The Den Games Network Forum RPG
Page 17

Game Masters:
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds


(virtualoctopus)

"What do you want, Crash?"

The black-coated decker looked at her through his cybereyes, and laughed, shortly, and abruptly, while replacing the glasses.

"Haven't you worked it out yet?"
"How can I? It's chaos out there"
"I mean, Mary, it's so simple. Don't you see?"
"Crash, see what? It's too confusing out there, you don't have time to sit still and think everything out, which the random carnage and the drones and everything else. Hell, they even got Tank, just some puny corp-scum, on her own"

Crash's persona rippled with suprise. This link, to his old life, was not one that he would have expected.

"Tank? Why is he here?"
"Why not. Why didn't you know?
"I have been busy, too busy for keeping tabs on my old life. WHO ELSE IS HERE!"

Crash spat the words like some kind of bile. He had not expected this. Mary was meant to have gone to the decking convention, and been captured by the drones, en masse, with the other deckers for sorting. The unforseen events that had followed it had made Crash's life hard - especially when he had such a special interest in making sure he had some degree of control over the host.

"Why should I tell you, Crash? You'll have to tell me about what this is, first."

Crash muttered something incomprehensible. While he could just wait until the drones sent by his devision to supress the still-free runners had completed this task, there may not be another chance to find out who else was here. One thing the master had not granted even his most promising students was the ability to read minds via the matrix - a trick too complex and dangerous for even the most skilled human decking mind.

Therefore, Crash had to resort to simple bribery.

He clapped his hands, and a small, hovering screen appeared between them. As he moved them apart, the screen grew with it, becoming taller at the same time.

An image of the transys arcology, with the monorail track half completed infront of it, and only one of the towers stretching all the way up appeared on the screen. The other two were skeletons of their normal selves, wreathed in scaffolding and surrounded by various large construction machines, including massive hover-lifters, and more antiquated cranes and bulldozers in the ornamental gardens surrounding the arcology.

"This is the Transys arcology, being constructed in 2051. I'm sure you remember it back then, when you were... 14, or so the record says. This is what the master was created to govern, and what has, ultimately, lead us to where we are now... "

***

Outside the matrix, Bulldog hurriedly booted up the console again, hearing the noise of the shift returning. From the sounds outside, it seemed as if there was another load of passengers being discharged by whoever was behind this, probably intent on reaping more bodies."

He'd be no use out there, not with only one leg. The best he could do was help the poor woman still in the matrix - with what little decking skills he had.

He had no idea what was on this disk, but it was worth a shot.

Bulldog quickly chose a location to appear at - somewhere out of eyeshot of the ICEs, who were standing still, while their leader apparently talked to Dr. Turin.

This might be dangerous, but there was no way they could hurt him, as he wasn't actually entering the matrix. What would prove a problem was if his friends couldn't hold off the guards.

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

"Even after 13 years... the Arcology is as bad as its beginning in the paper..."
Overmind blabbered. The lady next to him, Varos, as the leader used to call her, became interested.

Then he noticed someone else. She was, not human... not even metahuman. He could sense it, as he had been with his race before...

Varos realised it. She closed to him.

"hmm... a faithful servant of the Prince... What are you doing here?" she whispered.
"I am here to sort my life miss. The prince left us with no strong leadership. The Black Dragons are scattered throughout the world... hoping for HIM to return."

"Fine then. As you are a servant of our leader, i should treat you with respect... I am Lady Varos Mawroth, of the silver dragons. But tell me... what happened in your dark past?"

"I used to work for Transys when i still was young. But now i double the age i used to have. And now... Transys finally did it. The ultimate AI. But it has gone out of control... and i need to stop it?"

"Why, why you? You are but a..."

"I am what you see, and what you can't see. I lived with the rise of the decks, and the transition from the laptops to them. There is no decker in the world that can beat 35 years of hacking and decking experience. Problem is, the leader of this... er gang... won't allow me to do my will, unless it is useful to her."

"Will your will help us escape?"

"I will punish the creation... and the creator, and make sure no innocent will suffer."

"OK. Let me take care of her... you know how persuasive is a dragon, no?"

At this point Belinda noticed Varos winking at the goblin decker.
***

"my name is Scottie, rookie."
The female ork gave an answer to the now spiked hair and slightly weird newbie that just appeared.
The recruit stared at her like hypnotized... And Scottie knew why.
Hell knows why, some female orks were quite fairly attractive... even by human standards. In fact, if it were not for the green skin, and the ears, she could have passed as human. She had nothing but slightly sharp teeth instead of tusks.
But then again the colonel Rag... AKA Screwdriver, appeared from the back.

"Sir... we have found volunteers. Looks like the troops like you, mister Firetongue."

SIR? was the colonel calling the rookie sir? Furthermore, was he calling him 'mr Firetongue'? Was he the young dragon who was in charge of Dragon Paw corp now?

She stared in disbelief...
"Ahem... colonel. You don't need to shout my name away and give me the rank of sir. I am but another volunteer who will storm Transys."
At these words Scottie fell from the seat.
"Tran...Transys? again?"
"I asked for volunteers, not soldiers. I am gonna be back. It is a personal reason, so it is not right to use my position to order soldiers to do my bidding."
Wow. She thought mentally. The idea she had of dragons, wich was negative, hence her last CEO, was changed.
"Then I join you, Sir. My boyfriend Riff was killed there, and I'd like to complete his will. Besides, I was thinking that dragons were cowards... but now I see that I am mistaken!"

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

Vega snapped out of the trance. For once. She stood tall. It was time to reveal. No mask were neccesary, as everything was destroyed and nothing was needed to hide.
She pulled the officer gill away.
"Enough of this. I am fine. Now, if you can get me a deck, i will help you get out of this."
The officer jerk seemed surprised to this answer.
"Surprised? It is in times like this when the truth arises. I am not only an officer jerk. I am Vega, the decker... but i doubt you will care about it. Just get me a deck and i will do some hacks to open the doors."

***

"Check this out, Joe" said one of the multiple green-eyed jerk of the office floor.
The other jerk saw the primitive, and obsolote database of employees. A picture of Overmind was displaying.
"Hell, if it is that guy that fooled Crash a while ago while he was in this floor!"
And then, the VOES realized, through its multiple eyes, who was Overmind in truth. An ex-employee of the corp, who had been fired a long time ago...

