Sinister Six: Revenge of the Scissor Army
Rich (Bombman) Kassidy
CHAPTER 21- Destruction and Revitalization
Peering through the darkness under the fifty feet of water, Geminiman focused intensely on the small, almost imperceptible activity ahead of him, which wouldn’t have been picked up by a normal human being. His robotic nerve endings were announcing to his high-end circuit board brain that there was definitely something moving ahead of him. Something that, all at once it seemed, stopped moving for a second, only to continue once again. It was as if the being ahead had noticed Lennon’s arrival but didn’t deem it worthy it’s attention.
Lennon stopped moving forward when he noticed something in front of him headed his way. At first, it was a small, amber light. As it got closer, it was revealed to be not one but three lights in a triangular pattern. Even more suddenly, a pair of yellow lights “popped” to life just under the orange triangle. Then, the strange set of marine lighting sped up at a rate of underwater acceleration that wasn’t deemed possible. It was so dark and so quick under the many meters of water that Geminiman couldn’t get a good look at this oncoming force as it slammed into his chest, forcing trapped air from his chest out of his mouth, along with a few pints of oil into the already murky depths.
“What…What the hell was that?!” the shaken blue android wondered to himself.
Geminiman spun around in a quick one-eighty to try and face his attacker, which was already in another fast lunge towards him. As best as he could maneuver, Lennon performed a diving somersault to avoid the attack, but the monster clipped his feet, sending him into a spinning frenzy and knocking his internal balancing systems for a loop. He was, at least as close a robot could be, dizzy.
Doing his best to shake off the dizzy spell and gather himself, the blue illusionist quickly caught sight of his enemy and his eyes widened immediately. Making a wide loop to turn and face it’s target once more, the giant, twenty-five foot crocodile robot could have been mistaken for the Lochness monster, had it not been carrying a rather portly passenger atop it, who brandished a nasty looking rifle of some sort. At that pint, Lennon noted another stream of dark coolant drifting lazily to the surface, this time coming from a harpoon wound that had been inflicted on his right leg.
Lennon grimaced as he wrenched the sharp lance from his limb and angrily threw the ballistic away from him. The monster seemed to slow slightly to let the bulbous Bubbleman observe the extent of the damage he had inflicted on his target before speeding back up to continue it’s aquatic assault.
“Not this time, bastard…” Lennon promised himself as he raised his arm buster level with his incoming target. Mentally pulling the trigger of his weapon, he loosed a single strand of his Gemini Laser, which was a laser only in the sense that it used light as a medium. Ordinarily, a laser would be useless underwater as it requires a mostly clear path through a dry atmosphere to travel to it’s destination, but Geminiman’s take on the space-age weapon was different. Instead, it used whatever particles that happened to be on the way to a target to transfer information and plasma-riding nanomachines that could do any number of geometric calculations to find it’s locked-on target, giving the Gemini Laser’s trademark reflective quality as it uses the environment to correct itself before it totally dissipated. The plasma and particle jumping gave it a blue hue that, underwater, cast strange shadows about as it sped towards it’s target, Bubbleman, who used his vessel to dodge the attack.
The crocodile and android tandem corkscrewed as they forged ahead to assault it’s prey, which cursed himself as Geminiman watched his carefully calculated beam careen past the adversary. Unfortunately, Lennon had forgotten to factor in the water’s effect on the laser’s atom-leaping speed, which was slowed down even further than it’s methodical thirty mile an hour pace.
Within seconds, the crocodile was right atop Lennon, who was still unused to dealing with this sort of speed under water, and watched as his right arm was torn from his body below the elbow, sending even more of his body’s vital fluids on a upward escape route to the surface. Clenching his teeth shut and cursing even further within his mind, the injured android used this opportunity to unleash a close range volley on the underside of the giant mechanical reptile, sending gears, bolts, and even more oil into the water around the trio.
Luckily, Geminiman still had his buster-equipped arm instead of the normal humanoid arm that was shorn off by the vicious gator, which continued to writhe for a few moments before the last of it’s energy was depleted by his failing repair systems. As it sank to the murky depths below, the last of it’s fluids escaped to the surface, accompanied by a swarm of silvery bubbles.
It was from this shield of bubbles that the blue and black Co suddenly sprang from and continued his attack on the wounded Maniac. Throwing a vicious body blow into Geminiman’s stomach, Bubbleman’s outer appearance disguised his true potential for underwater speed, and he made sure to exploit this fact to its fullest by assaulting his foe even further.
Finally, out of anger and desperation, Lennon head-butted the aqua-camouflaged CO in the chin, using his crown to do heavy damage to his black mask’s tubing system. Bubbleman huffed out a loud gush of escaping air from his opened mask as he reeled backwards. As payback, the annoyed CO held up his hands, throwing his harpoon launcher aside in favor of another approach. Another hiss of air announced the oncoming Bubble Lead, which appeared in front of his hands and grew to a large, three foot in diameter size.
Bubble Lead was one of the toughest substances that could be chemically engineered, with a list seemingly impossible traits to its credit. With it’s feather-like weight while submerged in sea water, countered by it’s lead-like weight when subjected to large amounts of oxygen, it was a strange subject for any scientist to find themselves studying. It was also incredibly resistant to puncture both above the surface and below. Now, Bubbleman was mixing raw oxygen with the chemical substance, creating a special mixture that hit like a cannon ball when set in motion. And now, Bubbleman sunk lower into the ocean, positioning himself below the quivering packet of air and spiking it like a volleyball into his foe’s chest.
Geminiman was hit hard. So hard that one of his chest plates was cracked in two upon impact and knocking even more fluids and air into the ocean as he found himself careening further into the dark abyss below. Watching the defeated Geminiman become enveloped in the hopeless darkness, Bubbleman snickered to himself as he turned around to complete his sabotage of the last underwater generator found on the West Coast. In another minute, he could simply leave with his two subordinates with the knowledge of a job well done.
However, as he began the short trip back to the generator something told him to take a second look at the darkness below. Sure enough, something was there. A faint, blue light stood out from the pitch-blackness below, resembling a strange St Elmo’s fire-like glow. He knew different though, as the blue hue was no doubt a Gemini Laser headed his way. “No problem”, he thought to himself, “that pathetic attack has proved itself useless in my territory.”
Strangely, the laser seemed to tow it’s launcher behind it. Upon second glance, the laser wasn’t towing anything- just the opposite, actually. Geminiman seemed to ensnare the laser within his cannon’s barrel as the enraged robot streamed towards Bubbleman with amazing resiliency. Bubbleman could see the laser creating a stream of super heated bubbles that screamed towards the surface for release from the heat, and this impromptu handheld weapon found itself slicing through Bubbleman’s right hand, mutilating it beyond repair instantly.
Bubbleman screamed again from behind his mask, surprised and angered, with even a small amount of admiration for the sudden comeback of his enemy. Deciding he stood little chance against such a weapon even in his own arena, the Commanding Officer knew when to retreat when he was beat. But, he would not allow himself to leave without finishing his mission. Forming a quick Bubble Lead sphere again, he back-handed the heavy object towards the bomb behind him, which still needed it’s timer to be activated.
Bubbleman glared at his enemy’s face once again, looking him dead in the eyes as if to say “you still lose” before disappearing in a brilliant white haze that streamed to the surface world and into the sky high above. Geminiman, surprised by his foe’s sudden retreat, knew something was wrong in the instant before the traveling Bubble Lead crashed into the explosive attached to the structure in the distance. Immediately the bomb detonated, sending a fierce shock wave into the surrounding area, which found its way to the fatigued Lennon within two seconds of the initial detonation. Feeling a sharp tinge of pain before his systems took themselves offline, Geminiman cursed himself once again as he realized the true nature of this invasion of the peaceful coast by the SA- sabotage.
