The Den Games Network Forum RPG
Page 7

Game Masters:
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds


Jessica watched the newcomer step onto the shoulders of the giant orc called 'Tank' and hop nimbly into the vent. It was as if Jessica had happened upon a somewhat exclusive club of elite runners. Everybody knew everybody else.....

Jessica returned to tending to the minor cuts on the child's forearm. The poor kid had crawled through a bed of broken glass just to get away from one of those renegade drones. A Janus model if Jessica's memory served. TheRed Dawn used to have several earlier models patrolling vital service ducts that humans couldn't easily access. The machines had often returned from patrols with the blood of small rodents smeared across their frames. The Janus drone could be programmed for zero tolerance, and Jessica suspected that the models wihin the Arc were pretty close to it. Obviously, they had been working in cooperation with the Blackwatch Elite so there was some sort of Friendly Fire Control System (FFCS) installed in their combat protocols. The question that plagued Jessica was;

'What exactly did the Blackwatch Elite have that the Janus drones recognised as friendly?"

The Transys Chrone and Blues had mentioned that all of the renegade guards had cyberwear eyes. Did the Janus accept people with certain Cyberwear as friendly? It was probable that the cyberwear had been programmed to emit some sort of recognition signal that Janus' would pick up and hence not fire on them. Jessica continued to ponder the idea while she bandaged and comforted the child in her arms...


Raven, having heard snippets of Crystal's conversation with Chance and Ash, rejoiced at the idea of leaving the vents. Even if it meant dropping into a hot combat situation. He cocked his SMG and primed himself....

That was when he heard Eva and her female guard companion start to yell behind him. In shock Raven bumped his head on the top of the vent and swore in reflex. Chance whispered at him from up ahead.

"What's going on back there?"

Raven replied.

"No a fraggin' idea pal. I'll see what the ladies are bitching about."

Raven couldn't turn around so he crawled backwards towards the two women. His ears were met by the sound of buzzing machinery, not dissimilar to the powerplants the group had crawled past earlier but it sounded as if it the source was within the vent with the runners! Raven yelled down the vent.

"What's wrong?"

Raven felt his backside get smacked by Eva's head. He heard a muffled voice.

"Move it you null nuts before I crawl straight through you!"

Raven, remembering the last time Eva told him to do something, began to scamper through the vent as fast his four arms and two legs could carry him!

He rapidly caught up with Chance and said.

"I dunno what's happening but it's got Eva spooked and anything that can do that is summink I don't wanna meet. 'Specially in a cramped vent like this!"

Eva cut in, annoyed at the fitter's pointless rambling.

"Drone on our six. Might have got the transys bitch, not sure. Either we take it on together or make a run for it. Chance, you and I have the best weapons for taking this thing down. Your call."

A frantic thumping was heard behind them. The runners didn't know if it was the Transys guard making her way towards them or the drone, having butchered the woman and still mindlessly bloodthirsty.

Chance, Eva and Raven simultaneously pointed their weapons at the darkness behind them and waited breathlessly....


Peter Stephenson had barricaded his door with all of his meagre furniture. His mangy bed, coffee table and the comms unit Parker had supplied. It wasn't nearly enough to keep whatever was outside of his flat from getting in for long. He frantically kicked the trash and refuse lying on the floor, looking for something, anything, hidden beneath the sea of garbage. Nothing. Peter, in anger, began to kick the walls of his flat. Curse that filthy swine Parker for putting him here!

"Huh? What was that?"

Peter had kicked a section of wall that made an interesting sound upon contact. He kicked it again. He saw the faint outline of plaster shift slightly. He had always been wary of this part of the wall. It looked somewhat more 'new' than the rest of the apartments walls. As if someone had repaired a broken wall before Peter had moved in and had tried to disguise the wall as old and dirty. Interesting. Peter shoulder charged the wall and found himself lying in a white haze of plaster in a previously unknown room. Only the size of a walk in closet, the room was almost bare. Except for a box mounted on the far wall. Perplexed Peter stood up and shook off the flakes of plaster that had attached themselves to him after his fall. Peter walked up to the box and opened it. There was a note and under the note there was a sawn off shotgun. Peter picked up both the note and the shotgun. He read the note.

"Dear Peter,

     If you're reading this then obviously the cyberwear eyes are working fine. You can thank me later. If you've found my little secret stash it's quite probable that you're in trouble and, like the rat vermin you are, desperately smashed this wall down. Clever rat. Here's a present for you. A nice sawn off shotgun. It has the power to stop an armoured soldier in his tracks but at the same time you won't be able to smuggle it out of the Arco without being caught. So don't be silly and try to escape under any normal circumstance. Use it only if you, my pretty little investment, are in dire need of rescue. Like I said, thank me later. If you ever choose to leave the Arco and actually track me down I'll give you back your precious SA-126, the one you etched the name 'Sally' onto. You're not a skilled engraver you know Peter, I suppose being blind and all it was the best you could do. Full points for effort there, friend. Well, I sincerely hope we meet again Peter. I do have such high hopes that we can go back to the old ways. Remember the good old times? Oh, look at me prattling on while you're about to be killed by something or another. Please forgive my disregard to your personal safety.

           Regards, Captain Samuel Parker."

Peter threw the offensive note onto the floor in disgust. How he hated Samuel Parker! He did owe the man his life though, twice in fact. Peter took the shotgun and loaded the chamber with two of the many shells he found lying next to the weapon. Stuffing the remaining shells into his pocket he pumped the shotguns primer and walked back into his flat. Now he was ready for whatever choose to smash it's way into his apartment!


Chance made a snap decision, seeing the first few men in the hall turning away from them and starting to react to the drone-chased party on the other side of the CKWAGE place. It was a opportunity the runners could not pass up.

"Get out of here, NOW!"

They couldn't stay for four reasons... One, fighting the drone meant noise and drawing attention to themselves while they were stuck and vulnerable in the vent... like fish caught in a barrel. Two, Chance didn't know if their pistols and SMG's could hope to stop the specially-reinforced head of that tunnel-drone. Three, it was their best chance to link up with some friendlies in the hall. Fourth, another drone attack coming from the other side would definitely trap them for good.

"Ash! open the vent between us... quick!"

The redhead immediately understood what Chance wanted... Without further ado, she slammed her red-hot blades down into the vent-metal portion between Chance and herself, cutting the metal open with a savage tug of effort.
As expected, the sudden loss of support under the vent with the weight of the runners dipped the entire tube down into a "V" shape... the weight of all the runners sliding down the tube towards Ash and Chance at the bottom of the "V". But at the same time, the dip reduced the twenty-foot drop from vent to the floor to a comfortable ten.

Then the female guard Elle suddenly went frantically over the top of the incline, the drone still moving up the slope behind her, and slid uncontrollably down the arm of the "V" to smash into the back of Eva, who in turn plowed into the people in front of her. At the same time, the metal at the point of the "V"... where Ash and Chance were, gave way with a series of wild pops as rivets were torn asunder. Runners went spewing out of the vent, crashing onto the ground and rolling away as quickly as they could before the next one came sliding uncontrollably down the burst arms of the "V" and landed on top of them.

Chance landed on his feet and rolled right, moments before Ash landed beside him and hurled herself left. His pistol was already out, the soldier hoping that the distraction offered by the other party with the lightning mage would prove enough to give them a few seconds more...
One of the cleaners suddenly spotted them as more runners tumbled into the pile from the vents. He opened his mouth to yell... but received a silenced APDU straight through the throat before he could, Chance buying enough time with that shot for the last person (Elle) to fall out of the vent and roll away.

Then came a loud screech from the vent as the roller drone fell... It torpedoed out of the now-limp arm of the tube, narrowly missing Elle's legs as it crashed onto the CKWAGE hall floor and started burrowing its way down.

The sound was deafening... and the men in the hall hesitated, one of them looking back away from where a Blackwatch man had been felled (by Wirecat's shot) in a doorway to recoil in surprise at the sudden appearance of runners behind him.

He shouted an alarm... as Chance, Crystal, Raven and the others squeezed their triggers, aiming for the elite kilties first, having caught the enemy in the back by surprise.


Mary watched Tank hoist Badjimmy into the vent, pushing her way through the crowd of injured towards him., calling out in vain!

