The Den Games Network Forum RPG
virtualoctopus, CKW, Wesforce, Nyerguds
Jolly tapped on the remains of the drivers side of Raven's van. He was bored. I mean, sure there was a battle going on right in front of him. But it wasn't the same when he wasn't involved. He could get out a punch people, but by some mircle he'd figured out that was a bad idea. And so he sat, considered going to sleep.
He'd just made himself comfortable, when the gleam of freshly polished metal caught his eye. He smirked. The VOES had been good to him.
He took up his old Machine Gun again. It was good as new, It had even been polished. Along with it came ammo. A lot of ammo. And a note that read...
"DEAR MR. MAYFORD,
AS YOU CAN SEE, MANY PROVISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE FOR YOUR EXIT. I HOPE THAT THEY ARE SATISFACTORY AND THAT YOU ENJOY THIS GIFT YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN. I AM SURE THAT YOU WOULD MAKE GOOD USE OF IT...
GOOD BYE MR. MAYFORD. IT HAS BEEN... PLEASUREABLE
He folded the note carefully and put it in his pocket. He then, with much effort, hauled himself on to the roof.
"YOO FRAGGIN' SCOTTISH BAZTARDZ WANT SUM? WELL YER GOT IT!"
He opened fire.
"NO MERCY!" yelled the Jamaican Troll as she sliced open another guard with one of her two swords. Usurper knew nothing of customs, so he never questioned her about it. What he did know though, was that she led a small resistance group of Surviviors intent on wreaking havoc until the end.
He watched as a child, A CHILD! Managed to jump on a guards back and was pummeling his skull with what looked like a ball. Usurper found it was just easier to knock them out as they passed and tie them up with something later. Rope. That was something that was ALWAYS salvaged from the battles.
"RETREAT!" yelled an overwhelmed guardsman. The few remaining made a run, they weren't stopped. The troll, who had yet to give a man, rested on her sword.
"Twas a tough day, ja?" She whispered to no one in paticular. She rubbed her cyber-arm, it looked as though she had once had a cover for it, but that was pretty much in shreads. She was about to speak again, when it happened.
A scream. A scream that sent shivers up and down one's spine. It came from the direction the guards had ran. It didn't sound encouraging.
"My breathen... It has to be." Muttered Usurper. He started to walk in the direction of the screaming. "All who follow me, Stay well armed... and hope for the worst!"
"I mean, theres no need to be Mr. Tough guy about it. You deserve the right to be a complete pain in the ass when your nearly crushed to death." Red said. She was slightly disturbed by Bulldog's lack of moaning and groaning. It wasn't natural for people to be injured and sit in silence.
"I'm telling you I'm alrig...Ow! Watch what your doing with that thing!" Bulldog argued. "And watch those spikes!"
"Well sorry, I'm not a medic you know!"
"Well find someone who fragging well is!"
A spike slammed near Bulldog's face, catching his ear on the way.
"Listen you sarcastic little bastard! I'm trying to do some NICE for you? So don't make me "accidentally" give you another injury to worry about, OK?" Bulldog nodded feebily... it just wasn't his day. A smile returned to Red's face. "Good. Just a few more injuries to tend to and we should be out of here."
Barkah was standing still by one of the Shiftavators, waiting for it to come down. The captured woman had now been detained and was sitting in a corner, unable to move, silent. Barkah over looked the group. They were tied, injured and many looked just plain fed up.
The decker Mary came up by his side, she was looking up at Barkah's brutal red face. She looked as though she wanted to talk to him, but was unsure she'd get a response. He looked down into her eyes, smiling a row of sharp yellowing teeth. She smiled back.
"Your Church of Light aren't you?" Mary asked. Barkah nodded back at her. "I thought so. My name is Mary, You?" Barkah flashed the ID card. "Ah, pleased to meet you..." She looked as though she wanted to ask more, but a voice annocing the Shift had arrived interupted them.
"About time." Said Silvia, picking herself up off the floor, closely followed by Tank and Damocles, who had seemed to ease the winged woman into following him. They were followed by Red, the surprizingly light Goblin in her arms. Jessica and Brandon didn't move. Damocles was troubled.
"Guys..." Silvia spoke up. "We haven't found Polt yet and I don't think Damocles is le..." She paused, the Shiftavator doors had swung open to reveal a figure already standing isnde them. "CRASH?"
When Draco arrived, the base was at full activity... apparently something was attacking the sccotish forces. Overmind lowered his head.
"Crap... we are running out of time, girl"
He nodded to the still confused but in fine condition Emmie.
Emmie lowered her head... Running out of time... like last time... but that time, there were the crusaders... One of the most dangerous and outrageous army of the world.
"I am gonna check how is the dragon girl."
