Vorcium: Chapter 5: And Justice For All (First Third)

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Vorcium: Chapter 5: And Justice For All (First Third)

Post by DEWM NINJA on Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:04 pm

VORCIUM
CHAPTER FIVE: AND JUSTICE FOR ALL

BACKTRACKING
Yuri pushed open the door to his bedroom, his eyes still tired. He looked to his left and right, both doors reading “Maximus” and “Mac” respectively. He walked further down the hall into a room with a table, and behind it, a great view of the city below. He put on his jacket, and walked down to streets below, before sitting down on a bench and twirling a lighter. A Knight soldier walked up behind him. “Sir, you asked for a report on the others?” The soldier asked. “Yeah. Go on.” Yuri said. “We’ve got no word from them. Absolutely nothing.” The soldier said. Yuri sighed and got up from the bench. “I told them to contact me as soon as they reached Earth, they should have contacted me hours ago.” Yuri said, angrily. “Do you have any orders then, sir?” The Knight asked. “No. Just hold out. Continue normal operations. The normal stuff. For now.” Yuri said. “Right, sir.” The Knight said. Yuri looked up to the sky, at the moon, still out despite the sky’s daybreak. Yuri took a deep breath of the air, before walking onwards. A Knight scout ran quickly past Yuri, carrying a tower of boxes, though stopped immediately upon seeing him. “Yuri! Sir, I’ve got this here, a letter, for you.” The Knight said, putting down the boxed and reaching into a pocket to pull it out. “I kept it in the important bin, as you could see.” The Knight said, jokingly. Yuri took the note and nodded at the Knight, who quickly picked everything up and began running again. Yuri tore open the note and took a look at it, before squinting his eyes and looking around nervously. He crumbled the note up and put it in his jacket’s pocket, before quickly walking towards the exit to New Aberdeen.

THE MEETING
Yuri walked up to the front gate of Rikers, alone. He opened the gate from the outside, and walked into the prison tower, alert of his surroundings. Most of the lights were off, the place seemed abandoned for some time. A single figure sat, leaning against the wall, as they watched Yuri walk in, weapon prepared. “You’re here, finally.” The figure said. “You’re Astaroth?” Yuri asked. “Yeah. Stupid name, I know. All the Hellwalkers base their names off of demons from religions, to sound cool or something. I’m not too into it. But I do it to fit in.” Astaroth said. Yuri walked up to him, weapon still prepared. “There’s no need to be so cautious. This is no trap.” Astaroth said. “I remain cautious for a good reason.” Yuri said. There was a silence between the two. “So you’re the one who sent us those letters. That was so long ago… Why did you stop?” Yuri asked. “They were onto me. I thought the security would lighten up. It never did. And I took a huge risk messaging you this time. I almost got caught so many times. And it’s still not over. I feel like throwing up due to the fear of getting caught, of what Nikola would do to me.” Astaroth said. There was more silence. “Regardless, I want you to know, no matter what, I am on your side. And if you ever finally put a stop to the tyranny of Nikola and Adamska, I am your best bet towards being the new leader of the Order of Demons.” Astaroth said. “I’ll keep that in mind.” Yuri said. After further silence, Yuri turned to walk away. “Wait!” Astaroth said. Yuri quickly turned around, ready to fire his flamethrower. “There’s one more thing. The Malebranche, their formula, all their data, is here. See the Demons only moved to Radio City for about a month, same plan with their bunkers, that’s why everything is still there. But if we act right now, we can delete all data of the Malebranche, their formula, destroy all contained versions of the disease. Erase it from history.” Astaroth said. “Now you’ve got my attention.” Yuri said. “Or, alternatively, you can reverse the formula, add a couple different variables, and make an antidote. People will become resistant to the Malebranche, no matter what. Of course, that won’t stop Malebranche from killing people still, but it will stop their numbers from growing. You can’t choose both, though. As long as there’s an antidote, the Demons or any others could always reverse the formula for the antidote and recreate the Malebranche any time they want.” Astaroth said. “I’ll keep that in mind. Now, take me to it.” Yuri said.

PLAGUE SLAYER
Yuri pressed a button to open a hatch in the ground, and jumped down with Astaroth behind him. “It’s a straight path to where we need to go. Not much more to it than that.” Astaroth said. As the two walked, they noticed a Malebranche stumbling along in the thin hall they were in. “They must have placed these ones here to keep others away. You can handle a Malebranche, right?” Astaroth asked. Yuri shook his head, before pulling out a machete with its blade a dark red in heat. Yuri swung the Machete across the Malebranche’s neck as it came into position, leaving behind a steaming, cauterized wound in place of its head. “Well, that’s neat. What is that?” Astaroth asked. “It’s a heated machete.” Yuri said. “What’s its name? Every good weapon has its name.” Astaroth said. “It’s called Podgorat.” Yuri said. “Odd name...” Astaroth said. “It’s Russian.” Yuri responded. They spotted another Malebranche ahead. “Mind if I take this one?” Astaroth said. “By all means.” Yuri said, as he slowed his walking to allow Astaroth to take the lead. Astaroth pulled out a battleaxe, and swung it across the Malebranche, bisecting the creature. “More messy than what I did… but suitable.” Yuri said. The two continued into a large chamber, with a single computer sitting in the middle. Yuri walked up to the computer, pressing some buttons. “Ugh, what operating system is this? It looks horrendous!” Yuri asked. “DOS.” Astaroth responded. “Never heard of that one.” Yuri said. “It’s about three centuries old.” Astaroth said. Yuri pressed a few buttons, before locating all the saved entries of the Malebranche. “So… Who would’ve thought. Half of the apocalypse ends in the press of a button.” Yuri said. He pressed a button to delete all the files, and they were erased in a second. “How about th-” Yuri was cut off when he turned around to see Astaroth swinging his battleaxe at Yuri, and the area erupted in blood. Yuri screamed as he backed his vision clouded in red, he instinctively grabbed his flamethrower and fired it everywhere. He took a moment to wipe all the blood from his visor, and inspected himself, he was unharmed. Astaroth was above him, hand outstretched. Yuri sighed, and took his new ally’s hand. “You really freaked out there.” Astaroth said, looked back into the room, Yuri didn’t even notice he blindly walked out of it. Corpses of about a dozen Malebranche sat in the room, in flames. “One second I was saving the world, the next, I’m covered in blood. Any man would act like that in such a situation.” Yuri said, as he put away his flamethrower, and walked away alongside Astaroth. “Hey, it was kinda cool. I doubt anyone else could kill a room filled with Malebranche almost instantly while blinded.” Astaroth said. “That is why I’m the one who uptakes the role in fighting the Malebranche.” Yuri said.

