The Den Games Network Forum RPG
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds
At the rear of the little team, two MUNDI commandos were chatting with each other. One was a beefy Australian lance-corporal with a cyberarm, carrying a light machine gun over the shoulder. The other was a British corporal with cybernetic eyes, smartlinked to his sniper rifle. Both men studied the terrain around them with the lazy ease of familiarity.
But of course, such "laziness" on their part only appeared to be so on the surface... The Aussie had come from the Australian Special Air Service, and the British man had experience in the SAS of Gulf Wars I, II and III fame.
"Say, Winston, I've heard word about why we've been sent out on this little lark out here." The Aussie was saying.
"Yes? And?" The Brit replied, momentarily staring at a suspicious terrain feature before dismissing it and continuing on his scan of the surroundings.
"You see, there's this MUNDI big-shot colonel, who happens to owe this doctor guy big time in some war. So the guy decides to send a team down here to extract him. But then, he can't use one of his own officers to lead the team... You know, "personal reasons not valid for use of MUNDI resources" and all that crap. So he dug up some friends of his and got our two officers here to do the job... Some say that they are runners, boyo." The Aussie replied.
"I don't see any problems with them, Evans... Maybe a little on the keep-to-themselves side, but still fine people to stick around with."
"Keep-to-themselves?" The Aussie turnearound with a look of disgust. "You Poms are all the same, aren't you? It's all about understatement... Last time I had this Brit-bird, she called London a tad bit unpleasant at times after I had been mugged for the second time in a day. But then... she was kinda fine in the bed though..."
"Hey, keep the ladies out of this, won't you?" The British man was shaking his head, but he was taking the ribbing in stride... used to the Aussie's forthright manner.
"Speaking about ladies... I think our female officer is a fine bird."
The British man laughed quietly. "I'll keep that kind of thoughts to myself if I were you, laddie... Our male officer's married to her."
"Fair dinkum... as you Aussies are so fond of saying." The British sniper replied to the machine-gunner. "Shoot off your bullocks if you touch her, that fellow would."
"With all due respect, Winston... Screw you."
"Not if I can help it."
Up ahead, the sergeant leading the team suddenly stopped, signalling for Chance to come forward. The officer jogged to the front, MUNDI commandos scattering on all sides of the trail to take up defensive positions. Both Winston and Evans were ready in moments, their idle chatter forgotten as they panned their respective sectors.
Time for serious business.
Ery moved up beside Chance, the forest-green of his AET combat mage-armour contrasting with the black-and-mirrors styled armour that Chance wore, both of them fixing their eyes on that weird old man in front of them.
"That man's something I thought I might never see before... He's a Nature spirit, closely allied to my Tree shaman."
Chance took this all in without understanding... To his logical mind, the old man was possibly a threat. Afterall, how could such a decrepit fellow survive thus far in the hellish battle that had taken place here not long ago unless he was already one of them? He hesitated.
Ash jogged up and knelt down beside the pair, tapping Chance on the shoulder as she pointed up ahead at the plane-wreck.
"Look up there... Someone from the plane just spotted both us and the old man. I don't know what you guys are thinking about, but if we are going to avoid any sort of blue-on-blue friendly fire here, someone's gotta get to that old codger and tell him to get the hell out of the way."
Ery looked rather horrified... "That man's not some old codger, as you so indelicately put it! He's a nature spi..."
"Yes, yes..." Ash replied rather matter-of-factly. "Sorry about that. But If he's so full of that hocus-pocus kind of stuff, why don't you go sort him out? You mages have this ability to mind-talk or something like that, right? We'll stay here and cover you, fair enough?"
Ery nodded and stood up, signalling to his elves to stay in their positions. Then he discarded the rather irritating (to him) light machine-gun beside one of them and started to walk towards the nature spirit.
Here we go... the corp officer thought.
"Yeah, I didn't think of that, Raven. Can anyone here both drive AND fit in the driver's seat of the van? That counts you out, Tank"
Tank, who had been about to leap up, looked slightly ashamed.
Charlie got up. "I had some experiance in driving military skimmers when I was in the britguard. I havne't drove a civvie for years, though, as I can't afford one at the moment. I can try, though."
"Ok. Anyone else? We should get moving, incase that Ork comes back."
Dorodo tried to volunteer, but was remined that he was too short to reach the pedals. So it was going to have to be Charlie.
However, there was a a problem. Not everyone could fit in the van. They would have to leave Raven, and at least two others behind.
"Well I can drive." Wirecat said. "I've driven all kinds of vehicles, from small electro's to tankers... that van shouldn't be a problem."
"Ah well... then you better do it." Charlie replied. "With a mission like this we shouldn't be takin' any unnecessary risks."
I haven't driven any cars for months though, thanks to that fragging Delori... oh well. It's just a van. No problemo. My arm feels much better already, but I hope my mutation doesn't cause me any trouble while driving.
Raven had calmed down since his input into the conversation. He looked at each of the people in the room in turn. I don't like being so defenceless, I don't have my Negotiator and I couldn't run away from a narco'ed tree sloth. I am SO screwed! Raven continued to listen as the plan was developed. He refrained for commenting on how stupid he thought the whole idea was and praised the idea when his opinion was asked, beggars can't be choosers...especially crippled ones. Soon the party dispersed, the plan being decided and everyone needing some rest. Mary, however, continued to tend to Raven's leg. She inspected it, acting as if she actually knew what she was doing. Mary prodded a suspicious looking bump and Raven yelped in pain.
"Sorry there. Looks pretty bad down here Raven. I think the best case scenario is you are able to limp around the rest of your life. Worst case, you either get cyberwear or a wheelchair. I can only do so much."