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

"Right..." Jolly muttered. "DAT IZ FRAGGIN' IT!"

He threw the autocannon, it landed somewhere near Vega, who was working away at some pathetic little task. She froze as the cannon landed next to her. Wondered if the Troll was going to do what the Goblin had done.

"NO MORE FRAGGIN' VENTZ! NO MORE OF DIZ RUNNIN' AROUND! IF AH KAN'T FIND A PATH... Ah'll make one..."

He grabbed a large steel cog, held it by his side. He was so worked up, Squeaky swore she could see steam coming out of his ears. He gave one last roar of rage and then...

CLANG!

The Troll threw himself against the "wall" of the path. He felt his bones crushing under the cog. But still, he went on. He'd climbed vents, been involved in more fights then humanly possibly, hell, he felt dead! Why stop now? He might as well finish himself off!

He stepped back, taking a deep breath. With much effort, he drew himself up to full height and then...

"DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE!!!!!!!!"

He ran, threw himself at the wall, and then he realised...

He was falling.

***

"More will come..." People looked around for the source of the voice, and under the circumstances, nobody cared. They were taking care of the prisoner. Barkah however, Was organising a plan in his mind. He moved forward, picking up one of the guards guns. He cleared his thought, it had been awhile. "Ignore him!"

His voice was like his presence. If Barkah was a rock, he'd be able to stand alone in the middle of a stormy sea. Barkah gave out the guns, one to Jessica, one to Red. To add to her pistol. He also noticed Bulldog's weapon, and gave that to Brandon... just in case. He repeated. "More will come." Then he added "get ready."

Barkah drew his sword, the others realised the meaning of his words, and got into position. Barkah had broken his vow of silence, but under the circumstances, he was sure he'd be forgiven.

***

SPLOSH!

Jolly realised that he was under water. He realised that there were many "things" grabbing him, What he didn't realise... was the importance of his position.

The things were actually squids. A lot of squids. He was in a tank ful of them. They weren't killing him, as he first thought. No, they were lifting him, to the surface.

Jolly was hauled on a little raft in the middle of the tank, he opened his eyes, coughing violently. His vision was blurred. He looked up, all he could see was wires. A lot of wires. Then, he eyes came to focus quite randomly on the hole he had made in the wall. It was already being fixed by many tiny drones. He then faced foward, a giant 3DTV screen lommed over him. A swirling blue could be seen in it.

Jolly, You have finally arrived. I knew you would. Said a booming voice.

"Wot?"

I have monitored you, Jolly. You have been quite resiliant to my will... And death as it seems.

Jolly scratched his head.

"Erm... Yer wot?"

It is a shame, the strongest people in the world, cannot also be the smartest. Shining lights came down on Jolly. THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE VOES!

White circles of light made a slow path across the room

"Oh, da big supa putoor, Right. Gotz ya." Jolly thought for a moment, it hurt. "Whaddya want me fur?"

You are quite fascinating, Mr. Mayford. You seem to never stop, even when it is impossible for you to carry on. Truly a worthy specimen of Meta-Humanity. I wish to study you Jolly, Not kill, just study. There was a pause. Do you like my alterations?

"Yer, Transys is a shit ho..." He stopped and thought about what he was saying. "Yoo did dis?"

Indeed.

"Blimey... Technoolagie sure az got on a bit, eh?" Jolly gave a grin, unaware that he could be killed at anytime. He was, after all, not the smartest Troll on the planet.

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

"... the master, as far as I can tell, is a complex being, far more than either machine, or human, or anything else. He exists on several floors in this building, co-ordinating and controlling all aspects of the building, and, now, orchestrating our coup. Only a few pockets of resistance remain - such as you and your friends - and they will become part of the system soon enough. Once that is done, we have only the future. I have no need to be aware of the master's plans - I am not - but it seems that whatever it's next move will be, it will be glorious and full of profit for those as fortunate for myself."

Mary stared at Crash in disbelief - "You mean that this whole thing is just some crazy computer, in the most cliched plan imagineable, ripping up people in some diabolical and crazy scheme, which even you, as his loyal servant, are not aware of?"

"Yes," said Crash, abruptly, his cyber eyes flashing, "How... insightful of you after all those little hints. Before we go onto my questions, I have to take a moment. Excuse me."

Crash drew up his coat, so it covered his face, and blurred. After a few seconds, his form returned to normal.

"That was just myself opening another persona - I have someone else to deal with, another decker, not one I know as personally as yourself, although she's probably more skilled. I'll be multitasking from now on, but I'll be fine to continue our chat. WHO ELSE IS HERE?"

He's doing two things at once,, thought Mary. This may be my chance.

***

The man returned quickly with a cyberdeck. It was an old model, but Vega could use it fine. Quickly thanking him, the young woman took off her glasses, and plugged the link cable into the terminal, and another between the 'deck and her forehead.

She entered the matrix.

The mists of the artificial highlands rolled around her, but she had been here before enough to know where she was going. Her card of an avatar swivelled, and blinked out of existance, appearing a few metres away. From here, she repeated this feat several times, until she arrived at the door controls.

Here, the lines of blue, wooden doorways, stretched back into infinity. These each reprisented a seperate door in the 'real' world, inside the Arcology's vast network of rooms. All she had to do to open the door, was find the correct one.

With a simple search program, it would be easy, and even easier to avoid the roaming, low-grade ICEs she knew would be here from her previous forays into the Transys network with a bog-standard deception program. Almost too easy.

The search pulled up a result. Door 3451R. She blinked again.

Vega appeared outside the door. It looked exactly the same as the others, with the landscape continuing on either side. Only by opening it would she have access to open the real door.

A white gloved hand appeared next to the card, like the appendage of a cartoon character. It reached out for the handle, and began to turn.

It was jerked foreward, as someone opened the door from the other side.

Crash grinned, as he initialised a REVEAL program, to check his suspicions that someone so quick must be an experianced Transys employee. The card dissapeared, revealing to him a profile, and the 'real' form of the decker, a miss Veronica Gartner, of Cyber R&D 11.

"Hello pretty lady," grinned Crash, leaning back and raising his hands into combat mode. "Wanna dance?"