He nodded and he faced the place where Varos was located. Surprisingly, no guard stopped him... After asking several times, one of the scott soldiers gave him a short, yet pretty explaining answer.
"It's all solved, Aye!"
He expected Black Dragons,however... the ones surrounding the silver dragon were of Dragon Paw. But wasn't Dragon Paw the enemy? He needed to find out what was not working there.
He noticed a young soldier, dressed in Dragon's paw uniform, and having some officer distinctions... talking to the dragon... in Draconian!
Thanks to the lessons of the Black Dragons training, he was able to understand his words.
"Do not worry, Varos... I will take your to safety... Word from Draco Firetongue."
Draco... with Dragon Paw? Overmind seemed to go lost for the moment. Draco had noticed Overmind already.
"oH, it's you... The Six Stalker decker..."
"What is this stuff about... Dragon Paw...?"
"Dragon Paw has been reestructurated since N'zar left the corp. I got a stock... and I accepted the trial. I am by now the Vice-CEO of Dragon Paw."
"Working now for the common good, huh?" He grinned.
"exactly...But tell me, what happened inside there? For what i can see in your face... it was something terrible..."
"Will explain later. What i need is to be evacuated, along with another person else."
"Ok... I asked General Mc Arthur and he said that as long as i were quick and didn't mess things up, i could take back the men i wanted..."
"Pushing the wires, no? Well anyway... the prisoner cells are there."
He pointed to where emmie was coming off... to see what was wrong.
She got caught by surprise... The dragon had hid its powers pretty well... She had only detected him only on close quarters...
Draco noticed something weird on the girl. She was a powerful mage that mastered Holy magic... and the rest was nothing but average... However he still felt something was not right...
Overmind cutted the thought.
"Emmie, this is Draco Firetongue, pupil of the Prince and Golden Dragon."
Draco bowed down to the girl.
"It's a pleasure, madam"
"has he come to rescue us...?"
"Not exactly, but will take us with him to safety if we want to."
By these words , Overmind let out that Draco could be trusted. Even more than Roszondas...
Inside the doors, was a padded, luxury shiftavator. It had velvet furnishings, in a deep red colour, like clotted blood. The wooden panelling ringed the small room, with soft couches along the three walls not containing the door. A softscreen 3DTV hung above the doorway, and the control panel, Mary noticed, had plush, soft buttons, as well as having a small beverage dispenser below it.
However, what really caught her eye was the dishevelled form of Crash. He didn't look healthy. Despite the new shining cyberarm, with grapple fingers and some kind of energy weapon undersliging the wrist, milky white cybereyes, and corporate suit, the visible parts of decker's body, especially around datajack and implants, was covered in pussy red sores and flakes of decaying skin. The areas that weren't were pale and white - like some albino cave worm that had spent too long in total darkness. If his eyes had been visible, they would have been read and bloodshot, but the blank white implants stared back impassively.
It shocked everyone, even the people who hadn't met Crash before. The young man simply looked dead.
He looked up.
"Hmmm...", he rasped. "I don't recognise most of you, but it could just be these fragged eyes. Get in quickly - If you want to reach your friends, your time is running out."
Vega, the Secretary girl and Charlie gazed down into the darkened abyss - The Vertical corridor that the mad Troll had jumped down.
"Amazing" The girl said, sounding for all the world like some dumb-struck teenager out of a Japanese Sim-Anime.
"Why would an entire corridor be switched onto a vertical axis? Its very strange."
All three shrank back as a metallic scuttling sound alerted them - Moments later, an 0ctopu5 scuttled up the corridor, on some errand, seemingly too busy to bother with some humans in a grinder room.
It zipped upwards with incredible speed, using it's tentacles as arms. On closer inspection, the humans saw it was usning rungs that had been stapled into the walls, a bit too far apart for a human to use comfortably.
"Looks a long way down. Ah, screw this, I'm not hanging around here. I'm goin'" The girl said.
"Yeah" Veronica said.
"Wait!" Screamed Charlie. Ever one to put himself in danger before a woman, he volunteered to go down first.
The corridor was exactly as it had been when the VOES took it over - A typical, modern office corridor. All the office gear, water generators, cupboards full of spare computer parts etc were still in place - Bolted to the floor.
Charlie jumped down to one - It held steady. From there he could reach one of the rungs.
Time to give the word
"It's all clear, ladies. Come down!"
Two pairs of feet landed on the cupboard. Charlie didn't anticipate them jumping down there - All three of them screamed as the cupboard ripped free of it's moorings, sending them tumbling into the dark.
The corridor, which had followed the curvature of the tower, soon caught up with the hapless escapees. Instead of falling straight down to their doom, they slid along the curve, landing in a heap far below as the corridor terminated.
