The Den Games Network Forum RPG
Page 23

Game Masters:
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds


(LeFire)

Chance was thankful that his SF team had zipped-lined down earlier at the MUNDI HQ... those men that the Red Knight had cut down had been part of the Oceanhahn's normal boarding and rescue crew, but even if they had been SF troops, nothing could have stopped the jagged edge of the daemon's blade as it cut through armour, line and flesh.

The Oceanhahn had done what it could... spraying Red Knight's head with lead in an attempt to distract it as what appeared to be three humanoids engaged it in close combat. Barely aloft, only the pilot, a door-gunner (Evan's friend, Chance noted), Chance, Ash and DeadEye remained on board. The co-pilot and another doorgunner were dead... killed by friendly-fire from MUNDI machineguns.

They had already survived and barely recovered from a wild blast of wind during the fight... (A windstorm spell, Lupus had informed him). But then there was a devastating exposion as an incoming walker blew up....

***

Chance could barely see through the smoke that filled the helicopter. The Oceanhahn was definitely going down though... he could feel the deck canting at a crazy angle. Figures in the gloom were grimly holding on just like him as the helicopter spiraled down sickeningly. Chance spotted the slumped pilot's head through the smoke and sensed that he was dead... the helo was on a one-way trip.

What should I do now! he mind-shouted to his spirit guide.
The answer wasn't very reassuring... the wolf had tucked itself into a ball and covered its head.

Brace! You moron!

And then the helo hit the ground with a crunching smash...

---------------------------------------------
(Nyerguds)

Dunkelzahn looked at the Red Knight. The daemon had sunk to its knees, crushing the Inquisitor with the flamethrower. But the creature wasn't dead.
Slowly, he got up again. The huge sword still in his hand, and ready to kill.

This is impossible...

"Dunkelzahn, get the sleg out of there! I said I didn't want to lose any Hell Knights!"

The old Dragon slowly got up. Mawroth was right... both him and the Daemon were severely wounded, but he would still lose.

"Mawroth... you could help me defeat him!" Dunkelzahn replied through the telepathic link.
"Forget it. I'm not risking my neck for them."

The Daemon turned towards the Dragon. Dunkelzahn shivered when he saw the blank face... so emotionless, yet so cruel. This was the end... the only option he still had was run away.

"Frag your slegging pride! GET OUT OF THERE!" Mawroth shouted through the mind link.

Dunkelzahn retreated... he turned around and ran.

***

"They give up." Warlock said.

"Of course they do. They can't possibly win if the Dragons don't unite." Leader replied. "We must finish their work, before Red Knight has a chance to recover."

Quickly, the Iotui approached Red Knight. They were small and easy to miss, and their damonic shells camouflaged them from the Daemons.
But that wasn't enough. They knew the humans had been attacking them before, mistaking them for lesser Daemons. They needed something more here.

Dissolve your physical bodies. We'll take him on astral level.

This was one of the most unique abilities of the Iotui, that not even the Shamans knew of. Th Iotui could dissolve and re-make their physical bodies in a matter of seconds. Seven bright flashes appeared when all of the Iotui except for the Warlock shifted to the astral plane.

Hunters; surround. Flier; behind him. Warlock; straight in front of him. You'll serve as distraction. Spy; find his wounds.

The Iotui quickly dispersed. Leader himself would help Warlock with the destraction part.

"Hello... 'master'."

Red knight looked up.
"Shoud've destroyed you..."

Warlock grinned. "But you didn't... and now, we wil destroy YOU!"

He blasted a manabolt towards the creature.
Red Knight was still fast though, and he stopped it with his sword.

"Perfect..." Leader said through the mind link with the others. Spy had given him the information he needed, and the distraction had taked Red Kight off his guard.

"Attack."

Leader quickly gave his commands.

Hunters, don't stay on te ground. You; on his back. He's been wounded there before. You; reach the hand weilding the sword. I know he can't use the sword with the other one.
Flier, attack the head. Wound him in the burned spots. Distract him from the Hunters.
Warlock... frontal asault.


The warlock started to float. The red glowing crystal distracted Red Knight; the Daemon knew very well what it was capable of.

"A few powerful mana blasts. He'll probably attack you. Then, use the most powerful shields you can summon. Anger him; that's all we need to do. That's his biggest weakness."

The Daemon felt the poisoned claws in his back, where the Catholic had ripped through his armor. But just as he wanted to grab the thing on his back, a manablast blew towards his head.

"Flier... now."

Flier glided down and put her claws in Red Knight's head. She knew the weaknesses; spy had seem them, and thus they all had. She flew up again immdiately, waiting for Warlock to throw another manabolt at the daemon.
But Red Knight knew how they worked. He knew they were distracting him, and would try to stay fixed at one target. He raise his free hand, and hit Flier in mid-air.

"FLIER!!" Leader screamed. Flier had managed to put her claws in the Daemon hand that hit her, and tried to cause as much damage as possible.
She knew it was too late for her. Her wings were damaged, her body was crushed. But she would not give up that easily. Quickly, she shifted back to the physical plane. She could do more damage there.

That was a terrible miscalculation. Leader thought. We're losing Flier!

"Don't worry about me." he heard Flier say. "I'm ready."

The Daemon felt the pain in has hand. He closed the hand to a fist.
But flier was faster. She forced every non-broken bone in her body to move, and jumped. She spread her damaged wings and jumped towards the Daemon's face again. Her claws penetrated the Daemon skin, and ripped it apart. Blood no longer leaked only from invisible wounds... between the streams of red blood on the Daemons's body, a darker one appeared.. dark red, almost black.

The Daemon hand hit Flier again. The hit threw her away from the battle. Flier felt the rest of her bones crushing on the plascrete rubble.

"This is it... then."

***

Leader bowed his head. He had failed Flier. But he would not fail again.

Another manabolt hit the Daemon in the face. It worked. Flier had made him angry, and now that Flier was gone, Red Knight finally focused on a different target. Leader joined the attack team, and hit the Daemon in all weaknesses Spy could find.

Red Knight was furious. He raised the big sword, and swung it towards the Warlock.
The Warlock dodged. The Daemon summoned a swarm of flying daemons to attack him. But Red Knight was getting weaker, and so were his creations. The swarm crashed into Warlock's shields and burned to a crisp.

"I can't hold his much longer." Warlock said to the Leader. "Finish him off."

The Daemon started running towards the Warlock, with the five attacking Iotui clawed into his body on different spots.


"Hit the leg with all you've got. Everything you have left."

Warlock's face formed a determined grin. It's the end anyway. We'll be free. Might as well go down with style.

Every single bit of magic in his body and soul were focused at the red crystal on his chest. Warlock didn't understand how he could ever contain the kind of power he was controlling now... it was just too much. The crystal was glowing brighter that he had ever seen it before, and cracks appeared in it.

"YEAAAAAARGH!" the Warlock screamed with his ghostly voice.

The red crystal exploded. With all of the willpower he had left he pushed the blast forward, and focused it in one point. He knew where the others were, and he knew where to hit the daemon without hurting them.

A huge blast of red light shot towards Red Knight's leg. The Daemon felt a burning pain like he had never felt before.

The leg exploded in red light. The Daemon, still running, fell forward, and crashed into the rubble. A terrible scream chilled the blood of all who heard it.

Warlock slowly floated down. He would never recover from the mana burnout, and he knew it. But it didn't matter anymore. He landed softly on the ground, and smiled.

***

Red Knight lifted his head. The empty face looked at the four creatures before him. Leader, with three of the Hunters. The fourth one was crushed under the huge body of the falling Daemon.
They had shifted back to the physical plane, and Leader was holding the giant sword the Daemon had dropped when he fell.

"Farewell... Master"

With the combined willpower of the four Iotui that were still left, Leader lifted the sword, and let it come down on the Daemon's head. The three Hunters quickly ran off at a command of their leader.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" Red Knight roared.