ASSEMBLY
Yuri walked into New Aberdeen just in time to see a massive crowd around a random spot in the street. He pushed through to see a ship crashed in the road, with Mac, Scar, Seras, Hypox and Maximus exiting. Yuri approached the group. “Where’s Knuse?” Yuri asked. Everyone’s faces went from proud to regretful. Maximus silently stepped back into the ship, and walked up with Knuse’s hammer, handing it to Yuri. “... How’d he die?” Yuri asked. “We found his hammer floating around in space. So, most theories point to, he must’ve been thrown out of the ship during its crash.” Scar said. “Crash?” Yuri asked. “Yeah, the LANTIS crashed into the moon, there was a whole faction of robots there that desperately wanted our attention. It’s a long story.” Scar said. “It’s always a long story.” Yuri said, as he silently looked down at the hammer. As everyone walked away, Yuri still stood. “I’m sorry. It was supposed to be Max giving you my flamethrower, not giving me your hammer. I swear that history will remember your name, comrade.” Yuri said to the hammer, before taking the bladed end and stabbing it into the ground as a temporary memorial. Yuri walked directly into the command tower.

JUST ONE
Mac woke up from a chair in his room, armor still on. He pressed a button on the desk he was seated at, turning off an internal alarm clock. He yawned, before getting out of the chair, and walked out of his room. He looked outside the window, almost not noticing that it was night due to the darkness outside. He turned to face Maximus’ door, and banged on it. “Max, buddy, it’s been eight hours! Gotta wake up, man!” Mac said. He continued to knock on the door a while longer, before Maximus opened the door, unusually not wearing his armor, but a pair of jeans and was still in the process of slipping his shirt on. “... What’s with this?” Mac asked. “What? What’s with what?” Maximus asked. “Well two things, now. One, I don’t remember when you starting sleeping without clothes on, hell half the time we fall in with our armor on, and two, you didn’t bug me about calling you Max… You alright?” Mac asked. “Yeah, uh… I’m cool… I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” Maximus said, before starting to close the door, though Mac stopped him. “Dude.” Mac said. “Yeah, I know, I was closing the door on you.” Maximus said. “What are you hiding?” Mac said as he pushed the door open, revealing Seras to have still been laying in the bed. “Oh, god, I’m sorry, I thought you were hiding something else!” Mac said, as he backed away until the doorway blocked her. “Like what?” Maximus said, closing the door to its original state. “Like… maybe you were banging dudes.” Mac said. Maximus looked at him with a blank expression, before closing the door on him. Mac stood there in silence for about a minute, before Yuri opened the door. “Tell me about it. At least you were two rooms away. I had trouble sleeping last night because of them.” Yuri said. “The less said, the better. I mean… That’s like catching my older brother having sex with my step sister. That just really painted an image in my head.” Mac said. “Here’s a good way to cooperate with things: Stop calling every Knight you know your brother and sister!” Yuri said. “... Well, I don’t think of you as a brother.” Mac said. “What, do you think of me as a father?” Yuri asked. “Uncle.” Mac said. Yuri closed the door on him, too. “I’m sorry!” Mac shouted all three of them, before walking back into the room with the conference table and starting up a coffee machine. He leaned against the counter, before spotting Maximus’ pack of cigars on the table. He stared at it for a while, before sighing. “Just one...” he said, before taking one out of the package and slipping into one of his pockets.

