The Den Games Network Forum RPG
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds
Crystal gazed at the big sportscar in incredulity.
How the frag did Wolf ever get this antique? The fragger's more loaded than I thought. Fragging rich-kid corp families.
Crystal, naturally, didn't count herself among them. She felt guilt for her easy upbringing, far from the filth of the streets.
I'm alright. I'm making up for it now. Now to get this heap to work...
She climbed in, slamming her tail in the door as she closed it.
"Agh! Fragging thing! Should've cut you off!"
She nursed the bruised appendage, and closed the door again, keeping her tail safely tucked under her. It made her uncomfortable to sit, to say the least.
She plugged the credstick into the dashboard. The car's engine kicked into life almost instantly, belching out thick, noxious fumes.
Fragging combustion engines. Don't know how Wolf managed to keep an illegal car for so long. Its mine, now.
Crystal put her foot down, reversing from the parking space and spinning around. Then she shot down the aisle of the underground car park and leapt up the exit ramp, ramming through the flimsy barricade.
Unbeknownst to her, the automated security fired a small tracker bug into the car's undercarriage as she rolled over the pressure pads.
The lightening streets weren't in any better shape than Crystal had seen last night. If anything, they were worse.
The scars of battle were everywhere - Scorch marks on buildings, rubble and burnt-out cars on the roads, bouncing off the Corvette's windscreen, leaving scratches and cracks. There were no bodies lying anywhere.
There was hardly any traffic, save the occasional Police or Corp security vehicle, which didn't seem to take any interest in stopping such an illegal vehicle. Except for these vehicles, and occasional civilian trucks being escorted by them, the place was eerily deserted. Crystal took the opportunity to put her foot down. She wasn't a good driver, being used to auto-drive electricars, and she fought for control. Several times she knocked against burnt-out hulks on the roads, smashing great lumps from the paintwork.
Heh. Wolf can probably afford it. Daddy will pay for him. She sneered.
She got a rude shock when she rounded the next corner - The park near Old Buckingham Palace. There was a huge pall of smoke beyond, but in the park, with many parked police and medical vehicles, was a huge group of people, milling about, looking like the zombies she'd seen at Club Hate a million years ago, swaying slightly to the drone-music.
No, not those kind of zombies. The hospital. The ones thast had pulped Wolf's testes.
Crap. Turn turn turn...
The big, heavy sporter fishtailed, then swung around into a dead stop, the zombies still a way off.
Crystal's ears were filled with the roaring of a heavy engine - an Armoured vehicle. She turned, saw one of the APCs at the park powering through a crowd of the humanoid figures.
Something flicked over here head. Something small and fast. About a dozen such fellow things followed, then abrubtly stopped. The report of the machinegun fire following.
Who the Frag was shooting?
Before she could find out, her foot had stamped down on the accelerator aaibn. The car jumped and stalled.
"Move you frikkin' Trogg-mobile, MOVE!"
Bullets punched through the car's siding, stitching a line down the body - Another of the APCs in the park was firing, but luckily only a Light Machinegun. An APC's main weaponry, like .50 cal, 15.5mm or 30mm guns would ruin her day real fragging quick.
Then she was moving again.
She didn't stop for anything. On roaring through the all-but-abandoned early-morning streets was surreal. She'd already seen the zombies, the wreckage, the half-light... It was all a bit much.
The metahuman race is gone. Fragging comet finally did us away.
She thought about it. The world, the megacorps, the fragged-up state of everything...
Probably a good thing. She concluded.
She was to be disappointed. There were still signs of authority around. It was apparent he area of Britsprawl she was in was some kind of containment zone, ringed with checkpoints, patrolled by armed helicopters.
And she was being contained.
Oddly, so was her apartment, in the dome support structure. She parked the Corvette by the lobby of her building, next to a burnt out pile of GM Mouse taxis, strolled in through the (abandoned) lobby, and took a lift up to her floor.
She stepped out into the urine-soaked corridor. Nothing. So far, so good.
Her door was closed. She walked forward, tail unconsiously waving behind her...
"Excuse me dearie-"
Without thinking, she lashed out, caught the old woman behind her on the side of the head with a snap-punch. She went down.
"Oh my... Oops..."
It was Mrs Ballion, her neighbour. A nosy neighbour, yes, but just a sweet old woman at heart. She groaned, Crystal stared, wondering if she was one of the zombies. In a rare moment of compassion, she decided to take the injured pensioner into her flat instead. A cup of insta-tea would sort her out. If she regained consiousness, that is.
Crystal flicked the lights on, sat the dazed Mrs Ballion down on the eviscerated couch and flicked on her 3DTV.
"-Don't know what's happening. Cordoned areas all over the city, looks like the rioting has stopped, but-"
"Fragging zombies, they look like. No word of how the disease spread - if it has spread. Government advisory says cremate all bodies, ASAP-"
"Worldwide epidemic. Some places hit harder than others. New York is a town of the dead. SE Asia and I-Japan seem under control. No word from the NeoSU or the fraggin' elves..."
She flicked the 3DTV off again. Too confusing. She grabbed her bag of explosive tricks - Grenades, still a good few aerofoil grenades left.
Then she noticed the messages on her telecom.
The first one seemed to be from the parents of someone named "Roland"
Crystal was puzzled.
"Why hello there." began the beaming, middle-aged couple - Looking good for their years. Those anti-aging gene-baths really work, do they? "We were told about your place by our dear Roland, and wondered if you'd mind if we came to stay for a while! We hope you won't mind. We'll arrive at 9:00 in the moring. Ciao!"
"Whuh?" Crystal glanced at the digital time read out. 0837. "Um." Was all she could say.
* * *
Welbert managed to move out of the way just in time. Such initiative from a Troll was commendable. Of course, Slayer slamming him out of the way helped.
The APC roared to a halt, throwing up a shower of mud and dead, sulphurous acid-killed grass.
Illidia threw down the rear ramp-hatch.
Slayer hobbled forward, alone, and turned to look back at Welbert.
"I'm stayin. Got ta look f'r Sarge. You want contact, call me. Number is... Uh... 999."