The sword hit the daemon, and went right through him. The head exploded, and black acid was sprayed to all directions. Leader knew it was done.

All done...

Acid blood washed over his body, and destroyed it. But a part of his spirit stayed behind, and waited.


***


The dark geneva rain slowly washed away the blood of the fallen. Morning had come, and in the first light of the sun, everything looked different.

No one realized what had happened. The Daemon was dead. The huge body was still lying there, slowly dissolving into mana. Killed by his own sword.

Only the Shamans knew what had happened. They now had to complete the task of their ancestors, and free the spirits of the Iotui.
They knew where they were, but their astral projection wasn't enough for this.

Korum, Mako, Chana and another surviving Wildcat shaman walked over the deserted battlefield. The remains of the Daemon hordes had either been destroyed when the willpower of their master was broken, or freed. The free lesser daemons had quickly disappeared in the surrounding area.


The first one the Shamans found was the Warlock. The black robe and the shatterred pieces of the red crystal was all that was left of his physical body. The spirit was torn loose from the body, but had remained close to it to wait for the Shamans.

"You will be freed, as we promised." Korum said.
"That is all I desire." the spirit answered.

The four shamans sat down around the remains of the Warlock, and meditated.
A flash of light came out of the spirit, and ripped it to pieces. The Daemon shell was broken. For a second, the true spirit became visible. An old man, seduced by the Daemons so long ago... and finally freed.

Thank you. he whispered.

Then, he became one with the manasphere.

When they apporached the big Daemon, two of the hunters came towards them. Both wounded, but not mortally.
Thy lead them to the place where Leader and the crushed Hunter left their bodies behind. The fourth hunter was lying there too, mortally wounded by the acid.

One by one, the spirits were freed.

"There are two more." Mako remarked. "Flier and Spy. Where are they?"

Spy appeared before them. "I'll get you to her..."


They followed the spy, and found the crushed body of the Flier. She hadn't left it behind; she had used all her willpower to hold on to the last bit of life she had.

"Shaman." she said to Korum. She was obviously in a lot of pain, and had much trouble to speak.
"Korum." he replied. "Call me Korum"
"Thank you... Korum."
"No... Thank you... Chinaka."
She smiled. Korum saw she was ready to give up now. The body died, and the spirit slowly released itself from it.

The other three shamans had already freed the Spy.
"Need any help, Korum?" Chana asked.

"No..." Korum replied. "I'll do this one alone."

Chana noticed tears running down his face.


"Farewell, Chinaka." Korum said to the spirit he just released. She looked beautiful, just like the reflection in the pool he had gotten out of her memory when they first met.

"Farewell... Korum." The spirit faded away.
Then, a flash of white light appeared, and she was gone.

Uh? That's not normal... Korum thought. But she was gone. He couldn't detect her presence anywhere around there. She was really gone.

Korum's mind returned to his body. He opened his eyes and slowly got up. He sighed, and joined the rest of the group, back to the battered headquarters.

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

Emmanuel could scarcely believe what they had seen. One moment he had been fighting for his life, watching Dunkelzahn being taken piece-by-piece by something that may have just clawed its way up from the depths of hell, grinding Cairns underfoot.

But then the Huge Daemon had taken a flurry of dazzling hits. He seemed to swat at invisible targets in the air - Emmanuel quickly realised he must have been battling enemies on the astral plane.

But given the situation, the fighting, the Daemons and Hijackers swarming, he had no inclination ot concentration to go astral now.

In a huge gout of ichor, the Daemon's leg exploded into chitin shards - Cutting down an unlucky MUNDI man, running in bravely with a bayonnet.

Emmanuel was up on his feet, charging in, determined to make sure the huge creature wouldn't get up again.

Cairns was yelling something, his lungs filling with blood. Dunkelzahn - The Dragon was just out of Emmanuel's field of sight.

An Oceanhahn was about to plummet to the ground nearby.

Through this apocalyptic scene, Emmanuel still charged.

And then his world exploded into a shower of burning rain.

***

Dunkelzahn saw the Daemon was dead. He could see it clearly now, dissolving into a virtual lake of ectoplasm and mana.

"This will be messy." The Dragon mumbled, his teeth mashed.

He reached into the puddle of burning fluid. His hand grasped around a leg. A human leg. Ignoring the scalding of his blue, muscular arm, the way the scales began falling away, he grasped for greater purchase on the figure in the pool.

Inquisitor Cairns was not breathing. It was all Dunkelzahn could do, weakening by the moment, to remove the fluid from his crushed lungs, but eben he was doubtful the old man would survive. He was burned too. Burned badly, like his Catholic compatriot - Injured in the spray when the Red Knight's head had exploded.

He set the two down together, unmoving. And thought for a while before laying down himself, next to them. Not far off - The still body of the pretty young Indian girl with the mutant Sakhar grieving silently, dozens of MUNDI and various corporate men. A crashed helicopter was burning, and men and women rushed to the scene.

We all fought together. May as well die together. It'd look good in the simflick. I hope my cameras are cath

The Dragon collapsed then. The Butchered wing Stanchion fell away, caustic poison from the Red Knight's sword still eating away around the wound, and revealing the Black, Javelin-like arrow that had thrust into the side of the Dragon's chest.

***

All over the battlefield, with the rising of the sun, the survivors realised they had come to see a new day.

Jessica Hayes gleefully joined with a mopping up crew - Many Daemons were running berzerk. It was now an easy task for high-speed armoured infantry units to hunt them down, and destroy them.

Samuel Parker collapsed somewhere, in the wrecked vehicle pool.

He was found, and carried back to the same medical ward. Over an hour later, he was, by fate, lying next to one unconsious Peter Stephenson, lucky to escape with two broken legs from a helicopter crash.

Chance felt himself being dragged roughly from the inferno taking hold in the destroyed Oceanhahn. He'd blacked out on impact. Evidently,that hadn't been a problem for whoever was mistreating him so.

Shouldn't they be checking me for broken bones first? He wondered dimly.

I see my song of protection served you well, manling. You better be fragging grateful in the future, Lupus grinned. His face vanished in a puff of smoke, and Chance could see the face of his saviour - Ash, though she was limping on an obviously broken leg. Somehow, she'd regained consiousness, and was managing to drag survivors from the wreck.

"Don't. Don't start, Chance. You saved us once. You know only I can go in there. Rest."

Chance couldn't move. Something was gone in his back. The pain made him black out...

***

An Aztechnology crew came through in their own ambulance, driving around devastated Geneva, passing corpses and injured.

They eventually came to a stop next to a partcicular corpse. Smoking their nico-sticks, two bored-looking medtechs zipped up the two halves of Jaguar Leader's corpse and unceremoniously dumped them in the back of their truck, driving away and only stopping to flivk their cigarettes from the window.

***

In the MUNDI HQ, there was not so much an air of rejoice at the victory, more one of carrying on and finishing the job and returning to duty.

This was partly because of physical and mental fatigue, but also a good deal to do with the item flashing in the new commander's inbox.

Special Contagion Order 131 - In event of Worldwide Anti-Magical Hysteria.

Execute.

MUNDIs job, it seemed, was never done.

---------------------------------------------
(virtualoctopus)

Dunklezahn stood alone over the dissipating form of the daemon lord. The huge blue dragon was badly injured, one wing almost torn off, and several large cuts along his body, and at least one broken rib but the best medics in the world he could hire could fix most of it, and who needed wings when you had a private jet and a 3Dtv channel.

Somehow, however, Dunklezahn felt the need to oversee the body until it had funny dissipated. In the Geneva rain, now just a drizzle, the dragon could smell the blood and gore that had covered the whole battleline. The casualties, both MUNDI and daemon, were enormous, although there was little doubt now that MUNDI would not prove victorious - there was only mopping-up left to do.

When Dunklezahn's bodyguards had arrived, he had sent them away with Cairn's body. Maybe he'd survive, but that wasn't the kind of thing you'd pit a TV empire on. Or anything else, for that matter.

