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L&A: The Crimson Dragon

This is the last post you’ll get to see of Lezvie and Angela.  After this, I won’t let you see anything unless you buy the book. Mwaha.

The duo paused at the top of a rise. Lezvie frowned, looking down at the settlement below them.
Angela laid her hand on his shoulder. “What is it?”
“Something’s wrong. They’re too still. It’s as though they’re waiting… and not just waiting, but waiting in terror.” He pulled out a small pair of binoculars, looking down at the town. “I don’t think we should go down just yet. There’s been fighting here recently. They were attacked by someone with alien tech, and drove them off. That would explain the fear and the stillness.”
“How can you tell all that?” Angela looked at him, surprised.
“Heat scoring from laser or plasma weapons, which only come from alien tech. A mass grave in the graveyard to one side of town. Several unburied bodies, stripped of clothing and, presumably, armor.”
She went silent, looking at him in astonishment. He was more skilled then she had realized.
“And furthermore,” he went on, turning slightly and refocusing his binoculars. “I see tire tracks. They look like the same kind of trucks the Crimson Fang used.” He lowered the binoculars and pocketed them. “We’ll camp here tonight, behind this ridge. From what I’ve seen of the Crimson Fang, they’ll come back soon and hit hard.”
Angela nodded and wordlessly began to set up camp. No sooner had they started eating, however, then they heard a commotion coming from the town. They both immediately went to the ridge, peering over. Four sets of headlights were bearing down on the town, and when they came within a hundred yards of the town, the energy cannons mounted on the vehicles began firing, forcing the townspeople to take cover. The four trucks formed a semicircle near the main gate, still firing the occasional shot at anyone with a weapon they saw.
Then, a distant rumble, like thunder, filled the sky. A red glow appeared in the clouds above the town, and then something dove down, landing in the gateway to the town, backlit by the headlights of the four trucks. Angela gasped. “It… it looks like a dragon…”
And so it did. The thing, whatever it was, stood higher than the trucks around it, and had long wings that glowed red at the tips. It had two massive clawed hands, and the parts of it that were in the light showed that it was a deep red color.
Lezvie was peering at it through binoculars, and was about to say something when a booming voice issued from the thing. “I am the Crimson Dragon! You have defied my representatives and will now feel my wrath. Taste the fire of the Dragon!”
A powerful jet of brilliantly white fire blasted from the Dragon, igniting a large portion of the town, even melting solid rock.
“Feel the bite of the Dragon!”
One of the clawed hands gripped a large building that had not yet been touched by fire. The claw glowed bright, blood red, and the building distorted, also beginning to glow, before exploding violently.
Lezvie hissed softly. “That’s no dragon. That’s an alien battle suit with a flight attachment. Someone must have found a huge stockpile of alien weaponry that got left behind.” He pounded a fist against his thigh. “This is much, much worse that I expected…”
“What exactly is a battle suit..?” Angela asked hesitantly.
“You know how my daggers and sword are indestructible, because they’re an alien alloy?” At her nod, he continued, “Imagine a whole exoskeleton made out of that armor, and packed with enough weaponry to slaughter an army. That’s an alien battle suit. They’re bad enough when they’re landbound, since they’re fairly heavy and can’t turn fast. With the flight attachment, that thing’s just as agile as an average human, and a lot faster.”
“And… the Crimson Dragon has one?”
“So it seems. Found one, painted it red, called it a dragon, and used it to terrify the populace.” He scowled at the scene below, at the screams of the villagers and the flickering flames as the settlement burned. “Terrify and control and rule.”
“Can’t you do something?”
“No.” He smacked his fist into his thigh again. “I have nothing. Those battle suits are invincible. Even when I was with my squad, with the resources of the United States behind me, we had trouble with them. Guns are useless; there’s no opening in it large enough to allow a bullet through. Flamethrowers and incendiary explosives work all right, but since it has a flight attachment, it won’t stay in range of either of those.”
Angela fell silent, looking down as the town burned. Something else about the suit caught her attention, and she asked him, “How can the flamethrower melt rock?”
“It’s not your average flame. It’s a highly charged plasma, fueled by a microfusion reactor. Basically like spewing the sun out of a hose.”
Her eyes went wide. “How are you supposed to fight that?”
“You’re not supposed to,” he said, chuckling ruefully. “The aliens knew what they were doing when they designed it. It has weapons for short, mid-, and long range, as well as melee weapons, just in case.”
“So how did you fight them?”
“With electromagnetic mines. We mine the area they’re going to walk through, then activate them when the battle suit is over them. The suit is pinned to the ground, giving us an opportunity to get close and dispatch the wearer.” Lezvie ran a hand through his hair, scowling faintly. “Of course, I don’t have any mines.”
Angela looked back out at the town with a sigh. “There’s nothing you can do?”
“Not here. Not now.” He tapped his wrist computer. “If the Master has left me the location of the Crimson Dragon’s headquarters, then I may be able to slip in and destroy the suit’s inner mechanisms while it is unoccupied. So everything hinges on getting to my safe house and analyzing the Master’s files.”
