The Den Games Network Forum RPG
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds
"You want me, trogg?" Emmie ranted out. "I am not that kind of person ya know." Frag it, now it was in a pretty tight situation. But... she could use... her feminine skills.
"But... I... You..." She came closer... and closer. Until both figures touched.
Then she whispered to an ear. The troll was really excitated.
"Do not attempt anything if you want to have descendants, understand?"
Then the troll noticed something else. A hot shinning blade aiming at his sensible parts. He wondered where that sword come though. But he was in disadvantage now.
"Come to daddy..." Nick grinned, pulling out the revolvers and the ammo out of the cyberlimbs crate.
He prepared three satchels and tied them to the waist. One with normal ammo, another with explosive bullets, and a third with Steel AP bullets. he also dug more on the crate. And pulled out a kevlar suit. He quickly putted him on. By now, he looked like a Six Stalker. Once again.
"Now, oh yes. Naomi" He smacked his head, hoping it was not too late.
A man with a black suit entered the room where Naomi was.
"Medic! I need to help the..."
The man cut off when he saw Bulldog on the floor.
"Oh, excuse me."
"You said you were a medic, boy? Could you help this girl..."
"Aw, cīmon. Dr Alexeiv can help her, of course. And I was the one who brought here, though."
Raven had heard Chance and Ash's responses to the threat and had thrown himself to one side just as a metallic blade thrust itself at the place where he had been standing mere moments ago. Flipping his vision goggles back onto the bridge of his nose Raven rolled further away from the tentacle and got back on to his feet, SMG at the ready. He watched the metallic appendage pick itself off the floor and mencaingly rise up and orientate itself at him. Like a cobra about to strike the tentacle lazily waved to and fro as if to hypnotise its prey. Raven crouched and waited for the appendage to make the first move...
Raven rolled to his left.
The tentacle was temporarily incapacitated after striking the hard floor so hard. Raven, without really thinking about it, snarled and then jumped on top of the tentacle and held on with all four of his arms! It suddenly began heaving, trying to throw him off. It smashed itself against a nearby wall again and again. Raven was being battered and bruised but still held on. He noticed a weak articulation point just behind the blade of the metal arm. Sticking the barrel of his SMG right down into the socket Raven grimaced and held down the trigger. A horrible sound met his ears as he kept holding down the trigger. The tentacle went limp. Raven noticed a blue fluid leaking out of the articulation point. He had hit some sort of machine equivalent of an artery! The tentacle tried in to buck Raven but its efforts were in vain. It was damaged beyond immediate repair. Raven felt the tentacle being pulled back into the vent. He decided to hold on and meet the son of a fragger drone that was attacking them. Raven took a moment to survey the scene below him. What he thought was Chance was embroiled in close combat with a tentacle while a second one edged in behind him. Ash was parrying against a pair of appendages intent on her evisceration. Raven scanned the room for the telltale flash of blue that would let him know Crystal was OK. He didn't see it. While commonsense told him that Crystal could be under the white fog or hiding out of his sight Raven felt a rage building up within him. He was angry now. He would never let someone or something hurt Crystal while he still had even a single breath in his lungs! Raven yelled up into the rapidly approaching vent.
"Now you've done it you filthy, fragging, overclocked food processor! I'm gonna-"
Raven never got to finish that sentence. When the tentacle he was riding finally made its way into the vent Raven was met by a pitch black crawlspace. It was then that the drone decided to reveal itself. A single red eye flickered on. The drone met Raven's gaze. Raven raised his SMG and aimed for the centre of the eye...
Jessica was on the other side of the freezer when Chance had begun yelling. She watched as a series of metallic arms descended from the vent and attacked Ash, Chance, Crystal and Raven. She checked herself before firing into the melee, she might have hit one of her allies. It didn't matter anyway, her weapon couldn't have damaged the armoured tentacles anyway. Jessica carefully edged forward, while she couldn't shoot the tentacles she wasn't going to abandon these people. There must be some way she could help! Jessica watched the seperate combats progress. The soldier and his red headed companion were busy using bladed weapons against their foes while the white haired fitter was holding on for dear life while spraying the appendages articulation points with SMG fire. Where was the blue haired woman? She was usually fairly close to the man named Raven but now she was gone. Jessica's train of thought was interrupted when she heard a violent metal scream and saw Raven riding a limp tentacle as it retreated into the vent. Hearing the soldier, Chance, beg for help Jessica lurched forward without thinking. She dropped her BAR-15SE and picked up the dismembered blade that Chance had tricked one tentacle into removing from another and began swinging wildly at one of the appendages that were threatening Ash.
Deadeye slammed his door shut and leant against it. His mind raced as he tried to comprehend what was happening. Drones in the arco? Why? Peter started to ponder more important ideas, such as: "How do I get out of here?" And "Where can I find a weapon?" Deadeye thought about trying his phone again. No, it wasn't worth it. Obviously Peter was caught in the middle of something big. The question was:
"Did Samuel Parker have anything to do with this?"
She felt pain. The jaring impact filled her nose with the smoke from Ceramic plates that must have taken the impact.
Shouting. Orders being yelled. A figure darted into the room, squeezing a burst of SMG fire. Crystal had a glimpse of Chrome and blue, as her Ultra-Power leapt to her hand.
Another tentacle whipped out. A man gave a strangled gurgle. There came the whizz-CRACK as the Transys Security Guard Sergeant took the drill to his head.
Unknown to Crystal, he had just sacrificed his life to save his. He was just a guard doing his job.
Crystal wasn't looking - She was blasting away with her Ultra-Power. Her goggles had come off - They were next to useless in the freezing cold anyway.
The red dot flickered over the Drone's one tyre, or where she thought it would be.
Several rounds ripped ragged holes in it, immobilising the machine, although it was still deadly.
Dismayingly, with a hiss of over-pressure, the tyre re-inflated.
"Frag, this is hopeless!!!"
Just then, an arm aimed from the back of the crowd with a.50 caliber pistol. The shots pierced the armour like if that was butter.
AP ammo. APDU. That was not a normal equipment for a runner.
The drone hissed once again, and this time was leaking even much more hidraulic fluid. Several sparks tipped off that it was also losing electric power.
The main body was another problem, tough. Was nothing but scratched
The arm retreated. That ammo was not as efficient as it thought.