She arrived, and grabbed hold of Tank's arm, just as Badjimmy dissapeared into the vent.

"Oui? Wot is it Mary?"
"That was BadJimmy?"
"The elf who came with us to Orkislavia, remember? He dissapeared after we met Charlie"
"Merde!" Tank stuffed one green arm into the vent, flailing in vain, and catching one of Badjimmy's shoes, but the owner slipping away.
"Damn. I wonder what that fragger's doing here? All he seems to bring with him is trouble."

Mary looked around the bar. This was a motley collection of frightened humans, and metahumans, or all ages. There were about thirty-five of them, and all they seemed to have to protect them now, as the half-closed doors of the bar, and a couple of runners.

"Ok." Mary stood up, and looked around at the faces staring back at her. They were all in the same predicament here, trapped in what had once been the largest shopping centre in the United Kingdom. All were expectant, tears lining some's faces. They all wanted her to say something, something that would get them out of here, but she didn't have the words, or the means to do it.

"Ok. Everyone. Listen up. We're stuck here, as you can probably tell, and it doesn't look like we're going to get any immediate help ffrom anyone or anything, especially not the guards with those creepy blue cybereyes. We're going to have to survive here, from whatever crazy mistake has made everything go mad like this. I need to know, has anyone here used a gun before?"

About fifteen of the group raised their hands, including Tank, and the runner who someone had identified to her as Jessica.

"I guess no-one is going to have any weapons here, then, so we're going to have to find some. Does anyone have a floor-plan of the mall?"


Red looked around. The sound of the drones was coming closer. She better find somewhere to hide, those things were dangerous.

She looked back to the watery depths of the lower floor. Not there. There was another escalator going up, visible in the flickering lights, and she was pretty sure she could hear the drones on this level.

Up we go, then.


Silvia watched Damocles open the glassy door to the floor of the Hydroponics level. From a flight above him, the Ork looked strangely furtive here, almost as much as the guard did. Did he, or the other one, have some kind of hidden agenda?

Don't get paranoid, Silvia. They just want to get out of here, as much as you do

She followed the Ork and human down to the floor.


Damocles stood, looking around, and bouncing pulses off what he couldn't see with the torch. It was dark down here, and there were many tanks, several metres high, and three or four times that wide, full of something that was making the water slosh, and sometimes splatter across the already wet floor.

Silvia came up behind him with Brandon, the guard. She shiverred, not from cold, but from the dampness that hung in the air here.

"What is this place?"
"It was the krill tanks, but now, I dunno.". Brandon was obviously worried, and Damocles kept flashing the torch in his direction, still fascinated by the light.

Silvia moved towards one of the tanks, placing one hand on the ladder leading up the side of the tank.

"Should we take a look?"
"I dunno", replied the guard, "it could be..."

Before he could continue, Damocles had leapt up the ladder, and was shining the torch into the tank. The light illuminated it, and, through the glass sides, she could see a mass of writhing things, like eels. They trailed behind a larger, bulkier shadow, almost like a squid. But why would transys be farming them here?

She was about to call for Damocles to come down, when something happened. A long, suckered tentacle whipped out of the water, and, catching hold of Damocles's green arm, pulled him headfirst into the murky water.


The water just kept rising. It wasn't long before it was up to Nixie's head. Her fur clinged to her face for dear life as she struggled to stay on the surface. This was ridiculous. They had to leave.

"James." she managed to gasp as she pushed her mouth above water. "Grab that woman, she has a gun."

"Aye, Aye Dog woman!" He had a few quick words with Veronica. She was still pretty unresponsive. But he eventually brought her back to her senses and she waded over.

"Right, let us move......Squeaky, are you ok?" She looked at Squeaky, holding onto a corpse for dear life. She looked panicked, and soaked like the rest of them.

"I....I...can't swim..." She stuttered as she griped onto what looked like a dead Human in a mime outfit.

"Ah'll take care of ya." James picked Squeaky up and placed her on his back.

"Is all in order?" Nixie asked. James nodded. The two women didn't respond. The one without the gun was still crying. "Let us move. I vill go out ahead, As I 'ave sense you do not. You just hold 'ands and follow my lead, Do not get split up."

Bah, she hated taking charge. But someone had to, Or they would die. She started to swim towards the escalators, she had always been quite good at swimming. Although the fur and robe slowed her down a lot. If they could only get up the escalators, and find a safe place to hide. If a place like that existed!


With much effort, the hatch came open. Bulldog put his arms though the hole in the top, putting them palm down on the side.

"Got it...." He told the nurse as she attempted to lift him higher. He hoisted himself though the hatch, before he even got a chance to look down, it was slammed shut. He heard a faint voice shouting...


Then a single gunshot. Not good. He had failed. He took the walking stick from his belt, lifting himself to his feet. He looked up the shaft. Where he was to go now, he did not know.


By pure luck, Jolly had managed to find a torch on a dead guard. What disturbed him though, was that the guard was dead. Not only dead, but it looked like a wound from a BlackWatch guard. Something wasn't right here.

He wandered around until he found what he was looking for, the equipment lockers. The door was already forced open, by the Robobitch no doubt. He barged in, shinning the dim light of the torch around the room. And there she was, attaching her cyberarm.

"Still wanna play, Trogg?" She asked as she spotted him.

"It wuld be stoopid of uz. Dere's summat wrong 'ere ya know." he broke open one of the lockers. "Ah'm gettin' gunz, an' gettin' outta 'ere! Ah surgezt yoo eitha join me, or do da same."

"Find a few Blackwatch dead and turn chicken Trogg? Fine by me. But You could have you're uses."


"Time to rock and roll!" Eva cheered up. She grabbed a green thing in her neck. A frag grenade.
"GRENADE!" She shouted, and discarded the pin.
And the green ball filled with metal shards rolled towards the guards.


Mist Lotus awoke. She had got a severe wound of the sniper, and needed medical attention, but she would live through that.
Limping and trembling, leaning in the nearest door, she struggled to meet some of her teammates...

"Ahem. There are two guard hatches to the south of here, and four more within the perimeter. I have seen them when i was on recon." She let out, facing mary. but then she fell in the floor again. Frag it. She was badly injuried.
And the case on her bag rolled down. it was the size of a suitcase. And opened by the hit, revealing metallic pieces of a barrel. A sniper rifle.


"Sleg! It is a squid!"

Silvia didn't hesitate. Before the eyes of the shocked guard she shifted to her more insulated dragon skin, took a deep breath and dived.


She looked around in the water, and saw the tentacle that had taken Damocles. It was rapidly moving towards the big shadow, despite Damocles' efforts to cut it off with his claws.

The mouth! I'll never get there in time! I need to distract it.

She quickly brought her claws to her shoulder blades and cut two openings in the back her T-shirt. Her wings quickly unfolded.

Water, air... should be about the same, right?
She tried to move her wings to gain speed in the water.

That proved to be a big mistake. The muscles in her wings were far too weak to move such a mass of water. They felt like they were stuck in a block of concrete.

Then again... not.

She put the wings away, and went to the surface for air.

"Aah...." She took a deep breath.
"Are you OK?" Brandon yelled at her from the side of the tank.
"Geh... Get... away from the side!" Silvia yelled back.
Then, she felt a tentacle grabbing her ankle. She had just enough time to take another deep breath before she was pulled underwater.

She looked past her feet, to the monster that was holding her. Luckily, her action had distracted it from Damocles, who was now busy cutting off the tentacles that kept grabbing him.

As the tentacle pulled Silvia closer, she could take a better look at the thing that was holding her.

Indeed... a giant squid.

Unbelievable... I wonder how long that beast has been here without anyone knowing about it. This thing is huge! Not quite 'the length of my leg', like Brandon said.

She looked at Damocles. He didn't seem to have any problems breathing underwater, but he didn't manage to get free from the tentacles. But right now, the squid was focusing his attention on Silvia, and didn't seem to be pulling Damocles closer to its mouth.

Don't worry Damocles... help is on its way.

She quickly shifted her hands to dragon claws, and cut off the top piece of the tentacle that was holding her left ankle.
But while she started swimming towards Damocles, the rest of the tentacle shot through the water and grabbed her around her middle. She saw two other tentacles approaching in her direction.


Air... I need air.

