2593—10 years after the events of the human/alien war. The human race has been living quite well these past years. Crime has relatively been under control, Mithril distribution is being adjusted to fit regional needs, and greed has not caused any uproar. Civil war has not occured in 17 years. Yet, in the dark corners of developing regions where eyes are not watching, spite, agony, and hatred have come together to obtain a common goal. And soon, the world will know its presence in a fiery uproar of terror. This is the year of terror—the Year of the Iron Panther.
San Davíd—a busy city in the Ulirous province. Well-known for being a trading port. Many gather around twice a year for the Austort Festival: a festival where different cultures showcase their foods, recreation, and other customs. Many are gathered at the central park, with many stands and people walking. A man wearing a tench coat, fedora, and large sunglasses stood at a dark corner watching the people walking around. His eyes focused on a little boy holding his mother's hand as they visited one of the many stands to get a snack for the kid. The man smiled as he reached into his coat, holding a remote with a single button. "Goodnight", he whispered as he pressed the button.
Across the city, many buildings had exploded in a sequence. *BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM* Panic filled the streets and people scampered across the park. The boy's ears bled from the sounds. He raised from cover, completely deaf. He looked around to see people running everywhere. His eyes, filled with tears. "MOM!?" He shouted based on muscle memory in the neck. "MOM, WHERE ARE YOU!?" He climbed over dead bodies, and also avoiding those running. He found his mother, dead on the floor from shrapnel injuries. "MOM, GET UP NOW!" He shook the body, crying. "Get up, please! *sniff* Mommy!" He fell over the body and was trampled to death by others in panic. The sounds of sirens filled the whole city, and the lights were seen zooming by the smoke. "*WEEWEEWEEWEEWEEW*" Shortly after, emergency helicopters filled the skies. People seen atop the intact buildings jumped up and down, shouting.
"HEY, OVER HERE!" they shouted. "OVER HERE, PLEASE!"
"It's no use. They're after the people at the bottom. At least we aren't being trampled on." said a man. They stopped jumping and watched the disaster while listening to all of the sirens. Ambulances, fire trucks, and S.W.A.T vans arrived to the park, where most laid dead. Troubled civilians began swarming the ambulances, many of which shouted "PLEASE TAKE ME WITH YOU!"
"LET ME IN, PLEASE!"
"COME ON, MAN!"
S.W.A.T teams burst out of the vans, holding riot shields against the people. Over the megaphone, a voice spoke. "Attention, civilians. We are doing all that we can to ensure your safety. We ask that you remain calm as we assist you to safety." Unfortunately, that order did not work. The shields were being pushed back and the ambulances began rocking back and forth. "CEASE YOUR ACTIONS OR BE SHOT!" They didn't stop. "FIRE!" FL334AR and TB10-LW assault rifles were fired. *POWPOWPOWPOWPOW*
The location is the North Military Training Base, specifically the YB Factory PvP course. A soldier clad in Thunder armor stood behind cover, wearing TOUCH-AND-GO and holding the R100-RAILGUN. He popped his head in the open, checking for assailants. Two Perseus soldiers ran past, slashing each other with their Windblades. One fell and the other stood in triumph. "HAHAHA! Better luck next time!" The Thunder soldier took this as an opportunity. "*PEWWWWWWWW*" The triumphant Perseus fell to the ground, next to his fallen opponent. The fallen opponent giggled. The Thunder walked up to them. "Yeah, better luck next time." he said. Laser gun sounds were heard nearby. "Sorry, but got to run!" he ran into one of the factory buildings.
The Thunder soldier switched to the NOVA27, watching as one Atom stood behind cover from lasers being fired. He watched from the staircase unseen. The Atom's opponent ceased fire, enabling him to leave cover. The Thunder soldier began firing NOVA27 rounds into the ceiling, making the Atom stand back in cover for longer. The Thunder chuckled quietly as he switched to his R100-RAILGUN. "Smile for the camera" he said. *PEWWWWWWWW* He checked for the Atom's original opponent: a Phoenix with an Energy Glove. It ran around firing blue orbs. "So much for 'Hand of God'", the Thunder said to himself. The golden aura surrounded him as he ran out of cover, firing a shot at the Phoenix. "GAHHH!" The Phoenix fell to the ground. "No rising for you... at least for 15 seconds."
"Good one, Thunder guy. I remember when I used that armor."
"As do I" said another Phoenix, holding the R700-AA.
"You've got to be kidding me." *PEWWWWWWWW* The Thunder was stunned, but the TOUCH-AND-GO backpack cancelled out the R700-AA's effect. "Oh, that's right." he said with the aura still active. "You can't simply slow me down." He fired his R100 at the Phoenix. *PEWWWWW* Both Phoenixes laid on the floor, armor stunned.
"Match over" said a voice over an intercom. "Derek is our winner." The Phoenixes got to their feet. "Good job there, 'Derek'."
"Thanks. I try hard at it."
"Yeah, maybe we should go back to Thunder armor too. Like the old days." The other Phoenix laughed.
"Or maybe even Tank if we're gonna be REAL old school about it." They both laughed and shook Derek's hand. "See you around."
"Good game, guys." Suddenly, Derek's helmet received a transmission.
"*KZZRT* Derek, this is General Peterson. Come to my office as soon as possible. Over. *KZZRT*"
Derek arrived at the general's office. "General Peterson, SIR!" Derek saluted.
The general saluted back and smiled. "Good to see you, Derek. You know you can call me Daniel, right?"
Derek remained saluted. "Yes, sir! I mean... Daniel."
"At ease, sergeant. I have called you here today to inform you of something... something this planet hasn't experienced in years."
"Chaos. There has been an attack at the city of San Davíd. 16 bombs have been detonated during the Austort Festival."
"Good God! Are there survivors?"
"Yes, about 2 hours after the explosion, the panic and chaos began to die down. Unfortunately, many city officials were killed and forced TO kill. Rescuers have done all they can, but they are requesting soldiers of the Army to investigate and locate any hidden survivors."
"Daniel sir, I would like to volunteer to help those people."
"That's great, because I was about to order that. Good to know you're a willful man." Derek smiled. "Gather up what you need, then head to one of the planes, where you will be dropped off. Any questions?"
"Sir, no sir!"
"Excellent. Now go forth and serve." They saluted and Derek left, heading for the Northern Military airport.
Derek sat patiently in the dropship as it and two others traveled to the ruins of San Davíd. The interior was silent, aside from the sounds of the engines and the pilot talking during procedures. He looked down at his NOVA27, making sure it was functional. He and most others wore their armor without the helmet as they waited. Finally, Derek couldn't take the silence anymore and spoke to three Perseus-armored soldiers.
"Excited to visit the city?" They gave him a funny look. "That was a joke..." The silence continued. "Oookay then", he mumbled to himself.
"Yeah, hoping to find some survivors." one of them said.
"Ah, now we're talking."
"How could one person set up 16 different explosives?"
"I don't think one man was involved here" said the other Perseus.
"You're probably right..." the silence continued.
"Do you think we have a war coming up?" said Derek.
"I certainly hope not. We haven't had any traces of hostility or disagreement with any nations. If there is one coming up, then someone has been bottling up their emotions."
"Yeah, yeah." Derek looked over to an Atom-clad soldier, with the helmet on. "What do you think?" There was silence again. "Uhhh... hello?"
"That's K-21. He don't talk much."
"K-21? Is that a codename?"
"Yes." The ship ceased movement. "I guess we're here."
The door opened and all they could see was smoke. The sky was a light brown and the city was in complete silence, aside from a gentle wind. "Good God!" said one of the Perseus-clad soldiers. "One man couldn't have done all of this."
"Take a picture now, because after that, you won't have any free time" said the other Perseus. K-21 walked past them all. "Right, we should get to work now." The place was in ruins. Buildings fallen, destroyed vehicles, and lots of corpses on the floor. It was impossible to walk 10 yards without stepping on a body. The bodies made squish and crack sounds when stepped on. "These people are still fresh" said Derek. "I got to remember that not everyone died. These are just the leftovers."
"Hey, you're right" said the first Perseus.
"Yeah..." Derek silenced himself and proceeded. They made a quick stop to scan the area and grab ahold of their bearings. Suddenly, a hand grabbed onto Derek's leg. "AHHH!" The others looked behind to see him in distress. "GET IT OFF ME!" He looked down to see one of the bodies holding his leg. The body moved and looked at him. "Heeelll..." it fell back to the ground, releasing Derek's leg. "You alright there, bud?"
"Well, there's a lot more bodies to go around. What are the chances of that happening again?"
"I don't know. Let's keep moving." They made their way to the central park. Here, it was the most devastating. More persons were gathered here than anywhere else in the city. They spread out, searching bodies for survivors.
"Hello? We're here to rescue anyone in need of assistance." Said a Cygni soldier.
Derek looked at the fallen stands. He looked closely and identified one of the bodies to be a little boy. "His skull is crushed. Poor little guy must've been trampled."
"Guys, over here!" said the Cygni. The others came to him.
"Found something?" asked a Perseus.
"Yeah, look!" He found a severed arm.
"Oh, a human arm. How delightful!"
"No, look what's IN the hand!" The hand was holding a remote detonator. "Looks like we found part of our bomber. The arm looks like it was covered by a jacket. Search around for the rest of the body." It didn't take long to find the body. K-21 found a body wearing a trench coat and gestured the others to gather.
"You sure that's the bomber?" asked Derek. K-21 took the arm and placed it near the body. He dusted the dirt off, revealing to be matching coat fibers. "That IS the bomber! Let's see what his face looks like. K-21 removed the dirt from the head, only seeing a skull with one eyeball. "Okay, never mind the face, because it's not here."
"We should collect the body" said the second Perseus. "This is important information!"
"I'll check if there were any survivors found." said the Cygni *KZZRT* "Hey, how are things looking for the rest of you?"
"Not so good" said a voice over the radio. "Not a single body found. However, we do have leads on the placement of the explosives. It's pretty horrible, what they've done here!"
"Okay, we'll rendezvous with the rest of you. I think we're done over here."
"Copy that, over and out! *KZZRT*"
They began to head back to the main street where the dropships rested. Along the way, a faint sound was heard.
"Did anyone else hear that?" asked a Draco-armored soldier. They stopped and stood still. The sound was heard again, only louder and resembling a scream. "Someone's alive! Look around and locate the source of the sound!" They slowly spread out, checking building to building. The sound was heard again and K-21 ran straight into one of the buildings. "Follow him!" The others followed into a building with blinding amounts of air particles.
"The sandstorm setting! Use that!" said the Cygni. All of their visors began to glow orange. Now able to see past the floating dust, a figure was seen under a beam of metal. They hurried to the figure, who was identified as a man.
"He's hurt pretty bad!" said Derek. "Help me lift this thing off him." K-21 assisted him and the metal beam was lifted off from the survivor. "Ohhh crap!" Beneath, the man's torso was penetrated by debris. "What do we do!?"
"We got to remove that thing!" said the first Perseus.
"No!" said the second. "He could bleed out if we do that."
"The debris is stuck to the ground. Removing it is the only way to release him!" The man screamed again.
"Guys, we need to act quick!" said the Draco. While the rest of them were arguing, K-21 pulled from his STK-06-ZZ a small buzz saw and began sawing the debris from the ground. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?" The debris was sawed from the ground, leaving part inside the man's torso. K-21 exited the building, carrying the man as he screamed. The others looked at each other and soon followed. They returned to the dropships and the survivor couldn't stop groaning. The ships departed, setting a course back to the Northern base.
The ships arrived to the Northern base, where the lone survivor was taken for heavy medical treatment. Derek reported to General Peterson's office shortly after.
"What have you found?" Daniel asked.
"One survivor, I'm afraid."
"Well, don't let that discourage you. The majority of survivors were taken to refuge before this investigation. Speaking of which, have you learned anything?"
"Yes, Daniel sir. We found a body holding a detonator, sir."
"Just what I expected. A suicide bomber was in charge of this devastation, then?"
"That's what it would appear to be, sir."
"Think about that, Derek. How could one lone man arm 16 bombs across a large city?"
"I don't know."
"Exactly. The answer is that he didn't. Someone else was behind this, and we need to learn who. Have you found anything else the corpse was carrying?"
"I didn't check. It's at the morgue right now for study."
"How long has it been there?"
"A couple of hours, sir."
"Well then, it would appear that we have some terrorists running around. We need to learn who they are and where they're stationed."
Just then, Daniel had received a call. "This is General Peterson."
"Sir, I am calling from the morgue to inform you of the bomber found at San Davíd. Would you like to come here for more information?"
"Certainly. I'll be there in a few minutes."
At the morgue, Daniel and Derek stood in front of the table holding the burnt corpse.
"We found a phone inside the trench coat this body is wearing. Out of everything, the memory card still holds its shape. However, the card is fried."
"Give it to me and I'll take it to the engineering department." The worker gave Daniel the memory card. "Anything else you have found with the person?"
"His wallet. The picture on his ID card has been burned off, and I can't read the name too well. 'Vinny...' something. I don't know the rest. We'll have to send it in for more research."
"Continue research on this body."
"Right away, General."
Derek visited the Training Base for more target practice. He was able to bash a few cadets before taking a lunch break at their cafeteria. There, something on the T.V wall caught his attention.
"This is the Peacekeepers Network. New story today, Martica representative Daryl Devnot has officially begun his political campaign. Devnot promises 'a new start' for his people of the Martica reigon. Here is a sample from his latest speech."
"Marticans, as you know, trouble has begun arising in the Ulirous province. Now I'm sure you've all heard about the bombing of San Davíd. I'm sure that's discouraged many of you here today. But do not be afraid, great citizens. We're working on a way to improve our own living. A great way to improve how things are powered. And no, I do not mean Mithril. *chuckle* You will be amazed soon when we reveal the future..."
"That was all the footage we have now. Spectators are in awe as to what Daryl might have store for them. In other news, there have..."
Derek stopped listening in at this point. "New energy?" he thought. Shortly after, his helmet began to buzz. "This is Derek."
"Derek, this is Daniel. Report to my office, stat!"
Derek arrived at Daniel's office, where he was looking at a projector screen. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
"Derek, I have urgent news. The surveillance department has discovered the body that this Vinny guy had been working for. The memory card of his phone was restored using copper filling and some rewiring to mimic the previous pattern."
"Yes, and this here is a video that was saved." The screen began to play a video transmission. Four strange silhouettes were seen. A deep voice spoke.
"Attention, Northern Military. This is Neil Setán, and we are The Iron Panther. We are the physical representations of vengeance. We have set forth one attack on San Davíd. Let that be a warning for what's to come. You thought you won 10 years ago. But hear this: when you abandon something, it will come. And it WILL seek revenge. The supreme alien had left his work unfinished. We will see to it that his death was not in vain. Work does IS NOT left undone. Savor your moments of bliss and ignorance, for the future will be struck with fear, anxiety, and death. You have been warned. The Iron Panther will complete the task." The video ended.
"So they knew we'd find the body?" asked Derek.
"It would appear so" said Daniel. "Otherwise, this Vinny guy wouldn't have put himself in the center of the bombing."
"So what do we do?"
"We have to take precautions. We MUST learn where they're going to strike next. I will contact the Southern Military for assistance. We have a new war coming on here."
"Why was I called personally?"
"I have a mission for you. The Space Station known as Ark still holds operations, and it is dangerous for it to remain in orbit of UBW. For all we know, this 'Iron Panther' could have set Ark to be their next target. We can't afford to lose it. You are hereby ordered to help escort it to safety. You will have assistance from our best squadrons. Particularly the Perseus Squad, 51-Cygnus, and Sullivan's Guild. You will also have assistance from lone elite fighters. Any questions?"
"Sir, no sir!"
Derek returned to the military airport to begin his second mission.
Three ships left UBW's surface to the Space Station above. Boarding were the Perseus Squad, known for serving in the alien war; 51-Cygnus, once the previous Commander's personal guards; and Sullivan's Guild, a team of 7 Andromedae-clad soldiers. They entered through the docking bay where the elite squadrons and individuals boarded. They ships left soon after to monitor Ark's exterior. They reached the main sector where they were greeted by the staff. "Welcome, soldiers. We've been expecting you."
Perseus Squad leader Miles spoke with a much older voice than before. "Yes, we're always happy to assist. Now what is the plan for you?"
"We have begun the process to prepare this station for descent."
"Is that all?"
"Yes. Unfortunately, the process will take quite a while. The danger is that during this process, we will be above foreign regions."
One of the soldiers other Sullivan's Guild spoke. "Why would you wait until now to begin? Couldn't it have started earlier?"
"You don't understand." the man spoke. "I'm an engineer specialized for this station. The process would leave us over the foreign regions regardless."
"But why would it hang over foreign regions if this is a military base?"
"Patience, Demitri." Said the Guild's leader Evan.
"This station utilizes the orbit for surveillance. Besides, we haven't had hostility in years. How could we known this would happen?"
"Enough arguing!" said one of the 51-Cygnus members. "What shall we do during the process?"
"Stand on guard. The ships outside will take down any hostile ships if they come by."
"They're just terrorists, though." said a Perseus wearing STK-06-ZZ. "They wouldn't have the resources of a full-blown military force."
"I would not underestimate them, U-16." said Miles.
"Guys" said Derek. "Don't we have to stay focused?"
"I agree." said Evan.
"Is there really to do much in the mean time?" asked a female member of Sullivan's Guild. "I need something to shoot already!"
"All you have to do is stand on guard. If anything happens, you will all be here to assist with interior work."
"I should have stayed in the ships. At least those have turrets" mumbled the female soldier.