KRIEG
Mac was sitting on a bench, enjoying his coffee, when sirens began sounding off. “Welp, that’s my cue.” Mac said as he slowly got up from the bench. A garrison was deployed and began running past Mac towards a defensive position, though he continued to drink the coffee as he walked, before spotting an entire cruiser flying overhead, that dwarfed the LANTIS. Mac dropped his coffee. “That’s different.” He said as he turned around to run back into the command tower to get Maximus and Yuri, who immediately came running out of the elevator as Mac ran in. “Let’s get going!” Maximus said as he drew his sword. “Where’s Seras?” Mac shouted over the sirens. “I told her to stay put, I’d prefer her safety over her assistance!” Maximus shouted back. “Did you see that ship?!” Mac yelled. “No, what ship?!” Yuri asked. The three continued to the front gates, before stopping upon seeing the cruiser come flying back overhead, blocking out the sun. “That one!” Mac yelled. A swarm of fighter ships came flying out of it, firing upon the city below. “What the hell is that all about?!” Maximus yelled. Yuri switched modes with his flamethrower, firing beams at the ships overhead and managing to take one out of the sky. The three continued moving, attempting to dodge the ship’s attacks. Dropships came flying down to the city below, deploying squads of men that fired upon the High Generals. Maximus immediately smashed his sword into one’s stomach, blasting bits of bloody ice about the place, while Mac engaged his stilts, and fired on three of the troopers below. Yuri rushed one and stabbed her with his machete several times, until she fell over. Mac dropped back to the ground to join the other two as they continued forwards. They reached the front gates just in time to see them be destroyed by a fighter that blasted them open with missiles. As the smoke cleared, Demon soldiers flooded into the city. “That explains it.” Yuri said, as he and Maximus took cover, while Mac fired upon one Demon after the next as he walked over to Yuri’s cover. “You ready?” Yuri asked. “No, I just wanted to drink my damn coffee!” Mac said. “Me too!” Yuri yelled, as the two jumped out of cover, Yuri firing a beam that cut through Demons by the dozens, while Mac finished off stragglers and killed any he missed. Maximus stood behind the two, cutting down squads of the new soldiers coming in from dropships. “We’re being overrun, we must fall back!” Yuri yelled, as he reloaded his flamethrower. “Already?!” Mac yelled over chaos. “Definitely!” Maximus yelled. The three began running, though as they ran, Yuri pressed a button on his flamethrower, transforming it differently than its other two modes, he stopped running, and fired a horizontal beam across the road, then continued to catch up with the other two. A pursuing squad of Demons ran directly over it, before it detonated in a huge burst of fire, covering them all in flames. Yuri reloaded the canister, before the three stopped in front of the Command Tower. Two squads of Demons bagan flanking both sides of the three generals, Mac began firing on one squad, with Yuri providing support, while Maximus attempted to charge the other squad, before Hypox appeared behind the squad, firing his hook into one’s chest and pulling them back to him, before throwing them down to the ground as they came in range. He fired an SMG into their head, finishing them off, before he charged the squad of Demons, and fired a wave of energy at their backs, throwing them around and killing them all. By then, Yuri and Mac finished off their adversaries and turned to look at Hypox. “Fancy meeting you guys here!” Hypox shouted over to the three. Mac turned to see the Battle Clutcher firing into the ship above from outside the walls. “Good, someone deployed that!” Maximus yelled. “We’re gonna need all the backup we can get, so… here goes nothing!” Mac yelled, as he pressed a button on his wrist. “Hello?” Scar said over Mac’s radio. “Hey! Listen, New Aberdeen is under attack, we need everything, like, an army of Crashers would do!” Mac yelled. “In such short notice, it’d take way too long to form an army of anything. Me, Vanguard and a squad of robots with Crasher support will show up, is that good?” Scar asked. “Send anything!” Mac yelled. “Alright, we’re on the way!” Scar said. “Move!” Hypox yelled over to the three, causing Mac to look up at the Command Tower as its supports were destroyed by bombers, and the entire Tower began to come crashing down. The three ran back towards the front gates, running from the oncoming wave of rubble. Yuri began losing speed with the other two. “Wait up!” Yuri yelled, as he turned to look back at the destruction behind them. Suddenly, he felt himself get grabbed by the collar, as Maximus pushed him forwards to run alongside Mac. “Just keep going!” Maximus yelled, before a street light came down and hit Maximus in the back of the head, causing everything to go black.