She put her two claws in the tentacle, at opposite sides. This was a lower part of the tentacle, and it was a lot bigger. Using her two claws at the same time she managed to cut it through.

She quickly swam up, towards the surface.

Sleg... faster.

Then, a tentacle grabbed her foot. Silvia panicked. The lack of oxygen was giving her a headache, and her lungs hurt like hell.

Claws... fast!

She looked down at her feet, and changed the toes of her free foot into dragon claws.
The foot claw quickly freed the other foot. Silvia reached the surface, and swam to the side of the tank as fast as she could.

Panting heavily, she pulled herself up on the side of the tank.
"Too... slegging... big."

At least I made sure Damocles isn't eaten yet... I gotta keep distracting it.

She looked into the water. The squid was moving to the surface, obviously planning to grab Silvia again.

Silvia got up on her two feet, and waited.

I'm ready, slegging squid. Gimme all you got.


Mere seconds after Wirecat shot the guard, he heard a loud crash.
He took what was left of the mirror to quickly glance around the room, and saw the roller drone shoot down the CKWAGE hall. A bit later, someone threw a grenade. Wirecat saw it explode near one of the guards.

"A distraction eh? Just what we need! Sarah... your turn!"
Sarah quickly walked to the door, aimed her staff towards the drones down in the hall, and started her spell.
Wirecat jumped back as some blue sparks shot off the staff in random directions.

For about three seconds, the entire mall floor was lit up by blue lightning, seeking its way through the air towards the nearest conducting object. Then, hell broke loose in the horde of droids. Many of the damaged drones started swinging around tentacles to all directions, cutting off other drones' tentacles, and shredding their armor to pieces. The blackwatch guards caught in the chaos had no time to get away. They seemed incredibly confused when the drones seemed to turn against them, and some of them, in a panic reaction that overrulled all mind control, started shooting at the drones.

Sarah quickly jumped back inside before any of the Blackwatch had a chance to shoot at her. Wirecat immediately closed the door.
Alanya walked towards them. "So? Did it wurk?"
Wirecat grinned. "Total chaos. But we better keep quiet in here until it's all over. Come on... we might need that strobo again."


The drones and Blackwatch men didn't stay distracted for long - Military training and a linked singularity of purpose saw to that. But they did seperate - The guards diving into the cover of wrecked display stands to fire at the newcomers from the downed vent, while the drones wheeled around the building.

Chance, Crystal, Eva and Raven poured fire into the Blackwatch men - Chance had slotted two of them surely, fist-sized holes blown out through the back of their armour. Eva's grenade had downed another man, who writed and screamed. The combined pistol and SMG fire of the other three didn't do a hell of a lot - The rounds bounced off the Guards' gloss-black ceramic chestpieces as they ran. Some received flesh wounds from shrapnel and splinters, or just ignored minor bullet wounds and lept moving, covering eachother as tey ran. One man was hit in the exposed leg and stumbled to the floor. A second later his head opened messily As Crystal Eva and Raven turned their fire onto him.

But these were not known as elite guiards for nothing - As soon as the six or so remaining men had gotten into cover, they returned fire. Highly-accurate SMG fire pinned the 'Runners in the open - They dropped to the floor.

Seeing Crystal was about to stand up, Chance laid down a few shots at the Blackwatch men again - They knew to be wary of his 9mm and its (limited supply) of APDU ammo, and kept their heads down.

"Ta, Chance." Crystal said, launching one of her two aerofoil frag grenades into the display stand. The disc sailed serenely as the guards popped their heads up again. The area erupted into a cloud of dust and fragments. A man screamed in anger.

"GET TO COVER!!!" Chance yelled, seeing the guards would be stunned for a moment.

"OH MY GOD!!! ITS AFTER US STILL!!!" Guard Ellen screeched, pointing at the cylindrical R0ll3r drone. Amazingly, it flipped up onto one of its circular edges - No-one could see how - Pivoted around, and then fell back to he ground, it's spikes digging up the carpet as the Log-shaped drone accelerated towards them.

The 'runners scattered left and right - The R0ll3r couldn't possibly get them all.

It kept itself on course, unerringly.

Ellen saw her doom approaching, started to run, her fingers going numb...

No. Frag this... I've been running all my life... Signed up for life with a shite Corporation that's going to get me killed. Make a stand Ellen... For once in your life.

Her grip on her SMG70 tightened, her knuckles going white on the pistol-grip and foregrip. The gun kicked, tucked into her armpit. The drone kept coming, ignoring the bullets pockmarking the carpet around it...


The girl's body disappeared under the drone, a red mist flying up all around the machine as it performed it's prinary task. A errible grinding sound could be heard as the grinding mechanism found brief resistance from bones, armour.

Horrifiyingly, as the R0ll3r passed - Swinging around to track Ash now... Ellen's torso, minus legs, could be seen, trying to claw away from the patch of blood-mist.


"Are we safe in here?" Sarah whispered.

Just then - It would have been funny if they weren't all in mortal danger - The room's flimsy door burst open under the Chrome body of an 0ctopu5. This was the one with the girl rider - She crouched atop, a tentacle steadying her there, hair flying wild, green eyes blazing with lighting rage.

"AHHH!!! KILLL THEM!!!!!!!!!" She screeched.

Quick as a flash, Sarah was there, staff held in both hands. Then a Pincer-arm smashed the staff in two, slammed into her chest with a crack of ribs and slammed her against the far wall, where she was held, feet off the ground, unable to brieathe, while a drill-arm snaked in for the kill...

Wirecat - His back to the door - Had been caught heavily, and flung forwards at Alanya, crashing into her. The strobe dropped to the ground with a heavy crash.

The first drone moved further into the room, increasing the pressure on Sarah. Another 0ctopu5 came in behind it, waving its pincers at the cowering Zaid... One bladed arm moved towards him.

He was amazed as, instead of closing around his head and snipping it off, the blood-slicked claw wrapped it's tentacle body around him, and began to lift him out of the room...


Ch0m3ball stepped out of the Matrixbooth, his feet squelching, lower-lip quivering.

The drones had moved away now, off to another part of the hall, after those people.

He walked, nervously, hearing the sounds of battle. He came across a huge section of airventing, having fallen tio the floor,

Then he saw the people again, exchaning fire and grenades with a mob of unseen men.

They weren't security... They could save him.

"H3Y! 0V3R H3R3!!!1" He screamed, jumping up and down, waving his arms


James, Nixie and Squeaky made it to the escalators, with Veronica reluctantly in tow, clutching her machinepistol like a baby.

With no power, climbing the escalators with sodden cloths was demanind. But they made it -

And wondered if it had been worth the effort.

The floor was in chaos almost as bad as the one below. Bodies lay here and there, stripped of valuables. Several of the shops were burning.

A large group of around 30 men - They looked like ordinary office men and datajerks, with their jackets off, sleeves rolled up and ties around their heads - Stood chanting in an inward-facing mob. Smoke was rising from the centre. Blank eyed woman and children watched from shuttered shops where they sat, trapped by the security shutters.

"Bun the Boss! Burn the Boss!" They were chanting, waving clubs and metal poles.

A man was screaming, as the smoke got thicker...

They would have to find a way around the men to get to the rest of the floor...


Belinda smoothed her thin, almost transparent clothes down while the Troll watched. She straightened her leather boots, adjusted her corset and black string dress...

Before he realised, the Troll was drooling. Then Belinda made a point of racking the side on her newly-retrieved Cyberarm's internal SMG.

"All right. I'll join you. But I have some scores to settle. We'll need a way back up. I tyhink the shiftavators are still working but..."

She fell silent, hearing something in the other room.

She led Jolly with her, silently, walking back into the prison area. Her thermographic eyes pierced the darkness easily.

"Frag" She whispered. "The Dragon bitch... And she's hassling my babe..."

She looked at Jolly, and winked.

"I'll get her with my grapple-arm... Then while she's bing fried you go and stove her head in. How about it big boy?"


Wirecat quickly recovered. With the smartlinked precision of his MUNDI gun he shot the little girl in the head.
Then, he ripped the big lamp of the makeshift stroboscope off the deck and threw it at the drill-arm that was going towards Sarah.

Sarah put both hands on the tentacle that was pushing her against the wall, and whispered some words. The tentacle made some spastic movements and dropped to the floor. David saw water leaking out of it... Sarah had summoned water inside the drone's arm, short-circuiting the circuits that were so well-protected from the outside.
Sarah fell to the floor, panting heavily.