“That’ll be tricky,” Angela murmured. “It looks like the Crimson Fang plans to stay.”
The four trucks had unloaded half a dozen soldiers each, and they rounded up the populace – what little remained of it – and herded them into a single large building. They then parked the trucks at the corners and made themselves at home in the rest of the town, converting the tallest buildings to watchtowers, setting up guard stations, and the like. A low rumble in the distance announced the arrival of more trucks.
Lezvie nodded, scowling. “So we have to try to go down into the canyon and back up the other side, or go several days out of our way to go around it, or try to get past the Crimson Fang.”
Angela watched him for a moment. “We’re not going to do the safe thing, and go around the canyon, are we.”
“No, we aren’t. Come along, Angela. By the time we get down there, they’ll have mostly settled in to their occupation and be weary from the night journey.” He picked his way down the hillside, heading for the town.
Shaking her head, Angela followed him. However crazy it might be, she was confident Lezvie could pull it off.
Their descent took them nearly an hour, as they had to be cautious of the Crimson sentries. Following a small goat trail, the two of them climbed down, gradually coming to the meager wall that encircled the village. Lezvie, after carefully peering over it, leapt to the other side, then pulled Angela over after him. The mottled greys of his suit showed their usefulness now, blending perfectly into the destroyed urban setting.
He led her through the alleys and lanes that the Crimson Fang had neglected to patrol, timing their crossings of the better-watched roads to avoid the eyes of the sentries. Every sudden footstep or smashing sound made Angela jump, and made daggers spring into Lezvie’s hand. Fortunately, none of those ominous noises heralded their capture. They slowly grew more confident, thinking that the Fang was off-guard, relaxed in the wake of its recent victory.
That’s why the shout of alarm caught them by surprise, only ten feet from the bridge.
“Intruders! Get them!”
Lezvie growled something incomprehensible. “Run, Angela! I’m right behind you.”
“I’m not just-” A spray of bullets whipped past her ear, and she shut up and sprinted across the bridge.
“Don’t shoot him!” A voice, amplified, boomed over the scene, and all of the soldiers froze, guns still trained on Lezvie, who stood watching them, confused, his knives at the ready. Heavy footfalls approached, shaking the ground lightly. The Crimson Dragon rounded a corner, blazing red eyes locked on Lezvie. “So you’re the mythical white-haired ninja who has caused me so much trouble.” He chuckled softly. “I expected you to be taller.”
“Yeah, well, good things come in small packages.” It wasn’t original, but it was the best he could do. Staring down an indestructible suit of armor capable of killing you from a hundred yards away made it hard to come up with witty comebacks.
“I don’t know about that. I wouldn’t call this suit small.” The suit let off a blast of energy, which streaked past Lezvie, shattering one of the posts that held up the rope bridge.
Lezvie managed to keep himself from flinching. The bridge now dangled by a single point on this side, swaying and creaking. Without responding to the Dragon’s retort, he sprinted across the bridge, his light step barely disturbing the feeble bridge.
The Dragon roared, “Do not let him escape!” Bright green flame shot from his arm, burning through the last support of the bridge.
It fell across the canyon, Lezvie clinging to it like a drowning man on a piece of driftwood. Bullets whistled through the air, smacking into the wooden planks in the bridge and the rock face of the canyon. Desperate, Lezvie wrapped his arms tightly into the loose ropes of the destroyed bridge, then braced himself against the impact that rapidly approached.
Angela, watching from the edge of the canyon, let out a small cry as the bridge slammed into the unyielding cliff face. Lezvie hung limp on the bridge, not falling, but not moving either. She heard a whirring sound, and looked up to see the Crimson Dragon firing up his flight attachment, slowly moving down the canyon towards Lezvie. His voice, though faint, remained distinct, due to the amplification system built in to the suit.
“I’m disappointed. I had hoped for one last futile, heroic action before I killed you. Instead, you flee.”
Lezvie stirred, trying to move but still dazed from the impact. The Dragon snorted.
“And you can’t even flee, now. This is the great ninja that has plagued me?” He raised his hand, readying one of his many weapons to end Lezvie.
A streak of fire flew from the top of the canyon, exploding against the flying suit of armor, coating it in liquid flame. The Dragon let out a scream of pain, thrashing around in the air before throwing himself down into the river at the bottom of the canyon.
Lezvie managed to drag himself the last ten feet to the top of the ladder that had once been a bridge, where Angela pulled him up. He looked at her, swaying slightly. “What… was that?”
She grinned faintly. “Molotov cocktail.”
“How did you…?”
“I lifted the a bottle of vodka back in town.” She turned slightly, showing him a tear in her shirt. “You said fire might work.”
“You… are a genius.” He forced himself to his feet. “We have to keep moving. I don’t think the Crimson Dragon forgives lightly.”
Angela silently slipped an arm around his waist, steadying him. She ignored his questioning look, supporting him as they limped across the wasteland.