Raven turned his head away from Mary, he didn't want her to see his face as a solitary tear rolled down his cheek. In a choked voice he asked Mary if he could borrow her wrist communicator, Mary consented, worried at the tone of his voice. Raven quickly dialled and waited for the connection to accept his request. It did. An elderly woman with black eyes and long, flowing black hair appeared on the tiny vid-screen.
"Hello? Who's that?......Raven!? Is it really you!? Roland! Our son is calling! How are you Raven? You haven't called in months! Are you out of Geneva? Where are you?"
Then the vidscreen split in two as another face filled the second half. It was a wrinkled, old man who, also had black eyes and a thick head of black hair.
"Son? Raven it's good to see you my boy! I hear Geneva is a crater, you get out alright?"
For a solid half hour Raven talked to his parents while Mary continued to inspect his leg. Raven's conversation was randomly interrupted by Mary accidently touching a soft nerve and Raven grunting in pain. Raven told his parents about how he had met with a group of people who had tried to stop the Bone Dragon which had carried the Buclear device into Geneva, how he had befriended an ork named Curim and had returned Curim's staff to Remini, his widow. How Raven had met with his old teacher and the centaur Delori, escaping with his life as the slaves rebelled. Raven,of course, glorified his role in these stories to a small extent. His parents were obviously impressed with his 'bravery' and hung on his every word. Eventually Raven came to how he had challenged the crowd control walker and had been shot rather badly in the leg and shoulder. With immense concern his mother asked if he was alright. Raven replied that it didn't look really bad but was serious nonetheless. Mary deliberately pushed a little too hard on Raven's wound and Raven winced in reply. His mother asked what happened just then Raven replied.
"Mary, a friend of mine who's a doctor, accidentily touched a sore spot on my leg."
At the mention of a female friend Raven's mother went ecstatic.
"A doctor huh? Is she just a friend...or is she more? Tell me more about her. Is she pretty? Nice? Intelligent? She's a doctor, of course she's intelligent!...."
Raven spent a few minutes frantically trying to explain that Mary was just a friend while Mary looked on amused and laughed occasionally. Eventually Raven had to pull out his ace and say that he did, in fact, have a girlfriend and it wasn't Mary. His mother demanded to know more about the girl, Raven's father would only add comments such as.
"Good one Raven!"
"That' the way boy! Just like your old man used to be!"
Raven went on to describe how he and Crystal had met, the times they spent together and what Crystal was like. When Raven mentioned that Crystal was in Britsprawl his mother squealed in delight and said.
"Tell me where she lives! Your father and I must go meet her sometime!"
Raven reluctantly revealed the location of Crystal's apartment. His mother was disappointed to find out Crystal lived in a slum neighbourhood.
"Surely you could have picked a nicer, cleaner girl Raven. You are such a charmer, you can have any pretty girl you want. Even Penelope Smithson if you wanted...."
Raven sighed and said.
"Not this again! We've been over this a hundred times. I'm not interested in Penelope, no matter how rich and how pretty she is! I'm not going to perpetuate a sham relationship!"
"But Raven-pooh, she likes you and she's such a nice girl, polite, well breed, intelligent and pretty."
"Good night mother."
Raven disconnected and handed the wristphone to Mary in disgust. Nothing. After a few seconds nothing happened. Raven looked at Mary, wondering why she didn't take back her wristphone. Mary was wearing a smile from ear to ear. She slyly smirked.
"Raven-pooh? They call you Raven-pooh?"
Raven, still annoyed with his parents, replied.
"Oh shut up Mary.....Oh..Nobody else must ever know! You tell Crystal and I'll kill you!"
Mary continued to mock Raven.
"I'm sure your parents will do the job better than I will anyway. You told them where she lives!"
With that Mary rolled onto the floor and began laughing (Rolling on floor laughing? ROFL?) like a hyena. After a moments frivolity Mary returned to her sombre temperment.
"I see that your parents both had black hair but you don't. Yet, you're named Raven which is a name associated with the colour black."
"Like everyone in my family I was born with a head of black hair. I was named Raven in honour of this family trait. Unfortunately, after a few years my hair began to change from jet black to the grey you see before you. My parents couldn't just change my name and they saw artificial colouring as pretencious and stupid so here I am. A grey Raven, pretty rare huh?"
Mary nodded, it made sense, then she questioned Raven over the identity of this Penelope Smithson. Raven looked glum as he responded.
"As my family is fairly well off we live in the section of Britsprawl where money and prestige are all that matter. Generally, it is considered a custom to marry between these rich families. I was betrothed to marry this girl from the Smithson family,who have more money and prestige than we do. So you can see why my mother wants to see me wed to this girl, it makes her look good. I've got nothing against this girl just that I don't love her and I want to make my own life in this world. I could have lived off my parents and their investments or even off the money of the Smithson family but I want to make my own fortune. That's why I'm a blackmarket fitter. I need a large cash reserve to begin my little empire and we both know there's money to be had in the blackmarket and being a runner. Understand?"
Mary nodded and stood up.
"Goodnight Raven, here's some painkillers if you need them during the night."
She left the room.
Well, you learn something new every day. Certainly gives me a different view of Raven than before....
"Certainly a tragic story..."
A voice whispered. Damn it. How could the worst happen to them?
Raven looked surprised to see a tiny pipsqueak gazing inside the house through a window. A goblin.
"Overmind, just shut up!"
An elf voice. The goblin soon dissapeared,dragged by the the owner of the other voice. It looked a female elven voice.
And so, the feast went on. Tons of delicious meat were engulfed by the terrifying jaws of the dragons, who ended satisfied.
"Guess It is time for an sleep... Thanks to all of you and specially, our guest. Draco" Mawroth solemnly pronounced the phrase. It was time to rest.