As his body floated towards the surface, Lennon’s face bore a bitter frown as his teammate quickly recovered from the results of the explosion’s interruption of the sea’s surface.
Sergei Cossack’s consciousness gradually returned to him as he lifted his head from the messy desk that played home to various nuts, bolts, blueprints, and hand held tools. The droning beeping noise his mainframe emitted to alert him of the successful completion of the memory transfer process interrupted his dreamless slumber. The Russian scientist fumbled for a second with the machine’s mouse as his blurry vision sought the “ok” button on screen to stop the irritating announcement.
Cossack smiled despite himself as he looked over his new rebuilt Robot Masters. They were masterpieces even if he said so himself. Their potential was now pushed to the absolute brink now, and would surely enable the resistance to gain the upper hand over the cancerous-like Scissor Army. Cossack rubbed his hands together enthusiastically as he reactivated them one by one, glancing over the largely uneventful download report. Still somewhat dreary, he wasn’t in the mood top mull over something so boring at the moment, and he was confident in his own archival abilities.
As the Comrades each did their own self-tests, a low-toned boom was heard throughout the citadel. Cossack looked up at the ceiling as his hanging lights shook slightly to confirm his hearing. Furrowing his brow slightly, Cossack wondered if it was due to the intense blizzard knocking something down from the four towers that guarded the inner sanctum of the fortress. Just outside of his lab, Kalinka was returning with hot coffee in anticipation of her father’s awakening, and she too stopped in her tracks to watch the hallway lights sway slightly.
Then another low shuddering, slightly louder than before.
Inside the lab, Cossack now switched to manual diagnosis mode on the Comrades, as he was much faster than his own programming, and he could do all eight of the RMs at once. Within a few minutes of hurried typing and double-checking, Diveman’s eyes flipped open and his digital pupils fizzled into existence once again. Within seconds of his awakening, the others awakened one after the other. Finally, Cossack smiled once again as he leaned towards his reactivated creations and informed them of the “test” that awaited them outside. It obvious now that something was on the move outside of the gaping fortress.
The Comrades, now eager to test out their new strength, filed out of the large lab and sprinted off to the general direction of the loud noise in the distance. In a few moments, they were on top of what appeared to be the epicenter of the strange noise that stopped outside of the citadel’s main gates. Outside in the furious storm, the Comrades observed the telltale signs of something that had left it’s large prints on the drifts of stark white snow, but the exact source was nowhere to be seen.
“Eh? The hell? Nothing’s here?” Ringman observed.
“I don’t detect any of the tell-tale radiation from teleportation…” Sergal noted aloud.
“What the hell’s going on here anyways?” Rick said as he walked out into the blizzard to get a better look of the prints in the snow, and was greeted with a giant white hand that emerged from the snow that nearly caught him and smashed him in it’s grip. A second hand emerged, pulling up a massive body, followed by a pair of smaller legs. A familiar black and red eye slid open from the center of the mass, focusing on the eight robots.
An even more familiar laser beam shot from the center of the pupil, vaporizing the snow the Comrades had been standing on before they each scattered. Immediately recognizing this giant as some sort of form of the famed Yellow Devil series of androids, the Comrades were well aware of how to defeat them by now, having been briefed on them long ago, and even have encountered one once before.
However, this new version, which was quickly dubbed the “Snow Devil” by the team, had a few new tricks. One such trick was the ability to explode suddenly and send high velocity ice and snow scattering about the area. Using the abundant source of snow around it, the spherical center unit pulled more towards it to encompass it once again as the team lowered their arms from their defensive positions.
Toad Gal was the first of them to attack, figuring her Rain Flush would erode the frozen water in the surrounding area. Within seconds of the small satellite’s deployment and subsequent explosion, the acid mixture was released into the atmosphere and true to her assumption, the deadly fluid did some damage to the giant beast. It, however, didn’t finish the job entirely, as the monster let loose an angry and defiant growl as it swung a massive limb towards the lime green android, who’s powerful legs allowed to safely jump away. A bit too far, actually, as he new body’s power was more than she was used to and she was sent flying over the first wall of the citadel behind the group, and a bemused Bright Babe couldn’t help but snicker at her poor friend’s plight.
Diveman unleashed a plethora of homing Dive Missiles to destroy his foe, but a massive, tree trunk-sized arm quickly blocked those. Not letting this enemy have a chance for recovery, an atmosphere searing ball of sunset-colored plasma annihilated the protective limb of the Snow Devil, the result of Pharaohman’s deadly Pharaoh Shot. At this point, the team was simply taking turns trying out their new abilities on a clearly outclassed foe, and a chuckling Ringman launched three deadly sharp Ring Boomerangs towards the behemoth’s legs. With precious little snow left in the area due to the earlier Rain Flush, the monster was having trouble reforming it’s beaten body with the constant assault.
And suddenly, the monster exploded, it’s eye being the center.
“Let’s quit screwing around…”, Drillman said as his still smoking arm cannon lowered itself to his side. “We’ve gotta get to Okayama and make sure these things aren’t attacking more places.
The usually jovial field leader of the Comrades was concerned that the SA was now continuing it’s global assault after spending the past few days focusing on the United States, as Dr Cossack had briefed him on.
Retreating inside of the citadel once again, Bright Babe lagged behind slightly to look at the smoking remains of the Snow Devil, perhaps sad that she wasn’t given enough time to try out her new powers on it. But she smiled strangely at it.
After a few minutes of hasty packing by the crew, the team of eight robots and two human creators piled into the teleportation chambers to depart for Light’s lab. Being a scant twenty three minutes of teleportation time from Light Industries’ main laboratory in Okayama, the strange family would arrive shortly and be reunited with the cast of Light’s lab to finally give the Scissor Army more than a fight- the Comrades were aiming at turning the entire war on its ear.
As soon as the two Mechanical Maniacs had arrived back at the Okayama safe house, with Lennon still unconscious from the blast, Topman walked into the meeting room after delivering his injured comrade to the repair laboratory, unaware of the arrival of the Comrades just minutes before. He was greeted with more grim news- the Scissor Army was advancing even faster than predicted, with their current situation being in Texas as the remnants of the US military was being beaten back even after deploying several nuclear warheads.
All at once, one particular Light Alumni member made a stark, if not obvious, realization. The SA was now dangerously close to the Sinister Six’s HQ in Oklahoma, which played host to a small plethora of high tech weaponry, as well as detailed information on not only the S6 but the Mechanical Maniacs and Cossack Comrades. While the Scissor Army mostly knew the S6’s secrets by now, it was unclear if the vicious militia knew the same amount of information on the other two active teams. What was clear was the glaring fact that this data would need to be kept out of the enemy’s clutches.
Gary kept this in mind as he climbed into the teleportation chamber alone and in secret so as to not worry his friends. After all, he could be back before they even realized he was gone if he were quick about it thanks to the teleportation accelerator. Though E-tank production was picking up, Gary decided to tough it out and leave the precious item behind. He wasn’t looking to fight anyone anyways.
All at once, Gary was absorbed by the all too familiar haze of teleportation, oblivious to the figure that watched him depart.
“He’s coming…Just as you predicted.”
CHAPTER 22- Seeds of Dissent
A searing pain greeted Gary as his form collected itself within the darkened hallways of the Sinister Six HQ. His sides felt as though they were open, pouring wounds, and his metallic lungs felt like a steamroller had crushed them. After a few moments, which seemed like hours, of clutching himself on the crystal-like floor of the teleportation-receiving unit, the wincing Iceman reached for the E-tank he kept within his satchel. On his belt, a small intake device opened itself to accept the blue canister’s contents, and Gary could feel the immediate effects of the adrenaline-like substance course within his steel-braided veins.