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The Horde and the Shades

The messenger burst into the throne room, face red, his breath coming fast and shallow.  “Your Majesty!  General Kaza is dead!  The Army of the Dragon has fallen!  The Horde marches on the Capitol!”
“Can this be true?”  The king stood, staring in disbelief at the messenger.
“Sire!”  One of his Royal Guard stood at the window with a spyglass.  “‘Tis true!  I see the dust of the Horde rising from the North.  If they approach, General Kaza must have fallen!”
“Inform Commander Gorem at once.  Tell him to rally the Army of the Wyvern.  They are all that now stands between the Capitol and annihilation!”
“Yes, Your Majesty!”
Several men rushed off to do his bidding, and he turned to the messenger.  “Was it the full strength of the Horde?  Could you see their numbers?”
“Your Majesty, if this was not their full strength, then the Horde is limitless.  General Kaza fought them for hours.  Thousands upon thousands of the barbarians fell, but for every one we slew, a dozen took his place.  The Horde stretched out as far as the eye can see, filling the horizon.  No matter how many fell, their lines never thinned.”
“Then… the city is most likely lost.”  The king clenched his fists.  “But I’ll be damned if I let them walk in.  Call in the Reserve Guard.  Order the civilians into the caverns below the Citadel and have the Town Guard begin barricading the streets.  We will use the time Commander Gorem and the Army of the Wyvern buys us to strengthen our defenses as much as possible.”
As men scattered to obey his orders, he grabbed the arm of his personal servant.  “Get me Kallion.”
The man nodded and rushed off.  With a heavy sigh, the king strode to his window, looking out at the approaching Horde.  They were visible to the naked eye, now.  It would only be a matter of hours.