The owner of the arm cursed. A female voice. Eva.
"Damn it. That drone is harder than I thought."
She noticed something else. An insane wink in her eye. She got past, ramming everyone. Even the strong Tank was pushed back by the BWG
"Let me pass! I know how to destroy the fragger!"
"How?" One of the already pissed companions ranted out.
"Hit the downside. Weaker armour."
Completely guided by her hear, Eva did an action roll, then a barrel, till her face met the downside of the drone. The quick jump slide and roll sucession outmaneuvered the drone, who was still repairing the wheel system.
"Now, little toy of hell, it is our turn!"
And she laughed, while emptying the clip in the mechanical guts of the abomination.
More sparks and more fluid leaking.
A stain of Fluid leaned over her chest. Corrosive fluid.
If it werenīt for the armour, Eva would be dead.
But the fluid had only eaten the armour and the clothes, revealing the underwear bra.
She got up, and saw the drone in the final moments, when all of it went short circuit and small detonations fried the advanced electronical devices. Some of the runners actually stared at the now ragged clothes, armour... and mostly Evaīs underwear.
"It ainīt funny."
She pointed out.
"Well, Well, Well...." Jolly's hand was wrapped around Emmie's sword arm even after she had spoken. Slowly adding presure. "I'z got maself a fight afta all!"
If there was anything Jolly loved more then sex, was a fight. He slammed the sword arm against the wall, Emmie lost her grip on it. It fell from her hand to the floor, and vanished. Jolly jumped off the woman, standing near by, ready to fight.
"Show ole Jolly what ya got eh?" He grinned. He was going to enjoy this.
Bulldog ignored the confusing scenes. Obviously whoever they were were too tied up to care about him. Some hospital. He glanced at one of the men who was walking away.
"Hey, you." He said to Wolf, pointing at a vid-phone on top of a table. "Could you get me that please?"
He was going to try and phone Nixie. He needed to get back with the others and find Pierre.
Veronica screamed as the Ork and Dwarf dragged her away.
Yet the crowd did nothing.
Its amazing how quick 'civilised' metahumanity degenerates to its basest instincts given half a chance. All at once, one of the most flashy, plazzy malls in the world had become a den of utmost carnality. Everywhere the strong preyed upon the weak. Groups gathered together to form bands for mutual protection, not least against other bands.
People grabbed weapons - Pole rails, shards of plexiglas, objects to throw. A lucky few had guns from fallen guards and were able to shoot their way to the top.
None of this mattered to Veronica as they ravaged her, brutalising her delicate frame, the stinking Ork and Dwarf doing anything they wanted just because they could.
Veronica was battered and bruised all over, inside and outside. That was just the physical part.
Inside she was broken, destroyed, irreversible damaged, ten times worse inside than physically.
She didn't even notice when they left her, a broken, huddled, pathetic filthy figure curled in a foetal position in the stinking rising water. Bits of rotting rubbish and dead fish from the aquatanks swirled around her, waking her up.
She got unsteadily to her feet, and started walking.
"Well, Frag. The thing must have come in through that ventialtion duct. Anyone want to give me a boost up there?" Crystal winced, feeling insider her torn jacket for the small wound she'd taken.
And there was still the keypad-locked maglock door, out back to the service area.
Over in the corner, the dead drone still clicked and whirred.
"The pain... The real world..."Veronica gasped. She wanted to die, to dissapear into the nothingness. She was broken both phisically and psychically. Her youth taken off... by some brutal scum.
She continued to walk. Still hoping to see a friendly face. but nothing. She was alone. She was lost. She was about to die.
But then, only then, a heat inside her washed her tears, and despite the physical condition she had been left, she felt renewed.
"What we have to do is to follow and go on, not falling down ever. To fall down is to die, to fight is to live."
Overmindīs words. A kinda rare kind. Only when both her and him were alone he let the philosophy flow.
"To fight." She repeated. Grabbing a gun. Overmind was right about her. He had once said, repeating a speech of his dragon master, Roszondas.
"Behold the beast that is inside the heart of any of us, the same beast that can ride both us to glory and madness. When it is awakened, it is unstoppable. Revenge is its name. But only you decide wich path will go."
Veronica stared a a pistol. She grabbed it. It felt strangely light.
It was loaded.
She came across the crowd. And her heart exploded when she saw the to depravated who had damaged her too much.
The gun fired several times.
"A matter of survival, survival and revenge."
And when the two bodies dropped off, bleeding like pigs she held even more tight the pistol.
"Killing people... is so... easy, yet is so hard..."
And she dropped a few tears, bursting out with laughter again.
"Anybody there?" Varos gasped. Not knowing by her, taunting and stumbling she had reached the prison level.
She heard some heated discussion, maybe a fight.
One of the fighters was a strong magic caster. Somehow, she felt lured to see what happened. Dragons usually were more friendly to casters than to other scum.
One of the figures, wich Varos identified as a troll, quickly turned back in her direction. She held the knife in her hand, hoping the worst.
Emmie double gasped. First the scum troll, and now... a dragon.
"Holy Christ." She shouted. Situation was getting worse. Again.
Chance winced as he retracted his combat-claws and examined his injury. The cut was clean, most of the saw's force having been spent on the ceramic plates that protected his torso. The soldier didn't like the way the drone was continuing its clicking, so he drew his silenced pistol and put a APDU round into the exposed innards. Eva wasn't the only runner who used the expensive and rare ammo... Chance just couldn't find the time or space while fighting the tentacles to draw his pistol. The soldier missed his SAR-125 rifle sorely... that gun would have made Swiss cheese of the drone in an instant.
Her husband busy with tending to his minor wound with a belt-mounted first aid kit, Ash took it upon herself to step up and help Crystal, knowing that it would be troublesome to move Tank up past everyone else in the corridor. Raven was in the back trying to calm the civilians down, one or two of them almost hysterical after having seen the security sergeant's brains splattered over the frozen floor. He called forward to ask if anyone else was hit, but Crystal had assured him that she was unhurt.
Ash was extremely strong for her average frame... years of running, fighting and dodging with a heavy binary-fuel tank on her back and a heavy flamethrower in her arms made a simple task like lifting Crystal plain easy. The demowoman pulled herself up into the vent, muttering something about the dust as she did so.