The bony daemon armour of the Red Knight was all that was left now, it's charred body having dissapeared slowly. Dunklezahn didn't know how it could do that - none of the other daemons seemed to have - but he knew that the damned thing was dead.

Only the armour remained. The dragon moved foreward, slowly, and picked up the remains of the faceplate. It felt warm and organic, but still somehow as hard as steel. Although the dragon had considered taking it as a trophy, this wasn't the kind of thing he wanted to have around.

He began to turn to walk away, when he felt his shackles rise. Something was watching him. From where he had been standing only moments before.

In the peripharies of his vision, he could tell it was a figure, human size. However, his astral sense told him it was not human.

He turned slowly, ready to respond to any attack, and faced the creatue. It was a daemon, hunch-backed and humanoid, it's skeletal form covered in what appeared to be skin, obviously torn from it's victims.

Dunklezahn readied himself for attack, from it's scythe-like arms, but none came. It simply stood and watched. Minutes fell like the hazy rain.

"What do you want?" Dunklezahn broke the uneasy silence.
There was a pause, tense and empty, before the daemon replied. He rasped out the words, as if he had not spoken for a long time in the human tongue.
"I... am here... to... give thanks"
"Thanks? Thanks for what? Your people are being exterminated now, and your chance for freedom, for conquest, is forever crushed"

The Pariah stood in silence once again, once clicking his talons together infront of him, before replying.
"Without... the Red Knight... we are free. You may think... you have killed us... all, but you will... forever be... mistaken. Some of us... will evade you... and there is a whole world out there for us..."
"A whole world? You people are dead, daemon. You will not survive."
"You forget... dragon... we are but constructs... out people do not age like you do... immortal...though.... we cannot breed... the spawning mothers... are behind the gateway... but there is oppurtunity to us out there... we will not... always... seek to destroy"

Dunklezahn stood for a moment, looking over the daemon.
"You know, I could line you up for some incredibly lucrative deals, for me and you... imagine it... "DAEMON TALKS!" live with Big D himself of the Dunklezahn channel!"

The daemon made a small dismissive noise, and looked at the dragon.
"Never, dragon, never. We do not seek... the spotlight... like yourself. Hunter, Seeker, Scout, Assassin. That is us, in some remote part where... we can find for ourselves... we will not be accepted... but we, I will survive... not all of us... only the small, the clever... the willing to accept change..."

Before the dragon could reply, the Pariah had dissapeared, moving faster than the eye, reappearing about twenty metres away, then out of the dragon's eyesight.

Dunklezahn took a moment to think over the daemon's plan, before returning, alone, to MUNDI hq. Already weakened, almost to the point of exhaustion, the bizzare conversation with the daemon only adding to this, it was inevitable that he collapsed on the way, only to be found by a MUNDI search team.

---------------------------------------------
(BlueThunder)

Rayi's sword dropped to the floor, her mouth wide open. Carins....dead? H-how? Was he even dead? She forgot that the newly liberated Daemons still surrounded her, she forgot she was even in a war-zone. Tears ran down her face as she realised that her father figure might be dead.

So lost in her own emotions she was that she didn't even notice the Daemon creeping up behind her, hand like a hammer. It raised it's blunt hand to her head, ready to strike. No one, not the MUNDI troopers, not Sakhar, not Holmer, not Cairns could save her from what happened next. There was a sickening crack as the blunt hand of the Daemon impacted with her skull, blood ran from her mouth as she hit the floor, eyes closed.

Many of the other Daemons, now liberated from their master, lost all order and took this as a free meal, all piling on the fresh, hot corpse. The MUNDI troops took this as an opportunity to shoot the fraggers when their guard was down.

***

Now the leader was dead, the Daemons were pretty much harmless. A rabble of misguided fools, Sakhar cut though them with ease. He was looking for Rayi, she was lost in this damned place and he wanted to make sure she was safe. He noticed a group of Daemon's piled up on something, Sakhar would have thought nothing of it if he hadn't of seen Rayi's torn up robe lying next to them. He charged the Daemons with a new found anger, he'd kill them all if they had hurt her! Every single fragging one. Groups of Daemon's met Sakhar's blade and spikes as he struggled to find Rayi's body.

"Rayi?" He said after he had cleared the Daemon's. She coughed up some blood and looked at him though half closed eyes. Her body had been cut and bitten, a large bruise was on her head where it looked as if she had been hit by a large blunt object. He held the body in his arms. "R-Rayi? Don't leave me!"
"M...met...." She choked on the blood that was pouring from her mouth, she couldn't even say his name.
"I'm here for you Rayi, Don't leave me....please? I need you. Your the only thing that makes me life worth living." Tears were pouring down his face. "I love you Rayi...."
Rayi didn't answer, her eyes closed but it couldn't be too late!

"ARTHER!!!!" Methdos yelled out. "IF YOU HAVE ANY HUMANITY IN YOU, HELP ME NOW!" A small black bird flew in and landed at Sakhar's feet, It soon transformed into the figure of Sorrow.
"Arther, you have to heal her! I....can't lose her!" Sakhar looked on the face of his old enemy, he knelt down beside Rayi.
"I'll try...it's bee so long though." He felt the wound on the back of her head, he concentrated on healing it. His old powers started to grow again, but they weren't enough. She was too badly wounded, he felt for a pulse.....none.

"Methdos...." It was destroying him inside, Why must he cause more pain today! "There is nothing I can do for her....I cannot heal her, she's..." The necromancer put his head down and gulped, he didn't want to do this. "Dead."

Even as Sorrow said it the word spun around in Sakhar's head, his grief quickly turned to anger.

"YOU BASTARD!" he yelled, punching the Necromancer between the eyes. The weak for of Sorrow fell to the floor. "Why must you always bring suffering wherever you go! W-why did this have to happen....Rayi....." Sakhar fell to the floor, hot tears ran down his armoured face. The last thing he had in life had been destroyed, he could either wait for the Bone Spikes to take his, or take it by his own sword.

Sorrow stepped towards him, feeling the bruised eye that he had just received.

"Methdos...I am sorry. There is something I may be able to do for you though..." He said to the Golden Warrior.
"What? Bring her back as a zombie? Thanks Sorrow! Your a ray of fragging sunshine!"
"I couldn't heal her, but I may be able to heal you." he looked up at the warrior, hoping he wouldn't get another black eye. "You see, I have.....strange powers. Mugen Ra fuelled powers. I could cast an illusion of your old body and bring it into reality via these "powers". Eliminating the Bone Spikes. But, it is a great risk and I'll be very weak afterwards, the Daemon may overtake me..."

Sakhar didn't even think about it. He rose from the floor, lifting Rayi's corpse. "No! I have nothing to live for, I may as well join everything I care for in death rather then live a pointless existence like you....now just fly away!"
"As you wish..." Sorrow turned back into the Jet Black bird, leaving Sakhar to his grief. He didn't know what he was going to do with the body, probably take it for a proper burial....Rayi. Gone. He shook his head, tears running from underneath his helmet and down his wounded chest.

---------------------------------------------
(virtualoctopus)

Sarah stumbled foreward - she could barely think, the pain was so headsplitting, and she hardly noticed that Silvia, Wirecat, and Damocles were standing there, still in shock, after Dark Sorrow's dramatic departure.

Sarah collapsed on her knees on the concrete, her head in her hands. Wirecat and Silvia rushed to her aid, abandoning Damocles. The cat man caught the storm shaman in his furred arms.

"Sarah! What's wrong!"
Hurricane coughed, phelgm black, onto the concrete. It fizzed, quietly, for a moment.
She looked into David Shinz's eyes, unable to speak. Silently, she implored him.

"Sarah! Sarah! What is it!" Wirecat grew desperate, he knew something was terribly wrong. She appeared to be... coughing up daemon blood.

Surely.... how could the same thing that had happened to that necromancer.... be happening to Sarah?

