Hellcat Squadran: Spiral takes place in 2270, and depicts the events surrounding both The Meta, the former Freelancer Agent Maine driven mad by the Sigma AI; and Trista Bennett, a girl whose mind was replaced by Coruptus with his own customized Brain Form meant to turn her into a spy.
Both these individuals were enemies to Hellcat Squadran for a time, however, a few individuals see a chance where both of them could be redeemed of their past actions. And the time is coming for them to be given their chance...
Chapter 1: Out of BodyEdit
Backwater Coalition Colony - 12/7/2270 - 7:53 PM
She gunned down the prisoners, allowing the Flood Infection forms behind her to skitter across the floor, to infect the new biomatter.
She looked human, she felt human to the touch, smelled human, even sounded human when she spoke...but she was not a human...not anymore.
Trista Bennett was, in fact, the host to a form of Flood Parasite known as the Flood Brain Form. Like most Flood Loyalists, Coruptus has complete control over her. However, Trista Bennett could do what no other Flood could do: infiltrate population centers to sabotage them. Normally, operations go by so fast, no knowledge of her could be spread, so she could easily play the escaped victim of one of Coruptus's attacks, and be believed...
...In fact she almost was one, before she became his agent, until a couple of Coruptus's Tank forms caught her, and allowed Coruptus to submit her to all manners of torture, in order to remove her brain, and replace it with the Brain Form. Now, she was his most stealthy saboteur, most discrete harvester, and most lethal assassin.
Soon, however, Coruptus will be sending his agent deep into his enemy's territory, in order to gather intel on their capital itself. Finally, years of planning will culminate, and Coruptus will finally consume the Coalition.
Chapter 2: Out of MindEdit
High-Security Nod Outpost - 11:45 PM
Smashing his way through the defenses, he made his way to the core of the Nod Facility. Once he got there, he found what he was looking for: the central database. Hacking into it, he began looking for information on the whereabouts of the assets of Project Freelancer.
For the past 2 and a half centuries, The Meta had been looking for more Project Freelancer equipment, mainly AIs, which he suspected there were more of. This was to allow The Meta to be able to utilize the equipment he'd obtained from other Freelancers. Without the AI, the equipment glitched constantly, and some of it, he couldn't use at all.
Finally, after pouring through the systems, he found it: the location of the crashed Project Freelancer Frigate, the Mother of Invention. Finding its location meant that The Meta could scour the wreck for AI, equipment, and basically anything and everything it could use to augment itself with.
With that level of technology, no one, not even Hellcat Squadran's supernaturally-enhanced war heroes, would stand against him.
Suddenly, the base's alarms started going off. Downloading the information to his suit's computer, the Meta prepared his Brute Shot, ready for when the Nod Soldiers would get there. Once the doors openned and the soldiers started pouring in, Maine let loose with his weapon. Blasting their forward lines, the Meta then charged the enemy, slamming into the Nod Soldiers as he made a break for the exit.
However, as he reached the exit to the base, the doors began to close and seal. At that point, the Meta activated his speed boosters, to try to allow him to get through the door before it closed. In the nick of time, he squeezed through, as the door sealed shut behind him.
Chapter 3: RecklessEdit
Earth - Outpost RX-249 - 12/14/2270 - 12:34 PM
"Hey, troops! We just got word from Command: we're to report to Kaven Base right away!" Sarge said.
Sarge was the leader of Red Team, a force of soldiers identified by their MJOLNIR Armor being various shades of Reds (or Orange, or so-on). Specifically, he had 3 soldiers under him: Simmons, Grif, and Donut, as well as a robot, Lopez. These soldiers (and robot) made up his force, Red Team. His team was based in a canyon on Earth, with Forerunner ruins, and a gap in the canyon walls showing the Pacific Ocean. While their base, Red Base, was on the side with the ocean, there was another base on the other side of the canyon: where Blue Base was location.
Blue Base was home to Blue Team, who, over 200 years ago, was Red Team's enemies. However, after a series of threats to both teams, they've become more like allies. Blue Team consisted of Church, the leader, with Tucker and Caboose. Blue Team, however, seemed to have the closest ties with the Freelancers, a group of people originally from a military project called Project Freelancer. These Freelancers included Washington, Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas, aka Tex. They also had an AI member, as well: the tank Sheila.
Finally, Grif, Simmons, Donut, and Lopez gathered. "Great, I've received word that Hellcat Squadran is preparing for a massive military operation, and we're to hold down the fort here on Earth, until they get back."
"Why're they asking for us? We'll just fuck it up like everything else..." Grif replied.
"That's because we're the only qualified Hellcat Squadran garrison not taking part in the operation!"
"Makes me wonder why we're not part of the operation..." Grif groaned.
"Silence, Private!" Sarge said, "Now...we have to be ready to move out...before those dirty blues are..."
"Hey, Sarge, we're ready to move out," Church, the leader of Blue Team, said.
Sarge started muttering to himself, then he said, "Alright, load up: let's head to Kaven Base!"
Kaven Base - 3:45 PM
After about 3 hours of arguing, cursing, driving, shooting, and asking for directions, the Reds and Blues finally found the Freelancers, who helped them reach Kaven Base. Once they got there, they found that most of the Command Staff had already left, leaving the teams instructions on what to do while the Command Staff was away.
"So, the Renners are staying here to help us out?" Sarge asked after reading the instructions.
"Looks like it," Church replied, looking over the instructions as well.
Behind their back, Simmons said, "Wow, how excited are you guys to be here?"
"Not much," Tucker said, "What's there to be excited about?"
"Are you kidding? We're in the base with the MOST ADVANCED technology available to the Coalition! What's there to NOT be excited about?!" Simmons asked.
Caboose, on the other hand, just wandered off.
"Ana, stay still, stand straight," Sasha said, trying to keep from snickering.
"Uhhh...why?" Anastasia asked, noticing her trying not to snicker.
"Trust me," Sasha said, balancing some kind of target on her head. Anastasia said nothing more, but started to look a little nervous. Just then, Sasha moved quickly and kicked the target she'd put on Anastasia's head.
Anastasia quickly squeaked, "Yipe!" and flinched as Sasha kicked the target off, shattering it. "What the?!" Anastasia shouted, startled.
Sasha just laughed. "You should have seen the guy from the ODST division I did that too. He pissed himself."
Anastasia responded, a little rattled, "I can see why..."
"You try," Sasha then said, putting a target on a lower platform. After preparing herself, Anastasia made the attempt, just barely hitting the target.
"Ok, now try to do that to me."
"What?!" Anastasia exclaimed.
"Try to kick me, come on now."
Again, Anastasia took some time to prepare herself. Then, when she felt ready, she made the attempt. Sasha, however, caught Anastasia's foot midflight, leaving her off balance. All Anastasia could do, at that point, was try to regain her balance. However, Sasha threw Anastasia's leg, causing her to spin.
While she laid on the ground, Anastasia muttered, "This is why I prefer a blade..."
"Take a few swings at me with one. It isn't hard to disarm someone."
"Depends on how many blades they're using..."
"Well, I can disarm someone using up to two, tried it on Sen yesterday."
"Well, had he gotten training on how to keep hold of your weapon from a Judge Magister?"
"Well, grandpa taught Sen some new holds, and he was a better swordsman then most when he had a body."
"Well, I guess it would all depend on the weapon." At that point, Anastasia used a device on her belt, and produced a massive two-bladed sword. "This is that weapon I've been using: the Dual Starblade. I can split it into the Star Blade and the Highstar Cutter."
"Ok, hold it."
"One weapon or 2?"
"One, to start."
At that point, Anastasia held the weapon as if in battle, pointing the Star Blade end towards the ground, with the Highstar Cutter pointing upwards. At that point, however, Sasha grabbed the handle and twisted it around, making Ana's arms criss-cross and instinctively let go. "Yeah...haven't been taught the counter for that yet..."
Anastasia nodded, and, retrieving her weapon, she held it, similarly to how she did agaisnt Giarc, and split it in a similar fashion. Sasha then quickly crossed Anastasia's arms behind her back, and pushed upward. Anastasia dropped her swords, then, saying, "Ow-ow-ow-ow!"