A LONG TIME COMING
Maximus’ vision returned as he felt himself being dragged with handcuffs on. “Thank you for your assistance, Captain. We should continue negotiations at Radio City, my men can show you the way.” Nikola said to Victor, who was standing next to him. “Are you staying here?” Victor asked. “Yes. See, the Order Of Demons means that we capture and secure the ‘demons’ of this planet… the worst criminals. So it’s my job to arrest these men and any other stragglers. Don’t worry, I won’t take long.” Nikola said. The two shook hands, and Victor walked away with several squads of soldiers with armor labeled SCN. Once they were away, a squad of Demons arrived to the scene with Adamska. “Well. It’s been awhile.” Nikola said. “Have you been taking your time or something?” Adamska said. Nikola laughed a little. “No, not that you’re in a place to speak to me like that anyway.” Nikola said. “What the hell are you talking about?” Adamska asked. “See, I rightfully rule the Demons now. All of these men around me, follow me. Not you. So, I will allow you to go free. I will allow you to join the Demons again. But not as its leader. Not as my equal. Not even as my successor.” Nikola said. Adamska simply looked at him in silence for several seconds. “So! Does anyone have any objections against this?!” Nikola shouted to the army of demons around him. Everyone was silent. “Good.” Nikola said. Astaroth pushed through the crowd, with the Dragon behind him. “What took you?” Nikola asked. “It’s not easy to get the Dragon free from its cage.” Astaroth said. Nikola backhanded him. “I’ve had these men restrained for who knows how long, I want the festivities prepared when I ask them to be prepared.” Nikola said. “Yes, sir.” Astaroth said. Nikola directed his attention to Maximus, noticing he was awake. “Ah, good morning, sunshine!” Nikola said enthusiastically, as he walked up to Maximus, who looked around to notice Yuri, Mac and Seras were all gathered with him, as well as all the armor in his robotic arm was removed, effectively making it easier to remove, though the device he got from the moon was still implanted into his arm, left there likely because of the stupidity of the men who stripped down his arm. “So. It’s all finally over. I am here, surrounded by my best men, and you are stripped of your armor, your weapons… everything. So, I thought, maybe we could play a little game, huh?” Nikola said, before walking up to Mac and putting a revolver in his face. “Pfft, you’re gonna shoot me? Don’t flatter yourself. I am way too good to be killed by you.” Mac said. Nikola looked at him angrily. “Watch your tongue.” Nikola said, before smashing the handle of the revolver into Mac’s face. Nikola began to walk away to aim the revolver at Yuri, though Mac looked back towards him. “It’s hard to believe you even got out of bed this morning knowing how much of a fuckup you are. I mean, how many battles have you lost, how many times now have you captured us and never done anything? I haven’t even gotten the chance to fight you yet but I can tell from this distance, you’re scrawny as hell.” Mac said, causing Nikola to walk up to Mac, and aim the revolver again. “Well, what’s taking you so goddamn long? This is boring!” Mac said. Nikola shot Mac directly into his eye, causing Mac to fall over onto the ground, blood leaking out of his head. Seras screamed in rage directly afterwards. “YOU BASTARDS, I’M GONNA FUCKING SKIN YOU! JUST WAIT UNTIL I GET OUT OF HERE YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!” Maximus yelled, pulling against his restraints. Nikola walked up to Yuri, who simply had his head held down in defeat. “Look at this one. Yuri, was it? Aren’t you the one who is the odd-one-out? Not always tagging along with the other two fools?” Nikola asked. “Your words are worthless to me. I hear nothing no matter how loud you speak. If you wish to kill me, then do so. But you waste time throwing your insults at me.” Yuri said, still not looking at Nikola. Nikola kicked Yuri in the chin, forcing his view up at Nikola. “... Fine.” Nikola said, before firing a bullet into Yuri’s head. Maximus pulled even harder on his restraints, until they were broken off, Maximus got up and ran at Nikola, preparing to swing his fist into Nikola’s face, though Nikola simply grabbed his robotic wrist, stopping the swing and shocking Maximus. “You don’t learn, do you?” Nikola asked, before unsheathing his sword and swinging it across Maximus’ neck, decapitating him. Nikola kicked Maximus’ body away, before picking up his head. He looked at it, with a slightly crooked but wide grin on his face before throwing the head over to the Dragon, who instinctively smashed its foot down on Maximus’ head until there was nothing left of it. “And just like that, the Knights have been finished!” Nikola said, as he lifted up his blade, and the crowd of Demons cheered. A Demon came from out of the crowd, dragging a restrained Hypox. “Where was this one?” Astaroth asked, stopping the Demon, who stared silently at Astaroth. “It doesn’t matter, put him against the wall.” Astaroth said. The Demon nodded and dragged him next to Seras. “Who-... What the hell did you do?!” Hypox shouted at the Demon dragging him. The Demon stared at Hypox silently, before its visor tint faded, revealing its eyes flashing on and off. “... Is that morse code?” Hypox whispered. It flashed several times more, while Hypox attempted to translate it. “Use hooks, unlock restraints.” Hypox decoded the message. He let the hooks in his wrists fall out, before grabbing them with his fingers and moving them into the locks of the restraints, until they fell off. He very slowly and lightly nodded to the robot in Demon armor, who flashed its eyes some more. “Hey, what’s taking you so long with that one?!” Nikola yelled to the robot. “Run to hangars, bring bodies.” Hypox decrypted the second message. The robot turned to look at Nikola, before firing a pistol into Nikola’s chest, and firing into the crowd, who all prepared their weapons. Hypox threw one of his hooks into Seras’ restraints, grabbing the lock, and pulling it back so the restraints opened. “Follow me!” Hypox yelled to Seras, before using the hooks to grab Mac and Yuri’s bodies, and running away. The robot was torn to shreds by the hundreds of bullets piercing it. The crowd, with the Dragon leading it, began chasing after the two. Astaroth helped Nikola up, and ran the opposite direction from the escapees with Nikola over his shoulder. Hypox was shot in the back of his thigh causing him to fall over. Seras grabbed his hand and helped him up, and they continued running. They eventually ran into the hangars, where Scar was standing on the exit ramp to a ship, with Vanguard standing in the hall. Scar waved for the two to get into the ship. As the incoming Demons turned into the hangars, Vanguard fired all of his weapon, killing countless amounts of Demons at a rapid pace. Vanguard was flanked by the Dragon, who sunk its mechanical teeth into Vanguard’s arm. Vanguard opened his retractable shield on that arm, pushing the Dragon away, while Vanguard fired a beam of plasma into the Dragon, cutting it in half. Vanguard ripped its upper half off, revealing some blood leaving from the upper half. Vanguard ripped off the front plating to the Dragon’s armor, revealing a Malebranche-like creature wired into the parts of the Dragon. Vanguard stuck its blade into the creature, killing it, before Vanguard was hit in the knee with a rocket, destroying the plating. The Demons swarmed around Vanguard, emptying everything they had into him, before his entire right leg was ripped off. Vanguard crawled over to the ship, where Scar looked at him. “SCAR… go on. My purpose has led up to this point.” Vanguard said, still being damaged by the Demons. “No, you can get in here!” Scar said. Vanguard reached into his head, and removed one of his robotic eyes, giving it to Scar. “I love you. I’ll miss you.” Vanguard said, before pushing the exit ramp closed. The ship lifted up and flew away. Vanguard turned around to see his other leg get removed. “I ain’t got time to bleed.” Vanguard said, before he closed his exhaust ports closed, and began rumbling. The area around him erupted in a massive explosion, nearly destroying half of the city.