Alanya had already run into the next room, fending off a bladed tentacle with Zizz' cyberdeck.

"Get in 'ere! Fast!"
Wirecat managed to get Sarah away from the drones, and helped her into the next room.
Alanya quickly closed the door behind them.
"Ooh frag." David said. "This doesn't look good."
Sarah was sitting against the wall, barely concious. Wirecat knew she probably had a few broken ribs.

Alanya quickly looked around, and saw a table.
"Won't do much, but iz better than nuthin'."
She grabbed the table and put it against the door.
"Not much here... what's in the back there?" David asked, while pointing at the door at the other end of the room.
"I don't know." Sarah said with a weak voice. "We didn't get there yet."

Alanya opened the door. Behind it, there was a kind of tool shed, with repair tools hanging on hooks on the walls.
"David! Dis is one of tha backup generators!"
"Any posible escape routes there?"
"No, I don' think so..."
Alanya walked further into the room, and saw a ladder going down.
"Wait... dere's somethin' here. But it's too dark to see."
She took one of the flashlights she had hastily put in the small backpack that kept her cyberdeck, and swiched it on.
"OK, that's better..."

She climbed down the ladder, and looked around. She was in a room with a very low ceiling. In the room there were two neat rows of cleaning drones. At the other side of the room she saw a tunnel, leading into the vents.
"Iz a cleaning drone storage!" she yelled to the others. "We cun get into da vents 'ere."


Tami heard voices in the tunnels.

"Com on! Get down 'ere before dese drones break through!"
"Wait. I'm setting up a little surprise here for these fragging drones."
"Get Sarah down here first!"
"All right..."

Two people... and talking about a third one... and they're also running away from drones.
Tami looked into her backpack.

Frag. Only four EMP grenades left. I could need some help... and any survivors are possible allies here.

She decided to wait.


While Alanya was helping Sarah down the ladder, Wirecat took a roll of electric wire off the wall, and started hanging it over the hooks the tools were hanging on. Soon, an entire web of electric wire blocked the door.
He took one of the repair tools off the wall, and hit a fragile-looking piece of the generator. Then, he took one end of the wire and attached it to the damaged piece. He cut off the rest of the roll, and attached the other end of the wire to the fuel tank of the power generator.

"All right. Now we have to get away from here as soon as possible!"
He quickly climbed down the stairs, an looked around.
"The drones. That should stop the blast."
He took one of the drones, and threw it under the ladder leading up to the generator room.
"Come on Alanya, help me with this."
Alanya, and Wirecat grabbed the non-functional drones and threw them on a heap under the ladder. After a while, the entrance as blocked completely.

"OK. Now let's get the frag out of here."

Alanya got into the vent on hands and knees. Wirecat helped Sarah, careful not to touch the broken ribs.
"Hang on, Sarah... there's gotta be a hospital here somewhere."
Slowly, they moved further into the vents.

At that moment, one of the drones crashed through the door of the generator room and rolled into the net of electric wire.
The wire pulled off the part of the generator wirecat had damaged. Sparks shot out of it.
At the other side of the generator, the safety of the liquid hydrogen fuel tank was pulled off, and the gas was suddenly released in the air.

About two soconds later, the gas met the sparks.


Tami heard an explosion. She could identify most explosions, in the way that she was trained in recognising the explosive that was used. But this sounded more like a mechanical device exploding.
One of these drones maybe? Nah. They'd never explode that big.

Let's hope there aren't any kamikaze drones around here...

She heard the voices again, closer now.

"Hehe. I sure got 'em."
"Don' be so shure. Dere seem ta be a lot more o' dese drones."
"Yeah well... I can't blow them all up, can I?"

Tami crawled closer towards the voices.


Raven felt his stomach heave violently when he saw the Transys guard get steamrolled by the drone. What made it worse was when he saw the poor woman's torso still trying to crawl way, ragged intestines trailing behind it. Raven looked at Ellen's face. He saw the fear in her eyes, the grim realisation she was not far from death. Raven looked away, right into Crystal's eyes. Crystal nodded softly. Raven knew what he had to do. He raised his SMG, aimed carefully and pulled the trigger, ending the poor woman's suffering in a red mist. It was an image which would haunt Raven for the rest of his life, that face would be in his nightmares for years. He felt a surge of blood rush to his head, he shut his eyes in pain. He was close to fainting, it was all too much!


The whirring sound of the drone gave Raven the leverage to pull himself from the brink of unconsciousness. He opened his eyes again to see the r0ll3r drone bearing down on Ash. Hands trembling Raven pointed his SMG at the metallic butcher, Ellen's blood still freshly dripping off its frame. Raven squeezed the trigger and grimaced. His shaking hands caused the SMG fire to crisscross across the drones metal hide and tear up the carpet around it. Thankfully, the drone was directly between Ash and Raven so Raven's random fire didn't hit Ash. Searingly hot discarded shells dropped into Raven's lap as he emptied an entire clip into the machine, he continued to fire until the SMGs firing mechanism began to click softly. Out of ammo. The machine, however, was undeterred by Raven's fusillade and relentlessly continued to tear up the carpet between itself and Ash. Ash had noticed the machine by now and she backed away slowly from it, still careful to keep her head out of sight of the Blackwatch Elites who were still occupied with the 'neutralisation' of Ash and her friends.

Crystal didn't dare use an AP grenade for fear of 'friendly fire', the high velocity shrapnel and explosives were too risky to use when Ash was so close to the machine. Crystal, while worried intensely about Ash's safety, forced herself to concentrate on pinning down the Kilties. She primed another fragmentation grenade, tapped Raven on the thigh and said.

"Covering fire in!"

The two rose up for a moment, Raven firing his reloaded SMG wildly and Crystal rolling her grenade past the makeshift barricade of a pair of Elites. The two soldiers rolled away from the grenade, into the line of sight of both Raven and Eva. Raven's fire proved ineffectual but Eva, having waited for the opportunity, proved more successful. Her high powered pistol tore through the body armour of one of the Elites and ripped his innards to shreds, the man fell onto the ground. Dead. The second man was caught by Crystal's grenade and the force of the blast tripped him up. He lay immobile for a moment, stunned, before beginning to crawl back behind cover. While the grenade blast didn't seriously injure him it did allow Eva to move her aim from her previous victim onto him. Eva smiled like the Cheshire Cat as she displayed her artistry with the heavy pistol. The man's head exploded, throwing gibbet covered skull shrapnel onto the surrounding furniture. This was what Eva had been engineered and trained for, combat against superior numbers. She had spent her life perfecting herself, pushing her body and mind to the limits. This melee was going to be a serious challenge. Eva was going to enjoy herself.....

Ash was watching the drone very carefully. Crystal, Eva and Raven were all busy keeping the Kilties heads down and that left only Chance to back her up. As always, her husband came through. A series of ADPU shells struck and penetrated the shiny hide of the drone. The machine stalled a moment before resuming its programmed duty. Killing intruders. The spinning blades glinted in the subdued lighting of the hall, an otherwise mesmirising beauty. As the drone got within an arms length of its intended victim Ash suddenly hopped to the side and rolled past the machine, hoping it wouldn't be able to track her unexpected movement. She was right, crouched behind the machine Ash quickly scanned the rear compartments. No obvious weaknesses. The drone finally realised where Ash was and began to rotate in oder to face her. Ash concentrated and focussed on her bare palms. She imagined the firey depths of Homer's hell. She conjured up images of thermonuclear reactions. Anything that she associated with extreme heat. Ash thrust her hands against the machines skin and focussed on passing on her heat energy onto the machine. Her hands were met with a soft, malleable texture. She was melting the drones outer skin!

But was it enough to stop the machine facing her and decapitating her in time?


Mist Lotus had revealed that she had a sniper rifle in her case. She would be the obvious choice for using it but she was severely weakened. Even Mary's best efforts only delayed the point in time when Mist Lotus could only be saved by serious and dedicated medical attention, and that time was running out. Jessica Hayes began to sort out the civillians who had previously used a weapon. She quickly interrogated each one to see whether they were proficient or just inept.