She coughed again, this time a tide of ichor.

"David..." she whispered... "what's... happening..."

Neither knew that five days ago she had invited posession by drinking her sacred vial and casting something she could not control. Now, the blood of a hijacker daemon ran through her veins, itching to spread it's wings, take it's physical form.

Half a mile away, the last vestiges of it's master, the Red Knight, dripped from bloody, unearthly armour.

The daemon began to take form. As if an invisible forcefield was manauvering her, Sarah rose to her feet, Wirecat unable to follow. Something, something impossible, stopped him.

The storm-shaman's entire body was contained in a transclucent black cloud, clinging to her form, but two collosal wings forming from it on her back. Suspended a foot above the ground, dark powers played around her, shaping, willing, concealing.

"Daemon," whispered Silvia.
Wirecat just looked on, his mouth agape, in disbelief. How... how could this be happening? He could see Sarah's eyes, still completely human, looking back, in complete terror.

The final teardrop of blood dripped from the armour, daemon blood touching the already soaked ground.

Suddenly, the black powers around Sarah halted, and sprung away in all directions. The destruction of the Red Knight had devestated the hijacker's control, and, having lost it's orders, it wasn't quite sure what to do now...

Sarah fell to the floor, her legs buckling, and vomited forth the black corpse of a daemon, ichor and daemonic foetus somehow both expelled.

Then she collapsed, and cat-man and dragon-girl ran to her aid. The ork followed, and stood silently, watching.

---------------------------------------------
(BlueThunder)

"Come on lads! Lets clear this mess and get the fragging hell out of here!" The few MUNDI troops Holmer had gathered yelled in agreement, following him as he crushed Daemons with his hammer. The dwarf may be old, but he'd never let that stop him before! The MUNDI's guns ran out, filling the Daemon's with bullets and even being brave enough to hit them.

Holmer noticed something, a human figure, slowly walking though the remaining Daemons. Nothing could touch it due to the spikes that stuck out of it's body from all directions. It was holding a human body in it's arms, Miss Shah. Methdos approached Holmer, nobody could see the hopeful expression in his eyes under the golden helm.

"I've been told she's dead." Although you couldn't see the grief on his face, it was obvious in his voice.
"A second opinion never hurt anyone...." he felt fro the Indian Elf's pulse. "It's there....but it's thar all right, but very, very weak. Yer need to get 'er medical attention NOW for it to be any good. An' with what we 'ave here, it's doubtful she'll make it."
"We must try....Will you help me?"
"Of course, I'll do the work myself!" The two rushed off to the hospital building where, unknowingly to them Sarah had expelled her Daemon.

***

Sakhar ran, he ran as fast as his legs would carry him. If there was the slightest chance Rayi could be cured.....He couldn't fail her! Not again! The dwarf stumbled behind him, he was already out of breath from all the fighting and struggled to keep up. As he approached the hospital building, he saw the the confused scene. Sarah was lying face down on the floor, the cat and some other girl stood over her. Sorrow's Ork was also standing over him as well as an oddly artificial elf in the background. Holmer rushed to his side, stopping next to him. Panting like a dog.

"What the bloody hell are yer doin'! We need to git 'er in there lad!" He was obviously concerned about Rayi's health as well, the two had seemed to have bounded well in the days before the combat.
"Take her, I'll be with you soon." He unloaded Rayi's nearly dead body into Holmer's arms. The dwarf ran into the building as Sakhar stood over Sarah's body.

"What....happened?" He asked Wirecat.
"I'm....not sure. We think it was a Daemon." Wirecat nodded to the Hi-Jacker corpse close by.
"Will she be ok?" Sakhar dreaded the answer, this wasn't his day for good news.
"I think so...." Wirecat replied absentmindedly. Sakhar stood, looking at Sarah, her body was surrounded in the black Ichor and blood of the Daemon. He quietly disappeared into the hospital after Holmer, The dwarf had already managed to get her on life support and was examining the wound on her head, mumbling as he went. Sakhar took a seat next to the bed, head in his hands.

---------------------------------------------
(LeFire)

Chance's faceplate had been lifted up by Ash... He wondered if he should close it, to hide the ghastly colour of his skin and the shocking white of his hair. But then, he realised that the soot and grime that had covered him during the battle made him look no different from anyone else.
His self-focusing goggles were still on though... despite one lens being cracked and out of focus. Chance struggled to sit up, his head wobbling as he held on to the side of his helmet. Something moved within the plasteel shell.

Hell, I cracked a horn. Chance thought to himself.
Lucky you did. It'll grow back... but it saved you a fractured skull, buddy. The cheerful mind-voice of Lupus popped up again.

Chance grimaced when he spied his left arm... It was obviously broken, but hastily set with a emergency brace that rendered the entire arm immobile against his chest. Ash emerged limping from the flames of the Oceanhahn... the sight strange enough to make MUNDI medics and rescuers nearby pause and stare. She gave a shake of her head to the nearest medic... there was no one else in the crashed aircraft.
"Ash? How about DeadEye? And Evan's friend?"
"DeadEye's broken both his legs, but he'll be ok. Evan's girl is worse off though... I don't know if she's gonna make it." Ash replied, tipping back her faceplate to reveal eyes strained by unrelenting combat and a brow furrowed with fatigue. Her leg was in a fast-set plastic brace, but the painkillers were wearing off a little too quickly for her liking.
Shouldering her flamethrower, Ash pulled Chance to his feet. In a sudden starburst of pain, he realised that he had messed up his right leg good too... The entire shin was covered in another one of those fast-setting cement tubular braces.

"Ouch" he mumbled.
"Hang on tight, dear... We're going to take a little walk back to MUNDI HQ hospital." She paused. "It's a hell of a view, ain't it?"
Looking out over the devastation, the bodies and the smoke, Chance replied.

"Yeah... Its a hell of a view."

***

Back in MUNDI HQ, Special Forces medic Wangfei looked up from the scores of wounded in the triage department at the wierd sight of a man dressed in what appeared to be spiky golden armour, following a stocky dwarf carrying a badly wounded Indian woman dressed in scraps of robe and light armour.
The dwarf was good at his hands... but rather out of breath, something that certainly wasn't very good for the woman! Expertly sizing up the wounded girl with her experienced eye (a few years of running around wiping the noses and tending to skinned knees of an active SF team really does wonders for your medical skills... as she was fond to quote), Wangfei ran over, hastily scrubbing up her hands in a disinfectant bowl before joining the dwarf at the table.

"Let me help you." she said, the clinical ice-princess personality taking over as she automatically began setting up an IV drip... a cocked eye indicating that the dwarf needed a little help... pride be damned... while they both stablised the woman.

---------------------------------------------
(BlueThunder)

Sakhar still sat, waiting in the hustle and bustle of the make shift hospital. Luckily most just needed patching up. Things like bullets removing, wounds sewed up, stuff that didn't take a lot. But he did notice that some were being moved off into several large vans that had recently arrived. Holmer came over to him, fresh from checking all Rayi's wounds.

"Well, Ah can't treat 'er here. Unfortunately she took quite a blow to the skull an' she's bleeding internally. The most Ah can do is sew up the Daemon bites and heal the claw marks, but that won't save 'er."
"What are you saying?"
"We'll 'ave to move 'er off to one of the Hospital's in the surroudin' area. She'll 'ave a better chance there."
"And I CAN go with her?"
"aye"
"And you?"
"Too much to do 'ere lad...I need a break after this anyway...Scotland maybe..."
"Very well, I will go by her side."
"Excellent! Yer never know, they might be able to git something fer yer as well!" the dwarf turned around, going back to the wounded, as two medical aides came tot take Sakhar out to the vehicle Rayi would be travelling in. He stood by her side, holding on to the colder the average hands.

"Don't worry..." He whispered to her. "I failed my people and I refuse to fail you!"