—-

Commander Gorem rode through the ranks of his men, spurring them to greater alacrity.  The Horde was closing fast, and the Army of the Wyvern was woefully unprepared.  They were a secondary army, only in the event of a sneak attack while the Army of the Dragon was away.  No one ever imagined that the Dragon would fall.
A shout from one of the scouts drew his attention from his own men back to the Horde.  Their front-runners were cresting the last hill, charging his men.
“Form up! Form up! Shield-bearers to the front, greatswords behind them, pikemen behind them!  Other soldiers, rank and file behind them!”
As his soldiers scrambled into position, he yelled, “Archers!  Volley!”
Arrows rained down, stopping the first few lines of the Horde, and they fell by the score.  Another volley, and another, and another, they cascaded on the invading savages.  Hundreds of the Horde died.  Still they came.  Never slowing, never showing the slightest sign of fear.  There were more warriors in the Horde than there were arrows in the Wyvern’s quivers.
When the archers had nothing left to shoot, the Horde crashed into the shield-bearers.  The massive shields they bore stopped the savages as the soldiers with pikes and greatswords hacked and pierced them.  For nearly fifteen minutes, they held the line.  Wave after wave of savages slammed into their shields, until finally one of them, a huge beast of a man, with a battle axe in each hand, smashed through, killing half a dozen of them before impaling himself on the pikes of the back row.
With the line broken, the Wyvern broke as well.  The soldiers, unprepared for such an onslaught, were scattered, and the battle dissolved into thousands of one-on-one fights, with the Horde coming out way on top.  The Commander scowled and signaled for his bugler to sound the retreat.
As his soldiers attempted to fall back, being destroyed by the unrelenting Horde, the Paladin assigned to the Army of the Wyvern rode up beside him.  “Commander, my Knights won’t do any good in the narrow city streets, but we can buy the footmen time to get inside the walls.”
Commander Gorem nodded, and the Paladin raised his shining sword, signalling the rest of his Knights.  As one, the armor-clad cavalry charged forward, splitting into two branches, pushing the Horde off the retreating foot soldiers.  Their initial charge gave them powerful momentum, and they cut a large swath through the Horde.  When that momentum began to falter, however, the powerful warriors of the Horde began knocking them from their horses, slaughtering them.
The gates were open wide, and the fleeing soldiers of the Wyvern rushed in, reinforcing the Town Guard in the barricaded city.  Commander Gorem rushed in with them, trying to escape the noises of the dying Knights.