"Be well, Gratzky. I'm grateful."
And with that, the Troll strode forward into the chaos, slamming zombies left and right with his autoshotgun to a crescendo of screaming and machinegunfire as a British Army IWS Firedrake Attack Helicopter skimmed into view over the rooftops, laying into the zombies with it's cannon.
Once Slayer was in, Cy gunned the engine, jouncing off the grass onto the road.
"I'm going to Crystal's!" He told his passengers.
"Uh, Mr Alexeiv, I don't know how to tell you this but A TR bath would take at least a month to fully heal the, um, damage you have there. We are only a public NHS hospital, you know? We aren't some kind of frikkin' Space Trek medbay, we have to wait for our patients to heal."
Wolf was disheartened, but he knew it was right. But they had put sealant on his arm wound, and doped him full of painkillers. He could walk - Almost. They gave him a crutch, and a handful of leaflets detailing the latest cyber-sex organ replacements for men, with a discreet cough.
"Also, Mr Alexiev, as you aren't a British subject of our most glorious Queen Antoinette, we're going to have to put the bill to you." The senior Doctor told him. "£5,000,000."
Wolf's eyes went wide in disbelief.
"Or, um, ¥2,500. Will you pay by cash or credstick, sir?"
'Deadeye' Stephenson may have been blind, but he felt when his captors had finally taken his chafing blindfold off. The very idea he even needed a blindfold to him seemed absurd. He got the idea that whoever had done that did it to mock him, perhaps.
And he knew one man for sure who'd do somehting like that.
Stephenson was in an aircraft. A jet, by the sound of the engines, a fast one - A supersonic HSCT, like the IWS Concorde 3000, a GM-Boeing Starstriker or the Antonov-Tupolev AT-800. Linear develoments of the original Concorde, faster, but not as fast as a Sub-Orbital or Semi-Ballistic. It did have the advantage of not makingthe dangerous lift to low-orbit, though.
Yet, for all this, Stephenson's senses were still sharp enough to recognise the presence of the man who'd brought him here, and his female accomplice.
"Rise and shine, vagrant-boy. How's it feel to hear my voice in person? So much better than hiding on the end of a com-line, eh?"
"Parker..." Stephenson gasped, throat parched, groggy from the drugs and the flight.
Parker stood gloating over his captive. An announcement from the Captain of the HSCT broke his concentration. They were nearing the airport, where a MUNDI helicopter would be waiting to travel to Geneva.
Parker had made contact with MUNDI, using the information Pharis had told him. So far, all had worked out.
As if it could be any other way, Parker.
Parker looked at the dazed form of Stephenson again.
"I want so much to kill you, Stephenson." He said. He remembered seeing the comatose form a few hours ago. He knelt down. Of there own accord, his hands slipped around the helpless man's neck.
All it would take is a simple squeeze...
Suddenly blinding white agony filled Parker's head. Pahris was stepping out of his shell, asserting full control over Parker's body, sending the half-Dwarf's consiousness screaming inwardly to it's temporary exile.
Feels good to have a body again. Pharis thought, marvelling. Then he stood up, because his time was short.
"Look Stephenson," He said, tasting the words. Speaking with a tongue felt quite alien to him. "I am prepared to let all that has gone before us pass."
He watched Stephenson's face, checking for doubt - He knew Parker would never say what Pharis was saying with Parker's voice. Thats why Pharis had to do it.
Speaking carefully, methodically, and then emotionally, Pharis recounted all the bad feeling that had gone between the two humans, throwing Stephenson completely off-guard, taking responsibility, begging forgiveness, crying even.
By the end of it, the two men were hugging, as if they were friends again.
Heh, how fickled these humans are. As I have demonstrated. Pharis thought, smugly.
Pharis, now sure he had Stephenson's full level of 'trust' (a typical, idiot human concept), now saw it was time to tell Stephenson.
"Stephenson, I brought you here because you're the only man I can trust. The only man."
Choking back a sob, he continued.
"A great evil has been unleashed on the world, and I'm going to lead a MUNDI team against it. Its an evil so great, so gigantic, so all-consuming that most of the world is already knee-deep, yet no-one knows what;s going on. I want you to be on that team. I trust you. I need you because..."
"Because that MUNDI team has been infiltrated by that evil. I want you by my side, Stephenson. We're going to have to kill that team first. Understand? Trust no-one Stephenson. Trust no-one. I'm sorry I had to drag you along like this. Afterwards, I'll give back everything I owe you, money, all of it."
He left then, to let what he'd told Stephenson sink in. He didn't think half of it had - He'd deliberately told him on the drug comedown, disorientated. The perfect time for mind-bending.
Heh, I didn't even have to use magic. Bloody humans. Speaking of which...
Pharis relinquished control of his body. The consiousness of Parker rushed back from it's little mental hidey-hole, where Pharis now occupied.
"Damn you." Parker whispered. Angry, used, helpless to be used again.
You're welcome. Pharis replied.
The HSCT landed smoothly, and the passengers transferred to a MUNDI Oceanhahn for the connecting heli-flight to MUNDI HQ.
Peter was, at first, astonished. Here was his mortal enemy begging for forgiveness, crying like a little girl. Parker would have never had done this under any normal circumstance. Samuel Parker, in a pleading voice, finally put Peter's suspicions to rest. It was all for the greater good. The MUNDI strikeforce had been infected by whatever they had been sent out to destroy. It was Peter's job to assist Samuel Parker in cleaning up the mistake. At first DeadEye was reluctant to help, sensing a trap, but after some time he began to see that his petty feud was meaningless compared to the survival of the rest of the world. He found himself embracing his old fireteam leader and swearing allegiance to humanity. It was the drugs talking, not the real Peter.
Hours later they were being herded onto a heli-transport along with a group of heartless soldiers who were either mercenaries or loyal to Capt. Samuel Parker. All were being shuttled to MUNDI HQ in order to cleanse the infestation that had manifested itself among the once brave men and women who had been the first to face the new threat. Peter felt bad about this but knew it had to be done, he had to put to rest the poor people who were possessed. It would be a messy, distasteful job, the type of job Peter would have relished in other circumstances.