Sasha let go, and said, "See?"
Anastasia rubbed her arms, apparently with them still hurting. "I guess the armor just makes it more difficult to turn that way..." she said.
"Alright, enough for the day. Come on, I'm hungry, and the bar gives us free food."
"Alright," Anastasia replied, following along.
Chapter 4: ReunionEdit
Earth - Reno Spaceport - 6:47 PM
Again, Trista's cover worked to perfection: she'd been brought to the Coalition Capital of Earth, and, supposedly, in a week, she'd be questioned on how the Flood Loyalists took over her world...
...What they didn't know is that Earth would likely fall in less time than that.
After making her way away from the checkpoint, she hacked into one of the spaceport's computers and found the spaceport's armory, which she recorded for future reference.
Afterwards, she exited the spaceport, looking around the city, specifically taking note of the defenses, including police and military personel. She also looked around for consoles and emittors of any sort, something that seemed to come to her instinctually. Then, however, she spotted what she recognized as biological scanners: no doubt that they already detected her somewhat off physiology.
However, Coruptus, despite sensing this from his agent, blew it off: as far as he was concerned, they did not have a clue about Trista.
Chapter 5: n+1Edit
Sidewinder - 8:49 PM
Having hijacked a Nod craft, The Meta made his way to the planet originally called Sidewinder where he came from. The world appeared to still be a frozen wasteland, even after the long time it's been since he'd been there. He snarled at that.
He arrived in some kind of clearing, several hundred miles from the Mother of Invention. He re-entered the ship and prepared his weapons for investigating the wreck. However, when he exited the ship, he saw several armed soldiers outside.
"Look out, it's the Meta!" one of the called. The aimed their assault rifles, but the Meta was faster: he whipped out his Brute Shot and flattened the troops. After scanning them briefly, he recognized them: Project Freelancer soldiers.
He immediately realized that the remnants of Project Freelancer must be here: including any new equipment and AI they have. Maine immediately scavanged what he could off the corpses, mostly just weapons and ammo.
Now, remembering where the Mother of Invention was, he started his trek in that direction.
Chapter 6: Rally CapEdit
Earth - Kaven Base - 12/21/2270 - 10:10 AM
"Ok, Sasha, just take your ice pick and swing, give me everything you got."
"I'm gonna regret this." She then swung at Anastasia's legs. Suddenly, Anastasia took the Dual Starblade, and spun it, so that it locked with the pick. Then the forced the sword to continue, soon forcing the ice pick out of Sasha's hands.
Then, Sasha took her knife and tried to put it to Anastasia's throat, but Anastasia blocked the attack with the other end of her weapon.
"I could still kill you from this position," Sasha said, shrugging.
Anastasia replied, "Really?"
Sasha then immediately sent a kick to Anastasia's gut. However, Anastasia immediately brought the combined hilt of the twin weapon in the way of the kick.
Sasha then said, "See, here, I'd put an arrow in your eye."
"And here, I'd probably just slice it in half."
"Ah, I see. Tom?"
"Tom. Time-Of-Month? Don't worry, I get it."
"Not really...remember that misson I went on a few days ago: the assassination attempt on the Archadian Military Manufacturing Head?"
"Yeah?" she asked, throwing a kick to keep Anastasia on edge.
Blocking the kick, Anastasia continued, "The guy managed to get away: had to fight my way through a whole mess of Hoplites just to reach extraction: managed to set off the plant's Nethicite Core, but that...crapface got away..."
"Ah. Don't beat yourself up. Everybody's a screw-up now and then."
"It wasn't just this time, either: all my missions for the past few weeks have ALL been to get after this guy, and each time, he either escapes, or was never actually where Intelligence said he was..."
"Who is he?"
"All Intelligence had was that his name was Richtor Karinger. Like I mentioned, he's the head for all Archadian Military Manufacturing: killing him would leave the New Archadian Empire undersupplied for decades: a serious advantage to us if we end up going to war with the AoUD anytime soon."
"What type of security does he normally have?"
"Archadian Judges, Hoplites, Gunners, Marksmen, Magi, practically any kind of soldier the Archadians use. And a LOT of them at that."
"What's a hoplite?"
"They basically act as a sort of cross between the Swordsman and Magus. They tend to use either Zwill Blades or Obelisk Spears, and are a pain to deal with."
"Heavy Plate, kinda like a cross between what Swordsmen and Sub-Judges use. Never found out what it's made out of, but it's tougher than what the Swordsmen, Magi, and Gunners use."
"Does Richtor do public speaking?"
"Not really: one of the reasons he's so hard to track down: he usually stays near the AoUD Captial, unless he's inspecting a Manufacturing Plant: that's when I'm ususally sent to take him down."
"Alright then. When should I leave?"
"Come on, you think you could tell me this without me wanting to go get him?"
"Do you understand how deep these plants are in AoUD space? The only reason I can get there is because I usually have to use a captured Remora-II to sneak in, then have a Dalmascan Stealth Leviathan come to pick me up. How would you get in and out? We don't even know where he is right now..."
"Yeah, I understand."
Anastasia sighed, before responding, "I'll tell you the next time I have a lead on him, then I'll see what I can do about allowing you along...of course, you'll have to be re-equipped for the mission: the Archadians are skilled fighters, and their entire military is built around their Mist Powers. Plus, this won't be small strike teams like their raid last year: these will be whole hordes of them. I don't want to see you getting killed out there: would hate to have to explain it to mom."
"Who in the hell said anything about fighting?"
"There's pretty much no other way into those plants. Trust me: Intelligence has tried sending in Assassins, but they always end up being discovered: that's why they called me in the first place...although, I guess I could put up a decent distraction, but even then, you'd have to be equipped to deal with the guards. And, since we have so little intel on Richtor himself: he could be ex-military for all we know."
"Remember when Archadians attacked here?"
"I know: but these guys would likely be much better trained than them: even Gabranth commented there are better soldiers in the Archadian Army."
"The Beastmaster armor shouldn't inhibit your ability to sneak, while providing adequate protection in open combat. And while you're good with that ice pick, I've seen these guys use weapons with such strength to splinter heavier armaments. If you don't mind, I can find you a registery of available weapons to choose from. Also, for your bow, I'd suggest Assassin's arrows: they usually carry an effect similar to the Death Magick, meaning even if they skip off the armor, they may still kill the foe."
"Show me what stuff I can pick, then find me a ride."
"Like I said, I'd prefer if we both went: that way, I can at least distract the plant's guards..."
"You want me to make it out of this?"
"Yes, exactly why I want us both there: I can draw off the plant's guards and whatever soldiers are there equipping themselves, you can go to deal with Richtor and his guards. Then, we can both be extracted by the Stealth Leviathan the Dalmascans send."
"I actually know what I'm going to do."
"Without any intel? Without even knowing where he is?"
"Pretty much. It won't take that long to find out where he is."
"How would you find out?"
"Simple. I just need to get in a room with one Archadian for a couple of hours."
"Oh, right...unfortunately, from what I heard, Archadians don't really go for that: their military is HIGHLY regimented and regulated."
"I'm not gonna have sex with him, Ana..."
"Really, I do have standards..."
"Sorry, didn't mean..." Now, Anastasia was just pissed at herself over what she insinuated. "Still, the Archadians usually keep information like that among the higher-ups anyway."
"I don't need a higher up."
"What I'm saying is that only a higher up would know where Richtor is, or will be."
"What I need is someone who can direct me to a higher up, Ana."
"And then what? What if-" However, at that moment, Tex came by, looking unnervingly urgent. "Tex, what..."
"No time, have you seen Grif and Tucker?" Tex asked, urgently.
Anastasia answered, "I haven't. Sasha, have you-"
"Tucker? Yeah, he was a fun one..." Sasha replied.
"Seriously, I need to find those 2 bafoons: we got a mission! You two should head to the briefing room as well: Elle and Sen should already be there."
"Well, if Tucker's in trouble, I could use him again."
"Let's just go!" Anastasia interrupted.
As she followed, Sasha replied, "Really, nothing? Workaholics..."