Tank took over the job, lifting runners (you guys decide if you want to go via the 'high' way. Chance and Ash are following Crystal) into the vent before he turned to the maglock door with Barkah... The huge Orks simply could not fit into the tiny vent.
"Wait!" Silvia yelled, both to Damocles and the frightened guard. The little shred of panic she put in her voice was enough to stop Damocles, and make him turn around to see what was wrong.
Silvia used his hesitation to catch up with him and jump towards the guard.
"Get down!" she screamed at him, as if trying to warn him for something.
She pushed the guard to the ground, and before the man realized what was going on, Silvia was holding his gun and flashlight.
"You see, Damocles?" she smiled. "No need to kill kim for it. And he might actually be useful."
She turned to the guard. "Hi! I'm Silvia. Sorry about that, but I think Damocles would've prefered a quicker way to get his hands on your flashlight. So... who are you?"
"I... I'm Brandon." the guy stuttered.
"Marvellous! So, Brandon... do you have any idea what happened here? I mean, the lights are out and all... and we were trapped in one of those damned shiftavators."
"I have no idea!" The guard looked really scared. "I mean... suddenly, the lights went out, and I couldn't contact Security Main, or any of the other guards! Even my fragging wristphone doesn't seem to work anymore! It's like the entire place is sealed off!"
Sealed off? Everything?!
Silvia looked at Damocles. "That's not good... but I told you he could be useful."
She threw the flashlight to Damocles, who skillfully caught it in mid-air.
"We're losing time." Damocles said, coldly.
"Agh... all right. I'm coming."
But she felt a bit bad about just leaving the guard there, alone and unarmed.
He's a trained guard who just lost all higher command... he might be handy to have around.
"So, Brandon.. are you coming or not?"
"What? Oh... OK."
They ran after Damocles. Luckily, the guards's physical condition seemed to be good enough to keep up with the bio-ork and the half-dragon.
Tami was worried. At first, the blackout seemed like a perfect chance to prepare everything for the bombing of the Elf Only Bar. But something was wrong. Very wrong. She heard people scream, odd sounds of machines, gun shots... like there was a fragging war going on out there!
Tami crawled on, until she came to a cross-section in the vents. Suddenly, she heard an odd metallic sound in one of the vents.
"Frag. What was that?"
She quickly crawled back.
Not taking any chances...
She took a small explosive out of her backpack. It wouldn't cause much damage in an open space... but here in the air vents, it was deadly.
She pushed one of the buttons to put the mine on 'proximity ignition', set the timer on 4 seconds, and attached it around the corner of the chrossing.
She quickly crawled back before the four seconds were over and the mine would be activated.
She counted down in her mind.
Three... two... one... set!
The metallic sound got louder. Tami crawled further away from the cross-section to make sure the blast wouldn't wound her.
A short, loud explosion echoed through the air vents. Tami saw pieces of metal flying through the intersection. One of them hit the side, and bounced towards her. It was an odd kind of tentacle, with at the end...
A chainsaw?! What the frag?!
She heard more sounds. Apparently, there were more drones coming.
She took an EMP grenade. This was one of her own grenades... she mostly used them for disabling security before planting explosives.
She activated the grenade and threw it at the cross-section. I bounced against the wall, and further into the vent where she had blown up the first drone.
She saw the blue flash of light, and everything was silent.
Slowly, she crawled towards the destroyed drones. They blocked the entrance, and prevented more drones from coming through.
"What the frag are these things?" Tami said to herself, and went in for a closer inspection. The drones had no markings anywhere, and were equipped with chainsaws, drills, circular saws... and blades.
Blades? I can't think of any job here that requires blades... these fragging things are really made to kill!
"I gotta get the frag outta here."
Behind the pile of drones blocking the vent she heard a sound of circular saws and drills cutting through metal. More drones trying to get through.
"Oooh no. The frag you do." Tami said, with a determined grin on her face.
She took one of the heavy explosive devices, and put it under one of the destroyed drones. Next to it, a small proximity mine to trigger it.
Tami grinned. "Should be enough to make the rubble block this vent permanently. After this baby explodes they might as well drill through the walls."
She set the timer to ten seconds, and ran away as fast as she could.
After a while, she found a vent leading up to the next level. She quickly climbed up the vent, and started looking for an exit.
A while later, she heard the explosion. But she was far enough to be safe.
"Frag, the're coming after us!" Wirecay yelled. "Sarah... can you do a lightning spell here?"
"I suppose so..." she replied. "But I have to be able to concentrate."
"This is a battlezone, Sarah. And worse than Geneva, believe me."
Sarah swore, knitted her brow, and, muttering arcanely, held the wooden staff infront of her. Tendrils of blue-white power played over it for a moment, before shotting foreward in an arc that impacted against several of the drones, several arms dropped dead, and one screeched to a halt, and toppled sideways into a booth advertising 4Dcards. However, the pyrotecnical display only seemed to alert the drones to her prescence, two more converging on the fleeing runners for the one she had destroyed.
"Ok, that didn't... whoa!" The auburn-haired ex-priestess leapt backwards, avoiding the spinning arms of a drone that lunged at her, splintering through a light barricade designed to contain ques.
"Any better ideas?" Wirecat was a few paces ahead of her, almost dragging Alanya, while Zaid, clutching an expensive cyberdecks with trailing leads, that he'd probably grabbed from one of the displays, dashed after.
"Up there!" Wirecat's free paw pointed to a flight of rickety metal stairs, leading from the side of the main doors up to what looked like a walkway for Transys staff to get to the support rooms for the main convention hall. "There are drones in the mall too!"
Behind them, people screamed, as the drones carried out their wanton slaugther. Wirecat made the bottom of the staircase, leaping up it with feline agility, the Ork behind him catching the sleeve of the loose, blue top she was wearing on the guardrail, and the cuff of the arm ripping off as she scrambled up after him. Zaid paused for a moment, exchanging the 'deck again for another model on the display below the stairs, and following behind. Sarah, as the drones moved to cut her off, knocked over a display of CASOL discs, and hit the stairs behind the others. Panting slightly, she reached the top just after Zaid, as the screeching drones below, seemingly unprepared for this kind of escape, crashed into the the lower staircase, too wide to make their way up it, but still desperately trying to reach their targets. Sarah turned, and whispering another spell, cleaved away the top of the stairs with her staff, now glowing red-hot. The metal
construct crashed down into displays and drones, crushing everything beneath it. There were, however, many drones that were not, and many more in the wider hall, along with a large contigent of Blackwatch guards, who, with machinelike precision, had begun to mow down anyone who had escaped the drone carnage unscathed and un-lugged in.