There was something odd about Parker's behaviour. At times he was apologetic and comradely and at others he acted as he had always had, with hatred and distaste for Peter. The two men sat next to each other during the flight, Samuel was giving a last minute briefing on the mission.
"I know you men will find this mission dirty and will object to killing your comrades but you MUST keep in mind that they ALL have been touched by the darkness. No matter how much they plead, no matter what they say remember, it isn't the real human talking. Only a filthy monster pulling strings that will stab you in the back the second you turn around. There will be two platoons. I will direct Alpha squad and Ivan will lead Bravo. Carlos and our new friend, Peter Stevenson, will be the sniper support for the mission. he may be blind but he's a better shot than the rest of you put together."
With that an olive skinned man with dark brooding eyes snorted and said.
"Carlos think you are wrong, amigo. Carlos know he is the best sniper in the world. This Peter is a wanna-be!"
The man, Peter had idenitified him as Carlos, then gave a high five to his neighbour as the other soldiers yelled enthusiatically.
Parker leaned over and whispered in DeadEye's ear.
"Careful Peter, Carlos has a reputation for 'friendly fire'. These men aren't in the same calibre as you and I are. We are men of honour and rank, they're just grunts with guns...don't repeat that, for my sake and yours.."
Peter was tempted to give a scathing reply to Parker's comment about honour and rank but relented as he knew that his life was still in Parker's hands. The Heli-transport began its landing proceedure, they were going to deploy a few miles away from the MUNDI HQ and make the rest of the journey on foot. Just before they dismounted Samuel Parker handed Peter Stephenson his old SA-126 and said.
"In good faith I return to you your weapon, don't stab me in the back. Like last time..."
Peter plugged in his smartlinks and mentally searched the weapon for any traps or malfunctions, all seemed well. Peter had noticed the tremor in Parker's voice as he had handed the weapon over, as if Parker was fighting with himself over trusting DeadEye with a weapon. What Peter didn't know was that Parker had, as a safety measure, installed an undetectable firing safety in the weapon's targetting system. The weapon could never actively fire at the special signature that Parker had planted on his person.
As the soldiers dropped onto the ground and began to form into combat fomation high speed gunships screamed overhead towards the MUNDI headquarters...
The screaming thrust vector engines filled Raven's ears to the point where he felt that he would start bleeding from the ears any moment. He threw his pillow at the closest window and screamed at the top of his lungs.
"SHUT THE FRAG UP! YOU FRAGGING NULL NUTS HEAP OF RUST!"
Of course, not even Raven could hear his words over the whirring turbines. Dorodo came running into the room holding a gun which looked amusingly oversized in his tiny fist. Dorodo hopped up and down yelling at Raven while fequently looking out of the window.
Raven dismissed the gobbo with a wave of his hand, not hearing a word the gobbo had said.
"I know the fragging VTOL is here, tell them to get out of here. I need my sleep."
Dorodo, having failed in warning Raven about the zombie swarm, ran out of the room and returned a moment later dragging a confused Mary by the hand. Mary looked at Raven and realised that it would be problematic to get Raven onto the VTOL anytime soon. She walked up to his ear and explained what was happening by shouting each word in his ear slowly. Having grasped the situation Raven looked shocked. He had also realised that his evacuation would prove difficult. The three of them were motionless for a few moments, all trying to think of a way to move the disabled fitter onto the VTOL quickly. Behemoth, the sword weilding ork, stormed into the room purposefully, looked at Raven and said.
"This the one that needs evac?"
He answered his own question by lifting Raven onto his shoulders and marched out. With his single free hand he continued to decapitate any zombie that approached him as he waded his way towards the VTOL. When he reached the craft he thrust his sword into the ground and used both hands to lob Raven into the VTOLs passenger section. Raven landed with a bump and dazed looked around at his surrondings. Eventually, his eyes rested upon a familar face.
"Ello monseuir Raven, it is good to see you oui?"
MUNDI Special Forces Team 15 had been placed on reserve status, especially with two of its ten operatives dead and five wounded, stuck in the MUNDI HQ hospital. Evans, Winston and Wangfei were effectively the only ones left who could still walk around. Naturally, they had been "entrusted" by their teammates to pick up various food items for the rest.
Evans was grumbling under his breath at the base convenience store, a separate single-floor civilian-run affair that was away from the main MUNDI building that housed the hospital. The commando glumly sorted through various fruits of all kinds, irritatedly keeping the sling of his bipod-mounted machine-gun out of the way. Nearby, the medic Wangfei was critically examining a melon, wondering if her bayonet might suffice in cutting open the fragging thing... or maybe the breastbone-saw ought to do the trick.
"Does bloody Johan prefer red or green ones? Frag it, I can't remember." Evans complained as he glared at the assorted apples strewn on the rack in front of him.
The first team to take out a thousand or so zombies and a gruddamned daemon... and what do we get? "Food delivery" services for the rest! Argh! Frag Johan and his bloody fruit fetish!"
Evans carelessly grabbed fruits of three colours (red, green and plain bruised) and tossed them into the shopping trolley that Winston was pushing... the latter looking just as indignant at becoming a glorified shopping-boy. Armed with their usual weapons and armoured in the full-body black MUNDI Special Forces armour, the trio of commandos, together with Chance and Ash, looked ridiculous among the shelves of brightly coloured foodstuffs.
But this little shopping chore was about to save their lives...
A powerful drone sounded overhead... Wangfei looked up through the glass ceiling and pointed out two bug-like shapes in the sky buzzing towards the main MUNDI building where the hospital and main conference center were.
Gunships? Evans thought. Then he spied the rockets on their racks... What the heck are they doing over MUNDI HQ? And with loaded weapons?
His answer came a second later when the duo of gunships released a salvo of munitions towards the main MUNDI building.
"Take cover!!! Evans yelled as all five soldiers hit the floor of the shopping mall. Moments later, the shockwave and sound from deafening explosions rolled across the land, the glass ceiling rippling momentarily before shattering into thousands of shards that rained down on the prone soldiers.