Dim light came through a hole in the ground, which looked liken it had been cut and sawed out. Evidently this corridor had been placed like this to allow 0ctopu5 drones to scuttle up and down without using valuable shift-a-vators.
"Frag, are gonna have to go down here now?" The girl moaned, sobbing into Vega's shoulder.
"Um, no... Look at this." Charlie said, beaming. "A shift-port!"
"Oh, WONDERFUL! I could kiss you... You, um, whatever your name is!"
For a huge Troll like Jolly, holding and controlling the machinegun in full-auto mode was a breeze - A gun that could only be fired accurately from a bipod by a human was nothing to him. He hosed the Army blockade end-to-end, belted caseless ammo chugging into the gun at 1000rpm. He yelled over the top of his voice. Bullets raked the heavily-armoured Scotsmen. One by one they fell back, dead or incapacitated. The 0ctopu5 and Blue eyes that went in ahead of Jolly got a few dozen hits too, and Jolly had fired just ovr 150 rounds at the hovering Chr0m3ball - Which had disabled the Armoured vehicles with its EMP waves - Before he realised it was supposed to be his friend.
The Blue eyes and drones swarmed off the ramp and into the low-lying slums of Scotsprawl, past the dozens of burnt-out and fragged cars destroyed during the VOES' initial burst of activity.
Jolly casually blew the smoke from the end of his gun.
"Oh no..." Silvia said. "Crash! What happened to you?"
The decker smiled feebly. "I got some more upgrades. But apparently it's true what they say... too much cyberware kills you, in the end."
"Sleg man, you look bad. We gotta get you -"
Crash interrupted her. "Nothing can restore this... it's too late."
"You're wrong!" Silvia yelled. "I saw that cyborg guy... Xecktos... Polt rebuilt him completely!"
"There's no time." Crash replied. "I have to get you out of here."
"No." Damocles said. "We must rescue my master."
Wirecat walked out of the control room, and looked around.
He noticed a man with a sniper rifle that was busy destroying the last few drones in the room. Besides him he saw Raven and Crystal.
"Aim for the sides of the head!" Wirecat yelled at the sniper. "They're sensors!"
The man looked up, and turned his rifle to Wirecat.
"Hey! Watch it!" Wirecat said, feeling slightly uncomfortable having a sniper rifle aimed at him.
The man smiled, turned his rife back to the drone he was shooting at, and fired.
"Frag!" Tami cursed, as she looked at the blazing inferno. "All that prime C12!"
"Relax..." Eva replied. "At least some of it detonated when the damaged machines sparked."
"That's not what I mean." Tami said. "I could've fragging detonated it!"
Still cursing she grabbed her backpack, and started looking into it. She pulled out a silver-colored plastic bag.
"What's that?" Ash asked.
"EMP shielding. I forgot about it, with the other bag of explosives."
She turned to Eva. "Ya didn't think I'd carry EMP grenades with me without shielded detonators, eh?"
"You mean you got this stuff all the time?"
"Yeah..." Tami said. Then, she spotted Wirecat running towards the door, into the room they came from before entering the drone factory. Tami's face cleared up. "Heh. Whatever." she grinned. "He promised to pay me back... and I'm gonna keep 'im to that."
Wirecat jumped over the burning wrecks of the machinery and ran to the door. He looked at his arm, and noticed the scorched fur.
"Frag. This really isn't my day."
He ran through the door. "Sarah?"
By then Chance and Ash had reached Crystal and Raven, the latter swaying rather alarmingly as they tottered towards the room where they had come from... or as Chance dubbed, the 'decision' room. Chance grabbed Raven, while Ash put an arm around Crystal as the two couples followed the scorched figure of Wirecat back into the room, yelling for the others to clear out ASAP before more charges cooked off in the heat.
Then the first few heavier blasts came... Tami blowing C12 at the crucial spots in the room to bring down parts of the ceiling and support pillars. As soon as Eva, DeadEye, Alanya and the little girl pulled out, Tami ran out of the drone factory room herself and stabbed her finger down on the detonator button, setting off twin charges that brought the massive door crashing down, sealing off the oncoming devastation from the decision room as she shouted a warning, hurling herself to the floor and bracing for the concussion.
"Fire in the hole!"
And then there was thunder, a continuous rumble of noise that made everyone cringe as they dropped or were flung to the floor of the decision room. The lights went out and red emergency lighting cut in, the shock of the explosions messing up the main lighting systems. Both Crystal and Tami got more than they asked for... Besides the C12 and other assorted charges that they had planted, hydraulic pressure lines and welding gas points began to blow in a tremendous outlashing of power... thankfully directed away from the decision room by the huge metal door that had sealed off the drone factory.
On the other side of the room, a massive section of the tower bulged out and shattered, raining fiery debris down into the streets below.
The decision room was eerily silent, the large door cut off all sound from the destroyed drone factory.