The Roll3r jumped like a live thing as it's frame began to hiss and deform under Ash's heat. The soldier jumped aside as it attempted to flip upraight and reorientate on her - Seeing with relish as it did so a sagging, melted section of the drone's surface. As it fell back down to the ground, one of the spikes it used for traction and as a weapon was pushed back into it's frame - leaving a seriously weaked point on its body and also causing it to take a jittery, slower path as it R0ll3d after Ash.

Her triumph was short-lived, as the R0ll3r gave up trying to chase her - And launched one of its spikes with a high-pressure blast of C02, right at Ash' scentre of mass...


Belinda pointed her grapple-arm at the target - The Bitch who'd attacked her up in the mall-level.

This was going to be sweet...

She would latch onto her withthe grapple, feed the volts in - While her new-found best friend Jolly the Troll-Mime sidled along, ready to shove her head in with the butt of his new gun - Picked from one of the dead Guards.

"Hey... STOP!" Issued a voice. Varos turned at the sound.

Frag, it was Emmanuette. She'd noticed.

"Hey babe!" Belinda shouted. "Me an' Jolly will save ya!"

As she spoke she launched her grapple arm - At the Dragon in the shape of a woman who - Frag - put her hands up.

The diamond-edged grapple veered slightly to the left at Belinda's command, missed, and returned to her arm.

"Hold on a second, milady" Varos said.
"I know you want to punish me... but I apologize, my friend was so upset.I know you are heading out the prison, so can I go with you?"

Damn, this was unexpected.

Belinda kept pointing her SMG/Grapple arm at her, then relaxed.

"Sure. Why the frag not."

Belinda turned at the sound of Jolly laughing and kicking on of the prison cell doors in.


After a good five or six kicks, one of the cells was opened - Jolly had recognised some of his fellow mimes, arrested earlier.

"Good fraggin; idea." Belinda thought. She searched - And found the two robogothbois who'd been arrested with her. Like any good gothboi, they fell into obedience at their Mistress' command after she fired the maglock with her arm.

She and Jolly decided to open the rest of the cells - The assorted Drunks, Chippies, Gangers and the like might be useful...


Cheevers took a look out the door the Blue-Haired Elf bastard had come in through - The dumb fragging Troggs were still looking up after him.

The door led out of the Bar to the service entrance - It was too fragging dark to see where exactly - Still no lights. But from earlier patrols, Cheevers knew there were stairs to the main mall - And from there, to shiftavators.

I have to escape these fraggers... I have too...

But he knew there were things out there. BAD things.

There were noises in the darkness. The sound of water flooding in floors below. People screaming in the darkness. Gunfire.

Anything could be waiting in the darkness for him.

He needed... Safety in numbers.

He had an idea.

He ran over to where Mist Lotus was slumped in a corner, weighing the dying woman mentally.

Then he grabbed one of her arms roughly, and hauled her up. She uttered a scream of pain.

"What the frag are you doing?" Asked some of the outraged civilians. Not least Mary, with Jessica by her side.

"Aye! This lass is dying!" The Stocky Scots Guard said. "Ah'm gonna try and get her to the lifts! But I need help! Anyone coming with me?"

He made a point of looking at Tank, then Barkah, then Jessica, who saw the fear, the sweat beading on his fat face.

"Daddy, tell the fat man there are bad men out there!" One of the little kids told his father, who hushed him quickly.

"WELL?" He demanded.


The Lighting room was a mess - The explosion had blow the thin walls completely flat, throwing shards of glass everyhwhere, tossing the 0ctopu5es everywhere.

Though many of them lost tentacles, or wheels, most of them were still intact - They were surprisingly tough, their armoured chrome dome bodies deflecting most of the damage.

The girl who'd been on top of the 0ctopu5 drone wasn't so lucky - her tiny body was flayed to pieces in an instant.

The Drones with the most damage withdrew - Carrying their incapacitated comrades with them. Whoever or whatever was controlling these drones seemed to actually care about their survival.

But they were well-coordinated too - For as they left the CKWAGE hall, more rolled in from the Conference hall shift-a-vators.

Where the frag are they coming from? AND WHY? Wirecat wondered. They seemed determined - Were they searching for something?

His thought's were rudely interrupted as a Drill shot through from the top of the crawlspace - Just inches from his face. A fragging drone had punched it through from the top. he yelped, jumped back -Into Sarah's broken ribs - As it removed half his whiskers...


"Merde... Lost another shoe... Bah" Badjimmy muttered to himself, crawling on through the ducts at quote a pace. He'd connected his phone to his datajack - Now he could see the winking tracking signal in the lower-left corner of his cybereye...

"Almost ther--AGAGAGGHHHHH!!!"

He slid, falling down the bumpy slide that had been the air-vent Chance had brought crashing down, which had then been puched through multiple times by the R0ll3r drone.

He was in the CKWAGE hall - A building off to the left was a smoking ruin, where an 0ctopu5 with a flayed child's corpse on it's back was punching a drill through to the floor.

Further away - AHA! - Crystal, Raven, Chance and Ash were being pinned down as an injured Blackwatch man opened up with an Autoshotgun, from a smoke-clouded display stand.

BA-BA-BA-BA-BAM!!! The wepaon roared, the heavy man firing it struggling to control the recoil as shells fopuntained from the assault weapon. Crystal and Chance were cuaght by the weapon - Although the range was quite long. It looked to Badjimmy like hesh wounds to the legs, the flechettes unable to penetrate the armour both wore.

Badjimmy saw his chance to act.

His gun jumped to his hand - The heavy Ultra-Power broadcasting cross-hairs into his cybereyes as the smartlink interfaced.

Deliberately he moved the cross-hairs from the man's head to his shoulder - The gun jumped in his hand.

On the receiving end, the Guard was soun to the ground. As the second shot hit, most of his jaw was taken off.
Oops. Ahh, stupid British cochon!

Then he waved and shouted at his one-time comrades.

"I will cover you! Go to l' exit!"


Ash twisted desperately, bringing her dual short swords up to try deflecting the shot by the drone. But she just wasn't quick enough... The spike struck one of the blades a glancing blow, deviating from its course only by a tiny fraction.
Still, it was better than nothing... instead of striking the redhead in the heart, the spike punched into her left shoulder, fortunately slowed by the chainmail enough to pierce only half an inch of flesh before it rebounded and fell out of the shallow gouge.

Ash wasn't a enhanced being... she was just plain flesh and blood. The woman was kicked backwards savagely to go sliding backwards into the floor, a searing pain in her shoulder making her gasp in pain.

Pain is good, Ash... Means you are still alive! She snarled to herself as she clutched the bloody wound.

In slow-motion, she watched Chance fly airborne as he dived for the back of the now-sluggish drone... his face contorting half-way across as shotgun pellets ripped shallow furrows into his legs, but the soldier managed to land right behind the thing, pumping the last few rounds in his magazine into the drone. With a fizzling of sparks, the Roll3r fell silent.
Chance dragged himself to her, hissing in pain himself from leg wounds as he ejected a spent mag and slammed in another.

"Ash! You alright!?"
"Could be better... But I'll live." she forced a grin as she reached out and hauled him across the floor to cover beside her.



Sarah groaned, and looked around. Wirecat was almost ontop of her, and leaning heavily onto her damaged abdomen. Half of another of those fragging drones had dropped through the celing, and it's tentacles writhing. Currently, it was lodged there, and there was no way it could fit in the vent itself.

Alanya heaved Sarah backwards with a grunt, as Sarah yelped in pain.
"Be careful, that hurts!"
"Do you wunt to be hurted even more by dat, huh?"

Wirecat had scrambled round, and was following.

"I will take care of the injured. You watch our backs".

The catman agreed, looking back over his shoulder at the struggling drone.

"We better get moving. I dunno what's happening here, but I don't think we're going to be able to second-guess anything."

Sarah winced at the pain as the small Orkish woman heaved her infront of her, in the vent barely four metres tall.

"What's the backup plan now, catboy?"

Wirecat smiled at Sarah's teasing, despite the situation, and replied :

"I'm working on it."


This floor, number 3 by her count, was much emptier than the others, with far less corpses. Obviously the drones had been more efficient here. She looked around, at the various shops here, mostly intact. Maybe she could find something useful in one, like an EMP rifle. But she doubted Transys would keep them in the mall.