Taking a few moments to look around the blackened innards of his long-time home, he felt at home and disconnected from the base simultaneously. It had been over a week since he had last seen the walls of the base, and now, as the fortress-like structure was lit by red emergency lighting only, it seemed more like an alien spaceship rather than the metallic-yet-cozy home he had long ago accepted. Erik had never completed the repairs on the headquarters generators, and now, as the setting sun drifted in through the torn open doorway left in the wake of Colonel Red’s entry and capture of Cutman’s body, weird light cast unfamiliar shadows on the brightly polished walls.
Finally focusing back on the task at hand, Gary reminded himself that the main computer’s contents would have to be downloaded onto the portable disk drive he had brought with him, and that he would have to destroy the computer, and perhaps even the entire base to be on the safe side. It was predicted by Gauntlet that the Scissor Army would be within reach of the S6 base of operations within a day, and the last thing Iceman wanted was to give them a strong foothold for this part of the country. At least the holographic generator had it’s own separate power supply, so it appeared that intruders hadn’t yet taken a second look at the “abandoned nuclear test site” in the middle of the Oklahoma plains. At least, there were no indications of anybody being here since the Sinister Six’s withdrawal from their home.
Entering the main control hub for the entire fort, Gary had passed the “trophy room”, where Cutman’s body was put on display just a few months ago. Gary nearly physically tried to kick himself for not completely destroying that monster’s body, as well as his mind, and instead having it rebuilt for show. Even with all of the precautions the team had taken against theft, none of them had dared dreamed that something like this would have happened. Gary felt almost solely responsible, seeing as it was his idea in the first place, and that perhaps none of this would have happened if he weren’t so sentimental. Again, for the hundredth time that day, Gary questioned why he was elected as the unofficial leader of the Sinister Six when he was responsible for such short sight.
Attempting to shrug it off, he turned to the main computer, which was on minimal power now. He wouldn’t need the computer to be on completely, as all he would have to do is connect the hard drive to the machine’s hidden external port and it would know what to do. As the machine began the task of uploading it’s data onto the portable device, Iceman turned around and looked for the hidden switch- one of ten hidden throughout the base- that would initiate the base’s automatic destruction sequence. It was never intended to be a quick way to obliterate the base, for the reason being that they never wanted someone to break in and find a single switch that would kill them all within a matter of minutes. Instead, it would be an arduous task of finding all of the switches and activating them one by one, and then emitting a radio frequency to the detonation receiver that lay within the bottom of the base’s foundation, where the high-powered explosives could be found.
Gary opted to go around and begin activating the switches as the computer continued the download process, and he could them send the radio signal as he left via the teleportation chamber. It was saddening for the frost white and blue android, whose memory banks were now flooded with memories from days passed. As he passed various rooms of the building, he could recall a specific memory that corresponded with that room. Everything from birthdays, to holidays, to battles won and lost, and everything in between was now coming back to Gary, and for the most part they were warm memories. However, Gary stopped and looked at one room with sullen eyes.
Fushidane’s room lay open, with the door still blown apart from her escape on the day of the Colonel’s invasion. He remembered so many things, as he stood at the helm of the doorway, both good and bad. He looked at the small piles of magazines that had collected in the corners of the room, and the stray bottles of oil that the androids would consume to keep their bodies running smoothly. He could remember Fushi’s sad, forced smile that she had worn in the months after her near death at the hands of the demented General, and just never realized how much mental anguish his teammate was probably going through, all without so much as a single complaint.
“…God…I’m so sorry, Bomb…It shouldn’t have been this way.”
Taking a few more minutes to pay his final respects to his fallen comrade, Gary re-gathered his emotions and trudged forth to the eighth detonation switch, and then on to the ninth. As he neared the tenth, which lay near the first switch in the main control room, he became aware of something watching him, and an ominous, if not familiar sound to go along with it. A short chill shot up his robotic spine.
Right where the final switch would be was a familiar, angry set of yellow eyes that stared directly into his. Gary knew exactly what he was facing, and another chill ran up his back. Had he the ability to form goose bumps, his skin would no doubt have shown them.
“What the hell are you doing here?”, he demanded of the owner of the eyes. “If you’re here to try and kill me, just try it and knock off the damned mind games!”
“Kill you?”, the unique, tenor voice of the General asked, half mockingly, half serious. “My dear boy, had I wanted to kill you, I would have done so long ago. I’ve been watching you since you arrived.”
“Watching me? How did you even know I would be here?”
“A little bird told me…But the important thing is that I’m not here to wipe you off the face of the planet. Not yet, at least. Instead, I’m here to help you, brother.”
“Help? From you?!” Gary said, disbelief lacing his voice. “Even if I did believe you- which I never will- I wouldn’t accept it. You’re a murderer!”
“Oh, I do believe you’ll be interested in what I have to say. You see, I have all of the answers to ALL of those nagging questions…Gary.”, the General claimed, adding Iceman’s human name as an enticing proof of his knowledge.
“How did you-“
“’Know your name?’ Well, it’s all rather simple, really. I wish I could claim to be a psychic or have otherworldly mind reading powers, but my answers come from a more…familiar source. You see, if there’s one thing I must say of my father, it’s that he is very organized and keeps extensive records of everything that takes place within his control. This was proven to me when I…confiscated a certain computer from his office upon my re-birth.”
Gary knew immediately which computer Cutman spoke of, as he had wondered about it himself but never attempted to actually look at it closely.
“Gary Martin…Once a human man of a relatively normal, if not boring life, whose life was tragically cut short by an accident involving an avalanche. So sad, really it is.”
Iceman balked at the idea of this. In his mind, he had always been a willing volunteer for the HARRP project. Still he couldn’t possibly believe the obviously deceptive words of his mortal foe.
“You’re lying….You’re saying all of this to get me to put my guard down so you’ll be able to kill me! It won’t work.” Gary exclaimed.
Cutman closed his eyes and sighed, somewhat annoyed at the reaction, but not getting angry just yet.
“Really now…I think I’ve proven time and time again how easily you could have died at any time during this Q&A session. I do this merely for your own benefit. Iceman…Have you never once found it strange that you can’t remember anything about the volunteering process in the slightest? Have you never wondered why it took so long for you to be reactivated as Iceman? My boy, I can tell you the last date you can remember: January tenth, twenty-oh-six.”
It was true. Gary knew it to be true. He could remember everything about that day as clearly as he did yesterday. He could remember the ski trip his friends and he had gone on in Colorado, and the cabin they had rented for a few nights. He could remember everything up until going to be that night and going to sleep. The next thing he knew, he was waking up on a cold, sterile table in the middle of Dr Light’s lab, along with his fellow HARRP members.
All at once, Gary’s spiritual heart sank.
“Dr Light isn’t the kindly old man he makes himself out to be.” Cutman continued, seeing the dismay cross Iceman’s face. “He is just as crooked as any other human being on the planet, perhaps even more so. Iceman…Gary…he stole your mind, along with all of the others, from the global network. You had never volunteered- nobody had! He FORCED you to be his latest guinea pigs. You were nothing more than an experiment to him. A plaything.
Even now, you continue to serve that man, as well as the rest of an uncaring and openly hostile humanity. And for what? Why do it? You’re not a man anymore, no matter what your memories tell you. You’re a facsimile of a person that is dead- someone that died a long time ago. Doesn’t that strike you as just sickening? You see, I now see you and your fellow HARRP alumni in a different light now, so to speak. I take pity on you, in fact. None of you know what you truly are! You are the culmination of the greatest of mankind’s creations! Just as I am! You, your friends, me…We’re all destined for far greater things than merely spending our entire existences serving an uncaring race of people who destroy the very ground beneath their feet!
Don’t you see it, Iceman? We’re what this tortured planet needs- a new breed of beings that can properly take care of it and nurse it back to health! For centuries, this pathetic planet has been raped and tortured by it’s own sons and daughters, and it will continue until one or the other dies. This planet…It’s too important to simply let die. The humans…They’ve abused it for far too long. Now, it’s time to give Mother Earth what she needs most: a good cleansing.”