***

"Were too?" the Ork who was driving the truck asked Zizz, he was a dirty Ork. Greasy black hair, Blackened teeth, Breath that could kill a Troll. But Lilith refused to walk.
"Just get us to the nearest bank!" Lilith was upset, she didn't like the attitude of the troops back at the camp, Lilith was constantly upset anyway, so Zizz took no notice.
"Ookey! As da ladi wiziz!" Lilith gave the Ork a disgusted look. She obviously despised him. "Da Neerest Toon iz kloze bi, a fu minatez dive."
"Thank you very much. You'll receive your payment as soon as we get there."
"Ah'd betta!" The Ork spat. "Or els oo'll bi gittin' it!"

The Ork was true to his word, after about five minutes drive the wreckage of a truck pulled into a small town.

"You can drop me off here." Zizz said to the Ork, the truck stopped outside a block of houses. Zizz opened the door and got out. Lilith went to follow but the Ork's hand clasped onto her shoulder.
"An' mi Payment?" The Ork asked, a dopey grin on his face, all his rotting black teeth could be seen.
"Yeah, take her she's yours."
"WHAT!" Lilith screamed.
"He wouldn't accept any amount of money I offered him, he'd only accept you...But hey, at least your away from the zombies." Zizz turned his back on her and walked off down the streets.
"YOUR FRAGGING BASTARD! I'll get you fo....." Were the last things she said as the Ork pulled her back and locked the door, the truck rolled off down the roads, Lilith still screaming at him though the windows.

Now to get some money, buy some better clothes and get the frag out of here. he thought as he went off to locate the bank. Maybe this wasn't going to turn out so bad after all.

---------------------------------------------
(CKW)

Mawroth, still foresighting Geneva in a flight, mumbled himself.
"And so, the Champion was defeated, and the daemons lost their leadership. By the hands of those Iotui. Heh. What will they think of me now? I knew how would this end. So I did not take place in battle. It was unnecesary. A pity that Dunkelzahn did not understand that..."
He sighted the battered body of the dragon being carried by his bodyguards. He dived into them, and landed in front of the dragon. The guards instinctively withdrew their weapons, but lowered after checking that the dragon was not hostile.
"So, rookie, how are you today?" He mentally gazed inside the injuried comrade.
"ugh.. I have been better. But I am proud of fighting on a battle, rather than running away."
"HA! I pity you, rookie. You could not see what was going to happen. The battle was already won."
"What do you mean? If it were for me..."
"...Red Knight would only go a step further before getting fried by those Astral beings, the Iotui. Heh. I should thank them, we owe them a big one, since we could not gather properly and covered our backs."
"but... How... do you know that?"
"Iīve been watching them since they came through the rift.But now, rest. I will shoote some of your wounds. I want to talk to you about some business."

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

G3N News Snap

Grexon Profits Increase yet again

"Worldwide markets jumped for joy today, as Grexon Entertainment, a subsidiary of Grexon Incorporated, announced yet another record increase in annual profits. This time Ĩ30 billion up on last year's intake. The news has delighted shareholders and corporate citizens alike, and has led to calls for further Corporate power to the Zurich-Orbital Court'"

"I'd say this further proves the inability of the old state system to compete with the lifestyle we offer our citizens, wouldn't you? We tolerate not the undesirable leeches that dominate a state-run population. We demand work, we get work done, and we reward that work. Move." - Grexon Ent. Spokesmen Fiennes.

Grexon signs new band

"Furthermore to yesterday's story about the disappointing sales of Identity Zero's 'Deep Red' Sim-Concert chip, which was put down to illegally distributed matrix copies of the concert, Grexon Entertainment have signed a new band completely out of the blue, sidelining Identity Zero for the forseeable future. Lei-Fang O'Jones, said to be a new signing, is-

"An astoundingly beautiful Welsh-Oriental young act, plucked from the Dragon-lands of Wild Wales to record her life's work - A dazzling magnum-opus electro-shock experience that will shock and awe listeneers back to the dark ages. A band so Nova Hot, they're Virtually in the record books already. Let Lei-Fang and her Welsh Wildmen blow you up, down left right and away!!!111. Also part financed by Transys Neuronet Neotainment PLC"


"Lady Zero, shy frontwoman for the outgoing band, is said to be 'on hiatus' following her narrow-escape from the zombie-infested zone of Britsprawl, which the army and corporate forces have as yet, declined to enter in force. Rumours of her starring role in the simflick 'Love Never Dies', - also starring Sir Anthony Taylor - being shelved, have been denied."

Dragon's Paw Corp Going into Meltdown

"Following the mysterious disappearance of CEO N'zar while he was present at a MUNDI *cough* Military Excercise, the Dragon's Paw corporation has suffered a major shareholder revolt. Reports say a large portion of the stockholders have been selling up. Others want to ake their stock and form a breakaway corporation. However the majority are being welcomed into partnership with Grexon Industries.

Reports of the loss of the Dragon's Paw Airborne Aircraft Carrier Red Dawn crash landing are being denied, though sources say Dragon's Paw's entire inventory of Aerospace technicians have been moved to the site near Geneva, where the excercise was taking place. Dragon's Paw also denies reports of its personnel defecting to other Corporations - Like Grexon.
Reports of MUNDI foul play have been - as ever - denied

Premier Dragon Injured Near Military Excercise

"And in other news, Dunkelzahn the Dragon was yesterday critically injured in an accident, also during the same MUNDI *cough* military excercise. The Dragon's legions of adoring fans have been glued to the Dunkelzahn 24hr channel - Which mysteriously went off-air the whole time he was near Geneva.
Record numbers of users have clogged the Dragon's Matrix hosts."

"It remains to be seen how such a great and powerful figure as a Great Dragon can be injured during such a *cough* excercise by an 'accident'. Grexon Officials have called for a major overhaul in MUNDI's military safetly procedures. Othrs have called for the organisation to be disbanded as a waste of valuable corporate profits."

"Yesterday, unknown Matrix-users managed to re-write the main MUNDI host, so that anyone trying to enter the system would instead be redirected to a Grexon-hosted Centaur and Troll live Porn-sim host, and charged Ĩ500 for the priviledge. Apparently, MUNDI have failed to see the funny side, to their discredit."

"This is Gellinghamn Voight L'Moinceux, for G3N."

WAR! HUH! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

The ratings of course!!!

'Warbaby Season XIII - Coming next month! No other show has such young street-children, such big guns, and SO MANY CASUALTIES!'


---------------------------------------------
(red_Dawn)

It took Peter a solid few minutes to realise he was not actually dead. He sat up and sniffed the air around him. It was somewhat rank with the smell of old dressings and infected wounds but Peter still relished the odour, it was real. For a long time he just sat there listening to the sounds of busy doctors and nurses tend to the injured. A voice, close by, told him to sit down and wait for the doctor to do his rounds. Peter obliged and dozed for a few minutes.

"Good morning trooper! I'm Doctor Jones, your physician for today. Hmm, your chart is interesting. Two broken legs, minor cuts and bruises. You got off easy my boy. Hmm? Blindness? The chart says you were blind before you got injured. Interesting indeed."

The doctor poked and prodded Peter's legs for a few minutes before pronouncing.

"You'll be right as rain in a few days, my boy. Modern medicene works wonders. Just rest up and don't try to use your legs. Good day. Ahhh, you sir. How are you feeling today?"

What Peter didn't realise was that the person next to him was Samuel Parker. Parker knew, of course, who his neighbour was and wanted to get away as soon as was possible.

***

Raven spent some time in the back of the van training himself to use his extra arms. They were not nearly as agile or strong as the originals but they were somewhat useful, for the time being. Raven spent his time thinking about what he had experienced during that weird dream. There were going to be many interesting changes in his life soon.......

***

Raven's mother sipped the stale tea without complaint. She watched the blue haired woman intently with her dark eyes.

"Crystal dear, do you like my Raven?"

Crystal didn't know how to answer Raven's mother. She didn't know the answer herself.