Sarah followed the others, into a boxroom full of lighting equipment, and another door, leading onwards. Here they could at least catch their breath.
"Ok. How are we going to get out of this one, David?"
The catman winked back, exuding confidence, probably put on the reassure the other two survivors they had with them.
"Don't worry. The MUNDI Negotiator always has a backup plan."
Damocles lead the half-dragon and guard down the observation corridor. He had very little idea where he was actually going, just felt, somewhere deep inside him that this was the way to go.
Damocles had quickly got the hang of the torch, and was using it to look past the glass walls now. Not far ahead, at the terminus of the tunnel, was a flight of stairs, still inside the same glass walls, leading down the the floor of the level, where all the tanks, sloshing with water he could see were.
"Damocles! Wait!" It was the half-elf's voice, from behind him.
He stopped suddenly, and turned, as she caught up, panting, with the guard right behind her.
"I think," she said between gasps, "that we need to work out where we are now. And Brandon should be able to help us."
Damocles turned, and, still shining the torch with a kind of fascination, awaited the next words.
"Ok. Brandon, as we're all in this together, would you mind telling us what this floor is, and why you're here?"
"Ok, ok, just don't let that thing hurt me, ok?" He looked at Damocles, with sweat running down his pallid brow.
"What? Damocles? He wouldn't hurt a..." Silvia thought about her words for a moment, and continued. "He won't hurt you once he knows you're friendly, ok?"
"Yeah, ok". The guard let his rifle rest, and started to speak. "This is floor 68, Hydroponics. The tanks down there used to be used to farm stuff like plancton, for a cheap and easy foodstuff after processing. Everything was fine here, until a few hours ago, when the lights went out, and the blue eyes..."
"Some of the guards recieved commendations or something, ages ago, in the form of free Cybereyes. Suddenly, all of them turned on us, and got nearly everyone. I only escaped as I was in the bogs, and hid there. I saw them leaving afterwards, all marching like robots, into one of the cargo shiftavators, leaving the dead here to be recycled by the drones down there, and fed into the new tanks..."
"Yeah, about a month ago, they changed all the tanks down here, and started growing squiddies in here. Big'uns, too, the length of your leg. Said it was for a special prototype project or something."
"Hmmm... Damocles, where are you leading us?"
The bio-ork, who had previously been playing with the torch, seated cross-legged on the glass floor, looked up.
"Dunno. Think it's good idea, though. Think it's better than da lifts, though if dose bluesyes."
Silvia looked shocked for a moment, and contined.
"So you didn't have any reason why we're here?"
"Brandon, how do we get outta here?"
"By the shiftavator, back that way, or by the maintenance stairwell. That only goes down a few floors though, before it stops, I think, and you have to take a shifter."
"Ok. I guess we'll have to go down there, to the floor, then, and take the stairs".
"Frag off Goblin! Can't you see I'm busy." the man said and walked off. Fragging bastard. The revolution would show his kind someday.
"Racism. Bane of da wurld." It was a crackled old voice. An old woman. Troll. She put her hand out to Bulldog and lifted him back on the bed with some effort. "Name's May, An' yoo are?"
"James Daniels, But please. Call me Bulldog." The woman looked scared, as if she was expecting something.
"You must leave this place at once. They... They..." She lowered her tone to a whisper. "They take people away."
"What do you mean?" Bulldog asked her, her eyes shifted from side to side, looking to see if someone was watching.
"People go away with dem green eyed dokz, but dey NEVA kum back. EVA! You gotta leave this place. Ah kan't help ya... too old. But... she can, she's done it before."
"That nurse yer were talkin' too... she getz people outta here... but deserves ta leave herself."
"I promise I'll get both of us out of here. Or die trying." It was a bold statement, but Bulldog ALWAYS kept a promise.
"If yer up to it laddie... but 'ere, take this. Yer need it more den me now." She gave Bulldog her walking stick.
"Thank you. I am forever in your debt. But I ask one last favour, could you get me that Vid-Phone from the table? I have a call to make."
Nixie fell out of Jame's grasp as a drone attacked. He managed to fend it off with what looked like a knife, but suffered wounds doing it.
The ice cold water was defiantly a wake up call for Nixie. She threw herself up to the surface with a jolt, fur soaked though, breathing heavily.
"Mind being a little more careful next time?" She almost growled at James. She HATED water. It really messed up her fur.
She hardly noticed her Wrist-Phone ringing, but was happy it wasn't shorted out by her soaking.
"Guten Tag" She said opening it, It was Bulldog's face. "General, You are vell?"
"Alive but pretty fragged. Nixie, I'm in the Hospital level, level 50. Meet me at the..." And that's when it happened. An ear piercing scream followed by jolts of electricity rippling though the water. A figure who nobody had even seen before fell into the sickly red mix of blood and water, his body rocking back and forth as volts upon volts were pumped though his body. It was like he was appearing and disappearing in and out of existence. The woman beside him also felt the currents, as did others near by.
It eventually hit Nixie and the others, cutting off her vid-phone and sending them all to the floor screaming. One thing was clear, That man HAD to be killed. Or at least whatever doing this stopped.
"Damn it!" Bulldog yelled as the call was cut off. Something bad was happening, he HAD to get to the mall to help. Or at least get somewhere! The effort had failed before it had even begun.
"Is something wrong, sir?" Asked the young, pink haired, human nurse as she walked back in. Gazing at the cyber leg in her arms... broken. "Sorry."
"It's ok" He held up the walking stick. "Now, what's say we get out of here... the two of us." She looked at him dumbstruck for a moment, then nodded.
Jolly stood, ready to fight. He didn't care about the shocked look on her face, it was probably educed by his muscles. She closed her eyes, a look of concentration came over her face, not that Jolly could see it. She was getting ready of a spell. He got on all fours and tensed his body. Ready to leap when she casted. And leap he did.