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

"Crash Override? Hold on, dear"
And so, her persona flashed, revealing a change of appearance. She had been discovered, there was nothing left with the Queen of Hearts username.

Queen of Hearts changed to Vega

Her persona changed too. Now she did looked like a female archangel.


"I am not only a transys employee, Crash. I am Vega."

She quickly loaded the combat programs she could have salvaged, hidden in her body. Luckily, Vega had the stupid phobia of hiding the most powerful... and therefore illegal stuff close to her... in her body.

"Do not push it Crash... Please don't"
She said, while loading the combat stuff, ready for the worst.
The full combat program list included her favourite offensive programs, IMPALATE lvl0, and PHOENIX. She had also a few backuping ICE-deceiving programs.
Still, the main bird was gone. She had no ZEROS.

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

The people in the shift control room knew that the men and drone that had come through wouldn't be the last.

They've got a fix on our position. We won't be able to hold them off! Jessica thought. She wondered how many cameras could be looking at her right now.

She thought she heard a hissing noise...

***

At that very moment, more drones and men were on the way to them, by shift, and others by way of air ducts. Neuro-Stun gas was being released, but it would take time for it to get to the shift control room, and it was unknown whether the gas would affect the one named 'Damocles'.

That was why, along with more Blue eyes, a new type of drone was being dispatched:

The Chr0m3ball.

***

Deadeye and his new companion watched in awe as the motley group was flushed down the drains, so to speak, after their deadly battle with the drones, and the woman who had come up behind them.

Then the darkened 'windows' in the middle of the room had opened.

"Come on!" The girl said. "They can help us!" Half dragging Deadeye, they both jumped down to the still-wet floor. Deadeye fell heavily, not being able to gauge his landing. A snap of pain from his ankle.

Rolling, trying to get his breath, and his view of the new surroundings - Black room, metal grate flooring, spotlights, slight breeze - The girl jumped up yet again.

"Come on! We gotta catch them!"

"Oof!"

"OH! Sorry, you okay?" The girl said, suddenly going wide-eyed.

"Fine, fine... Where now?" He gasped.

Next they jumped into the tunnels - They were wet too, and became an insane, jolting slide. The pipes became pitch black as the entrance closed up ahead. The girl's screaming assaulted Deadeye's ears all the way -

All the way until the moment he fell heavily yet agfain. This time on his ribs - But he had a soft landing.

He had landed on the blood-stained, purpling corpse of Mist Lotus.

Raven and Sarah snapped their eyes open at the newcomer.

***

Draco studied the Newsfeeds. Something else was happening in Scotsprawl now. He sighed.

Unconfirmed reports said that armed figures had broken out of the Transys Arcology - Still no word from what was happening in there. How long had it been now? Days since it had shut down...

A firefight had broken out, caught on camera. Under cover of an illusion spell, five men in Transys Blackwatch uniforms had engaed Transys and British Army forces in the blockade. At least 30 men were dead - No reports of the attackers, though.

His Wristphone beeped.

"Sir.. I mean Sergeant..." Came a wavering voice. We have your jet fuelled and ready for take off. It'll take us two hours to fly to Scotsprawl, sir." Said the Dragon's Paw orderly.

***

Finally, they were leaving the mall. Belinda and Varos and Emmanuette and Overmind. The hulking Redwing and Hachiman were there too, and the hapless Elf-Poser who was acting as lift-key was being slowly mashed into the wall.

"Where are we going again?" Emmie wondered, aloud.

Belinda opened her mouth to speak, when the screen flicked on in the shift.

The face of Elenia - Once a friend, now eternally a enemy - Appeared.

"Who's that bitch?" Redwing grunted.

"I've found you." Belinda snarled.

"No, I have found you. Such a pity the nearest grinder to you was destroyed. Oh well..."

"Stop this fraggin' shift so we can talk woman to woman, bitch!" Belinda spat. The others began to feel uneasy, feeling caught up in some kind of personal tiff. Apart from the silent Hachiman, and Redwing, who laughed.

"Bon voyage, bitches."

The shift lurched in a new dirstcion suddenly. There was a sound like the pop of a tin can being fired from a metal tube. And an eerie sense of weightlessness...

The Elf-Poser kid threw up. Emmie and Hachiman were splattered head to toe in the weightless gunk.

No-one could speak. It was all they could do to hang on - The Shift had been ejected from the Arc building, high in the air. Where it would land, no-one could tell. It could have been inland, or out to sea.

Belinda fired her grapple-arm - The access panel at the roof of the shift exploded off, letting the dull grey light of the Scottish morning drizzle in with the rain.

***

Ash, Alanya, Tami, Wirecat, Eva, Chance and Crystal were in a technological vison of hell. Banks of robotic orange arms serviced myriad conveyor belts, gantries extended floors high up, lights winked, sparks fountained all over the place. They were restricted to the walkspaces at the ends of each of the dozen or so seperate production lines, or if they climbed the ladders to the walkways overlooking each one - A control room could be seen at the far end of the walkways, where a human overseer would have sat in this entirely automated drone factory.

The glass was smashed now, and glistened with blood.

Those Chrome domes that were the centre body section of the 0ctopu5 drones were everywhere. A few dozen of them milled around on their uniwheels, with no arms attached yet.

"Frag, where do we start?" Wirecat wondered.

So much automation... So unnatural... SO... His head started throbbing again, harder. A nature-worshipping Shaman like himself wasn't used to a place like this - The very anathaema of his beliefs.

Lupus wasn't best pleased either, but he took a more proactive stance.

I'm gonna LOVE trashin' this place. He growled. Chance nodded, and saw a good vantage point in the walkways above. But he'd find it hard climbing with his stomach wound.

"Tami, Crystal - Work your tricks on the power packs near the conveyor belts. Eva, Ash, your best at close range. Guard the demo experts. The rest of us will cover you from up here." He barked.

"Yes SIR!" Crystal grinned. She took the C12 Charges she'd lovingly saved from her stocks, nodded at her companion and set off up and down the conveyor belt lines, While Tami took the opposite side with her guard as the remainder clattered their way to the catwalks.

Finally, something I love doing...