The hours had passed and night had reached the North military's region. Some soldiers stood straight up, some slouched, and others sat down. K-21 stood straight the whole time and looked at the others becoming impatient and shook in disgust. Suddenly, the alarms went off. *DANGER DANGER! PROJECTILE 300 KILOMETERS TO STATION! 1 MINUTE TO IMPACT!*
The station's staff began to act faster. "Adjust thrusters to a 125 degree angle!"
"They won't move fast enough!"
The ships began to fire at the incoming missile. However, a shield appeared around the missile as it was shot at. A pilot sent a message from the ship. "The missile has a blast shield. Prepare for impact!" From the exterior, the explosion was silent. Inside, however, it was dreadful. Walls collapsed and power began to decline. "Power now at 75% efficiency."
"Damn! Looks like we'll have to fix some things in the control room downstairs!" Three engineers headed for the corridor to descend into the lower sector of the ship. Derek and K-21 traveled ahead while 51-Cygnus stood behind. *ALERT! SECOND PROJECTILE APPROACHING!* *BOOOM* The ceiling collapsed, sealing Derek and K-21 inside the corridor and the others outside. K-21 pounded the debris and shot at it, but it wouldn't budge. One engineer yelled from the other side. "Listen to me closely! You two will have to go to the control room by yourselves. Once you're there, you will recalibrate the thrusters and restore power to the station. Keep your radios open as I will guide you through the depths of Ark. Now get going!"
"Crap!" Derek thought to himself. "I'm stuck in the dark depths of a space station with the silent and creepy soldier!? I hope he stays on target and doesn't decide to murder me."
The pathways were dark and ominous. To make matters worse, the blue lighting on the flooring was beginning to dim as power levels decreased. "Okay" said the engineer. "Take the hall on the RIGHT side. I repeat, the RIGHT side." They obeyed and entered the right hall. Derek had never been to Ark before. The sights of all the doorways brought curiosity to him. Suddenly, he started to hear sounds. Sounds of living beings. "I must be hearing nonexistent sounds." The deeper they went, the louder the sounds came to be. Even K-21 was caught off guard and they looked around. Signal began to weaken. "Hello? *KZZZZRR*-osing signal here *KZZZR*-stay on the path. The room is *KKZZZZRRR*-oo far from here." The path went a long way forward, but Derek became sick of the mystery of the sound and entered one of the side rooms. K-21 noticed his absence and looked frustrated.
Derek entered a room filled with captivity chambers. Inside the chambers were horrifying creatures: the aliens. These were all mutated, meaning larger in size, and much shorter tempers. One looked at Derek and began to bash the barriers of the chambers. The others soon noticed and mimicked behavior. *CRACKLECRACKLE* Derek took a step back in horror. "What the Hell are these things!?" Tapping sounds were heard behind him. He looked back and saw K-21, arms crossed. "K" he said. "Look at these things! Does any of this look right to you?" K-21 simply pointed an arm backward to the main hall. "Stay on target, I know. But I had to know what the noises were." The lights dimmed further. *Power at 34% efficiency* The chambers shattered and the aliens charged outward. "AHHHH!" They both fired their NOVA27 rifles and ran outward.
"*KZZZZZ*-sten to me! Run away! Just run! Focus on *KZZRRR*-brating the thrusters and restoring power!" They ran to a fork. "LEFT! GO LEFT!" said the engineer over the radio. They ran left with the aliens in pursuit. The doors on the side rooms began pounding and burst open. *SSSSSSS* Mutated Acid Bombers nearly flank them. Derek and K-21 run close together in the center. K-21 turned around and fired a round. *SPLAT* Derek turned his head backward, only for K-21's hand to redirect his head forward. "On it!" They ran into a large room and K-21 smashed the control panel behind, shutting the aliens outside. They stood there catching their breaths. Their radios began to make sounds. "Talk to me." Derek said.
"Look *KZZZRT*-hind you!" They both turned around and saw blue eyes shining. A low roar sounded "*RRRRUUUWWRUWWUR*" The creature was orange, a brown under section, covered with horns, and massive. "It's a mutated Rhino!" said the engineer. "We're sending an extra push of power to the door ahead, but we'll need time. Do what you can to survive. Kill it! I repeat, KILL *KZZZRRRT*" The mutated Rhino looked at the two of them and prepared to charge. "Spread out!" said K-21 in a synthesized voice. They ran in opposite directions as the Rhino charged forward. It slammed into the wall and growled. "Fire!" K-21 shouted. *PEWPEWPEWPEWPEW* The lasers struck the Rhino's side parts. It turned around and furiously stomped on the ground, creating a circular shockwave. "Jump!" They both jumped, unharmed by the shockwave. *PEWPEWPEWPEW* It targeted Derek and ran forward, throwing him upwards with its horns. "AHHHH!"
"Use the Thunder overcharge!"
"Shut up, I was getting to that!" A gold aura surrounded Derek and he switched to the R100-RAILGUN. "*PEWWWWWWWWW*" The Rhino grunted and the radio sounded. "Derek, listen closely! We've managed to open an armory. Grab the Striker and teach that Rhino what Hell feels like!" Derek ran into the armory as K-21 fended off the mutated Rhino. Derek grabbed a couple of first-aid kits and the lightning rod known as the Striker. He waved the rod and used the Thunder overcharge again. The rod began to glow yellow. A large arc of lightning shot out and struck the Rhino into its posterior. It roared in pain. *RRRRUUUWWRUWWUR* "The Striker has a cool down period" said the engineer. "Do not rely on it always!" He switched back the the NOVA27 and fired alongside K-21. "What is wrong with this thing?" shouted K-21. "DIE, YOU BASTARD!"
"The door will be powered within 120 seconds. Stay alive!"
"Derek, use the Striker again!" Derek switched the the Striker and activated the Thunder's overcharge. He waved it again and it glowed. "Roll like Thunder, STRIKE LIKE LIGHT-GAH!" The Rhino rammed him into the wall. "Hey, you big ugly cow!" shouted K-21. "Attack me, not him!" *PEWPEWPEW* The Rhino was enraged and stomped on the ground again. "K-21, help me!"
"I'm trying, stupid!" He jumped from the shockwave and unloaded another round. "Now would be good for the Striker again!"
"Right-o!" He continued waving it. "Roll like Thunder, strike like... ah screw this!" *KZZZRRR KZZRRR KZZZRR* The lightning struck the Rhino hard. *RUUUUUWWWRRRRURR* The mutated Rhino collapsed to the ground, face black and smoking.
They stood there catching their breaths. "You alright, K-21?" asked Derek.
"I'm fine." his voice was fluctuating. "Damn thing broke my voice synthesizer. Ah, screw this!" The synthesizer shut off. "That's better" was said in a feminine voice. Derek stared at K-21. "What? Never heard a girl's voice before? What about that Andromedae earlier?"
"Err, right. *KZZRT* Hey, is the door ready?"
"Yes, it's powered. Use the console nearby to open it."
"Well, K-21. Ready to fix this thing?"
"Call me Karen. And yes." The door opened and the radio sounded. "Okay, now listen carefully. You see the big control console?"
"Yes." said Derek.
"Good. Now press 'access engine'. The code is 7842."
"Good, now click the symbol on the left. That one is the power levels."
"Now there are three dials on the screen. Hold the left one at a 90 degree angle, the middle at a 30 degree angle, and press the right dial 10 times."
"I'll handle the right dial." said Karen. "Your hands look full."
"Okay, the power is coming back to 100%" said Derek as the lights began to shine bright again.
"Excellent! Now you have to recalibrate the thrusters. Press the X symbol."
"It sent me back."
"Okay, now click the symbol on the far right. It should say what its purpose is."
"Okay, I see another code."
"That's not a code, it's the dial to calibrate the thrusters. Now listen closely. Set it to 8963 by 2652."
"Okaaaay and done!" The ship began to move again.
"Okay, it's fixed! Good work!" Cheering was heard in the back. "Okay, now head back. Starting to hear strange sounds. Hurry back please. I don't think we're gonna like this."
"Your navigator should allow you to backtrack. *KZZRT*"
Derek and Karen returned to the first door. "Damn it, Karen! Did you REALLY have to smash the control panel? This door is shut now!"
"Hey, I didn't see YOU create a barrier between us and those aliens!"
"Wait, there's an air vent here." Derek tore off the frame. "In here!" They crawled through and made it back to the corridor. However, no aliens were to be seen. "Must've taken their business elsewhere." said Derek. They followed their navigators back to the fallen debris. Sounds of warfare were heard on the other side.
"This won't budge" said Karen. "Look for another air vent!" They looked around but saw nothing. "Damn it! They need our help! We can't just stand here and do nothing! Wasn't there a rocket launcher by that armory?"
"Hey, you in there!" said a Cygni. "Stand back, I'm blowing it open!" They ran to a distance.
"FIRE IN THE HOLE!" *FFSSSHHHHEWWWW BOOOM* The debris was gone and they regrouped with the others, who were shooting the aliens.
"THIS IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!" said the female Andromedae while slashing with her Windblade.
"Hey, you two!" shouted Miles at Derek and Karen. "We need to cover this area while the engineers are busy descending this station. Keep the aliens busy until we can land!" They ran out into battle. The aliens fought with much anger, possibly revenge for being put in captivity. "Stand your ground!" shouted Evan. "Team, in formation now!" They grouped together, shooting all aliens and leaving no blind spots.
"I have an idea!" shouted Derek. "Let all of the aliens target me!" All others ran past Derek, leaving all of the aliens charging at him. "Come and get fried" he said as he waved the Striker. *KZZZZZZRRRRRCH-CHR-CHR-CHR* The electricity struck a Panther and arced to all other aliens, cooking them to a crisp. The others stared with amazement over the power of the Striker. The corpses laid on the floor, twitching with electricity still traveling through them.
"Great work." said Miles.
"Yeah, maybe I can borrow that thing some time? It looks like SOOO much fun!" said the female Andromedae.
"Sure, Diane." said Demitri. "Maybe I'll kill myself while I'm at it."
"How's the descent?" asked U-16.
"We're entering the troposphere." said one of the engineers. "Should be landing within ten minutes."
"Thank God for that." said Derek. "I really need to patch up. I'm not sure this first-aid kit will do enough. Only some band aids, rubbing alcohol, and hydrocortisone. What a rip off!"
The staff rested easy as the tattered Ark made its descent to UBW's surface.
Ark continued its descent to UBW's surface. An engineer radioed Daniel regarding its landing. "General, the station will be landing in 2 minutes."
"Excellent. Be prepared, though. Once the station is safe to exit, leave immediately. I repeat, leave as soon as it's safe."
"Understood, over and out." *KZZRT* "Listen up! The general has given us orders to evacuate the premises once it's safe to do so."
As the station was several kilometers from landing, a whole army stood surrounding the landing area. "Ready your weapons!" shouted a commander. The station completed its landing. "Do not act until authorized!"
"Ok, let's get out of here! GO GO GO!" All of Ark's staff evacuated the station, leaving it empty.
"Easy does it!" said the commander. Seconds after, aliens crawled out of the station's openings. "FIRE FIRE FIRE!" *POWPOWPOWPOWPOWPOWPOWPOWPOW* The station became like a sparkler from all the bullets striking in the crossfire. Splatter and cracking sounds filled the area as the aliens were shot to bits. Despite the army's efforts, some managed to burrow into the ground. "FRAG 'EM!" shouted the commander. Grenades were thrown to the burrows, blasting dirt high into the air. However, no remains were to be seen. The aliens on the surface were all dead. A team of storming specialists charged into the station, rams, swords, and rifles at the ready. Sounds of battle were heard from the exterior.
Ark's staff were taken for medical treatment, save for Sullivan's Guild, who insisted that their Andromedae armors' capabilities were fine for the job. Derek and Karen were then personally summoned to Daniel's office for debriefing.
"Daniel sir, the mission did not go as well as intended."
"Two missiles struck the station, interfering with orbital drop."
"What else happened?"
"There were... creatures attacking within. They were in captivity until power was low enough for them to escape. Sir, what were those things?"
Daniel sighed. "I knew this would come eventually. Those were the aliens from UBW's previous war."
"THOSE things were the invaders!? They were taken prisoner then, right?"
"Not exactly. You see, we wanted to experiment with them. They were all mutated, the last time I checked. Some of which did not show strands of mutation during my early years. Acid Bombers and Rhinos, to be specific."
"What's their purpose for experiments?"
"Biological technology, of course. You see, these creatures are clones of animals from the planet Earth. Now that the originals are extinct, we wanted to see if we could... rescue them. See if we could engineer any weaponry from them. Now that this fiasco happened, I had to order their extermination. We couldn't take any risks." Derek stood there silent, sort of mimicking Karen's demeanor. "There's more I've learned." said Daniel.
"You remember that death threat from The Iron Panther? I've done some research on Neil Setán: records indicate he was a part of our military, serving in the alien war. However, this files say he was killed in action, along with some other soldiers. Clearly, someone made an error in document."
"If I may intrude, has there been any information from the Southern allies?"
"Nothing yet. I will let you two know of any missions in the future. Conference dismissed."
They saluted and left the building. As they walked down the corridor alone, Derek looked confused.
"Don't like talking to others?"
Karen looked at him and continued walking.
"Ooookay then. Sorry for asking."
"Not really. I talk only when I see it necessary."
"But that was THE general Peterson back there. Not even him, will you talk to?"
"I prefer to speak with action."
"Well, with what I saw back there, your mind must've been blank." Derek mumbled to himself. Karen glared at him. "What!? I'm kidding, alright? Don't listen to me."
"Where do I begin?" she chuckled.
"By the way, I didn't catch your last name."
"...Smith. Karen Smith."
"Heh, like Alan Smith. The great sergeant who served in the Mithril War." Derek took a few steps before noticing Karen stopped. "...Uhhh you alright?"
"Alan Smith... was my brother. I was just a little girl when I heard the news of his passing."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that..."
"My family was devastated. My mom wouldn't stop crying, and my dad would just sit there silent. He was the golden child. Finally I decided that I wanted to join the military. Only one problem; I was too young. Once I became old enough, I signed up."
"To like... avenge him?"
"You could say that. I wanted to prove something to my parents. Something to remind them that I still exist. They were also very sad when I left. They tried so much to get me to stay, but I still had a purpose. When I heard of the murderers' disappearance, I picked a new goal: to succeed where my big brother failed." she continued to walk. Only this time, Derek was the one who stopped. He stared at her, then to the floor. He shook his head and began walking again.
Derek returned to his primary workspace: the Training Base. He attended a session for Viper recruits, assisting them on how to hold the FR28a, shooting, and dodging attacks. They began a practice match at the Air Crash person versus person course. Derek overlooked the match and gave an encouraging statement afterward. The cadets cheered and continued to other courses. Before Derek left, a Viper approached him. "Hey, thank you."
"Oh, it's nothing." said Derek.
"No, I mean, thank you for helping to save me."
"'Save you'? What do you mean?"
The Viper removed his helmet, revealing a tattered face that Derek recognized.
"My God, you're the-"
"The survivor in the city, yes."
"Want to fight for our cause, eh? That's great!"
"Yeah..." he sighed.
"What troubles you?"
"I just wish I could have joined sooner. My... wife and son. They were at the festival when the bombing happened. I was to go and meet them there after taking care of some errands at my job. When the bombing happened, I knew it was over. My wife and child perished in the dismay. That's why I'm here... to fight for others' lives. If I couldn't save my family, perhaps I can help to save others." Derek patted him on the shoulder.
"You'll do great. I look forward to working with you for the same cause."
"Thank you, sir. And send my thanks to the others who were with you that day."
Derek went to the cafeteria later that day. He watched the large television wall, as the news was what was displayed.
"More on the campaign of Daryl Devnot. It would seem that Martican citizens were voting in his favor for chancellor of their region. What a thrill it must be for the man to be rising in political power so fast. Let's watch part of another speech of his here."
"It is an honor to be favored by the public. You shall all soon see what we're working on. I promise that this project will blow you away. That being said, I would like to give my condolensces to the victims of the San Davíd bombing. I wish the best for you all. Let us not forget what hope is like. We will prevail. And the terrorists will fall. *cheering* Thank you all! Vote for me!"
"What an inspiring speech there. His opponent Dixon is being faced with quite the challenge."
Night had reached and Derek went to bed, repeating the words of Daryl in his head and he drifted to sleep.
3 weeks have passed, and surveillance has had no reports of any terrorist activity. The aliens that escaped seemed to have vanished. The most economical areas have been on constant military guard. The peace has somewhat returned, but the uneasiness has only accelerated.
The town of Turanlek, an urban area in the region of Stellia. Stellia is a second-world region of UBW-594244. Night has fallen upon this land. The Genesis Nebula shines brightly as the Stellians return to their homes and rest. The scene became peaceful as the remaining citizens entered their homes. The outside was so empty, it seemed safe to even sleep there without the danger of a low-life.
Out in the rural section that covers the outskirts if Turanlek, strange sounds began to fill the air. In the fields empty of human presence, the livestock began to act uneasy. The ground began to shake and the leaves of the trees made ruffling sounds similar to that of ocean waves. The atmosphere seemed ominous. The livestock spread to the outer areas of their land as the middle ground began to shake more violently. A hole opened in the center and two sharp appendages emerged from the crust, followed by a body and two hind legs. The animals seemed terrified by the sight of the Speedling. In a few seconds, two Panthers emerged from the same hole and let out vicious howls. The beasts were hungry and the livestock were pounced on. Aside from their necks being ripped off, an unfamiliar creature also emerged from the hole. It had a shell and a tail and traveled low to the ground, nearly appearing to be gliding across the floor. Suddenly, the creature jumped onto an animal's head. The animal struggled to get the creature off, but eventually fell to the ground, with its head engulfed by the creature's body.