RESCUED BY THE DEAD
Scar stood, staring at the exit ramp in silence. “Where are the bodies? I must operate on them, quickly!” A robot said as he entered. He looked much different than the Crylo robots, and had a name tag imprinted into his chest, “Z.E.R.O.”. Hypox stepped aside, revealing Mac and Yuri’s bodies lying down on the floor. “You left them on the FLOOR?!” Zero exclaimed. “Well what was I supposed to do with them?” Hypox yelled back. Zero picked up their bodies and walked away, Hypox attempted to follow, though Zero turned around. “I need absolute concentration for this to work. I will inform you if they come back. IF.” Zero said. Hypox stood in frustration. “What the hell is going on?!” He yelled. “Calm down!” Scar said. “Calm down? CALM DOWN?! The Demons just won the war! I think… I don’t know!” Hypox said, before falling down into a sitting position on the floor, with his head in his hands. Seras sat in a chair, looking up at the ceiling, with almost no emotion to display. Scar stood in the middle of it all. “I’m sorry we couldn’t have arrived sooner...” Scar said, before sitting down in the co-pilot’s seat. “How are they?” A deep voice with a thick Russian accent asked from the pilot’s chair. “They’ve lost it. And I can’t blame them.” Scar said, as she looked over to the pilot, a man head-to-toe in an ancient astronaut suit with the russian flag imprinted on his shoulder. “They will live. Time heals all wounds.” The man said. He pressed a button on the ship, causing a robotic voice to say “Entering autopilot.”. The man turned around in his chair to look at the two. “Hello, I suppose I should introduce myself. I am the Cosmonaut.” The man said. The two remained silent. “Hm. Alright.” The Cosmonaut said, before turning back around in his chair. “So. The plan is simple. We get them new names, destroy anything to trace them with, change their fingerprints and drop them off on Trost so they can live normal lives.” The Cosmonaut said. “Woah woah, wait, what? I thought you were all for helping us.” Scar said. “I am. I’m helping you get out of that crazy planet so you don’t have to fight the Demons anymore.” The Cosmonaut said. Hypox walked up behind him. “The Demons will absorb any government they can. Manipulation is the name of their game, and if that doesn’t work out, they can take a lot of people head-on. If they remain unprovoked, they will take over every planet they can, until it’s all controlled by the Demons.” Hypox said. “Good.” The Cosmonaut said. “Good?! What the hell are you talking about?!” Hypox yelled. “That means Human controlled space will be unified under a considerable strength. That’s exactly what the galaxy needs right now.” The Cosmonaut said. “But it will be a dystopia. Mass depression across the galaxy, firing squads taking out innocent people, riots will occur and it will be a galaxy-wide civil war.” Hypox said. The Cosmonaut was silent. “Can I take your word for it?” He asked as he turned around to look at Hypox, who looked him dead in the eyes. “You’re goddamn right you can take my word for it.” Hypox said. The Cosmonaut turned around, sighing. “My point in the galaxy is to make sure Humanity doesn’t have any infighting. I don’t care if Humanity is run by a single dictatorship. I don’t care about your politics or your rebellions. The only thing I care about, is making sure the universe remains safe, and peaceful. And you people are not making it easy. But if I must fuel one war to stop a more terrible one… fine.” The Cosmonaut said. “So, now what’s the plan?” Scar asked. “I’m taking you all to Toxtus, an asteroid that has been since turned into a science facility in Saturn’s ring. A friend of mine, Grant Toxtun, should be able to help us in a few ways.” The Cosmonaut said. Hypox walked away, and sat down in a chair, basically alone. Zero walked back in. “I have done my best, however, they have still not regained consciousness. These men are incredibly lucky. They missed death by a thread.” Zero said. Hypox got up. “They’re alive?!” He asked. “Of course. You have to realize that a single isolated planet could not hope to keep up with half a galaxy of planets on a scale of technological progress, modern medicine can stop certain death at this point, as long as the brain is mostly intact. Your one friend, the flame-retardant one, the bullet he took was just below the Cerebellum. The other one, well his eye must have been made of steel, because I predict his eye played a major role in slowing that bullet down. Of course… he will no longer have depth perception without a cybernetic replacement, which can cost countless millions of dollars. It’s very precious technology.” Zero said. “I only got like, half of what you said, but oh my god… thank you.” Hypox said. “Of course, we have no idea how they will respond… A lot of lead poisoning has infested their brains. They could be vegetative when they wake up… if they wake up.” Zero said. “Do you have any idea how soon they’ll wake up?” Hypox asked. “... How much sleep have they gotten recently?” Zero asked. “G-... I don’t know!” Hypox said. “Without that statistic I can’t say exactly… twelve hours if they got the least amount of sleep possible, in a single day, plus another day for the body to finish flushing out the bad liquids and bring in new ones… At the most, two days, depending on their lifestyles as well. The flame-retarded one, however, may take slightly longer, given his age.” Zero said. There was silence for a while. “So… who are you?” Hypox asked. “I am Z.E.R.O., Zero-g Environment Robotic Operator. The first of my kind… and last.” Zero said. The Cosmonaut spun around in his chair. “You ever hear of NASA?” The Cosmonaut asked. “No.” Hypox said. “It was the United States’ space division of the government. They’re long gone now, they’ve been turned into the SCASA, who administrate the Earth System’s space politics, really. But back when NASA still existed in… 2030 something, they made a prototype bipedal robot to operate in space, mostly alongside Astronauts. It never finished completion, though, all the countries back then wanted war robots more, so they couldn’t get enough resources to make the damned things. So ZERO here went to the scrap heap, but I rescued him.” The Cosmonaut said. “Wait, hold on… Rescued him? Didn’t you just say 2030? How long was Zero rusting for?” Hypox asked. “Kid, I’ve been around since the 1930s.” The Cosmonaut said. “Holy shit… how?” Hypox asked. “... I said too much.” The Cosmonaut said, before walking back to his seat. “Oh come on, man! You can’t just say that and walk away!” Hypox said. “I’m called the Cosmonaut, I was born in the 1930s, surely you can figure it out.” The Cosmonaut said. “I have no clue what any of that means.” Hypox said. “I was born in 1930. I was a part of the Soviet Space Program, my job was to go into space and enter a newly-built space station. On the way we were intercepted by extraterrestrial life. They operated on me. Changed my genetic formula, somehow. Now I can’t die. But everyone thinks I’m dead. Now, just, don’t go telling anyone, alright?” The Cosmonaut said. “That’s… you mean aliens? What did they look like?” Scar asked, eagerly. “Don’t you understand this is something I wanted kept a secret?! No more, you’ve pried enough from me!” The Cosmonaut shouted. Hypox backed away into his seat.