Draco felt even more thrilled when Lady Varos guided him through the network of tunnels. How in hell was she so CLOSE to Draco?Could it mean...?
"Draco, please come in, we have to talk..." She whispered.
"If Silvia could help me now..." Draco thought. He was in an embarrasing situation.
Wolf looked at the dim light that came inside the room.
"however, Wendy, there is a way to fix that problem..."
Crystal responsed automatically.
"Promise me something first. What you hear in this room will not be told to anyone. Nor your close friends."
"Promised." she said. She wanted to know more.
"As I already told you, my father was the best in DNA research. I know how truly he knew about these matters. However, his knowledge was fruit of a fearsome project that was carried by MUNDI about 25 years ago. The name was Project Gamma-Dragon."
Crystal seemed thrilled. She was going to ask if that was somehow related with Dragon. But Wolf continued with his speech.
Five Shamans from the Native American Nations strode down the plushly carpeted corridor, regarding their surroundings with distaste. The environment was alien from the more natural surroundings they referred to do business in, and though the whole building was warded against spirits, they still felt the mana-waves from the comet and the Geneva rift.
They entered the meeting chamber. Their flanking guards - Sioux Army Wildcats, the most lethal special forces in the world, wordlessly joined the MUNDI security forces on patrol in and around the building, their light weapons and armour belying their deadliness.
The grandiose meeting chamber had once been the main building of the UN in Switzerland, a new complex built to take over from the Geneva building in the early 21st century. It had never been used as such, as the UN finally fell victim to the calamitous events of the early 21st century. Even before the awakening, the old organisation was feeling the strain, its power undermined by those who would see it as a tool, discarded when it no longer saw the UN as useful for their cause.
The gathering of magicians had failed, as the Geneva Astral Rift first manifested on the physical plane, to come to an agreed course of action to take. And now the world was paying the price.
Colonel Xiao Renwu was determined not to let such a thing happen again.
For the first time since Geneva, the foremost (meta)human magicians in the world were coming together. The Oxford Royal College of Magicians, The UCAS' MIT&T, The council of Shamans from the NAN, The Shinto Mikos from Imperial Japan, the Germanic Shamans, the Head Houngans from the Carribean League.
Lets hope we don't suffer the same fate as the old UN. He thought. Of course, no-one would register his inner doubts. His face was covered by his MUNDI battledress and mirrored visor, as ever, his mind shielded by his Spell-locked wards.
He regarded Danny Five-Feathers from the NAN, here with the head Sioux Shaman Sarah Cat-Dancing.
"Are we all here?"
"Not yet, mirrorface. We await our European Shamanic comrades."
Renwu spotted Darren MacGowan, Bennifer Lonsdale, and the other heads. Eberyone, in fact, apart from those from the Elven nations, keeping to themselves as usual, and the Aztlan representative, who died last night in circumstances thought to be related to the comet.
Enough to make a start of it then.
"Shaman Five-Feathers, Cat-Dancing, please be seated." Renwu said, showing none of his impatience. The Two nodded sagely and went to their seats. Renwu strode to the circular centre of the room, the most powerful human and metahuman magicians in the world seated up and surrounding him. A Large three-dimensional map flared into life behind him - A battered landscape, with a pulsing dome in the centre.
"Geneva, ladies and gentlemen."
Murmuring from the audience.
"Needless to say, I think we have all seen this on the astral. Mere computer graphics cannot begin to detail the flow of mana in and out of this area, let alone the huge levels of negative background count: The sheer presence of bad feeling from those who have perished, and those coming from the rift."
Nodded agreement. Renwu watched the highly-detailed map fill up with blue icons - Blue men with rifles detailing MUNDI and sec-force positions, armoured vehicles, Helicopters and Aircraft, including drones, and the pride and joy of the defence line - The eight Panzerfaust and Uber-Panzerfaust. Then appeared other assets - bases and staging areas, including three airbases.
"Our dispositions, 2300 last night."
Then, to gasps from the audience, fully half of the icons disappeared - Mostly the rifleman icons, half of the air icons and around a third of the armoured vehicle icons, as well as two bases and one airbase. Two Panzerfausts were lost.
"Our forces, now, at 0530."
Danny Five-Feathers raised an eyebrow. Darren MacGowan paused, and polished his spectacles, which were themselves often a sign of magical ability. These days, most people with eyesight problems simply got organic or cybernetic replacement eyes. Only magicians normally eschewed the intrusive surgery, because spectaclesproved more expensive in the long run.
"Interesting." He said.
"Fragged-up." Five Feathers said.
"Now," Renwu began. Behind him the map filled up with dozens of small red icons - A stick man with an amoeba-like icon hovering over his head. The so-called Hijacker daemons. These appeared clustered around MUNDI positions, and in scattered areas around the dome.
"Approximate positions only, of course. Daemons and spirits don't register on any kind of technological tracking devices, and we must rely on eyewitness reports from mages and shamans on the astral. The zombies that are created when Hijackers take a victim - Either a corpse or other soulless body, as you know - are easier to track. However I should tell you, by now hijackers are confirmed to have travelled the length of the entire world. We were unable to stop them flooding through, and a worldwide zombie epidemic is on the cards."
"Damn." Came a voice from the audience. More nodding.
More icons appeared. Lesser daemons, fewer in number than the hijackers. One hijacker seemed to have taken the body of a lesser dragon. Then came a big red question mark.
"What the frag is that?" Five feathers again.
"That," Began Renwu, "I think we all know too well. Let me give you an account from one of our troops in the field:"
A playback began through self-orientating eightspace speakers situated all aound the room. A crystal-clear radio report from a young MUNDI Lieutenant, the calm officer's voice replaced by mangled gibberish.
