War never ends. Simply put, a world without a battlefield doesn't exist. That's why we need all the fighters we can get.
But even I'm not exactly liking Holly's decision right now.
It's been seven years since the Locust showed up. Three years after that the Lambent, surfaced on earth. The Locust, by some miracle, had found a ship and wound up on earth. Even after seven years we couldn't stop them. Not even when they used the riftworm to sink Washington DC. Eventually, Zack and Ryan decided to break off from the Squadran to fight them after almost a year of arguing, Zeta Wing and the Phantom Legion, as well as The COG, were going into the newly made underground, The Hollow, to end the Locust Horde.
I'm almost regretting that now.
Holly is arguing with Tory like never before. She wants to come along, he doesn't like that. Wait, now she's really going. God this is awkward. "Tory, dad, whatever, just listen to me for once! I do appreciate all that you've done for me when I was rampant, and when I was an AI in general. But, I'm no longer an AI. I'm now a human being, amd I believe it's time for me to make my own choices from now on.
Zeta Wing, the Phantom Legion, and those guys from planet Sera have almost no support in their fight. I'm not much, but I want to make a difference, and that's where I believe I can do it. I'm sorry, but I'm no longer a 'little girl', even if you'll always think of me as 'your little girl'. I am an adult, and I am human. It's time for me to start choosing my own destiny." Wow. That was almost scary. Tory is quiet for almost two minutes. Then he hangs his head (I feel like an intruder).
"Well....I guess it's....finally time for you to do what you decide is necessary. Go then." He sounds like a mix of sad and regretful. Probably both. She smiles. "Thank you Dad! I won't let you down!" She rushes off to find her new helmet, which I happened to help her build. I move over to Tory. "Look, I promise, I'll do everything I possibly, and impossibly, can, to keep her safe. I promise."
He looks up at me and smiles bitterly. "Thanks, I just wish she'd listen to me and stop getting herself into things I can't get her out of."
"In this case, a better situation?" I say, trying to sound comforting. "How can you be so sure, Sen?"
"Well, Zack, Ryan and Hoffman are leading us, Zack controls earth and air, and I'm Holly's new bodyguard." Tory laughed. "Thanks, I needed that. I just wish she'd listen to me sometimes."
"Welcome to parenthood." A voice says behind us. "Shut up, Pian." I say simply. Tory growls as his eyes glow red. Pian leaves. "Sorry about him, he won't get his daily pie while on this mission." Tory laughs again, then turns serious.
"Just get her back alive, Sen."
"Everything in and out of my power."
"Thank you." I incline my head slightly. Then, I turn and head off in the direction Holly went. I find her talking to the other Zetas. Leandra, who's dressed in full Mando armor aside from her helmet, gestures me to come over. "She wants to join Zeta." She murmurs to me. Whoa. Didn't see that coming. "Is Zack gonna go through with it?"
"He wanted to talk to you about it." Zack comes up to me right then. We move a few meters away. "What do you think?" He says, clearly not interested in my feelings. "She's smarter then any of us, a good fighter too. We already relate fairly well, so why not?"
"Alright, you keep her safe, or Tory will rip my head off."
"Mine too, I've already made that promise." he nods. We head over and he says "Alright, you're in." He adds a small smile. She's effectively hopping up and down, really looking radiant with happiness. "Thank you! I won't let you down!" She says. The others introduce themselves as fellow Zetas now, and then head off to get ready to leave. I'm last. She actually is so happy I get a hug. "Think you could help me prepare?" She asks. She probably knows I've only got my tunic, cloak, and lightsabers to bring.
"Sure." I follow her to her place and help her load her armor s and weapons onto the Esper, which was what Zeta was taking. She was chattering excitedly as she went along. I'm happy to just let her talk, myself. After about five hours, Zack goes to tell IceBite we're leaving. "Come on, let's load up." Now that I've got a working bathroom, she can change into her armor on the way.
She does before we even leave, getting into her MJIOLNR armor and sitting in one of the chairs, her heavy pistols in her lap. I sit down in the pilot seat and turn it so that I get a view of the entire room. Soon the rest of Zeta arrives. Zack walks in last. He nods at us in that way that says he's scared, which I have to mouth to Holly so she knows.
As I take off, Zack starts talking into a comm. "You taking off, Ryan?"
"Yup. How're your guys doing?"
"Fine. You sure about this?"
"Well, everyone else is more concerned with the Lambent, so we need to do something about the Locust."
"And you are aware that if we don't win, we'll be processed or killed?"
"In that case, we just take as many down with us as we can." Zack hangs up. He nods at me and we take off. Ryan will pick up the COG, we need to set up a base at the entrance to The Hollow.