Their heavy armour easily stopped the glass, but nearby off-duty personnel who had ignored the armour-on-at-all-times rule were caught in the lethal rain, many screaming as they writhed on the debris and broken-glass strewn floor.
Wangfei found herself staring at the melon... Neatly cut in two by a glass shard. Didn't need a bayonet afterall... or even that darned breastbone-saw... Cool.
Chance was swearing loudly... "Frag! They hit the hospital!"
Winston, on the other hand, spoke in a much calmer tone as he unslung his sniper rifle, despite the much more urgent important information he had to convey.
"People... There is a group of soldiers out there in the carpark, approaching this shopping mall... They, urm... appear to be shooting at us."
Wolf was deceived. What a crap of vath they had.
"You all are money-sucker jack asses."
He flipped a credstick.
"Damn idiots. They do think that they can know more about TR baths than ME! I am the inventor of the TR baths!" He shouted in his mind.
But there was still hope.
Most TRM were the economic, common purpose, bath... But there was one... in London... An ORIGINAL TRM. A marvel compared to the piles of junk in the hospital...
"If only I got the keys of that..."
But he hadnīt. Dragon had the keys, and now he was gone.
"What the hell?" The officer finally said. "Why does the fragging magic scan is not normal on you, recruit!?"
He stared at Roland. Damn It. He could not hide his dragon aura. He needed to think something quickly...
"Well, umm... If I am sincere... I am a dragon shaman."
Good Answer. Roszondas thought to himself.
"Isnīt a weird thing that you are a shaman at young age?"
"Well, umm... It is. But it is not impossible, too." Roland ranted out.
"Kid, I like your attitude!" The officer said.
The pilot spoke through the vid phone.
"Approaching siege line on Geneva."
After a while he spoke again.
"Prepare yourself, guys. Our comrades have trouble."
"Ok guys! Do it!"
And everyone was thrown in a parachute, over MUNDI HQ.
"Here sergeant Helios. Hold on. Reinforcements are on the way."
Evans laid down a noisy barrage of gunfire, the incoming enemy diving for cover among parked cars.
The Aussie didn't want to shoot any of them yet... as he wasn't sure if they were actually attacking MUNDI HQ on purpose or if it was all some dreadful blue-on-blue mistake. But his restraint snapped when a little girl, probably one of the shop owner's kids, walked into a sniper rifle's bullet and literally disintegrated, one arm cleaved off by the heavy round.
Bastards! The normally easy-going Aussie was furious.
His next burst knocked an armoured attacker on his rump, stunned from the impacts on his chestplates. One of the man's buddies dragged him back behind a car.
Most of them seem to be wearing MUNDI uniforms... infiltrators!
Ash grabbed Chance's arm and pointed urgently at the sky, as he walked a burst into an attacker's knee, the man crumpling into a moaning heap.
"Chance! Up there! Enemy paratroopers dropping behind our rear! And the damned gunships are turning back again!"
Meanwhile, one of the gunship gunners frowned at the sudden appearance of paratroopers.
Wait a minute... Whose are these? Do I shoot?
Mary grabbed the huge Orc, who was labourosly strapping on dolorous amounts of armour. Tank grimaced, obviously intent on getting outside to the fighting.
"Tank! Theres some crazy VTOL picking us up! But Wirecat and Charlie are out there... and...."
Tank looked down, as the blonde woman burst into tears. Crazy 'umies, always being so Melon-dram-whatever it was. All Tank wanted to do was get out there and fight, but if his friends were...
Tank bent down, armour and floorboards creaking. He lowered his face close to Marys.
"Wot is it, Mary..."
"Charlie... he... his arm... ripped off?"
Tank wasn't noted for his intelligence, but he could interpret the typical signs of a fight. Ripped off was one of them.
"Don't worry , I'll be right on it," he whispered, before stepping through the wall, which crumpled as if made of cardboard, and opening fire with his assault cannon on the Zombies.
The menacing gunships swooped in for the kill. Dimly Chance registered they were Pacifiers, bulky, aging but still capable vehicles. They were painted in MUNDI blue, with the peacekeeping organisation's logo on the side.
What a fragging mess. Never thought I'd end up dying in a blue on blue.
It was every soldier's nightmare. Fratricide.
From some where behind Chance came the distinctive Pop! of the sealing cap of a rocket-tube blowing away. Just after came the devastating whoosh of a missile leaving the tube, as one of the MUNDI SAM APCs got a lock, or authorization, or managed to defeat the IFF coding enabling them to fire upon what looked like MUNDI aircraft. Whichever it was, Chance was to be truly grateful.
The bright streak of a Neo-SU SA21 'Grapple' SAM roared through the air, directly at one of the gunships. It bank sharply, on end, rotors almost hitting the ground at a right-angle. It was pumping out semi-intelligent chaff and transponder-flares like mad, and Chance knew the craft's electronic warfare suite would be working overtime. But if it was a MUNDI aircraft, it would be woefully behind the SOTA, like just about everything else MUNDI had (except maybe, the newly acquired SAMs).
The missile streaked just over the Gunship. Just as the rigger pilot was probably breathing his customary sigh of relief, the missile pulled an impossible UFO-like 180 degree turn back at the 'chopper, fragmenting as it did so into eight separate pieces.
With a blinding flash, each of the eight warheads locked-on, firing their autonomous self-forging fragment warheads down at the hapless vehicle. The shower of metal streams and supersonic darts ripped through the pilot's cockpit, and the rest of the helicopter, tearing it apart in the air.
The explosion blew Chance, Evans and Ash off their feet.
Evans was the first up. The big soldier hauled Chance to his feet.
"Gotta get to some cover mate!" He shouted, turning to retrieve his Daisaka-made LMG. As he turned Chance spotted the huge smouldering piece of shrapnel embedded under the man's rear shoulder-plate, of which he was apparently oblivious.
You went too near to the HQ, Parker. Back off now before you lose the other gunship. Call MUNDI command, stall them.
"Right." Parker said. Next to him, Dark Blossom shrugged, and made as if to run forward to assist the other's in Parker's team, most of which were from Dark Blossom's own mercenary organisation - The 10,000 Daggers.
"Stay with me." Parker ordered. She obeyed, ever-professional. Parker just didn't want to see her go... Just yet.