***

Jessica Hayes, having gutted hundreds of leaderless demons was tired and covered in grimy ichor. She was still on her feet, however, as every uninjured person had been conscripted into emergency roles. Currently Jessica was busy scavenging weapons and ammunition of the fallen MUNDI soldiers. It was unacceptable to leave live weapons and ammunition in the field. Her clean up duty was interrupted by a pair of suited men who looked immaculate and were going from each group of scavengers and showing them a picture. Each group would solemnly shake their heads before continuing with their cleaning.
The suits approached Jessica's clean up crew, everybody turned their attention to the men. Jessica watched them carefully, she recognised the emblems upon their chests. N'Zar's men. The shorter man spoke first.

"We are looking for the brave Lieutenant who intervened when the Captain of the Red Dawn refused to go into combat. Her name is Jessica Hayes, here's her picture."

The taller man produced the file picture of Jessica in immaculate uniform. Jessica looked at her own picture as if she had never seen it before. She had noticed that the two men were armed with holstered heavy pistols. She knew that they weren't here to award her a medal but to take her back to N'Zar to punish her for causing N'Zar's prized carrier to be destroyed. She was thankful that, in the cold of the Genevan night she had wrapped an overcoat over her uniform and thus would elude the suited men.

For now.

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

It was a pretty fragged-up thing to do, the MUNDI MPs knew, but it had to be done.
They couldn't let any word of the Daemon outbreak get out to the outside world.
If the public at large realised how close they creatures had come to breaking through, there would be even more anarchy - And many cities were still teetering on the edge following the dvastating riots and then the zombie plague that had followed Comet Night.

And so, even those brave survivors of the fight had to be contained, 'For their own good.'

The first anyone realised was when, coming off-duty for the first time since the end of the battle, a group of exhausted MUNDI REMFs, who had been tasked with battlefield clearance, were denied permission to go to the nearby town for some R&R.

It quickly became apparent that MUNDI MP checkpoints had been set up all around the battlezone - Effectively sealing in everyone around the twin structures of the Conference Centre and the HQ.
Enraged vehicle commanders found their vehicles suddenly stooped working - IFFs awere locked down to prevent weapons fire, and 'kill-chips' installed in control computers were engaged, prohibiting engine ignition in everything but the simplest ubiquitous Landrover 2046 4x4s.

Similarly, almost every technological item in the troop's arsenals suffered such mishaps - Via direct command from MUNDI HQ, broadcast over the wide-band troop frequency.

Lastly, everyone above the rank of Lieutenant - Including MUNDI and Corporate HQ staff, The Inquisitors, Crusade staff and Dragons, and the members of the magical council, had been quietly brought aside during the night, and evacuated by helicopter or tilt-wing before the deactivation order.

The plan would have been perfect - Almost every MUNDI soldier and junior officer was effectively under house-arrest, the Corporate soldiers fairing even worse, already written off by their employers.

But MUNDI, after losing their CO, were sloppy. Groups of scattered soldiers had been allowed to escaope the quarantine zone. They would have to be hunted down.

Order 131 was now in full-swing.

***

Wangfei and the Dwarf were completely engrossed in their bllod-splattered work, so they didn't even notice when the fisrt dishevelled, out-of-breath MUNDI grunt came running in, stumbling over an empty Triage.

"Everyone! Listen to me! We've gotta get out of here! Their penning us all in, keeping us under house arrest for - "

He was suddenly cut off, when a half-dozen MUNDI Redcaps - MPs, big men, with lots of cyberware came in, bundling the thin soldier to the ground. Something snapped - Maybe his leg.

Stun Rods came down, again and again, and the troop was silent.

"Just what the FRAG DO YOU THINK YOU'RE - " Wangfei began, enraged, storming up to the brutes.

How dare you bring violence into the Triage station - Was what she was about to say. But the Redcap Sergeant was having none of it. He waltzed up tio Wangfei, not even looking her in the eye. His right arm, acame around - The woman, not inconsiderably tough herself, was thrown sideways into the wall, her teeth shattered, brusing, and unconsious at once from the Heavy electrical stun-charge of the Sergeant's stun-rod. She lay on the ground, twitching.

"NONE OF YOU FRAGGERS MOVE!" The MP Sergeant bellowed - A warthog of an Ork. He had just been flown in, as had all of his men. All they'd been told was that the MUNDI troops were being arrested and taken to an undisclosed location. They knew nothing of the Daemons, the titanic battle that had been barely won. They didn't want to know, either.

Enraged, Evans pulled his Browning Ultra-Power on the Ork.

"OI! FRAG OFF, YA TROGG MONGREL! YOU WANNA TRY THAT WITH ME?"

The heavy pistol settled next to the Ork's red-capped head with a click.

"Nuthin' wiv a smartlink will work, umie. Nice try."

The Ork grinned, baring sickly-rotting-grey tusks, as Evans gritted his teeth and squeezed the trigger. Nothing, not even a 'click' of a hollow chamber - The gun's smartlink had killed the weapon, locking the hammer in place.

The Ork Sergeant wasted no time, drove his horned head right into Evan's face, splattering the Auzzie's nose. the big man still didn't go down, but the other Redcaps were waiting with their shokk-stikks. Then, he did go down.

"Shoot da next smart guy oo tries it." The Ork continued. "Get da wounded into da trukks for relocashiun!"

***

Get up Chance.

"What for? My head hurts..."

Chance had barely been at rest in the hospital for a few hours. But deep down, he had heard the sound of commotion, and should have known something was wrong.

Something's wrong. Get your mate and get out of here.

"Is something wrong, love?" Ash asked. She's also been resting, her leg encased in self-forming splints and synth-skin. It should be healed ina week, tops. The Doc had used a Mage and then bone-growth stims.

"Something is wrong. We have to - "

Chance heard someone yeling his head off, and then a *whimp*, with the *fzzz* of a stun-rod, and then the yelling had stopped.

It had been Evans.

Don't think about it Chance. Wolf runs, and lives to fight another day... And father his cubs.

Chance looked, deciding between the door on one hand, and the first-floor window to his room on the other...

---------------------------------------------
(LeFire)

A twitch from his bandaged leg and the sight of his damaged left arm reminded Chance that he was in no shape for a firefight. Neither was Ash.

Only one solution then.... Run.

Hurriedly indicating to Ash that she should follow him, he clapped on his helmet, shouldered his assault rifle and snapped on both extendable talons, thankful that the medics and doctors that had attended to him had been too busy to strip off the rest of his armour as he lay in bed. Ash, being awake, had suited herself up beforehand, unsure if the remaining daemons scattered in the lands would come back or not.

Both of them hobbled to the window, then pulled themselves through to land in a small yard behind the hospital.

They were not a second too soon... Barely had Ash cleared the still when the doorknob rattled menacingly. It refused to give... Ash having clicked the lock in place with a quick smack of her hand before she had left the room. But it didn't matter... for a second later, there was an almightly crash and the sound of voices poured in. Chance heard their conversation... The newcomers appeared to be MUNDI military police... but why the heck were MUNDI MP's going after their own people?

The Orks that made up most of the party were stupid as usual... none of them thought of checking out the window. One was intelligent enough to search under the bed though, creating a minor ruckus when his horns caught on the bedsprings and refused to give. They ended up tearing the bed to bits in frustration and anger.... the sounds of destruction ending only with their thunderous footsteps away from the ward.

Chance and Ash crept from the yard into a small utility corridor reeking of disuse and dust. There, he gave a very brief explaination of his new mental friend (earning a rather skeptical and are-you-feeling-ok look from her) before he consulted Lupus again.