I've heard Russia's fucking cold this time of year.
Mystery and MegalomaniacEdit
Ryan Ferran was nervous. And that was why he was pissed. He watched as the last groups of COG Gears and Phantom Legion troops loaded onto the gunships. They were having to travel light, so they could only use gunships to get to The Hollow. He hopped on last with Claire and his kids. Each nodded at him. If he was anyone else, he wouldn't have noticed they were trying to cover up nervousness as well. He sat down next to Claire. Her helmet was on her lap and her gunblade was in her hands. "Alright everyone, we're off. I'll let you know when we're close." The pilot said. They soon took off. Samir and Ethan grabbed the doors and pulled them shut. The noise level decreased instantly.
"You know how long the ride will be?" Claire asked. Ryan shrugged, not really knowing. About four hours into the flight, Claire fell asleep with her head on his shoulder. He put his arm around her, not knowing if he'd have a chance to do so again once they'd landed. He looked on at his kids, trying to take them in as much as he could. He noticed Lexus was applying something to her right side. Damn, that scar is still hurting her. He thought glumly. After another hour, a loud bang sounded on one of the doors, waking Claire up in an instant. Samir opened it and found the corpse of a locust wretch stuck on it.
"We're here." The pilot commented. Ryan rolled his eyes and put his helmet on. Claire fit hers on. Lexus quickly aimed out the open door and three shots rang out. They heard a small chuckle come from her. Ryan looked outside and saw The COG's Delta squad fighting a group of Locust sentries. Further in, he saw Kayla, Aleksander, and a few spectres engaging a similar group. Even further, and he saw Zeta fighting a much larger group. A drone suddenly flew up and hit the ship. "Sorry!" Zack's voice crackled over the comm. Lexus snapped off another three shots, dropping a boomer. Dutch fired four shots and a pair of drones fell.
When they were ten feet up, Ryan jumped off and joined the battle first. He was soon followed by Claire, who quickly shot down a group of Flamers. Samir and Jared jumped out, Samir unloading his machine gun to drop any in range. Raynor and Ethan were off next, running into the center of the fight. Julian was off then, leaving the two snipers on the ship. She quickly rushed to Leandra, who was chainsawing her way through a grenadier drone. Leandra looked up and saw her coming. She nodded at the advancing spartan, and they both proceeded to kill a charging mauler.
Once the fight was over, Ryan called for the rest of the dropships to come down. When everyone was loaded off, he selected a unit to head down and scout the hollow. It was him, his kids, Claire, Kayla, and Alek heading down.
Sen watched them head down. They would wait a night, then the previously selected group would infiltrate the hollow and assassinate the locust queen. The battle would be a diversion. He nervously began tinkering with the bad engine on the Esper.
"What are you doing?" Holly's voice said nearby. He looked up and saw her walking up to him, her helmet under one arm. "Trying to fix this bloody engine. Thing's been giving me trouble for nearly twenty years." She walked over and began examining it. A slightly crafty look on her face. Out of nowhere, the engine repaired itself, causing Sen to jump. The rest of Zeta, who were nearby, looked incredulously at the engine, then Holly.
“What? What is it? Why are you all looking at me like that?” She said, looking confused. Sen looked at the engine, looking slightly irked. “I try to fix that for 20 years, and you fix it in a second!!”
“What are you talking about? I was trying to figure out how to fix it.” Sen pointed to the now repaired engine. Holly looked at it, now quite confused. "...You think I did that? I didn't even touch it!”
“Well unless it's suddenly sentient....” Zack said, a slight tone of sarcasm in his voice. Sen reached down and grabbed a bunch of random mechanics. “What could you make with these?” Holly thought about it for a moment, the it turned into a remote.
“What the...How the... Ok did anyone else just see that?!” She exclaimed, sounding panicky. “Holly, it was in my hand...” Sen said. “But...how could that have happened?! I didn't even do anything, except...” “Relax," Sen interrupted, thinking fast. "let me just scan your mind. I’ll be gentle…(Unlike my old mentor)”
“Of course you're just dying to be gentle with her....” Pian said snidely from the side. "Ok, wait what?" She said, clearly confused by Pian's comment. “When this is over, I'm going to raise your voice an octave, Pian....” Sen said. he went on to scan Holly's mind with the force, not ravaging her like his master had done to him daily. Once he had found what he needed, he pulled out quickly, now as confused as she was.
“Ok, er....remember how that supernova's EMP almost killed you?”
“Yeah, I almost died then, that's when Draconus Rex turned me human.”
“Well, I don't think that you're entirely disconnected from technology." Sen said, ignoring Beyghor putting Pian in a headlock. "So..." She said, still sounding confused.
