Part 23 in Season 3 of my Insurgency series. A freebuild for the Marauders. Please comment, rate and enjoy!
About this creation
Corresponding text underneath each picture.
17th February 2097: Present Day
One: “Any who are sided with One’s enemies shall pay the ultimate price and join their allies in oblivion. You, as a planet, as a system, made your choice and now must face the consequences. Starting with this world, One will seek and destroy every last being in the galaxy who calls themselves a friend of The Collective. There will be no running. No hiding. No playing of games. No escape. Your time here has ended…
As has the time of The Collective.”
As the message ended, the humming vanished, leaving a horrible ringing in everybody’s ears.
Judas: “How the hell did he do that?” he questioned as I checked that Tracks’ noise receptors weren’t damaged. At the same time, several members of the Governor’s security team, rushed into the room to check that he was okay.
Riley: “Did everybody on the planet hear that?”
Eris: “Yes, I think so.”
Tank: “Ironic.” I muttered, turning back to everybody. “Sending a message to everybody on the planet – just like you did when you defeated your father.” I nodded to Eris. “Maybe he’s not so different from The Collective as he’d like to think he is.”
Eris nodded, getting my point.
Jay: “We need to go. Now.”
Caesar: “Agreed. The longer we wait, the more lives could be lost.”
Judas: “Good. Go. Do what you can. The special forces shuttle is waiting in docking bay 1.” He agreed.
Eris: “Governor…” she began and moved closer so that the two could have a private conversation. The others all started chatting among themselves and preparing for the task ahead. Riley hurried over to me.
Cat: “I’m coming with you.” She announced.
Tank: “No. No you’re not.” I replied as I checked both of my pistols.
Cat: “Tank, please. You know I can fight.” She whispered urgently. “I can help you!”
Tank: “You can help. Stay here and protect Judas. If any drones come for him, I trust you to defend him more than senate security.”
Cat: “But Tank…” she pleaded, but Eris cut her off with a call.
Eris: “Okay everyone, move out!”
Tank: “Stay here. You’ll be safe.” I promised and then mouthed ‘I love you’.
Riley looked disheartened but nodded, understanding that she had to keep the Governor safe. She mouthed ‘I love you too’ back at me and then with a smile, I turned and joined the rest of the gang heading out of the door.
Tank: “Come on buddy.” I encouraged Tracks with a pat on his metallic back as we left the room.
Together, the seven of us made our way swiftly down to docking bay 1 and met up with the special forces team who were there waiting for us.
We didn't pause for pleasantries, Eris ordered everyone on board and in seconds we were on our way.
The army shuttle flew swiftly over the urban metropolis sprawled out below. The city was still flashing with light. Whole areas glowing with light and then fading into darkness, as power surged through it. Every now and then, the flashing lights became pot marked with the fiery bursts of explosions as infrastructure gave way to the might of electricity.
The journey was a quiet one. After brief introductions as soon as we'd lifted off, everyone had fallen silent, immersed in their own thoughts.
As we passed over the night line and started flying over the dark side of Qoter, my own thoughts turned to the battle ahead.
In all honesty, I wasn't really sure if I was ready. When I'd left my apartment, Tracks by my side as always, I'd not expected to be thrust into an army shuttle to go and fight an ancient entity whom we'd only just escaped from the last time we'd met!
When we'd run away the first time, barely escaping with our lives, I'd never have imagined that I'd one day I'd be heading back towards it! How did I get myself into these situations? That was something I'd begun to wonder more and more recently!
I looked around at the solemn faces of my companions, of the special forces soldiers - all of whom were about to risk their lives in order to save however many billions were in the galaxy.
That. That was why I got myself into these situations. Because they were situations that needing solving. Situations that couldn't be allowed to persist.
Tracks chirped in a low tone beside me and I turned to him.
Tank: "Don't worry buddy. I'm nervous too." I replied. "We'll be fine. Promise." I smiled reassuringly, but as Tracks bleeped and bopped, looking away again, I couldn't help but wonder how I could promise such a thing, knowing what we were up against.
Before long, we were flying over Rosili, zooming through the pitch black skies, unpolluted by light, thanks to the outages down below. However, pretty soon we could see what appeared to be a ball of light on the horizon and the closer we got, it dawned on us that that was actually the power plant we were heading for.