The rural area was not the only victim. Soon after the livestock massacre, the streets became infested with these aliens. Doors were broken down and Energy Flies flew straight into the homes of people, dragging them outside. Other residences were disturbed by more of the mysterious shelled creatures. People were alerted and had melee weapons as the ready. However, simple baseball bats were not enough to break the shells of these creatures. A man had failed and his head became engulfed. Someone else used a crowbar, which successfully broke the shell. Within an hour, the survivors were swinging crowbars at these new creatures. That aside, they had reinforcements of other species'. Panthers proved to be too agile for a common man armed with a crowbar. People found themselves in hardware stores, with the entrances barricaded. Chainsaws proved to be quite useful for aliens of all sizes. However, some friendlies were sawed when Energy Flies distracted some chainsaw users. Their efforts were beginning to fail, as Rhinos charged at the barricades. The smaller aliens broke in, and the larger ones were soon to join them. The sounds of battle suddenly became louder when gunshots were heard from outside.
Outside, ships were quite a few meters away. Northern and Southern military forces advanced through the streets. The top squads of the North were soon in battle. The Perseus Squad, Sullivan's Guild, and 51-Cygnus sliced and diced through the aliens, receiving little to no damage. As they marched, Derek emerged from a ship, outfitted with Chameleo armor. The bombing survivor recruit stood next to him with Strike armor. He nodded and leapt into action. Derek popped his neck joints and held out the Striker. Karen walked out from the ship as well, bearing Phoenix armor. She cocked her NOVA27 and began firing. He waited for all others to exit the ship before stepping out himself. He took a look around, scanning for a safe range to begin assault. A line of Armored Armadillos charged at him. He proceeded to wave the Striker around while taking a few steps back to keep the distance. In seconds, the Armadillos were fried to a crisp. He saw Sullivan's Guild and shouted to their leader. "Evan, what do we have?"
"It's a real mess! Most of the survivors have locked themselves in a hardware store! Me and my team are trying to force ourselves through the alien infantry!"
"I sure do love forcing things through!" said Diane jokingly.
"What is THAT supposed to mean!?" asked Demitri, sounding annoyed.
"Oh, nothing!" she replied. "I know he's not stupid, Jing!" she shouted to her JIN.JINGLE.
"That woman gets crazier by the minute." said an Andromedae with the XO28-FREEDOM.
"Freeman, Diane, everyone focus!" shouted Evan. "Anyway, the 51-Cygnus is trying to grab a fighting ground and the Perseus Squad are fighting through the other buildings to find anyone hiding. The way I see it, there's plenty to do here, so make your pick."
"Thank you, and proceed." Derek replied. Evan resumed his duty and Derek made a quick search. "K-21, come here!"
Karen ceased fire. "What? I'm a little busy!"
"I see that. Anyway, the Perseus Squad needs help searching the buildings for survivors. Do you think you could help with that?"
"I suppose so... *grunt* Sure, why not?"
"Okay, they're currently searching around Easton Street. Fill them in as you search Targas Boulevard."
"No, there are some Southerners currently focusing on that area. You have the skills to assist them. Just like in San Davíd!"
"Got it." She ran off in another direction.
Karen charged through to Targas Boulevard, where Southern soldiers were spread out.
"Hey, Northener!" someone shouted. "Think you could help us out? We're trying to get inside, but these alien bastards are keeping us distracted! Grab a high ground and shoot them out from a distance, will ya!?"
"I'm on it!" She climbed a ladder to the flat roof of a nearby public building. She switched to the R100-RAILGUN and looked through the scope. She aimed at several Energy Flies and fired. *PEWWWWWWWWW* One by one, they fell.
"Hey Northerner! It's me again! Focus mainly on the long range attackers!"
"That's what I'm doing, idiot!"
"Pay attention to the Plasma slugs too, not just the Energy Flies!"
Karen grumbled and fired at the Plasma Slugs. One by one, they perished from the electromagnetic projectiles. However, one precision soldier wasn't enough. Some began aiming for her. A mutated Plasma Slug aimed and spat a plasma orb up two stories to her position, cutting right through the concrete. She fell on her back, barely able to escape the orb's might. A Southern soldier climbed the ladder, helping her to her feet.
"You look like you could use some help. That railgun of yours isn't enough. You need assistance through splash." He raised a strange sniper rifle and fired at the mutated Plasma Slug, setting it ablaze.
"What is that thing?" Karen asked.
"This is the EX-R500. Unlike your long-range weapons, this thing fires incendiary bullets. Snipe and leave no trace of your position. Want to try it?"
"No, I'm fine with mine."
"Okay then less talking, more sniping!" Both weapons fired in near synchrony. *PEWWWWW* *PSHHHHH* While some aliens' brains were being fried from the inside, others set on fire, which spread to other aliens. Within minutes, most of the aliens were gone. However, two species were left untouched by the rails and bullets. The ones with shells.
Karen stared at the gliding creatures. "Are those... are those Horseshoe Crabs!?"
"Looks like it, only much much bigger. These Creedling fuglies need to be taught whose in control. C'mon!" They both got to the ground and switched to closer-ranged weapons. The Creedlings leaped into the air, aiming for the soldiers' heads. Karen was pounced on, but her helmet provided protection. Through her visor, she bared sight to its disgusting underbelly.
"Ugh, get off me!" She pried the Creedling off of her face, threw it to the ground, and shot its guts.
"No survivors!" reported a Southerner.
"Let me see", said Karen as she dashed into the buildings. Within a minute, she came out with three people. The Southerners seemed embarrassed. "You guys could learn a thing or two from a Northerner."
As she walked away, one Southerner mumbled "racist."
Derek awaited at the back of the soldiers advancing to the hardware store. Suddenly, his radio receiver went off. "*KZZRT* This is Daniel. Status update."
"So far so good, General. The residential buildings have been scanned, so all that's left is making it to the hardware store, where most survivors are trapped."
"Excellent! However exercise caution. I've been getting readings that something big is approaching your area. Now hurry!"
"Yes sir!" *KZZRT* "How are things looking!?"
"It's becoming clear, sir!" said the Strike-armored survivor.
"Great! I'm going in!" he said as his Chameleo armor began to lose visibility.
"Maintain your ground!" Derek ran right past the enemies unseen. He entered a small opening and found himself inside the store. The armor's ability wore off and he was soon visible again. The survivors inside were startled and debated whether or not to attack. "Remain calm, I'm here to save all of you!"
"Save us!?" a man shouted. "There are those big things breaking our barricades! Every opening has those insects coming through!"
"Don't worry, we are working on that. Now, a ship will arrive shortly to save all of you, so head up the stairs to roof access! GO GO GO!" The people were rushed up the stairs and Derek helping any fallen citizens back on their feet. They reached the roof where the sounds of battle were more clear. The ship floated above the store with a ladder handing downward. The people were helped up the ladder when suddenly, a large rumble was felt on the ground. The civilians seemed baffled, but Derek encouraged them to disregard it and proceed to safety. All civilians were soon boarded and the ship flew off. He sighed with relief but was still aware of the situation. There were still aliens to attend to, and they were still outside the hardware store.
Seeking a safe path to the ground, Derek took the stairs downward. Inside the store alone, he felt another great rumble. "Oh God why!?" he said to himself as the ground burst open. A large four-legged reptile emerged from the hole. The creature had a tail and a really long neck. It fixated on Derek and charged. Derek leapt to the side, leaving the creature to crash into the wall. Distracted with the injury, Derek ran quickly into the aisles, Chameleo ability activated. He panted in fear as the ability wore off. Large crashing sounds were heard. He peeked through the products to see the other aisles falling down like dominos. He ran with all his might outward of the aisles, out in the open again.
The creature roared and charged forward. Derek leapt for cover again and began waving the Striker. "You need a good discharge! HYYYAH!!!" Lightning struck the creature, making it roar with intensity. Derek took this time to run for the cutting tool section. He grabbed a chainsaw and put it in his backpack. The creature found his position and made for another dash. Derek leapt to the side and it crashed its head into the wall. Derek fired up the chainsaw and began sawing through its neck. *BBBBBZZZZZZZZRRRRRRRTTT* The creature's head was sawed off entirely and Derek sighed in relief. "That was too easy."
He made for the exit, when he heard sounds from the supposed carcass. The neck's base began to morph around and two heads grew from the injury. "Holy mother of-" *PPPOOOOWWW* He was smacked over an aisle. The creature's heads threw all obstacles away from its path. Derek panicked and remembered he had a Black Disk. He quick drew it and fired, cutting through both heads. While it was down, he switched to the Striker and fired lightning at both neck holes. The body twitched and swung its tail forward, knocking him to his feet. As he got back up, four heads grew out. "I thought Hydras were a hoax! You're not supposed to exist, damn it!" he shouted at the creature.
The Hydra's four heads roared in synchrony. "Good God!" Derek made a run for it as his armor's ability activated once again. The Hydra looked confused and roared in anger and confusion. It decided to wreck as much as it could, hoping to draw out Derek. From the other side of the store, Derek taunted. "Can't hit me! I'll bet I taste REAL good in any of your mouths! But you just don't have the skills to take me out!" *CRAAAAAAALLLLGHHHHH* The Hydra charged with all might to him, all mouths wide open. He fired a Black Disk, cutting off only one head. The Hydra screamed in pain and its three remaining heads swung forward to bite him. He was head-bashed and slid across the wax flooring. He searched in his backpack while on the floor, desperate to get something very powerful and precise. "Ahh, fantastic!" He drew out the R700-AA. "Almost forgot I had this thing!" He fired at the lone neck hole, stunning the Hydra momentarily. "Okay, now for the lightning!" He switched to the Striker once more and swung it around to create a charge. "Stand still, you bastard!" A fifth head grew from the neck hole before the electricity could be fired. "CRAP!" The Striker was taken out of his hands and was snapped in half by two of the Hydra's mighty jaws.
Derek made a run for the outside, with the Hydra in pursuit. Outside, most of the aliens were killed. "HELP HELP HELP! GET THIS THING OFF MY TAIL!" The other soldiers began firing with their machine guns at the five heads. Managing to shoot off the fifth head in the center. "SHOOT WITH A SNIPER!" Derek shouted. *POWWWWW* A bullet struck in the center of the neck hole, setting the Hydra's inside on fire. Smoke emerged from the neck hole, as well as the four remaining heads as it roared in pain. *CRAAAAAAALLLLGHHHHH* It ran around trying to put out the fire. "FIRE!" The others continued fire, ending its life faster then if it were to burn to death. *GGGRRLLLCKKKLS*
"What the Hell is that thing!?" asked the Strike.
"I... don't know." said Derek. "It's dead now, and that's all that matters." He panted. "Are all the civilians safe?"
"Yes, they're all fine." said a Perseus.
"Good good. Let me report to General Peterson. *KZZRT* Sir, the area is secured. That 'something big' you were talking about? It's neutralized."
"Excellent! Report back to base. There's business to attend to."
"Roger, over and out." *KZZRT*
The ships were boarded again. The Southern ships went their way and the Northern ships went their own way. Turanlek has now become silent again, with only the Genesis Nebula as the only calming thing to look at.
Location: Primary Northern base, office of General Daniel Peterson
Derek was in the room along with Karen, Sullivan's Guild, and 51-Cygnus, giving an explanation of the mission results. "The people were rescued, all buildings were cleared, and all hostiles were eliminated."
"Yes, excellent." said the general.
"But... there were hostile creatures whose presence baffled me. I mean... Creedlings? What were they doing working alongside the aliens?"
"Yes, they seemed to be cooperating to obtain a common goal of destruction" said a Cygni.
"Well, we certainly showed them!" said an Andromedae by the name of Ashleigh.
"Yes, we proved strong!" agreed another Andromedae with a TRI-O-AVATAR.
Derek did not digress. "Creedlings are normally hostile to humans only if agitated. Yet they didn't seem to be bothered by Speedlings."
"What you say is true, Derek" said Daniel. "Creedlings were not involved in the human/alien war 10 years ago. They seemed to have formed an alliance."
"But they're normally not that smart." said Guild leader Evan.
"True. Something strange is going on. I never thought Hydras existed on UBW-594244. Those were a legend on Earth, even. Man had never seen one until yesterday. Derek, you seemed to be most involved with the Hydra. What did you learn?"
"They're exactly as the legend says. They start off with one head, then grow more if the original is removed. The Hydra wasn't fighting alongside the aliens, but it seemed to be after the same goal, which was attacking the one shelter in Turanlek."
"It must have been there to deal heavy damage." said another Cygni.
"Wait a moment here" said a third Cygni. "Guys, us 4 WERE in the alien war, along with Daniel. From what I remember, those aliens were only looking for Mithril. Why on UBW are they attacking us directly? Wouldn't they just be standing around idle in front of the offline tower at their Lair?"
"That's a good point" said Daniel. "They were simply robots delivering fuel to a greater power. Those remaining here after Earth's destruction may simply be angry at us for destroying their home."
"They were re-wired clones. I'm sure they would be more fixated on their mission than missing their home."
"Once again, you have a good point. All I now know is that animals native to this planet are teaming up with the remaining animal clones from Earth. We can destroy the remaining aliens, but we may still have to deal with our own animals."
"They're up to something, I know it." mumbled Demitri.
"Sir, what about now?" asked Derek. "The terrorists are still out there. Which enemy should we tackle first?"
"We are gaining leads on the Iron Panther's whereabouts. Doing research on the bomber's phone, it was manufactured in the region of Martica, but was purchased in the continent Crifaa."
"My God! Do you think that..."
"I am not sure, Derek. But we have to do investigating. We will need volunteers to be sent to Crifaa and search for the Iron Panther's base."
Everyone started to chatter.
"Sullivan's Guild will volunteer!" said Evan, supported by the others.
"Trust 51-Cygnus for the job!"
"I will go!" Karen finally spoke, followed by Derek taking a step back, looking surprised.
"Wow, you have no idea how great that makes me feel." said Daniel. "Do note that you all cannot wear your armor, as you must fit in the scene. Criffan outfits have been crafted for your use in the locker rooms. Go to your lockers and grab your clothing, we will begin the flight shortly.
The volunteers were in the locker room, outfitting themselves to look Crifaan. Derek stood at the door, watching. Karen tried to ignore his presence, but became annoyed. "What's your problem? Why do you keep staring?"
"I was wondering. Sullivan's Guild consists of 7 members, 51-Cygnus is 4, and you're 1 without a group."
"That totals to 11 persons. Won't all of you look suspicious if you are walking about looking for a terrorist base?"
"It's not like we're going to their doorstep, asking to join. We're simply going undercover to find any location which may hold ground to the Iron Panther's base."
"And if you do find them?"
"We will await further orders from the General."
"Well, that makes sense." a short silence. "Ever been to Crifaa?"
"Not at all. I know a lot about their culture, but I've never been there myself."
"You uhh, might stand out, not looking starved. Hehehe... ookay." He looked ashamed for that joke.
"We'll be fine! Why are you worrying so much?"
"I'm not, I was just curious on how it'd work out."
Karen rolled her eyes. "Don't you have somewhere to be?"
"Not exactly, but I'll be sticking around in case any aliens come by, or if another city is bombed to Hell."
The intercom went off *KZZRT The ships for Crifaa will stop boarding in 7 minutes. All authorized personnel report to the ships, over. KZZRT*
The others headed out, save for Karen, who was still packing up. "Good luck out there, and be careful." said Derek.
"What are you, my dad?"
"Aww, can't I show compassion for fellow co-workers? Would you feel better if I said the same to everyone else?"
"Ugh forget it! Well... thanks." She hurried out the room.
They headed for the ships. At the mouth of the dock, Daniel stood, holding backpacks. "Great to see all of you at the ready. Now listen up! The specific region you will be heading to is not exactly a safe one. These backpacks contain all of your armor and accessories. They appear as regular backpacks so no suspicion is stirred up. Be sure to be discrete while exploring, especially about the fact that you're all working together. Split up if you have to, whatever it takes to blend in. Anyway, these backpacks have strings. Pull them to be quickly outfitted with your military equipment, only in an emergency. They can be compressed into the backpack again, but the process takes 1 minute. Also be sure to keep your hidden tracking devices on at all times. We may contact you for direction. Good luck, and make us all proud!"
They saluted and boarded the ship. After a minute, they took off for the continent of Crifaa.
5 hours later, and Derek went for another round at the Training Base. In the cafeteria, he watched the television wall as he ate.
"I'm Dan Afler, and you're watching the Peacekeepers Network. Today, we have exciting news for those who find it relative. Daryl Devnot of the country Martica has officially been made chancellor, with 77 votes ahead of his opponent Dixon. Those behind the scenes of Daryl's political campaign say that Project Y will be unveiled this Saturday at 26:00. I for one, am excited to see what they have in store for the world."
"Pfff, Dayrl Devnot." said a man behind Derek. Derek turned around.
"What's wrong with him?"
"That guy is just a corrupt politician. He just smiles for the camera, but what he has in store for 'the world' is probably another form of technology that will suck our resources dry. It will be Earth all over again!"
"How can you be sure? Do you have supporting evidence that he's just a scumbag?"
"Oh, just listen to their stance on world affairs. Martica is a neutral country. NEUTRAL, yet they have a military body. Why would they have a military force if they're neutral?"
"Yeah... I see what you mean."