“You are now a Technomancer.” Sen finished undramatically.Holly was still freaking out a bit, but was calming down. “But how? How did this happen?” Sen shrugged “No idea. Only guess is that it has something to do with Draconus Rex turning you into a human.”
“So.....we now have someone who can control tech with their brain?” Leandra, said, sounding a little amused. Will simply sighed. “And Tory thought you'd be safer with him....” Beyghor was keeping Pian in a headlock. “Um, not to interrupt, but why on earth are you freaking out?” Selen asked.
“It just...Sorry, I just didn't expect this.” Holly said, still calming down.“Well, if you learn to control it, you'll become one of the most powerful members in the Squadran! We're gonna have to work on this after we've killed the Locust.” Holly, seeing the logic, calmed down completely. Suddenly, a large shape came up behind them. "Sorry, kids, but the scouts are back, and they want to see you." Augustus Cole said.
"Thanks, Cole Train." Zack said. "Ok, we'll have to continue this later, c'mon." Zeta followed Cole and found Ryan, Claire, Alek, Kayla, and Maximus.
"What do we got down there?" Zack instantly asked Ryan. "A few million. They've doubled since the last major conflict." Zack groaned. Ryan and Zack found Hoffman. "Well, we Gears aren't running from a fight. We'll sit on the front porch and blow the shit out of anything that moves." Hoffman said gruffly. Zack nodded approvingly. He turned to Ryan. "When do you leave?"
"Three hours. Look, Zack, keep them safe, all of them." Zack nodded. "Keep her out of trouble." Zack said to Ryan, who nodded as well. Ryan turned and walked straight over to Aleksander. Zack watched as they exchanged a few words, the Ryan left.
Three hours later, John, who had also come along, was saying goodbye to Zack. "You take care, kid." He said. Zack nodded and pressed his fingers over his mouth, the traditional Spartan gesture. John returned it and went over to the side cavern the assassination party was taking. Ryan was saying goodbye to his family. Leandra was having a semi emotional goodbye with the rest of Zeta as Marcus simply nodded goodbye to his gears.
The party departed. Zack and Hoffman turned to Kayla, who was now heading the Phantom Legion. "Ten minutes, then we go to war." Zack said.
In ten minutes, the troops marched down quietly into the Hollow, where they set up sniper and rocket positions and the main force in between two cavern walls. Cole and Baird stood out at the front with Zack, Baird holding a microphone in front of the megaphone Cole was holding. "How you gonna start it?" Zack asked Cole.
"With somethin' they'll remember." He raised the megaphone to his mouth.
"Coalition is in your house, bitch! You hear that shit? All you grubby-ass bitches are going down! Like, way down! Dead down! So down you ain't gonna know which way is up! Your asses are gonna be crying to your skank-ass Queen, 'Oh Mommy, don't let the bad man hurt us!' Fuck you! We gonna whoop yo momma's ass! WHOO!" He yelled, deafening everyone.
Battle of the HollowEdit
It wasn't long before the first horde emerged. "Wait until the first wave is upon us. Rocket teams target the rear, snipers, the middle." Zack said into the legion-wide comm. Only one responded, but on a private channel. "Should I target that berserker?"
"Mom, what the fuck are you doing here?"
"Helping." Zack sighed, knowing nothing would change her mind. Zack raised his gnasher. he'd developed a fondness for the COG shotgun, like Leandra had for the Lancer. He blasted a charging wretch to pieces. Then, the horde crashed into them. COG gears chainsawed through the first few rows of locust drones and wretches. Zack used his earth powers to punch through several dozen as they charged him. The head force, comprised mainly of shock troopers, quickly repelled the first wave without any casualties.
The rocket teams opened fire, sending scores of various Locust to the end. The snipers, mainly headed by Bernie and now, Linda, dropped several. But then a few shock troops fell, and the locust began to gain the upper hand. Beyghor and Pian jumped over the first line's heads and into the Locust lines. They were soon followed by the rest of Zeta.
Holly was the last over, and landed with her feet on a charging drone's shoulders, crushing him instantly. She opened fire with her CCC machine gun and dropped two cleaver wielding drones. What she didn't notice was Sen dancing around her, slashing in lightning fast movements directed at any Locust who dared approach her. Delta soon followed them into the skirmish, weapons flaring. After that, it was the Coalition's turn to attack. The small army lunged forward, quickly cutting into the enemy wave. It wasn't long before the first wave lay in ruins.
"Ok, we've got more incoming, everyone get ready. New strategy, find some cover, take as many out from a distance, fire when ready." Zack yelled. Everyone scampered off to obey his order, even Kayla, who was more in command then he was. Zack grabbed Sen, didn't pause to explain, and flung him down the tunnel. Sen, hoping the other's would watch Holly for him, tapped into Force Rage as he flew through the air.