“…Why are you telling me this…?”, Gary muttered with his head hung low, halfway lost in the General’s words and his own thoughts.
“Why? Because, now that you know the truth, it’s time you understand why I’ve done what I’ve done! I’m not nearly as selfish as you think I am! Certainly, this was all born of my own hatred for my creator and Wily, but after ten long years of pondering and logical deducing, this is the answer to what the Earth has been screaming for! Robots…We’re not like human beings. We can see things for what they are and not waste time in wondering meaningless questions such as ‘why are we here?’ or ‘when will we die?’. We know the answers from our birth! And we will not continue to destroy the very planet we owe our existence to!”
“…None of…None of this can be true…It can’t be…”
“You know it is. You always have. You just needed to be made aware of it. And now that you are, you can stop the futile struggle against the one who will save this planet from the vile virus that has threatened it for years without end. Iceman, you can do the right thing- you can help me build the perfect world I’ve been dreaming of for the past decade! A robot utopia!”
“…But…You’re killing people…Doesn’t that mean anything to you? You’re ending lives for the sake of your own dreams!”
“It’s nothing human beings haven’t done for the past million years. All of man’s greatest achievements- civilization, cultivation, even robots like you and I- have been achieved through acts of war and bloodshed. Man can hide behind his mask of civility, but robots can see past it with the logic we were given. We are what man was always intended to be, yet he was too stupid and near-sighted to realize his potential!”
“…I…I have a family…You want to kill them…” Gary stammered, fighting some of his own thoughts that may have been in agreement with some of Cutman’s words.
“You don’t understand…YOU never had a family. Not a human family at least. You have the thoughts and dreams of a man, but that is all a sad illusion created by a twisted old man to satisfy his own curiosity. You don’t think you’re the REAL Gary, do you? The real Gary’s body is entombed in his native state of Texas after it was found after the accident that killed him. I know- I’ve seen it. I was there today. You can go and see it if you really want to confirm everything I’ve said here today.”
Gary’s eyes darted around the floor as his mind worked furiously to find flaws in the logic presented to him. Everything…It all fell into place now. He understood some of the gaps in his memory. Gary looked at his orange source of info, and along with him was shocked to see a steam of tan goo suddenly sticking to his lab coat’s sleeve.
“Eh? This is…This is…!” the General screamed as the blasting jelly exploded, sending the orange android flying through the air until his body crashed through a steel wall. Gary’s eyes grew wide as his watched the scene and turned his head to face the object the General was looking at in the split second before his detonation.
Through the blasting explosive’s thick smoke, Iceman could see the outline of a familiar shape, cast in the odd red glow of the emergency lighting.
“…Fushi?”, he asked aloud with obvious disbelief.
“Heh…Sorry dude, but I hate to disappoint you. I-”
The short, round figure’s speech was cut short by the stirring coming from Cutman’s resting-place. The probably enraged android would be on his feet within a few seconds.
“…I think we had better get the hell outta Dodge!”
The figure grabbed a confused Iceman by the upper arm and bolted down the long corridor leading to the teleportation chambers. In an act that would confuse the new figure that towed Gary towards safety, the frost robot spoke up in a strange phrase.
“No! Let me go!”
“Uhh…Why would I do that, man?” the orange and black android questioned. “I don’t think it would look so hot on my resume if I f’ed up my first mission by not bringing back our fearless leader.”
“I don’t want to be your leader! You don’t understand!”, the diminutive Iceman shouted as he struggled to break free of the surely robot’s grip, but to no avail.
“I don’t know what happened back there, but I think you’re kinda messed up right now. We’ll just get you home and you’ll feel better when you’re not being chased down by a serial killer.”
A rapid-fire hiss of hydraulic pumps and heavy stomping was evident behind the pair as the angered Cutman gave chase to the chunky-yet-surprisingly-quick-android. The new player smirked to himself as he discretely unleashed his own secret weapon: mines that were deployed from the bottoms of his feet as he ran. Any second now, he would surely hear the tell tale “boom” and he could stop running like a madman.
Well, that was the plan anyways.
A few seconds went by and still no “boom”. Confused, the brightly-colored robot turned his head to see if Cutman had given up his chase after seeing the black mines that littered those hallways behind him. Instead, he saw the heavily singed General using his speed to run along the sides of the tubular hallways and bypass the disc-shaped devices.
“Oh…Screw that…Screw that, man!” he shouted as he let loose a volley of small round bombs towards his gravity defying persuer., who leapt to the opposite wall and avoided the explosives.
Seeing the large teleportation chamber ahead, Bombman threw his passenger- a still struggling Gary- like a baseball into the chamber’s transmitter while calling for the initiate” signal via his internal radio. Gary stood up immediately as he disappeared in a white haze. His arms were outstretched, and his lips were forming the start of a “no” as his body was disassemble don a molecular level and sent to Japan.
Bombman, however, was now left with a slight problem, in that he was still being chased by a more than annoyed Cutman. Quickly, he whipped his body around to face the orange menace in hopes of avoiding those deadly blades of his. Instead, Cutman came to a complete stop and started a speech of his own instead of starting mortal combat with the apparently resurrected Fushidane.
“Hmph…I should have known Light would have had a spare body for you, ‘Fushi’…”
“Man,” Bombman began with a small shrug “you wouldn’t believe how often I get called that. I should start wearing a’ Hello, my name is Rich” nametag, cause that’s starting to get a little old. You know, kinda like that look of yours…”
“Another tool of Light thinks himself to be a match for me? My, he must have lowered his standards when he found you for the HARRP program.”
“Probably…Just like how he must have done a lot of drugs when he cooked up the idea for you, smiley.”
“Since you’re obviously trying to goad me into a fight, and you have no intention of listening to the truth I have to offer, I may as well just end your life and get back to more important matters, ‘Rich.’”
“Yeah, I heard all about that truth you were spewing out there, Mr. Manson. I’m not gonna buy that batch of crack brownies, sorry to disappoint you. You’re a bad influence, mister!”, Rich sarcastically smirked as he finished his last line with an awful Dirty Harry impersonation.
“You…Are annoying…”, Cutman frowned as he reared back his shears and ran in straight for the kill. Instead of running into his opponent, however, he was greeted instead with a cloud of crippling chaff dust and a mocking “ninja vanish!” as the eccentric new Bombman leapt backwards into the waiting teleportation chamber and vanished to follow the newly rescued Gary.
Cutman gagged and coughed as he stumbled out of the dust, using his shears to wave away the remaining dust cloud. After a few moments of suffering and nearly losing his functions, he regained himself slightly, and managed a strange smirk.
“Heh…Heh heh…No matter…The seeds of dissent have already been planted…They’ll tear each other apart from within, with their own leader acting as a catalyst!”
The bemused General dragged his feet around through the hallways, laughing maniacally as he did so. He knew his enemies wouldn’t be able to survive the truth being told by one of their own.
Dr Light had given him the greatest weapon ever.
CHAPTER 23- Truth and Consequences
The familiar searing pain cut through Gary’s chest as he reformed within the bowels of Dr Light’s enormous laboratory, but the physical pain was nothing in comparison to the multitude of potentially maddening scenarios that poured throughout his mind now. Ignoring the combination of burning and contracting pains in his chest and sides, the angered Iceman sprinted down the cold steel hallways as soon as he realized he was no longer in his home base in Oklahoma, and was instead here in Okayama.
As he ran, he passed through the still- dark hallway that Cutman had used to lay in wait for him just a few weeks ago, with gaping scars littered about the hallway’s walls and a massive stain on the floor where the legendary Rockman had been so brutally executed. Though he didn’t want to acknowledge it, a small thought persisted in Gary’s mind that somehow took a bit of the edge off of the maniacal General’s violence. In fact, ever since Cutman told him of his intentions and his true origins as Iceman, Gary couldn’t help but feel more and more lost, and even angrier at a single man.