Suddenly, Red's eyes alighted on a shiftavator tower, built into the wall. She rushed over it, checking for any drones on the move, and pounded a button. This one didn't look damaged, so might work.

Nothing. She stood outside, waiting, and neither the light indicating what floor the 'vator' was at appeared in the gloom, nor did she hear the hiss of the doors beginning to open.

Frag this. What now. How the frag am I meant to get out of here?

Angrily, she fired her weapon point-blank into the doors, a bullet digging into the fake Redwood panelling.

They opened.


Damocles gasped as the flailing squid threw him above water for a moment, opening his gills as he dissapeared beneath the churning waves. Transparent eyelids flicked down, giving him much better vision under the murky water.

Something else was in the tank, another humanoid shape grapping with one of the squid's tentacles.


The half-dragon swam to the edge, and managed to climb out of the water. Damocles watched, as she fended off the tentacle following her.

The thrashing of the tentacles made it hard for him to even see what to aim for, pitched above and below water by the suckery arm that had him. He had his claws out, as was attepting to sever the arm holding him, but each time he smacked back into the water, he managed to lose his grip.

The guard was standing on the top of the ladder, looking down into the murky water, with his gun in one hand. Although the bullets couldn't go far through water, he could't see far, and any shots could be totally random.

Next time he surfaced, he reached out, to grasp the side, , but fell short, crashing back into the water again. Silvia had severed two tentacles with her claws from the edge of the tank, clouding the water even more with blood, but she was clearly fighting a losing battle, as the thing in the water diverted more long arms to catching the half-dragon.

Suddenly, there was a cracking sound, and the water began to drain from the tank.


Things just went from bad to worse. He'd gone from being trapped in a hospital bed, to trapped on top of a Shiftovator.....legless. He threw a bolt up against the wall, probably not a wise thing to do, but he was bored. As the bolt clanged against the wall, the shiftovator he was sitting on started to vibrate.

"Shit!" Bulldog yelled, He thought the lifts were out of order, but obviously this one wasn't. His body was thrown against it as it hurtled upwards, He couldn't even hear himself screaming as It made it's way to the mall level.

Eventually it stopped, Bulldog had to hold on tight to stop himself being thrown upwards. He could hear voices.

"Is it going according to plan?"
"Aye sir!"
"May I inspect?"
"Aye Sir!"

He heard footsteps underneath him, and then nothing. He waited awhile, until he thought it was safe. It was a long wait. He kept hearing curious sounds, as if someone was trying to force a door open. He dropped though the hatch, without his leg he fell flat on his face.

And then.....BANG! A bullet was fired, the door swung open. The first thing he saw was a woman in a red, skin tight suit. She had spikes all over her body and an ariel sticking out from her shaven head.

"Oh, hello there miss....erm, going up?"


Tear's welled up in Nixie's eyes. They had come so far, and for what? To be fragged around by fragging office clerks? No! All this work, all this trying to escape....for nothing! No! It just was not right! It could not be right. But there it was. Their only way out, blocked by some angry, over paid office workers! Agh! Why? She could not take this, it was too much. Her body was exhausted, she was soaked though and now her one last gleam of hope.....GONE! It was too much. All too much. She fell on to her knees, and then just fell to the floor. She burst into tears.

It wasn't normal for her, but she couldn't take this any longer! Guards, teleportation, Robogoths, office clerks, nearly being drown.....Why not just fragging kill her now! Get it over with! Why was she being punished at every turn? Why could not someone just come along and just kill her now! Take away all this suffering....She could not face this anymore. She had had enough. Let those bastards burn her.


So far, Jolly had found one of his Mime buddies, Cracker. A dwarf. And a few of his criminal mates. There was only a few more doors to crack open, and Cracker had always been good at breaking things.

"We'll ave dis out in a jiffy!" He told Jolly, the Prison guards had disabled and removed Cracker's head radio, not like it was any use anyway. "Got anything that goes boom lad?"

Cracker liked his explosives, but unfortunately, Jolly had only found an auto shotgun and a few grenades. Together they rammed the door open, It fell from it's hinges as their combined body weight slammed against it.

"Well......Hello there boys." Jolly's eyes went wide, he knew that voice. The body of a female elf slammed against Jolly. She had black hair with strands of green showing, smudged white face paint all over her and was dressed as a mime.

"Stitch! Ya alive!" Jolly yelled in glee.

"Just shut up and kiss me, you big lump of Trolley muscle, you!" Stick Lips had always had a way with words, but a better way with actions.

"Now this sickly reunion is over." Belinda butted in. "How about we make a move?"


Barkah put and arm around Mary. She was still tending the wounded, but looked distressed, unwanted. It was hard to put a finger on it, but she needed comfort.

She patted the arm.

"Thank you for the thought, But I'm busy." Barkah nodded, wandering off to some other part of the bar. He wondered where the others were going though the vent. Or who they were, what they were doing, to be honest, he didn't know what was happening. He shook his head and started to try and help with the injured. It was the best he could do.


Silvia looked to the other side of the tank. Brandon was standing there, holding his gun. He had shot a hole in the tank, and let the weight of the water do the rest. The tank was ripped open, and the water started pouring out of it fast.

"Look out!" the guard yelled, but it was too late. Three tentacles shot towards Silvia. One of hem had already been wounded by Silvia's claws, but that didn't prevent the octopus from using it again. Before she could react, the tentacles grabbed her and pulled her into the tank again.

Sleg! If my dad was here he'd fry that thing immediately, and we'd be eating calamari by now...

She tried to cut off the tentacles that were holding her, but didn't succeed.
She looked around in the water. Damocles appaerntly managed to free himself, and was swimming towards her.
As the water level dropped, she suddenly found herself above the surface again, and able to breathe. But not for long... another tentacle shot towards her and grabbed her around the chest, nearly crushing her ribcage.

Then, she heard two shots.

The tentacles dropped into the shallow water on the bottom of the now nearly-empty tank. Silvia quickly pushed away the tentacle that was around her chest, and looked up to the giant squid.
She saw two bullet holes in one of the monster's huge eyes.
She looked up to the side of the pool. Brandon was still standing there. He kept his gun aimed at the squid, ready to shoot again of it would move.

But the giant octopus wouldn't move again. It was dead.


Tami let out a yelp of surprise when a drill shot down through the side of the vent. She quickly jumped away, and noticed the sound of more drones drilling through the plascrete.
"Frag! Ah well... doesn't look like I have much of a choice..."
She took out an EMP grenade, and tossed it down the vents.


Alanya came to a T-intersection, and noticed something flying through the vent. A bit later, blue light flashed from the direction in which the object disappeared.

Unhindered by the plascrete, the EMP grenade did its job. All metal tentacles sticking through the ceiling suddenly hung down and stopped moving.

Alanya quickly crawled to the intersection, and looked in the direction the grenade had come from. She saw the female goblin sitting there, holding a backpack that appeared to be full.
She smiled at the goblin. "Thanks fur helpin' uz out."

The goblin looked angry. "I wish I hadn't, you fragging trogg."

Wirecat heard the goblin voice. "Hey now... that's no way of speaking to a lady. Have some respect for the older people!"
"Ah, shaddup Wirecat. I aint that old!" Alanya shouted to the back.
She crawled in the other side of the T-intersection, allowing Sarah and Wirecat to come through.

Wirecat took a good look at the goblin. "Wow. If that isn't a gobbo terrorist, I don't know what it is."
He grinned at Tami.
"Thank goodness. A gobbo terrorist is exactly what we need right now. I think the only way to get out of here is to bomb out way out."

Tami frowned. Who the frag was this cat-man?

"Why the frag should I help you? Get out on your own, fraggers."
She turned around, and started running away.

"I don't think you should run away... what are you gonna do when you run out of EMP grenades? Or was that your last one already?"

Tami stopped, and turned around.

Frag. He's right. I only got three of them...

Wirecat continued. "Look, we do't mean you any harm, not even my orkish friend here. I don't know how long you've been in here, but it's a hell out there."
He paused for a few seconds. Tami said nothing.
"Look, it's very simple. Either we join forces and find a way to get out of this place, or we all die separately."
Tami still didn't reply.

Wirecat sighed. "I'll compensate for your explosives if we ever get out of here."
The female goblin smiled. "Now we're talkin'. Come on, let's get outta these vents. I've seen another one leading up here somewhere."
She looked at the other people. "But I don't know how we're gonna get them up there."
"Don't worry about that. We'll find a way. Lead on."
"All right. Follow me."