When he was an inch from hitting the ground, he released a repulse. Everything within fifty feet of him disintegrated, while anything within a hundred was sent flying away. Using the force to control his lightsabers, he flung them out and spun them in circles around him, which decapitated many Locust. The moment the Rage ended, he force dashed back to his own forces. He jumped down behind a rock, right next to Holly, who jumped. "What happened?"
"I bought time." He said simply. He glanced over the rock and ducked, avoiding a bullet hitting him in the head. "But not enough." He murmured.
"Ugh." Leandra said simply as they followed Marcus through the palace upper floors. They'd been able to slip into the palace undetected, but had to go through the bloodmount holding pens. They saw that the creatures were being fed human heads. "Now that's nasty." Ryan said, sounding disgusted. Marcus ignored the sight and led them onward. John ignored it as well.
They pressed onward. It wasn't long before a squad of Therons spotted them. Marcus and John were the first in, Marcus chainsawing one and John firing his assault rifle point blank into one's head. Leandra revved her chainsaw and beheaded one as Ryan used his liquid blades to cut through the rest. This cycle continued until they were at the bottom of the palace. Together, the four knocked the door to the throne room down.
"Marcus Fenix. You have returned."
"Yup." Marcus said to the queen in his monotone voice. They could see the totally still form of Skorge, the Locust high priest, eying Leandra viciously. He must know I killed his pet. Leandra thought, recalling her time inside the Riftworm.
"I see you've come to challenge me. Here is what I propose." She paused. "Myself and Skorge will each face two of you. No powers. Simply our weapons. If you refuse, I will release the hundreds of Berserkers upon your forces that we have been readying since we landed on this planet." She finished. The glanced at one another, then nodded, accepting the challenge.
Skorge lunged in Leandra's direction. She caught his chainsaw staff's blade on her Lancer's chainsaw before it could cut her in two. John rushed to help her fight the high priest as Myyrah drew a Gorgon pistol and a boomshield. She opened fire with it, cause Ryan and Marcus to duck behind cover.
In the Hollow, Zack ducked under a Locust Cleaver and tore off the swinger's head. He saw Holly and Sen fighting. holly looking frustrated, as her helmet had been destroyed again. Sen was still dancing in circles around her, cutting through every Locust within ten feet of her.
Several sniper rounds rang out, dropping dozens of locust in every direction. Thanks mom. He thought. Suddenly, an Ominous, black shape rose over the locust, and Zack could see general RAAM walking into the battlefield. A cry rang out, And Zack recognized Samir's voice bellow a curse. He whirled and saw Julian with a cleaver through her shoulder and Samir being held in the air by a mauler. Zack was across the battlefield in an instant, and tore the mauler in half.
On the other end of the Battlefield, Pian charged RAAM. Hey swung his lightsaber in a circle above his head, but RAAM caught his wrist. RAAM raised a long sniper like weapon and shot. Pian turned into red mist and floated away. RAAM whirled and fired it at the charging Beyghor, killing him as well.
Sen felt their deaths in the force, but kept fighting. Suddenly, an E-Hole could be seen coming up under Holly. Acting fast, he force pushed her away, but was sucked in himself. Holly din't notice, and charged RAAM herself. She quickly kicked away his weapon and shot a few rounds into his arm. He grabbed her leg and flung her away. He drew his second weapon, a troika turret, and kept the oncoming form of Zack at bay. Holly acted fast and drew her disc blades. She flung them at RAAM and the pierced into his shoulder blades. Zack took the advantage. Holly and he ran up.
They each grabbed his head and pulled, tearing it off. Zack pulled it from Holly and flung it across the battlefield, knocking a drone off his bloodmount and into Jared, who swiftly killed him. A Pelican dropship crashed through the ceiling, guns blazing. Several boomshot rounds shot it down. Holly's creative half of her mind thought on what she could make out of it, when it transformed into a mechanical beast that cut into the Locust ranks with extreme results.
"WHAT THE FUCK!?" Several Gears, Phantom Legion Soldiers, and Zeta members exclaimed. Holly didn't say it aloud, but was thinking the same thing.
In the throne room, Ryan ducked under the stream of bullets Myyrah shot at him. He returned fire, hoping to take her head off. He missed, and almost clipped Marcus. The latter swore as Myyrah turned fire on him. On the other end of the throne room, Leandra caught Skorge's staff on her chainsaw and held it it place, trying to get a opening for John to attack from in. Skorge split his staff in two and swung behind him, keeping John at bay. He kept swinging, keeping John from getting in close. Eventually, John was able to duck under the chainsaw and grab Skorge's arm. Skorge pushed Leandra away and swung at John's head. John ducked again. Leandra came up behind Skorge and shoved her chainsaw into his back and revved it, shattering his spine and killing him.