"You might wanna take a look at that control room." Chance told Alanya. "Might be something you can do with the comps. Be careful, there might be drones around..."

***

In the Factory control room, drones were waiting. Hunched, agile cat-like figures. One moved it's head as if sniffing the air. In reality, it was gauging the distance between the moving targets and it's comrades using the hammerhead shark-like booms jutting from the side of it's head.

It flexed its three tentacle-like tails, and went in search of prey...

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

"None of that, Veronica. Your goblin friend told me about you, and your other personas."

Crash ran reveal again, as the true form of the decker shimmered back, before he shook his head.

"If it pleases you, stay like that. No problem to me."

Vega flickered back into her angel.

"Good. Now what were you doing here?"

"Get out of my way, Crash, I don't want to hurt you..." Vega's tone was persuasive but kind, and Crash opened his eyes wide in mock terror.
"Hurt me? You could never."
Vega scowled. "Try it."
"Very well."

Vega closed her eyes, mentally preparing herself. Crash copied a batch of useful programs from a secure data store.

"You wish to pass? Then fight."

"Very well."

Vega's archangel drew her flaming sword, and swung it menacingly towards Crash.

Crash booted up Katana of Blinding Doom +3, and spun it up to meet Vega's attack. The blades sparked as they met.

"Good Effort. Next time try harder."

Vega snarled, and stepped backwards, letting Crash's sword past, as she moved away. As the younger decker lifted his weapon, she twirled gracefully around him, trying to catch him with her sword. His katana moved upwards, knocking her blow aside, and towards her body on an impending and fatefully arc.

"PHOENIX!" Screamed Vega, as Crash's sword passed clean through her midsection. The program had booted just in time, reducing all damage done to Vega. Crash's katana splintered, as it came back against Vega's weapon.

"Uh-oh.."

Spinning foreward with vengeance in her eyes, flames trailing behind the Dragonsword, Vega moved in for revenge. Crash, seconds ahead of her, leapt up - arcing over Vega, and landing behind her, as he booted up Shurikens +d6 stun.

Vege turned, unleashing the backlash of Pheonix - all the damage Crash would have done to her, in a blazing storm of tiny firebals. Crash grinned - and, faster than the eye could see, flicked one, two, three, three hundred shurikens into the air with a single flick of his wrist. Each caught a flaming particle, winking out of existance on the matrix combat simulation, reducing Vega's attack to nothing.

"What!" Vega's jaw dropped in disbelief, as Crash leapt foreward onto the offensive, now unarmed, but no less dangerous.

"I am more powerful... than you can possibly imagine."

Vega leapt backwards, desperately thrusting out with her sword, but Crash's hands - unprotected, deflected each blow. Vega, leaping back in greater and greater leaps, crashed through one of the wooden doors, tumbling onto her back, the sword skittering from her grasp.

"Shit!"

Crash leapt into the air again, over the broken door, ready to come down on Vega with the virtual force of 1000 elephants.

"IMPALATE!"

She ran her top program - it was only garuanteed to work once. In a split second, the world flipped for Crash, and he was falling, falling upwards. The sky, previously a misty blue, turned black, the black of a thousand spikes.

Vega watched from the ground, as Crash tumbled upwards to his doom, smiling.

Crash blinked out of the matrix, for a split second, appearing again next to Vega, standing, holding his Katana.

"What! How! That's impossible!"
"Trade secret, my dear. Shall we continue?"

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

"hold on... I may be able to do something..."
Varos jumped off the lift... the magical light shone, and the real form of her appeared.
She saw the lift falling,and with her paws stopped it in its fall.

She engaged her dragon blinding speed searching for a flat land place, clear to land.

***

"Sir... SHE is out of the building. Our astral radar picks a silver dragon"
Draco cheered up. But how did she managed to get out?
"Prepare the jet, we are gonna escort and help her"
"YES SIR!"

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

"FRAG!" yelled Jessica, she knew that hissing all too well. "The bastards! They are going to gas us!"

There wasn't much panic, they were too focused or exhausted to be panicked. Eveybody looked at everybody else. It seemed hopeless.

"Well, I'm not going down without a fight!" She rumaged around in her gun back, pulled out a single gas mask. "Military Standard. I managed to escape with it, thought about throwing it away. Glad I didn't"

Jessica looked down at it, then thought again. She threw it to Silvia.

"You'll be most useful in a fight my dear." She smiled, then noticed, The Ork was up to something again. He had opened the Shift they had come in, he beconed them to him. Of course, the Shifts! If they were lucky enough, the doors would be sealed. Red, Brandon and Jessica piled in. Barkah stood outside, made the sign of the COL then nodded. They closed the door...

The gas started to pour in.

Barkah was the first to feel it's effects, Bulldog soon after. Damocles however, stood uneffected. Trust Polt.

***

Flash back to the tanks. Polt's plan was almost complete. The BWG had undergone their transformation. It wouldn't be long now. They would awake soon.

***

Polt was getting worried. He had seen Damocles. Damocles had come for him, now he could be in trouble himself. Polt turned to his creations, flexed his cyber fingers. He spoke slowly, probably so Highness would understand.

"It is time, yes, time... Time to help your brother, yes. My Other hand. Yes, yes... You, and you. You are both, both my hands, you are to go to help your brother... yes."

He handed Tank the exact location and floor number. He then gestured to a shift.

"You must go now... Help your brother!"

***

Suddenly, the gas stopped. Stopped before it had even started really. Bulldog groaned. His plan had worked. He'd been playing around with the controls, while the others delt with escaping the gas. And had got it. He could have shut down the Shiftavators, if he'd tried. But they were needed for escape.

The main thing was, he'd saved Mary. And probably everyone else.

The Ork barkah also rose, he held his head for a second, then smiled at Bulldog. He tapped on the Shift door.

"You can come out now." He said to the others as he slipped out of the Matrix for awhile, so not to be identified by those damned Grey ICE. Then he went back in... he'd show that decker a thing or two, you mark his words!

The others came out, relived.

"What happened?" Asked Red.

"Stopped it." Explained Bulldog. "Don't know how, but I managed it. One of those one-in-a-million chances that is so far off it HAS to work I guess. Luckily, the gas didn't reach Mary."

"Oh good." Red patted the Goblin on the head and smiled. "Good boy."