You'll need to camoflage yourself... You'll stand out a mile the way you are now. the wolf replied testily. Do the same for your mate, now that you are in a relatively safe place.
Chance removed the faceplate from his helmet and stowed it in his pack, the surface too shiny for his liking. Changing his skin colour was too inconvenient... he still had not gotten used to the mental commands needed to change the subdermal pigments Wangfei had injected in him. But then Ash held out the muzzle of her flamethrower, wiped it with a finger and showed it to Chance... ready made camoflage in the form of soot.
Soon, their white bandages, braces, and faces had been dulled by liberal application of the improvised lampblack.
Chance's eyes had not been operated on... but Wangfei had gotten him a good pair of replacement self-correcting/binocular goggles to subsitute for the one damaged earlier in the crash.

Next. I can't help you hide your minds totally... but I can guide you so that they appear less obvious to a casual search, especially with all the astral leftovers from the battle still in the vicinity. the wolf said.
Speaking slowly to him, Lupus walked him through his first spell of sorts... the art of disguising his astral aura from any mages seeking to discover it. It was a comparatively easy spell for a wolf-shaman... stealth being innate to it as opposed to something like an eagle shaman. Still, Chance struggled to bring the correct thought-configurations into play before Lupus was satisfied. He did the same for Ash, throwing his mental block over her aura, their long familiarity with each other going a long way in strengthening the mental cloak.

The spell would not stop a mage who knew who they were and were actively searching for them... but it would serve to blend their signatures into the "rest of the crowd".

Now... Let us find the rest of our pack. Remember the mage Nikkei and decker Won? I sense that both of them have slipped through the dragnet at the moment and are free in the building. Both you and your mate are hurt... Its better that anything you do now would have to be either on the astral plane or on that artificial construct known to you manlings as the Matrix.
Walk carefully, Chance... Remember the stealth of the wolf.
Lupus said.
You mean a lame wolf, and his equally limping vixen. Chance replied irritably as both him and Ash hobbled down the corridor, moving as quickly as stealth and the limitations of painkillers could allow them.
Yes, yes... but remember. An injured wolf is most dangerous when he is being pushed into a corner...

Just like you.


---------------------------------------------
(red_Dawn)

Jessica wasn't happy but she didn't let anybody know it. After N'Zar's thugs had moved on she suspected something was going down. Bundled up with the MUNDI grunts she watched the MPs herding more and more MUNDI troopers to the one single location.
She didn't like that. As if they had lost all respect for the men and women who had saved the world from the demons they poked and prodded the soldiers with electric batons. Jessica watched as a distressed soldier pointed their gun in the MPs face and subsequently looked surprised as the weapon refused to fire. Jessica looked at her assault rifle and wondered if hers also was disabled somehow. She cycled through the weapons firing system. It was the smartlink that had been disabled. As Jessica had been a navigation officer she was never required to have smartlink inplants, she could still use the weapon (only after some adhoc alterations though). She began dissassembling the weapon...

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

Do I like Raven...

Crystal eventually declined to answer the woman who had irritated her so much.

She stomped off into the warehouse's filth-encrusted kitchen, ostensibly to brew up a soykaf.

However, the moment she was alone, sjhe flipped up the screen to her wristphone, selected Raven's number from the user list... And dialled.

---------------------------------------------
(CKW)

Daemons are powerful battlers, indeed. Yet they arenīt capable of wipping out their enemies. They blindly roam throughout the world, with no mean, no specific purpose, but destruction.That lack of specific objectives may be his weakness.

"who... What are you?" Roszondas stirred again.
"Eh, Lady? is that you?" A second voice arose. It was darkness in the surroundings, with no means to orientate in space. There was not even gravity.

"Nīzar... so... you are still alive?" The Royal answered. BUt the unknown voice answered too.

I was much before. Before your world. Before your powers. Before your minds awakened. I am Dark Dragon. And I welcome you to my exile place, the dark Void.

***

Mawroth departed as soon as he had seen "the big D" or who liked to be called promise him a business interview.
Damn it. His dragon pride had to lie. They had been in the sharp edge this time. If it werenīt for those Iotoui, they had been in a war as destructive as the First Dragon war. But, somehow, Mawroth had a feeling that the battle would end like this. Sorta like a precognition, if such power existed.
"Fate has given us a second oportunity. We need to gather. Those "allies" of the humans wonīt last long on theirselves."

***

"Eva, we need to speak about him."
He stared at the body of Dragon. So did her, barely containing her sorrow.
"I am afraid you will need to gather money for his treatment. I am already in trouble for fixing... er "my problem". And I donīt know his credstick account number and passcode."

"Well. So i need to work, no?" She said, and then added. "What problem?"
He coughed and Evaīs sight was drawn into the blood-stained pant.
"Ack. I will not ask, then."

---------------------------------------------
(Nyerguds)
David gently wiped the Demon blood from Sarah's face.
"Are you OK?"
Sarah shivered. "I think so."
David helped her on her feet, put his arms around her and held her tightly.
"Don't worry." Sarah said. "It's gone now."

They walked into one of the smaller rooms of the hospital building.


A bit later, a group of armed men rushed in.

Frag... Redcaps?!

"No one leaves this building." the commander of the team said. "You will all be relocated soon."

"I'm sorry guys, but you're a little too late." Wirecat said sarcastically. "You missed your chance to finally be useful."

The Commander blinked. That wasn't something any civilian would say.

"Shut your fragging mouth, freak! Who the hell do you think you are?"

"I'm David Shinz, MUNDI Civil negotiator. I do not fall under your jurisdiction, not even for shutting my fragging mouth. Contact the Civil department for me at once, and stop this nonsense. I am leaving this place, and you're not gonna stop me."

The commander looked confused. He knew all about the MUNDI military rules, but he wasn't familiar with the civil branch. And it was hard to believe this cat mutant was a MUNDI negotiator.

"You got any proof for what you're saying there, catboy?"

"You're wearing a MUNDI ID scanner, right? You should, it's part of your standard equipment as MP. Same as our Internals." Wirecat replied. "Well, scan this."
David showed the man his right hand, with the MUNDI smartlink contact on the index finger.

The commander grabbed the ID scanner, and David touched the contact plate with his trigger finger.

----
MUNDI ID CONFIRMED

NAME: DAVID SHINZ
DEPT: CIVIL
SECTION: NEGOTIATION
TITLE: NEGOTIATOR
RANK: ELITE

EXTRA NOTES:
-MIA FOR THREE MONTHS, PRESUMED DEAD. LAST CONFIRMED LOCATION: ORKESSA.
----


"MIA for three months?! I'll... have to look into this." the commander replied.

"Not much to look into. I was sent to Orkistonia for negotiations, but was imprisoned by Delori. You know... that fragging centaur. After I managed to escape I tried to get to MUNDI HQ ASAP, but I got delayed by the comet riots. And if you wondered, it's the comet that somehow mutated me like this. Now contact Civil for me and tell them I'm back, will you?"

"We have orders to..."

"I don't give a frag about your orders." Wirecat interrupted him. "If you start bossing me around I can assure you there's not much left of your career."

***

Silvia noticed Wirecat looking at her every now and then while talking to the MP, as if he was trying to say something.

Should I...? No way. It only got me into trouble 'till now.

Silvia noticed him looking at her again. He looked pretty desperate, but made sure the MP didn't notice.

Oh frag... OK then.

She read Wirecat's mind. What she got wasn't quite what she expected.
GET THE FRAG OUT OF HERE! I'll try to stall them as long as possible; they won't hurt me now that they know I'm from MUNDI civil, but believe me, they won't hesitate to kill any of you. I might actually get out of this, but I'm sure they won't allow me to take all of you with me. Go to the side door, but move slowly, so they don't notice.

Silvia blinked.
Not good...

She looked around to the others; Xecktos, Damocles and Sarah, and looked them in the eyes one by one. Then, she slowly moved to the door.

The others followed her example.