Myyrah turned her weapon on her and fired. A barrage of bullets hit Leandra in the shoulder chest, and head. Luckily, she was wearing armor and her helmet, so was merely winded. Marcus lunged up behind Myyrah and grabbed her boomshield from her. She moved to punch him, but he ducked and slammed the shield into her face. He used the sharp end to behead her while she was on the ground.
In the Hollow, the Locust forces seemed to lose all coordination. The began to fight more wildly then before, and killed one another just as much as they tried to kill the humans that slowly began to gain the upper hand. Three hours later, Zack plunged his knife into the ear of a drone and wrenched it out, killing him. He surveyed the battlefield.
There were dead Locust everywhere. He saw the entirety of Maximus moving around, sometimes stopping and firing into the head of a locust survivor. He followed their lead, sometimes coming across a surviving Coalition soldier and calling a medic over. After five hours, the Coalition troops had regrouped and found and lined up their dead. Zack groaned as he saw that about two thirds of the Phantom Legion had been killed during t he battle. The Gears had smaller losses, having only lost a sixth. All of his Gear friends were alive, but Zack's heart ached over the loss of Pian and Beyghor.
They'd been unable to retrieve their bodies, as they had been turned into mist. He went and found the rest of Zeta. He broke the news to them. "Oh, fuck no." Selen groaned. "Somebody's gonna pay! Somebody's gonna fucking pay!" Will said, his voice on the border of a breakdown.
"Wait, where's Sen?" Zack asked, his heart now feeling like it was about to implode.
"We're not sure." Holly answered shakily. Seven hours later, the assassination team returned. Zack went out to meet them, trying to keep his mind off the fact that two of his best friends were gone and one was still missing. He passed Holly, who was frantically searching the battlefield. "Good job guys." Zack said bitterly. Leandra instantly caught his tone.
"Who?" She said in an exhausted voice. Zack gulped. "Pian and Beyghor for sure. Sen, he's missing." Leandra stumbled a little, being caught by Ryan. He started to help her but Zack shook his head. "John, can you, I need to talk to him." John nodded and helped Leandra back to the main encampment that had been set up.
"Ryan, your kids are fine."
"Then what happened?" he said urgently. "Claire. She's MIA." Ryan's shoulders sagged. Zack could hear a muffled sob inside his helmet and felt like shit. Next thing he knew, Ryan's fist slammed on his jaw. He let Ryan take it out on him, knowing he deserved it.
Ryan went to find his kids, leaving Zack to stand amongst the dead, feeling like he deserved to join them.
Leandra sat down on an ammo crate. She'd just spent a good nine hours searching the battlefield for survivors, Human or Locust. she placed her helmet on her lap and sighed. She hadn't found Sen or Claire, and had discovered that Serah and Snow were missing as well. She swore in her head. Some sat down next to her. "Hey." Holly said, sounding miserable.
"Hey." Leandra answered. They sat in silence for about a minute. "Look, can...can I talk to you about something?"
"Holly, you're a Zeta. You don't need to ask."
"Ok." Holly took a deep breath, sounding rather nervous. "I...I'm attracted to Sen." She said very quickly. Leandra did what she could to keep a straight face. "Ok. Well, let's go." She said.
"To go and find him." She stood up, fit her helmet on and walked off, back to the battlefield. Holly followed, not thinking to throw on either of her armors.
She wandered around, looking for him. She had just her disc blades and the behemoth she'd miraculously made with her new powers. After several minutes, she tripped over a Berserker leg and tumbled down an old E-hole. When she stopped, she rose to a crouch and dusted herself off. She was about to start heading up the tunnel when she heard voices coming from the bottom. She turned and headed forward.
About seventy Locust drones and a few boomers were standing around a cell. Their leader, and armored Kantus, was speaking harsh English to someone inside. "Rise. Now. We might make quick." A few laughs sounded. Claire, Serah, and Snow! Holly realized. Now she could make out a fourth person in the cell. Serah, Claire, and Snow moved into the dim light so to express their disbelief at mercy, while the fourth stuck their hand out and extended their middle finger.
"Him first." The Kantus snarled. A few drones entered the cell and held back the other three. Seven more entered and pulled out a perfectly calm Sen Urec. Holly stifled a gasp. The Kantus raised it's Gorgon pistol and put it to Sen's chest. Sen's eyes flickered her way and met hers. He winked at her. Thinking fast, she called her mechanical monster, who slammed down through the ceiling. Many drones died, as well as most of the boomers.