The moment the Holy magic Blast came hurtling towards him, he leaped. He went into a wall, feet first. He used the motion to propelled himself at Emmie, slamming her into the corner with all his weight. Knocking her head against it, hard. She was out cold...weak hummie frames!
"You didn't want to be doing that!" Came a voice from behind him. He turned, before he knew it a woman in a long dress and high heeled shoes ran out from nowhere, did a leap into the air and landed on top of him. He fit the floor, hard. She rolled off of him and stood up.
"Nice Undawear." He joked as he got up. It was always nice to fight a woman in a skirt. She blushed, but trusted the knife at him. He grabbed a hold of her hand, why did people think puny knifes and swords gave them the advantage?
He slammed the hand with all the force he could muster onto the floor. The woman yelped and loosened her grip, dropping the knife on the ground. Jolly disguarded her like a rag doll, throwing her into a corner and waiting for her to get up.
Red ascended the motionless elevator, one hand holding her weapon, the other a fist-sized drone, ready to go in case of trouble.
The floor above wasn't flooded. It was, however, very messy, and the bodies of several people lay moaning or motionless, having been crushed, run over, or beaten in the rush away from the drones. Bloodstains marred the pristine imitiation marble floor of Transys Mall.
She kicked a corpse away from the top of the stairwell, and stepped past, leaving footprints in the mingled blood. This floor was also almost deserted, although she could hear the hum of drones somewhere, and a sudden, sharp scream. The glass of most of the shop windows was shattered or damaged, spidery cracks from bullets in one of the closer one, while smiling holos of elven maidens grinned back, at the slaughter before them.
Where now? Up, or try and find a way out here? It didn't look like the shiftavator was working here, some kind of explosion had buckled the doors, and a humming noise signalled something mechanical moving nearby. Maybe whatever had blown the doors was still inside the thing?
Better keep moving.
Suddenly, she heard a voice behind her. It was young, and innocent.
"Help meeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Mooommmy!"
It was a child, a young girl with dark hair, and green eyes, who had been behind one of the large waste bins. She stumbled out, a large black bruise on an exposed arm.
"Have you seen my mommy???" It looked at Red, eyes pooling, and tears staining it's cheeks. It almost made Red wish that her heart, instead of her arm, was cyberwear.
"You have no future. If you're mother is not dead in front of you, then she's been herded up by whatever those fragging robots were, and is probably going to die one way or another, by whatever means whoever's causing this decides. This is not a coincidence, things like this don't just happen. You will not survive anyway. I cannot look after you, you'll just drag us both down."
Raising her pistol, she delivered one prescise shot to the head of the child, the little body crumpling as it collapsed to the floor.
Sorry about that. I have my own skin to save, and I won't be able to help you as well.
Chaos like this tends to bring out the worst in people, but don't worry, it's for the best."\
Varos got up. Pathetic scumbag. She looked herself. Her dress was made a mess.
"You donīt realise what you are getting into, Jolly the Mime."
Jolly smiled. Wasnīīt that what everyone said. But there was an odd though. How could she know his name?
"He he he he he. I will quite enjoy making you pay... Silly trogg"
She ran towards the troll. No wounds. Not even a bruise. That was... fishy.
When he realised, Varos was already blocking a kick of him with ease.
"Wot da frag?"
And Varos landed a punch in his chest, after flipping aside the leg.
It hurt. Hurt. A woman could not punch that hard. Frag it. What kind of joke was this?
He spat some red-dark blood. The punch felt like if it was propinated by a troll. But that was a bruise, nothing more.
Wolf stared at the critical Naomi. Frag it. She needed a friend in that situation. Unluckily, he had met her today.
So he took a resolution. Talk to the only friend of her he knew. Mary Turin.
He carefully grabbed the vidscreen, linked Maryīs address.
The telephone gave signal.
"Naomi...?" the voice asked
"Doctor Mary Turin? This is doctor Nicholas Alexeiv. Your friend is heavily injuried. I am unsure if she will come out. Come quickly. I am in the floor 50."
The voice seemed to go blank, then upset.
"Hold on! I donīt believe you! You are not Alexeiv! You are that runner who kidnapped me! What did you do to Naomi, sick freak!"
Wolf didnīt know what to answer. She did remember the incident in Geneva.
Raven watched as Ash heaved Crystal into the vent overhead. He walked over to Chance and helped him tighten the bandage on his shoulder. Crouching side by side the two conferred quietly.
"What's the plan Chance my man? The civvies can't all follow us through the vents, neither could Tank. Do we leave 'em to the drones or split up the team?"
Chance pondered the question.
"I guess we do have to leave Tank behind. Some others too I suppose. Just a question of who goes and who stays. Who will we need that can crawl through the vents?"
Raven stood up and brushed the ice flakes off of his pants, he looked at Chance and said.
"Well, Crystal's going so I am too. Obviously, Ash and yourself will come also. Do we need any specialists? A decker, mystic or rigger?"
Jessica Hayes spoke up.
"Serving on the Red Dawn gave me the opportunity to interface with a carrier network."
She pulled her long hair into a bun and turned her neck, revealing a discreet decking node on the nape of her neck. Jessica continued.
"I'm certainly not hacker material but if you really need a decker..."
Raven looked the woman up and down. She seemed capable but then again, she did begin to freak out when the drones started getting close. Raven looked over at Mary. Mary was a reasonably good hacker, quite possibly better than Jessica, but would Mary come along or prefer to protect the civillians?
Mary stared at the flickering image of the pale skinned man with a short beard in the vidphone screen. Something was obviously jamming most signals, with only the short-ranged interior calls getting through.
If this was the infamous Doctor Wolf, what was he doing here in Transys? And he was almost identical - except for the beard - from the man she'd met in Geneva, who had tried to kidnap her.
"Look. I don't know whether to believe you or not, but there is no way I can get to floor 50 in this chaos. If Naomi is with you, for god's sake take care of her, you're a doctor, right, and, from what I've heard of who you're supposed to be, a good one. Help her. I can't."
Mary flicked off the vidphone, and turned to Raven, who had just tapped her on the shoulder.
"What is it?"
"Mary, we're going to see where that vent goes. We might need you along."
"Why? I'll only be a liablity, I'm no good in a fight, and would be better back here, helping the wounded. Nearly everyone here's injured in some way, and terrified."