Suddenly, Washington and Tex came for the Reds and Blues. While Sarge, Simmons, and Donut managed to stay together, Grif was visiting one of Kaven Base's bars, Caboose was following Church around (who was trying to escape him), and Tucker was with Grif at the bar.
Finally, the Reds and Bues were rounded up, and they, along with the Renners, were gathered in the Briefing room.
"So, why are we here?" Sarge asked.
"I need another sleepover, so I heard I could find Tucker," Sasha wisecracked.
"This is serious, people!" Carolina spoke up, "We currently have 2 issues that need resolving. The first one is here on Earth:" Then, an image of a young woman leaving a security checkpoint appeared on the scene.
"Oh, he's seeing someone?"
Grif then spoke up, "What's that got to do with this...besides, she doesn't look too dangerous."
Carolina, while still annoyed by Grif's comment, seemed at least relieved that it was 1: relevant, and 2: a valid observation. "A good observation, until you consider this biometric scan:" Then, an image of the girl's biometrics appeared. She seemed utterly human...except for where her brain should be, which the scan said consisted of Flood Biomatter. "After contacting the leader of the Flood Separatists, and...dealing with his poetic speech...we determined that she's not one of his, meaning she MUST be one of Coruptus's agents."
"So, why bring this to us?" Sarge asked.
Washington continued from there. "She was reported seen in a spaceport near New Carson City, meaning she's closest to us at the moment. That's why you guys," he indicated the Red and Blue Teams, "are going after her."
"So, what do we do? Kill her?" Church asked.
"No," Washington responded, "We've also been contacting Corpos on that, and he has a plan to...er...'have her repent'..."
"Meaning?" Grif asked.
Carolina answered, "He plans to switch the brain form out with one of his own. He'll set up several traps, marked by rings of sharp, curved, teeth-like rocks. Knock the girl into one of these traps. Corpos will handle the rest."
"Hey, what about you guys?" Tucker blurted out, "You guys just staying to guard the base or something?"
"No, our mission is potentially much more dangerous," Washington said. "Galiana Matveev reported that the wreck of the Mother of Invention, former center of operations for Project Freelancer, has been found."
"Wait...isn't Galiana Matveev supposed to be tracking the Meta?" Church remembered.
"She still is," Carolina pointed out.
Elle finally spoke out. "So, you're saying that the Meta has found what is likely a massive cache of Freelancer Equipment, and possibly AI?"
"Exactly, we're going to stop him," Carolina replied. "The Renners will take care of things back here until we get back. Alright people, let's move!"
As everyone left, Carolina caught up with Anastasia and told her something. Then, after Carolina was finished, Anastasia approached Sasha.
"They found him."
"Based on what Carolina said, Larsa just sent the news a few minutes ago. As promised, I'll contact him and see if you can come with me."
"Not a matter of asking permission, Ana. I'm coming."
"Well, I'd prefer if he'd at least expect you coming. Let's go."
Chapter 7: Lifting the VeilEdit
Earth - Kaven Base, Renner house - 11:30 AM
Anastasia led Sasha into her room. Then, she again opened the Holodoor to the hidden chamber in her room, that housed her armor cabinet.
Sasha said, "All my stuff is packed up and ready to go."
"Remember: you're probably gonna have to re-equip before we set out. Again, we should be able to get a copy of the base's inventory when we get there," Anastasia said, putting on her armor.
Sasha sighed. "Ok, I'll meet you at the transport."
As Anastasia put the past pieces of armor on over her clothes, and put her helmet under her arm, she asked, "What transport?" She then gestured at the large device in the center of the room, sitting in the middle of a large rune. The device looked like a large lantern, sitting on a pedestal. On the pedestal, just under the lantern-shaped stone was 4 arms, each ending in a glowing light.
Sasha answered to that, "Ok, let's go." Anastasia gestured to one of the areas on the rune on the floor, just across from one of the glowing arms on the device. Sasha, immediately guessing what she meant, went to stand there.
"You might wanna brace yourself: the first time can be a little nausiating." Without waiting for a response, Anastasia touched one of the glowing arms.
Suddenly, the rune on the floor began to glow, and suddenly, the glowing rune seemed to rise up off the floor, until it was at about waste level with them. Then, light streamed up around them from the floor, and soon, everything went white.
Dalmascan Starbase X-01 - 11:35 AM
Next thing they knew, they were standing in a large chamber. In front of them was a similar device to the one from Anastasia's room, only the surroundings had the markings of unmistakable Dalmascan Architecture.
"Alright, now where?" Sasha asked.
"Follow me," Anastasia replied. The duo exited the chamber into a hanger bay: multiple Dalmascan fighters, from Remoras, to Valfarres, to Chariot Lancers, to Valfarre IIs, were scattered across the hanger, with Dalmascan pilots all over socializing. As the duo would pass some pilots, they seemed to salute towards Anastasia, speaking volumes about her position among the Dalmascan Military.
"Hi, I'm here too..." Sasha said.
"Sorry, just...being a Judge Magister gives you a high standing here, and I'm a Judge Magister-in-Training, so...yeah...that's why I'm getting the attention...That device we came here in was a Waystone, magicite-based technology from Ivalice that was only within the past 20 years unlocked again. We're now in a space station near the Epsilon Eridani System."
"Alright alright." jsut then, Sasha backpedalled, adn then flipped off a few of the pilots.
"Sasha, come on...Larsa and Gabranth should be around here somewhere..." Anastasia urged.
Finally, after some searching, the duo located Larsa, Gabranth, and Gabranth's 2 Sub-Judge escorts. Larsa then said, "Ah, Anastasia, good to see you made it. And this is your sister, I take it?"
"Yes, this is Sasha," Anastasia replied. The group then began walking towards the briefing room.
Larsa then said to Sasha, "Believe it or not, Anastasia is not really taken to asking for aid on her missions, so I was sort of surprised she asked if you could aid her on this mission. Do not worry: I have the base's inventory registry ready for after the briefing. That way, you'll be able to choose the equipment you feel most comfortable with."
"I already know what I'm taking in. Just give me five minutes of privacy in the armory."
Larsa then said to her, "I must insist you be there for the briefing. It would be best to know what we're all planning, so you and your sister can coordinate your efforts properly."
"I'll be there, don't worry, shorty."
"I believe I should point out that we ARE heading DIRECTLY to the briefing, right now..." Gabranth replied to Sasha's statement.
"Ok, let's go."
After a while, the group arrived in a room with a holotable, and a screen on one wall. Mainly, though, on the holotable was several folders of documents. "Are we ready to begin?" Larsa asked.
"Any day now..." Sasha muttered.
"He just wants to make sure we're all on the same page," Anastasia responded, "That way, we don't have to take longer by going back over things."
"That's right," Larsa said, "Now, we've finally managed to track down Richtor Karinger to the next facility he's going to inspect. Now, I'm sure we all understand the significance Richtor's demise would have on a potential war effort, so I needn't bother explaining. He's located at the Archadian Manufacturing Plant Tarkoli III, just 45 lightyears from Doisac. Gabranth?"
Gabranth continued, "Our plan usually has us having Anastasia using Vanish to get as far into the facility as possible, before engaging any soldiers she encounters the rest of the way. Unfortunately, this gives Richtor time to escape. Fortunately, Sasha, your involvement in this mission gives us access to an alternative route that will likely increase our chance of success."
"Let's hear it," Sasha impatiently answered.
Gabranth then continued, "The plan will start the same way: Anastasia will be using a variant of the Vanish Magick to increase stealth. However, this time, using Vanishga, both of you will be cloaked. Anastasia will still engage the plant's guards, however, Sasha, you'll be able to slip into the Manufacturing Head's location, and deal with him."
Larsa then commented, "From what Anastasia said, you had your own idea of what you're going to do, is that correct?"
"Yep. What is the biggest bomb you people have?"
"Uhmm..." Larsa answered, "A bomb? Why?"
Anastasia shook her head at that one. "Guess I should have checked to see what the plan was..." she said.