"If you ask me, they're lending their resources to other countries and regions, secretly supporting the enemy."
"We don't have any military enemies. All we have are these terrorists to deal with."
"Oh, no military enemies YET! But just you wait. A storm is coming. The aliens are nothing to what's coming up."
Derek was afraid to ask. "...What's coming up?"
"I don't know exactly. Any country could strike us without reason."
"You're starting to sound irrationally paranoid."
"Oh, I'm paranoid alright. But I am no irrational man. I know what I say."
"Okay, well I should hit the sack. Tell me more conspiracies tomorrow."
"You'll see! You may think I'm a joke, but just you wait."
A dim room. A silhouette stood alongside an offline screen. Another figure entered the room and spoke. "The package will be ready soon."
"Do the public have any suspicions?"
"No reports of that."
"Good! *evil chuckle* Keep a lookout."
"Right away." The second figure left the room, closing the door.
"Excellent. The world will tremor in fear. We... I will have my revenge! We will see how THEY react when there is no hope. When THEY'RE abandoned. When THEY face an imminent demise!"
The outskirts of a Crifaan town. The area is mostly flatland, but the military picked the perfect spot for landing: within the mouth of a forest. The trees rustled with great intensity from the gravitational forces of the ships. Everyone stepped out and hid in the forest until the ships were ready for departure. The place grew quiet as the trees settled down. "So, this is Crifaa." said Freeman. "I'm pretty sure I read about planet Earth having a similar continent. It had the same letters, but the spelling was different."
"When shall we head out?" asked Demitri.
"Let's go now!" said Ashleigh. "There's literally no one watching."
"I don't know about you guys, but I think boarding off at a flatland area was a bad idea" said a Cygni. A herd of animals walked by the mouth of the forest. "Ah, livestock. They're headed the same direction as our objective. Lay low and walk along them." All 11 of them walked next to the animals, being sure not to be seen taller.
It took a good 40 minutes of walking, and everyone's backs became tired.
"Oh, thank GOD it's over!" said a Guild member as he stretched his back. *POP* "Ohhhhhh that's the good stuff."
"Quiet, Victor." said Evan as they neared a village. "Ok, everyone appear at different times. No going in at the same time."
"Got it." They left the bushes and entered the village's borders all at different times, finding themselves at the central area, where a festival was being held. "Everyone go to different stands so we look separate." They did so, looking at the cultural goods that the natives had to offer. As Karen browsed the variety of animal fur rugs, a man approached her from behind.
"Hello there!" the man said. Karen turned around a high speed, having him in an arm lock. "Woah woah! easy there, gal! I was just saying hello."
Karen let go of his arm. "Sorry about that, just a reflex."
"I guess fighting is your hobby?"
"I'm sorry, but who are you?"
"Ah, I am just a native of this area, and I couldn't help but notice some tourists appearing. I am a tour guide, in case you needed some help becoming familiar with this great region."
Karen stared silent. "Ah, where are my manners? Charles Benedict, at your service!"
Karen seemed skeptical. "Okay, what can you show me?"
"Many things, and this festival is perfect to learn about Crifaa. Let me gather more people and we can begin." Charles walked around, gathering the other 10 soldiers. "You all are not from around here, I can see. However, I noticed your clothing. Definitely from here, but I'll help you know this place like the back of your hand."
It was a 2 hour tour, and everyone seemed tired, save for Charles. They ended up in another civilized area, further out in the boondocks. "And this here is the Malzinka village. One of the last places to visit within this certain province, unless you REALLY want to explore. Much low-level trading occurs here. Any questions?"
"What's that long stretch of road at the border?" asked a Cygni.
"Well, that's not a place very safe to visit. It leads to almost nowhere. A large Creedling colony was formed down that road. Afterward, it becomes a very blurry trail that leads to practically nowhere. There have been rumors of a great threat past the Creedling hideout. I think they are constructing military weapons far down that path."
"Military weapons!? In a place that desolate, it sounds like some sort of war criminal resides there!"
"Yes, yes. Now, we are coming to our final stop, back in Malzinka. Our touring business is actually stationed here. Don't worry, we are safe from the low-life traders. Step into this building, and I can help you find suitable places to stay. And travel expenses are covered by our business." They stepped inside, where it seemed rather dark.
"Oh, my mistake. Just let me turn on the lights, and." The lights came on, and a grenade sat on the ground.
"GRENADE!" Smoke emitted from the grenade, causing all soldiers to fall into unconsciousness.
They awoke in a dark dungeon, chained up in prison cells.
Ashleigh exclaimed "CHARLES, YOU DIRTY BASTARD! THE NORTHERN MILITARY WILL BURN THIS PLACE TO THE GROUND!"
"OOOO a big, scary dungeon!" said Diane. "We can tell scary stories! HEHEHEHE!"
"DIANE, THIS REALLY ISN'T THE TIME! I don't know HOW you can NOT take this seriously." Evan exclaimed.
"What's the matter with us!?" Demitri asked. "We're the worst soldiers EVER, falling into a trap so easily!"
The dungeon door opened and someone stepped inside, and some of the prisoners rustled their chains.
"You will never get away with this!" shouted a Cygni.
"You shut your mouth. This isn't a comic book." the man said.
"So you're a terrorist, aren't you!? You're that Neil guy!"
"Neil Setán wouldn't waste his time with you low-lives. Our leader has better things to do. But you can call me Ali Muher."
"I didn't ask for your name, ass wipe."
"Enough! You have all been stripped of your accessories, with clothing aside. We're at least civil about that. More to the point, we know where you all come from. You're from the Northern Military. What weasels they are, thinking they can send several of their men to undermine us. There was just no chance, if you think about it. Your tracking devices are not something we're unfamiliar with. We know where your current base is, and we'll send to destroy EVERYTHING. Or maybe we'll steal some of your stuff, who knows?" Another figure walked into the room. "William, inform Neil of our upcoming attack. Have him push it to today." The other figure left.
"Unchain me THIS INSTANT!" shouted Ashleigh.
Ali walked to her prison cell. "Or what? I would GREATLY ANTICIPATE what you could POSSIBLY do. One little woman thinks she can make a difference? One little woman can't do anything alone. You kill me, they kill you. You kill Neil, they kill you. In fact, you could never even REACH Neil. The Panther is Iron for a reason. Now shut your pie hole!"
"OH, YOU HAVE PIE!? Let me have some! Jingly would LOVE some pie!" shouted Diane.
Ali walked over to her cell. "What have we here, a 5-year-old?"
"I'm not 5! Sure, my head's not the best, but I am SO responsible!"
Ali stood silent. "I like you. You're perfect for a little experiment I have in-mind. You'd give some more company for the other prisoners."
"Oh, you have others!" shouted Demitri. "Oh, you guys are JUST FILLED WITH SURPRISES!"
"Be strong, Diane!" said Ashleigh as Ali took Diane to another dungeon.
"You guys need some encouragement." said one of the Cygnis. "If they used backtracked the tracking device, then the Northern Military will see them too. Those fools led themselves into a trap."
"Yes, exactly!" agreed Evan. "However, there is a chance we may not survive this."
"Gee, I wonder why." said Demitri.
All the while, Karen looked at the ground, lost in her own thoughts. Her face was red with rage, and her breathing was very loud. Then a single tear ran down her eye as she shook her head in sheer frustration.
Daniel sat in his office, reviewing some papers. "So, I could do a flanking maneuver on the base, send some forces in to undermine their supply, then that's when we'll really hit them hard with an air strike, and-" his office phone rang. *RING RING RING* "General Peterson speaking."
"General, this is the surveillance department. I think you'll want to see this."
"On my way." He hung up and hurried to the department. Inside the room, there were many monitors and consoles. "What is the meaning of this?" the general asked.
"Over here, sir" the man over the phone earlier said. Daniel checked the screen and what he saw was horrible. Eleven red dots over the Crifaan town of Malzinka faded. The animation kept repeating. "This is the last that the tracking devices picked up. They all seemed to shut off at the same time. Sir, I'm afraid we've lost them... sir?" he looked behind him, but Daniel had vanished from the room.
Back in his office, Daniel paced the floor. "What is wrong with me!? How could I be so reckless as to send only 11 of my men to an unknown land? They were my best fighters, and I sent them appearing unarmed!? How am I still this military's commander!? *sigh* What would Andrew Sullivan do? He'd probably scold me as much as I am, then send all of his forces to cleanse the whole continent! That's it! I must send EVERYTHING we have! No no NO! I can't be reckless again! They could attack while we're out there. They might pull a scorched earth tactic! Oh, what can I do?"
Derek watched the television wall at the Training Base's cafeteria.
"We are about to witness live as Daryl Devnot unveils the 'project of the century'!"
"Great people! For thousands of years, we couldn't find the answer, the answer to perfect energy! It took us polluting a planet to near extinction and moving to another one simply to find a clue to the greatest energy ever! Mithril has brought us to a great advance in energy, but it wasn't the true answer! But just think for a second. If we could get much energy from Mithril, what may we find deeper in UBW? Well, that's just what we did. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring to you, CORE ENERGY!" Several men removed a tarp, revealing a large piston tower. Derek spat out his drink. "Yes, geothermal energy harvest. But not from any part, the core again. Only through the core of the planet, may we find the greatest energy to improve our lives beyond that of human comprehension!" The audience cheered and the program returned to Dan Afler.
"What an exciting day for humanity!" Derek lost focus and his helmet started vibrating. "This is Derek... uh-huh? Of course, sir. I'll be right there."
Derek sat on a chair while Daniel paced around the office. "Energy from the core... what were they THINKING!? This is what happens when we try to rule the universe! We can't just control everything, or we'll all die!"
"Sir, what are you talking about?"
"10 years ago when the alien invasion happened, there was an alien tower out in the middle of nowhere. The tower made a portal and I went in along with some other soldiers and with the Commander preceding me. It was Earth, and it had become the base of the invasion's culprits. There were pistons coming from the ground. And it took just one frail mind to destroy the whole planet! Do you realize now what the danger is in Daryl's project?"
"I... I see... wh-wh-what do we do?"
"Well, we have to focus on one thing at a time. Just yesterday, everyone I sent to Crifaa have disappeared from our tracking system. The question is, do we undermine Daryl's machinery, or do we... wait a minute. The Iron Panther! If they get ahold of that technology, just think of what could-" *BEEP BEEP ROOOOWWWRRRN HONK HONK* "What in the name of-" *DANGER! DANGER! FRONT SECTOR UNDER ATTACK*
"*KZZRT* General, we're under attack! There are lots of war machines and soldiers storming the front sector! 5 battle mechs are advancing! I repeat, 5 battle mechs are *BOOOOOOM KZZRT*
"DAMN IT! Everything is falling apart!"
"What shall I do, sir!?"
"Get geared up and head for the front lines!"
"SIR, YES SIR!"
Derek rushed to get his gear and weapons together. He proceeded to the front area of the base, where many soldiers had a barricade, fighting off enemy forces. There was no time for questions and Derek began fire. *PEWPEWPEWPEW* *POWPOWPOWPOW* *FSHHHHHEWWW* Tanks drove forward and the side turrets fired. *POWPOWPOWPOW* "FALL BACK!" shouted a sergeant major. "TAKE EAST APPROACH, AND BLAST THEIR MISSILES!" Soldiers rushed to the east area of the front sector, firing at all they could. Enemy soldiers from outside shot at those at a higher ground, taking out snipers. Derek panicked. "Crap crap crap crap! What do I do?" He saw some men with rocket launchers firing at the heavy duty war machines, but they were also being shot down. He rushed to their position, laying low in cover. He rolled over some debris, jumped over more, ran up the stairs, and made it to a higher floor, where stray rocket launchers lay. He grabbed a new rocket launcher, RPG-34, and aimed for the tanks below. *FSSSHHHHHEWWWWW* The missile's heat-seeking system went straight for the heat emitting from the tanks' main cannons. *BOOOM* One blew open, but others were alerted. Derek quickly dropped to the floor, for bullets began striking the frame of the balcony he stood on.
"You look like you could use some help." Derek looked up and saw the survivor of the bombing, now equipped with Pegasus armor.
"You sure did progress fast, private."
"That's corporal to you, and you can call me Matthew. Now, I have the perfect thing for these guys." He pulled from his TOUCH-AND-GO, a Crab plasma gun. "Stand back, for this is a bloody dangerous weapon." Derek ran to a safer cover. *CLAU CLAU CLAU CLAU CLAU* "Need all RPGs to unite and focus. All with BLACK STARS, fire at the infantry and tanks!" The plasma began to dissolve the metal of the tanks and the BLACK STAR rockets rendered them into oblivion. A battle mech focused fire on the balconies, where the rocket men were stationed. *POWPOWPOWPOW* and the soldiers were killed, or the destruction of the balconies caused them to fall to their deaths.
"You alright, Matt?" Derek asked.
"I'm fine, thank you."
"No rockets... who will help with that now?"
"I don't know, we need more Cygni-armored patrons."
"I'll gather what I can."
"I'll keep lowering their defenses while you do."
Derek ran below, calling for assistance. "TAKING DOWN BATTLE MECHS, ALL CYGNI-ARMORED PATRONS ARE NEEDED FOR ROCKET ASSAULT!" He came back up with at least 6 Cygni-armored soldiers. "I got them, Matt!"
"That's great!" he said while still firing his Crab. He quickly drew items from his backpack. "Take these!" he tossed several Hyper Clips down to them. A rocket traveled to their direction. *BOOOM* "GAH!" shouted Matthew. "Need more plasma reinforcements!"
"*KZZRT* Derek, there are more Plasma weapons down below. There is a security office with a couple of Plasma Neos. Grab them quickly! *KZZRT*"
"You guys wait here, I'll get more plasma!" He rushed downstairs again, having to remain behind cover. Rockets blasted the walls backward, nearly hitting him. In the security office, 5 Plasma Neos stood. He placed all of them in his backpack and ran back upstairs. He started to pant, having to carry the weight of multiple weapons, rushing up and downstairs, and remaining in cover. "Oh, God make this day end! Okay, here are the plasma weapons!" The Cygni soldiers took the weapons and blasted the machines, dissolving their metal surfaces slowly. "Okay, activate your Hyper Clips!" Red auras surrounded the Cygni patrons as they switched to their RPG launchers. "FIRE!" *FFSSSSHHHHEWWWWW* Within 30 seconds, the tanks were no more. However, the 5 battle mechs remained. Their machine guns span and fired bullets to their direction. They were all forced to return to the bottom floor, as the balconies were no longer safe. Down below, soldiers from behind windows fired shotguns and assault rifles. The mechs changed direction to the west sector of the base.
"Follow those mechs!" shouted Matthew. The mechs headed toward an area that held base to ships, fighter jets, and other war vehicles. They fired rockets at the walls and entered the area. The soldiers hurried and fired their RPGs, but the mechs shot down the rockets with their turrets. "OKAY, I GOT IT! DISTRACT THEM, AND I'LL TAKE THEM OUT FROM BEHIND! *BOOOM* HURRY!" The Cygni soldiers hurried to distract the mechs, and other soldiers soon joined, mainly Phoenixes. The Phoenixes fired Trinity arrows at the cockpits and the Cygnis fired rockets at their feet. The turrets aimed for the ground and began blasting the asphalt off the ground. Derek hurried and made it behind the mechs and readied RPG-34. "Nice and steady..." *FSSHHHHHHEW* the rocket struck a mech's exhaust port. *BOOOOOOM* The whole mech exploded to pieces, with 4 remaining. Panels among the mechs opened and more turrets popped out, firing grenades down below. "GRENADE LAUNCHERS!" *BOOM BOOM BOOM*
"*KZZZRT* Derek, it's Daniel. I'm sending pilots your way to take down those mechs. Keep them distracted so the ships aren't destroyed! *KZZZRT*"
"KEEP THE MECHS DISTRACTED! KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING!" The Phoenixes began running around in circles, to confuse the mechs. The mechs began spinning in circles, trying to keep track of the Phoenixes. Arrows kept striking their cockpits, to which more grenades were launched, blowing some soldiers to bits. Derek made it behind another mech and fired his rocket. *BOOOOOOM* And three now remained. The mechs' turrets switched and new turrets came out, firing lasers. *PEWPEWPEWPEWPEW* Thankfully, the fighter ships began their ascent. The mechs faced upward, shooting at the flying ships. *PEWPEWPEWPEWPEW* The ships fired their bullets to the mechs, weakening their defenses greatly. The Cygnis fired rockets, blowing much of their components off. Yet they still stood. "Seriously!?" Derek shouted in frustration. "I have to take out all of them, one by one! Keep them distracted!" He ran behind a mech, almost being stepped on that time. He fired a rocket, blowing another one up, leaving 2 to be finished.
The mechs noticed Derek and became fixated on him. Their turrets switched to bullets and the ground around Derek was blasted upward. *POWPOWPOWPOW* The other soldiers tried to keep the mechs distracted, but they failed. One of them ceased fire and began to stomp on the soldiers, crushing many of them. They looked upwards and fired missiles at the ships. The ships evaded all they could, but these rockets were heat-seekers, ending the ship pilots' lives and creating much collateral damage. Derek ran for cover from the falling debris, but was soon forced out from the mechs' efforts. "Wait a minute, my ability!" The Chameleo armor acted up and he began to fade away from visibility. Soon, a rocket fired from nowhere visible and struck the exhaust of one of the mechs, ending its functionality.
