The long awaited 13th episode in Season 4 of my Insurgency series! A freebuild for the Marauders. Please comment, rate and enjoy!
About this creation
Corresponding text underneath each picture.
16th February 2098: Present Day
Zilch. Nadda. Sod all.
That's what former Imperium Colonel Xavier Ramson had found on Tank since the last sighting.
Then, he had been in his ship, heading away from a fierce space battle towards the watery world of Toliv. But since then - nothing. There had been no sightings, no anything! Tracking somebody was easy when there was a trail to follow, but when they just vanished into thin air, the task suddenly became a heck of a lot harder.
As Ramson sat in his wheelchair, glaring up at the huge map pinned to his apartment wall, he silently fumed at his elusive prey. It was almost as if Tank had just vanished out of existence!
Maybe not out of existence... But maybe out of the system!
Toliv offered out-of system transports and was also one of the few places that you could safely plot a course between the two neighbouring systems from. You couldn't just jump to warp speed from anywhere - you could jump into a supernova or a planet or any of the other innumerable obstacles waiting out there. But Toliv was a safe jump spot, with a clear, plotted route between the systems.
Maybe that's where he had gone, then. It would explain why Ramson hadn't found anything on him since he had arrived on the planet.
But it did mean that finding him now was going to be a nightmare...
It was an alarm, a claxon of some sort, that woke me with a start. As I lunged up into a sitting position, everything from the previous night came flooding back to me.
The Artox beast; that genetically modified monster, chasing us through the forest. Jaz; being eaten alive. Our battered hover Jeep just about managing to keep going.
After our narrow escape we had carried on driving, almost all through the night. We had only stopped once we reached the wall. The towering, sheer-faced perimeter wall that ran all the way around the no-go zone. The no-go zone that turned out to be used for filming!
At regular intervals along the wall, guard towers stood watch over the arena, making sure that nothing got in and also, I now supposed, stopping competitors from getting out!
Beside me, Cat stirred in her slumber, groaning at the sudden loud noise and nearby Ranger and the others began waking.
Tank: "What the heck is that?" I asked to nobody in particular as I got to my feet and the loud claxon became a fanfare of some description.
Ranger: "Wait!" He exclaimed, jumping up and looking around in excited confusion. "That's the game over siren!"
Cat: "What's going on?" She groaned as she too sat up.
Ash: "Someone's won!' He exclaimed.
Jasmine: "But... I thought only one person was supposed to win?"
Rich: "Maybe something happened?"
At that, the fanfare juddered; the music jolting before it warped, becoming a horrible, tortured sound that echoed throughout the forest.
Ranger: "What the hell?"
Cat: "Tank; Get the show up on your datapad. What's going on?" She prompted and I nodded at the good idea, immediately pulling the pad out of my satchel.
It took a minute but after a quick search online, I found the link to the 24/7 livestream of the show and tuned in. The others all began to gather round.
The Artox beast.
It was attacking the perimeter wall!
Even as we watched, guards were attempting to fend it off. All along the top of the wall, security personnel were running to keep up with the monster and were firing live rounds at it. But their bullets seemed to be having no effect against the Artox's thick hide.
In fact, they just seemed to be pissing it off!
With an almighty bellow which we heard across the forest as well as through my datapad's speakers, the Artox reared up and swatted several guards to their deaths with one swipe of its huge, clawed feet.
Jasmine: "Oh my God..." She breathed quietly as we all watched the battle unfold on my screen.
A missile launched from one of the towers stationed along the wall and exploded against the Artox's neck. It shrieked in agony. Any normal animal would have had its head blown off by that, but the Artox just seemed to lose a few scales. However, the rocket had gotten its attention and with another roar, it charged towards the tower.
Ranger: "That's the operations tower!" He exclaimed, pointing out that the tower did in fact look different to the rest.
Suddenly, the screen changed to show a scene of utter chaos - the presenter's studio, located atop of the operations tower. Both presenters were screaming, as were several people in the background and the camera swung around to look out of one of the tower windows at the oncoming beast. It opened its toothy maw and lunged, one front foot coming in for a swipe.
As the wall exploded inwards, the feed cut off and quickly returned to the aerial view from before, showing the entirety of the top of the tower being obliterated by that one hit from the Artox. As glass, rubble and bodies flew through the air, the beast growled a deep rumbling sound and paced in a circle, still unphased by the bullets striking its scales.
Ranger: "Dang..." he muttered. "I guess I'm not going to be getting the winners cash any more, am I?"
I was going to reply to the drawl comment but my voice caught in my throat at another angry bellow from the Artox that echoed through the trees. We watched as it turned its attention back to the guards along the wall. Slowly, all the while being shot at, it reared up, it's head coming level with the top of the wall and began swiping at the bricks themselves.
A chunk of wall came crashing to the ground, crushing a security truck that had just turned up, but the Artox wasn't done yet. It continued swiping, pulling chunks out of the wall until with an almighty roar, it lodged its claws into the stonework and began to push.
Cat: "Oh my God..." She breathed as we watched the wall first bend and then finally came crashing down in a plume of dust.