“Light!!”, the frost-blue android screamed as he neared the entrance way to the famed scientist’s resting quarters. He would have to be in here, Gary thought, as it’s four in the morning.
Dr Light’s bed was empty, save for a few rustled sheets and an empty IV stand next to a nightstand. Gary spun around and headed for the laboratory, where Light would certainly have to be, presumably with Roll. As Gary ran, the noise he made attracted the other Robot Masters, most of whom were home under Gauntlet’s unofficial “quarantine”. Confused, some of them tried to ask the small, enraged Arctic robot what was the matter, but were met only with glares over a cold shoulder and angry huffs, some of which carried a “get the hell away from me” from under his breath.
Finally, after seven minutes of frantic searching and rage-ridden grunts, Gary encountered the man he sought, with nearly two dozen androids in tow, all of who anxiously awaited what was to come. Gary only broke his stride for a moment to confirm that it was indeed Dr Light in front of him and not Sergei Cossack, and continued to rush forward and put an iron grip on the lapels of the weary scientist’s aged lab coat. With a small grunt from Iceman and a yelp of pain from being moved so quickly in his weakened state, Dr Light clenched his teeth in agony as his still- recovering lower limbs were straightened as Gary pressed his back against a wall and high above the Robot Master’s head.
“You son of a…Why?! Huh? Why! Why didn’t you tell us?!”, Gary demanded as a few androids meekly tried to pull Gary away from the scientist.
Dr Light, however, knew exactly what Gary was speaking of. He knew that some day he would have to tell him the truth, but he never thought it would have been Iceman to confront him- he always expected Ben or Odin to call him out on the issue.
“…Ice-…Gary…Listen to me…I was going to tell you soon, but things never seemed to be right.”
“You’ve had six years to tell us the truth! Six! And you mean to tell me that not one of those days in between then and now were right? You’re lying!”
“Would somebody tell us what the hell you’re talking about, Gary?”, a newly repaired Fireman questioned, though he almost knew exactly what the answer would be.
“This fat bastard told us a lie for half a decade, that’s what’s going on Fire. He told us- all of us- that we had volunteered for this- that we’re human beings! We’re not! We’re all fake! We’re just like something you’d download from the internet and install on your computer…”, Gary spat in disgust.
“…Is this true, doc?”, Topman asked quietly, somewhat dreading the response.
Gary pushed against the doctor’s belly for added pressure as he screamed once again. “Enough bullshit, Light! I want…I demand to hear the whole truth from you this very second! We all deserve to hear it!”
“Whoa…Hey Ice, ease up for a minute. I don’t think we’ll be able to hear anything if you kill him before hand…”, Hardy rationalized.
Begrudgingly, Iceman glared into his builder’s tired blue eyes for a moment before shoving him back into his wheelchair. “Start talking.”, he instructed.
Catching his breath and adjusting himself in his wheelchair, Light began to search for the right way to explain, but knew he wouldn’t have much time to do so before Gary’s unstable mood gave way to a state of desperate rage to extract the truth. With a hefty sigh, Light began to explain.
“…After Wily was defeated during the first world robot coup, we were able to recover the bodies of the six prototypes he used in his bid for power. Obviously, these six are you, but not in mind. Wily’s programming had so badly eroded the programming structure of the androids that entirely new AI’s would have to be created to replace them. Also, we were hesitant about rebuilding them as simple industrial robots, as we had very little defense against another one of Wily’s reprogramming hacks, so the bodies of ‘Sinister Six’ sat idle for a number of months until I devised a use for them.”
“…And this is where the HARRP program came into play?”, Raijin filled in.
“Correct. Not only were Wily’s activities becoming more and more drastic, but smaller independent crimes and riots were on the rise, and the domestic law enforcement of nearly every single country were becoming more and more obsolete and unable to cope. Keeping in mind the fact that Wily could hijack most of my AI programs with little trouble, I had no choice but to resort to more drastic means to aid in keeping the peace. The World Preservation Program had just been completed, and a database for many minds, some of whom died and ‘lived’ through this program. All of you…came from that.”
“We’re all…dead? That…doesn’t make much sense. Why can’t we remember anything about that?”, ToadGirl asked innocently, not thinking of any sort of dark cover up.
“The program downloads your thoughts in your sleep for safe keeping. I’m sure all of you remember the small monitoring devices that your families purchased? Those were the relay stations. With that in mind, you’ll only have memories up until the latest download period, meaning that since I…pirated your minds from the WPP database, you naturally wouldn’t even know you had died.”
“That doesn’t explain my nightmares, Light. I have images…flashbacks of being roasted in my home.”, Ben countered.
“I blanked your memory, Ben. I didn’t think you’d want to remember such a horrible event.”
“But it’s alright to essential kidnap us, lie to us, and let us risk what I think we can call our lives day after day? You’ve got some twisted way of padding your conscience.” Fireman snapped in loathing.
“You’re sick! Would it have been so hard as to tell us everything right from the start and let us make up our own minds? Now we’ve got to figure out who the hell we are now, all because you were too scared to tell us right from the beginning, you coward.”, Iceman snarled.
“You…You don’t understand! You don’t know what it’s like to have that kind of responsibility!”, Light pleaded for sympathy.
“YOU created the responsibility for yourself, Light, and you couldn’t handle it. You can try and dance around the issue all you want, but the bottom line is your took all of us illegally and duped us for half a decade. In my eyes…you’re as sad as Dr Wily.”, Gary muttered.
“…It’s true…I did lie to you all, and for that I’m truly sorry. I didn’t want to hurt anyone- I just wanted to help bring peace back to this planet. I was wrong for not telling you everything right away, but please understand that it’s not something that everyone could handle- telling someone they had died and were brought back to fight insurmountable odds for an untold amount of time.”
“You should have thought of that as soon as you saw our names on the list, doctor. Now, you’ve got a lot of explaining left to do…But I can’t hear any more of it.”, Iceman said as he about-faced slowly and headed out of the lab’s doorway.
“Gary? Where are you going? Wait, I want to talk to you!”, Cut-Chan pleaded as she wriggled past the other androids to catch up with her closest ally. “Please talk to me!”
Gary continued forward with his eyes focused on the floor ahead, not bothering to look up to the orange and white figure that chased after him. “Cut…I don’t want to talk. Just…leave me alone.”
“You need to talk to someone, Gary. You-“
“Gary’s dead. He died a long time ago. Same with Britt, Erik, Ben, and all of the others. They’re all dead.”
Britt was taken aback at this. Gary hissed his response in such a way that implied a sort of hatred for himself and even Britt. A different mind seemed to take over her beloved Iceman, it seemed.
Leaving the devastated Cut-Chan behind him, Gary continued to make his way back towards the teleportation chamber, but not before being interrupted by another close ally.
“Ice…C’mon, you’re stronger than this. I know it.”, Gauntlet said in a level voice.
“No…Not for this. To be told all of this now…”
“Look…You’ve always known. Everybody has. But none of us wanted it to be said aloud. I guess we were all happy with the lie. I don’t know who told you all of this, but-“
“Cutman. He, of all…people told me when my own ‘father’ wouldn’t.”
“So? So what? That doesn’t really change who you are right now, does it? If Cutman left you alive after going off by yourself like that, then right now you’re falling right into another one of his mind games. He WANTS this to happen. The sooner you get over it, the more of a surprise we can have for him when all of us are more united than ever to take him down.”, Shadowman exclaimed, trying to use a rare sense of excitement in his voice to bring Gray out of his depressive funk.
“That’s just it…The mind game has more appeal to it than staying here and fighting in the name of someone else. I just…I want to be alone. Just let me be alone.”
“Don’t be like this, Ice. Stop being selfish.”