RETALIATION
Silas pumped his lever action shotgun after just getting armored up. “Charlotte! Take the kids into the cellar! I’ve got this.” He shouted, before running outside. Several other bounty hunters ran passed Silas, who looked down the street to see Demon soldiers marching into the town. Silas stopped a bounty hunter before he could reach the fight. “Hey! Where the hell are the Knights?!” Silas asked. “New Aberdeen has been sacked, all the High Generals and their successors are dead, it’s on us to defend the town now!” The bounty hunter said, before Silas let him continued running. “Well I’ll be damned. Hell’s all empty and the devils are here. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Silas said, before sprinting straight towards the battle down the street. On the down, he turned to his left upon spotting a flanking Demon, though he blasted their head off in a single shot. He continued running down to the battle, before looking up to spot another hunter slide into position on the rooftops of the neighborhood to snipe one Demon after the next. He charged into a Demon, knocking them down, before finishing them off with a single shot to the chest. Another hunter fired a dart from a wrist-launcher that hit the Demon in the neck, before electrocuting him until his eyes exploded from inside his visor. Another hunter lept downwards from above, before smashing their fist into the ground, knocking back the Demon soldiers. Silas shot two of them while they were on the ground, while several other hunters finished off the rest. They all turned to look at Silas. “What are we waiting for? Let’s go help the rest of the town!” Silas said, before turning around in an attempt to secure the rest of the town, before the Dauntless Scepter appeared overhead, and several fighter ships were launched from the cruiser, each one of them firing lasers into the city below. Silas and the other hunters took cover, though one of the hunters were effortlessly cut down by the lasers. The fighters regrouped at a specific location overhead, before they all fired their weapons below at a specific spot, until the cliff the city was situated on began to split off from the rest of the desert. “Shit, get moving, now!” Silas yelled at the top of his lungs, and all the bounty hunters around him ran through the city’s front gate, away from the entire city that was crashing into the landscape far below. As they reached a safe area, they looked overhead to see the Dauntless Scepter fly away at top speed. Silas walked back through what remained of the front gate and leaned over the edge of the cutting point to see a colossal heap of rock and sand covering the destroyed city. Silas turned around, throwing his shotgun and screaming in anger, while the other bounty hunters sat around him, defeated. They sat in silence for some good ammount of time before Silas got up, and started walking. “Sheriff, where you goin’?” One of the bounty hunters asked, causing Silas to stop. “Somewhere.” Silas said, before continuing to walk. The other bounty hunters got up as well, and began following Silas.