"Well, whatever the biggest one is, ignore it. I slip in, find one of the crates of their own explosives to be distrbuted, place a remote bomb, detonate from afar. Security is attracted to the bang, I can find target."
Anastasia seemed to look relieved at that one. Larsa commented, "It's an interesting idea. However, once the detonation goes off, you'll have to work fast: no doubt that once it goes off, they'll try to evacuate him."
"Thought of that. The detonation was the result of a fuck up on the maker's part. Therefore, it isn't an attack, but a workplace mishap."
Gabranth then commented, "Depends on who's running the plant: some actual plant runners are paranoid enough to know it's an attack, while others, your plan would work to perfection. Unfortunately, Intel is minimal as to which one this plant is."
Anastasia, however, came up with her own addon to the idea. "If I can attack from the front, not long after the bomb goes off, I may be able to drive Richtor in Sasha's direction."
Sasha replied, "Could work."
"Sounds like a sound plan, then," Gabranth replied. "As usual, we've captured an enemy fighter, like usual, a Remora Mark II. Fortunately, they're usually 2-seaters so both of you should fit inside. Now, if that is all, you 2 should get ready, and we'll meet in the hangar bay in one hour."
Sasha then asked, "Where's the armory?"
"Next door, actually," Larsa answered.
"See ya," Sasha then said, as she left for the armory. At the assigned time, Anastasia, Gabranth, Larsa, and Sasha arrived at the Remora Mrk II.
Anastasia then asked, "Uhmm...you didn't get anything?"
"Yep. I just wanted to hit on the armorer."
"So, you didn't arm yourself with anything new?"
Anastasia sighed. "I was hoping you'd at least have grabbed a few Assassin's Arrows..."
"Trust me, I don't need them."
"Alright...I'm just wanting to ensure we both come back from this in one piece...Mom'll have my head if you don't make it back..."
"Tell her I said thanks for letting me borrow her car all those highschool years if I die."
Anastasia just sighed again, as she loaded up in the pilot's seat of the fighter.
"And tell her to use her imagination if she wonders what that white stain in the back seat is."
Anastasia just sighed, and Gabranth and Larsa just looked at each other. "Just load up," Anastasia replied, as she put on her helmet finally.
"C'mon, shorty, Gabby, you two never rebelled from parents?"
The 2 looked together again. "My father was the Emperor of Archadia," Larsa replied.
"Not really...although I did originally betray my homeland," Gabranth replied.
"What a fucked up universe. I'm the only one who ever stole mom's car to go out with four separate guys..."
Then, in her Judge Althaea voice, Anastasia spoke up. "Please, can we get back to the task at hand?"
"I'm driving," Sasha said, even though Anastasia was already in the pilot's seat, but once she saw the controls, she said, "Point taken," and moved to the copilot's seat. Then, after Sasha was strapped in, Anastasia closed the hatch, and the fighter launched.
Chapter 8: Remember Me How I WasEdit
Sidewinder - 3:24 PM
The Freelancer Light Cruiser, the HCS Silent Corsair, dropped out of FTL over the planet the Mother of Invention was located on. The Freelancer Pilot Four-Seven-Niner transported the team, consisting of Carolina, Washington, and Tex, to the planet, to rendezvous with Galiana Matveev and Ohtacar.
Once down on the planet, Galiana Matveev and Ohtacar were waiting in a clearing for them. Once they offloaded, Galiana immediately began her briefing. "Ohtacar and I were able to recon the ship: it appears there are soldiers still guarding the vessel in snow-white ODST Armor."
"Project Freelancer Soldiers? There are still some here?" Washington asked.
"Apparently," Carolina replied.
"Yes," Galiana answered, "While I was watching the Meta, he discovered several soldiers and eliminated them as well. So, he's aware of them as well. However, I severely doubt the chances of reasoning with them."
Carolina replied, "So do I. So, what's the objective?"
"We must secure the wreck of the ship, and neutralize the Meta when he arrives," Galiana replied.
"Seems simple enough," Tex replied.
Washington replied, "Remember: this IS the Meta we're talking about."
"I know, I know," Tex replied, "So, got a plan?"
Ohtacar responded, "We thought we'd fight our way in. Pretty much the only way to secure the wreck."
"Well, we knew this wasn't going to be easy..." Carolina began, when suddenly her comlink churped. After a moment of talking, she then said, "And things are about to get a whole lot harder: Nod vessels are entering the atmosphere: they must be after the Project Freelancer equipment as well."
"Then it is settled," Galiana said, "We must defend the ship until the enemy is eliminated: no retreats, no excuses. Follow my lead."
Galiana pulled her sword out of the last soldier in the hangar. The Freelancers had watched as she and Ohtacar slaughtered the PF Soldiers. "Wow..." Washington said, "You 2 are a pair of cold motherf-"
"Quiet," Galiana said, immediately on alert. "Get down!" She said, diving behind a piece of cover.
A figure approached the ship from outside. Once it entered the ship, it was revealed who it was.
Upon seeing who it was, Galiana said, "This makes our mission much more difficult: the Meta is here..."
The team watched as the Meta slaughtered the Project Freelancer troopers that tried to attack him. Carolina whispered, "Well...he hasn't changed much..." as Maine smashed 2 soldiers' heads together.
Galiana scanned the Meta's mind, to analyze her foe: the Meta's mind was severely fragmented and broken. Plus, when she scanned his physiology, she found his throat damaged so he couldn't talk: a severe injury, but one easily repaired with her power. This suggests that, whatever the Meta is doing, he's not in the right frame of mind while doing it, and, maybe, if he were somehow snapped out of it, might even come to their side...
Suddenly, Washington informed, "Watch out! He sees us!" Galiana snapped out of her thoughts to notice that the Meta was now looking at them, cracking his knuckles, readying to fight.
As Carolina and Washington prepared to fight, Galiana suddenly advanced. "Galiana, get back!" Carolina ordered.
However, Galiana turned her head to her. "I'm in charge this mission. You all, go and secure the equipment on this vessel: neither the Meta or Nod should be allowed to obtain this equipment. I will take on the Meta...there's something I sensed inside him that I must try and take advantage of...GO! I'll hold him!"
The Freelancers and Ohtacar looked as though they didn't want to leave her...but eventually, one by one, starting with Carolina and ending in Ohtacar, they left. Galiana turned to the Meta, who snarled at her vehemently. "You first," she said, and the Meta charged.
The group continued fighting through the Mother of Invention, fighting its soldier compliment. After sometime, they reached the ship's cargo bay, where they knew its compliment of Freelancer equipment was kept. Carolina went to work on the control panel, sealing the door behind them.
"Ok," Carolina began, "Let's set up a barricade, and prepare to defend this area: the Silent Corsair should be here in a few hours to recover the equipment."
"I wouldn't think so," Ohtacar replied, "The Nod forces in space may keep the Silent Corsair occupied: it may take a while for them to get here...and it's likely Nod will be here long before they will."
Washington then replied, "We'll have to hold our position then: ensure neither the Project Freelancer Soldiers or Nod Operatives can take the equipment."
Suddenly, a banging could be heard coming from the door. "Well, let's lock and load, then," Tex replied, "Here they come!"
Galiana released a punch, however, the attack merely flared the Meta's shields. The Meta then unleashed his own slug, but Galiana, like a gust of wind, moved out of the way. Soon, the 2 were locked together, both trying to catch the enemy off-balance, to knock them over. Galiana then told the Meta, "I've read your past, Meta. I've seen your mind: you're but a broken man, but not all gone. Try to come back as what you were, or I'll force my way into your mind and repair it myself!"
The Meta, however, snarled, and, with a surge of strength, threw Galiana back, into a wall. As he approached her, however, Galiana said, "Fine, have it your way..." And extended a hand. Reaching out with her mind, Galiana entered the Meta's own, and, taking its shattered parts, began to force them back together.