Sentimental Fool, Pharis mocked. Parker ignored him, keying his wrist-phone. A shocked-looking MUNDI duty officer filled the screen.
"Get off this channel! This is an emergency!" Yelled the junior officer.
"Parker, Captain, special consultant code Whisky Bravo 6162634478. Put me through to your CO, stat!"
Within seconds, Parker was through to the commander of MUNDI security. A tough job, considering that the world's eminent magicians were under threat now...
Parker spoke first.
"Listen to me sir, I have important information. We're engaging a large group of MUNDI men who've been taken over by the hijacker spirits and..."
While Parker was stalling them, and their mercenaries were making life difficult for the besieged MUNDI forces, Pharis also had a job to do...
Over on the other side of the compound, a the interior of a MUNDI SAM APC rang with confused contact reports. Gunships were firing into the HQ building. One of them had been shot down, the other was out of range.
"What do we do sarge?" Asked private Kynes.
"We wait here. Those were our orders. We were put here for a reason, Kynes, so we're stayin'. Keep your eye on the radar."
A mere 30 seconds later, that 'reason' appeared. It was a Kamov KA-72 Hollowpoint gunship. It carried a Daisaka transponder, which registered as 'friendly' on the IFF.
"Let him past." The Sarge told the SAM operators. Daisaka units made up a good 25% of MUNDI operational units here.
This was no ordinary gunship, however. Forged in the chaos of the astral rift, the craft, pilot, and a good deal of Daemon spirit had merged into one ungodly whole. Captain Shibata was literally one with his gunship. The cockpit was his braincase. Veins pulsed around and through the hull. Where once had been 23mm Cannon and rocket pods, now were arcane dark energy-spewing weapons and Daemonic missiles.
Magic and Technology didn't mix on Earth. Evidently, that was not the case in the Geneva astral rift, or wherever it led.
Deep in the pulsing mass of flesh that had been the gunship's cockpit, a part of Shibata's original consciousness remained. The strongest part - His pure, seething hate. As his arcane sensors registered the MUNDI vehicle, it boiled to the fore.
MUNDI... Bastards! They left me! THEY DID THIS TO ME!
The Dark energy gun loosed a stream of black energy at the Air-Defence vehicle. Metal plate boiled and ran. An instant later the whole thing exploded in a ball of flaming fuel and missiles.
The Man-Copter-Daemon flew on. It was only the vanguard.
Deadeye ran forward. He knew his latino rival was somewhere to his left. He hit the ground behind a half-ruined wall.
Three figures in front of me. MUNDI men, armoured. Two males one female.
He propped his SA-126 and began aiming...
Sorrow looked around the van, the Winged woman, what ever her name was. Was sitting alone in one of the corners, curled up. An unmistakable look of fear in her eyes, Sorrow secretly smiled. Fear was a glorious thing, and he knew it when he saw it. He could almost smell it!
Silvia and the elf were chatting away quietly, they must have some sort of connection. Although Sorrow didn't know how so. Both seemed slightly uneasy when his gaze was upon them, another pleasure Sorrow took out of this trip.
Damocles was silently sitting in the drivers seat, eyes firmly on the road. Sorrow had whispered a few things to him, but mainly sat carving his staff. It would be ready soon, but he needed to get it charged with some kind of magic.
Sorrow reached under the hood of his robe to scratch an itch on his head, as his fingers moved his greasy black hair out of the way, they came upon something sharp.
Sorrow cursed a loud as it pricked one of his fingers.
"Are you ok?" came Silvia's voice from the other side of the van. Damocles was also looking at him in the mirror.
"Fine..." he mumbled looking at his damaged finger, jet black blood seeping out of the tiny cut. "I'm just great....."
After sucking the blood from his finger, he carried on with the staff. They would be in Geneva soon, and there will be the mark of his greatness! He knew not what his inner self wanted to do, but he knew there would be great power. He smiled again, a twisted evil grin that looked wrong on his grey skinned face.
Back at the compound, in the maximum security cells, there was chaos. serval Cadre were running down the halls as alarm bells rang, some one had escaped!
"What's going on!" yelled a senior cadre officer.
"Theres been a jail brake sir!" said one of the cadre that ran up to him. "A Mr. Methdos Sakhar, restraints slashed right up. Like he had multiple knives."
"What?" yelled the officer. "No one could have cut their way out of that!"
"Well, we do believe that he has become mutated sir." whispered the Cadre, not an easy thing to do in the chaos. "You see, he's been in agony since he got here, his nails were growing out his armour. We trimmed them of course, but they grew back. He could often be heard screaming, we believe that these "claws" have grown all around his body."
The officer shook his head. "He's probably with the necromancer, out of our hands now boy." The officer turned and walked away. "Get back to work, all of you!" he yelled as he left.
"What the?" Helios ranted out. "They are shooting at us!"
"Here Sergeant Helios to idiots of the Rear. WHAT THE HELL ARE YA DOING!!!!!"
Everyone sighed as they continued the drop. All of them felt entirely vulnerable. Except Roland. He just whistled a song waiting to land.
"Looks like they are friends, Chance." Ash said, as she heard the abundant swearing of Helios through the radio.
Helios, bigger than the other newby MUNDI soldiers with him by a head - Even the Young Ork soldier - Continued cursing, even hanging from his parachute harness.
The GPS on his 'chute guided him in to the optimal landing spot - Which had been the parking space where Chance, Ash, Evans ans their colleagues were coming under fire.
Helios landed first, then two other MUNDI recruits, then Roland, with the others behind him.
Just before he hit, Roland disengaged his 'chute, hitting the ground and rolling as he did so, while the 'chute caiught some wind and blew away.
When he couldn't hear the cursing anymore, he knew something was wrong.
Helios and the two others were lying, limp bodies being dragged by the chutes still harnessed to their backs - Each man or woman's faceplate was a mass of red. Helios' faceplate was shattered. The Sergeant, with his highly visible gold peacetime three chevrons over the blue of his uniform, had made a great target.
And then Roland caught a 12.7mm slug himself.