"Some kinda big red fragger... gonna try the AT launchers on 'im." *static* "Frag, A Squad... an't see 'em anywhere. Fynes! Zombies! GET THE FRAGGIN' ZOMBIES!" *Sustained static brought about by heavy autofire.* "GREAT SPIRIT! THE BIG RED FRAGGER! HE BROUGHT TWO GUNSHIPS DOWN! HE'S FRAGGING BIG, AND EVIL-LOOKING! HE'S COMING! FRAG! FIRE BASTARDS! FIRES0-lnjJ0KDRIOGJI0im)_"zzzzz
"De Red Knight be here." Said Belvedene Deschamps, to shocked approval.
"My conclusion exactly." Said Renwu. "But-" More red question marks appeared, circling around to show that their position was completely unknown.
"What these are, and where, we cannot tell you. We can tell you that as yet none of them have left the area in question. But out priority first of all, must be to make sure this remains so. Oh, and one more thing-"
A final icon appeared - A Kamov Ka-72 Hollowpoint gunship - Formerly in service with Daisaka security - The newest SOTA Neo-Soviet Union gunship, effective at attacking ground targets and aerial targets, like Panzers, which it was designed to destroy. And this one appeared in red.
N'zar, still in his human form, restrained a yawn and lay back in the surprisingly comfortable seat. He had to give the old UN credit for this nice seat, at least, he thought. But nothing the human known as nobody was saying was anything he didn't already know. He just kept on talking and talking... And he hadn't even mentioned Dark dragon yet... Could it be the humans didn't know of his involvement?
The interrogator was getting more impatient with Shadow.
"We know about him and that girl. She's his daughter, you know. All very sick and disturbing, I agree, but that's the world we live in, is it not? And unless you want to end up looking even more sick and disturbing, I suggest you find a way of narrowing down our mysterious... female... agitator. Where were you when she gave you the package? And Ludenz, be ready with that kettle again!"
Wirecat couldn't sleep. He felt restless; excited in some way he'd never felt before.
That's probably the mutation... my cat instincts kicking in. Frag it... I just want to sleep.
He listened to the sounds around him. In the other room he could hear Raven talk. He didn't boher concentrating on what he said... he was too tired, and it was none of his business anyway. He didn't want to get any more involved with the 'runners than he had to.
Then, a different sound caught his attention.
He sneeked to the window to take a look, and saw a goblin looking through the window of the room where Mary and Raven were.
That's not Dorodo...
Behind the goblin was an elf. He could hardly see her at first; she was wearing a black camouflage suit.
Slowly, he walked towards the window and watched what they were doing.
Hmm... why are they spying on us? Let's see if we can find out more about them.
He looked at their aura's. Like astral signatures, they were unblockable, but they provided much more information. An aura wasn't just a visual projection of an astral signature, it contained a complete overview of who the transmitter was.
The Elf woman - she has a strong personality, and she's a good leader. Has adopted stealth as a basic part of herself. She recently suffered a great loss, and is still grieving...
The goblin - very spontaneous and compassionate. A true genious, but undervalued by his surroundings. And that obviously includes the stealth elf; she didn't seem very friendly towards him.
Suddenly, the Elf noticed something. Two cat eyes, looking at her. But somehow there was something wrong with them... this was not a normal feline.
She reached for the gun hanging from her belt.
Wirecat quickly pulled his head back through the window.
Oh frag... I think she saw me.
"It's a Nature Spirit! But how can it survive like that? Its physical form should disappear once its summoning energy..."
The eagle shaman interrupted him. "Korum, this is Geneva. With all the weird stuff happening around here, this doesn't surprise me at all. But I'd look a bit further... right there..."
He pointed towards a group of people standing about 20 meters behind the Spirit.
"It's probably a MUNDI strike team." the Eagle shaman continued. "They're constantly attacking the stuff in the city. And they're constantly blown out of the sky too."
"Well these don't look undead to me... so let's go and meet them." Korum said. "Where's Mako?"
"Dunno... probably went 'hunting' again. The fragger's gonna get himself killed in no time... "
Then, they saw one of the people separate from the group, and walking towards the Nature spirit.
"Well look at that..." Korum said to his companion. "Another Shaman."
Matthew Cairns was angry. Really angry. He wanted to hit something, but knew better than to smash anything in the church of light LEO transport. The Inquisitor, still clad in full battle armour, ran his hands along the shaft of his electrified warhammer.
This was a special hauler, comissioned by the church for an emergency such as this. It could bring a small contigent of Church soldiers into combat, on any part of the globe, or LEO platform, without entering enemy airspace. Although there wasn't much of danger across the atlantic, Britsprawl, and The Socialist States of France, it was still quicker. And the quicker they reached Geneva the better.
In the shuttle-like craft, were the inquisitor, and acolyte-pilot, two inquisitors trained in the magical arts, a priestess, seven cyber-eunuchs, twelve zealots with heavy weapondry, and five of what had been hastily referred to as 'the shield'. Only Cairns knew what these were, and he had had an even greater struggle trying to get approval to bring five of the church's greatest artifacts to Geneva, than he had in getting approval for the Geneva relief force. Infact, he hadn't recieved approval at all, having stormed out of audiance with his long-term colleague, ally and friend, Cynthia Stormcrow. Cairns had resorted to taking advantage of the slow relay caused by the power-outage in Washington State, and taking off with his hastily assembled force only minutes after the LEO airport had come back online. This hadn't given him the time to get the best, but it had got him allies he could trust - amoung them a former pupil, Inquisitor Shah. She was dependable, although not amoung the most powerful weilders of inquisitorial power. He'd thought about grooming her as a sucessor, but had given up the idea at the suggestion of Stormcrow.