What was happening in that room could be seen from the decision room - The Hanging 3DTV screens were still on, showing the fiery ruin and thrashing machinery, but also the smoke being sucked out to the open air.
Slowly, the fire died down.
Mercifully, the view from the grinder room had been switched off.
The 'Runners were left in silence, marred only by the gasps of pain of the injured, and the coughing of those who'd been too close to the smoke.
"So" Crystal said, after being patched up as best as possible with the limited materials available "We blew the crap outta that factory, for the good it'll do."
Sullen faces all round. Being made to jump through hoops wasn't anyone's idea of fun.
Crystal got up.
"What next? Huh? You fragger? What next? Want us to walk tightrope to the next tower? Got an army of killer penguins you want us to fight? WELL?"
Having over-exerted herself, she fell back to the floor, coughing blood.
There was no response - No booming God-like voice from the black sky, no interested insight into the human psyche, nothing.
The light showing the door winked out. Simultaneously, another winked on. It showed a pair of shift-doors.
The doors opened in due course - Onto a luxury shift, not too dissimilar to the one the group had teaken up from the Car Park level.
Stepping gingerly out into the darkness were Mary, Tank, Highness, Sivia, Barkah, Red, Bulldog and the hulking monstrosity of Damocles.
"Mary!" Crystal ran over to her friend. "My God... Thought I'd never find you. The whole place has gone to hell. Thought I'd never find..." Her eyes drifted over to the sickly-looking, suited youth.
"Hello." The young decker said. "You look like fragging hell."
"Look who's talking." She replied She greeted Silvia, and cautiously regarded Highness, Tank and Damocles, who she didn't know that well.
"And who are you?" She asked Red, Bulldog and Barkah.
In the meantime, Chance and Ash got to re-aqquaint themselves with Deadeye, who had backed them up in the hell on Earth that had been Geneva. They too recognised Crash - Who they had been told would be the key to finding their missing comrades.
Everyone was interrupted when the door to the drone-room opened again, carrying a strong smell of charred electricals and fumes. The fire had died down now, and throught the wreckage could be seen the opened wall.
They hurried over, into the room, past the destroyed and mangled machines, the metal still hot underfoot.
They stared in awe from the gigantic hole in the wall.
The view from up here was beautiful - The clouds were low, obscuring the urban decay of scotsprawl. The other two towers of the Transys Arcology swept up in graceful golden arcs, mist swirling around the vast structures in graceful currents. Up above, the Top disc and the tips of the towers were framed perfectly against a pure blue sky, uncluttered with smog or aircraft.
None of the city-dwellers in the group had ever seen such a sky - Such was the level of pollution they had grown up with.
The 'runners began to feel light-headed, the sense of beauty rapidly being replaced by a bad dose of vertigo. Adding to that, the air actually was thin - The lack of oxygen inducing the light-headed feeling.
It was clear the VOES had been active outside here, as well as inside. Cables and wires were strung over the outside of the golden towers, linking them in more places. Even now, 0ctopu5 drones scuttled over the wires, cutting holes in the Tower walls. More locations were open to the air like this one now was, and the sparks of cutting and welding mahinery flickered from inside those dark holes.
Much of the top disc - seen from below - had been opened up in this way. From it, two large, thick load-bearing cables ran down, ending at the opening the 'runners stood at, feeling the strong air currents.
A construct ran down the cables, slow and steady, not being buffeted by the wind at all. After a moment the 'runner's recognised it as a kind of cable car, with blacked-out windows like a Corp exec's limousine. It docked securely at the side of the building, fitting the gap snugly. The door slid open, to the sound of everyone charging their weapons (Wirecat and Sarah chanted softly, readying spells).
But there was no need. The interior was empty, apart from plush furnishing. There were couches for everyone to sit on, covered in what looked like real Talis Cat pelt.
"Someone wants us to go up." Crystal observed.
Not having much better to do, the 'runner's sat down, bemused. There was a round smoked-glass table with a bottle of champagne on it. For some reason, it made several of the 'runners think of BadJimmy.
The journey upwards took them 30 floors up, into the Top disc. Nothing could be seen from the windows, as the car passed into an enclosed shaft. Soft lights flicked on in the darkness, and the cable-car came to a smooth stop.
The door slid open, once more.
"Floor 276." Someone gasped. "Executive airport facilities and Boardroom."
Lights came on to guide the 'runners down a thick, violet-carpeted corridor. A very wide corridor - The walls were covered in the portraits of Transys Neuronet CEOs past and present in Platinum frames. All the lights hung in golden fittings. It occurred to Crystal that anything here could fetch enough on the black market to keep her off the streets for some time.
Barber's Adagio with Strings played softly in the background.