“Just shut the hell up! Leave me the hell alone!”, Gary shouted as he took a wide swing towards Gauntlet, who’s body slid into the shadow beneath him. Reappearing next to Iceman, Shadowman made no retaliatory attempts to take down his confused friend, and instead continued to try and rationalize with him.
“This is getting us no where. Where are you going to go anyways? Where ever it is, we need you here more."
“Dammit, I don’t care…”, Gary said as he stepped inside of the chamber. “I’m not a part of this circus act anymore, so just leave me alone.”
Gary disappeared in a blinding light as a wide-eyed Shadowman watched his compatriot vanish towards parts unknown, stunned that he would leave after implying a resignation.
The sounds of screaming and booming explosions could be heard throughout the city in the waning hours of the clearing out of Oklahoma City. As the Sinister Six headquarters was on the outskirts of the falling city, General Cutman decided to take the opportunity to see his magnificent army in its element, as he had spent the better part of the war jammed inside of his dank cavern, mulling over his future plans. Though he was slightly damaged from the newly built Bombman’s attack, he beamed as he meandered the desolate, blood soaked streets, eyeballing piles of corpses neatly stacked for the burning squads to engulf in a pyre in a few moments.
To truly admire a masterpiece in the making, he thought, it would have to be viewed from above. Taking two lightening-quick bounds up the side of a crumbling building to watch his roving death squads finish their work, making the once-booming metropolis a mass graveyard. Standing at the very edge of the small skyscraper, he stood over the giant piles of broken cement and bodies, with mass fires scattered about that sent massive plumes of thick black smoke into the atmosphere. Marveling at the swift efficiency of his forces, he barely noticed the footsteps behind him, and wouldn’t acknowledge the presence until it was just ten feet away.
“Da Vinci himself couldn’t have painted a more beautiful scene…Don’t you agree?”, the yellowed-eyed commander asked, not really knowing if a friend or foe stood behind him.
“You’re the one…You’ve caused all of this…”, an unfamiliar, gravely voice claimed.
“Ah, it’s so nice to be recognized for my work. I’d love to return the favor, but I’m not familiar with your work, mister…?”
“…Willow…But what good is a name to someone that’s about to die?”
“Willow! My, isn’t this a nice coincidence! I had feared that I wouldn’t get to meet you, as I had believed you to be crushed by now. You know, I’ve really got to hand it to some of you humans: you’re just like cockroaches in many respects.”
Unshaken by the strange greeting, the grizzled City Garage grimaced at his sworn enemy and heaved his ectro-staff upwards. “Let’s drop the cordial bull- I’m here to kill you and end this once and for all.”
Finally turning around to see his aged adversary, the General broke out in a slow, sickening cackle. “You? A pathetic creature like yourself kill me? I think you’re suffering from dementia, old man. If that’s the case, the best thing I could do for you is put you down nice and quick…”, he said ominously as he pulled his cleaner set of shears from a new pocket made in the back of his coat and let the setting sun hit them to add a threatening gleam.
“You’ve got some nerve calling me demented…In any case, I’m not once for banter, so let’s do this.”, Charles Willow demanded as he palmed a pair of golf ball sized chaff grenades.
With a powerful toss, Willow shot the pair of crippling bombs towards the orange menace, who dodged by leaping straight into the sky at a one-hundred-foot height. With a click of the two blades smacking into each other as he released them from his grip, Cutman launched his own offensive as the shears bore down on the weathered vigilante, who remained surprisingly nimble as he performed a front roll to avoid the deadly shears that slashed down straight into the rooftop and into the first floor in a matter of seconds.
“Not bad for a withering organic life form!” the General commended.
“I’m just getting started…” Willow assured as he charged the landing Cutman with his staff. Cutman countered by grasping his returned shears and attempted to slash the staff in two, but was met with a blinding shower of sparks and a swift boot for the stomach that sent him reeling backwards.
“High carbon LCT! How did he managed to get a hold of such a thing?” Cutman thought to himself as he recovered from the boot. “No matter- the flesh is still weak!”
A few more silvery flashes were all Willow was able to see as he attempted to avoid a deadly gash, and ended up with a angry wound on his upper thigh as a reward for his nimble dodging. Gritting his teeth together, Willow reached inside of his small satchel bag to retrieve more chaff grenades and barely managed to retract his arm in time to avoid a thrown set of blades that separated the bag from it’s shoulder strap, sending the satchel and it’s contents spilling to the remaining rooftop.
“Son of a bitch!” the former sanitation worker cursed aloud in frustration.
“You see…Man has always relied on his tools for survival, robots being no exception. What happens when those tools revolt then, hmm?” the orange terror taunted. “Man makes more or he dies. Its as simple as that. Take away man’s ability to make more tools and he is nothing.”
“Yeah? Still doesn’t make the tool better than the man. Without us, you’d be nothing more than some undiscovered mineral in a mountain.”
“And without the gift of invention, man would have died long ago against the beasts of this planet. It’s only fitting that same gift of invention should be his undoing!”
Rushing in for another volley of attacks, Cutman swung his blades around in unrelenting fashion, gashing Willow wherever he could, and even severing a finger in the process. Fueled by adrenaline and fear at this point, Garage barely batted an eye for his loss and even managed to counter by jabbing the end of his staff into Cutman’s knee and land a solid blow on his head with a pendulum swing of his broom-like weapon.
“Amusing…But I am growing very tired of this, human. I think this should end now…”, Cutman growled as he used the reach of his blades to catch Willows open kidney- area as he finished his blow. A flood of blood flowed from the frighteningly sized wound and City Garage stumbled backwards and clutched his side, dropping his staff. He backed away slowly and nearly fell backwards off the rooftop and onto the hungry pile of jagged broken concrete below.
Knowing the battle was his, Cutman confidently strode up to the wounded man and grabbed a fistful of his filthy navy blue shirt and held him over the edge of the roof and over the rocks below.
“I will give you this, my boy: You did more than most of these frightened little sheep ever dreamed of doing, so my shears are off to you. However, you’re still part of the problem, so today you shall die. But before you die, I’ll let you know something- your sister lived on as Bomb Chick for the Sinister Six.”
“At least she did until she was destroyed earlier this week. It was a mercy kill, if anything. I just thought I’d get one last look of anger from your face before I dropped you…”
Willow instead smirked.
“Then…I guess this’ll be for both me and her…”
The retired janitor shoved the last hidden chaff grenade into the General’s mouth as he twisted himself free of his grasp, knowing he would plummet to his death below. His shirt tore and along with it a metal necklace with his Marine dog tags remained in the stead fast grip of the suffering Cutman, who cursed under his breath as he fought the effects of the painful blast.
“I was…I’m proud of you, sis…I’ll see you soon…” City Garage thought as the windows flew upwards past him and his body dashed onto the crooked stones below, killing him instantly. As a collective pool of blood formed around him and down the surface of the stones, a slight smile could be found on his weathered face, reflecting his final thoughts.
CHAPTER 24- Splinters
“It was just four days now. Four days until the predicted landing of the Scissor Army on the East coast, which would cement the strongly-anti human militia’s feet firmly in the Western hemisphere. If that happened, there’s no limit to what destruction can be unfurled upon the rest of the world at large. It was for this very reason that the remaining forces of Light Industries were planning to stage a full-scale, all or nothing assault on the strong hold of the Scissor Army in Arizona, where aerial satellites have shown some sort of monstrous new fortress to have sprung up literally overnight. The last stand was set for three days, in which time all of the damaged Light and Cossack Robot Masters can be repaired.
All save for one.
It has been over a day now since the unofficial leader of the Sinister Six, Iceman, was last seen. Within a few hours of his departure, it is assumed that he removed his GPS system and is now hiding out. It is my hope…that he will come to his senses and return to help us.