How the hell had this happened in Geneva? And why hadn't this already been stopped? Cairns was a veteran of many church campaigns, but fighting daemons worried him deeply - this was one foe he had not come up against before.
Mary retreated from Raven's room, thinking things over. It was one thing that Raven was the guy's first name - she'd always thought it was his streetname - but another that he was a british rich kid! Mary's parents were by no means poor, but in the socially casted british isles they didn't rank as noticable at all.
And the way his parents took to the fact the he had been lost, almost missing for months without much comment was amazing. She shuddered to think what would happen when she got back to Oxford, facing her mentor Max, and her distraught parents.
The memory of what was happening, and the fact the she needed to get out of here almost brought a despairing tear to her eye. She do anything not to have got into this mess in the first place, but she couldn't run out now, not with her friends here.
She could hear Charlie's heavy breathing from one of the sofas. Tank was sleeping as only orks could, leaning against a wall, and Dorodo was curled up in one corner, Linith on the other sofa. It was almost deadly quiet in the house, apart from the breathing.
Wirecat was standing at the window, looking out. She didn't know what he was looking at, but tiptoed up, placing one hand on his hairy shoulder.
"Wirecat..." she whispered. "what is it?"
The cat-man clamed one hand to her mouth, and pointed silently. Someone was outside. In shadows, away the moonlight streaming down from the starry heavens, two figures were visible. One was probably elven, the other looking decidedly gobline.
"Who are they?"
"I don't know - they don't seem hostile - that is to say, the goblin doesn't. Not sure about the elf, though."
"What do we do?"
"I'm not sure. They seem to be looking in Raven's window."
"Shall I wake the others?"
"Wait a moment. We need to lure them into a more brightly moonlit area, away from the shadows, to get a better look." He silently opened the window. "Is there anything I can throw?"
Crystal stared in disbelief at her newly grown tail. It must have grown incredibly quickly - She'd certainly felt it. the pain had been - and still was - crippling. The newly-formed appendage swayed gently. Crystal found she had little control over it. The lino-like tuft of blue hair on the end danced in front of her eyes, distracting her from what Wolf was saying.
"Am I talking to myself? Time is short! Those doctors could come in any minute!" Wolf was getting impatient.
"Uh, sorry. We gotta get out of here before they put me on 'Animals of the Awakened world. I'm not gonna be their freak. You got a place we can go unseen? How about my flat at the Michael Lonsdale Dome-Support building? We'll need a vehicle though. I'll call Cy."
Wolf thought it over - The one exit to the room was swarming with reporters. They'd need a distraction. He noticed an auto-wheelchair folded in the corner of the room. It looked like one of the top-line ones, which where basically rigger-type drones with a chair on them, and autopilot.
Badjimmy had told them that he knew where an airport was, and they didn't listen to him. He was running headlong from the building - especially now that others had appeared, like that little goblin runt. At first Badjimmy had thought of killing him - Maybe with his bare hands, but then he'd seen the big, lumbering Ork, stomping through the night, plain as the day in Badjimmy's thermographic eyes.
Anger flared up within him.
You fraggers. YOU FRAGGERS! DIE! No, wait... They'll have a plane waiting... I'll see if the fraggin' Troggs left it guarded...
A few minutes later, The blue-haired Elf had made his way quietly throught the rotting, sulphurous dead undergrowth that was all the vegetation the polluted city boasted, and came across the chain-link fence of the tiny private-use airfield. He scaled it with Elven agility, vaulting well up and over the invisible monowire that topped the fence, and down the other side.
There. Another of those high-tech planes, like the one that had landed in the middle of the gangfight on the motorway and gotten firebombed. And it was unguarded. A trail of heat spots led away from it, in the direction BadJimmy had come.
He clambered aboard, lying flat on the back of the fuselage for a while.
Mako had left the Shamans and WESForce Mages well behind, going out alone and ahead of them. This was well against his instincts - He was a pack hunter. But the timid Mages seemed more like prey to him. He thought he'd get away before he felt like frying one of them.
Of course, he'd seen the city spirit moping around. He'd summoned many like it before, and though each was unique, he'd could tell what it was instantly with astral perception.
The spirit appeared in the form of an aged man, but his clothing was bizarre. Odd sporty shoes, lycra trousers with striopes down the side, with a filthy red hooded top. He looked like some kind of turn-of century vagrant. He moped around, a ghostly figure, not all there, hands in pockets, a small cyclone of cans and bits of rubbish around his feet.
Mako made his way over, running.
"Can you see them?" The odd figure said.
"See what?" Mako whispered.
"Little flying fraggers, swirling 'round my head. They piss me off. This is MY city, my domain..." The rest of the speech trialed off into cursing and muttering. They old guy swatted something unseen from around his head, like someone trying to catch flies."
Mako was in no need for games.
"You're a spirit. Who summoned you?"
"Are you... a Free spirit?
Mako knew when a Shaman - or a mage with elementals for that matter - dies, any spirits or elementals he had bound to him would be banished back to whence they came. But every so often, or so the rumours went, the spirit would retain it's cohesion - Its powers, the ability to manifest on the physical plane. Free spirits, both feared and fascinating.
A glance from the man's ghostly eyes. A smile.
"Wha'ssit ta you? Ya think ya can dominate me, eh?"
Mako whirled at a sound from behind him.
An Elf in AET combat armour. He carried no weapons. A quick glance on the Astral revealed to Mako the Elf was a shaman - Quite powerful."
Mako hated corporates. To him, a Shaman in the employ of a corp had even less respect than a man who sold hios soul. A sell-shaman was selling nature.