"We'd like it if you came. We need a decker, this place is all computers anyway, and having a gun to blow up drones won't likely do much good, there are far too many. We need brains, not brawn".
"Okay, but who's going? Surely someone else can deck better than me, I haven't done anything properly since Geneva."
"All we have is Jessica. Tank and Barkah will stay here with the civs, they can't fit in the vent, and I don't think Charlie will go either, he's itching to go out there and find Highness, wherever she's got to, if she's even still alive."
"I don't know Raven, it just seems like I'm betraying all these people by going with you. They need medical help."
"You've helped the badly wounded, and anyone can bandage a cut or scrape with bits of cloth. You'll be more use with us, we may even be able to find a way to get all these people out of here."
Suddenly, Charlie appeared through the crowd.
"I'm going to come with you. The Orks will look after everyone here, and we need to find a way to stop the drones, before everyone here dies. We can't let anything get in our way, not even Highness."
Tank looked a bit dejected at being left behind, Barkah playfully punched him on the shoulder. He grinned at the other Ork as his friends got ready to set off.
"Juz gunna say goobye an' all." He walked over to the group, giving Miss Mary another bone crushing hug. Barkah sat cross legged, surveying the wreckage that was once a bar. He took a photo of a young Orkish girl from his pocket. He closed his eyes and preyed, preyed that he lived though this... for her.
"Heh, heh, heh. Not bad, fur a gurl." Jolly stood up straight, looking the new opponent in the eye.
"You'll pay dearly if you mess with me scum!" She ranted out. Pathetic. She might have the strength of a Troll, but she had the frame of a ummie... the weak frame of a ummie.
She ran at him full speed. Leaping into another kick. Jolly was ready for her this time, leaping to the side as she was in mid-air. Her foot hit the wall with such force that the long heel got sank into it. Force wasn't always a good thing.
"'ere, lemme 'elp you oot!" Jolly offered. He helped all right, with an elbow straight to her face. Her foot slipped out from the shoe as she went reeling into the prison cell.
She soon got back up, running towards him again... always with the knifes and the running! It was just a simple matter of slamming the thick, steel door and allowing her to run into it.
A thud was quickly followed by an "ugh" and the sound of a body sliding to the floor. She was out. This was all too easy. He opened the door, yep. Out like a light. Both of them. He took one last look up her dress, It really was nice Undawear, and slammed the door tight again. Relocking it with the restraining bolts. He then lumbered off for the equipment room. Robobitch wasn't the only one who knew where it was.
"YYYEEEEEAAAGGHHHH!" Yelled The Spectre as it lay before Highness. His camouflage cyberwear flickering on and off, almost as if he himself was going in and out of existence. The volts of electricity emitted from his collar were rippling though the water, bringing everyone in the area down on their knees with pain.
Highness' instincts were screaming in her usually blank mind. She had to do something, but what? What could she do but sit and suffer. Did she even really know that she was suffering? Did anything happen behind those ever changing eyes?
Without even realising what she was about to do, her hand found a stun baton from a fallen guard under it. Her grip tightened, she raised it above her head and...
Spectre's body fell limp. Blood began to form under a broken nose. Yet his corpse was still invisible. The baton slipped from Highness' grasp, making a sploshing sound as it hit the water. She stared at the nothingness for awhile, until something unexpected happened. Something that any runner watching would have been shocked by...
Bulldog was soon in a wheelchair with the Human nurse pushing him along. Her name was Eve. Bulldog thought that was an enchanting name, although she hated it.
"Where do you think you are going?" Asked one of the several green eyed hospital staff as they passed.
"Out of here." Bulldog replied. " And who are you to stop us?"
The doctor was about to reply when Bulldog drew his pistol from under a blanket. He was surprised it had survived in tact. The doctor gave a disgusted look and moved aside. Allowing the two to walk into the shiftovator.
"Can you open the hatch?" The nurse asked in her soft, caring tone of voice. She meant the hatch on top of the shiftovator, it was a trapdoor to the lift shaft.
"If you can lift me up. You do realise I'm not going to leave you here."
"You'll never lift me though the hatch. I'm too heavy for you."
"I'll die out there alone."
"I... belive in you." She kissed him on the cheek. Pale red lip stick rubbing off on his green skin.
"We'll get out of this together or not at all."
She said nothing, lifting him out of the wheel chair and onto her shoulders. The plan was in motion.
Nixie nudged Squeaky, she was still on the floor groaning.
"Get up, ve 'ave vork to do!" The Wolf shaman insisted. Squeaky took one look at her and burst out laughing.
"What happened to you're fur!" Nixie could imagine what electricity could do to it. Bah, she was probably like one big furball. She looked at one of her hands... yep. Nixie smiled, licking Squeak on the cheek playfully and helping her up. James led the Goblins to a sobbing Woman, who Nixie swore she had seen before somewhere.
While the others looked after her, Nixie approached a woman with a gun. She looked like she'd been roughed up a lot, her clothes were in tatters. But at least unlike some of the women, she still had underwear on.
"What... oh, you're... what are you?" A typical question.
"No matter my dear lady, You are needed!" Nixie tried to grin, but it looked odd with a mouthful of fangs.
"I... I am?" Her mind must have been scrambled badly, but that didn't matter at the moment.
"To survive, Ve need to group together. You 'ave a gun, I 'ave claws and magic. Some of my companions bare weapons too, Ve could make a good little group, yes?"
"Erm... well... give me... a moment."
"I vill be over there" She pointed at Squeaky and James. "Vhen you decide."
She turned away from the woman leaving to stand by Nixie's side. She didn't want to comfort the woman in tears they were watching over, Just get her moving so they could get the frag out of here.
Chance grunted as he pulled himself into the vent just after Crystal. The space was cramped, but it was still large enough for them to move in a bent-over crouch, and to get past each other (but with difficulty). The scene reminded Chance of an ancient movie... where a military force had been caught, chased and slaughtered in a vent system by aliens with teeth, claws, and acid for blood. The soldier just hoped that their own adventure would not end the same way.
He reached forward and tapped the demowoman's arm after both of them activated their night-vision goggles.