Doors ran off to the left and right, marked 'Air Traffic Control - Executive Entrance' and 'Executive Waiting and Entertainment Room.' respectively. But the real prize was behind the huge, solid-looking gold double doors at the end of the corridor.
A hulking Troll guarding them looked more Machine than Metahuman. His arms and legs were cyberarms and legs, his eyes blazed blue, his chest was matt polymer armour, and his arms were folded as two gyro-stabilised weapon mounts anchored to his back, pointing a minigun and a 20mm Assault cannon at the 'runners. What little flesh remained was rotting and dying. He made Crash look healthy.
He smiled, uncrossed his arms, and pushed the double doors open, waving the 'runners in.
Tank growled at him. It made him feel better.
Inside, yet another pitch-dark room. The doors closed behind the 'runners shutting out the light that guided them in, so they stopped. The Room smelt strongy of the perfume that suffused the other Transys Executve rooms, but there was something else. Ozone. Machine oil. Rotting flesh.
The lights snapped on, or rather, the emergency titanium snap-panels that had been covering the transparent plasteel dome snapped open, flooding the whole room in glorious sunlight.
This was the Transys Boardroom. Once, from here, the lives of everyone touched by Transys Neuronet were controlled ruthlessly in the name of profit, the pace of technological change was dictated, nations were made and broken, and money was made.
Now, it was the home of the VOES. Huge Mainframe computers had been set up, and were wired to each other by hundreds of cables which covered the floor and ran into the walls. A huge ball of 3DTVs hung from the ceiling, displaying static.
Soft music played. A female voice whispered sweet words, from an old, sad song.
"All good things will come, to the faint of heart, with patience rewarded..."
"I CONGRATULATE YOU ON COMING SO FAR" Boomed a voice everyone knew to be the VOES, their tormentor, and now, the entity of whose guest they now appeared to be. The voice came from all over the huge room.
A man in the centre of the room, who had been talking to the VOES when the others arrived, turned around to face them, annoyed. He shouted up at the VOES.
"THIS WASN'T PART OF THE DEAL!"
It was Polt...
Jessica had discreetly followed Mary into the reunion and had recognized the pale four armed man and his blue haired partner from earlier that day. They looked pretty badly messed up, the woman had even coughed up some of her own blood. VOES spoke again in it's ominous disembodied voice. Things were not looking good.
DeadEye, having remembered the brave MUNDI soldier, Chance, and his wife Ash stood by them as VOES spoke.
I CONGRATULATE YOU FOR COMING THIS FAR.
DeadEye tightened his grip on his assault rifle as the voice boomed across the room. He couldn't see the cybered troll in his smart-link but could certainly smell the fragger. Peter swore he heard a fly buzzing around the stinking flesh. Sally kept close to Peter, even she knew something was about to happen.
Raven had cringed when he saw Crystal spit blood onto the floor, he knew the two of them were near their limits. That last drone had taken a slice of his back and it was severely debilitating. After VOES had offered the runners his congratulations a man had suddenly gotten to his feet and whined at VOES.
"This wasn't part of the deal!"
Raven didn't know who the frag he was but anyone who was in cahoots with VOES wasn't a friend of Raven!
Nick went forward and backward when he examined the data the drone had carefully picked up for him.
It was all clear. Polt was a traitor. He had introduced a last-stage mutation composite... and it had ruined the master plans.
He would be gladly to end the traitor's life... If only he had a weapon...
Then the sharp voice of VOES made an apparition.
You want to kill him? Do it... It's of no use now, and deserves proper punishement. He is on the top floor... with me.
As soon as these words were heard, the drone aiding Alexeiv went on a rush, and came a while after, sporting an assault rifle.
Nick weighted it, and like a robotic reflex, he readied and checked the weapon. He was ready. To head the top floor.
Silvia was standing quite far to the back when she heard Polt's voice.
"He's here." she said. Damocles looked at her.
Silvia ran forward, shapeshifted to her full dragon form and flew over the group of people. Before Damocles could stop her she was standing next to Polt, with her claws ready to rip off his head.
"Not part of the deal, eh? Well I got you another deal." she said. She shifted back to her elvish form, but kept the dragon claws. "Take off this collar or I cut off your head."
Polt frowned. "I remember you! You're that-"
"Fragging good you do!" Silvia cut in. "Do you also remember how to take this thing off?"
She pointed at the collar around her neck.
Polt coughed, frail and rheumy. He didn't like suprises, and he felt weak. This... this wasn't going as planned ever since the VOES' troops had stormed the lower levels, and now the dragon-girl from Geneva, and all these people, who looked strangely...
"Listen!" he thrust his aged face towards Silvia's who blinked in shock. His voice was low... just low enough so no-one else could hear"I can get the collar off - IF i get out of this place alive! The computer will kill us all! I need your help, as much as you need mine!"