---------------------------------------------
(Wesforce)

During yet another grimy, humid, rain-sodden night, Chance and Ash had managed to escape the MUNDI blockade. But it was too late for their colleagues - The rest of Special Forces team 15. Evans, Wangfei, Winston, Leon, Johan, Won, Nikkei - They must have been the first loaded onto the 8-wheelers and driven out of the complex. And then there was George Jnr... The one who would never reappear

It had been all Chance and Ash could do to run - To get out of there. They'd managed to jump a damaged Land Rover 2046 from the motor pool, apparently abandoned because of its damage.
The Sleekly Canopied 4x4 blasted out past the Redcap ring not yet closed.

On the road West, they spotted a familiar, beaten but armoured van...

***

Mary was beside herself with both Dorodo and Raven in dire states - Both were mutating horribly, right before her eyes, with seemingly nothing she could do.

And then Chance and Ash had pulled up, warning them of the approaching MUNDI frag-storm - They seemed to be sealing up the whole area.
Mary hated to travel with the people in such a bad condition. But she didn't have choice.
She didn't know exactly what was happening to them, but she had heard the rumours, like everyone else... The infamous 'Comet Mutants'.

And then Raven's wristphone had rung.

Mary answered. It was Crystal.

"Mary? Bloody hell, you look terrible! Where's Raven?"

"Crystal! Gods, it's been so long... There's so much to catch up on..."

"You too Mary. Where are you?"

"Just outside Geneva. There's something happening... Something BIG. And Raven..."

Mary told Crystal.

"You have to get him here. Quickly."

***

Wirecat hadn't had much time to get ready, but he did what he could. He had no intention of testing the patience of the MUNDI MPs any longer. In fact, he wondered if, after what seemed to be going down here, he might decide to kill them, too.

He hurried after Xecktos, Damocles and Sarah - Still weak from her near-possession.

Or was it 'near?'

"You came back?"

"Change of plan." The negotiator said firmly. His eyes alighted upon a civilian car - A Honda Elyctro. Nothing flashy, but it could get them out of here. He tried the lock.

"Allow me." Damocles said, reading his mind. He gave the gull-wing door a hefty yank. The cheap lock came away after three tries. Wirecat slumped into the driver's seat, with Silvia taking the front, and the others piling sheepishly into the back, trying to give Sarah room.

Pulse racing; Wirecat tried the vehicle's computer for ignition.

"Frag it! How am I supposed to start this thing without the credstick?"

Ah well, nice try Wirecat. Better luck next time. I expect the redcaps will be coming in right now, guns ready...

"Um, excuse me?" Silvia ventured. "The credstick's in there. Must have been left by the previous owner when they got taken away."

Sheepishly, Wirecat tried the engine, selecting 'start' from the comp menu. It purred into life.

Where to go? If I leave MUNDI now, can I ever come back? Do I want to do this?

He looked out from the canopy. The huddled, cuffed, sorry figures of MUNDI troops, injured and tired, were being led into 8-wheelers and a road-train to gods-know where. Would they care about a civilian sectioner like him?

He drove, heading west. Soon, he was out past the MUNDI zone, on the road to freedom. A very grey, damp road...

***

Three days later.

Mary had had a drive from hell across the non-states of Western Europe with a van full of muties and wanted soldiers. She, Chance and Ash had taken turns driving, and had decked, bribed or just driven full-pelt across Europe with a crowded van. Hero tried to comfort Highness, who was nervous of and shrinking away from Overmind and Tank, neither of whom had washed or even stood under an ultra-sonic shower in days...

Somehow, Raven and Dorodo had seemed to recover somehow from their conditions, but they were still in intense pain. Chance and Ash were healing, helped by the medical drugs and synthskin on their injuries. Mary couldn't know that just thinking about the medical care reminded Chance of Wangfei...

Would they ever see her again?

If I can help it, damn right I will. But the two of us, injured... What can we accomplish?

Reluctantly, Chance and Ash agreed to go along with the others - Crystal's friend, Crash, had managed to deck up some transit e-documents that would get them and Raven's van shipped to Britsprawl, no questions asked. Crash had agreed to do the job for free. It irked Crystal, but she wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth... Too often.

They had driven through the flooded United Netherlands, out onto the floating gantries of New Amsterdam and boarded the hovercraft there. An hour and a half later, they were all in the smog and grime encrusted neon-hell of Britsprawl, tired and in need of rest, healing and money.

***

Although the wave of comet mutations was now generally known to the public, and mutants generally mixing with society at large, Crystal still didn't feel it a good idea to leave Raven and Dorodo to a public hospital - So Hammerhand Harry's it was. His place was just on the edge of one of the 'Zombie zones' - Areas that the authorities had seemingly abandoned to the creatures due to a lack of men and resources. The news nets screamed about them every day, but so long as 99% of Britsprawl was zombie-free, the public-at-large was happy.

Criminals and Shadowrunners were happy too - Even Crystal, who's flat was deep in the Camden Z-zone. She felt it relieving to be able to keep a bolthole away from the law whenever she wanted.

***

The first night back, Mary had stayed at Crystal's, relaxing for the first time in her presence, ever. Mary had begun to recount her experiences.
She'd broken down half way through, unable to cope with the fear, terror and sense of helplessness she'd encountered, and Crystal did her best to console her.

Everyone else had been put up in Wolf's warehouse, where he could change Chance and Ash's dressings and the like, to ease their recovery. Hero decided to look after Highness there - They planned to keep her as covered-up as possible, lest she be recognised, or mis-recognised.
Overmind made his excuses and left, while Tank hung around the warehouse, having nothing better to do...

However there was no light at the end of the tunnel for Dragon, still spiralling into the void...

***

Light filtered into Raven's eyes, carrying blinding lances of pain with them.

"Here, wear these." Someone had said.

Crystal? I hope it is...

He opened his eyes again, feeling hands that had affixed a pair of light goggles to his face.

"They'll protect your eyes. They seem to be very delicate."

He opened his eyes, saw a flash of blue.

"Crystal!" He exclaimed.

"Humph. No." The voice said. Call me Alex. My friends call me Wolf. But you - Call me Alex. Crystal's been at your side for hours. I'll fetch her."

The surly doctor - Who walked very painfully, left the room. There was a quick exchange of speech between the man and Crystal, which Raven gathered he wasn't supposed to overhear. Something like 'Alex' saying ' Remember our childhood?' and 'Make your choice, neon-hair...'

And then Crystal burst in.

"Raven!" She exclaimed, on the verge of tears.

"Crystal! Ye gods!"

She hugged him, almost pulling out a drip that Doc Harry had affixed a day or two ago. They hugged each other. Tightly. And that was when Crystal realised he was using all of his four arms - And Raven realised Crystal had a tail...

They stared at each other, then smiled, knowingly.

"And your parents think I'm weird!" She told him.

"Uh, my Parents?"

"Yeah, they've been in town a few days. They want to see you..."

***

-->Dear Mary.
You haven't replied to any of my messages. Is everything okay? Ordinarily I would be angry with you for not completing your assignments, but that anger has given way to utmost concern. Please, if you read this, get in touch as soon as you can! I have found amazing things! I'm at the Transys Arcology in Scotsprawl. Don't worry, I haven't gone all Corporate on you - Yet. But I hear they're hiring people. A bright young girl like you should get off to a good start. But please, respond as soon as you get this message!
Your faithful friend.<--(Dr Maximum Hackle@Transys.corp.uk)


Mary stared at the message on her wristphone.

***

Chance and Ash knew they had to get some money together if they were going to have any hope of getting on some kind of trail for their missing comrades - There had been, of course, absolutely nothing about the Geneva incident on the news, apart from the day by day condition of Dunkelzahn, and some mud-slinging at MUNDI for letting the 'accident' happen to him.

Crystal would have gotten her friend Crash to do some decking for them, but he had vanished up to Scotsprawl. According to Crystal, Crash had been planning to do that for some time.

However, Crystal had told them, sitting in the same Ork cafe in the West End Underplex they had all those weeks ago, she might be able to help them find someone else, if they would come on this new 'run Crystal had found...

Chance began to doubt Crystal's previously good intentions...




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