"Crystal... In case we meet one of those bots in the vent, just duck and I'll fire over your shoulder. Don't worry about being deafened... my pistol is silenced. APDU is a lot more devastating against those drone-things than normal ammo. Eva's pistol is a hell lot heavier and harder-hitting than mine, but we'll need someone to cover the rear while we move, assuming that she's coming with us in the vents."
The demowoman nodded impatiently, fingering one of her grenades which she had somehow snuck past security.
"And for goodness sakes stick to your SMG and try not to use that... Darn thing will probably deafen the whole lot of us if it goes off in here."
"Yes Sir. No problem Sir. Glad to oblige Sir... Hey Ash?" Crystal called back behind the soldier.
"Is your husband always such a pain in the butt? Thought that we girls tend to be the naggy ones."
"Beats me sister... Its that time of the month for him, you see." Ash replied.
"Awww... Poor Chance." Crystal grinned in the darkness as Chance raised an eyebrow.
"You're in a really vulnerable position to be making jokes about me, Crystal... Do you really want me to show you what 'pain in the butt' really means?" he said with a smile.
"Uh-huh... Sure she's in a vulnerable spot... but so are you Chance. And I have really warm hands." Ash piped up cheerfully. Chance rolled his eyes under his goggles and the two women shared a victorious grin as the party began to move forward into the gloom...
"Are you... OK?"
Varos arose a few seconds, after the fragger Troll had left.
Emmie had been awoke for a while, seeing the strange woman. The dragon woman.
"yeah... I am fine..."
But Emmie retreated.
"I know what you are! Leave me alone!"
"You know? Oh yes. You are a mage. Well. I wonīt hurt you. honestly. For good or bad, we both need help to get this past through".
Emmie nodded. "Fine. BTW... I am"
"I know who you are, Emmanuel... or is it Emmie by now?"
The dragon grinned.
"Mind reader, huh?"
And she arose.
"We need to make it past. This lock is jammed."
"Back off Human" the girl tipped off.
The loud noise of an explosion. The door fleeing past away. An arcane explosion.
"Varos, Lady Varos."
"May I go with you, lady Varos?"
"You should. We are in a critical situation now."
Veronica stood in the rapidly flooding mall. Water was up to her knees now.
As the smoke from the gun she'd somehow aquired cleared, the blood swilling around the two corpses became apparent.
Those fraggers will never trouble me again. She Thought triumphantly, waliing painfully further into the mall.
Had she not been so blinded by rage and hate, she may have realised that she had in fact killed four or five completely innocent people - She'd chanced upon the nearest crowd, thnking they had been her tormentors. She had no way of knowing they were in fact across the mall from her now.
Still, the kills had made her feel better.
The water continued to rise.
The goblin who'd just introduced herself waited expectantly.
The trip down the shiftavator had proved both terrifying and awkward for Overmind - Being confined in such a small space with a man who served a building-mind and two drone killing machines was not on his list of 'things to do before I die' - A list he wondered if he'd ever complete.
The shift-a-vator swished open onto darkened floor 34. tower 1.
This had been Transys sakles offices, but like many places in the arc now, resembled nothing of what it had originally been designed as.
The shiftavator actually opened a good two feet from the floor now. The 'floor' itself consisted of walkways which led through to the floor below - Office workers could be seen glumly sitting in groups in their partitions, while drones prowled around. Every now and then one would glance up. Others were being led out by Drones, or men and women woth green eyes.
Overmnd was prodded out of the lift by Crash's cyber-arm. Behind them the two drones rolled down - Remarkably agile, half-climbing, half-rolling on their monowheel carriages.
"So, Overmind. Where is this bitch?" Crash asked, backing him up against the edge of one of the (rail-less) walkways.
Advancing up into the vents, the friendly banter died down remarkably quickly - The humming of vast machines could be heard - Masking the background noise of water flooding the levels below.
Raven found it difficult going in the shaft - His four arms were still pretty awkward in here. But he put on a brave face - There was little time for this - Things were afoot in the Arc, and maybe by going this way, they could find out what.
He couldn't turn around, anyway - Between him, Crystal, Chance, Ash, Eva, Mary and the female guard who'd decided to come at the last minute after her Sergeant had been killed, there just wasn't room for turning.
He felt the vent floor.
It a strange pattern... circular impressions along the length of the panles, like someone had hammered dots all over the place, but in a methodical pattern.
He put it down to a foot-grip patter, and moved on.
The vents went up, at almost 45 degrees. Surprisngly damp, humid air was flowing in. It stank - Something wet and organic. Mary told them it reminded her of one time she'd been to the Hydroponics floors, but it makde no sense for one of them to lead to an air-vent.
One vent opening they passed had quite a strong odour like that, and felt quite moist.
After a moment, Crystal decide to go on ahead. There was another vent opening on the right and up - She took it, Chance covering them.
The going was tough up thr incline, and by the end, everyone was sweating. Eva and the female guard were on rearguard, the girl turning bervously behind every few seconds.
"Stop dong that." Eva snapped. "Its irritating."
"Wait!" The girl, Ellen said, "Did you hear something?"
The two stopped, and listened.
"Lets go." Eva snarled. "The others are getting ahead of us - "
And then, it came. Cylindrical, about a meter and a half across - Fitting the sides of the vent smoothly, 3/4 of a meter in diameter and spiked all over, a flickering, sparkling chrome roller of death rolled into the gloom, spikes digging into the panels as it picked up speed.
Elle, with Eva just behind, screamed, SMG bullted ricocheting around the vent...
Just up ahead and around the corner, Crystal had come to a vent opening. She motioned back at Chance, Raven, Ash and Mary for quiet, then they all took a look thriough the grill.
It was a big open-plan hall - Crystal realised it must be the CKWAGE. The lights still seemed to be on, here. She was looking down from the roof - Twenty feet to the floor - from an air conduit that hung far below the high ceiling.
"The CKWAGE conference. Maybe that Crash fragger is still here." Crystal thought aloud.
"You still want him?" Raven questioned. "I think it'd be better if we just got outta here."
"Don't know. Anything's better than staying trapped in that fragging bar-"
Chance hushed her, straining to hear something...
It was eerily quiet - A few shouted voices could be heard... Men were walking around, cleaing up spilled stacks of decks and chips from display cases. One man stood by a stock Transys cleaning drone as it sucked blood from the carpet.