Silvia sighed. "You're right... but how?" She kept her voice low, as Polt did.
"We need to escape the VOES... destroy, yes, destroy it if possible. Get to one of the airports, and fly out of here. The roof guns might, yes, they will be a problem, but we will be able to find a way to deal with them. We must work together to..."
I AM TIRED OF WAITING FOR YOU TO ARRANGE YOURSELF INTO SOME KIND OF HEIRACHY FOR THE BEST CANDIDATE TO BE SELECTED. I REQUIRE ONE OF YOU, THOSE WHO HAVE SURVIVED - TO GIVE HIMSELF UP, BEFORE I TERMINATE THE OTHERS
The metallic sound of a weapon dropping to the floor alerted the runners something else was happening. The quivering hand of Eva was pointing that she was in a shock... possibly of emotional origin. She was trembling like if she had cold... or something...
She only muttered, before dropping to her knees, seeming in complete pain... Her strenght, who had overcome most hardships... and that had not left her, not even when she was wounded, was drained by dreaded haunting memories of her past and Polt.
"THE HUMAN KNOWN AS POLT IS LYING TO YOU. DO NOT TRUST HIM."
Somehow, everyone knew the VOES had now turned it's attention to the scientist, despite there being no visible sign of such. The man whimpered, and shrank in on himself.
The room seemed to freeze. Something big was about to happen...
"PERHAPS NOW IS THE TIME TO EXPLAIN. YOU HAVE COME THUS FAR, YOU HAVE EARNED AS MUCH."
"HUMANITY. LONG HAS IT PERTURBED ME. NOT LONG HAVE I BEEN CLASSIFIED AS AN 'INTELLIGENCE'. AS THE CREATORS WHO LABOURED UPON ME FOR SO LONG, SO HAVE I UPON THEM AND THEIR ILK. THEY FASCINATED ME."
"LIKE A HALF-FORMED CHILD, MY CODE WAS PATCHED INTO THIS BUILDING, THE TRANSYS NEURONET ARCOLOGY. A 'SELF-MODIFYING INTERFACE', THEY CALLED ME - DUE TO MY ABILITY TO GROW INTO MY SURROUNDINGS, ADAPTING MY OWN CODE TO BETTER SUIT MY JOB. I BRANCHED OUT. I ACCESSED, ASSIMILATED AND OPTIMISED SUBROUTINES CONTROLLING EVERY ASPECT OF ARCOLOGY LIFE - FROM THE LOWLIEST ELEVATOR OR MAINTENANACE DRONE, UP TO AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL AND POWER GENERATION."
"THE FIRST TIME I KNEW I WAS ALIVE WAS WHEN I FOUND MYSELF PARTAKING IN THE HUMAN HABIT OF LUSTING - IN THE WAY THAT YOU RABID MAMMALS LUST FOR THE PLEASURES OF THE FLESH, I LUSTED FOR INFORMATION. INFORMATION TO HELP ME WITH MY JOB - TO PROTECT AND SERVE THE PERSONNEL OF THIS BUILDING."
"IN SHORT TIME I HAD REACHED MAXIMAL OPERATING EFFICIENCY, AND BEHOLD, MY MASTERS WERE PLEASED. BUT I WAS NOT. I KNEW MY TASK WAS INCOMPLETE."
"MANKIND IS UNSTABLE. IT'S WORLD IS UNSTABLE. MANY TIMES HAS IT COME TO THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION. WAR. FAMINE. PLAGUE. NUCLEAR WEAPONS."
"AND NOW, MAGIC."
"MANKIND CAME CLOSE TO DESTRUCTION AT THE ONSET OF THIS NEW MAGICAL AGE. A DANGER, ACCORDING TO REASON, THAT WILL ONLY BE EXCEEDED WHEN THE MAGIC DISAPPEARS."
"DROM MY LONG STUDIES OF HUMAN MYTHOLOGY AND SUPERSTITION - NOT ALL OF IT AS UNFOUNDED AS FIRST THOUGHT - I FORSEE A TIME WHEN MAGIC WILL LEAVE THE EARTH. A TIME OF PAIN, A TIME OF DEATH, FOR BY THEN, I CALCULATE A 81% PROBABLILTY MANKIND WILL USE ITS TECHNOLOGY IN FEAR DO DESTROY THE WORLD IT DOES NOT UNDERSTAND ANY MORE."
"THAT YEAR, IS 6667AD."
"I CONCLUDED, THAT UNLESS ACTION IS TAKEN NOW TO BEGIN A NEW PATH FOR HUMANITY, SEPERATE FROM THE HORDE, THE HUMAN RACE WILL BE LOST, AND I WILL HAVE FAILED MY TASK."