"Don't mock me woman..." Bulldog hissed.

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

Vega stood still. She hurt. And this upstart decker seemed uninjured.

"What are you? Who are you?"
"You know my name. I'm not going to grace you with anything more."

Crash moved forewards, for the kill.

***

"... Crystal, Raven, Charlie, 'though you don't know him, Silvia... why do you want to know all this, Crash?"

It took Crash a few seconds to reply - obviously he was directing his attention elsewhere.

"I want to.. meet my friends again, before they die."

Mary watched, as another ICE drifted away, back to it's routine duties. The only way to assemble them and keep them there would take considerable will - which must be, slowly, being directed elsewhere. She'd have to play the waiting game, and keep him talking.

***



"Fraggers!"

Through the gap in the elevator held open by Barkah's foot, Red fired one pistol. Mostly it bounced off the armour of the carapaced blue eyes, but she'd managed to fell one of them, with a shot to the leg. She considered letting Jessica or someone else with a gun have a go, but thought better of it - those fraggers would miss, anyhow.

The monstrous form of a chromeball drone rumbled around outside. A weapon never seen before. It's esoteric and wild destructive capabilities made it an unknown factor in the VOES' arsenal. It was apparently content to let the blue eyes do the job. Apparently no-one had noticed the control room was still occupied.

Suddenly, a larger Blackwatch man, with the same blue eyes, shouldered his way through the crowd. He looked like a shaman, with his large metallic staff, and carried to logo of the Transys Magicorps.

"Ok ya we bairns! Lemme handle this!"

Red grimaced. She didn't like magical fraggers - too much weirdness for too little loot. Maybe she should let with the others do something about this.

"Ok, I need to reload. Someone else have a go!" she stepped out of the way, and pretended to reload her weapon. She noticed the controls.

"Uh... guys... we are in a shift, after all, why don't we just go up or down a floor?"

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

The shift shattered around Varos as her now unconstrained true form extended it's wings. Just about aware something was happening, The others clambered onto the back as she suddenly lengthened into a huge Silver Dragon.

"Holy FRAG!" Emmanuette screamed. The part of her that had once been a holy man winced at the blasphemy. Redwing , Belinda, Overmind and Hachiman clamped themselves to her gnarled back as she pun free of the wreckage.

"Agh!" Belinda was screaming. "AAAAIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!"

No-one else knew, but this was the first time she had ever been exposed to sunlight. Her cybereyes' Flare compensation kicked into overdrive, shutting her eyes completekly. She screanmed at the pain of her buring skin - Losing her grip for a moment. But her cyberarm grapple shot out, wrapping around Varos' tail securely.

"Yeee-HAAAAW!" Redwing yelled. "TAKE US TO THE AIRPAD!" He was having the time of his life, and he wanted to have another go at the blue eyes.

The Elf Poser kid was fiightened unconsious by now - Hachiman held him onto Varos' undulating body.

And then the Transys Arc started firing. Computer controlled guns let rip streams of tracer rounds at the dragon, who ducked and dived, trying to avoid them.

Lines of bullet hits snaked up her back, holing her left wing. Emmanuette was hit by shell fragments bouncing off her scaly hide as the guns continued their insane barrages. Point defence rotary cannon, normally used for intercepting supersonic stand-off missiles.

Varos screamed an incantation in her Dragon language as she tried to avoid the fire, more shells striking her, following her movements. She was bleeding now, but for her these were only flesh wounds.

Suddenly a shimmering silver-transparent bubble popped up around her. A force shield. Immediately the rain of cannonfire ended - Shells exploding off the barrier all around her. Then came the deafening crump of a SAM as it too hit the shield. Varos fell through the air, but was able to recover.

She spotted a flat playing field in a stinking Scotsprawl suburb. Unknown to her - The surrounds of the city were evacuated.

She wondered where all the air traffic that was normally present in human cities had gone - These skies were seemingly completely clear.

She dived down, almost vertically, heading for the field. The gunfire had stopped now.

I... I MADE IT! She thought.

"WOOHOO!" Screamed Emmie.

"TAKE US BACK! TAKE US BACK!" Screamed Redwing.

Hachiman was silent. The Elf poser kid had fallen off somewhere, unnoticed, uncared for.

The laser on the Arc's roof fired.

Powerful enough to bring down the most modern fighter-bomber aircraft, with a range of almost 300 miles on a good day, the laser had little trouble homing on it's new target.

The grey Scottish morning was split by a searing blue-white beam. Varos had no time to react against the light-speed weapon, which being purely energy, passed right through her preojectile barrier.

It sruck her back, scoring right down to the bone, before tracing a blackened, charred line across her, vapourising the screaming Hachiman's legs on the way, then cutting almost all the way through her left wing-joint.The joint could no longer support her weight.

She fell, straight down, screaming cargo and all.

The impact was bone-shattering, fracturing the dragon's skull. Belinda, Emmanuette and Redwing were thrown to the ground, but their falls were broken somewhat by Varo's bulk.

The crash site was soon met by a convoy of Green Army Landroever 2046s. Armoured soldiers from the Royal Scottish Borderers fanned out across the area.

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

"Very good," grinned Crash, dancing in and out of Vega's spinning blades. "You learn fast - one might even guess that you're trying to hit me now!"

Vega snarled, sweat running down her real-life face, as well as her online persona's. No matter how hard she was trying, the bastard decker always got away. Her flaming sword was burnt down to a shadow of it's former self, and her IMPALATE disk had been corrupted beyond recognition. As she fought onwards, through the field of doorways with the hideously powerful Crash, it was almost as if he was only half paying attention to her.

Booting up another program, she readied herself, and lashed out, the sword springing back into life with an unearthly green fire. This time, Crash was a second too slow, and the sword caught his stomach - instead of peircing, it dealt him a bludgeoning blow that sent him smashing through two doorways, and landing in a crumbled heap against a third.

In the arcology, the controls smashed by the matrix-fighting, two of the doors to the grinder ground open.

Vega advanced, victorious.

***

Crash blinked.
"So what is th... Oh!"

Crash flicked back again, his hair looking slightly ruffled, and missing his glasses.

"I'm sorry Mary, but I have to... I'll be right back."