——

Up in the top of the Citadel, the king watched as the Army of the Wyvern was butchered by the Horde.  A voice behind him nearly startled him, but it was nearly as familiar to him as his own.  “You summoned me, your Majesty?”
“Yes, Kallion.”  He turned and saw the chief of the Shadowy Hand, garbed in his standard outfit, black leather and fabric, with all skin obscured save his eyes.  “You’ve no doubt noticed the Horde.”
“I have been made aware of it, your Majesty.”
“It’s going to take the city.”
“I estimated as much, your Majesty.”
“I need you to do something, Kallion.  I need the Shades.”
“We live to serve you, your Majesty.  What must we do?”
“The city cannot be saved, but my people can.  Take the hidden tunnels into the forests, keep my people alive.  The Horde cannot remain this large and this strong forever.  One day, when they are weak, find allies and bring them down.”
Kallion’s eyes, normally so expressionless, widened slightly.  “But, your Majesty…  We are sworn to protect you.  If you do not leave the city, neither shall we.”
The king reached out and grasped Kallion’s shoulder.  “If the Horde does not find me, they will keep searching.  I will stand with my Royal Guard and buy you the time you need to evacuate the populace.”
“But…”
“No time to argue, my old friend.  Lead my people.  Never forget how great we were.  Bide your time.  Hold out hope.  Restore this city one day, ten, twenty, a hundred years down the road.”  The king’s eyes were shining as he released Kallion’s shoulder.  “Go now.  Gather your men.  Evacuate.”
The ninja nodded slowly, then straightened and bowed low before his king.  “It has been an honor to serve you, your Majesty.”
“It has been an honor to have you beside me, Kallion.”
Without a sound, the black-garbed man vanished into a secret door, rushing to the secret caverns beneath the Citadel.  A half-dozen men, attired similarly to him, met up with him as he walked.  “What is it, Kallion?”
“We’re leaving.  Taking the people and getting out.”
“But… the king?”
“He’s staying with the Royal Guard.  Don’t argue!”  Kallion cut off the younger man before he could even begin.  “The king’s orders are final.”
His men nodded slowly, then dispersed to begin the evacuation.  Kallion went on ahead, his natural pace quickly carrying him through the tunnel and eventually up into the dense forest.  He quickly shimmied up a tree, looking back at the city.  Fire and smoked rose from all of the lower districts; the Horde had left nothing.  Only the castle remained, resisting the onslaught of the invaders.  Even as he watched, he saw the gates fall, and the Horde stormed into the Citadel.
He looked back down and saw the first of the citizens coming out of the tunnel, ushered by the rest of the Shades.  Kallion looked to the city again, this time focusing on the flag at the top of the Citadel.  That flag could only be reached through the innermost room of the Citadel, no doubt where the king would be making his last stand.  When the flag fell, he would know that the king had fallen as well.
Below him, he heard his Shades directing the people deeper into the forest, but he kept his eyes on the Citadel.  Finally, just as the last citizen came out of the tunnel, he saw the flag fall.  The city was lost.  The king was dead.
Kallion jumped down from the tree, tapping one of the Shades on the arm.  “Where is the princess?”
The Shade pointed to a small knot of people gathered under a large tree.  Kallion went there immediately, seeing the young princess with her father’s most trusted advisers.  “Your majesty, I would speak with you.”
Everyone looked up at him, eyes wide at his use of ‘majesty’.  The princess stood, pale, and walked with him a little ways away from everyone.  “What is it?  And who are you?  I’ve seen you with my father before, but I don’t know who you or your men are.”
“Your majesty, you are now in charge of these people.  Your father is dead.”
The princess, normally so composed, let out of choked sob, putting a hand to her mouth.  “He’s dead?”
“He sacrificed himself to give us all the opportunity to escape.  It was his duty as king.”
She composed herself enough to give him a slightly suspicious look.  “You never answered me.  Who are you?  And how did you know what happened to my father?”
“My name is Kallion.  I am the leader of the group called the Shades.  We are the secret guards of the royal line.”
“Secret guards..?”
“Yes.  The Royal Guards protect the royalty from overt attacks.  We prevent the more sinister plots.”
“I… see.”  She looked up at him.  “So what happens now?”
“We establish ourselves in the hills and caves of the forests.  I keep recruiting for the Shades, and you keep the royal line intact.”
She gave him a look.  “I’m only sixteen.”
Kallion smirked.  “I didn’t say now.  That’s the big picture.”
“Oh.”  She paused.  “Can I… see your face?”
“Why?”
“If I’m going to be protected by you, I want to know what you look like.”
He reached up and unfastened his mask, pulling it off.  His straight black hair fell down around his pointed ears.
The princess let out a soft yelp.  “You’re an elf?”
Kallion nodded.  “Your father recruited me before my people left this land.  He needed someone better than a human to run the Shades.”
“All right…”  She nodded slowly, straightening her already straight dress.  “We’ll get through this, won’t we?  We’ll be restored eventually, right?”
“It might not be in your lifetime, but yes.  I will see the royal line again on the throne, and the Horde destroyed.”
She returned to her advisers, and Kallion looked towards the burning city.
No matter how many lifetimes it takes me, I will restore your kingdom, my liege.