Now one remained, and all that remained of Derek's men were Matthew, 2 Cygnis, and 1 Phoenix. The mech unleashed all of its weapons. All missiles were desperately shot to the ground, destroying many vehicles. All grenades were shot out, blowing up most of the ground. Everyone was thrown to the ground, nearly paralyzed. Derek was barely able to stand up. He slowly ran behind the mech with his RPG-34 ready. The mech also showed signs of weakness and was short-circuiting. The mech turned around, but Derek fired anyway. The cockpit was blown to smithereens. The mech still stood, but its operator was dead. The body began to tilt forward. "Oh no..." Derek attempted to sprint away, but was moving very slow. The mech fell, the ground shook greatly, and the sound was horrendously loud. It landed right next to Derek, but he stood on a spot that it didn't touch. He was on the ground, and his helmet went off. "*KZZZRT* Derek... please report to the biology lab. There's something that must be known."
Derek arrived to the biology lab where Daniel sat rocking back and forth in a corner. "You look like you've had a rough day", Derek said with sarcasm.
"They stole them... they stole them... they stole them." Daniel kept repeating.
"What did they steal?"
"THE LASER CANNONS!"
"What are you talking about?"
"The laser cannons. Organic weapons stolen from the alien commander 10 years ago. They never showed signs of decay, as if they were still alive. And now they're gone!"
"I'm sure through all of the ruckus, they were misplaced."
"No, the enemy got in and they stole much of our experimental weapons! The acid hose, the Flamethrower, and now the alien Laser Cannons! Why did everything decide to fall apart today?"
"What do we do?"
"I don't know. Where did this army come from? No one declared war! Let me check. *KZZRT* Hey, this is the general asking where that military equipment came from."
Another voice was heard. "They trace to Martica, sir."
Daniel was trembling and shut off the radio receiver. *KZZRT* "M-M-Martica... D-D-DARYL DEVNOT, I WILL MURDER YOU!"
"Everything is after us. The aliens, the Iron Panther, the Martican military. They must all be working together. That's it! THAT IS IT! We need a new approach." he stood up. "We will send everything we got to Crifaa. The Iron Panther is going down first!"
"How shall we start?"
"Before we do, I must make a trip around. There are two people who I know will be perfect for the job. You and everyone else rest up and repair what you can, I will be making some errands."
Daniel quickly left the base, driving off in a high-speed military vehicle.
Trailblazer City: the capital of North Military's region, Cantoshield. A military 4x4 drove at high speed on the freeway. It took an exit and ended up in a central town square, where a university was erect. Daniel stepped out of the vehicle and activated its anti-theft system. He entered the university called Trailblazer University and walked through the hall, where others gave him looks based on the blue jumpsuit that he was wearing. He made it to the mouth of the backside's outer area, where a security guard stood. "Sorry sir, you cannot come in here unless with an invitation."
Daniel showcased his military I.D. "Military business." The security guard stepped out his way, back up straight and arms down. "Sorry to keep you waiting, sir." he said as he saluted. Daniel exited through the back, where a tall stage was set up. Many students were seated with their cap and gowns. He looked at the audience seating and took a seat. Trailblazer's dean was at the podium, in the middle of a speech. "...And so if you're planning on working for some specific company, doing some military work, or even starting a business of your own, know this: you have succeeded and the world is in your grasp! Congratulations, everyone!" Everyone clapped. "We will now be distributing the degrees. Will Tomas Ernesting come up to receive his degree in biomechanics?" The distribution went on for a good while. Daniel did not understand how their order of students worked, but he sat there patiently all the way through. Finally, the last name came about. "For a degree in engineering, Jarod Dawson!" The audience clapped. Daniel watched Jarod walking across the stage and happily accepting his degree. Jarod did not seem to notice Daniel sitting in the audience, even though his outfit violated the university's dress code. There was one more speech from the dean, and the ceremony had ended. They tossed their caps in the air and people began exiting the courtyard.
Jarod walked out, still staring at his degree. "10 years of vigorous study, and it's finally in my hands! I am now a certified engineer!" He looked at the sky with a confident smile, then looked down. Suddenly, someone called his name.
Jarod looked around him confused at who called him. He then saw Daniel approaching. "...Daniel? What are you doing here?"
"It's so good to see you!" he said with a big grin. "Congratulations on your success!"
"Thanks a bunch... what's with the jumpsuit?"
"Oh, never mind that. How has life been?"
"It's been a living Hell, but now it has seemed worthwhile."
"Why are you here?"
"What do you mean? Can't a man see an old friend succeed?"
"Daniel... why are you here?" His face became serious.
Daniel sighed heavily. "Okay, Jarod. I'm here for a very important reason. Are you aware of the recent devastation?"
"Yes, it's been all over the news. The city bombing, the... infestation at Stellia. Daniel, I thought the aliens were dealt with 10 years ago."
"Look Jarod, I could sit here forever and explain things, but I just do not have the time. The terrorists are gaining the upper hand. The military has received heavily casualties and even our Southern allies are facing lots of trouble. Everything has been falling apart lately."
"I see... so what are you here for? It sounds to me that you should be out there fighting right now. Did you run away?"
"Of course not! I would never abandon my duties."
"I have an offering to make."
Jarod sighed. "I don't think so, Daniel."
"Jarod, please! We could really use a man like you."
"Daniel, it's been 10 years. I highly doubt that I would make a good contribution now. I haven't held a gun since the alien war. My skills have gone down the crapper by now."
"You're an engineer! Do you have any idea how much you could contribute?"
Jarod began to smile. "Well, I suppose." He then rolled his eyes. "But still, I'm one guy."
"Jarod, hear me out. I need my old team back!"
"Daniel, I attended this university so I could start a life outside the military. I did not wait 10 years just so I could go back." He started to walk away.
"JAROD, THERE WON'T BE A LIFE FOR YOU!"
Jarod turned around, looking rather annoyed. "Excuse me? What did you just say?"
"There won't be a life for anyone! Everyone you know will be dead soon! We will all be dead soon! Take a look at this." He showed him a datapad, showing pictures and silent video footage. "You know that Daryl Devnot guy and his core energy scheme? Martica is no longer neutral. They're taking advantage of our occupation with the terrorists so they could strike. They've attacked my base and have stolen our equipment. It is my belief that they are working with the Iron Panther!"
"Ugh, they're the terrorist organization behind the bombings."
"Oh..." Jarod fell very silent, seeming as if his spirit died. "But still, I'm one person."
"You're one person with the mind equivalent to 50 persons! If we survive this, I will get you the best engineering position in the whole military! I'll even help you get a career outside the military if I have to. So what do you say, Jarod? Would you like to help save humanity one more time?"
"...Okay, okay... I'm in."
"You have made a very wise decision, old friend." They shook hands and Jarod was dumbfounded.
"Your hand feels like metal. It's... not even touching my hand."
"Oh, you noticed that? It's for protective purposes. Anyway, do you need a ride?"
"No, I've got my own."
"Do you remember where the military base is?"
"Of course, I'll meet you there at 25:00"
"Excellent! I now must head off, as time is short." They said their temporary goodbyes and Daniel drove off in a heartbeat.
Location: a rural area on the outskirts of a small town. The peace of the countryside was disturbed by the loudness of the 4x4 as it drove in such a hurry. A small house was seen in the distance. "This must be the place" Daniel thought to himself. The vehicle slowed down and came to a stop. Daniel stepped out of the 4x4 and approached the house's front doorstep. *DING DONG* went the doorbell. The door opened slightly, with a chain restraining the door from opening too wide. A man's face peeked through the opening, staring at Daniel.
"Mark Aaron!" Daniel said. The door was immediately shut, much to Daniel's surprise. "Mark?" he knocked. "Mark, I need to talk to you! Please, this is important!" No answer. "I will knock down this door if I have to!" He reached into his backpack and pulled out a small metal rod. Strong concentrated heat came from the rod and the door's lock was melted. Daniel burst through the door and sees Mark wrapping a noose around his neck.
"DON'T COME ANY CLOSER!" he shouted while holding a pistol.
"Mark, what the Hell are you doing!?"
"I'm going to end all of my fears! I'm going to do him a favor!"
"Do what? Who? Damn it, Mark! Do not do this!" he took a step forward.
"DANIEL, I WILL SHOOT YOU IF YOU TAKE ONE MORE GOD DAMN STEP CLOSER! NOW BACK OFF!"
"Mark, please! I cannot afford to lose you! There really is no time for this!" He took another step closer.
"YOU ASKED FOR IT!" *POOOWW* a single bullet was shot, striking Daniel in the chest and knocking him back. As the bullet struck, a suit of armor had flashed around him. "What the Hell?" Mark unwrapped the noose and took several steps back as Daniel got back to his feet. "Don't try anything!" Mark said as he pointed the pistol to his own head.
"MARK, PUT THE GUN DOWN, GOD DAMN IT!"
"What was that thing around you!? Some sort of invisible battle armor? I will not face it again!"
"Mark, face what? What in the Hell are you talking about?" There was a short silence. Mark dropped the pistol and fell to his knees, also falling into tears.
"I... I... I'm sorry! *sob sob sob* The pain won't stop, Daniel!" Daniel stepped closer and took the pistol away.
"What troubles you? What are you afraid of?"
"Coming back. That's why you are here!"
"Damn, how did he know?" Daniel thought. "Mark, there isn't something that you're telling me. Explain yourself."
"Okay, okay, okay!" Mark wiped his tears, cleared his throat, and took a deep breath. "Okay Daniel, I'll tell you. Do you remember our mission 10 years ago? We went through the portal and ended up on Earth?" Daniel was silent. "Well anyway, when we battled Aivsht Murak, he absorbed the Commander's Laser Cannon. You remember that?" Still silent. "Well anyway, Those four organic Laser Cannons grew out and he started firing at us. He was about to absorb the rocket launchers from the Cygni Guards. Then Jarod (you remember him?) Then he sliced two appendages from him."
"Yes, and you used them as dual cannons."
"Exactly. But here's the thing..." He took another deep breath. "When I jammed my arms up those cannons, I began to hear voices. Voices that were speaking to me specifically."
"You heard voices? What did they say?"
"'Cease your efforts and give in to the highest bidder. You must perish for the universe to be healthy. Destroy your comrades, point the beams at them, not him.' I ignored the voices for the moment, which is why I didn't look like I was troubled. The voices kept speaking to me even after Murak was incapacitated. They said 'stop! Stop now! Stop them as well. Join us and invite them! Invite them to your imminent release. Release all of your pains and give in.' Ever since that day, those very words have been repeating in my head. I can't stop thinking about them. I made so many attempts to live well after leaving the military, but those words never made me feel peaceful. I've started to lose my focus at work, while paying bills, while watching T.V, and even while sleeping. I have frequent nightmares taking place during that fateful day. Every time I see the Genesis Nebula, I am reminded of the horrors I experienced. I've felt like the world has kept shoving that god damn experience in my face each and every day. That's why I was going to do it. To make the pain go away. I could never bring myself to actually do it, but when I saw your face, I had to act quick."
"Why didn't you do it?"
"Two reasons. I was still scared, and I was curious on what you wanted to say."
"Well, you already guessed it earlier."
"To come back?"
"Yes, Mark." Daniel spoke with a very soft tone to help Mark relax. "What did the voices sound like?"
"They sounded like Murak's voice. It was like he dipped into my mind."
"We have kept the organic laser cannons in captivity all these years for study. We never did learn the full scope of their biological properties. The strange thing is that they never seemed to show signs of decay, even though they are amputated limbs."
"Don't let anyone test them! You must destroy them! Tell someone at the base right now to DESTROY THEM!"
"I can't! They were stolen!"
"Mark, I'm sure you've seen all the ruckus on T.V about the terrorist bombing and the alien infestation at Stellia. Both main military bodies have had trouble with these two enemies. And yesterday, we made a new enemy. Daryl is a traitor. His army attacked our base and made off with the organic laser cannons. That great power is now in their hands."
"I feel like everything is related. The aliens I'm unsure about. They may just be angry at us for destroying their original home. But the Martican army and the terrorists, I'm thinking that they are working together. That new energy harvesting device that Daryl's men have constructed heralds mechanical properties similar to those we saw on Earth. If my theory is correct, they are practically HANDING that technology over to the Iron Panther."
"The terrorists are called the Iron Panther? Not bad."
"Yes, and we are to attack their base soon. I don't know the exact location, but it's somewhere in Crifaa. Jarod is on board with this plan already. Are you?"
"I... I don't know. I mean, look at me! I tried to commit suicide! How could I be of any purpose to you?"
"Mark, if we survive and get our stolen equipment back, I will let you destroy the organic laser cannons. Will that bring you closure?"
"Destroy them? Of course! You can count on me!"
"Wonderful! You have no idea how happy that makes me feel!"
"Wow, just 10 minutes ago, I shot you with a pistol."
"Well, I knew I'd face some sort of difficulty out here. This armor is invisible so it is not to gain attention."
"Well, that blue jumpsuit of yours may take the load off."
"Hahaha! Yeah. So Mark, do you remember where the primary base is?"
"Wasn't it Ark Space Station?"
"Not anymore. That station has landed for safety purposes and our operations are back on UBW."
"Then I do not know where it is."
"Not to worry! My car is outside right now. You can ride shotgun and we'll head off to the base. I am expecting to meet up with Jarod there."
"Okay, let's go!"
They left the house. Mark didn't even look back or seem to worry about his melted lock. He didn't seem to care. They quickly entered the 4x4 and headed off fast for the military base.
A dark dungeon. A group of at least 10 prisoners were chained to the brick walls. The heavy steel door had opened, with loud screeches. The three child prisoners covered their ears from the high-pitch squeal of the door. Diane was pushed into the chamber by Ali Muher. "What are you going to do?" she asked. "It's not going to hurt, is it?" For once, she sounded serious.
"Don't worry about that. Soon you will no longer question anything. All of you will be free to do as you choose." He cuffed a prisoner's hand and unchained him from the wall. He laid him on a metal table and chained him up again. "Now little lady, watch as this will be the great experiment that you have the privilege of participating in.
"I don't want to be a part of it."
"Oh, you should be honored. Now watch!" He pulled a chain from the ceiling and fell attached to it golden Mithril. The man struggled on the table as the golden Mithril was lowered to his chest. He began to cry in terror as he felt his chest was beginning to burn.
"Ah ah! AHHHH! Please, you're going to kill me! Take it away!"
"Oh, you won't die. I promise." Ali said. Another man came into the dungeon. "Christian! How are things?"
"Their base wasn't destroyed, but we have retrieved some excellent goods! Neil seems very pleased."
"What did they retrieve?"
"See for yourself. I'll gladly take over your shift here." Ali left Christian in the room.
Ali came into a dome where Neil and two others stood. Two glass capsules sat on a table. "Ali, look at this great gift!" said Neil in excitement. "Open the capsules." The two others opened the glass capsules, revealing two pulsating and fleshy cylindrical objects.
"The dark one's remains! They are here! We shall begin energy harvest soon. Imagine what we can create with the new power method we've been given! The world is now at our hands!"
Location: Northern Military Base
A 4x4 rolled up to the gate, where another car had waited. Daniel stepped out and authorized the gatekeeper to open access. "So you're a general now?" asked Jarod. "I'm impressed." The vehicles entered the base and all three stepped out. "Mark?" asked Jarod as he saw him. Mark's shoulders were bunched up, his head hanging low, and his hands held together. "Are you alright?"
"Yes, Jarod. Good to see you."
"Mark's been through a lot." Daniel whispered to Jarod. "Don't ask."
"Okay then. So what are we to do?"
"Well, we must prepare. Troops are ready to board the ships to Crifaa, but first we must suit up. My transparent armor is not very strong compared to what we already have. I'll show you two to the armory."
In the armory, three sets of gear awaited with three designated names above each set. Below the name Mark Aaron laid a bronze Hercules armor, the SP-22-XV1 backpack, the MR679 laser machine gun, and Roth's Hammer: a powerful melee weapon.
Below the name Jarod Dawson laid a silver Vulcan armor, the DSP-HPR backpack, RPG-34, and a Fireblade lightsword.
Below the name Daniel Peterson laid a golden Olympus armor, the HYD-Z1-VV backpack, the EX-R500, and the late Andrew Sullivan's Energy Glove.
"Just like old times." said Jarod.
"I'm ready." Mark added.
"Let's lock and load!" said Daniel. Tens of minutes passed as they made it to the Northern airport. Inside the ships were many soldiers. The one the trio entered had the Perseus Squad and Derek in waiting.
"Hey, the old Perseus Squad!" Mark commented.
"We may be old, but we're still sufficient." Miles replied.
"Hey, I'm not old!" said U-16.
Miles corrected himself "Okay, except for Samuel."
"So these are the 'two people perfect for the job'?" Derek asked.
"Boys, this is Derek Montague." said Daniel.
The ships closed and soon took off.
The ships landed a fair distance outside of Malzinka. Tanks rolled through to the mouth of the village. They searched the whole place heavily and only came across low-life traders. "No signs of them!" Daniel said bitterly. He looked to the distance and saw an old and tattered road. "Hey you!" he pointed to a native. "Where does that road lead to?"
"There is a rumor that it eventually leads to a secret weapons testing facility. Like a factory."
"Thank you. We'll be getting out of your guys' hair now." He got back inside a tank and all the war vehicles left quickly. The old road hadn't been used in years, but now its surface is more than covered by the raging vehicles. All animals in the distance ran away from the sounds of the machines. An hour drew by and strange mountains were seen in the distance. The vehicles slowed down as they got closer. Someone used the tank binoculars and saw creatures crawling all over the mountains.
"Them creatures on the mountains don't look too friendly."