As we approached, the special forces commando in charge of the team stood and shouted,
Commando: "Okay everyone. Gear up! We're jumping in 60!"
Everybody stood and got themselves both physically and mentally prepared for what was about to happen. Making sure everything was strapped to my person, I then turned to my mechanical friend and checked him over.
Jay: "Let's move!" He called and we all headed to the boarding ramp at the rear of the craft. Everybody was clipped onto a cable and as mine was attached to me, I couldn't stop my heart from pounding in my chest, terrified. With a loud siren and a gush of air that nearly sucked me out, the ramp opened, revealing the brightly - lit power plant below - the only lit area in the entire district.
Commando: "Go go go!" He instructed and together, everybody ran towards the brink and jumped. I very nearly bottled it, but Tracks gave me a soft nudge in the back and together we leapt into thin air, keeping tight ahold of our cables.
For what seemed like hours, but in reality must have been seconds, I fell. My hair whipping around my head and my clothes trying to tear themselves away from my body. Tears streamed from my eyes as the wind blasted against them. I was too terrified to scream, so no sound came from my mouth. As I fell, I could have sworn my life flashed before my eyes - I hated every second that I was falling and prayed I never had to do anything like it ever again.
Finally, my feet touched the ground and I automatically crouched to soften the blow of the landing. Around me, others were either landing or unclipping themselves from their cables. I was still slightly in shock from the jump, but was snapped out of it when Tracks helped to unclip me from my wire.
I got a brief chance to look around and noticed that the entire area was being bathed in artificial light, blaring down from huge stadium - style floodlights that were glowing a lot brighter than they should have been. We had landed on the edge of the compound and from here, everything looked deceptively peaceful. There was nobody in sight.
However, that soon changed when our shuttle began to fly away, retracting our landing cables as it went. But as it did so, from the top of a building close by, drones and junk robots swarmed and grabbed hold of the cables, climbing up them and in seconds, the ship was swamped in the things. Moments later, the engines cut out and the shuttle dropped like a lead balloon, exploding on the other side of the building beside us.
Eris: "Everybody stick together." She commanded. "We were nearly beaten the last time because they got us separated. Stay together and watch each other's backs."
With that, we moved out.
As we stalked across the plant, we could hear the energy surrounding us. Thrumming, humming inside it's containments. The entire place was a cacophony of droning sounds.
Weapons at the ready, we moved further into the compound, prepared to be ambushed at any moment, just as we had been in Old Qoter. However, for the first minute, nothing came.
But only for the first minute. After that, one of the soldiers shouted,
Soldier: "Contact rear!" And everybody spun to the sound of gunfire. A swarm of drones was surging towards us. The soldiers took down the first couple of rows and the rest of us combined helped to fend off the rest.
Backing up, still on the move, but only just, our efforts were hampered by the constantly attacking
drones. I blasted the head clean off one as, beside me, Track's mini gun mowed down two more.
I wasn't sure where we were going, but the amount of drones blocking our way surely meant that we were at least heading in the right direction.
Suddenly, from the building beside us, a collection of junk robots burst out at us, smashing their way down windows and doors and very nearly overwhelming us.
Two of the soldiers died in the surprise attack, but working together, the rest of us managed to hold them off.
As we continued moving towards the heart of the power plant, I tripped over something. Glancing down, I realised that it was the charred body of a soldier. Obviously one of the troops from the earlier squad of special forces soldiers, he looked like he'd been burned alive. His hair was stood on end, so I assumed that he had been electrocuted to death. I felt slightly sick, seeing his blackened body, so quickly moved on, trying to clear the haunting image from my mind.
Jace: "Look out!" He cried as a new swarm of both drones and junk bots appeared ahead. We were nearing the heart of the complex now and we're surrounded by huge pylons and electrical coils, all used to store and send electricity to both the local and also further afield areas of Qoter. The humming sound emanating from the massive coils was deafening and I had to resist the urge to cover my ears.
As I shot down another drone, I heard a sound from above and looked up to see a helicopter hovering overhead. Upon studying it for a few moments more, I realised it was a news chopper, filming the battle raging all around me.
I kept firing into the oncoming horde, the same as everyone else. Beside me, Eris used her powers to rip a nearby cable free and sent the end into one drone, overcharging its circuits and causing it to explode. She then chanted something and a swirling hole - no, a portal, opened up beneath another pair of robots and sucked them inside before vanishing again, as if it had never existed at all.