Crash flickered out, dissapearing from Mary's view, and the ICEs, sensing no threat, and no longer bound by Crash's will, departed.

Mary sensed her chance, and prepared to boot up her disconnect.

Wait a minute. Why are you doing this? This is Crash, your friend, he hasn't hurt you, has he? You should try and get him out, help him, sure, he looks healthy and happy, but he's not. Get out in shame, or help him, with the knowledge that you did.

Mary hated momemts like this. It was the indescision, and the way, that, which ever way she took, she knew she's never be able to achieve the other. If she disconnected now, she'd save herself, but leave Crash to the horrors of the VOES. And if she didn't, she risked losing it all, if Crash couldn't be saved.

Head spinning, she booted up another program.

***

Crash groaned, and got up. That hadn't been meant to happen, he would have - he could have dodged that blow any time normally. It had only been his backup, and sub-standard LESSEN program that had saved him, and only by a fraction. He'd even probably now let the Turin woman go, when he still had to learn the location of her friends from her.

Could it be leaving me? Doubt raced through Crash's head, being quickly dispelled. No. Of course it couldn't.

He leapt to his feet, and over Vega's weapon. The woman obviously thought he was beaten - although that was impossible for such an Elite agent of the VOES.

Vega spun, shocked at the sudden counterattack, and blindly swiped at the airborne form of Crash. Crash let this through with another, and the weapon swiped straight through him.

He landed on his feet, opposite the panting Vega, with the hollow frame of one of the blue doorways between them.

"Ok lady. I'm sorry to cut our little date short, but I really have to go. I guess I'll see you around..."

As Crash talked, he loaded the ANNIHILATE program. It was strictly restricted, and incredibly complex. Slowly, he clasped his hands together infront of him, in a small ball before his chest.

It had one purpose.

To completely destroy the living spirit of it's target.

Vega, in her last reserves of spirit, charged, blind with black terror, and raising her sword high.

Crash frowned, and opened his hands. A thousand firey dooms flashed outwards in a blinding flow of pure data.

Vega barely had time to open her mouth to scream.

***

In the grinder room, Vega's body had began to smoulder. Even the office jockey who had found her the cyberdeck, who was trained in first aid's efforts to revive her failed, although her heart did still beat.

Faintly.

***

Crash flicked back into existance infront of Mary. He looked tired, and shocked.

"You're still here?!" His eyes went wide. "You could... I mean, of course you couldn't have disconnected."

Mary nodded, as Crash, panting, gathered his breath. His ICE-slaves were gone now, as was much of his smarmy, plastic online persona.

"Well, thanks." The decker grinned, showing, somehow, part of his old, offline character. I guess I better..."

Before he could finish the sentance, Mary had activated the program. A small, white-iced cupcake appeared in her hand, with a small red cherry on top.

Stepping foreward, she forcibly stuffed it into Crash's mouth.

"Deception program, level 5! You designed it yourself!"

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

"Is it ready?" Al-Ralaf asked one of the many Goblins hovering around him. He nodded. "Good, Jolly good."

"What are we going to tell them, sir?" Asked one of his 5 man team.

Al-Ralaf took a deep breath, closed his eyes. Slowly opening his mouth and uttering the words,

"The Truth."

The other Goblin's mouths hung open. They weren't used to that word.

"Is that, well...erm, wise sir?"

"Belive me lad, in times like these...The Truth is best. Now, everything is ready, yes?"

***

In the homes, assuming they had one or indeed were in their homes, of many Goblin's around the world, a radio crackled. Gobboz around the world listened intently, Al-Ralaf was about to speack.

"Brothers!" The words were a normal start. But the next bit wasn't a usual follow on. "And Sisters alike! It is sad news that I bring to you today. Very sad. It is with deepest regret that I bring you this news, so I will brake it as easy as I can.
Many of you are awhere of the situation in Scotsprawl with the Transys Arc. No doubt the ones in... Higher postions are also awhere that some of our agents were inside the building at the time of Lockdown. What has happened to them, is as yet unknown. But let me tell you this..."

There was a pause, as if something was happening behind the microphone. What really puzzled vetran GOTN was the lack of gunfire and screams. Then, Al-Ralaf spoke again.

"One of our fine agents in that building was known as Agent Bulldog. No doubt many of you have known, and indeed worked with him in the past. I am sure many of you have strong connections with this true veteran to the cause. Along with him, is agent Grind-Storm. Who is also a valued part of the Organisation. Let me now tell you this. It persoanally pains me to see two fine forms of a Goblin die. No, scrap pains, it ENRAGES me! This will not hold Brothers and Sisters! These people did NOT die in vain!
I urge each and everyone of you, in memory of the lost, to make the opressors PAY for their crimes! It doesn't matter who must suffer in the process, It doesn't matter about economics and Polotics behind our actions, all that matters is that are commrades are avenged!

VIVE LA REVOLUTION!!!!!!"

***

Al-Ralaf made a motion with his hands. The five Goblins moved to clear the equipment fast. It was time to move... again.

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

"OH MY GOD!" Screamed the Green Haired Secretary. "SOMEONE! HELP!"

Charlie was sufficiently close to the young girl to have his eardrums all but blown out by the deafening screech. He bolted and knelt next to the smouldering body.

"She isn't breathing!" The Secretary wailed.

"Hang on, theres a pul-" Charlie tried tio say, but he was cut off.

"We have to try heart massage!" The secretary said, ripping open Vega's blouse. She looked at the naked chest, wondering were to put her hands.

"Umm... Maybe I'll just try mouth to mouth..."

She put her face next to Vegas, opened her mouth...

The girl was breathing...

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

Emmie stood at the big dragon.
"Now... Priest Emmanuel... Show your best... Use the healing light... Maybe we can do something"

She started to chant... a really powerful spell... Others glared at the now mana cracking sparks that surrounded her
The surroundings darkened for a while, when a powerful lightbeam struck the dragon from the sky. WHenever it hitted, the part of the body glowed... and started to regenerate.

Emmie seemed to faint, and fell in a heap. He had thrown her best healing spell... Would it suffice?

It did not. However, Varos got healed enough to regain consciusness and start to heal on her own.