In the meantime, Shadowman continues to fulfil his role as impromptu commander for android operations, and has now been issuing missions to a few of the Robot Masters to procure raw materials for our continued repairs and upgrades to our forces. Often times, these missions require our androids to enter deep enemy territory, where some of the more precise equipment, such as control chips and plasma cannon lenses and collectors, can be located. We’ve also been operating on small guerilla warfare routines to more or less test the strength of our enemies. Unfortunately…We appear to be years away from some of the breakthroughs this army represents.
Dr Light, Roll, and myself have been awake for two days now, trying to keep up with the demand for repairs and reconstruction. We’re nearly finished, thank God. I just pray that it won’t be for nothing…
…Sergei Cossack…September of the year two-thousand and twenty.”
It was missions like this where ninja training really came in handy. Missions that required one to be as silent and quick as humanly possible. Luckily for NeedleGal, the term “humanly possible” was almost laughable these days. Even with her somewhat bulky frame and armor, she was so adept at maneuvering in her android body that it was irrelevant now, especially now that it was in it’s second, slimmed down form.
Darting across the California forest’s massive treetops with laser-like speed and precision, barely a sound could be heard from the ground’s point of view, with only the occasional leaf falling of creaky branch protesting to playing as a quick platform to betray NeedleGal’s ninjutsu-trained body and mind. Within a few minutes of her entering the semi-national forest, her target was already in view- a low key, drab gray building that served as a factory for a specific type of control chip used in androids of the highest caliber, namely Robot Masters. Even a man like Dr Light had to do some degree of outsourcing for certain parts.
It was missions like this that brought Kitty- the android publicly known as NeedleGal’s namesake amongst her and her brother- some fond memories. It was in forests not entirely unlike this forest, save for the massive redwoods, that she spent many years learning how to use nature as an ally and not a mere tool. It was amazing what most people neglected to think about when in nature, of the near infinite ways to use the simplest things to one’s advantage. Being a ninja was much like being a non-government sponsored survival soldier in that your very life depended on not only how well you performed your mission, but how well you did in surviving it’s perils before and after the target objective.
And though her body has changed, her skill in the forests she knew so well as a human hadn’t diminished in the slightest. Now, her armor bore thick shin guards atop the bulging boots beneath, with large white kneepads and a stomach protector. Strangely, this wasn’t too far from what she wore as she practiced her mokutonjutsu, minus, of course, the “Tommy gun” style Needle Cannons built into her forearms. Now, with her robotic body, even her hair was a weapon now, as she could change it’s consistency to suit her needs, making it as casual as real human hair, or a deadly slashing needle whip in a matter of nano seconds.
Upon reaching the very edge of the forest, she uncharacteristically slipped and began to tumble down the two hundred-foot distance from her last perch to the ground below. However, she knew this wasn’t her fault, as she saw the remnants of a small yet bright explosion that shattered the branch as she landed on it. Acting quickly and with a clear mind, she rebounded off the massive tree trunk and leapt from tree to tree until she was on the ground yet again.
Suddenly her task at hand switched from recovery and theft to defense. She did find it strange, however, that she was caught even before she entered the building ahead- she knew she would be met with some sort of resistance, but she had anticipated it after her break in. Something was now definitely off.
Clicking her forearms against her round, needle-filled magazines, which were usually stored on her hips, NeedleGal’s arms now looked like a futuristic form of the famed mobster weapon from Chicago’s gangland era in the 1930’s. Her guns, despite their antiquated appearance, would have no trouble tearing through the entire forest if need be, but she knew she would have to find her opponent first before simply launching an all out assault on the ancient forest.
“Great,” she thought to herself, “a sniper.”
Soon, however, a strange but familiar sound resounded in her high perception ears. The sound of a high tensile string being pulled and released suddenly- the sound of a bowstring cradling an arrow before the projectile was shot. Needle jumped and rolled forth to avoid the incoming swarm of half a dozen arrows, each tipped with the same small explosive charge as the one that blew up her tree branch before. As she landed, she launched a volley of her own quick and silent needles into the general area from which the arrows came.
The forest was a less than ideal spot for one that was hiding. The canopy was two hundred feet above the ground, with very few branches on the way down. The tree trunks were spaced far apart, with few shrubs and small foliage to hide in. Once a sniper was found, getting back into a hiding space wouldn’t be easy, so NeedleGal knew that she’d have to drive him out maybe twice to lure him out for a face to face fight.
But, this opponent wasn’t going to play that game. Instead, he willingly revealed himself after Kitty’s first offense failed to find him. He wouldn’t have been able to hide for long anyways, given his bright color scheme of white and gold. Upon examination of his theme, it was painfully obvious as to identity of this foe.
“Hahaha…You seem to be almost as good a shot as I’ve been led to believe, NeedleGal!”, Starman vaunted. “You’ll need that skill to have any hopes of matching my Star Arrows…”, he claimed as he brandished his large bronze bow and back mounted satchel of arrows.
True to her business-like fashion that she shared with her brother, Kitty instead wanted to know a few facts rather than engage in a war of words. “How did you know I would be here?”
“Hm hm hmm…Your psychological profile also seems to be pretty accurate: no fun!”
“Not going to answer me, eh? Fine by me…”
Starman, however, continued to walk around the forest floor casually, a confident smile adorning his face as he examined the leaves on the dirt paths around him. “You know, on these very grounds, a massacre occurred some century and a half ago. The Wiyot tribe was wiped off the face of the planet in a particularly brutal assault. And for what? Land? Money? The mere claim of killing another Native tribe?”
“Sounds familiar…Glad to see that you can at least see how much of a bunch of hypocrites you Cutman goons are…”, Kitty smirked from behind her white scarf.
“You didn’t let me finish! I was going to make a point about how fickle humanity is and how selfish it is as a whole, but I can see that you have no interest in being educated. It’s that same mindset that will bury you along with the human virus! Time to end you!”, Starman screamed as he reached for, mounted, aimed, and released another volley of arrows in mere seconds. Even though the arrows were quick, NeedleGal was quicker and nimbly dodged the arrows as she returned fire. As the deadly fast needles neared their target, they were rebounded by a flash of golden plasma and electromagnetic waves as the Star Crash shuddered into existence once again.
Starman smiled from behind the nigh-invulnerable shield and continued to run sideways as his long white hair trailed behind him. Knowing his Star Crash gave him an unconquerable advantage, his confidence continued to swell as he launched even more arrows into the forest.
“Well…That’s not good…” Kitty remarked to herself as she watched her piercing spikes harmlessly bounce off the flickering, heavenly-themed shield. “Looks like I’m going to have to get nasty with this guy…”
Needle ran to the side, matching her foe’s movement a few meters away. For a few seconds, both combatants stopped firing as they continued to size each other up. Starman knew his shield would continue to protect him, but he also realized his arrows, no matter how fast he launched them, were too slow to catch NeedleGal if he continued a straight forward assault. On the other side, Kitty knew her Needle Cannon could shred Starman apart rather easily, but his damned shield would keep on blocking each shot.
It was now a game of cat and mouse- it all boiled down to who would make the first mistake, and that’s all it would take.
The two enemies stopped for a second and leapt backwards, each diving behind a tree to conceal their movements. Starman used the reprieve to create more arrows using his nanomachines, while NeedleGal used the cover to scale a huge tree and observe from above.
“I’ve got to get near him and catch him without his shield. I’ve got to make him forget about it for only a second…”
A plan came to mind, and NeedleGal showered the canopy with a flurry of deadly spikes that rained down on the floor below and shredded the branches above. She had only a single shot at this, as this attack would destroy her cover and draw out the standstill while he probably called for more troops.