"Back off, sell-shaman, I bite." He warned, his red-rimmed eyes narrowing to slits. He sang his song of protection. A mana barrier shimmered into life around him...
Behind, the sound of cackling laughter from the Free City Spirit.
"Don't let them get ya, you two!"
BadJimmy felt as if something had pulled him out of the plane, and landed upon the floor.
"Taking things of others without permission is not a good thing..." A voice muttered inside his head.
A dwarf, somewhat like a shaman, was standing inside. But there was something weird in him... It was not a normal Shaman...
"Hammerwing to all others. We have a rat.Come quickly" He whispered trough the intercom.
"What the?" David stared at both the Elf and Goblin running away. Somebody had happened. And they were heading for the airport.
Behemoth was only a step below them.
"Hmmm the wheelchair... could be a good idea, but I have a better one...."
He grabbed a towel and wrapped it around. The coat he was wearing dropped out, revealing a combat gear.
It looked way too like a terrorist. The final touch was the revolver spinning in his hand.
"This is the plan, We. I act like if Im were a terrorist, and when those fraggers run away, you leave the building in the confusion. We meet in the back alley of the hospital."
We? Nobody called her We since she was a child. But how he could know it.
Only his father, and a few others... Like a doctor who visited him frequently and his annoying son... Doctor Alexeiv and his son, Nick. She thought for a while.
"This world is an odd place. Who would tell me that the annoying Nickie would turn out to become a Wolf?"
Silvia was still standing in Polt's office, although Polt seemed to ignore both her and the winged woman. Away in his own little world. Silvia had already got a taste of his thoughts and they weren't pretty.
"So..." she began, hoping to get Polt's attention. "Where am I... we going?"
"Necromancer..." Polt mumbled, still not looking at her. "Where did I put that Necromancer? I didn't leave it did I? Oh yes. I remember! I put it in Geneva....yes, yes. I put it in Geneva. It should be safe there.....very safe.....safe indeed."
Silvia didn't want to hear anymore of this, by the insane mumbling she guessed that she was going to Geneva with Sorrow. Geneva. She almost shuddered from the name of it. Why were they even going to that ruined dump? Oh well, she wasn't finding any answers here. She'd have to find Sorrow.
She turned to the woman, who had been standing alone in the corner. Silent. Silvia would have said she looked afraid and sad, but it was hard to tell. But she did look familiar.
"Erm....Hi." Silvia said, putting her hand out to the woman. "It's ok, I'm not going to hurt you. Just take my hand." It didn't really feel right to be talking to her like this, the Woman looked slightly older then herself, maybe in her twenties, but Silvia really didn't know any other way to say it. Eventually the woman took Silvia's hand. Silvia dragged her to the door.
"You don't happen to know where a Mr. Dark Sorrow is do you?" she said in a false attempt to be polite.
"Follow me..." The Cadre said grimly. "But no funny business!"
The nurse ran screaming out of Sorrow's ward and down the dark corridors. All the cadre looked suspiciously at Sorrow as he emerged fully healed, but still with a slight limp, from the room he had been kept in for days.
"Don't look at me" he said calmly. "I guess she just doesn't like spiders." Although the grin unnaturally plastered over Sorrow's face said otherwise. Nobody seemed to know when they would be heading out to Geneva, but he was sure it would be soon. At least he hoped it would. His inner self was becoming restless again.
"Sorrow!" a voice yelled as he started to walk down the corridors. "Wait for us." It was Silvia, dragging another woman along. Sorrow was sure he'd seen that face before.....but where? His heart almost stopped when he realised. It was the woman from the cloning vat! Although this slightly disturbed him, he acted calm. No one must know that he was down there.
"Don't these people have the decency to get your friend some clothes?" He said openly, for all the cadre to hear. It wasn't long before one came running up with a Jadal Biotech lab coat. "What are you doing running around this place anyway?
Silvia just pointed at the collar, as about three cadre struggled to get the lab coat on the woman.
Draco gasped. Silvia... in danger. He could sense it. The astral ward he had just learned to use tipped him.
"What is it?" Lady Varos gently asked.
"A friend of mine is in danger... I can sense it..."
"Well, but your business is in here. Do not forget that I made you a request."
"Milady, I cannot accomplish it."
Varos seemed furious. Draco retreated.
"What do you think you are to say "no!" to me! I am the daugher of Lord Mawroth!"
Draco thought for a moment. What had happened?
He entered the room. Obviously he was REALLY attractive to the silver dragonīs eyes. Even the first impression had been good.
An inmutable, kind warrior. The dragon girl thought that about him.
And then... she began to ask about his age... and his past. He gently answered, and he discovered that both were about the same age... She then approached him...
And she made a "request."
Other dragons could have fallen under this trick. But Draco stood away, and gently answered "no". What she wanted... was nothing but "company" and "joy".
Then she got upset... and tried it again.
"Silvia, you must not enter Geneva."
Then the voice, wich seemed Dracoīs one, faded out. Maybe Draco could sense a real peril there...
Who knows? she thought for herself.
"The fraggers got me good..." Silvia said to Sorrow. "They put an explosive collar around my neck. They seem to have given me a bit more freedom now though. I can't leave the building without blowing up anyway. Also, they seem to stay away from me... maybe they're afraid of blowing up with me. Could be my claws though."
She showed him her hand, quickly shifted it to a dragon claw and then back to a normal hand.
"Right... Where did she come from?" Sorrow asked. It was pretty odd to see a dangerous prisoner walk around with Polt's newest creation.
"Heh. I was in Polt's office, but since Polt didn't seem to realize I was still there, I simply left. I don't know who she is... probably another lab creation, like Damocles. But hey... she's got wings."
Sorrow looked at her. "So... you have wings too then. Just like the claws...?"