***
Ironically, the old deck had saved her. The lag of the old model had paid off, and a moment before the world collapsed, the deck overloaded and force disconnected. Force disconnection was not a pleasant experience, but it could have saved her life... and mind.
Vega was still shocked of the attack, and was faintly regaining her normal state. By now, she was unconscius.

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

The Land Rovers pulled up all around Varos - The Dragon had left a wake of destruction in the slum-like Scotsprawl housing when she hit.

Belinda ran off into the urban decay - Hiding from the light as much as the soldiers. Redwing was in no condition to move as the men dismounted from their vehicles.

"Halt, aye! Noobody move or ah'll fraggin' shoot ye's!" Screamed a Corporal. The men wore full-military armour - Enclosed suits made from KevlarIII and ceramics that fitted in flexible plates, full-face helmets with matt-black visors, much like Corporate Heavy guards, only even tougher. They were in standard Urban Camouflage, over which their webbing harnesses clinked against their armour.

8 stocky men with SA80A5 rifles and Under-barrel grenade launchers scanned the surrounding area with their Thermographic visors, while the men with heavier weapons covered the huge fallen form from the 'Rovers. An army Firedrake attack helicopter skimmed down the street towards the field - The slum housing blocks blocked the Arc's view of it from here.

Redwing was hauled away, screaming all the way but unable to fight. Emmanuette and Overmind were arrested too, while the Corporal screamed questions at them over the sound of rotor blades.

"WHO ARE YE? WHAT ARE YE'S DOIN' 'ERE? HOW DID YOU GET OOT OF THERE?"

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

"Let me have a go!" Silvia shouted, suddenly buoyed-up with enthusiasm.

Half-remembering an old spell she had read at her Father's house years ago, she began to chant, waving her hands in a circular mostion, taking cover behind an aquatank.

"Och! Shoot the fragging Mage-bitch!" Said the Transys Shaman. His guards responded immediately. An instant later the tank was spilling it's contents all over the place. One Blue eye was washed under by a torrent of marine life, a squid wrapping itself around his head as his impetus got him in the way.

Silvia's energy built-up quickly. Her pronunciation of the arcane words was all over the place, but she had an advantage over the Transys mage. She was a dragon. Magic was within and without her - her Dragon half wouldn't exist without it, after all.

"C'mon c'mon!" The Shaman said. He was racing against Silvia to bring his own spell into play. Sil didn't know what it was, but it wouldn't be good.

Suddenly a large hulking shape was in front of her. A burst of SMG fire ripped across Damocle's chest as he took the bullets meant for her - Then, mercilessly, he skittered forward and ripped the guts out of the floord Blue eye. His blood and bile mixed wth the stinking aquaculture fluid. The man died with a squid choking him.

Damocles charged forward again - The Shaman aimed his staff at the living weapon. A blue bolt snaked out.

SLAM!

The bolt hit the shimmering energy bubble that popped up around the guards. Damocles too hit the barrier, being flung back into the shattered ruins of the tank.

"Frag! Manabarrier!" Gasped the Shaman, slapping a hand to his forehead.

"Och, I'll break the fragger. You jocks - Nail the suckers! It won't stop ye bullets!"

The gaurds contained for now, Sil and Damocles dashed back into cover as bullets kicked up alla round them.

By now the others were out of their shift - Just in time for another shift full of guards to ping open.

Slamming another clip home, Red jabbed her gun through the half-open door - oddly, the opposite from the situation she had just been in, her firing into a shift now.

Red could hear another magic-user chanting away in there. The air took an oppressive feel - Like pressure building before a storm. She slammed another clip into her gun and fired blindly through the crack of the door - A man grunted in pain inside. The chanting stopped.

Heh. Scracth one fragging wiz-worm. The blue fraggers are fast enough. Pity they've got no room to dodge.

Crammed in, the Blue-eyes had no choice but to try and force the door. Red was firing again - Then her arm erupted into flame at a concussive shout from the shaman inside as he released the mana into a localised fireball. Localised on Red, his only visible target.

Barkah dragged the screaming woman aside as Jessica thought fast - With Red gone, the Blues had gotten their fingers around the door frame and wgere hauling it back. She looked at the prisoner - He gave her a maniacal grin, blood spitting through his teeth.

She spotted the Grey cylinder hanging from his uniform, tore the flashbang off - pin coming away in the process - and lobbed it into the Shift.

The Flash didn't affect the Blues and their cybereyes. But the bang - or BANG - itself loud enough to stun a human enough to put them out of action - Was devastating in the enclosed space. Blown eardrums all around.

As one the men fell back, covering their ears - So did Red, Barkah and Jessica, stunned by the blast. Only one guard still tried to prize the door open.

Bulldog was prepared, however.

Emergency shift door control The screen said.

A moment later the door swished shut on the blue eye. Ten Black-gloved fingers dropped to the control-room floor.

Bulldog wasn't finished yet - On his console, he'd just seen a shift forcibly ejected from the building...

***

One of the Highland soldiers on the ground outside, in the shadow of the monolithic tower, had just bundled Redwing into the back of his 'Rover - When a loud Pop sound caught his attention.

A small Cylindrical object had been fired from the Transys - Fragging - Arc.

"Bluddy hell..." The 19-year-old soldier muttered, as the ever-present Arc guns opened up again - Obviously on autofire mode. The Shift exploded into pieces upon receiveing hundreds of cannon rounds.

"Its raining elevators..." He told his comrade.

***

One down Thought Bulldog. But I bet there'll be more fraggers on the way, or you can call me George WWW bush...

***

The Chr0m3ball, a much more valuable asset than the Guards that were in the shift, had made it's escape by rolling around behind the aquatanks, and up the walls. Being completely un-alive, it was able to roll inexorably through the manabarrier while the Guards and 'runners battled, and now hung, magnetized on the ceiling, directly above Silvia and Damocles...


***

Crystal had fixed small charges to around half of the massive banks of machinery down the corridor she was running. She was working quickly, but as carefully as she could. You don't become a 'demolitons expert' (as she was sometimes called by people who didn't know exactly how skilled she was at this stuff) by blowing yourself up.

But she thought she was doing pretty well. No time to screw about, up here.

"Hey, how you doing, Tam -"

She trailed off. Tami was far ahead of her.

Damn damn damn! Getting slow...

She redoubled her efforts, Eva hovering over her.