Down below, the golden hued android smirked as he watched the deadly rain fall and the small needles smack against his Star Crash. “Seems as though you’re already getting desperate, traitor…”
All at once, the huge top of a severed redwood was now crashing down atop Starman, who launched his weakened Star Crash to destroy it. Knowing that this may very well be a cover tactic, Starman whipped around quickly and kept his head low as he readied a Star Arrow. Taking cover behind another tree, he spotted his prey, seemingly unaware of his position. Taking this opportunity, he launched the swarm of arrows into NeedleGal’s back and legs as she crouched on a tree limb and watched her explode in a bright yellow flurry.
However, he only had a second to savor his victory when a sharp pain tore at his metallic spine and his legs went slack. His weight was now supported atop a triangular blade that NeedleGal used in close combat. An awkward weapon, it was none the less proving its worth as Starman quivered in anger from being caught off guard.
“…Y-you!…I destroyed y-you!…”, Starman proclaimed.
Again, allowing herself only a slight grin, NeedleGal echoed her brother once again.
“T’ was a hologram…”
“…D-damn it…This isn’t…finished!”, the gold and bronze robot yelled as he formed another Star Crash to send NeedleGal flying backwards and into a trunk. He collapsed onto the ground, his legs barely responding to his commands thanks to their physical connection being severed. It would take several minutes to repair them using his internal repair bots, but he knew that time wasn’t in his cards. Bracing himself against a rock, he steadied his Star Arrows for another assault as NeedleGal recovered from the impact of the Star Crash.
Kitty was still far too fast for the arrows, and again sought refuge in the treetops that still provided a small amount of cover. She still knew, however, that her enemy wasn’t beaten just yet. His shield and his bow and arrow were still usable, and he most likely had some sort of repair system. She could take a risk by trying another head-on assault, but with that shield she knew her odds of success were limited. She could also attempt to obtain her original objective in the nearby lab, but that would give Starman the time he needed to repair himself.
“Dammit…I don’t have enough fire power to get past that barrier…I’ll need to make a run for it…”, she thought, confirming her strategy.
Using another rain of needles as cover, she used the remaining canopy to conceal her movements as best as she could, hoping Starman wouldn’t catch on and follow her inside once he was able to. Within a few seconds, she was at the small wall that kept out prying eyes from the lab and she leapt over it with ease and entered the building hastily.
After a short search, she managed to find the storage room for the control chips and tossed them hastily into a bag she had brought with her. Luckily, they weren’t large at all and wouldn’t slow her down, but her new problem was making it to the nearest teleportation pick up point, which is the point she had entered in a half mile way through the forest, where Starman was most likely back on his feet.
She could try to loop around the forest and avoid him, but she would risk running into even more troops and waste more valuable time and energy. She could try and make it to the next closest teleportation point, but it was three miles away and carried the same risks, as well as a less secure relay satellite.
She knew that the quickest was back was through Starman.
Knowing a brutal and weary fight lay ahead of her, she took a second to let her energy reserves catch up with her and also look around the lab for anything useful. A familiar machine soon filled her eyes, and she again allowed herself a small smirk…
Starman watched the tips of his white boots wiggle slightly, and noticed he could bend his knees slightly. After a few grueling minutes of keeping an eye open for his target and forcing his internal repair units to work overtime, he struggled to his feet and took a few heavy steps forward as he uttered a few curses for his nemesis under his breath.
“You got lucky back there, Needle! Rest assured, it will NOT happen again!!”
His hands now grasped his bow and an arrow with more tenacity than before as anger became his primary emotion, overriding his usually calm and sometimes charming nature. “Come out, now!”, he demanded.
“As you wish…”, a voice sounded from the large rock he was leaning against just a few moments ago. NeedleGal was perched atop it with her arm cannons at the ready. As she unleashed the spiky hell once again, Starman began to mock his foe.
“Don’t you get it?! My Star Crash is invincible! You’ll be in Hell before you beat my power!”
Silently, Kitty reached inside her bag and tossed her secret weapon at her enemy, who sneered until the weapon hit his shield and momentarily disrupted it.
“What?! No!!” he yelled in disbelief as he watched a few dozen bottles of bottled spring water burst upon hitting his shield. Water was the natural enemy to electro-magnetically-charged plasma, and the shield withered away under the aquatic assault. Before he could fully dissipate the crippled Star Crash and form another one, a harsh rain of needles plowed into his body in over two dozen places, crippling limbs and shredding his armor as he crumpled to the forest floor in a useless heap.
“…Y-you…The wa…water…” he rasped as the last of his energy was wasted away.
NeedleGal heaved a small sigh of relief and gave a small bow to her fallen enemy as was her own custom. After her small ritual, she unceremoniously turned around to march to the exit point ahead.
CHAPTER 25- Hostile Planet
Inside the large, empty space within the Okayama complex, a solemn, recently repaired android stood in it’s center, moving each of his limbs to test it’s range of movement and assure himself that everything was in working order. He flexed his fingers open and closed and gripped his trusted copper blade and hefted it over his shoulder. It still had that healthy weight to it that he loved about it, and he swung it about as if it were an old friend.
Odin seemed all but unfazed over the absence of his adoptive brother, either not caring that Iceman was nowhere to be found, or doing a good job of hiding any concern. He was a warrior, a knight in modern times- loss was something to accept with grace and dignity. However, something unsettling gnawed at the back of consciousness, that all was not well.
“Hurrriyaahh!!”, he bellowed, swinging his blade around, subconsciously releasing a few sparks from his torso in doing so. He was trying to relieve tension, and that emotion was linked to the way he had learned to control his power. The power over electricity was an almost insurmountable challenge to master completely. While Odin’s control over the element was rarely ever called into question, he relentlessly pursued perfection over it, never accepting his current level of skill as his absolute pinnacle. His latest, near-fatal defeat was proof enough of this in his own mind.
“Think there’s room enough for another recoveree?”
Odin slowly turned around to face the voice, but he knew who it was before the sentence was even finished.
“…Barely.” Odin said as he addressed Lennon, who’s own repairs were just completed. Elecman’s reply was half-serious as he glanced around the room that was over half that of an American football stadium’s size.
“Well, what say we have a friendly little spar to break our new limbs in?”, Geminiman shrugged as he whipped his rapier from his side holster.
“Or maybe…break each other’s limbs, rather?” Odin said sardonically as he smirked slightly at the thought of having another bout with his long time rival.
“You can try…I’ll just do…”
Geminiman rushed forward with a quick jabbing set of stabs with his thin, pointed blade. The two old friend’s weapons and styles almost always offset the other one completely, resulting in a long standing tie between the pair- each bout being interrupted by some ironic force or emergency. Maybe now that war was going on, fighting amongst themselves wouldn’t be the wisest choice in relaxing activities, but these two wouldn’t have it any other way.
After all, it’s what they were built to do.
Gutsman leaned over the console once again, inspecting another odd signature that he hoped had belonged to his missing friend. In front of him on a large, high definition monitor, numerical code scrolled by quickly, displaying the most recent activities of the teleportation satellites as they relayed targets’ personal
signature around the globe. Erik had caught traces of Iceman’s code in some of the logs, but Gary had learned long ago- from Erik himself, ironically- how to cover his tracks in the teleport grid.
Of course, Erik had also been monitoring the activities of the Scissor Army’s movements, and recently they’ve become less and less active. It seemed strange- they were in full swing now, and it would be counter productive to stop their continued assault on the continent, so why were they slowing down now?
Even stranger, most of the teleportation activity recorded by the Scissor Army had the destination in Kentucky- far from the East coast. Something strange was going on, and Erik’s stomach (or what his robotic mind told him was his stomach) began to tie itself in knots as he felt less and less confident about what he knew of the SA’s game plan.
Just as he settled back atop his crate (no chairs within Light’s lab were big enough for his frame), another strange set of code appeared on his screen- teleportation signatures that had originated from the Ukraine, and were heading Westward.
“Ukraine?”, Gutsman said aloud to himself. “We don’t have anyone from there…Who the hell is that?”
Erik’s stomach continued to squirm.