The hall had evidently seen a fair share of carnage - And from the approaching sounds, still was.
A blue flash caught Crystal's attention - There! A motley group of people were running from a pack of Octopu5 drones - Awoman was casting at them, while on the run.
They ran into a small stroeroom - They evidently hadn't seen the other group of 7-8 0ctopu5 drones which was all but upon them - A little girl was riding the lead one, oddly. The fanned out - finding both entrances to the room, about to attack from both sides.
"Don't know who those people are," Crystal whispered, for fear of alerting one of the men below, "But they could use our help."
"What a creepy little girl." Mary wondered.
Just then, they heard the screaming, and gunfire behind them, as the massive spiked R0ll3r drone barreled down the vents, rolling overall in its path...
Cheevers looked up at the vent from the freezer room. Then he looked at the two fragging Troggs he'd been lumeberd with babysitting.
Then he looked at the body of the dead Sergeant, blood crystalising around him in brown-ish frozen puddles, then at the locked door.
He spat again, heari8ng the voices of the girl, the man with the kids and the Orks in the other room.
Swish. The freezer room filled with light.
"What the - Frag! Hands on you head FRAGGER!" He yelled - Some bastard had opened the Back door - Almost sneaked up bebhind him!
He saw it was an Elf. A blue haired one, green Trenchcoat, black cybereyes.
"Non, non, no need to be alarmed, mon brave." The newcomer said, smiling cruelly.
Cheevers would have gunned him down there and then - Franch-ish accent, cybereyes - The same cybereyes as the fraggers who'd killed his friends? But the two big Fragging orks had come through behind him.
And worse - The fragging Elf seemed to recognise one of them.
"Aha! It is ze Tank!"
"Wotchyew wont?" The Ork growled, maybe not recognising him.
The Elf took slowly pulled back his coat sleeve, looking at his Wristphone, then up at the Air-vent, hidden in the gloom.
"I need a boost up there!" He said.
Sarah frowned, "David... I don't think negotiation is an option here..."
"Exactly." David grinned. "That's why we need a backup plan."
"It's something I've seen in Geneva... the Iotui used it on the flying swarms. If you can't destroy them all, don't waste your energy on trying. Just find a way to incapacitate them all."
"And how are we going to do that?"
"Did you see the robots you hit with lightning, but that weren't destroyed?"
"I couldn't see anything out there, David. Thank goodness this place has emergency lighting."
"Oh. Right. Well I noticed some of these drones started acting weird... some of them just fell over and couldn't move anymore, while others started spinning around like crazy, damaging other droids around them in the process. So if you just..."
Sarah finished David's sentence. "... do a spread lightning over the whole group, there should be enough fragged-up droids to damage or even destroy the rest." She smiled. "I like it."
David continued. "And if we're lucky they'll take a few of these crazy Blackwatch guards with them."
Zaid turned around. "You really think that'll stop the Kilties? You don't know these guys! They're TOUGH! And they never miss! One bullet can kill any of us." He pointed at Sarah. "If they take her out, your whole 'genious plan' is fragged up!"
"You're right. But they all have cybereyes... and anything cyber can be messed with."
"What, you guys have fragging EMPs?"
"Nope. Cybereyes are much easier to mess with."
Wirecat walked towards the boxes in the room, and opened one. He took out a heavy lamp and looked at the small-printed specs.
"Alanya, what's the approximate light-adjustment rate of the most high-tech cybereyes nowadays?"
"Umm... 'bout 50 millisecunds I think."
"Great. This baby should be able to do about half of that."
He turned around, and showed Alanya the lamp.
Alanya smiled. "Strobo... yu'r gonna make a strobo to blind them? But we don't have any power!"
Wirecat turned to Zaid again. "We'll need your deck."
"What?! But... can't you use hers?" He looked at Alanya.
"Nope. The model you just took from that display has a really big backup battery. We'll need that to get this thing working."
"Aw man... can't you just take the battery then?"
"We need the deck to program the delay."
"Yeah, whatever. Gimme the deck, kid."
Zaid grumbled something incomprehensible, and gave David the deck.
"Thanks. Now, can you and Sarah check out that door in the back?"
"Right on it." Sarah said, and took the kid with her.
While Alanya started working on the improvised stroboscope David looked through the boxes. After a while, he found some flashlights.
"Great." he smiled. "We'll need these. Well... you will, anyway."
A bit later he took a lamp with a small flat mirror attached to the side, to spread the light. He pulled the lamp off, and put the mirror on his pocket.
"Sarah? Found anything?"
Sarah rushed back to the door. "Yes... there's an air vent here. We might be able to use it was an escape route. It's pretty narrow though. Don't know if Alanya would get through."
Alanya smiled. "Allright, just say it. Ah'm fat."
"Heh. I don't really think so, but if you say so, I won't dispute it." Sarah grinned. " But it's just the fact that Orcs are a bit bigger that'll cause problems."
"There's another door here!" Zaid yelled from the other room.
Sarah turned around. "Wait, I'm coming."
"It's done, ah think." Alanya said to Wirecat. "Ah've put it on 30 millisecunds, just to be shur we don't blow up the lamp before we give the deck time to run outta power."
"OK. Let's look... they could 've taken a shifter here by now."
He walked to the door, opened it, and slowly moved the mirror outside to look.
The mirror was immediately shot to pieces. wirecat quickly pushed the door shut.
"Frag! They're here already! Alanya, get that thing working!"
She put on the lamp. After two seconds of warming up it was shining at full capacity.
"Good. Now put it on strobe."
The stroboscope was too fast for the human eye. Not even Wirecat could notice the difference with a normal lamp. But the fact that it was too fast for a cybereye would cause the cybereyes to keep trying to adjust to the light in vain, constantly blinding the owner of the eyes from lack or excess of light.
Should give them a fragging headache.
He pulled his gun, and waited for the guard.
The blackwatch opened the door. The man couldn't even see the source of the light that was blocking his cybereyes... and by the time he had raised his arm to cover his eyes, Wirecat had already shot him. The guard dropped dead, with a bulled right between the blue cybereyes.
"Sarah! Get back here! The drones are coming!"
Sarah rushed back. "All right. This plan better work, or we're dead meat..."
Tami heard a sound in the vents. A scream.
What the frag? Other people in the vents? I better get outta here fast...
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