"Yep. I got a tail too, but that's just annoying most of the time. The only thing I use it for is to keep my balance when walking around with the wings. They're pretty heavy, you see."
"I didn't ask you for a full description of your Dragon half." Sorrow said. "Come on, let's go somewhere we can talk more privately. That Polt guy wants to send us to Geneva..."
"Yeah... I've heard that." Silvia said, while she followed Sorrow into his room. "And I don't like it at all."
She looked at the winged lady, who was dressed in a white lab coat now.
That's odd... she reminds me of someone. Can't tell who though.
"Come on!" she said.
The winged lady followed her without any questions.
"Looks like Mako is hunting corp shamans now." the Eagle shaman grinned. "Well I'd gladly let him, if the corp guy wasn't a tree shaman. It's best to have all elements to face something as big as those Daemons."
He walked towards the spirit and the two shamans.
Korum looked at the other people.
Yep... he was right. MUNDI strike team.
"Just as crashed as we are, by the looks of it." he heard the Cat shaman say from behind him.
Korum turned around quickly.
"Uh? I thought you were still in the plane!"
"Heh. Too boring. Let the WESguys protect themselves if they really want to stay in there."
"So... what makes you think they crashed? Maybe they came looking for us."
"Not a chance. There's no communications in this area, and some of their aura's look really depressed. Come on... we'd better team up with them. We can use all the help we can get."
"What about that Spirit?" Korum asked.
"Heh. I prefer staying out of that." the cat shaman replied. "I've heard free spirits can be very powerful... and this one is walking around in Geneva."
"Hmm.. good point."
"They're going away... I'll follow them and see what they're up to."
"Wirecat, wait!" Mary whispered. "We gotta stay together!"
"Don't worry. I won't be gone for long."
He disappeared into the shadow, letting his cat body do what it was made for. Stalk.
"You know..." Silvia began, looking up and down the small room. "This isn't much better then my prison cell. You being important and all, I thought you'd at least have a window or something."
The necromancer laughed. It sounded so... unnatural in a way that it sent chills down Silvia's spine.
"You think I'm important?" he said, still laughing. "Let me tell you young one, I am merely a hireling of Polt. He might try to pass me off as something special, unique if you like. But I'm on his pay-roll, just like the cadre who litter the corridors."
"Wheres Damocles?" Silvia asked after a few moments of silence. She slowly sat on the small chair in the corner, she'd been standing in Polt's office for awhile.
"Believe it or not, Me and Mr. Damocles are not joined at the hip." He said sarcastically. "If you must know, he has to...erm, "sleep" if you will. You see, Damocles can only spend so long in the sun before he dies."
"So what?" Silvia asked. "He goes to sleep?"
"In a way..." Sorrow began. "But not the way you and I do. Too be honest, I do not fully understand the way it works. That's Biotechnology."
There was another short pause, although it was an uneasy silence. Although Sorrow seemed ok at the moment, Silvia remembered his frantic state when he was in her cell. And his face still showed the affects of this, he looked very pale and grim. It was a shock that his skin could have got any paler.
"Anyway..." the Necromancer began again, getting up and walking to the door. "What do you want?"
"I want to know why we are going to Geneva." Silvia said simply. "Polt was too busy talking to himself."
"The only thing the fools good for." Sorrow said bitterly. "And his money of course, I wouldn't be here otherwise. Anyway, he wants us to go hunting."
"Hunting?" Silvia asked, slightly confused. "Hunting for what?"
"Daemons." Sorrow's eyes almost lit up at the mention of it, there was defiantly something unnatural about him. "Now. Why don't you tell your friend to sit down. I'm sure she co....."
"WHAT!" Silvia interrupted. "Daemons? Does that not bother you? Are you crazy? We're going to an already dangerous city with Daemons in it!"
"Calm yourself." He said "We'll be alright. With Damocles, You, Your friend there, myself and some other lackey of Polts. We shouldn't run into too much trouble."
"She doesn't look that strong though...."
"Neither do you" Sorrow pointed out. "Don't take things on face value, if that woman is one of Polts, she will be capable of much damage."
"I suppose...." Questions about this woman were running though both Sorrow's and Silvia's minds, all she had done is stand there all through the conversation. "Say, you don't know of any spare rooms around do you?"
"Can these Cadre get any less organized?" He asked "I'll see if I can throw the couple of cadre in the room next to mine out."
"I thought you had no power." Silvia
"I command though fear." this really disturbed Silvia, until she remembered that he was evil....or was he? "Just because we're all Polt's play things, doesn't mean we have to comply with his nonsense."
Sorrow slipped out the door, There were no shrieks or screams, just two Cadre slowly walking past the door. Full bags over there shoulders.
"Those two knew better." Sorrow said as he came back in." Your new room awaits."
Mary stopped, as Wirecat had already dropped through the window, and into the night.
Oh great. I'm being ignored. And he's gonna get himself killed.
Mary stared into the darkness, with half a mind to take Charlie's torch and follow. However, she knew that she'd most likely be a liability.
She didn't know what do do, and wandered away from the window, stepping over Dorodo. She counted everyone in this room, and Raven in the other.
Badjimmy. Where was Badjimmy?
Oh shit. Not in here.
She tiptoed into the other room, where Raven was now asleep. The other rooms were empty as well.
Then she saw the door, half open. Wirecat hadn't left that way.
It must have been Jimmy.
Should she go after him? Would that jeapordise wirecat?
What to do?
Mary looked around, and saw Charlie. He didnt' look fully asleep. She tiptoed over, and shook him.
"Charlie! Charlie!" she whispered.
"Charlie! Someone's out there, Wirecat went to check it out. But Badjimy's slipped out as well."