As she did, nearby drones dived aside, seemingly anxious to get away from the black hole. When Eris repeated the trick on another drone, the same thing happened. I frowned at the results, wondering if there was a particular reason the Collective's drones seemed to fear the black holes.
As we pushed on through the power plant, weaving our way among the huge coils, we encountered more and more resistance. Two more of the special forces troops died, and Tracks received a nasty cut on his right arm, causing oil to spurt everywhere.
Then, out of nowhere,
Voice: "Enough." The word echoed throughout the electricity, reverberating in the very air around us.
At once, the drones and droids retreated, scuttling away from us like rats from a fire. Everybody looked around, trying to spot the source of the voice. Moments later, it presented itself.
One, casually but purposefully, strolled towards us, walking down one of the larger aisles between electricity coils.
The Governor’s Office
Aide: "Sir, GNN are broadcasting live from the scene of the battle." One of Governor Boan’s aides informed him as he entered Judas's office carrying a portable screen. He placed it on the desk and turned it on as Judas, who had been in conversation with another advisor, moved over to watch. The news appeared on the screen and showed the Archmage and her band, along with the special forces soldiers, who seemed to already be lacking in numbers, fighting their way through hordes of Collective drones and junk robots.
Judas: "Bloody hell..." He muttered aloud, seeing what his forces were up against. "Casualties?"
Aide: "Three special forces down, sir."
Judas shook his head sadly as he watched the battle rage. Riley stood beside him and watched the unfolding events with a concerned look on her face. Then, suddenly the fighting stopped. Judas frowned as Tank, Eris and the others all looked around, seeming equally as confused. Then an arm pointed past the camera and the cameraman zoomed in rapidly, the shot going out of focus for several seconds before becoming clear again, and when it did, it revealed One, striding towards Judas's forces.
One: "Look at you." The ancient drone chided. "Collective banded with humans." He addressed Eris. "How far the mighty have fallen."
Eris: "This has got to stop, One."
One: "No, no, One doesn't think so. The Collective are a scourge upon this universe, just as The Singers once were, and One shall see to it that they are exterminated, removed from existence." He announced as he came to a stop just meters away
Jay: "We won't let you."
One: "One doesn't see that you have a choice."
Eris: "We'll stop you. Right here, right now."
One: "No. You won't. Eons ago, The Singers, far more powerful than even you, Archmage, could begin to comprehend, failed to stop One. One fails to understand how you, far less powerful than One's ancient enemies, could possibly hope to defeat One."
As the ancient drone spoke, I kept a wary eye on the surrounding droids and drones, pistols up, ready to fight again at any moment. But I was listening, and I couldn't help but wonder how Eris and Jay did plan on beating him. One was right about them being less powerful than I'd heard The Singers were, so I did secretly have some doubts in my mind about how successful we could possibly be. We'd only just escaped from him last time!
Eris: "Because this time we're not alone."
The line was meant to intimidate and impress, however, instead, One laughed. Or as close to a laugh as his robotic vocal unit could manage.
One: "Humans? Powerless, pathetic humans stand even less chance than the weakling Collective. How, Archmage, do you think banding together with those weaker than yourselves will help improve your situation?"
Eris: "Because this system has taken us in. Willingly. The first to do so. For the first time in our people's history, a system has openly accepted us and has embraced us as being part of its society. Together we..."
One: "Together you shall fall." He interrupted. "You all heard my message to the system. The humans took you in, harboured you, protected you when you couldn't protect yourselves and they failed to hand you over. Now, they will pay the price and be destroyed, just as you will."
Jay: "Oh I doubt that." He replied.
One raised a clenched, robotic fist in the air - a signal to his forces. We didn't need telling twice.
The highly - trained special forces troops were the first to react, opening fire again at whichever target was nearest to them, followed swiftly by the rest of us, who did likewise.
The enemy forces surged forwards, but Jay threw out a ripple in the air than sent them stumbling back several steps, giving us extra time to fire at them. Tracks's minigun rattled away beside me as I, myself, fired as fast as I could, sinking laser after laser into the surrounding horde.
The next time I caught sight of One, he had his battle helmet covering his face. I remembered seeing it slide down when we had fought him before and knew what came next.