REVERSE THE ODDS
Jarret walked down a hallway, supported by two marines, before turning into a communication’s room, where Carter stood waiting for him. “It’s about time you got here, we’ve been receiving reports that the Order of Demons are steamrolling everything in sight with the help of a large cruiser, the Dauntless Scepter, it’s not even from this planet, it originates from Earth.” Carter said. “Hm. Well, you know the drill, anti-air cannons online, switch to maximum defense mode.” Jarret said. “You heard the man, get going!” Carter yelled to everyone in the room, and they immediately began pressing buttons. The two left the room back into the hallway, where squads of marines ran to defensive positions. “Yeah, apparently New Aberdeen’s been taken out and so has Cliffburn. We’re the last on the to-do list to my knowledge. Well… when it comes down to capitals, at least.” Carter said. “So, it’s up to us to fight back?” Jarret asked. “Are you serious? The only fighting back we can do is just hold here on red alert until the Demons give up trying or we make a peace offering.” Carter said. “Peace with the Demons? They’d likely betray us when they get the chance, like they did eleven years ago.” Jarret said. “Then our only chance is to hold out until they pull back. This is what PATHOS did for us.” Carter said, as the two walked into a viewing deck where they had the perfect view of their underwater city as it lit up, turrets were deployed from various hardpoints and several combat submarines lifted out of their moonpools. The Dauntless Scepter soon appeared overhead, and was immediately attacked by the anti-air turrets, causing damage to the ship overhead. Several fighters were deployed from the ship that flew straight down into the waters and continued to operate normally as they fired upon the city. “Are the shields up?” Jarret asked. “Are you serious? Of course they are.” Carter said. The submarines fought back against the ships, easily destroying them as they came into view. A marine rushed into the room shortly afterwards. “Sir! We have an incoming fleet of Demon vessels! Command has identified one of them as the Nether!” The marine said. “Nether? Isn’t that that one ship the Knights hijacked from an Order of Technology facility?” Carter asked. “Aye sir, the Demons probably found it in New Aberdeen’s storage and took it back, and at perfect timing, too. The Nether is a combat-based sub, so if it’s gonna hit, it’s gonna hit hard, we need to disable it before it gets in range of the city!” The marine said. “I’ll go.” Carter said. Jarret put his arm in front of Carter’s. “We’ll both go.” Jarret said. “Hah, just like old times, eh Jart?” Carter asked. “Sure.” Jarret said. The two walked out of the viewing deck and into an armory, where they began taking weapons off the wall. Jarret pulled out a particular rifle with a rotary barrel at the end, with the words “POWER DRILL” written on its circular stock. The two left the room and entered a nearby airlock. They both looked at each other and nodded, before the airlock cycled and the room flooded with water. The two angled themselves horizontally, before jetpack-like devices pushed them forwards automatically. They activated headlamps on their helmets to let them see further, and continued swimming forwards rapidly, until they saw the fleet of submarines far ahead, including the massive Nether in the center of it all. They deactivated the devices as they came into range, and landed on the top of the submarine. They made their way towards the top hatch. Jarret leaned down, and opened the hatch, letting water flood into the room, surprising the Demons standing guard in it. The two entered the room, and shot the drowning soldiers dead with ease. They walked over to an airlock separating the room from the rest of the ship, Carter opened it, and they both stepped in. The water in the airlock was vented out, and the door before them opened, revealing several Demons that prepared their weapons in surprise. Jarret and Carter gunned them down with ease. “So… what’s the plan, we forgot that part.” Carter said. “Disrupt its engines and have our subs come in and destroy it.” Jarret said. “Ah, see, I thought we were gonna find the power core and toss a couple grenades into it, that’ll send the thing into some massive explosion. Or something.” Carter said. “I think it’d be easier to just stop the thing and have the cavalry deal with the rest.” Jarret said, before the two continued through a door and into a hallway. A Demon raced down an intersecting hall to theirs and stopped a far distance upon seeing the two. Jarret and Carter fired at the demon, though their shots all missed due to the distance. The Demon readied a sniper and instantly aimed down, firing, though he narrowly missed Carter’s head. The two rushed back into the previous room, hiding behind the wall around the doorway. Carter pressed a few buttons on his wrist, before turning to nod at Jarret. Jarret stood directly behind Carter as he walked back out into the hallway and outstretched his arm, projecting an energy shield. The Demon sniper fired at them, though the shield stopped the bullet. Jarret held his rifle just outside of the shield, and fired at the sniper, missing most shots. The two slowly continued down the hall until the sniper retreated farther into one of the intersecting halls. Carter disengaged the shield, and Jarret reloaded his weapon. The two rushed down to the end of the hall, as Carter reached the end, he aimed his pistol, expecting to see the sniper, though there was nothing. Jarret worked on opening a door marked “Bridge”, though it wouldn’t budge. “Lemme try.” Carter said, before reaching into a pocket and pulling out a circular disc-shaped object with several cubes sticking out around the edges. Carter pressed the device against the door, and it made a clamping sound as it held itself magnetically to the door. Carter pressed a button on it, and the duo ran a small distance away, before the the disc exploded, and the door came crashing down. A Demon wearing power armor exited the room, towering over the two. He let out a massive roar as he lifted up a shoulder-mounted minigun, and began firing at the two. Carter pushed out his shield to block the incoming attacks, which kept the Demon preoccupied on Carter, while Jarret prepared three impact grenades, and threw them at the Demon, each of them hitting the Demon on the upper half of his chest. The Demon took several steps back from the blow, while Carter disengaged his shield and fired a small pistol-like weapon, which stuck a dart inside one of the barrels of the minigun. Carter pressed a button on the side of the gun, and the dart exploded, damaging the weapon and blowing the Demon’s arm off, which caused the Demon to lie on the floor, bleeding out and screaming. Jarret and Carter walked into the bridge, where several Demon pilots cowered away from the two. “Gentlemen, I hate to inform you, but we’re gonna have to stop the parade here!” Carter shouted to the Bridge staff. “Get this sub halted, right now!” Jarret said. The pilots all complied, and the Nether stopped. Jarret and Carter looked at one another, and nodded, before firing their weapons at the pilots, killing them all. “Let’s get out of here.” Jarret said, as the two walked back out into the hall, though were stopped as the Demon sniper from earlier put the barrel of the weapon into Jarret’s face, and three more demons stepped out, two aiming at Carter, the third aiming at Jarret, who set down his weapon. Carter, however, pulled out two pistols and pointed them at his adversaries. “Weapons down, or you’re dead!” One of the Demons said. Carter took a deep breath, before firing off both pistols, killing his targets, and quickly switched his aim, killing Jarret’s targets simultaneously. “Damn, that was close!” Jarret said as he picked up his weapon. “I don’t fuck around.” Carter said. The two rushed back to where they started, and exited the submarine. Jarret pressed a button on the side of his helmet. “Targets are clear, get destroying, ASAP!” Jarret shouted. They looked at the fleet of subs around the Nether, all likely confused as to why their leading sub stopped. Heracleion eventually came into view, and passing them up was a fleet of Order of Water submarines, that all had their targets set on the Nether, which was completely defenseless. As the two reached the outside of the airlock they came from, Carter looked back, squinting his eyes to very distantly see the Nether burst into an explosion. The two both entered the airlock, and the water filtered out. As the door before them opened, a group of Marines all cheered upon their arrival. “Y’know, Jart, something just came to my realization.” Carter said, as they walked through the small crowd. “What’s that?” Jarret asked. “We don’t need any armies to take on the Order of Demons. We just need a skilled infiltration crew.” Carter said. “... I suppose you’re right.” Jarret said. “Well, let’s get the specifics out of the way, then.” Carter said, as the two walked into the viewing deck.