"What? Oh shit... we better go out there and stop him."
Just me, the weakened Queen and the little brother... Thought the man, darting through the door, mind racing. My masters planned this perfectly. It's now or never!
The man slammed the door shut with a kick, blocking out the light behind the Queen and the Duke, closing them in the darkness of the Palace's entry hall. He kicked off from the door into a somersault with his sword drawn, his movements studied, perfected, gained from skillchips and his gengineered organs, honed by his four cyberlimbs.
The tactical computer attached to his brain guided his motions, planned his moves three in advance - swoop down on the Queen-bitch - Stab her in the back. Slice across the runt, roll -
The Duke was still high on adrenaline from the fighting. From the first movement from the door, he'd drawn his own sword, pushed the Queen beside him into a flailing heap.
"What are you-"
Crossed steel reverberated across the darkened hall, lit only by a low chandelier.
The duke stared at the man across his ornate, Royal sword, eyes narrowing to slits. The man stared back with his silvered cybereyes.
This just got interesting. thought the assassin. Give me a chance to test this body out first, anyhow.
The two pushed away, the cyber assassin somersaulting backward across the room.
The Queen leapt to her feet.
"Frag!" She regarded the hulking cybered man with awe. He was at least 7 feet all. For a human, that had to mean gengineering. The Queen knew a BWG when she saw one. She thought she recognised this one, too - Fighting with the Mad Dragon in Geneva. But the cyberware?
"Can you take him?"
"YOU BET!" Her brother replied. He charged in, yelling at the top of his lungs, sword cutting a web of death in front of him.
How ironic Thought the Cyber BWG. Last time I fought like this, my enemy was a BWG. Now I'm a BWG. Heh.
The blades met again. Low slice was parried, turned up. The Duke dodged back and stabbed at the BWG's legs. He jumped nimbly over the blade, whirling and slashing diagonally. A single drop of blood flew. The Duke ignored the furrow in his face, locked arms with his assailant and kicked him away. His boots crashed off ceramic chest implant armour.
His hand went to his face.
"Royal blood has been spilled, scum. You shall not walk away."
The BWG replied with:
"Maybe not, but your bitch of a Queen will learn to let free-enterprise run its course. You, runt, will be the lesson."
The Duke snarled, and the tow leapt in again. Blades crashed left and right, the two fought at dazzling speeds. The young, impetuous Duke got a glancing blow off the BWG's chest, shearing away his civilian shirt to reveal the hugely bulked out chest, scars criss-crossed across it where vat-grown muscle replacements had been implanted.
If the Duke was impressed, he didn't show it.
"Real men fight using their own bodies."
"Own bodies? Ha! If only you knew! I've lost more bodies than you've had lays, boy!"
That got a rise from the young royal. Candlelight glinting from his ornate armour, the Duke charged in again. The BWG met him, using his impetuousness against him, wrong-footing him. A dodge, an elbow to the throat, a trip and a hilt-blow to the back all in quick succession, and the kid was on the floor, face down, and gasping.
"Now for the Coup de grace, MOTHERFRAGGER!"
The duke spat, spit mixing with blood.
"That's ROYAL MOTHERFRAGGER, fragging vat-scum!"
The BWG paused for a fraction of a second, amused by defiance. He moved his sword slightly across the Duke's arm. The blade was so sharp it parted the uniform and skin like air, opening several main arteries and nerve clusters. Then he raised his sword, relishing the cries of pain.
Time's wasting. I'd better get the Queen while she's still powerless.
Where'd she go?
Although she was supposed to be without her magic, she might have read the BWGs mind.
"Ya, I'm here."
The Cyber BWG turned to see the Queen, her cape swirling about her majestically, stride through the shadow, now up on the balcony overlooking the hall.
"One does not reign as successfully as I have without getting a few favours from the private sector. IWS, for instance, as you will find out."
Saying this, she lifted down a portrait of her long-lost cousin. A thin glass panel was behind it, which she punched through.
All over the hall, majestic paintings were lowered into safe cavities in the walls, revealing the dark recesses of ports. From these emerged swivelling mounts on gimbal arms, with some kind of weapon on the end, connected by heavy power cables.
Multiple laser beams criss-crossed the lower hall, transecting at the point the BWG had been a split-second later, just above the inert form of the Duke. With superhuman reactions the BWG had leapt straight upward, angling himself in the air so he landed at the wall with the door he's entered. The beams tracked him, only visible because they picked up motes dust and incense in the air. The BWG rolled as the carpet was scorched behind him. His sword flashed out. A gimbal mount flopped to the floor, sparking.
The main doors crashed open again. Three guards, bayonets fixed stood in the doorway aiming.
Trapped between them and the sentry-lasers, the BWG had no choice.
He ran right at the guards.
Amazingly accurate rifle fire punched into his forehead. Three shots ricocheted off his torso, or embedded in thick muscle. One exit wound exploded through his back left shoulder. It didn't slow him one bit.
Leaping to avoid yet another of the remorselessly tracking beams, he came crashing down on the middle of the three guards. Before he knew it, the man had the BWGs sword though his neck, and battered the other two aside. Then he was out the door, into the lightening morning sky.
Shouts from outside, and then silence.
The Queen walked to her brother's side.
"Nice delaying tactic, young brother. Your Queen thanks you." A wry grin at the edge of her dark lips. "I'll have to get you another medal to add to your breast, though it already resembles a 'who's who' of medals."
"Yeah, whatever. Look, he fragged my arm a bit. You think you could get your would-be assassins to treat me a lil' more courteously next time?"
"I'll think about it." The two smiled at each other.
Over in the entranceway, a britguard lay, his body fastened to the floor by the assassin's discarded katana through his neck, glinting in the moonlight.
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