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L&A: The Mountain

Another Lezvie and Angela story. ^_^

Angela woke Lezvie just as the sun began peeking over the horizon.  They struck camp and moved on, heading towards the mountain.  Nothing happened to disrupt their trek, and they reached the foothills by late afternoon.  The hills were slightly less barren than the desert; less population meant that the aliens hadn’t wasted as much energy to Glass them.
“So, how far up the mountain is he?”
“In the peak.  But he should be coming into contact range before too long.”  Lezvie pulled out a small communicator, checking the digital display.  “I’m picking up his network, but it’s too weak for me to connect just yet.  Let’s give it another few hundred yards.”
They trudged further up, the air slowly getting colder.  When they saw the first evergreen tree, Lezvie pulled out his communicator again.  “There we go.”  His device beeped as it requested the password for the secure network.  A string of mild Japanese curses made Angela blush.  “Why would he change his passwords when it’s not like there’s anyone around to hack it?”
“Because he’s paranoid?  Didn’t you say that already?”
“I didn’t realize it was this severe.”  He tapped command after command into his communicator, only to receive flashing red reject screens.  “All right, that’s it.  I hate to do this, since he hates having it done to him, but he doesn’t leave me much choice.”
He tapped a string of commands into the device, bringing up a wall of numbers and characters that Angela didn’t understand any of.  The device finally displayed an empty window with a chat box.  His fingers flew over the keyboard.  Master, it’s Lezvie.  Let me into the network, I need to talk to you.
Lezvie???  Lord. I haven’t heard from you since before the Glassing.  Three seconds.
Three seconds later, a confirmation screen popped up, giving Lezvie the codes to log into the network.  He used them, and a minimalist home page came up.  The Master called him almost immediately, his voice crackling over the speaker.
“Lezvie, you purebred mutt, how on earth did you breach my safeguards?”
“Just a trick I learned from you, Master.  But never mind that, I need your help.”
“Of course you do.  Alien invasion can’t change the fact that I’m the only guaranteed source of information on the planet.  What do you need?”
“Ever hear of an organization named Crimson Dragon?”
The Master’s casual tone become suddenly more cautious.  “Crimson Dragon?  Why do you ask?
“I think they’re behind the seemingly disorganized slave raiders.  I’m trying to stop them.”
“I see.  Well, this isn’t something I think I can discuss on a channel like this, so why don’t you come up.  When you get to the door, you’ll see the password.”
“All right.  Should be about… half an hour?”
“Right.  See you then.”
The channel went dead.  Lezvie frowned as he started walking again.  “He’s usually not quite that abrupt.”
“Well, it’s been a long time.”  Angela followed him.  “People change.”
“I suppose.”  He still looked uncertain.
“So why did he call you a purebred mutt?”
He chuckled.  “Because my heritage is purebred Swiss, but my character traits and mannerisms are a unique blend of nearly every culture.  The ones that deserved emulating, at least.”
“Ah, I see.”  They kept trudging up the mountain, the air growing colder as they climbed.