THE NEGATIVE ZONE
Mac began breathing heavily as he groggily sat up. He had absolutely no idea where he was. His entire right arm was numb, and his head felt like it was about to explode at any moment. He sat in pain for a while, until the numbness in his arm stopped. Afterwards, he got up from the cot he was lying on, only to find countless wires attached to his body and into various life support systems and heart monitors. He unhooked himself from it all, before walked up to the nearest door and trying to open it, but his hand seemed to miss it. He moved it around eventually hitting it into the door, before finally managing to grab the handle. He twisted it with what little strength he had left, and bursted through the door. He walked over to the next door, almost falling over as he reached it, and struggled to open it. As it budget open, he fell onto his knees, he looked around to find himself in a bathroom, he crawled over to the toilet and threw up into it, before wiping the excess vomit from his lip. He pushed himself up, and held onto the edge of the bathroom counter, he looked into the mirror to find himself with no eye, and screamed in horror upon the sight. In morbid curiosity, he leaned in closer to see what was behind it, though it was too dark to actually see anything. At that moment, he turned to see Seras looking at him. “Hold on, Mac, I’ll help you!” She said, as she tried to let Mac wrap his arm around her neck, though he missed by a great distance. Seras grabbed his arm and directed it to the right spot, before she supported him, walking down a vast hallway into a small central area with a table, and chairs around it. Seras let go of Mac as they reached the table. “Take a seat, I’ll be right back.” Seras said, as she began walking away. Mac looked behind him at a chair, and attempted to fall back into it, though he instead fell against the floor, just missing the chair. “Fuck!” He yelled before getting up and adjusting to the right position, and lowering himself slowly and cautiously on the chair. After a moment of sitting, Yuri, Scar, The Cosmonaut and a man wearing a white-gray suit walked out, the suit matching the colors of the building they were in. “Mac, glad to see you awake.” Scar said. “Mhm.” Mac said silently, his head was still in pain. They all sat down around the table, and the coated man look over at Mac. “My name is Grant Toxtun, I am a man of science. This is my facility.” The man said. “And I’m the Cosmonaut. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m half the reason you and Yuri are both alive.” The Cosmonaut said. “It’s true.” Scar said. “What the hell happened?” Mac said, building up the strength to fight back against his headache and to speak. “Well, Nikola shot you, and he shot me. We both technically died, but we were saved by a robot named Zero, who was under command of the Cosmonaut here.” Yuri said. “Maximus, suffered a worse fate. There was no saving him.” Scar said. Mac looked at Yuri, and then at Scar, before putting his head in his hands. “Not Maximus. Of everyone who had to die...” Mac said, his voice muffled slightly. “It’s not like it’s completely over.” Scar said. “That is true. Seras, she is carrying Maximus’ child.” The Cosmonaut said. Mac looked up at the Cosmonaut in confusion. “Doesn’t that just make everything even worse? Who’s gonna father this kid?” Mac asked. “We’ll worry about that when the time comes. For now, we have a strategy to discuss with you.” Yuri said. Grant cleared his throat and stood up, as the table projected a holographic image that changed as he spoke. “This will be our hideout for the time being, it’s been two days since the destruction of New Aberdeen. All the surviving knights have been transported to a prison called the Terminus Penitentiary, where they rocket prisoners sentenced to death into a nearby black hole. All of the knights there have been found guilty of war crimes they didn’t commit, like the creation of the Malebranche. It is only a matter of time before they arrive there, and their death sentence is confirmed already, as soon as they arrive, their fate would be a mere hour or two away. Because this is on a strict time schedule, your assault there must be done first before any others. After that, the next target is TechnoMax Shipyards on the planet Sestapus I, a water planet. The Shipyards house many ships that will be useful in mass transportation of these surviving Knights. However, twice a year, a Hurricane strikes the facility, so it gets put on lockdown and the workers are evacuated off the planet. So, you’ll have to fight through a hurricane to get to those ships and steal them. You won’t have a better time, but it’s not on that tight of a schedule, that’s why it’s target two. Afterwards, the ships stolen will be brought back to Vorcium, where you will strike against the Demons’ new capital, Radio City. Nikola and Adamska will both be on business at Earth, so there won’t be their usual strong leadership there to stop you. Once taken care of, Radio City will be used by the Knights to communicate, in as wide of a range as possible, to nearby ships from SolComm that the Demons have tricked them. The ship that attacked New Aberdeen, the Dauntless Scepter, will be at Earth to provide security as the president of SolComm meets the two leaders of the Demons. We’ll have to find a way to get on the Dauntless Scepter after that, and inform its captain that everything is backwards to get their support. Once done, we strike the Tower of Assyria, where Nikola and Adamska will meet the President of SolComm, and likely figure out some way to kill or manipulate the President into giving them full control. If we arrive at the right place and the right time, we can stop the two, kill them, and finally end this war.” Grant said. “Actually, if I may.” Yuri said as he stood up. “During the assault on Radio City, we can be a little more tactical. See, while you were away dealing with the moon, I met with the Demon who was the one to help us during the early days of Nikola’s take-over, whoo informed us about Radio City. I trust we can contact him and get him to disrupt the defensives of Radio City to give us the upper hand.” Yuri said. “Sounds better than just directly attacking it.” Scar said. “We’ll go with that plan, then. Any questions?” Grant asked. Mac raised his hand. “So how are we supposed to do all of this, especially go through a hurricane, without our equipment, which the Demons have.” Mac said. “I have the technology to prepare you all. New equipment and such.” Grant said. “Show us.” Mac said. Grant pressed a few buttons on the table, and the hologram changed to show a suit. “This is the TOXTUS-Class Power Suit, a much smaller, more maneuverable version of the power armor you’re used to on Vorcium. It will give you many boosts to your natural skills, but we will go over them later.” Grant said. “What about weapons?” Mac asked. “Ah, yes. See, I attempted to make you both similar weapons to your originals, but it couldn’t be done, there were too many features and I didn’t have schematics to it all, so instead I have new weapons for you. Yuri, I have two pistol-sized flamethrowers, easily dual-wieldable, compact, and enough of a punch to rival your standard flamethrowers. Mac, I have a weapon that fires tracking projectiles, it’s an SMG-like weapon, though the projectiles take up much room in the magazines and it has a habit of overheating, so short, controlled bursts of the weapon should be good enough. Just don’t unload it. It’s a very precious weapon.” Grant said. “Alright, I’m sold.” Mac said. “Ah, yes, that does remind me, you need a new eye.” Grant said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black sphere. “This will be your replacement. It doesn’t have any fancy features, it will just give you back your depth perception. It will also make you look pretty cool, too.” Grant said. Mac began to press the thing into his socket, though Grant put his hands up. “No no! It must be put in surgically. We’ll do that soon. I was just letting you look at it.” Grant said, as he stretched out his hand, and Mac put the replacement in Grant’s hand, and he pocketed it again. “Now, I will allow you all to prepare yourselves. But we must be ready to get the prisoners in an hour. Mac, I’d like to see you as soon as possible, meet me in the room you woke up in and I’ll put your new eye in.” Grant said. Everyone got up from their seats and began walking to their places.
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DEWM NINJA

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