"Heh, I'm beating you, amigo. Ya wanna ratchet ya sccore up a 'lil, huh? Fragging drekwipe. Sniper my ass!"
Stephenson did his best to ignore the taunts coming over the radio - More of the parachuting MUNDI men were incoming. He sighted one -
Silvia knew she had seen the elf somewhere before... and now she knew where. He was one of the Geneva runners that had worked with Mary and Crystal, and he was in the meeting in the bar when the group had split up.
"But you were all cybered up there, right?"
"Yes. But that weirdo seems to have given me a new body."
"Polt. He's a slegging madman. I accidently read his mind once... I can still feel the headache. Crazy! Slegging crazy! A complete nutcase!"
"You... read his mind?"
"Oh.. yeah. Natural magic ability." Silvia answered absent-mindedly. "Don't like using it much, but I was trying to get some info on my situation. These sleggers had me locked up really good."
"Well I noticed the guards all seemed really uncomfortable around you... do you have any other 'abilities' like that?"
"You mean nobody told you in Geneva? I'm a half-dragon!"
She showed him her hand, and shifted it to a claw. She grinned when she saw Xecktos' reaction.
"A few of those fraggers met up with my claws when trying to put this collar around my neck."
"Slegging collar... the guards said it was explosive, but Polt... he said he controls me with it. I know he's a rambling madman, but still... creepy."
"Well if it's of any comfort to you... I got one too." Xecktos replied.
A manablast blew away the zombies under the tree. David quickly jumped out.
"Hurricane? Is that you?"
"Yes it is. Are you OK, David?"
"Thank goodness... Yeah, I'm OK. Did you happen to see Charlie around here?"
"No... I didn't."
"Come on then! What are we waiting for?!"
He started running back to the house, constantly looking around for Charlie's aura. Hurricane followed.
Winston kept his head down as another burst exploded fruits around him. Still stuck in the mall, the lanky sniper was starting to get a tad bit "uncomfortable", as he might say, at all the fire he was beginning to attract.
"Say Evans, I need you guys to scratch my back a lil' here." He said over his comms, pausing to shoot an enemy that had popped his head up for a split-second too long. A few bullets flew by in reply, one bursting a melon close to the sniper's head. Winston stared at the busted fruit, unwillingly likening it to a burst head.
That's a bit too close for comfort!
Meanwhile, Wangfei had taken another route out of the mall, running smack into two of the MUNDI assassins as she did so. His first carbine burst spun the first woman around... without hesitation, she pumped another triple-round blast into the weaker backplates of her downed target. The women arched her back in agony, screamed, and slumped unconscious.
But then, her burly fire-team partner was upon the medic, crashing through a shelf and smashing her into a wall with stunning force. The big man leered into her face, then gave her a stunning punch across the mouth.
Crumpling to the floor, Wangfei suddenly felt hands on inappropriate places as the man fell upon her... Hot anger arose in a fierce tide.
Trying to feel up a Special Forces Medic huh?
Slamming up her armoured heel with devastating force, she caught the man where it hurt most... straight between the legs. With a strength that wasn't obvious in her slight frame, the elite medic twisted around and placed both armoured hands on the man's chest.... hands equipped with heart-restarter shockpads.
There was a mighty Boomph... And the burly man literally flew off her to crash into a shelf full of milk powder. One big can teetered for a moment, before coming down to crash onto the soldier's head with a resounding clanggg and a huge puff of dust.
Nursing a bruised cheek, the furious Special Forces medic unsnapped the groin armour panel of her unconscious molester. Then she stood back, retrived and flipped her weapon to triple-burst, aimed... and squeezed the trigger.
Evans had left Chance and Ash sheltering behind several vehicles as he made his way over to Winston. Along the way, he met up with Special Forces Team 15's combat rigger Johan and dragged him along... the German, notoriously known for his caffeine addiction, complaining about spilt coffee as he dished out damage with a heavy shotgun, despite a bandaged hand that he had collected in Geneva.
"Came down for a cup of Java, and Bang! Its Gotterdammerung everywhere!"
Peter, spurred on by Carlos' taunts, scored his first kill. A neat head shot that left the parachuting victim dangling like a puppet as his 'chute gracefully decended onto the ground. By this time the remaining paratroopers had landed and taken cover, joining the surviving MUNDI forces in holding back Samuel Parker and his mercenaries. Everyone was in cover now, it had become a battle of the snipers. Winston, with his cybereyes and superior training was facing off against Carlos, the bloodthristy spanish sniper. Constantly moving from cover to cover the two soldiers popped up at random intervals to fire at each other. All the while Carlos could be heard over the commsnet mocking the british sniper's feeble attempts at killing him.
"Hey muchacho, that pop gun aint gonna shake me! choo' aint got nada on Carlos!"
Peter sat, from his vantage point, watching the two snipers face off. He could see that Winston was being strained to his limit by Carlos' natural advantage. Peter also noted that Bravo team, lead by some chap named Ivan, was stalking the left flank, using the exchange between the snipers as a distraction. The squad came across a huddled group of technicians who, upon seeing the heavily armed mercenaries, surrendered and begged for mercy. Peter watched as Ivan waved the techs off and motioned them to run away from the conflict. With obvious relief the techs turned and began to jog away from MUNDI HQ. It was then that Ivan made a signal with his free hand, Ivan and his squad opened fire on the unarmed, retreating technicians. Carlos' taunts were interrupted by cruel laughter as the commsnet filled with Bravo team bragging about capping the MUNDI civvies. Outraged Peter contacted Samuel Parker and demanded that Bravo team be withdrawn from the front as they were mentally unstable. Carlos, still in contest with Winston, replied.
"Heeyyy, amigo. Don' choo' know? Dis isn't about fair play, s'all 'bout getting the frags man! Choo' get the frags then choo' get the cashola. Dat's what hired guns are all about see? We are the 10,000 daggers amigo, fear us!"
Peter, realising his mistake in trusting Parker even for a moment, turned his rifle and aimed at Bravo team's leader, Ivan. As he fired a single bullet struck his SA-126 and knocked his aim off. Ivan jumped in shock as Peter's 12.7mm round burrowed itself into the ground a few mere inches off course from his head. Carlos jeered.