The Meta stopped in his tracks, howling in pain, as Galiana took his shattered consciousness and messed with it, putting it back together like a jigsaw puzzle. As more and more of the Meta's fragmented mind came together, the Meta roared louder and louder, until, with a final psionic fragment placement, Galiana put the last piece of his mind back, and fused it, returning it to its whole state. The Meta collapsed, the shock of the sudden restoration of its mind too much for it to handle all at once. Galiana, wounded but not down, came over, and, using her Life Elemental Powers, searched for the Meta's throat damage and restored it: when it awoke, the Meta would wake up as how he was before his mind shattered, and before he was rendered mute. Finally, she psionically entered the Meta's mind once more, encoding into there a message for him to find: the last stage of this risky plan.
Galiana then sensed her comrades in danger. Swiftly, she made her way towards the ship's cargo bay, leaving the unconscious Meta to recover.
One Nod soldier peered out to fire, and Tex blew its head off. Another tried to align a rocket launcher, but fell to Carolina's magnum. As he shot down 2 more soldiers, Washington commented, "They just keep coming! How many soldiers could Nod have sent?!"
"I don't know, just keep shooting!" Carolina called, as Ohtacar emerged from the shadows and took down 2 more of the Nod Soldiers.
Ohtacar, then keeping an eye out, said, "I can see Galiana! She must have defeated the Meta!" No sooner than he said that, a wave of razor-like wind cut into the Nod soldiers, and Galiana made her way through, swords and staff swinging. When she reached the group, however, it was clear she was not in the best condition.
"Galiana, are you ok? You look like you took a beating," Tex asked.
"I'm alright, we must hold the equipment," Galiana replied.
"What of the Meta?" Carolina asked.
Galiana cryptically replied, "If my gambit worked, we won't have to worry about him, as a hostile, anymore."
"What do you mean 'as a hostile'?" Tex asked. Galiana, however, did not answer, and just moved to a position to where she could aid the defense. However, the Nod teams were unrelenting, and even worse, Project Freelancer soldiers, determined to keep their equipment, reached the hangar and openned fire on both HS's forces and the Nod forces.
"Is there no end to them?!" Galiana asked, as the Nod teams' advance came closer and closer to the barricade. At that same time, she kept hoping the gambit she planned worked: if it did, the tide would easily turn in her team's favor.
If not...they would not even make it out of this situation alive...
The Meta began to awaken, feeling returning to his limbs and his mind becoming active again. For once in his life, his thoughts were clear: no AI commanding him to find more of them; no broken memmories forcing him to betray his comrades to finish a dead mission; his thoughts were now all to himself.
For once in the 260 years he'd been in this universe, he could finally think: think about what he'd done, why he'd done it, and how he was not in control...Then he remembered his recent fight with the girl, the one who 'fixed' his mind...he found a memory in there, one that seemed not his own, nor anyone else's, but simply a message, left by the girl.
"Help us...Help us complete our mission...We must keep Nod from getting this equipment...Help..."
He felt this thought swimming in his mind: even as the girl repaired the damage done by Sigma and the other AI to his mind, she left this one message for him: a plea for help. He soon remembered how his former comrades, the Freelancers, had stood beside her before she went to fight him, and realized they could be in danger.
He stood, his limbs feeling strong; body, not in pain; and as he inhaled, he felt the long-time damage to his throat gone: another gift from the girl who restored him. He realized that this girl must have thought that he would help her and his own former comrades should she restore him to his former state: felt she could predict his actions...
...Time to show her whether her little 'plan' worked or not...
The Nod and Project Freelancer forces continued to pour into the room, all attempting to get after the equipment being guarded by the small team: it was only thanks to the Freelancers' fortifications that their enemies had yet to stomp them, but it was only a matter of time before they breached the defenses, and claim the equipment for themselves.
"Damn it, there's too many of them!" Carolina shouted, as more PF Soldiers entered the room.
On the other side, Galiana and Tex continued to mow down the Nod soldiers that approached, but they too were gaining the advantage. "Then it appears this is where we meet our end..." Galiana said solemnly.
The PF and Nod soldiers were soon upon then, when a familiar 'bang' sounded. A small metal orb flew into the midst of the enemy forces and exploded, knocking them to the ground. Soon, the source lumbered into view. "Looks like your 'neutralization' of him failed, Galiana," Tex said, pointing her Rifle at the Meta. Galiana, however, just stared at the Meta, and the Meta stared back...and nodded. Galiana immediately understood.
As Tex pulled the trigger, Galiana immediately knocked into her, throwing off her aim. Before Tex could exclaim protest, Galiana said, "It has not: he's with us."
"What?" Tex exclaimed. This time, she payed attention, as the Meta concentrated solely on the Nod and PF forces, completely ignoring Galiana, Ohtacar, and the Freelancers.
The others noticed this as well, and, seeing this unexpected aid, Carolina then shouted, "Lock and load, people!" With this new boost of morale, the defenders unleashed a new wave of destruction on the enemy, pushing back the enemy advance.
However, soon, Nod's forces were supplimented by Cyborgs and Black Hand Soldiers, while the soldiers from the former Project Freelancer were backed up by vehicles. The Meta attempted to bring down the Nod Elite Soldiers, but was ambushed, and brought into a melee with a Nod Cyborg Commando. The Commando appeared to be overpowering the Meta: its cybernetic enhancements superior to the Meta's armor enhancements.
One last time, the Meta looked at Galiana, and nodded upward when he got her attention. Immediately understanding, Galiana called, "Get down!" Once everyone had dropped to the floor, the Meta aimed his Brute Shot upwards...and blasted the supports in the ceiling. The ship's integrity already damaged due to the crash, and attempted repairs inferior to defend against this, the ceiling, as well as the doorway, to the cargo bay collapsed.
Carolina woke up in the destroyed cargo bay. Looking around, she found her helmet's sensors damaged, not allowing her to see her teammates through the smoke and dust. Suddenly, she heard a shuffling: something coming through the debris field. She could see a glowing, which she recognized as the glowing of a Cyborg Commando's arm cannon. She looked and felt around for her magnum, but it was nowhere near her. She waited for the Commando to open fire...only it didn't.
She then saw a bulkier silhouette that appeared to be attached to the arm cannon; uncharacteristic with a Nod Cyborg Commando. The form soon became visible, but Carolina was still uncertain about it: the Meta, right hand clenched to the now-torn-off arm of the Cyborg Commando. Carolina watched as the Meta stood over her, uncertain of whether he was here to help her...or kill her...
She waited for a moment, before snarling, "Do it already..." The Meta waited a second...before kneeling and offering his hand. Shocked, Carolina took the Meta's hand, and the Meta helped her to her feet, before returning to her her magnum. He then looked in another direction. Carolina looked, and saw, in the clearing dust, Ohtacar helping Galiana up. Carolina immediately understood. "It was Galiana: she helped heal your mind, didn't she?"
The Meta nodded, confirming. Carolina looked at the doorway: it was completely blocked, and some of the soldiers could be seen half-crushed under the debris. She looked around again, and, as the dust cleared, she could see her teammates picking themselves up: the Meta's quick thinking not only saved everyone, but helped them secure their objective.
Just then, Carolina's comlink churped. "This is Agent Carolina, go ahead."
"This is Four-Seven-Niner, the Silent Corsair reports that the Nod ships have been pushed out of the system and is on its way to the Mother of Invention to pick up the Equipment: is the mission a success?"
"Roger that: the Meta's been neutralized, the equipment's been secured, and we even have one of the old teammates on our side again."
"Really? Who finally got enough sense to join up with us?"
Before Carolina could answer, the Meta raised a finger, telling her to wait. Then, a com channel from the Meta openned up. Then...
"Agent Maine, reporting in."
Carolina gasped: apparently, Galiana's 'repair efforts' were concentrated on more than just his mind. Washington approached Maine and said, "Good to have you back, Maine."
Maine responded, his is deep, raspy voice, "Good to be back, Wash."
Finally, something began to cut into the ship's hull, and, minutes later, that section of the hull fell open, revealing several Hellcat Squadran heavy-loading droids, that got to work retrieving the Freelancer Equipment.
Galiana then said, "Alright, let's get this equipment loaded, people...If the agent on Earth is as bad as she seemed, time's running out for the others..."
Everyone nodded, Maine included. "Alright then, let's go." He turned to Carolina. "Just explain to me en-route." Turning back to the exit, he said, "Let's not keep them waiting any longer..."