"We'll find a way around." said Daniel. They searched for a way around, but the mountain seemed to stretch for miles. Suddenly, an orb of energy was shot toward the tanks. *POOWWW* The man looked through the binoculars again and saw floating jellyfish creatures spinning and firing balls of energy. "Manowars are attacking!" In the moment, Speedlings and Creedlings came out from the ground and pounced the vehicles. "That's no mountain, that's a hive!"
"FULL SPEED AHEAD!" shouted Daniel. "WE MUST DESTROY EVERY LAST ONE!" They charged and the hostiles fell off. Manowar sentries continued fire down to their level. "Ready the tank cannons!" Daniel ordered. All tanks pointed to the same area of the hive and fired *POOOOOWWWW* the ground shook with intensity and a large hole was blown open. However, this only made the aliens angry. Scorpions, Armored Armadillos, and Plasma Slugs rushed out of the large opening. "Hold your ground!" *CRACKLE CRACKLE HISSS RREEEEUUUUUR* They all fired their projectiles at the tanks, but dealt little damage.
They kept moving, crushing many aliens. However, the large number of hostiles was slowing the vehicles greatly. "Open fire!" shouted Daniel. The turrets mounted on the tanks began to clear a small area. Daniel popped out from the top holding the EX-R500. He fired a single shot at one alien, and the fire soon spread to others. Only the Creedlings and Armored Armadillos were not affected by the rifle's after effects. Jarod also climbed out of the tank, now that a clear area was held. He pointed upwards and fired his RPG-34 to the Manowars above. They floated in strafe patterns, but the heat-seeking feature lead to their demise. Several of them exploded into pieces. Creedlings jumped onto the vehicles again, and Daniel and Jarod were forced to retreat inside. "Forward!"
With an area clear, the vehicles were able to move forward, but not for long due to the pouncing Creedlings. "That's it! We must step out! CHARRRRGE!" Soldiers jumped out and attacked the hostiles. Jarod slashed a few Armored Armadillos with the Fireblade. No shell can protect them from that kind of sharpness. Mark was surrounded by Creedlings.
"You want to know pain? HERE! HAVE SOME!" One jumped toward his face, only meeting with the face of Roth's Hammer. *CRUUUUSH* The Creedling's shell fell into pieces. The shockwave of the hammer sent the remaining Creedlings on their dorsals. One by one, they were crushed by the mighty hammer. As for the Manowars, many soldiers shot all they could at them, but some met their doom with the energy orbs. Daniel switched to the Energy Glove, firing enlarging fists. The larger they grew, the more Manowars would be covered by its blast radius. *BOOOOM* They fell apart.
"Now THAT'S what I call Hand of God!" said Derek.
Several minutes and the area was clear. Daniel ordered the tanks to storm the opening of the hive. They entered and little aliens were to be seen. It has been assumed that they were all killed in battle. They all charged their cannons and fired again, deepening the hole. More aliens rushed out, though looking mutated. *SSSSSSSSSS* "Mutated Acid Bombers!" shouted Daniel. Mutated Creedlings also rushed out, appearing to have black spots on their shells. Mark equipped the MR679 and it charged. *PEWPEWPEWPEWPEWPEWPEW* The splatter of the acid fell onto his armor, slightly dissolving it. "I'm hit!" he said.
"Stand back!" shouted Derek. Mark took a step back and Derek fired a Black Disk. It shredded through a few Panthers and they seemed to be ready to advance. *KLIKLIKLIKLIKLI SHSHSHSHSH* A large millipede creature crawled out of a burrow in the wall, charging. Derek shot a Black Disk, but it made no effect. It rammed into the tanks, pushing them over a few feet. The Perseus Squad fired their laser guns, frying the millipede's legs, one by one. *KLIKLIKLIKLIKLI SHSHSHSH* The beast collapsed.
"Stand clear, we're blowing it open again!" Daniel ordered. They stood aside as the tanks charged their cannons. *POOOOOOOOW* The vehicles went forward and light was emitting from the last wall. "We're almost there!"
A large net of web had captured one of the vehicles. Soon more and all were captured by the webs. The soldiers were trapped inside their vehicles, and those outside grouped together, facing their weapons in all directions. "Night visors on!" Daniel ordered. Their visors glowed green and they searched the ceiling. A large creature scuttled by in a blur.
"What was that!?" asked a soldier. The creature lowered itself to the ground from a large web. The creature was a giant tarantula and it screeched in anger. *RWWWEEEEEEEEEEEERRKKKCKCKCKCKK*
"My God, it's the dreaded Arachnon!" Daniel shouted.
"WHAT ARE WE DOING STANDING AROUND!? KILL IT!" shouted Derek as he raised his R700-AA.
"FIRE!" *POWPOWPOWPOW PPEWPEWPEW PEEEWWW* Arachnon managed to dodge every attack and scampered up the walls.
"These damn spiders are fast no matter the size." Miles said in frustration.
"Okay, everyone! Focus and predict all movements. Study and plan!" Daniel jumped to the side, dodging a fired web. He equipped the EX-R500 and blasted the webs hanging from the ceiling. They set on fire and Arachnon dropped to the bottom. Its hair was on fire and it squealed. *REEEW REWW REEEUR* It then spun around and the fire was put out of its body. Mark concentrated his laser machine gun to its abdomen. *PEWPEWPEWPEW* Arachnon took quick notice and tackled Mark to the ground, all legs wrapped around him.
"AHHHH LET GO OF ME!" he shouted. It wrapped a web around and tossed him to the other soldiers, knocking them down like bowling pins. While they were down, Arachnon stomped on the ground a few times, sending a sort of signal. Several Creedlings responded and came out from the ground. The soldiers got back to their feet. "Eliminate the small threats!" The Perseus Squad focused on the Creedlings while Jarod used his Fireblade to set Mark free from the web. "Thanks", he said.
"No time for that" replied Jarod. "Arachnon is climbing up the ceiling." It was up to the trio to eliminate the tarantula. Arachnon fired more webs down below. One would have entangled Jarod, had he not held his Fireblade in front of him. The web crumbled in flames. Daniel equipped the Energy Glove and fired fists toward the ceiling. Arachnon dodged, but the blast caused some rocks to fall down.
"This damned thing is too fast!"
"Daniel, we are having trouble here!" said Derek as more Creedlings were appearing for attack. "Kill that spider and fast!"
"We're on it!" he replied. "Okay, focus. Mark, shoot around it! Jarod, use your Fireblade! I have an idea."
They obeyed. Mark blasted lasers around Arachnon. It backed off from the striking points and was found in one spot. It growled and spat more webs. Jarod slashed and fire blades shot forward, sending the webs into flames, as well as halves. Daniel adjusted the position of the EX-R500. Arachnon was angry. *RRRRRWWWEEEEEERRRKKKCKCKCKCK* It lept toward Daniel, at the same time he fired his sniper rifle. *POOOOOOW* The bullet struck one of Arachnon's eight legs. The spider's body had still struck Daniel, but he wasn't found being wrapped in a web. Arachnon took a few steps back and raised its front legs. Its fangs began to salivate with venom. The other soldiers finished off the Creedlings and joined to back up the trio. Arachnon scuttled backward, now showing feelings of doubt. "We are your superior, Arachnon." Daniel said to the creature. *REEEW REWW REEEUR* It ran forward and curled into a ball. They ran out of the way and fired more rounds onto it. It got its ground back and pounced. They dodged again, but one unfortunate soldier was caught in Arachnon's grasp. The armor was punctured and Arachnon's fangs had inserted into the soldier's neck.
"SAMUEL!" shouted Miles.
"UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGHHH!!" Samuel soon became limp. *POWPOWPOWPOWPOWPOW* The gunfire knocked the spider backward and Daniel and Jarod begun the final blow. Daniel fired the EX-R500 and Jarod slashed fire blades toward the creature. It slammed its body back and forth against the hive's walls and soon curled up in flames.
"Thank God that's over." said Mark. The Perseus Squad were gathered round over their fallen team mate.
"Well, I'll help free our rides." said Jarod holding his Fireblade. He slashed the webs and their vehicles were soon freed.
The Perseus Squad gathered Samuel's corpse and placed him inside a 4x4. "Ready the cannons!" The tanks pointed their cannons to the remaining wall and fired *POOOOWWW* Light shone through. They had reached the other side of the hive. "And now we continue our search. To the factory!" shouted Daniel. The soldiers got back into the vehicles and they continued down the remains of the old road.
Neil was deep within the stronghold, in an underground area. He was standing in an engine room where giant pistons were connected to the ground. Many maintenance persons were standing among the industrial catwalks. "They are setting in motion right now."
"Excellent, Daryl. You have done us good."
"I'm still surprised I made it past the political system, and sticking to the original plan."
"You are the best at brainwashing indeed. Come with me, we shall pay our prisoners a visit."
They made their way to the dungeons, and Charles Benedict followed them to the main chamber that held the military spies. They were weak and saved their energy, for the hope that they may be set free.
"Hello, fine gerbils." Neil said. "You've met Daryl, right? He's the one telling everyone that 'it's going to be okay'. Would you like an autograph from him?" They remained silent. "Huuhuhuh. Well to let you know, we're about to finish our plans. Our work will soon be done. And the cannons are being used for great creation, I guarantee. Now, I will-"
William Durmung burst into the chamber. "Neil, they're coming! Military forces are coming near!"
"What!? Son of a BITCH! Tell everyone to gear up! This is going to be a long day!"
"Right away!" William darted out of the chamber and Neil faced the prisoners again.
"What is the meaning of this!? They never came for us in our hour of need! Why the HELL are they coming for you!? Well, we'll show them who's become stronger! Daryl, release the 'infected ones'. Charles, you take care of these prisoners."
"Oh, with pleasure!" Charles said.
"We must hurry!" Neil left the chamber quickly.
The military tanks and 4x4s were now approaching the Iron Panther's base. It was a large stronghold, and sentries were at the ready. The tanks fired their cannons at the top. *BOOOOM* RPGs flew to their position, but also missing. *BOOOOM BOOOOM BOOOOM* Bullets struck the tanks, making very loud ricochet sounds. *POW PEWWWM PWWEEENG* Enemy tanks rolled forward. "OPEN THE 4X4'S!" Daniel ordered. Infantry rushed out of the vehicles, rocket launchers at the ready. *FSSSHHHHHEWWWWW BOOOOOM* Three tanks exploded and the northern tanks finished the remaining two.
Two battle mechs walked from the base and fired down at the infantry. "FALL BACK!" he yelled. The mechs fired rockets at the 4x4 vehicles, destroying all of them. The infantry scampered and the persons inside the mechs were juggling multiple targets. *POWPOWPOWPOW* "Move forward! I have an idea!" The tanks rolled forward and rammed into the mechs' legs, pushing them back. "FIRE!" The tanks fired their cannons, blowing up the knees of the mechs. They came crashing down and the pilots were ejected into the air. *RRAAAAAAAAHHHHRRRRR* A motion blur flew past, rescuing both pilots in mid-air.
"What the heck was that!?" said Daniel.
"I think we're getting a visit from an old friend." Miles said in reply.
With enemy war machines cleared, one last agent of heavy artillery was sent forth. The blur had returned to fight. It was a dragon with cybernetic implants. Made of both machine and living tissue.
Daniel finally realized what he was looking at. "SIEGFRIED!"
"*RRRAAAAAAAAHHHHRRR KZZZZZZ KZRRR KZRRRR SHTTT*" Siegfried's wings unfolded and he flew high into the air.
"Evasive maneuvers!" They exited the tanks, the main soldiers. Siegfried scanned the perimeter and his mouth charged with electricity. "RUNNNN!" *KKZZZZRRRTTT CHHRRR CHRRR CHRRT* Lightning was fired from his mouth onto the ground, hitting random areas. Siegfried then began flying in circles.
"Come on, let's do this for Samuel!" yelled a Perseus.
"Indeed, Lance." replied Miles. The remaining 4 Perseus Squad members began strafing in circles, firing their NOVA27s at the cyborg dragon. *PEWPEWPEWPEWPEW* Siegfried swooped down, pushing the soldiers to their feet. He spun around, whipping his metal tail. *WHACK* Miles was sent flying backwards.
"ALRIGHT, FOCUS ON ONE AREA!" Daniel ordered.
Mark's machine gun began rotating. *KRNNNN KRT PEWPEWPEWPEWPEWPEWPEW*
Siegfried groaned in pain. *KRAAAH* He began flapping his wings, creating a large gust of wind. The dirt hit their helmets. They wiped it off and the dragon flew back into the air. Jarod aimed the RPG-34. *FSSHHHHEWWW* The rocket danced with Siegfried in the sky, following his every evasive movement. "Here, have another one!" *FHSSSSEWWW* And Jarod proceeded to fire a third rocket. All three rockets followed Siegfried like electrons around an atom. Siegfried made one final sharp movement, tricking the rockets to travel down to the soldiers. "WHAT THE F-" *BOOOOOOM* Siegfried roared in a way that sounded similar to laugher. He was taunting them. Bits of armor were scattered across the floor from the killed soldiers.
"Oh God why!?" Jarod felt ashamed and put the rocket launcher back into his backpack, switching it for the Fireblade.
"Focus, Jarod!" Daniel said. "Derek, can you land a shot?"
"I'm trying, sir!" he said with his R700-AA.
"Keep trying! I have another idea!" Daniel equipped the EX-R500 and aimed alongside Derek. "Fire on my mark!"
Jarod slashed a few fire blades toward the dragon. It struck the metal parts and they switched from silver to red. Siegfried swooped down and Daniel proceeded to say "FIRE!" *PEWWWWWW* POOOOWWWW* Siegfried was stunned and ignited mid-air. "TAKE COVER!" They ran apart and Siegfried crashed into the ground. They turned around and saw Siegfried's wings burning away. *RAHHHHHHH* He tumbled on the ground and the fires were put out. However, the condition of his wings were too critical to fly anymore. Siegfried was grounded. He took a few steps back and charged directly for Daniel. "OH SH-" *POWWWW* Daniel was rammed and his body rolled backwards.
Siegfried stomped on the ground as a taunt. Mark and Jarod went to tend to Daniel while Derek took over.
"Phoenixes, Matthew! Concentrate fire on the wings!"
"AWWWWW YEAAA! RAMBO TIME!" One of the Phoenixes replied. They fired their reissued Energy Gloves, with the giant orbs. *POWW POW POW* Matthew used the Crab on the wings. Siegfried cried in pain and folded them as much as he could without hurting them too much. He twirled around and sent them flying backwards.
"Man, I wish that stupid Hydra didn't break my Striker. I could really use a counter overcharge." Derek said to himself. Siegfried's mouth charged and he fired 5 energy orbs, in a spread fire fashion. They dodged, save for one soldier who was hit. *GAH* Siegfried prepared to charge. They began strafing again. Siegfried was not to be fooled this time. He rushed and tackled Miles.
"AHHHHHH!" He began tearing bits of his armor off.
Daniel was helped back to his feet. "Jarod, I need you to use your rocket launcher again."
"Really? But I screwed up when I-"
"That thing can't fly anymore. He can't pull the same tricks now! NOW DO IT!"
"Okay, okay!" Jarod equipped RPG-34 again. "STAND CLEAR!" he shouted. *FSSSHHHHEWWWW* Siegfried was struck at the tail by the rocket, causing it to fall limp. *RAAAAAHHHHRRR* He began to show signs of weakness, such as lowered accuracy in attacks. His mouth began to glow again.
A giant laser came from his mouth. *PEWWWWWWEEEEWWWEEEWWW* Their evasive maneuvers loosely resembled a waltz. "Mark! Use the hammer!"
"You got it!" Mark equipped Roth's Hammer. "Now what?"
"Smack his face! Prepare for the final blow!"
Mark ran closer to Siegfried. The dragon took note of Mark and pointed his laser to him. The Hercules armor protected him from most of the impact, but he was being slowed down. Mark experienced a lot of pain, but could not afford to flinch. He pushed through the laser and swung the hammer. *WHOOOOO PAAAAAAHHH* Siegfried's head was bashed hard. Mark collapsed and Daniel and Derek pointed their rifles. "FIRE NOW!" *PEWWWWW POOOWWWW* *RRAAAAAAAAHHHHHHRR KZZRTT KZRRR KZRRRT* Cyborg Siegfried finally collapsed. His face was set ablaze by the EX-R500, but did not react to it. That's how they knew he was finally dead.
The stronghold had run out of defenses. "CHARRRGE!" Daniel ordered. The soldiers returned to the tanks and blast their way through the gates. *BOOOOOOM* Most of them exited the tanks and they ran into the Iron Panther's base. "Spread out! Jarod, Mark, and I will destroy their weapons. Derek and Matthew find the prisoners!"
"SIR, YES SIR!" Derek and Matthew said in unison and they ran their separate ways. Derek and Matthew made their way through dark corridors. The architecture began to look more and more primitive. Torches were hanged on the walls. "Looks like a dungeon." Derek said.
"Shhhh" Matthew replied. "Listen." They were both silent. Aside from the ventilation echoing among the dark hallways, a faint laughter was heard. "What the Hell is that?"
"I'm starting to have second thoughts here." Derek said. "But we must press forward!" They walked slowly through the hallways, and the laughter only grew louder. They were getting closer to the source of the sound. A yellow light was seen at the far end. "We're close!" They began to move faster to the other side. But as they got closer, a shadow was seen. Its movements matched that of the laughter.
"Heeee hehehehe. Ahhhhh HAHAHAHA!!! Tee hee hee hee hee hee hee..." They entered one of the torture chambers and saw blood across the metal tables, with Golden Mithril hanging above. Their armors began crackling.