Tami poked her head up, twisting around a 90-degree angle - Bingo. A vent leading to the surface - The side of the CKWAGE Hall. Luckily the vent-cover was hidden from sight of the rest of the hall by a display stand. As she quietly looked through the cover, she could still hear the quiet whirring of the drones.

Then that was drowned out by the calamitous, devatasting roar of a full-auto shotgun - The fragging thing made it seem like the whole room was shaking - It could only have been around thirty feet away. Maybe just on the other side of the display stand.


"Problem?" Wirecat asked.

"Too near the fragging action. But if we double back, there's another vent that leads vertically up - Maybe as far as the next floor. But that's a lot for the others to handle..."

She mainly meant Sarah - Gasping, her ribs broken, she was hardly in a condition to move, let alone make the climb.

They had to choose soon - Drones seemed to be swarming all around the CKWAGE hall. From the soudns of it, a lot of welding and removing of floor panels was going on.

If drones have gotten into the air-vents... He wondered. Then shook his head. Best not to think about that.


Zaid, screamed, terrified. The crazy-one-wheel drone had him wrapped ina tentacle on its back as it span crazily along, his arms pinned to his sides. He didn't even know how the fragging things could balance.

What the frag is this? Attack of the Frikkin' Drones night? I've never even SEEN things like this before, drone tech so refined...

Either Transys had made some pretty damn big leaps and bounds with their Drone-tech, quietly, or they really were fraggin' aliens...

The drone carrying him wheeled around, seemingly heading for the shift-a-vator bank in the corner when - SLAM! - The whole world turned over and over.

The tentacle released Zaid, and he went flying. Someone screamed, and Zaid blacked out for a moment.

He came to to the sight of the upturned 0ctopu5 trying to right itself, spinning around on it's top-section. It was having difficulty, as its Gyro-stabilisation now worked in reverse. Until it reset its gyro, it would stay upside-down on it's domed body.

Zaid didn't know how long he had. He stood up - He could feel a huge bump on his head.

He saw what the drone had crashed into - Kid, overweight. Datajack and deck. He lay in a foetal position, crying. He looked to be pretty badly injured - One leg looked brojen, his mouth dribbled blood. His trousers were soaked, too. Zaid wrinkled his nose in disgust.

Zaid couldn't see Wirecat or Sarah anywhere - Not that he cared much.

Fraggers let that drone take me away... Screw 'em...


Chr0m3ball had been totally ignored by the people with guns - The Good Guys(tm) he thought of them. In desperation he'd run the opposite way lest they shoot him as well.

That was when the drone had hit him.

Now he looked up, from the floor. He must have had trouble with his eyes - The guy standing over him - Or was it a woman?

"H3lp... m3..." He coughed.


Wolf couldn't help Naomi any more than he had already. She was still unconsious, and it was doubtful whether she would recover or not.

"Frag. There's nothing more we can do." Dr Chakrit intoned, pulling on a fresh pair of surgical gloves and checking his laser scalpel.

"Time for the next patient."

The female doctor, with her green eyes, brought up the small trolley, and opened the little plastic case. Two solid-green eyes stared back at Wolf.

A soft female voice from the doorway came in over Wolf's head.

"Doctor, I'm sorry. The Goblin we left in the corridor has gone..."

"Ah." The Doctor said simply. "Never mind. We got his friend. Next patient please. Happy to continue, Dr Alexiev?" He said, never once looking up from adjusting the laser scalpel.

A patient was wheeled in - A young boy, sleeping peacefully.

"Okay, prep for eye removal." The Doctor said. His asssistant took hold of one of the green eyes from the tray and tapped it a couple of times. The eye shrunk a fraction, down to about the right size for a ten year old boy.

Wolf stared at it, agape - It seemed to have no leads with it to plug into the patient's optic nerves. It was self adjusting...

"Marevellous, isn't it?" Dr Chakrit told him, actually looking at Wolf this time. "There's never been anything like it on this Earth. The cyberware the Master puts out is unbelievable when you see it here, but when you have them yourself... AHH!" He gasped explosively.

"I imagine the infidels outside would pay a pretty penny for technology like this. Still, work to be done..."

The Doctor reached in with precision and plucked out the kid's eyes.

Wolf watched, uneasily. His guns, of course, were outside - Not even he would bring guns into an operating theatre.


Studknife screamed at the top of his lungs at his new neighbour's door.

"Help! HELP! Something fragged-up is going down! Everything is fragged all to hell! We gotta get out of here!" He screamed. Behind him, his apartment was being taken down, panel by panel.


Deadeye used the door viewer - A small camera installed just above the door to his apartment. The sweating, overweight, balding man was hammering at his door.

Then the man vanished - And Deadeye could only see a mass of metal tentacles.


Belinda examined the criminal scum she'd released from the cells - A group of about seven sullen, depressed people mooched along - They had the look of those who had seen paradise, and couldn't accept anything the real world had to offer as coming anywhere near.


Once you've seen enough BTL, you kind of lose your will to live, or so Belinda had heard.
Men and women, dressed in clothes they seemed to have worn for a bout a month, the men unshaven, the women straggly-haired, Belinda wondered why she'd even bothered releasing the fools.

There had been a few of the usual Elf-Posers - Led by a Tall, dark-skinned meathead named 'Illydrian'. Belinda had tangled with his gang before.

"Just get me straight on this," The Elf-Wannabe snarled, pushing his luck, seeing how unarmed he was compared to Belinda and Jolly "The prison guards are all dead. The power's out, and you're freeing me out of the goodness of your heart?"

"Wouldn't you do the same to me?" Belinda winked.

"Yeah, that's different. I'd shag you." He smirked. "Ow." He said, as Belinda's hand-rasors left three lines of glistening blood along his cheek.

"Maybe I just wanna use you as Cannon Fodder, BAKA!" She burst out.

"Or, you can side with me. If security here are dead, things must be pretty chaotic up top. With your goons, Jolly's mimes and my loyal gothbois, we can do a little Empire-Carving - Before we kill each other. How's that?"

The rest of the prisoners were disappointing, but for a few exceptions - Some big Native American guy who didn't tell anyone what his name was - A real nut-job, bulging muscles, Camo trousers, long black hair with honour feathers, a lather jerkin. Belinda took a liking to the silent man.

Another guy was a rare Japanese variant of Ork known as an 'Oni', going by the name of 'Hachiman'. His bright orange-red skin was as off-putting by his coldly distant manner.

He might have been in contest with the Native American guy, Belinda thought.

Raiding the lockers, Jolly and Illydrian made sure that they and their gangers got guns and ammo before everyone else.

There were:
*four Autoshotguns, with two (50) shot ammo drums each, and one of solid slugs,
*Four IWS SMGs, with four (30) clips of ammo, and two clips of Gel-Stun rounds - Non-lethal rounds that flattened out on impact, disdained by security men and 'runners alike for their lack of power.
*Six Browning Ultra-Power heavy-pistols, with four (10) clips each
*Two drums of Explosive Shotgun shells and three clips of AP (not APDU) ammo for the SMGs - Jolly wisely kept these hidden from the others, although he gave Belinda two of the AP clips - She loaded one into her arm.

Jolly also got a cluster of flash-bang grenades and a few stun-rods to hand around. He would have worn one of the guard's armour vests, but they were just too small. The prisoners fought over them.

"So, Iz we goin' outtahere or wot?" He snarled, turning his big yellow eyes on belinda so she might get the hint.

"Patience, o big, replusive green one."

She stood at the shiftavator doors, having prized them apart with her metal claw and Varo's strength.

"Back in a few" She winked at Emmie, before shooting her grapple arm up the empty shaft, and flying up, out of view.

Long minutes passed.

"Frag here. She's taken us all for mugs." Illydrian snarled.

He turned to Jolly, as the prisoners began to get restless - The Big Native American and Hachiman staring at each other with their thousand-yard stares, ready to fight in an instant.

"This is no fraggin' good. What say we jump those two bitches, pass the time? You can get the one called Varos, I'll get the other one."

"Okay de - WAIT! I tryed dat befurr..." Jolly said, catching himself. "Ya dun't wunna mezz wiv 'er, ya know..."