"Choo' aint so good a sniper huh? See? Carlos is so good he stops choo' from killin' his compadre Ivan by shootin' your barrel 'fore you can get the headshot lined up. Carlos is all that amigo!"
Parker swore into the commsnet before commanding his forces.
"Bravo team, take cover and engage the renegade sniper."
"Heeyyy Parker man, I can take this guy and the other sniper no problemo muchacho!"
Parker confirmed the order and quickly consulted with Pharis.
We knew the blind one would wake up to our game, it's your own stupid fault for putting him out of arms reach, Parker. Let Carlos deal with the fool, he's as good as dead.
DeadEye dropped behind cover again as Carlos peppered his position with deadly, well aimed fire. Peter crawled to a new location and thought. I knew Parker was no good, 'least now I have the chance to finally kill the fragger. I'll take my chances with Carlos and go straight for Samuel. With that he made sure he was out of line of sight of Carlos and began lining up Parker in his sights. With Parker's head bracketted in his scope Peter didn't hesitate at all, he pulled the trigger.
He pulled the trigger again.
He withdrew out of sight and began mentally scanning the weapons fire control system. There was absolutely no reason why he couldn't fire the weapon. Yet he was unable to when he targeted his enemy Parker.
Parker's commswatch beeped twice, he checked it and was stunned. 'Looks like Peter wasted no time in trying to kill me, I'm very lucky Pharis recommended I install that untraceable fire control safety catch. ' Pharis commented. Aren't you lucky to have me Parker? Without me you would be dead right now. Let's move onto the next stage of our plan shall we?
Peter Stephenson decided that if he couldn't kill Parker he would at least foil his plans. 'And that means killing his filthy mercenaries. ' Peter lined up a member of Bravo team and fired. The mercenary's head exploded and showered the rest of the squad in blood. Bravo team, stunned for a moment, lost another member to DeadEye's fire before taking cover. Even in cover Bravo team was susceptable to DeadEye's fire. Peter didn't let any of the mercenaries go he killed each one with a perfect headshot. The final Bravo team member, Ivan the leader, tried to make a run for it. As he ran for his life Peter muttered.
"This is for those technicians you mercilessly killed."
As Peter's bullet struck the retreating soldier so did another sniper round from the MUNDI line. Peter zoomed in on the source of the shot. There was that british sniper, looking right back at him! For a moment neither sniper took his scope off the other's head. Both were wondering whether the other was an ally or foe. Peter, realising his only hope or revenge lay with the MUNDI forces nodded slowly, for the british sniper's benefit, and turned his rifle towards where Alpha team was.
Winston, while still somewhat confused, understood that he had a fellow sniper as an ally. In typical British fashion he calmly commented.
"Some chap over there is on our side, he wiped out an entire squad that we didn't know about. Let's hope we live to thank him later."
In the MUNDI conference room, safe from the unfolding carnage by layers of plascrete and multiple interlinked barrier spell-locks, barely a murmur of fear was heard from the assembled magicians and their aides.
"Our friends have located us, have they?" Mumbled the Chief Druid from Avebury, a largely overweight old man with bushy eyebrows.
"It appears so, Gentlemen." Renwu said. "I believe we can hold them for now. But it only underlines the urgency of our task. The rift must be closed. And I think we all know what closing such an area will cost. So we must push for containment before cure. Agreed?"
"Agreed." Came the voice of every representative in the room.
Near the back of the room, a tall man who appeared to be in his fifties, ostensibly an aide of the Chief of the Siberian Ice-Shamans, quietly left the room, handing his security card to the Duty guards and Security Mage.
The world's pre-eminent magicians kept their conversation up for a good while after he left before Shaman Cat-Dancing noted:
"The dragon has left."
"Yes," Renwu nodded. "Do you think he knew that we knew?"
"Don't know. I just wonder if he heard enough. I still wonder at his motive for opening this rift." Said the head Shinto Miko.
"Don't we all?" Renwu agreed. "But we have our suspicions.
"Now shall have to see if he will be willing to help us when the time comes." Said Mr Lei Wu Lung, of Shunwang Ben Envirotech, to more nodding.
"Ahggghkklll" Drooled 'Roland'. The damned sniper had taken off his lower jaw, making a bloody mess of his assumed face. Bullets zipped overhead - Someone was firing a Light Machinegun over his prone, writhing position, dead men all around him. Only a handful of the parachutist's had even made it down alive. The sniprs were sadistic and ruthlessly efficient.
As if to prove this, a hefty bullet impacted in the area between 'Roland's' legs. He screamed in agony. If he had been truly human, he'd be dead. That didn't take the pain away, though.
A coarse yell, from the direction of the shooter:
"COJONES!!!" The voice was tinged with savage joy.
Roland lay there for a while, unable to move. He began singing his song of restoration. Slowly but surely, his soft, pinky flesh began to reappear. Wounds began to knit together. There wasn't much he could do about his jaw though, not just yet.
"Well now young man, you seem to be in a spot of bother." Said a white-haired human. He looked old for a human, and wore what one of them would consider a well-tailored suit.
Roland recognised N'zar instantly, like him, in human form.
The man began walking towards him, tapping the ground with a gold-topped cane.
Something smacked against the side of an invisible bubble around him as he walked, leaving a crackle of mana, the after-smell of ozone.
"Damn flies." N'zar muttered, not bothering to look.
The voice of the shooter again:
Well well, if it isn't the Mad Monk. Roland sneered, using his inherent telepathy. You here to help your little fleshbag friends? Or just for a light snack?
N'zar ignored him.
"Tch. Been shot have you? Probably hurts. It hurt a bit the time they shot me. Six times, they did. The cakes were nice though."
Chance could scarcely belive what he saw - Some old geezer from the conference, strolling about though heavy sniper fire? What the frag is this world coming to?
Evans had been giving the crazy old man covering fire, but had stopped once he'd seen it wasn't worth it. Several bullets would have killed the man - And the injured MUNDI newby he seemed to be talking to - If it wasn't for some kind of magical barrier he had.