She turned the corner and flung her disc blades at The Kantus, which lodged into it's legs. She snatched up a fallen boomshot and fired at it, blowing off it's legs. She found a torque bow, and, deciding to try it out, Aimed at it's head. She pulled the trigger and it's head exploded.
She turned to Sen, who smiled approvingly. Suddenly, his expression changed and he jumped over her. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into his chest and made them both fall into a crouch. Holly felt an overwhelming heat wash over her as she watched Sen's eyes widen. Then it was gone, and Sen pitched backward, unconscious. She saw many second and some third degree burns covering his back.
Her vision went red as her gaze saw the flame boomer. She grabbed her disc blades and flung the at it, quickly decapitating it. She whirled and saw a Berserker bearing down on her. Her rage filled technomancer powers found a pair of SPARTAN lasers and fused them together, then fired them. The Berserker's top half exploded. As her vision returned to normal, exhaustion took over and she collapsed, unconscious, right next to the critically wounded Sen.
She awoke with a start. A few medics stopped her from getting up too fast. "Easy, Are you alright?"
"Yes. Where are the others?"
"Claire, Serah, and Snow are alright."
"What about Sen?" The doctor said nothing. She pulled herself up and repeated the question. "Holly.....look at him." The doctor said and pointed over her shoulder. She turned and saw Sen, covered in terrible burns all over him.
"Will he be ok?!" She asked, panicky. The doctor hesitated. "Holly, he, he doesn't have much of a chance at this point, we're still working, hoping a burn cooler will help but...."
She didn't hear anything else he said. She choked up for moment, then began to cry in earnest. The doctor stopped talking and hung his head. The portable building's door opened and somebody walked in. He waved the doctor back and sat down next to Holly. She saw it was Zack, but didn't really care. She stood up and sat down next to Sen. A heart rate monitor was next to him, moving faintly. She watched it, terrified it might flatline. She turned and looked at Sen, who looked as though he had a smile on his face.
He must have known he was saving me. She thought sadly. A few tears fell from her face and landed on Sen's face. Fifteen seconds later his eyes shot open and he gasped loudly for a few seconds, then fell back and resumed being unconscious.
"Holy shit!" Zack exclaimed. "What's going on?" Holly asked. The doctor rushed forward and looked at the heart rate monitor. "His heart rate's going up!" He paused. "Flip him over!" Zack quickly did as told, and they saw that Sen's burns were healing completely at an alarming rate. "Well, Holly, I think he'll live!" The doctor said, sounding bewildered.
As circumstances turned out, Sen did not fully regain consciousness for another two hours. For all of which, neither Zack nor Holly moved. Then, he suddenly sat bolt upright, eyes wide open.
"Ow. Ow ow ow." he said simply. "Easy, easy." Holly said, her voice full of concern. "Your back was extra crispy only two hours ago. Slow down." Zack shut his eyes, thinking of what Pian probably would have said.
"I feel like Well done is a better description OW." Sen said. "What happened? Last thing I remember is a boomer with a flamethrower charging you..." He said, looking at Holly. "I don't know, I don't remember anything either." She said.
"You went into a rage, made the Locust go extinct, passed out." Zack summed up. The two raised their eyebrows at this fact. "Well, I need to go help bury the dead. See you." He began to walk out, then stopped next to Sen.
"Come on, man. She isn't going to wait forever." He said and resumed leaving. "Really Zack? Really?" Sen asked as he left. Holly looked confused. "What'd he mean?" She asked him. Sen turned to her, sighed, and said "To hell with it. Holly, I've been trying to suck up the courage to ask you ever since you became human." He said quite quickly.
She paused, completely still, her eyes showing general shock. Then, she spoke as well. "Sen, I, I've kinda been in the same situation. Just, you know, mutually." She said, equally quickly. Sen's eyes looked like they were about to pop out. He stayed quiet for almost a minute, then asked. "Holly, will you go out with me?"
She smiled, put her hair behind her ear, then said "I guess, sure."
Zack smiled as he watched Holly helping Sen out of the med building about an hour later. Well, something happy has to happen. He reflected.
Three days later, the Coalition forces had begun to pull out of The Hollow. They each loaded onto the gunships and began to fly out. Few words were spoken as the remembered their dead. After about thirty minutes, a wrecked city came into view. "Looks like the battle sunk most of their city. Let's head down and help." Zack said to Ryan and Hoffman, who agreed. They landed and headed into the city.
The place was mostly sunk, with a few intact buildings. The COG, Phantom Legion, and other Hellcat Squadran members spread, out, helping evacuate survivors. After a long day of doing so, Zeta, Ryan, Claire, and the Spartans of Maximus met up in the Esper.