"I said: WHO's GOING OUT THERE WITH ME?" Cheevers yelled, desperate for a response, still dragging the poor, bleeding form of Mist Lotus.

Jessica was busy talking to the civilians. The Dark-skinned, silver eyed and green-haired Elven Secretary put her hand up.

"Um, Miss, I fired a gun once. But it was in a simflick. Does that count?" She giggled.

Mary was being comforted by Barkah. Tank was picking his nose with a pieces of the cleaning kit for his Assault Cannon.

"THAT DOES IT!" Screamed the desperate guard. He dropped Mist Lotus into an unmoving heap on the floor, darted forward and grabbed one of the kids, putting the barrel of his SMG against her head.

"IRINA!!!!" Her dad screamed, about to jump at Cheevers - The other civvies grabbed him and held him back, as Cheevers pointed the SMG at him, one handed.

"Don't ye be tryin' nothin' stupid, ye wee shite!" Cheevers grinned, walking backwards, against the back door leading out of the bar that BadJimmy had opened. He kept an eye on Tank, then Jessica, covering them all.

"Now - Ye'll have to come out here wiv me, won't ye? Can't have anything happen to this sweet lil girl! MUA HA HAAAA!!!!"

Mary realised that Cheevers was quite probably mad. Possibly a claustrophobic, going off the rails...


Nixie snapped out of it. She stood up and shook her head.

"Any more bright idea's to get us killed!" Somebody yelled at her. She turned to face the others.

"Any ideas?" She asked, hopefully.

"We'll have to sneak past them. Maybe with a distraction?" Squeaky suggested.

"Well, Ta be fair on 'em, they ain't dun anything to us yet?" James informed them.

Nixie shook her head again.

"Or... Ve could approach them!"


"Sorry kid, It's an evil world out there." Zaid told the poor fat decker. "Nobodies going to save you, you have to save yourself."

He kissed the decker on the cheek, took his deck and went to run. But couldn't. He sighed, with great effort lifting the decker up.

"The name's Jenny Zaid, And I'm getting you out of here!"

"Th4nk j00" The decker coughed in his arms.


"Was that robowoman making eyes at you?" Sticth asked for the thirtieth time.

"NO!" Jolly grunted as he eyed the new comers. As well as a gang of elf posers, there was a gang of Neo-SUer's led by a goblin known as "The Mole", if it wasn't for the need to get out. Jolly would have ripped them apart.

Other then that, mainly elf poser's, Drunks and chippies. Although a small group of people did catch his eye. He hadn't got their names yet, but it was an Ork, A Dwarf and a Ummie. They hadn't said anything yet, byt kept constant guard.

"Are you sure?" Stitch again.

"NO!" Jolly groaned, this was going to be a long escape.


There weren't any more Blackwatch left in the hall... None left combat-capable at the moment anyway thanks to Eva, her smoking Blazer having blasted the last man's head to pieces after the huge .50 APDU slugs ripped through the thin cover afforded by an overturned table. While the Blackwatch were more than capable of handling runners of Chance's and Crystal's calibre, especially since they were lightly armed, they weren't a match for a BWG.

But then there were more drones scurrying into the halls, although the wave of damaged drones carrying their damaged comrades out were slowing down the reinforcements... Chance took the opportunity to hurriedly scramble over to a dead Blackwatch man and relieve him of an assault rifle with built-in grenade launcher. The rifle had been damaged, but the grenade launcher was working fine. Selecting riot-control fast-set foam grenades from the man's bandolier, he loaded and rapidly pumped three of the bombs into the mess of drones. The resultant mass of fast-setting foam didn't kill anything... but it bought the runners some time to think and sort themselves out while the drones dug themselves blindly out of the sticky, slippery mess.

Chance recognised the form of BadJimmy... While he didn't really like the elf crossdresser, both him and Lupus agreed that he was better than nothing. The soldier gave a wave of acknowledgement and thanks as he hobbled back to check on the others.
Crystal had minor wounds on her legs, and Raven had worked himself out of his shock following Ellen's death to come to her aid. Ash herself was already up, having wrapped her wound in a roll of fireproof Nomex bandage from Chance's medical pouch. She started scrounging among the Blackwatch corpses for anything of use.
While Ash could not handle a firearm other than flamethrowers and lasers safely... not without cooking off its ammo, whatever she dug up she tossed to the others. Crystal got a collection of assorted grenades and several magazines of SMG ammo. Raven received another SMG... Thoughtfully, he discovered that if he held both SMG's ready with his off-arms supporting the barrels, he could effectively fire two SMG's at the same time and hose bullets everywhere... although hitting the side of a barn at twenty paces was going to be tricky. Eva picked among the corpses... while ammo for her Blazer was exceedingly rare, she made do with assorted grenades from her kills, a look of satisfaction on her cold face.
Ash ripped off whatever keycards and identity tags she could find, before sliding an autoshotgun over to Chance, who scooped it up and slapped in a fresh cassette of twenty solid shotgun bolts, holding massive armour piercing slugs each the size of a man's thumb and with a recoil to match.

The sounds from outside the hall were becoming ominiously loud. It was time to leave. Chance waved to Badjimmy...

"Which way?" he shouted.

Then he noticed the shape of someone helping an injured form in the hall... A Blackwatch? But then... if it were so, Chance would be dead by then. The soldier didn't waste time on an attempt to mentally probe the duo. Instead, he snapped the autoshotgun to his shoulder and shouted a challenge.

"Hey you! Who are you?"


Frag It. Trapped. He needed to think of something. That was delicate situation which few options aside from fighting were available. And Overmind wasnīt that good at fighting

"Where is she, again?" The cyberkid asked anxiously.

"I... I donīt know... My memory is so bad..."
Overmind cinically winked.
The drone readied the weapons...
Now it was time... to end all of the stuff.
An electric cable near the ground and electricity plugs. Overmind saw it.
And a fire alarm. Maybe he could...
The drone swirled one of the lethal weapons into Overmind. Being as fast as he could, Overmind prevented the drill smashing his head, but blood dripped from the wound in his cheek.

He quickly jumped into a table and pressed the fire alarm.
The water poured into the room.
"I knew it. Those could not afford a waterless fire system for the office rooms."
Sparks. All of it blackened out. While not having the desired effect, killing the drone and the kid by electricity means, it had helped him to give him a chance to escape.

He ran into the lift again, fooling both the drone and the kid, whose cybereyes were still trying to switch to thermal vision.

The vator hatch closed.
"Oh frag..." he said. The shift was being controlled by something else.
"MALL Level you bollock!"
"BEEP... Override code required"
"So... you wana play, eh?"
He grabbed a screwdriver and several tools, and made out a quick rewire of the shift.
"Authorizatioo.o.ooons er.adfesseed"
The almost killed shift comp tipped out.
"Mall level... Please" He asked again.


"Hey, lady Varos... This is so... chaotic." emmie cheered
"Donīt bet on it. It can get worse if those idiots donīt realise of my true strength and try to do ugly things with me"
She laughed cynically.
"But... I am sooo bored..."
She started to sing.


ML stared at the now madman. With her half comatose state... there was nothing much she could do.
Gathering all the strenght she could, she grabbed a gun that was near her, that had been dropped in the confussion.
She lifted the arm with her strength, and aimed.
But, due to the blood loss, her sight was blurry. And her wrist unreliable.
But... what was life without risks!?
The dart fired from the tranq gun directed silently towards Cheevers...


"Hmmm..." Eva thought for a while, while still examining the corpses.
She flipped a cadavre. His head was not there, possibly blown up by her pistol.
An assault rifle? But why a guard would need an assault rifle to handle rioters? It looked like the guards were more than simple guards now...
But the rifle was still in good condition.
She snapped the clip and readied it for action, again.
"Blazers simply wonīt do it at this rythm." she smiled, still watching the weapon.


"Thanks goodness Naomi is too drained to be operated for this."
Wolf thought for himself.
Dr Chakrit wasnīt obviously of his same frame. Wolf could knock the doctor off when he wanted to. But now he was in a middle of an operation. For good or bad... he needed to wait.
Master? What master was Chakrit talking? Was it Hackle?
He decided to do the next step. Ask.
"Who is the master? What master?" He said.
The doctor ignored him.

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