Lezvie stopped her suddenly, dropping into a crouch.  “Hear that?”
Angela could hear nothing.  “What?”
“Rotors.  Two of them, on the same vehicle.  No one I know uses that.”  He pulled her into a small gully sheltered by a cluster of trees.
Nearly a minute went by before Angela heard the rotors.  It was another minute before it flew over their heads.  The red circle and markings on the wings identified it as part of the Crimson family, but it wasn’t one they had seen before.
“Crimson Wing, I’m guessing.  Air force.  But if they’re coming from the peak, then…  Master’s in danger.”  He sprinted up the mountain, Angela keeping up as best she could.
Five minutes brought Lezvie to the large steel door that separated the Master’s bunker from the rest of the world.  He reached up and tapped a pattern on the metal plate over the door, and a compartment popped open.  The datachip inside fell into Lezvie’s hand, and he plugged it into his handheld computer.  “Reliable as ever, Master.”
Angela watched as Lezvie ran a wire from his computer to the door.  A few beeps later, the door slid open and Lezvie retrieved his wire and dashed inside.
The place was a wreck.  Smashed computers and electronics littered the floors and walls.  Lezvie froze in the middle of the room and slowly drew two of his knives.  “Angela…”
“Yes…?”
“Duck.”
She hit the floor as a spray of bullets erupted from the two other doorways leading into the room.  Lezvie seemed to have vanished.
Soldiers in the attire of one of the Crimson branches poured into the room, eight at least.  Lezvie dropped from the ceiling and slit two of their throats before any of them could react.  He leapt back up to the ceiling as the soldiers opened fire, hitting only each other, causing four more of them to fall.  The last two stared around in shock until Lezvie’s knives put an end to their existences.
“Master, you damn fool…”  Lezvie cleaned his knives and moved deeper into the bunker, Angela following hesitantly.
Deeper in, the devastation was worse.  Scorch marks, wires ripped out of walls, consoles smashed…  And the Master, sitting in his chair, a single bullet hole between his eyes.
Lezvie stepped over the broken glass and plastic to his old friend’s chair, then closed the dead man’s eyes.  He slid the chair out of the way, plugging his personal computer into the central console.  A chuckle rose to his lips.  “Typical grunts.  They smash the place up, but they miss the one piece that actually matters.”  His smirk faded as he scanned his computer’s screen.  “Come on, Master…” he murmured, “what did you leave for me?”
Angela stepped up behind him.  “Anything?”
“Yes!”  Lezvie laughed.  “The Master not only left me the codes to get in, but also the codes to the hidden files he’d collected on the Crimson Dragon.  This is exactly what I needed.”  He downloaded the information and disconnected.  “Come on.  Let’s get out of here.”
They left the bunker, which Lezvie sealed behind them, then destroyed the door controls.
“So what do we do now?”
“I need a bigger computer to analyze this information, so we’ll have to go to my safe house.”
Your safe house?”  Angela raised an eyebrow.  “You mean, aside from the Remnant’s bunker?”
“Yes.  My personal safe house.”  He grinned.  “Come on, Angela.  With this data, we can save the world.  What’s left of it, at least.”