Chapter 9: Mid-Game SubstitutionEdit
Reno Spaceport - 1:45 PM
"So, any sign of her?"
"For the last time, no! That was the answer 10 minutes ago; that was the answer 5 minutes ago, so, 5 minutes from now, unless I update otherwise, when you ask me if there's any sign of the agent, my answer's gonna be: no, there is no sign of her!"
"...What is there any sign of?"
"...You know what? I fucking hate you..."
"Hey! We gotta be on the look-out: the scan said she could be anyone..."
"THE SCAN ALSO INCLUDED AN IMAGE OF HER FACE! WE KNOW WHAT SHE LOOKS LIKE!"
Sarge was put in charge of the search for the Flood Agent, and that had gotten on Church's nerves: he kept checking in every 5 minutes, asking if Church had spotted the agent yet, and every 5 minutes, Church gave the same answer. And now, he was on his last nerve. However, before he could lose his temper, he saw something in the crowd. He lowered his voice to a whisper. "Wait a minute, wait a minute...I think I see her..."
Sure enough, Church saw the girl from the security footage, walking through the crowd, eyeing everyone and everything suspiciously. Using his helmet's webcam, Church snapped an image of her and sent it to Sarge...then a few minutes later, remembered to send Sarge the image of from the security footage. The response came almost instantly after the 2nd image was sent. "Great gadzooks! It's her!"
However, Sarge spoke too loudly: the girl looked directly in Church's direction. Her expression, especially her eyes, gave Church chills: this was indeed an agent of the Flood. Immediately, she broke off into a sprint, realizing that Church was spying on her.
"Great going, you jackass, she heard you: she's onto us!" With that, Church leapt from his place of hiding and charged after her. However, the girl was definitely an expert at infiltration and espionage. "Damn it, I lost her..."
"Where was she heading?"
"To the East Wing, why?"
"Why?! Because that's where the space port keeps its..." Before Sarge could finish, and alert alarm went off.
Then, Tucker, who was watching the exterior of the spaceport, said, "I see her! She's stolen a Mongoose ATV, and is fleeing the spaceport!"
"Alright, everyone to the Warthogs!" Church ordered.
"Oh, Hell no! I'm in charge of this operation-"
Church interrupted Sarge, "That was before you gave away our position, allowing the target to escape!" With that, Church made his way to the garage, and the Warthogs.
I-15 - 7:15 PM
The Red's and Blue's Warthogs sped down the highway, pursuing the Flood Spy down it. For the better part of the day, the teams had been merely following her, trying to keep her in their sight, as they quickly left Nevada and went all the way up into Montana. The 3 Warthogs kept occasionally firing burst from their machine guns at the fleeing ATV, in an attempt to knock it over. However, the Flood Mind inside the girl was apparently quite skilled, as it deftly dodged the bursts and even used her own SMG from the Spaceport Armory to fire on them.
At one point, she fired on Grif, who shouted, "Hey! Watch where you're shooting that thing! You almost took my head off!"
The girl let off a guttural growl growl in response, before continuing firing.
Grif shouted, "Damn it!"
Then, Church reported, "Hey, we got incoming! The Freelancers are back! They're sending 2 Hornets and a Pelican our way!"
No sooner than he said that, the 2 Freelancer Hornets flew in, falling in formation with the Warthogs. The 3 Freelancers there each leapt from the side seats, and activated jetpacks. All of them pursued the fleeing Flood Agent, firing Battle Rifles, Assault Rifles, and Magnums at the agent.
However, the agent was good with her SMG: she fired on Tex's jetpack, sending her crashing into the 3rd Warthog. Tex then pulled herself into the side seat. "Keep firing!" Tex told the others, "We have to keep her attention!"
"Attention?!" Sarge asked, "Attention from what?!"
"We've managed to recruit an old friend to our side," Washington cryptically responded.
"But who's the friend?!" Church inquired.
Carolina answered, "You met him before, but don't worry: he's on our side now!"
Just then, the Pelican formed up with the Flood Agent. The agent looked up, as the back hatch openned...and Maine leapt out, slamming feet-first into the front of the ATV, crushing the front of it and catapulting the Flood Agent out.
The agent laid on the ground for a split second, before recovering, and firing on Maine. Maine easily endured the hit, and pulled out his Brute Shot, openning fire.
"What the?! The Meta?! THE META'S THE FRIEND YOU BROUGHT HERE?!" Grif exclaimed in disbelief.
"Galiana psionically did something with him: whatever she did, she utterly repaired his mental damage: he's one of us again," Carolina answered, as the teams caught up with Maine and the Flood Agent. The agent fired with her SMG, but Maine's armor shrugged off the hits like they were nothing, and Maine fired several grenades with his Brute Shot. The agent backflipped out of the way of the grenades, and, seeing no other option, leapt off the side of the highway, into the forest below.
"You're not getting away that easy!" Maine snarled, as he leapt into the forest after her.
The teams and the Freelancers soon caught up to where Maine and the agent were. Carolina said, "Come on, we have to follow them!" before leaping off the highway. Soon, the others got the Warthogs off the highway, and went back to pursuing the Agent and Maine.
It was immediately obvious the girl was using her agility and speed to her advantage, keeping to the trees, while Maine chased from below. However, as the edge of the forest came into view, Maine slammed one of the trees, knocking the agent out of it. The Agent, however, kicked Maine as he approached, and quickly recovered fleeing again.
The 2 of them soon left the forest, entering what appeared to be some kind of frozen plain: a sure reminder that they were now in late-fall Montana, instead of near Reno. The agent then found herself near a cliff, and ran alongside the ledge. However, as Maine looked down, he saw, near it, a ring of tooth-like rocks, like was described to him. he ran for the agent as fast as he could, and, jsut as the others finally reached them, Maine tackled the agent, sending them both tumbling over the edge.
Carolina was the first to find a way to the bottom of the cliff. Soon, they reached where they saw Maine and the agent go down. Once there the team waited: the area was thick with thrown-up ice and snow. Finally, 2 figures came into view, facing each other: the Flood Agent with a shotgun and an SMG, and Maine with his Brute Shot.
The 2 stared at each other for a long time, until...the Agent charged: she fired her Shotgun and SMG both at Maine, who merely shrugged off the shots and knocked the agent to the ground, both weapons flying out of her hands. However, the agent then close the distance again, unleashing a barrage of punches, kicked, and chops to Maine, who either dodged, blocked, or was hit by, them. Every once in a while, Maine would unleash a massive attack of his own: sweeping his leg under the agent's legs, ramming the agent to the ground, or just straight up slugging her in the face.
Eventually, the agent's body seemed to be wearing out. Realizing now was his chance, Maine looked around, spotting the stone ring nearby. Then, activating his armor's strength booster, he picked the agent up and tossed her into the ring. The agent looked at Maine angrily, but Maine just pointed down.
The agent looked towards the ground...and saw it crack. The agent gave a final guttural snarl of defiance, before, then, Corpos's massive tentacles tore up from the ground, squeezing the agent in an inescapable vice-grip. One of his other tentacles split into multiple pieces, these shooting into the agent's ears, actively hunting her brain...or rather the Brain Form that took up residence in her head.
Soon, the girl fell limp, no longer under Coruptus's control. As one set of Corpos's tentacles remained in her head, having Corpos himself serve as a sort of 'life support system' for her, the other set tore out of her head, taking a crusty, brain-shaped Flood Form out, and throwing it into the nearby cliff-face. As Corpos lowered the girl down gently, however, the Brain Form sprouted insectoid legs, and scanned the Freelanders and Red and Blue teams for a new host. Selecting Maine, it charged towards the bulky Freelancer...only to be stabbed by several of Corpos's micro-tentacles, which sucked up the Brain Form like a vacuum sucked up dirt. Then, after another minute, the tentacles that were still in the girl's head extracted themselves, and the girl resumed breathing, although she remained unconscious.
"It is done: Coruptus's hold on this girl is no more...Treat her well..." With that, Corpos left, retreating back underground.