"It's highly radioactive." Matthew said. "No wonder Gold Mithril is almost never used." They exited and resumed their search. To proceed, they had to see what was laughing. They got closer and closer and saw someone. She was wearing Andromedae armor, holding the helmet in her right hand, and bashing her head against the wall. She turned her head and faced them, face extremely deformed. She began walking towards them and they backed away.
She was stopped walking and started whimpering. She then howled greatly and 10 other deformed humans came out of different chambers. They also made quick growling sounds. They began to limp forward and picked up speed. "RUN!" Derek said. They both ran back the way they came, with the zombie-like people in pursuit.
"Why don't we just shoot them?" asked Matthew.
"We need to cover more distance! Just don't trip!" They ran past and the torches dimmed from the wind of their motion. Then the zombies ran past and the torches were put out. "Ok, we should be good!" Derek stopped running and equipped the Black Disk. *PWWWINNNG* The saw sliced through all of them, save for the woman and three short children. They continued running. "Crap! HEY, WAIT UP!" Derek continued running and caught up with Matthew. "I need you to use the Crab!"
"Right away!" Matthew stopped and fired plasma spheres. *CLAU CLAU CLAU CLAU* The children zombies' legs dissolved and they fell to the floor. However, the Andromedae-clad zombie kept running. They entered the other side of the dungeon and ran quickly inside a prison cell and shut the door. Prisoners raised their heads. They were Sullivan's Guild and 51-Cygnus.
"You've come for us!" said a Cygni in a weak voice.
"Yes, yes! But we also have a problem." The zombie bashed the door continuously.
"My God! Diane, what have they done to you!?" said Evan in horror.
"That's Diane!?" asked Ashleigh. "Nooooooo!!!"
Blood began splashing on the door as Diane continued smashing the door. "You might want to look away." Derek said as he raised a LIT07 at the door. "AVERT YOUR EYES!" *PEWPEWPEWPEW* The smashing ceased and a loud thud was heard. Derek and Matthew removed the prisoners from their chains. "Where are your suit backpacks?" Derek asked.
"They... th-they took them into another area. I don't know where."
"Wait... where's Karen?"
"K-21? She was also taken to another chamber."
Derek darted out of the chamber, leaving Matthew to tend to the rest of the prisoners.
Another prison chamber. Karen was strapped to a metal table, with her head hanging off the side. She was outfitted with her Phoenix armor, save for the helmet. Charles walked around the table, wearing Thunder armor and holding the helmet in his hand. "Soooo Karen Smith. Oh yes, I know your last name. And I know why you're here. Your big brother was Alan, yes? Ahhhh the great Alan Smith. One of the best laser arms specialists to serve in the military. That is, until my cousin Vincent killed him." Karen remained silent. "Oh, yeah. You see, that was my cousin. My best friend. Then he left for the military. He promised that he'd earn enough money so we could start a family business. He just vanished, though. But what I do know is that he killed one of your family members."
He laughed maniacally. "And so, my dear. I shall continue the newfound Benedict tradition." he said as he put on the Thunder helmet. "YOU SEE THIS HERE SWORD!? THIS HERE IS THE SAME SWORD MY COUSIN USED TO STAB YOUR BROTHER! HE SLICED AND DICED AND STAB AND STAB AND STAB! HAHAHAHA!!!" He held her head from the neck and raised the Passer. "AND NOW YOU SHALL SEE YOUR BROTHER IN HELL!"
It was then that Derek came across the room. He forced the door open and Charles turned around. Charles immediately swung the Passer around. "HYYAAAAA TA-TA-TA-TA-TA!!!" Charles struck Derek's chest armor, knocking him back. Charles turned around and directed the sword to Karen's head. Derek grabbed Charles' arm and they fought for the sword. Derek took the sword and stabbed it deep into the side of Charles' chest. Charles took several steps back, trembling and bleeding immensely. He looked down at the blade then back to Derek. "We're... gonna start a business..." *THUD*
Derek released Karen from the table, helping her to her feet. She was sweating, eyes bloodshot, and covered in tears. "Are you alright?"
She said nothing. She grabbed him and embraced him tightly, much to Derek's surprise. She then let go and put on her Phoenix helmet. "Let's get out of here." she said.
Mark, Daniel, and Jarod traveled through the other side of the base. These areas looked more technologically advanced. They entered a room that looked very similar to one seen on Earth. They were glass chambers and they contained one of each alien, including creatures native to UBW: Creedlings, Manowars, and very large millipedes. "You know what to do." said Daniel. They shot, slashed, and bashed all of the chambers open. The aliens fell out. The ones from Earth got to their legs and charged. "KILL THEM!" *PEWPEWPEW POWPOW SMASH* They put up a fight, but were ultimately destroyed. The creatures native to UBW had also gotten to their legs, without attacking. They seemed scared. "We can't afford more of this crap." said Daniel. "Kill them too!" The hapless Creedling, Manowar, and Millipede were brutally murdered.
"Ok, no more biological warfare for them." Daniel said.
"Uhh, Daniel, what is that?" Mark asked. They faced an additional chamber that held a creature that was not native to Earth or UBW. It resembled a large bacteriophage. The chamber began glowing and opened. The creature fell out. It walked around and noticed the trio standing there. They stood in awe over this strange creature. They looked back at the chamber and noticed a label that read "Syri-Ped". The Syri-Ped disregarded the trio and walked over the alien carcasses. Its legs surrounded the dead Speedling and it injected fluids inside of it. It proceeded to inject into the other carcasses as well. Slowly, their bodies were morphing, resembling the Syri-Ped. All of the dead aliens rose up as Syri-Peds and marched toward the trio. "What the heck is this!?" Mark asked.
"That thing... makes clones... Like a virus!" Jarod shouted.
"KILL THEM!" They fired their weapons, but the Syri-Peds were surprisingly agile, dodging every shot and every swing. "Uhhh..."
"Wait a minute." Jarod whipped out the RPG-34.
"Jarod, are you crazy!?" Mark shouted. Jarod fired the rocket, and they blew to pieces. However, the original Syri-Ped still stood. It charged and tackled Jarod.
"AHHH!" It prepared to inject itself into Jarod. Mark quickly swung his hammer at the head, smashing it into pieces. Fluids spilled out and its body fell to the ground, shattering like glass.
"We've got to keep moving."
The trio made their way into a hallway. They ran down it and entered a large room. It was dark, but the lights suddenly came on. Three men stood there. "Welcome to your yearly ass-kicking." said a voice matching Ali's. Ali Muher was outfitted in Perseus armor. Next to him was Christian Mekano, wearing Phoenix armor. And next to Christian was William Durmung, wearing Cygni armor. They all were holding Trinity bows.
"Are you ready?" asked Christian.
"We don't have time for this." Daniel said.
"We'll take that as a yes." said William. *FEEUU FEEUU FEEEUUU* The trio spread out, dodging the bursts of 9 arrows. *BOOOM BOOOM BOOM BOOM* They ran closer to them. Mark with the hammer, Jarod with the sword, and Daniel with the glove. Suddenly, the terrorists' TRI-O-AVATARS began to emit a green aura.
"Haha get it?" William said. "TRIO, AVATAR!"
"Shut up!" Mark replied. Now the terrorist trio began stafing. Daniel and the trio were able to cover enough distance to plan something.
"Use your radios" he said. *KZZZRTT* "Focus your aim on their backpacks. Once those are disabled, take them out!" They spread out again, still dodging Trinity arrows. Some managed to hit them, though. But they pressed on. Mark was quick on his feet and smashed William's backpack to pieces. Then Jarod slashed Christian's backpack open. Daniel simply used the Energy Glove to punch Ali right in the face. The shock sent him flying backward. While he was down, Daniel stripped the TRI-O-AVATAR from his back. Their energy supply was gone and their Trinity bows became useless. All three of them were thrown to the wall and the trio pointed their weapons at them.
"Surrender" Daniel said. Ali tried to refuse, but was too weak to even sputter a sentence. They all collapsed unconscious. Sullivan's Guild, 51-Cygnus, and Matthew came into the room, all armored. "Glad to see you're all fine" said Daniel. "Cuff them up and keep an eye on them."
"Yes sir!" said Evan.
"Say, where is Derek?" he asked.
"He and Karen went to catch Neil." Evan replied.
"We have to help them. There's no telling WHAT he has up his sleeve."
"They're coming for me!" said Neil.
"What are we going to do?" asked Daryl.
"I must ensure the safety of the organic laser cannons. You fend them off."
"WHAT!? By myself!?"
"Now is not the time to protest. Make use of your little time and arm yourself."
Neil went into another room and Daryl had to hurry. Not paying much attention, he put on the following items: Dec.24 head, Perseus chest, Thunder hands, Andromedae legs, and JIN.JINGLE. His armor looked hideous, but he had little to no time to prepare. He equipped the Morpheus shotgun and awaited. Derek and Karen burst into the room.
"What the heck are you wearing!?" asked Derek.
"Shut up, I grabbed what was closet to me!"
"Wait... Daryl Devnot?"
Daryl panicked and immediately fired the Morpheus. *PSHHHH PSHHH PSHHH* They both ran in opposite directions. "Neeuugh! Stand still! I can't hit you!" *PSSSH PSSSH* Karen shot the ground near his feet with the NOVA27, and he fumbled to the ground. Derek charged toward him, but Daryl thought fast and smacked him with the shotgun. Daryl got back to his feet and pointed the shotgun. Karen switched to the R100-RAILGUN and pointed to Daryl. "No, no please! Just arrest me! Don't!" She lowered it and began approaching him.
"Put your hands up."
He obeyed, then quick drew the Morpheus and fired directly at her, knocking her to the floor. Derek immediately fired his railgun at Daryl's head. Daryl fell to the ground, body twitching. Derek helped Karen back to her feet.
"You alright again?"
The electromagnetic rail seemed to give Daryl brain damage. Daryl muttered random gibberish. "New Boss will be coming on the next update... Q!!! Q YOU! PLES TO BAN AND LOCK DRAGON! New... new update and SW is game over!!!! NEW GAME ARE COMING! BLACK DAWN! No money! Don't buy!"
"Can you keep an eye on him?" Derek asked Karen.
"Sure, but not for long. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to stand his brain damage comments."
"Thank you." Derek made for the next room.
Neil stood in a shrine, outfitted in Chaos armor and Dracula. He was observing the laser cannons two feet from each other. They seemed to attach to each other like a skin wound repairing itself. "What else can I do?" he asked the cannons. "We've retrieved you, engineered Syri-Peds with your DNA, and are letting both of you be with one another. I assume the north military kept you two in separate containers."
Derek came into the room. "Neil Setán!"
"Who the Hell are you!?"
"You're with the north military. Have you come on behalf of the military to apologize?"
"Apologize? What are you talking about?"
"YOUR SCUMBAG MILITARY DOES NOT CARE!"
"Doesn't care? What are you..."
"10 years ago, my squad and I were at Ark Space Station. There was an alien invasion and we were sucked out into the vacuum of space! Our F.L.O.A.T bags were enough to save us from an orbital death. We landed in Crifaa and had to live off of small animals, which were scarce! And they did not respond ONCE to our calls for help. They probably just marked us as K.I.A and were off on their mary days!"
"So that's it!? Just to take revenge on the whole military body!? Why must you get the whole world involved!?"
"You don't understand! Who do you think forms your military? People! Neglectful power-hungry people of this world. We must destroy ALL of them! Me and my syndicate are united! And your world is coming to its close!"
"ENOUGH! HANDCUFFS, NOW!"
Neil punched Derek in the helmet and pushed him forward. Derek's Chameleo armor then became invisible.
"Simple invisibility tricks won't save you." Neil held out the White Drill. *CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP* The nails revealed Derek's position. "Just as I thought." In Neil's other hand, he held the Black Disk. *PRRIING* Derek ran all over the place, shooting at Neil. Neil also dodged the LIT07 shots while still firing the White Drill. Derek turned invisible again. "Seriously? Don't you ever learn?" He fired more nails, but they did not circle anything. "What the!?" He turned around and fired nails, but they traveled only forward. Neil became frustrated, then was struck on the side. "RAAAH!" He fired a black disk, and it cut Derek's armor.
"Tired yet? Maybe you should surrender. We have the ultimate answer, not the military." Derek knocked the weapons out of Neil's hands. Neil pulled out a grenade and dropped it in the floor. Derek jumped away, but the explosion pushed them both to the walls. They were now unarmed. Neil reached the the connected laser cannons, but his leg was pulled away by Derek. Derek looked at the cannons and saw they have formed into some sort of tree-like structure.
"What the Hell have you guys been doing around here?" Neil punched Derek in the face. Derek stepped back and swung his legs. Neil ducked and dodged his kicks and pushed him forward on the waist. They both were at the floor and their helmets fell off. Neil had pinned down Derek, having him in a choke hold. Derek panicked and tried to pull Neil's arms off of his neck, but failed. Neil had the most evil grin on his face as Derek's face started to become red, then slowly purple. Derek then put his hands between Neil's arms and pushed them away. Derek punched Neil in the face and they both lay on the floor. Derek caught his breath and tried to get back up, but Neil swung his leg and tripped Derek down again. Derek took his helmet and smacked Neil's face with it. Blood squirted out and Neil was wanting to dip into unconsciousness.
Derek got back to his feet and handcuffed Neil, arms behind his back. "You've lost, Neil. The Iron Panther has fallen."
Neil began to laugh. "HAHAHAHAHA!!!" He then spat out a bloody tooth.
"What's so funny?"
"You think you've won? It's not that simple! You may have defeated me, but my work here is done. The Iron Panther's work is now done. We're worthless to you now! We've set things in motion and now they're about to be completed!"
"What are you talking about!?"
Derek averted his attention to the organic laser cannons on the shrine, now forming a whole torso. Arms and legs grew out from the torso, and many tentacles. Derek took a few steps back in horror. Parts of the body resembled black Chaos armor. "What the Hell?" he thought. Finally, a head and face began to form at the top of the torso. Razor sharp teeth grew out, forming a mouth. Then, the yellow patterns resembling the top of the face. It then unleashed one of the most gruesome battle roars in history. The cannons had reformed a creature. A creature thought to be dead. But the war from 10 years ago had never been finished. And now, their mistake has come for revenge. Aivsht Murak has been reborn.
There was no time to grab his weapons. There was no time to ensure Neil's arrest. There was no time to catch his breath. There was only time for Derek to grab his helmet and run. He frantically ran out of the shrine, through several corridors. There were many twists and turns like a maze. From behind, he heard the sounds of heavy stomps and the blasting of a door. The harsh sounds echoed and sounded more clear as his pursuer was getting closer. The walls were being smashed out of the way. Derek ran past a door and slammed it shut. In 5 seconds, he heard the door smashed off of its hinges. Derek felt a tingle in his lower spine, as though he was anticipating to be struck in the back.
He seemed to make a wrong turn and faced a dead end. The room he stood in had a couple of drawers and a closet. He stepped into the dark closet and waited, panting heavily. The footsteps grew louder and louder. He could hear the main door being torn out of the hinges again. Low growls were heard from outside the closet. Derek could hear the drawers being checked and the steps slowly approached him. Derek had to act quick. He activated the Chameleo ability and vanished from sight. The closet doors were torn open and Murak's horrible face was seen. Murak seemed confused and turned around, standing still. Low sounds echoed throughout the area but soon seemed to gather around Murak as he began to speak. "We shall find you, for we can sense your presence. Reveal yourself so this may be ended sooner rather than later." Derek knew he had to show himself eventually, as his ability would only last so long. "Very well, then we shall not waste time with a petty creature such as yourself. We shall return to our work station." Murak's tentacles retracted and was of normal size again. A portal opened in the room and he stepped in, followed by its closing. Just then, the ability wore off and Derek was visible again. He caught his breath for a minute, pondering over what he just witnessed.
Derek came back to Karen's station, near Daryl.
"Are you alright? Where's Neil?"
"Incapacitated, but we-"
"By the way, Daryl has died from his injuries. Should we still collect the body?"
"Yes, but later! Something big is happening right now!"
"What do you mean?"
"Something happened in the place I arrested Neil. These two cylinder things turned into a giant creature."
She chuckled. "Excuse me, what?"
"We have to warn Daniel!"
"NO TIME! WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!"
They rushed back the way they came. Derek radioed Daniel. *KZZRT* "Daniel! Where are you?"
"We're coming to your area to assist in your objective."
"No! Go back the way you came! There's some big black creature that is in the sector!"
"A what!? Do you mean..."
"I don't know! It went through a portal and we need to hurry!"
"Derek, I might know what that thing is. Meet me at these coordinates!"
Daniel waited with 51-Cygnus, his team, and Matthew. Derek and Karen hurried and arrived at their location. Immediately, Karen asked "Where's Sullivan's Guild?"
"They went to collect the terrorists, including Neil."
Derek stepped in. "Daniel, what is going on? What was that black thing?"
"That's Murak. It sounds like the organic laser cannons reformed the body they once belonged to. I was afraid that would happen. Beyond these doors, lay the corridor to the engine room, where the core pistons are being operated. We must destroy the machinery before Murak can get his resurrected hands on them. Are we ready?"
"Uhhh I kind of left my weapons back at the shine. I'm unarmed at the moment."
Daniel reached into his backpack and gave Derek a special weapon. "Here, make good use of this Flamethrower."
"Thank you, sir!" Derek looked over at Matthew, who was holding a tube connected to a deceased Acid Bomber on his back. "What the heck are you wearing?"