Fragging magic. ALWAYS fragging magic.. If he wasn't so intent on listening to what Winston was saying to him over the comm-net.
Just then, he noticed a fresh sound of helicopter blades. This had the distinctive twin-roto sound of a Ka-72 Hollowpoint though, and was coming from the opposite side of the compound.
Further to the East, the Red Knight bellowed to the sky. A huge, bestial cry that shook the souls of those that heard it to the core. It raised its humungous weapon in one hand.
It began running in huge bounding steps. With it went over a hundred manifest esser daemons. Their destination - The MUNDI conference centre - Where the best Magicians humanity had to offer were trapped.
Methdos wanted to cry out in pain, curse whoever, or whatever was doing this to him, he wanted to franticly yell until one of these damned spikes went straight though a vital organ, but no. He'd broke out of the compound with much ease, he didn't want to mess it up now.
He was clinging onto the top of the van that contained Sorrow, he'd landed on it just as it left the compound. He was in agony, but the small spikes on his arm and these claws he had helped him maintain a grip.
He was slowly being mutated, he had spikes growing everywhere. There was an orderly line of long spikes running down the length of his spine, some smaller spikes that seemed to run across the back of his ribs, some slightly larger spikes that ran down his arms, two spikes located on his knee cap and one that was ripping though his fore head.
He was sure they would all grow, slowly and painfully. But that didn't matter now, he'd take the pain. He had to. It almost overwhelmed him back at the compound, he was sure these things would rip him apart! And now was hardly any better. He continued to whisper a song his master had taught him as a boy to take his mind off things, he still had no idea where they were going.
"Damocles" Sorrow whispered to the driver. "I'm telling you...something isn't right."
Damocles grunted, still refusing to stop so Sorrow could see what was troubling him. Whatever it was, it had also reached the young woman too. She was moving her head around in an odd pattern, had been all trip really. It was as if she was following a sound, Sorrow strained his ears but could hear nothing but the hushed whispers of the explosive collar crew.
No worries, whatever it was would probably wait until they got there, Sorrow sat back and started to carve his staff again. It was still a long way to Geneva.
Just give me a second... and then Iīll talk to you.
Roszondas continued with the telepathy. Not bothering about his disguise more, he started to use his magic to reassemble himself.
In a few seconds, the jaw had been rebuilt.
"Humans... Easy to kill... Easy to repair" He finally muttered.
Nīzar stood a while, sniffing in the air.
"Donīt you sense it? HE is coming. He canīt go throught the rift, just because it is small... for now." spoke Nīzar in draconian.
"Dark... Dragon?" Asked Roszondas.
"Exactly. That old daemon has returned." He answered.
Then Nīzar turned his face to Chance. He was about to recognize both of them, so Nīzar made a brainwash to him.
The eardrums emitted a really annoying sound, and Chanceīs vision faded out for a while. Almost inmediatly he arose. But with one difference. He could not remember anything of the recent situation.
"Farewell, brother. I have business to do."
And Nīzar faded out, running in the darkness.
Roland arose and walked over Chance.
"Snipers, take cover!" A very confused Chance began to shout to the the MUNDI newbie.
"Get the hell down, you stupid newbie!" Ash snarled as she rushed past and dragged the confused Chance to cover. The MUNDI soldier, dressed in only light paratrooper armour, was a vulnerable target in a battlefield where heavy sniper rifle bullets flew.
Evans and Johan made it to the wall of the mall, both popping out momentarily to throw a barrage of shotgun and machinegun fire at the position where Winston had indicated to them over his comms system.
"Frag!" the Spaniard swore as a bullet clipped his shoulder, just barely stopped by his light pauldrons before whining off into the distance. Twisting his rifle around, his return shot missed the Aussie by a scant inch as the MUNDI SF man dodged back into cover.
Winston had taken the time to reposition himself... but the Spainard proved much faster than the Brit had estimated... A bullet punched into the fruit shelves behind him as soon as he raised his head, spraying a pink mist into the air.
Thinking quickly and knowing the position of the turncoat sniper on the other team, the British sharpshooter screamed in faked agony.
Carlos unconsciously raised his head an inch up to crow over his target...
... and the crown of his green bandana filled DeadEye's sights.
"Err... I am not stupid, bitch! I was trying to distract the fire for a while!" Roland ranted out.
Um... I am getting better and better. Now I do look like the perfect Jack Ass newbie. Roszondas thought to himself.
He sneered, grabbed a light gun, and swooped it in his hand, aiming at the outside. A neon signpost, still lit on despite the heavy fire, cracked, and a blinding light went on.
"We have bought some time. With a bit of luck, the heat and NVG have gone scrambled, and normal vision is unreliable."
Ash looked rather surprises. That kid was intelligent...REALLY intelligent. Something that didnīt fit in...
The door opened. Mawroth walked in, filled with pride and charisma, like most dragons.
"Draco, you are free. You can leave whenever you want."
What kind of joke was that? They held him in a cellar acussed of atrocious crimes and now he was freed, without even an apology? That was quite an annoying situation. But Draco managed to contain his anger.
"What happened?" He answered.
"Varos told me everything. She screamed just because she had cutted with a glass shard."
Damn liar bitch. Draco was about to burst. And he did.
"What do you think you are to treat me like this? I am not a criminal! And besides I DO think that you should apology."
Mawroth expelled smoke, and then, containing his anger too, he answered, trying to be as polite as possible. The help of the Golden Dragons was valuable, and he would not risk it with a petty matter.
"My apologies. But It was not my fault at all. You should have told me first!"
A harsh answer, but Draco was satisfied. From what he had seen, it was the most kind Mawroth could be.
"Lord Mawroth, if you forgive me, I will leave now that the storm had stopped. I have other things to do."
Draco walked out.
"Wait, lord Draco. I have a request to ask to you."
Draco felt again confused. He could not say "no" to Mawroth.
"Say it and I will do it." He sneered out.
"My daughter... er... wants to know the "Outer World". How it has changed, and since you were born in this world, i suggest you to have her as a pupil of yours."
Damnit. He did it again. Now he was going to have that dragon in his back permanently.
"But... eh... Nothing" He finally gave up.
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