Maine was the first ot reach the girl. After looking the girl over, he picked her up off the ground, before telling his comrades, "Let's get her back to base."
Chapter 10: Change of PlansEdit
Deep Space - 4:00 PM
The Remora Mk II exited FTL. In front of them was a massive space station, orbited by multiple Archadian vessels. Just then, they were hailed by the station. "Unidentified fighter: please transmit your access codes, or you will be fired upon."
"Remind me where we are?" Sasha asked.
Anastasia held up a finger, signalling 'one moment'. She then set to work typing into the computer terminal adjacent to her. A moment later, the station hailed them again. "Very well, you are cleared land."
Anastasia then answered, "Deep Space Manufacturing Facility CR-12-41-O9. Our mission is to infiltrate the facility, eliminate Richtor Karinger, and head to one of the outer docking arms for evac. We'll be extracted by a Dalmascan Stealth Leviathan in approximately 2 hours."
"Ok, drop me off."
"Remember, we's both going in. Stick to the plan, and we'll both make it out in one piece." While she explained that, she piloted the fighter towards one of the hangars lining the facility. "Remember: I've done this plenty of time: I know what I'm doing."
"And that's worked out so well before."
Anastasia sighed. After a few minutes, their fighter landed in the hangar. Before openning the fighter, Anastasia quickly muttered something to herself, and, in a flash of energy, both herself and Sasha became invisible.
"I can still sense you, I hope you know that: this only makes you invisible to eyes and sensors, not Aura Powers."
"Then you should know I'm walking away."
However, Anastasia hastely added, "And tread lightly: they can't see you, but they can still hear you: a simple tap, and they'll cased Dispel in your direction, and, when they do: it'll leave you out in the open."
"I have hunter's tread, Ana..."
"Just be careful...remember: we're on their turf, we'd best tread carefully." Finally, the fighter openned, and Anastasia quickly, but silently, evacuated from the fighter cockpit.
By the time Ana was off the ramp, Sasha was several meters ahead, all silent. And both were gone from the room, by the time the Archadian guards found the cockpit empty. "Eh, must've been a drone fighter," one of the guards said.
Sasha continued through the facility, slipping by the guards easily: the effects of Vanish combined with her silence meant no one even gave a glance her way. "The fuckers get dumber every year..." she thought to herself.
Finally, she located a crate full of Nethicite explosives. Sasha then set the charges, and got as far away as she could. Moments later, after the charges detonated, the crate began sucking in surrounding energy, draining the surrounding guards of their Mist Energy, before violently exploding.
"Ok, let's kill."
Immediately, the alarm went off, and, as Sasha moved to go after the Manufacturing head, she realized the Vanish Magick Anastasia used on her must have been cancelled out by the energy drain: she was visible again. "Alright. Now its fun," she said as climbed a spire to look around.
She noticed that, once the guards had recovered, like planned, they went to investigate the explosion. Immediately, however, an area that appeared to be a control room seemed alive with activity. That must be where the manufacturing head was. However, the window was covered in a paling: Sasha'd have to get up there and kill the man personally.
Sasha smiled. "This is gonna be fun." Suddenly, from behind the window, she could see the people in the control room heading away from her. "Bored...any day now Ana..."
As if on cue, a loud noise could be heard from to Sasha's left: she saw Anastasia appear as a whirl of blades cutting down a patrol of Archadian gunners. Then, Anastasia shouted in the direction of the control room, "We meet again, Karinger! Long have I hunted you, and today WILL be the day you die! Make no mistake, YOUR LIFE ENDS HERE!"
"Ana...you need acting lessons..." Sasha said, before getting down, to pursue Richtor Karinger.
Finally, Sasha neared a door, guarded by 2 Archadian Hoplites. Using the element of surprise, she quickly approached the 2 guards and stabbed them through the eye holes of their armor.
However, the moment Sasha stepped into the room, she saw it was brightly-lit, no where to hide, and, at that moment, another door at the other end opened, revealing a man in Sub-Judge Armor.
"Buddy, you dropped by at the wrong time of month." At that moment, she shot him with an arrow.
However, the man immediately erected a Mist Paling in front of him, the arrow bouncing harmlessly off. "So...Judge Althaea has finally realized she cannot defeat me herself, so she sends some...assassin...to kill me as I retreat...the Dalmascans get more desperate each passing day..."
"I'm not an assassin, actually."
"Oh, really, then what are you?"
Sasha readied pickaxe and knife. "I'm actually her sister. And they didn't want me to go."
"Heh...I can see why: charging blindly into a battle you couldn't possibly hope to win." As he said this, he brought out a familiar runed card.
"Fuck you and any children unfortunate enough to call you father."
Richtor Karinger then incantated, "Bringer of Fire, Incinerate mine foes! Ifrit!"
"You fat fuck," Sasha said, as the massive creature Ifrit appeared before her.
Anastasia cut down another Swordsman, when she heard the explosion. From where she saw Sasha and Richtor at, she also saw a massive form: Ifrit. "Oh crap!" She said, Then, pulling out her Eidolon Shard, she incantated, "Corrupted Wyrm, restore your dark flare, TIAMAT!"
A moment later, the massive form of the Dragon Eidolon Tiamat appeared. "What is it?!" it asked.
"Go there, stop Ifrit before he destroys my sister!"
Tiamat, seeing Ifrit, responded, "I will defeat him!" then, Tiamat charged the Fire Eidolon, as Anastasia was forced to return to fighting the onslaught of Archadian Soldiers.
"Prepare for your end, Sister of Althaea!" Richtor said.
Sasha prepared for the end, when suddenly, Ifrit was rammed by a massive dragon-like creature. Immediately, the dragon Tiamat reversed, and fired a beam at Ifrit, intentionally drawing Ifrit's attention.
With that, Sasha went straight for Richtor. "Very well then," Richtor said, pulling out his massive Runeblade, "I guess I'll deal with you myself."
"Come on then, coward."
Once Sasha reached him, she started with a distracting, flashy move with her icepick, but, not one to be fooled by such gimmicks, Richtor moved to the side and swung his blade. Sasha ducked and kicked to the side of Richtor's head. Richtor was hit, but easily recovered. Sasha then fakes another kick, but instead aimed pickaxe at Richtor's foot while she was in the air. Richtor, seeing through the ruse, caught the foot, while blocking the icepick. Sasha then wrapped her other leg around his neck and pulled him to the ground. However, before she could do anything, Richtor wrenched himself free of her grip.
"You'll have to do better than that..." Sasah then threw away both her weapons, readying for a fight..
...When, just then, as if sensing something, he leapt backwards...as the Dual Starblade slammed into the ground where he was moments earlier. "So...I take it arrived just in time for the party?" Anastasia asked.
"You arrived too early," Sasha said, irritated at Anastasia's intrusion.
"Not really..." Just then, Anastasia pointed at the door, as Archadian guards approached. "I'll deal with them so you can continue things here...undisturbed..."
At that moment, Sasha performed a similar maneuver to the one she used to disarm Anastasia a week or 2 ago. However, after he dropped his weapon, Richtor stomped hard at Sasha's foot. With her other leg, Sasha stamped hard on the side of Richtor's knee. Richtor howled in pain, and, pulling away, began casting magicks to heal the wound. While he was distracted, Sasha kicked him in the elbow, snapping his arm. Then, however, Richtor cast a magick at Sasha, and she found herself immediately immobilied, as Richtor healed his leg and arm. However, another magick washed over her: Anastasia cast Esuna, freeing Sasha from the grip of the Magick.
Sasha then taunted, "You're such a coward, Ricky."
"I just do what is necessary to win...who doesn't?" He then pulled out an Ivalician Crossbow. "You seem to like bows...let's see how yo do against a true marksman..." He then started loading dark blue bolts into the crossbow.
Sahsa, in response, picked up her bow and had an arrow nocked all in three seconds.
"Impressive...now...let's see what you got..." Richtor said, firing one of the bolts at Sasha. However, at last second, Sasha closed the gap and kicked the crossbow, causing the bolt to go wide. Then, she fired an arrow at him, and managed to get it through an eyehole. With a scream of pain, Richtor backed off. Sasha merely approached him, pulled out the arrow, ripped off his helmet, and repeatedly bashed his in skull. Once his skull was total crushed, she reached down through the top and tore out his tongue.
