it." 

Andrew typed on the keypad while the Cygnis used their Lightbows. The steel door then slowly opened. "Can't stand here much longer" a guard said.

"Just a little more time annnnnnnd GOOD!" Andrew hurried inside the bunker and the door shut immediately.

Andrew walked slowly through the dark corridors of the bunker, weapon at hand. He made his way to an armory and managed to pick up a Windblade. He traveled down a flight of stairs toward the testing rooms. "Koji, are you here?" Close to the testing rooms, he finds a security room. Upon entering, he finds a corpse. "AH!... Good God." He flips the body to show the name tag. "Koji... HOW AND WHY!?" He then held the Windblade closer and continued to the rooms. He saw the door and his armor inside the room. "There you are, my beautiful." About to open the door, Andrew hears footsteps. He is unsure which direction it is coming, only to expect anything to pop out of the dark. The footsteps grow louder and the Windblade is held closer. A figure began to appear from the shadows, one in Thunder armor. 

"Vincent? What are you doing here?"

"How do you do it, Andy? How do you keep managing to survive!?"

"What are you talking about?"

"I have tried countless times, but there you are, in the flesh! You're really making my job hard here."

Andrew's voice began to break up and began shaking. "Ohhhh no no nooo! You're the traitor!"

"You guessed it. When throwing the flash grenade didn't work, I had to take more drastic actions."

All the while, Andrew cannot stand still. "But why!? WHY WOULD YOU BETRAY YOUR OWN PROVINCE!?"

"I was on your side, Meta. But then I got a great offer from the Southern Army: 1,500,000 units of Gold if I become their mole. I got to say, murdering Alan was tough, but I had to kill anyone who knew."

"And what's your purpose right here in this bunker!?"

"Well, my job is already done. Though perhaps I can get a little more cash if I bring them a fancy state-of-the-art set of blue armor."

Andrew raised his Windblade. "I did not pour my blood, sweat, and tears into the Andromedae armor just so you could deliver it to the enemy. Try to take my armor, over my dead body!"

Vincent then raised his Passer. "Mind if I test your commitment, old friend?"

"Do your worst."

"With pleasure!"

They swung their swords, landing each other in a sword lock. Vincent kicked Andrew backward and lunged. "RAH!" They strike blades again. Andrew aims for the legs, only for Vincent to jump over his swing. Andrew then head-butted Vincent, knocking him back. "Aren't you stubborn?" he said as he slashed Andrew in the chest. "Hmmph. I see your Perseus armor does not welcome blade damage." A golden arua begins to surround him. "Allow me to fix that! HYAAH!" Andrew ducked, then rolled over to get back to his feet. 

"It didn't have to be like this!"

"Are you kidding!? This easily overweighs a Northern military paycheck!"

"It's all about money! What about principles!?" 

"Principles don't get you riches!"

"Greed does not carry forth peace either!"

"Peace!? What would you know about peace!? This war is just a murders' competition! I might as well make some extra dough off of it."

They fall into another sword lock. They both struggle to push forward. The Passer begins to overpower the Windblade. The Windblade's side hits Andrew's head and Vincent slashes his legs, causing him to collapse.

"Hahaha! You have lost, Andy ol' pal. Your 'Andromedae' armor is mine." 

Andrew then swung his Windblade in Vincent's direction. "What the!?" He ducked as the waves travelled, striking the keypad console. *KZZZRRRRRPPP* The door is now shut. "NO!!! You idiot!" Vincent proceeded to kick Andrew in the chest, then used his radio receiver.

"*KZZRT*" "State your business."

"Hello, Wallis. Operation: Thunderstrike is now complete. I'll rendezvous with the Southerners."

"Excellent. You shall receive your reward shortly. Good work, agent 6066."

"Eh, call me Vincent." *KZZRT*

Andrew shouted while Vincent left the bunker. "YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS, VINCENT! YOU WILL DIE A SLOW AND PAINFUL DEATH FOR YOUR ACTIONS!" He struggled to get back to his feet. He groaned as he limped to the security room, then setting the emergency release on the test room. The door opened and he proceeded. He reached the end of the room, where the completed Andromedae armor stood. He removed the pieces of the Perseus armor, showing his cut and bruised skin, as well as tattered clothes. He outfitted himself with the Andromedae armor and a pink arua began to surround him. "Oh, that feels good." He waited 2 minutes and the aura appeared again. "Ahhh, that's just what I needed." Another 2 minutes and the aura appeared again. "Koji, I hope you know you did a great job. Rest in peace, my friend. What's this here?" He approached more gear. "A backpack and two weapons. I'll go ahead and take that." He dropped all of his weapons and his backpack and grabbed the new equipment: the VISNU backpack, and the weapons Laser Cannon and Energy Glove. "They won't know what hit 'em."

The steel entrance opened once more and Andrew stepped out, shining bright blue. Much to his shock, the enemy soldiers had retreated. The soldiers were gathered around and Andrew went to see what was going on. In the center of the crowd, stood the Northern Commander speaking. "I spoke with Wallis Tearking, and we will be having a meeting. Regiments from both military bodies will be present as both of us discuss future warfare matters. Be on guard for any unexpected events. This will happen tomorrow at dawn. Any questions?"

"Sir, no sir!" everyone said in unison.

"Good luck to all of us. May we end this soon."

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