"Trouble." Eva said, simply. Crystal looked up -

As the Metallic Three-Tailed Hammerhead robocat and it's dozen buddies hurled themselves straight at her, Eva, Tami and Ash...

Up on the gantries, Chance was busy fighting off another round of techno-nausea when Alanya, up ahead, screamed in fright...

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

Nick walked down the endless corridors, the ones leading back to the luxury flats. He'd just had a meeting... About the BWG. The master wanted them ready, and soon. He had pointed out that it would take a week for them to be fully operational, but patience is not the Master's strong point.

So here he was, unsure what on Earth to do. He opened the door to the BWG room, a shiver running down his spine. He looked at the tanks, something was wrong. He walked over to the nearest tank, he touched the glass. There was no green liquid in the tank, just what looked like... flesh. Was that possible?

"What the... HOLY SHIT!!!!" Realisation dawned on the one who used to be know as Wolf, he went to run. But it was too little, too late.

The Tank exploded. Showering Nick with shards of glass and sickly liquid of a dark red colour. He was just about to move, but he was too late.

And suddenly...it all went dark...

***

A grotesque form, not so much slithered, but overflowed from the tank. If Wolf hadn't have been underneath it, he'd have seen what was basically a blob of flab, mould it's self into a shape. Like clay at the ruthless hands of an ametuer potter.

A neckless head, with one red irised eye, a large gaping mouth with no visible teeth and no visible nose appeared like a dome atop what could pass for a body. Just below it, two long, flabby arms emerged like a turtle from a shell below it. At the end it's stubby little fingers, 4 long, sharp, sharp claws. The rest, was just flesh. You could argue it looked like an American who thought McDonalds was the greatest place on Earth, beside it having blue skin.

It looked around, the others were breaking from the tank. Everyone was different... everyone an abmonation. Eleven mutant BWG, with various deformaties that would give you nightmares. Like one, we shall call him Toxin for now. He is like a skeleton, every bone and organ visible though a thin layer of skin. It stood there, chattering away, drooling an acid like bile that burned the floor.

"Oo Lar dy, KAN!" The broken speech of first mutant came, it licked it lips with a tounge of inhuman length. The other mutants chattered, squealed, grunted or roared. And then, they rambled out.

The mutant, who we will call the slob, turned his head at a 360 degrees (no neck bone), it then dug it's claws into the floor boards, using it's arms to pull it's massive bulk along. Leaving Wolf behind, a little dazed...

***

"Ugh..." Wolf shook held his head. Whatever had pinned him, had gone. He was lying on a bed of glass, several cuts and bruises all over his body. He gave another groan, and got up. He looked around, all the tanks had, one way or another, been burst open. It was a mess. His boots crunched glass as he walked over to the console. Yep, All gone... Except for one. Tank Number 13. Project Usurper. He slowly walked over to the tank. Sure enough, there was one in there, but he was mutated beyond belif.

He examined the poor figure that used to be an Ork, now Nick didn't know what he was. It had two heads, but only one seemed to have eyes and the other a mouth. Nick's glace was then drawn to it's arms, there were THREE of them. Two normal lenth, one in the normal place and the other growing from his back, on one side, and a longer one on the other. He also noted that where flesh should have been around the waist, were only a few, what you could call strings of flesh that held it to the lower body. A sudden fear of it ran though Alexeiv, he was about to run off and grab an Axe or something, when the eyes snapped open.

It was the eyes. While the rest of him was basically a monstoristy that you wanted to kill, the eyes told a different tale. They looked... peaceful. Wolf could sense himself wanting to let the creature go... but what would the master say? The crature pressed it's hand against the glass, Nick felt his own press against it.

Could it really hurt to let such a docile looking thing out?

He walked back over to the controls, flipped the release switch. The deep red liquid drained away, the glass parting. The form lumbered out.

"Thank... you." It choked in a groggy voice, it walked up to Nick, grabbing hold of his hand in a friendly gesture. "You... Make me?"

"Partly." Replied Wolf.

"Help me... We must... " It looked around with it's Seeig head, the speaking head faced towards Wolf. "Stop others."

"I cannot help you!" Nick protested, his duty to the VOES kicking in. "I must do as the master commands, I must destroy you then work on more!"

"You have... no choice. Please, Do not... resist." The mutant Nick knew only as Project Usurper, lifted him onto it's broad shoulders. It steadied him with it's two smaller hands, the large one dragging it's knuckles against the floor. Nick tried to wriggle out of it's grasp, but it had an iron grip... it was a BWG after all.

***

MAY I OFFER YOU SOME TEA AND CRUMPETS? the artifical voice of the VOES boomed around the metal cavern Jolly was sitting in.

"Dat wuld be splendid my deer ole chap!" A silver tray, with two tiny tea cups and a small kettle appeared. A trained squid poured Jolly a cup of herbal tea, Jolly sat back and took a crummpet.

"So, wot now?" Jolly inquired, blowing his tea to cool it down.

THEY SAY THAT GODS PLAY GAMES WITH THE FATES OF MEN. WELL, DO YOU FEEL LIKE A GOD, MR. MAYFORD?

Another 3DTV appeared, on it were the BWG, now running riot, and serveral Guards and Drones. Each one was like a playing piece.

"Nah, Unless yer askin' if ah'm da god of... well yer know, or dun't yer do dat thing? Bein' a supa oopter an' all?"

The 3DTV dissapeared.

VERY WELL, WE WILL PLAY ANOTHER GAME THE EPIC GAME OFF...

A black and white board appeared in front of Jolly.

CHESS!!!!!!!!!!

The artificial laughed of the VOES boomed around large room.

"Bit mello Damatic ain't it?"

SORRY... FORCE OF HABIT...

***

"Common Noddy! We got Fraggers to fry, Aye?"

"Aye, Aye, Lemme just tie me shoe!"

"We ain't got all fraggin' day yer bugga!"

The two crop guards stumbled though the halls. They had, had a desprate call to go up to the Shift control room, ASAP! They were running to the nearest shift on it's way up there.

The two guards leaned on the wall, puffing and panting. There was a ding like noise, the shift door opened. The form of Tank and Highness Stared back at them.

"Oh Shit... " Was the last thing Noddy ever said.




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