Finally, Anastasia approached her, and said, "Was that...necessary?"
"No...felt good though."
"Well...what feels good for me is that this guy's finally dead..."
Sasha then pocketed the tongue. Just then, something teleported into Sasha's hand: the Eidolon Shard Richtor used earlier. "Well...would you look at that...", Anastasia said, tilting her head curiously.
Sasha, however, merely said, "I don't need this..." before tossing it aside. Anastasia eased over and picked it up, not being able to help but scowl at Sasha for the act. Fortunately, it was hidden by her helmet so Sasha didn't see. "Can we go now? I'm hungry," Sasha said.
"First, we need to reach extraction," Anastasia answered.
"You think?" Sasha asked, sarcastically.
Anastasia responded, "Like I said earlier: one of the outer docking rings." Then, looking around the area, through the hole in the wall formed by Ifrit's summoning and Tiamat's counterattack, she pointed to a door across the factory floor. "There's the closest entrence to the docking arms. We have to move!" Sasha immediately rushed forward, generally going the most direct route to the door. Anastasia sighed. "Always on the move..." she said, before following.
The duo made their way to the door their own ways: Sasha performing parkour to get to the door as quickly as possible, while Anastasia, weighed down by her armor, was forced to cross the factory floor, cutting down Archadian Soldiers as she went.
Finally, the 2 met up at the door. "Took you long enough," Sasha said as she kicked down the door.
Anastasia shook her head and the 2 entered the docking arm. However, they ran into a force of what appeared to be elite Archadian Troopers. At the head was a man wearing the same armor as Richtor Karinger. The others all had guns...all pointed at them.
Suddenly, the station shook. Over Anastasia's communication system, a voice said, "This is the Dalmascan Starship HMS Tralinjar. We are proceeding to your position, hold tight until we arrive."
"Ride's on the way..." Anastasia said, getting into a combat pose. Sasha loaded an arrow, but kept it nocked, and it appeared as though she were pressing buttons on it.
The enemy Judge unsheathed his sword, readying to fight, when suddenly a rumble began to sound, and, through one of the airlocks, everyone could see a destroyer-sized, pitch-black ship come up alongside the docking arm, matching its airlock to the station's. Another communication came. "It'll take a few minutes to interface with the Archadian Airlock. You two think you can handle yourselves until then?"
At that moment, Sasha loosed the arrow. In the air, it split into 4 arrows, each hitting an enemy gunner or marksman. "We'll be fine," Anastasia said, lunging forward and entering combat with the Judge. As Sasha used her Icepick and knife to take on the other soldiers. Anastasia continued fighting the Judge. The Judge was good with his blade, but Anastasia was better. By the time Sasha finished up with the other soldiers, Anastasia cross-sliced the Judge, before stabbing him. The Judge fell to the floor, dead.
Then, another communication came through, as one of the airlocks opened. "We're through! We've detected destabilizations in the factory's Nethicite core. Get out of there! Now!"
Sasha responded by sprinting through the airlock to the Tralinjar, Anastasia following close behind. Once both were onboard, the Dalmascan Stealth Leviathan decoupled from the station, and flew off, fast, the station's core destabilizing, causing it to explode behind them.
Sasha walked into a room on the ship, an hour or so after they left the station, and found Anastasia. She was tired, but still awake, reclining in the chair, out of her armor and in her normal clothing, her armor sitting packed nearby.
"You saying your adrenaline isn't going?"
"What, you think it's easy pulling these missions off?" Anastasia sat up, and, after working out a crick in her neck, said, "Don't worry, should be rested up by the time we get back..."
"Easy? Ana, that was fun."
"To you, maybe...to me, it's just another day in the office..."
"Maybe we should strand you in the forest alone for a month sometime, no powers."
Anastasia thought a moment, before saying, "I'll...stick to being a Judge Magister: it's what I'm good at..."
Sasha sighed. "And that's why you're single..."
As Sasha went up against the wall to do vertical push ups, Anastasia sighed, before changing the subject. "How are you not tired?"
"Ana, I train for four hours every day. That guy was a pussy and that mission was a warm up."
Finally, Anastasia pushed herself out of the chair. "I'm going to go get something to eat...getting a little hungry..."
"Aight," Sasha answered, as Anastasia slowly left the room, to the ship's messhall...
Chapter 11: True ColorsEdit
Earth - Kaven Base - 12/25/2270 - 12:00 PM
It was Christmas Day at Kaven Base once again. Once again, the area around Kaven Base was facing snow. Anastasia, just wandering around the base, took in the sights of how the base looked covered in snow.
As she was wandering, however, she spotted a small house, that she didn't recognize. Seemed only large enough for one person, and barely at that. The slowly made her way to the house, and door. When no one responded, she slowly opened the door. Inside was a young woman, sitting in a corner. Around her was various bits of trash and debris. She had a dead expression on her face, as though she felt she had nothing to live for.
She remained motionless for a moment, leaving Anastasia to wonder if she was even alive...until she started shivering. The young woman then looked up, showing her ice-blue eyes. She then said, in a cold voice, "Shut...the door..." Anastasia quickly closed the door behind her. The girl's expression saddened, and she dropped her head again.
Anastasia approached her, and asked, "Are you...alright?" The girl just shook her head. "Want to...want to talk about it?"
"If I talked about it...you'd just be another factor as to why I feel as I do..."
"You can't expect me to know that if I don't know why..." Anastasia said, pulling up another chair and sitting down next to her. The girl just turned away from her. "Can you...tell me your name at least?"
The girl sighed. "My name...is Trista...Trista Bennett..." she replied.
Anastasia heard the name before. It was recent, so she'd probably remember it quickly..."You're that girl with the Flood Brain, right?"
That caused Trista to react, first with horror, then...with confusion. "You...you don't...you don't mind?" she asked.
"Who's the Flood you're current brain is form? Corpos, right?" Anastasia asked. Trista nodded. "As far as I can tell, at least for now, he's on our side, meaning that if you're actually thinking for yourself right now, there's nothing to worry about."
Trista seemed to lighten up at that. "It's...it's great to hear that..." She shook her head. "I mean...while I admit this...circumstance...makes it difficult for people to see me as anything other than a Flood controlled person...I really just want a chance...a chance to...right what I was made to do wrong..."
"...When Coruptus had control of your body," Anastasia interjected.
"Yes, Coruptus controlled...but it was my body, and as such, that's what people will see...I want the chance to do things right this time...but I can't do that when all people do it push me away..."
Anastasia then pointed out, "I'm not pushing you away." Trista seemed to lighten up a bit. "When I look at you, I don't see a Flood-controlled puppet: I just see a guilt-ridden girl who just needs a friend."
"You'd be willing to be friends...with me?" Trista asked, hopefully.
Anastasia smiled and nodded. "You look like someone who could use a friend right now, anyways."
Trista seemed completely cheered up. "Thank you..."
After talking to each other for a time, the duo decided to get a bite to eat at the messhall...before setting to work cleaning Trista's small house. The duo began talking while they were eating, comparing each others' lives (or, with Trista, what she could recall of her life).
"So you're Judge Althaea? I heard rumors about her, and from what I heard, she-er-you...are quite the swordfighter."
"Really? Thank you...I learned from some of the best out there."
Trista thought a moment, before responding, "I see..."
After the duo finished eating, Anastasia then said, "Maybe we should get to work cleaning that house of yours: won't do making you live in such a mess."
"I guess I can agree with that...and Anastasia...thanks..."
Trista thought for a moment, before saying, "For giving me a chance...for giving me a reason to believe I can probably make things right."
Anastasia nodded, as Trista left. She began to think over what she thought of Trista. She finally decided that Trista was indeed one of them now, and not just some mindless Flood Drone as she heard from everyone else.
She then remembered Agent Maine, who'd also come to their side this month. She thought about how just a year ago, life was spiralling out of control for her...and now, things were getting better...for everyone...