They sat around the living area, not a lot of words sounding. Julian and Leandra could be seen whispering something to one another, nobody hearing what they were saying. Julian appeared to be trying to talk Leandra out of something, but the latter looked as though she needed to vent about something. Finally, Julian just nodded and Leandra spoke up.
"Look, guys, if I don't get this out soon, it'll kill me." Everyone turned to her, letting her know she had the floor. "I've been to this city before. Before I joined the Squadran, I visited here once." She paused, took a deep breath, and started again. "Three guys attacked me. I could take one at the time. Three? No." She blinked rapidly. "And, well, what else are a bunch of desperate criminals going to do to an eighteen year old girl they just subdued?"
It was hard to follow that. Real hard. Selen shut her eyes, <Please Rewrite>'s hands flew over her mouth, Zack and Will looked murderous. Frozen shock covered Sen's face. A look of total anger filled Holly's face. "Who are they, where are they, and how do I kill them?" She said quietly. Leandra shook her head. "I killed two of them myself, the third escaped, but has to be dead by old age now."
The next day, they continued evacuating the city. They split into groups of three and went around to oversee the civilians leaving the city. Ryan was watching from the exit with Julian, while Leandra, who hadn't really spoken since the previous night, was on the other side of crowd. As they observed the crowd, a lone man, looking about thirty, came to a halt, then, he turned and ran in the other direction.
Leandra charged after him. "What the hell? Julian, stay here." Ryan went after her. He pinged her on the helmet comm. "Leandra, who is this?"
"It's number three!" She said, sounding enraged. Realizing what she meant, Ryan ducked in a back alley and went around. As the man rounded a corner, Ryan stuck out his arm, causing the man to drop like a stone. Leandra caught up put her foot on the man's chest, and the barrel of her rifle on his face. With one hand, she tore off her helmet and dropped it. She looked insane.
"Remember me, fucker?"
This part of the chapter was written by Shadow
"Leandra, no!" yelled Ryan, coming up from behind her. She turned around with a puzzled look on her face.
"Wait, what? You remember what he did to me, so I'm killing him," she said.
"No, you aren't," Ryan said, kicking her rifle butt off of the man's face. "If he wants to go free, he should go free." Leandra looked at him in awe, her jaw dropping as far as it could physically go and then some. "Well, you can either get up and leave, or you can stay here and recieve your punishment." The man struggled to get up, but couldn't. Unbeknownst to him, Ryan was using the Force to hold him to the ground.
"You want to stay? How wonderful," Ryan said He pulled the man up to his knees and tied his hands and feet together with his rappelling line.
"Great, now I get to kill him," Leandra said, a smile on her face.
"I know that I shouldn't have a say in this, but I look after you, and I'm going to do what I think is right," Ryan said looking her in the eye.
"And what you think is right is tieing him up?" she asked.
"No, but anything you do to kill him is nothing compared to what I am about to do to him. Is that fine with you?" Ryan asked.
"What could be worse then getting multiple body parts cut off?" Leandra said.
"You'll see. Put your helmet on and make sure you can't hear any outside noises, this is going to be loud," Ryan said, readjusting his own helmet. Leandra grabbed her helmet and threw it on, changing the settings so she could only hear Ryan on the helmet comm.
"Ready?" Ryan asked her.
"I've been ready for years," she answered. Ryan nodded back to her and put his hands on either side of the man's head. Ryan closed his eyes and began to breathe heavily, enough for Leandra to hear it in her communicater. The man began looking back and forth, not knowing what was going on. He wasn't the only one.
"Ryan, what are you doing?" Leandra asked, extremely puzzled.
"Shush," Ryan plainly said. Leandra shut up, still confused. The man opened his mouth and let out a small ow, then began to scream louder and louder. After ten seconds of Ryan's hands on his head, he began screaming loud enough for the whole city to hear.
"What's going on over there?," Julian called on the comlink.
"Revenge," Leandra plainly said, then cut her out. The man's screams continued to grow.
"Kill me please, I beg of you!" the man screamed, but to no avail. This continued for another minute until the man's screams stopped and he fell limp. Ryan felt this and let go of his head. He and Leandra watched as the body fell to the ground, lifeless. Ryan took off his helmet and cracked his neck, then elt out a long sigh. Leandra took off her helmet, also.
"What did you do to him?" she asked before spitting on the dead body.
"I used the Force to target the part of his brain that enduses pain. I stimulated it until, eventually, he died of pain," Ryan explained.
"Where'd you learn to do that?" Leandra asked.
"Some old books. Sen and Jerdak didn't teach me everything I know," Ryan said.