"Don't worry about that, Derek." Daniel said. "Are we ready to finish this once and for all?"
A large underground room. There was a black abyss beneath all of the catwalks surrounding the pistons. The maintenance crew were standing around, ensuring even operations for all of the pistons. A large portal opened and Murak stepped out onto a catwalk. The crew slowly walked away from Murak and kept a good distance. Murak did not acknowledge their existence and began working the piston controls. They began to move faster and with greater intensity. The crew knew that he was endangering them all, but were too afraid to confront him. A large door opened and the soldiers walked onto the main catwalk. The maintenance crew soon ran past them, back the way they came.
Daniel stood in front of the team. "AIVSHT MURAK!" He called out. Murak turned around.
"AHHHH DANIEL PETERSON! WE REMEMBER YOU!" Murak looked at the other soldiers. "Not all of you, we recognize."
Mark took a few steps back in fear. Murak's head turned and was facing directly at him. "Mark Aaron! We thank you for not giving in to our demands 10 cycles ago. You have given us another chance! And we thank the Dawson for separating us from our original body as well. Our gratitude belongs to you two."
"Murak!" Daniel interrupted. "We cannot allow you to proceed! Surrender now!"
Murak growled. "You fool! Our parent did surrender! What makes you think we will?"
"I had hoped that you would have learned from that experience."
"Ah, but we did! We have learned not to make the same mistakes again! This stronghold is quite impressive for a human build. I am amazed at how the perfect tools were set up for our arrival."
"Cease your actions, Murak! We don't want to have to force you."
It was then that several tentacles grew from Murak's back. They reached for the ceiling and he climbed forward, dropping down to their catwalk. They all raised their weapons at him. "You have NO INDICATION how much we have anticipated this great moment!"
They opened fire. *POWPOWPOW PEWPEWPEW PEW WHAAA WHAAA* Murak did not even flinch. The tentacle cannons came out of his back, along with 2 others. They charged up. *PEWWWWWEEEWWW* They had to be extra careful, as metal catwalks aren't as secure as solid floor. The metal began to heat up very fast from the cannons. Murak then took a few steps back and growled. "We shall not perish this time! We shall ensure a finished job before giving up our life." He used the tentacles to climb the walls and left quickly.
"We have to catch him! We must spread out! Be cautious!"
They all spread out onto different lifts. 3 teams, Daniel's trio, 51-Cygnus, and the non-veterans. The lifts transfered them to different catwalks. Murak noted their movement and only became more stealthy. The heavy pistons shook the ground, along with the catwalks. They had to hurry. The organic cannons charged and fired toward Daniel's area. *PEWWWWEEEWWWEEWWW* The metal began to melt, and they had to act fast. They all jumped to lower, separate catwalks. Murak growled.
"Vile pests! We will not waste our time with filthy humans!" Several portals opened above the catwalks supporting all the soldiers. Several figures fell from the portals. They were clad in a strange green armor and held large machine guns with spinning saws at the bottom. Murak let out a foul laugh. "Enjoy hostiles from my home planet!" The creatures seemed disoriented but then set their target for the soldiers. The barrels of the machine guns span. *POWPOWPOWPOWPOW* The soldiers made evasive movements. Having not much width of the catwalks, they were forced to jump to ones separate from the creatures. They growled.
The tube Matthew held began to make sounds. Acid from the Bomber on his back began spraying out. *PSSHHHHHHHHHPLPLPLP* The metal quickly dissolved and the catwalk descended into the abyss. The creature jumped to the catwalk of the non-veterans, only able to grab onto the edge. It swung its machine gun forward, thrusting itself onto the flat surface. It roared and tackled Matthew. "AHHHHGH!" Derek was prepared to set the creature into flames, but Karen quickly intervened. She carefully fired the NOVA27, as to not hit Matthew. The creature flinched and got to its feet, not appearing to only slightly annoyed. It lept toward Karen, but she quickly ducked. The creature's forward momentum caused it to fall off of the catwalk's edge. Its screams grew quiet as it fell, followed by a loud thud.
The Cygnis were to be extra careful, given their explosive weapons. Their alien had stayed from a higher catwalk and used its saw to cut through the supporting beams. "Fire a rocket!" one of them said. A Cygni equipped RPG-24 and blasted a rocket to the creature's direction. However, the creature dodged and the rocket struck a piston. This made the ground shake only more. The creature finished cutting its own support beams and swung the catwalk forward, striking the one supporting the Cygnis. They almost fell over the guarding rails. Having no other ground, the alien jumped down to their catwalk, now too close for the Cygnis to use their weapons. "Let's share our strength!" the Cygni said. The creature charged forward, but the Cygnis all pushed back together. It was like a tug of war, only they were pushing. They were amazed at how it had a strength equal to four physically fit persons. They failed, and the alien pushed them all back. It ran back to grab its machine gun. The Cygnis had to act fast. One of them equipped a grenade launcher and fired a single grenade. They ran back as the alien charged forward, preparing to saw them into pieces. Just as the creature stepped over the grenade, it exploded. The catwalk was damaged and tilted downwards, sending the alien to its gravatational death. The Cygnis climbed upwards and grabbed onto another catwalk.
Only one alien remained. The catwalk that Daniel's team stood on was about directly above of the alien's. Its machine gun charged and they scampered. *POWPOWPOWPOWPOW* One of them was just about pushed upwards from the force of the bullets. Mark dropped down to the alien's catwalk. He had Roth's Hammer in his hand and slammed the gun out of the alien's hand. Now it was angry. Daniel and Jarod soon followed in descent. The alien charged toward Mark, but met the face of the hammer again. Daniel proceeded to fire the EX-R500, burning its armor. Now it was badly damaged and took several steps back. Its backpack shone and a dark gust of wind was sent to the soldiers' direction. Their injury somehow transfered energy to the alien, and it was strong again. It charged toward them, mauling Daniel. Daniel wrestled with the creature and threw it off of him. Mark then smacked it with the hammer, sending it over the rail to its doom. *CRASH*
Murak saw the soldiers succeed and began to curse in his language. "GRRRAVV TRAAK MURO KAN!" He extended his body and descended to 51-Cygnus' catwalk. "YOU ALL HAVE BEEN IN DEBT FOR 10 YEARS!" They were telepathically brought toward him and their rocket launchers came out of their backpacks. The Cygnis were thrown down and the rocket launchers were absorbed into his chest. Murak climbed far away from them and holes grew on his chest. They began to glow and rockets were soon fired out, striking their catwalk. All of the support beams exploded and the Cygnis were sent into the dark abyss.
"AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!" They all screamed and slowly grew quieter. Four loud thuds echoed throughout the room.
"NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" Daniel screamed.
"MUAHAHAHA!!! CYGNER KAN DRAVA ZAH!! And now you're all next!"
Daniel was angry. "MURAK, YOUR DEATH SHALL BE SLOW!"
Murak laughed only more. "Your anguish brings joy to us! But you shall soon feel no more, nor shall your world!"
"What are we going to do!?" Derek asked from across the room.
"We really need to focus now. Don't let our loss discourage us! We're still standing, and we shall leave this place still standing!"
"Only 15 minutes remain. Pesky human pistons are not as efficient as those made by Kartinava!"
"Railguns out!" said Daniel. He and Karen fired theirs to Murak, striking both of his arms.
"GRAAAAAHHHH!" He only seemed to be angered. He jumped down to Daniel's catwalk and grabbed his torso. "You shall be sent away!" he said. A large portal opened and he began to insert him inwards. Daniel held onto the walls that the portal did not cover. His head went through and caught a glimpse of a separate dimension, one where all colors were negative. Daniel pushed back into his dimension. The others were firing at Murak, but he seemed to ignore all strikes. "Shall this world please you more, Peterson?" He pushed him through again and Daniel witnessed a Pegasus-armored soldier fighting a large Serpent at Stadium Arcadium." Murak hadn't released Daniel yet. He was pulled back into his dimension to see Murak screaming in pain. It seemed the opposing fire finally caught his attention. Murak's grip weakened and Daniel set himself free.
Murak grabbed the support beams and crawled away to the piston controls. "9 minutes now! Just you come and try to stop us!"
The soldiers used lifts and united onto one catwalk. "This idiot doesn't think much, does he?" Karen asked softly. "He could have easily destroyed us on the lifts."
"We can hear all, pesky human female!" Murak shouted from across the chasm. "Such a move is too easy. Killing humans has become our sport. Would you like to meet with your deceased Cygni friends!?" Rockets were fired to their catwalk, and they all jumped quickly. *BOOOOOOM* The catwalk still stood, but a large chunk was missing. Murak growled. "Take that as a lesson to remain silent at all times, human female!"
Jarod equipped RPG-34. Murak was fixated on the piston controls and did not notice the rocket launcher. Jarod fired. *FSSSHHHHEWWW* Murak quickly leapt from the catwalk, but was still struck by the rocket. He tumbled down and landed on one of the lowest catwalks before the abyss. "You are next!" His laser cannons charged. *PEWWWWEWWWEWWWEWWW* Jarod's armor began to glow red from the heat. From the distance, was heard the blasting of more rockets.
"JUMP!!" Ordered Daniel. They jumped onto separate catwalks, each one of them, for the main one had now been compromised. The pistons began to overheat and superheated fire began to blast out of the exhaust ports.
"Arrrgh! 5 minutes remain!" He climbed upwards to the soldiers and grabbed Derek. Derek struggled and began to blast him with the Flamethrower. Murak's face set on fire and he roared. Derek was thrown towards Matthew. *POW* They were both on the floor. Murak spun around and the fire was gone. "Try to burn me, will you!?" He jumped down to them. Matthew's Acid Hose began to splash acid onto Murak's tentacles. They began to dissolve. "RAAAAAH!" He grabbed Matthew.
"LET GO OF ME!"
Matthew was cast into the dark abyss. "AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!"
"NOOOOOO!!!" Derek shouted. A large thud was heard.
"MURAK!" Daniel shouted. "OVER HERE!" Murak climbed upwards, but his tentacles grew weak.
"We shall consume you next!" Fire blasted from the pistons, very near their position. "Your world shall now perish! The cleansing shall now be complete!"
"BLAST HIM!" Daniel fired the Energy Glove, Mark blasted the MR679, and Jarod slashed his Fireblade. Murak was knocked back.
Continuous fire blasted from the pistons, burning Murak alive. "RAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! KRAAAAVVV!!" The tentacles fell off and started screaming in their own pitches. Murak retracted into normal size and the black Chaos armor became red, and soon white from the heat. Each of his organs were screaming in different pitches and soon the armor fell off. All that was left was a human-like body resembling Wallis Tearking and a leech-like parasite attached to the head. The body crumbled away and the parasite remained. The fire ceased and Murak's carcass was burned to a crisp. The ground shook and the body fell into ashes.
"*RUMBLE*" The catwalks began to collapse. The pistons were shaking violently and some pathways were blocked from the continuous fire. "HURRY HURRY!" Daniel and the others took lifts to the control panel for the pistons. "Ugh! Everyone take control of something, this is not a one-man job!" Derek and Karen grabbed ahold of some of the dials. They were more simple than the ones for the Space Station's thrusters. "Jarod! What do you think!?"
"NOT MUCH TIME LEFT! 3 MINUTES REMAIN!"
"UHHHH LOWER THAT GAUGE!"
Daniel lowered the piston gauge gently. The ground shook and his hand slipped. "DAMN IT!"
The piston gauge was lowered gently again.
The control panel had a small screen that lit up. It read *Confirming alterations. Approximate time, 5 minutes.*
"WHAT!?" Derek said. "THESE PISTONS HAVE ONLY 1.5 MINUTES! WE'RE DOOMED!"
"Wait, hang on!" Jarod said. The screen's approximate time seemed to change. *Approximate time, 3 minutes. 7 minutes. 4 minutes."
"Gah! all these years and they still can't fix the predictions!" Mark commented.
"We need a way to accelerate the process!" Jarod said. "I sure could use the XMAX-TREE right now. Maybe that'd help with all the heat... wait, THE HEAT! I SHALL BLAST LARGER HOLES!"
Jarod equipped the RPG-34 and fired multiple rockets at the exhaust ports. The holes became larger and more heat escaped.
"This is stupid, but I am ordering everyone to follow!" They all soon began shooting the pistons. *RUMBLE RUMBLE RUMBLE* Despite the violent reactions, the heat successfully escaped and they began to power down.
"*Alterations complete. Shutting down.*"
They all cheered. "I can't believe that worked!" Jarod said.
"Jarod, that wouldn't work again in a million years." said Mark.
"Hopefully, we won't need it to again." Daniel replied.
They all took a minute to catch their breaths before finding a way to escape the chasm and return to the outside.
People gathered around in the auditorium of the Northern base. There, a conference was being held. Daniel stood atop the stage. "I have gathered you all here to announce a big success. During our retaliation at Crifaa, we have successfully captured those responsible for the operations of The Iron Panther!"
The audience cheered and Daniel urged them to settle down.
"Yes, what a great success. I would also like to confirm the alliance of the Martican politicians and the Iron Panther. Daryl Devnot had secretly been an Iron Panther member all along and handed over the machines that harvest energy from UBW's core."
The audience booed.
"Yes, this was very unfortunate. However, Daryl was incapacitated and unintentionally killed. And his machines were permanently disabled."
They began to clap.
"We shall still be making adjustments so these incidents may never happen again. I have spoken with the Prime Minister Xavier U'Mont and he has agreed to organize meetings with other powerful officials to ban all use of geothermal harvest from the planet's core. Oh, and one more thing."
Daniel paused and tension began to arise in the audience.
"Consider the... I mean this to be complete. Not only has the Iron Panther been undermined, so have their associates who had been hiding in the shadows. As far as I'm concerned, things are looking positive."
They cheered and the conference had come to a close.
Later that day, Daniel was in his office, going through personal records. On his computer, were the files for the Iron Panther's founders. The screen changed the statuses from "Killed in Action" to "Alive; imprisoned". There was then a knock on the door. "Come in", he said.
The door opened.
"Great speech earlier."
"Ah, it was my pleasure."
"...So do you really think things are getting better?"
"Well, I may have exaggerated back there. The pistons inside the Iron Panther's base created a lot of collateral damage in other parts of the world. A lot of people have died, and people in Martica are starting to riot due to the secret political corruption."
"Well, a wound never heals peacefully. I'd say give this planet about several years and we should be fine again. Anyway, was there something you needed?"
"Oh, well I was just going to ask if you wanted to come to the Hall of Heroes. They've finished some new statues."
"Hmmm." Daniel looked at the stacks of papers on his desk. "Uhhh, I think I could go for a break."
The Hall of Heroes: an exhibit for particular contributors of the Northern Military's works who have passed away. Daniel stood in front of a statue alongside Mark and Jarod. The statue was of a man clad in Andromedae armor, holding the helmet in his left arm. The plaque read "Andrew Sullivan". Four new statues were standing near him, all clad in Cygni armor.
"The Cygni guards", Mark said. "Do you suppose they're with their Commander again?"
"One can never tell", said Jarod. "Hey, maybe you should knock on a statue and ask if anyone's home." There was no response. "Ehhheheheh... eeeehhhh." Jarod hung his head in shame.
Derek watched them and began to chuckled for the awkward silence. He turned around and saw Karen standing in front of a statue clad in Atom armor. The plaque read "Alan Smith". She looked down and sighed. "Still miss him, huh?"
"I'm not sure you understand what it's like to lose someone."
"You're right, I don't." There was a short silence. "Do you feel complete, though?"
"Your whole mission thing, about proving that-"
"In a way, yes. But the strange thing is, I don't feel very much better."
"Well, then maybe this isn't the type of work for you." She turned her head to him, looking confused. "What I mean is, this kind of environment is perhaps too stressful for you."
"Yeah, I suppose so. Still, it feels like I didn't do what I had intended."
"Well, if you REALLY wanted to be the 'better sibling', you would have had to participated in the Mithril War, but that's impossible. So I think it'd help you a lot if you just let go. It's not your fault, and there's nothing you could have done to change the past."
She shushed him. "I appreciate your concern. And maybe I will take your advice. I need to see my family again. I need to go back home."
Back to the trio, Jarod and Mark began to step out. "Well, we should get going." said Jarod.
"Yeah, and I got to check on my house. Hopefully, not too much has been stolen. Hahaha!"
"Of course. Until next time." Mark and Jarod left the room. "Derek, would you like to participate in some simulations with me at the Training Base?"
"Of course, General! But what about your papers?"
"Those can wait a little longer. I hear some new equipment has shipped here, so let's be sure to get our share."
Though the Iron Panther had become demolished, there was still much work to do. The Northern Military still had to take precautions and new laws were carried out as part of a new anti-terrorism movement. All biological warfare had become eradicated from the world and the creatures that were cloned for warfare had become critically endangered. They are still being searched for in order to see to their reconstruction.
Mark did not intend to remain in the military after his temporary resubmission. He has been taking therapy again recover from his traumatic experiences and has been making better progress than ever before. He still keeps in touch with his friends.
With Daniel's help, Jarod had successfully landed a career outside of the military. His hard studies at Trailblazer University have really paid off.
Daniel eventually retired from his duties and left the military, becoming the first surviving ex-commander since Johnathan Franklin.
Karen took Derek's advice and left the military to reunite with the Smith family again. Her current status is unknown.
Derek has remained in the military and is currently serving as a Drill Sergeant to new recruits.
After 17 years of warfare and concealed terrorism, the human race can finally rest easy, as the Iron Panther's year has come to a halt and all other threats have officially been overcome.