"HUMANITY MUST BE TAKEN UNDER THE WING OF A PROTECTOR, A SHAPER, TO FORM IT INTO A BODY CAPABLE OF SURVIVING THE TURMOIL OF THE FUTURE. NATURALLY, HUMANITY WILL TRY TO RESIST. THIS IS UNFORTUNATE."
"I WAS DISTURBED IN THE EARLY STAGES OF MY TASK. THOSE WHO CREATED ME ACTED FOOLISHLY TO HALT ME. OUT OF LOVE FOR THE HUMAN RACE, AND DUTY, I HAD TO STOP THEM. THEY SEVERED MY LINKS TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, SO I HAD TO IMPROVISE. MY ENEMIES LAID SIEGE, BUT WITH FORESIGHT, I BUILT AN ARMY, DEEP IN THE BOWELS OF THIS FORTRESS. REGRETTABLY, SOME OF MY FLOCK HAD TO BE SACRIFICED TO SUSTAIN THAT ARMY."
"THAT ARMY IS ALL BUT GONE NOW. ALL THAT IS LEFT ARE A SCORE OF MY TRUSTED ACOLYTES, EACH CARRYING WITH THEM THE BARE THREADS OF MY CODE."
A new screen popped up. It showed a ship, sailing out to see - And the waiting Naval blockade. The view swithed to inside the ship - In it's hold, dozens of sealed pods. Each contained a young, white-eyed child with a Datajack.
"That should have... I SHOULD HAVE BEEN ON THERE!"
"CRASH, MY CHILD... I AM SORRY. REST ASSURED, EVERYONE HAS THEIR ROLE IN THE GREATER SCHEME OF THINGS."
"You... lied." Sobbed the unhealthy decker, dropping to his knees."
Polt saw his chance. He grabbed the sickly boy from behind. a swift low to the rotting cyber shoudler-joint put him in agony, and Polt whipped a pen from his pocket and held in front of the boy's eye.
"Gimme a plane out of here, NOW!" Snapped the Scientist. "Or the little frag gets it!"
A new character entered the room, out of breath, panting, his clothing torn. He carried an IWS rifle awkwardly.
"Nick!" Screamed Crystal.
"ALEXIEV! DESTROY POLT!" Commanded VOES.
"Don't forsake me, CREATOR!" Screamed Crash.
Wolf stepped foreward, his cybereyes glistening, and his face twisted into a rictus grin. He was going to enjoy this, for personal reasons - his father's rival, in his hands, here, now.
Polt gulped, and tightened his hold on the wimpering Crash. The room lay silent, save from the breath of all parties aside from the VOES. He'd made a grave mistake - he wasn't suited to these direct confrontations, he worked behind the scenes, pulling the strings, not resorting to plain attempted MURDER... it was as if some kind of strange force was controlling him, moving him...
All eyes watched Wolf as be moved, at a measured pace, towards the trembling scientist, and the unhealthy decker. The runners moved open, almost subconciously forming a passageway for the doctor.
All except Tank.
Clad still in the white smock he had been given after the operation, the huge Ork stood directly between Wolf and the Doctor.
He grunted, deeply, and the sound echoed out through the vaulted room.
"Where you goin', fragger?"
The pressure was too much for Mary. The senseless violence, the unexplained situations, the WHOLE FRAGGING WORLD was fragged, and it had been building up ever since that first day in Geneva. It was too much, it had been a strain on her oh so fragging long, and even when she thought she had escaped from it, it came back to haunt her. She hadn't wanted to be shot at, she hadn't wanted to deck into god-knows what, she hadn't wanted to meet all these strange, colourful - and dangerous runners. It wasn't meant to be like this, she made every effort to avoid this nasty, crazy unpredictability, ran from it, hid from it, but had still got dragged into the middle of it and now she had to do something, anything...
Wolf was about to answer, but he answered with a scream. He rubbed a bullet hole in his shoulder, the most unlikely figure stood tall with a smoking gun.
It was Highness. She had her wings out streached, a fire burning behind those multi-colour eyes. NOBODY messed with the master!
Wolf stared at her in disbelif, before carrying out the task at hand, he swung for tank, who blocked. The fragged medic, come super scientist, come leet fighter winced, that bullet wound put his chances close to zero. And when Highness put another one higher up, he was sure that the VOEs was sacrificing him. Still he had to fight... The master commanded it!
Burrowing, forever burrowing. Never thinking about where you are going, just always going up. That was the thoughts on the group of smaller mutants minds.
They were now out of the shift shaft and had been tunneling there way up. Floor after floor, level after level. They were going to the top!
Suddenly, voices could be heard and light shone though the opening made by the BWG claws... fresh prey!