Tank: “Watch out!” I shouted, just as the eye slit in the ancient drone’s helmet began glowing red. Seconds later, a brilliant blast of red light shot out and disintegrated one unfortunate soldier who wasn’t fast enough to react.
Tank: “Scrim…” I muttered aloud as I felt the heatwave wash over me. A junk droid lunged for me while I was momentarily distracted and I cried out as he grabbed my side. I tried to bash him away, but he had one of my arms pinned to my side, his mechanical mouth chomping away at thin air. I attempted to wrench my arm away, but the droid’s grip was steely and I couldn’t move.
Another robot advanced on me, a limp in its step caused by its miss-matched legs. It raised an arm towards my face as I remained pinned, helpless. But then it exploded under a hail of bullets from Tracks’s minigun and the robot restraining me likewise collapsed in a shower of sparks.
Tracks grabbed my shoulder and looked at me with concerned eyes, whirring questioningly.
Tank: “I’m fine, buddy. Thank you.” I urged, nodding and he quickly turned his attention back to the battle once again.
Jace was back-to-back with Ceasar a few meters away, using each other for cover so that, between them, they could see in every direction. Droids were advancing on us from all sides now. No matter how many we shot down, more and more kept coming and I had a horrible flashback to the last time we’d all fought together and the never-ending stream of drones and droids that there had been.
Another blast of red laser shot past, this time hitting a pylon and causing it to explode in a storm of electricity. I dashed over to Jace and Caesar and joined them so we now faced three directions. I shot down another handful of droids, before somebody shouted a warning.
Glancing around, we had to scatter as another red laser struck the ground where we had stood just moments before. I looked over and spotted One preparing to shoot again. This time, he opened fire at Eris, but instead of dodging the blast, she created what I could only describe as a portal between her and One. The laser vanished through the swirling vortex and just moments later, reappeared, coming out of a second portal that had opened behind the ancient drone. One’s laser smashed into his own back and sent him sprawling, smoke billowing from his rear armour.
It was clever, and it had also made me realise something. Every time One wanted to fire his eye laser, he had to pause for a few seconds beforehand to presumably charge up. Those were a few seconds in which he was standing still and an easy target.
Tank: “Guys! Get him to fire his laser!” I shouted.
Jay: “Are you crazy?” he replied.
Tank: “Trust me!”
Jay shook his head in bewilderment, but then ran out of cover and waved his arms in the air.
Jay: “Hey! One! Over here!”
The eons-old being turned his attention to the Collective mage and prepared to fire.
Tank: “Tracks!” I commanded, pointing and Tracks opened fire with everything he had.
Each bullet individually did nothing, but the sheer amount that Tracks laid into One in the few seconds that he was standing still, made an impact. One wasn’t fast enough to react. He only got mid-way through charging his laser before powering it back down again in order to shield himself from the hailstorm of bullets coming from the only droid who wasn’t on his team!
When he moved his arms, I could see the damage Tracks had caused. His cloak was shredded and torn and his pristine armour was no longer that. It was dented and there were several holes all over his chest plate.
One turned his attention on Tracks, who took shelter behind a nearby electrical coil.
One: “Enough!” He bellowed, using the electricity in the air to magnify his voice as he had done before. He stretched out and suddenly electricity flowed from his fingertips. Jumping from robot to drone to robot, it surged across our small battlefield, shocking several of us, before jumping into the nearest coils and exploding in writhing balls of flame.
The Governor watched the unfolding events without blinking, Riley by his side. Neither could take their eyes off of the screen. Hoping, praying that Tank and the others would be successful. But as the battle wore on, neither had any idea how they could possibly hope to succeed.
Technician: “Sir, we think we may have something.” A technician announced as he entered the room.
The Governor finally wrenched his eyes away from the news feed.
Technician: “We’ve discovered a strange signal coming from Iapra. We noticed it at first a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t classed as high priority, so we hadn’t gotten around to looking into it yet. But we’ve just discovered the same signal at the battle in Rosili.”
Riley: “What is it?” she questioned, joining Judas in looking away from the screen for a few moments.
I landed flat on my back, the wind getting knocked out of my lungs in the process. With a groan at both the pain in my back and the stinging on my left arm where I’d been caught by the electrical blast, I pushed myself into a sitting position and looked around.