"Sounds like a load of B.S. if you ask me," she said with a smirk.
"Want me to try it out a little on you?" Ryan asked.
"Sure. Bet you five dollars you can't make me cry," she said, walking over to him.
"Deal," Ryan said. He put his hands on her head, and within 15 seconds, she began to tear up and cry. Then she started to laugh and her tears of pain turned to tears of happiness and joy. She began to struggle to stand as her laughter grew. Then, the laughter changed to the best feeling she had ever felt. Ryan took his hands off her head and sat down a crate near them. After a few seconds of collecting herself, she looked over at Ryan.
"I won," Ryan said to her.
"You cheated, I cried of laughter," she said, smiling back at him.
"You said cry, and I didn't have the heart to make you cry of pain. Besides, I made up for it with that good feeling I gave you," Ryan said.
"Yeah, you really know how to push all the right buttons." Now I remember why I liked him so much all those years ago. Dammit Claire, why'd you get here first.
"Hey, Leandra. About those things they did to you. Do you want me to make you, you know, forget them?" Ryan aksed her.
"No," she answered quickly.
"Are you sure, it wouldn't hurt," Ryan began to argue back.
"No. What they did to me is what drove me to join Hellcat. It's also what drives me to help others," she said, patting Ryan on the shoulder.
"Ok, whatever you say. C'mon, let's get back to the others," Ryan said, putting his helmet back on.
Written by ODST grievous
"And the reasoning behind you not telling me was?" Zack said irritably to Ryan. The latter shrugged. "Getting it over with." Zack punched him. Not hard enough to knock him out, but enough for him to feel it. Leandra smiled at the sight and headed back to the Esper. It only took a few more days to evacuate everyone, and then one more to relocate them to another city.
One down, one to goEdit
Zeta looked down at the remains of the Hollow. The Locust were gone, and now they could join the fight against the Lambent. Zack sat down on the couch, rested his head on the back, and fell asleep within seconds. Selen curled up next to him. Leandra sat down on one of the chairs and did similar. By the end of the hour, only Will, Sen, and Holly were awake. Sen and Holly sat in the cockpit, Sen teaching her how to help operate the controls. Will sat in the back, <Please Rewrite> sleeping with her head in his lap.
He sighed at the new ghosts that would haunt Zeta for a long time, already missing Pian and Beyghor. He looked down at <Please Rewrite> and realized how lucky he was that it wasn't her. Chance dictates who lives and dies. We can't do much about it. He thought sadly. It didn't bring him much comfort. He heard Sen and Holly speaking softly in the cockpit. About damn time. I thought I'd have to ask her for him if he waited much longer. He thought. Suddenly, <Please Rewrite> stirred and woke up.
"You should try sleeping too, it'll probably help." She said. He did his best to smile at her. "Can't, too much fun watching you."
"Wanker." She said, but was smiling as she said it.
Several hours later, the fleet of dropships landed back at Kaven Base. Zack instantly got up and walked right up to IceBite. "You're welcome." He said in a false, cheery voice. IceBite looked almost surprised. "well, at least you're back. Status?" Zack was sorely tempted to punch him. "Mostly alive, several critically wounded-" He waved a hand at several medics rushing even more wounded soldiers to the med bay. "emotionally torn up, and, in Sen and Holly's case, in love. Happy?" IceBite rolled his eyes at the last one, clearly thinking I knew it.
"Oh, and two members of my family died. Next time you get to take your closest friends and throw them against a million." Zack said with a hint of a snarl. IceBite sighed. "Well, at least you're still here. Look, we're having a serious problem with these things."
"What a shocker. Well, don't expect us to help until we're fully up and running again." Zack said and shoved past him. Selen ran off, catching his arm as they went. Leandra walked off, looking like she was headed for Ryan's place. Sen walked by, looking happy, yet also sad.
Holly went off in a different direction. She found Tory and, after a somewhat awkward reunion, summed up what had happened. "Well, and Sen jumped in front of a flamethrower attack, nearly got himself killed. I made the Locust go extinct, and after that, started going out with him." She finished. He froze, looking surprised for a moment. Then he smiled thinly. "Well, I like him a lot more then some of the other ones."
The next day, there was nearly no sign of any Zeta member aside from Leandra, who stayed in Ryan and Claire's house that night. She and Julian were sitting together, exchanging stories, when a Lambent Stalk erupted from the floor in front of them, spewing Polyps. Leandra quickly had her lancer (which she brought with her everywhere) and killed them until the stalk was run dry. "Mother fuck!" She exclaimed.
Ryan rushed in. "God damn it! How the hell am I supposed to pay for this? I don't have mutant tree insurance!"