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Cyberpunk – Beta Run

Conclusion of the four-part introduction to Jake and the Black Fire Corp.

The sounds of flesh striking flesh, metal striking flesh, and metal striking metal echoed in the small room.  Jake was quickly growing used to the metal parts, and now that he was physically equal to the other cyborgs he was proving his superior fighting ability.  With a mix of street fighting and expert martial arts training, he wiped the floor with his teammates.
As he used a kick planted squarely in one agent’s chest to flip himself backwards, the door to the training room opened, and a man entered in a business suit.  He raised an eyebrow.  “I see you’re adjusting well to your new form, Jacob.”
Jacob turned to the man and nodded.  His robotic eye scanned the man; facial recognition told him that he was a high-ranking executive of the Black Fire Corportion.  “Very well, Mr. Smith.”
“Good.  You’re going to need it.”
Ann walked up behind Jacob, slipping back into her jumpsuit.  “We got a job, sir?”
Smith nodded.  “Someone’s hired a cyborg mercenary to hijack some of our shipments.  Our normal security team was slaughtered.”
“We’re on it.  Come on, Jake.”  She led him to the equipment room, and he picked out some new equipment for his cyborg body.

“So that’s the shipment?”  Jake watched the trucks, his robotic eye scanning them and telling him how far away they were.  “And this is where the trucks were hit last time?”
“Yes, to both.”  Ann glanced at the cyborg on her other side, who held a large rifle to his shoulder.  “You ready?”
“Yes, ma’am.  If he shows, I’ll blow him away.”
“Good.  It should be soon.”
No sooner had she spoken than an explosion took out the first truck, spilling its cargo all over the road.
“What was that?”
“Anti-vehicle missile, short range.”  The sniper scanned the road.  “He can’t be- Yes, there he is!”
They cyborg was huge, with guns bristling from every part of his body.  The guards dropped like flies.
“I got him.”  The sniper fired, and the cyborg staggered, glaring in the direction of the team.  “How did he survive-”
He was cut off when a large shell tore a hole in his chest.
The others scattered as more bullets followed, tearing up the roof they had been camped on.
Jake glanced over at Ann.  “My turn.”  He sprang off the rooftop towards the cyborg.
“Jacob, wait!”  Ann swore and leapt after him.
He sprinted, leaping from wall to wall, landing on the highway a few meters from the cyborg.  “Hey, ugly!”
It spun, a minigun on its arm whirring to life, spewing bullets at Jake, who leapt forward, rolling under the weapon and drawing his katana, energy blade humming to life.  The cyborg whirled, but its size slowed it down.  Jake rolled away as his foe’s metal fist cracked the highway.  He slashed at it with his katana, but the cyborg’s armored suit deflected the blade.  Another swing forced him to roll back, sheating his katana.
“All right, more power.”  He drew two Smith & Wesson 500’s from his belt, diving between the larger cyborg’s legs and emptying the revolvers at its back.
It staggered forward, and Jake saw fluid leaking from the holes, but it didn’t seem to care.  One of its massive arms swung around, flame and explosives pouring from it.  Jake rolled further back, his suit resisting the scorching, as he pulled the biggest new weapon he had acquired out of its sheathe.
A buster sword, the blade alone nearly six and a half feet long.  Made of a nearly indestructible alloy, copyright Black Fire Corporation, it was also coated in an energy field similar to the one on his katana.  This one, however, was much more powerful, as it had a longer handle, which could hold a stronger battery.
The cyborg aimed its largest cannon directly at him, and Jake could see the energy charging deep in its depth.  He whipped his sword around, bracing his off hand on the flat of the blade, deflecting the bolt of energy that was launched at him, though the force of it sent him skidding backwards on the asphalt.  As he saw the cyborg charging another shot, he leapt upward, letting the bolt pass harmlessly under him, and brought the buster sword down fiercely, splitting his large enemy in two from head to crotch.  The two halves slowly fell apart, crashing to the ground.
Ann came running up.  “You are the biggest idiot I have ever known!”  She paused, looking at the fallen cyborg.  “Though, it did work.  Maybe you aren’t such an idiot after all.”
Jake grinned, putting up the buster sword.  “Admit it, you admired that.”
“I’m not going to say anything.”  She grinned.  “Not in public, at least.”
The rest of the team ran up, all congratulating Jake on his amazing victory.  He waved off their congratulations half-heartedly, grinning.
Ann looked around, frowning slightly.  “Something’s not right…  This one cyborg couldn’t have carried all these supples by himself.  He must have had backup.  And they’re probably still around.”
One of the cyborgs looked towards the side of the road, where several steel drums were stacked.  “Like, behind those drums?”
The whole group turned, and several men with machine guns jumped out from behind the drums, opening fire.  Jake extended his arm, and the metal opened up and shifted, changing from a hand into a gun.
He sprinted towards the drums.  A few bullets bounced off his machine parts, and a few more hit some of his skin.  With a single bound, he leapt over the pile of barrels, whirling and targeting the half-dozen men.  They turned to continue firing at him, but Jake’s in-arm shotgun blasted off six fast shots, dropping every one of them.  Then he swayed and fell to one knee, stablizing himself with his human hand.
“Jake!”  Ann rushed to his side.  “You are the biggest idiot I’ve ever known…”
“I’m fine…”  He tried to stand and went down again.
Ann caught him.  “Being a cyborg doesn’t make you a god, Jake.”
“Didn’t need to be made a cyborg to act like I was a god,” Jake said, smirking.  “It just helps.”  He groaned and collapsed, finally succumbing to his wounds.

He woke up in the medical ward, his human parts bandaged.  Ann glared at him.  “You’re an idiot, you know that?”
“You keep saying that.  It worked, didn’t it?”
She kept glaring.  “Luck.”
“Skill.”  He sat up, grunting.  “However, I will be more cautious in the future.”
“Good.”  Ann looked around to make sure she was alone with him, then pulled him towards her and kissed him.  “Daft man.  Keep yourself in one piece.”
Jake nodded, chuckling.  With that incentive, he’d be sure to watch his back.

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