The battle had paused. Tracks, Eris, Jay and the others all either stood or remained still where they had fallen nearby. I wasn’t sure which of the special forces soldiers were simply knocked down and which were dead. The enemy drones and robots stood motionless in a circle, surrounding us once again, like hungry vultures waiting patiently before being told they’re allowed to finish us off.
One: “What do you intend on achieving?” he asked. During the course of the battle he had barely moved a meter and yet, had managed to cause virtually all of the destruction around us.
One: “Your forces are diminished. Your powers are limited and your allies are non-existent. There is no force in the Universe the will save you now. The citizens of this planet, of this galaxy, will die.” He boasted.
Eris: “Not while I’m breathing.” She replied defiantly, wiping a smear of blood away from her lip. “You may have us outnumbered, but our forces are larger than yours in spirit and that is why we will prevail.”
One: “Larger?” he questioned. “You want larger?”
One threw his arms wide and droids began to move again, except this time, not towards us. Drones and droids alike clamoured to get as close to their leader as possible, almost obscuring him from view.
But what we could see, horrified me. Robots were dismantling both themselves and each other, whilst at the same time, others were attaching different cables to different bodies and welding sections of one being onto others. This merging of drone and droid happened so fast, we barely had time to comprehend what we were seeing.
A mass of individual bodies, linking together, physically combining with each other, until…
Until they formed a single, giant body. A whole.
The ancient drone’s original body was gone. Dismantled amidst the rest of the scattered parts that now made up the giant metal form that stood before us, however, it was clear that the being before us was still One himself.
One: “Is this large enough for you?” He questioned, his voice echoing naturally now, without the need for the electrical vibrations.
Tank: “Holy shit…” I muttered, completely taken aback by the sheer size of the junk drone. Towering over us, he stood higher than any of the surrounding electricity coils and pylons, a truly immense presence that every fibre of my being told me to cower away from. As I looked his new body up and down, I realised some parts were still glowing red hot from where they had been fused together.
I pushed myself to my feet and slowly began to back away, until I remembered that we were surrounded.
Basher: “How did he do that?”
One: “It is simple.” The giant responded, having somehow heard Basher’s comment. “One is linked with every single one of One’s drones and robots. One’s mind is their mind. We share constant, instant communication.”
Eris: “How?” she demanded, needing to know the answer and One, thankfully, decided to oblige and not simply step on her.
One: “One of the many things One created during One’s time under your cities was a signal that allowed Oneself to beam my consciousness into other mechanical devices, such as your drones and the scrap robots that I created.”
Suddenly, it made sense. I remembered back to all of the seemingly random junk robot attacks and the time that Jay and I had been attacked by the demolition machinery guarding the entrance to Old Qoter.
One: “One hijacked a signal already being beamed from a station on another of your worlds and it has served One’s goal to perfection. Does this explanation meet your requirements Archmage?” he queried, cocking his head slightly, just as he had done before when he’d been smaller.
Eris: “It explains a lot, yes.” She replied, sounding unsure of what the next plan was and to be honest, I was out of ideas too. The sheer size of him had thrown us all of guard.
One: “Good. Now, people of this world…” One bellowed, his voice once again rolling through the electricity in the air, using the natural hum to carry his speech planet-wide. He turned and faced the new helicopter that was still hovering high above. I wasn’t sure if One had noticed it before, but clearly he had and had allowed it to remain.
One: “Your time is up. Your ‘heroes’ are defeated!” he announced and to prove his point, suddenly reached down and grabbed the Special Forces Commander. The commander cried out and struggled in his huge grip, but try as he might, he couldn’t escape.
One: “The Collective, whom you have so fool-heartedly taken in and pinned your hopes on, and their hired human hands are nothing compared to the might of One!” and with that, the giant simply squeezed and crushed almost every bone in the Commander’s body. Something burst and blood began dripping from One’s metal fingers. He opened his hand dramatically and the crushed pulp of the Commander’s corpse dropped to the ground, where it landed in a bloody mess.
One: “See how easy it is for One to destroy you?! One by one, One shall wipe you all from the face of this planet. And then the next. And the next until soon, every person to have harboured The Collective is dead. This, One promises you.” He announced to the camera, before turning his attention back to us on the ground.
One: “And now, One sees no reason to prolong your lives any further, so prepare to join your ancestors in Deja’s Halls…”