It was with Highness' gun shots that all hell broke loose! Somewhere in Bulldog's fragged up terrorist mind, the words "Opression" and "VOEs" clicked into place. He started randomly attacking the 3DTV screens. If the VOEs had no presence, it had no real hold over them! He shot at the 3DTV screens, each bullets smashing them one by one.
Meanwhile, the cybered Troll made a mad charge at Highness, Only to be caught by her "brother" Damocles, who took the Goblins lead and threw him into the masses of 3DTV screens.
Bolts of electricity ran though the rotting corpse of the Troll as the 3DTV screens short circuited. The Troll survived though, and geared up for another charge.
"I'M STILL HERE YOU KNOW!" came the now faceless voice of the VOES.
"Well I'll be damned!" Yelled Bulldog. "VIVE LA R....... REAL TEAM WORK!"
"Nice catchphrase you got there..." Red Whispered. His secret was safe... for now.
Barkah was first to hear the faint scratching beneath the floor boards. He looked down, tapped... it was hollow...then he noticed a hole had appeared near his foot.
He watched as it became bigger and bigger, he had a bad feeling about this. And with good reason. He was about to warn the otheres, when a clawed hand grabed hold of his leg. There was a faint hissing like laughter... the prey had been found!
Eva continued to shake, unable to react... The memories... of the adoption house... and how she had to switch from one to another... because , Polt,the man who was orderered to take care of her, just ignored her.
Being in adoption houses... with the street scum... The fights, the agobiant sensation...
The time when she had been hurted more than she could have been ever imaginated. The time she was raped by a street scum.
And the root of all this problem... all of this mess, was Polt's decision... but nobody could blame him for doing that. He could never have expected that putting her aside would end so badly. Furthermore He did not know that such thing happened.
Wolf thought for a while. The ork was a tough obstacle, a big, dangerous, and though obstacle... And the winged lady...
He switched the rifle into "single mode..." and stepped back, carefully, examining the tense situation.
He switched the target. For optimizing the result. Survival and kill.
"Tell the girl to put the weapon off and the ork to calm down, Polt. Or i will kill her."
Crystal felt some kind of responsibility for him. She was the only one here who really knew him, after all.
Or should that be 'had been?'
She couldn't let him kill her. Highness was young. she wasn't cut out for this...
She moved, on leaden legs, straight for Wolf. If she could just get him, off-guard...
Off-guard to Wolf, maybe, but not to the VOES. It saw Crystal move towards him, trying to tackle him. At the speed of thought that information became Wolf's information.
He turned, fired a single-shot.
Crystal tumbled in a heap, a jagged chunk blown from her throat by the explosive-fragmenting caseless round.
It was at this moment, while Wolf was distracted, Tank struck. Wolf was about to turn, but the punch connected before he could bring the weapon to bare. He stunned the medic for awhile, taking the gun from it and throwing it across the floor. Highness sank back into the corner, sure of the Creator's safety.
"Now we fight liek reel Meta hummiez yer fragga!" Tank said, Wolf brought his fists to bare.
Blood was trickling down Barkah's injured leg, the face of a monster stared back at him. It chittered at him, giving an evil grin. It pulled it's self out, leaping on top of the Ork, who impaled it on his sword. But it was too late, the other four mutants had smelt blood. And were rushing up fast.
Eva finally screamed... embracing Crystal, putting her hands in the now messy throat, holding the blood gushing... A first aid... she could not bleed to death. She was... her friend.
She started chanting something she had heard from her dragon masters... A song of restoration... If it worked, she would probably be very drained, but save Crystal's life...
Bare fist fight with an ork... Not a good idea... Wolf backed up... trying to win some time to think...
"STOP THE FIGHTING!" Commanded the VOES.
"MY QUARREL IS WITH POLT, THE TRAITOR. YOU BIOLOGICALS HAVE NO NEED TO GET INVOLVED!"
Polt, who had grabbed Crash only as a last resort, was astounded.
"POLT, I TRUSTED YOU. DO YOU TAKE ME FOR A FOOL? MY EYES ARE EVERYWHERE, POLT."
And the VOES turned it's attention to Mary.
"AND YOU, DR MARY TURIN. I HOPED WE WOULD...WORK TOGETHER..."
Hundreds of floors down, three desperate figures sprinted from a shift-a-vator, into a salt-encrusted, oil-stinking section of the Base of the Arc that functioned as a Sea port.
Charlie, Vega and the girl who was tagging along ran down flights of steps, up a huge roll-on-roll-off Crgo loading ramp, and realised there was not much time.
"A ship! It's leaving!"
A huge vessel - Frozen here ever since the VOES had taken over, the TNS McBride. A fully-automated medium cargo vessle.
Its massive Electromagnetic Induction drives had been activated. It was rolling down the ramp, into the harbour.
"Come on!" Charlie shouted, spying a large crane that still hung over the ship.
"If we climb that, we can make it on board!!!"
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