The monster stepped forwards into the breach, took a moment to look at its new surroundings beyond the wall and then stepped out into the big wide world.
As the monster's tail vanished through the gap, we all exchanged glances.
Tank: "Well... There's our way out!"
Governor Boan’s Office…
Judas: "So let me get this straight; there's a law that states that if a Governor dies in the line of duty, the position is offered to their closest living relative - have I got that right?"
Manerre: "That is correct." He confirmed.
Manerre had just informed Judas about the meeting he had had with Patricia Wilson, the ex-Governor's wife and Judas had been confused throughout. He'd never heard of the law that she had referred to before.
Judas: "Why do I not know about this law?"
Manerre: "It's largely outdated. Governor Wilson was the first Governor to die on duty in the last 100 years - it's been forgotten about."
Judas: "Clearly not!" He pointed out. "If Patricia Wilson remembers it, then others might too, and if she goes public like you say she is threatening to, well then everyone will know!"
Judas was concerned, and rightfully so, running a worried hand through his hair.
Judas: "What do I do, Manerre?" He exclaimed. His brother thought for a moment before pulling a dismissive expression and ambling around to be at the Governor's side.
He had, of course, planned this entire conversation the previous night but he needed to appear genuine and pause as if thinking, in order to keep his gullible brother's trust.
Manerre: "I do not think she is of any concern." He began, but Judas spoke over him, worriedly speaking his internal monologue aloud.
Judas: "Do I resign? If this law is real, then Mrs. Wilson is the rightful Governor! If she goes public, I'll be thrown out of office, surely?"
Manerre: "Brother, calm." He urged with a pacifying hand gesture. "There is no need to panic. As I said; she is of no, or little, concern. After all, at the end of the day, you are the Governor. You are still favoured among the people and Mrs. Wilson is an outsider, an unknown. If she tries anything it will only fall on her own head. I say let her try it - Let her try and we can watch it fall apart.”
Manerre: “Forget about her." He advised, about to place his hand on his elder sibling's shoulder but freezing mid-action.
That was close. Why had he done that? Almost sharing some sort of comforting physical contact with the person he hated most in the galaxy.
Casually, he turned the movement into a scratch of his own cheek, Judas too preoccupied to notice.
Manerre: "Forget about her and let her play her little game. You're the Governor of Qoter and you can do as you please."
Judas: "Yeah." He agreed, his mind easily swayed. "Yeah, you're right. Let her try. I'm the one in charge!"
Manerre: "Indeed." He muttered, practically rolling his eyes as his brother echoed his words as if they were his own.
Together in the hover Jeep, the seven of us made our way along the wall, heading towards the newly-made exit. It hadn't taken us long to decide to head towards it, but several people were still undecided about what to do once we got there. Rich and Jasmine were concerned about escaping - simply running away from the games. Ash and Ranger were both convinced that there were no more games now that the operators were gone.
I just wanted to get the hell out of this damned forest as soon as I could.
It only took about an hour for us to make the journey – by the time we arrived, the sky was getting light and when we did reach the destroyed segment of the wall it was a grisly sight. There were corpses everywhere. Guards, people who'd been working in the tower, I was sure I saw a glimpse of green hair belonging to one of the presenters. As the Jeep came to a halt I hopped out and slowly walked through the rubble towards the breach. I had half expected to be confronted by guards, but it appeared that any survivors had either abandoned their posts or had gone chasing after the monster.
A distant roar that could only have been the Artox echoed through the air as I picked my way across the battlefield in the direction of the hole. I could hear some of the others talking a short way behind me and I knew Tracks was following me - his clanking footsteps giving him away, but when I got to the hole, my entire focus was drawn to the sight beyond the wall.
We were there! We'd made it! The wall went right up to the edge of the capital city! Running parallel to the huge wall was a street and then, beyond that; city.
The same glimmering, shimmering facades that we'd seen from afar, matching the clearly Deltarian architecture of the other city we had flown over.
It was beautiful.
At least, it would have been if the boulevard directly opposite the breach hadn't been largely destroyed by the Artox. Huge chunks had been torn out of buildings. Flames licked like fiery tongues from broken power cables. The road was trodden to a pulp - huge animal-like footprints pressed into the tarmac.
The beast was nowhere in sight - but I could hear it further into the city; destruction trailing after it. I could also hear sirens and the distant 'pop's of gunshots as, presumably, police or soldiers attempted to stop the creature before it obliterated any more of their city.
Ranger: "Jesus..." he muttered as he came to my side.
Tank: "Probably won't help them now." I replied and Ranger chuckled at my joke.
Ranger: "I like you, kid." He grinned, punching my shoulder. "Come on. I'll give you a lift wherever you need to go."
Tank: "Really? Are you sure?" I checked, turning to face him as Cat joined us.
Ranger: "Sure! You helped us out back at the shack, now I'll help you out."
I nodded my appreciation and then had a thought. Reaching to my belt, I pulled out Ranger's silver pistol, which I'd had since I disarmed him back when we'd met on our first night in the forest.
I held it out to him, butt first and after a moment's hesitation, Ranger took it.
Ranger: "Thanks. Guess this means you trust me now?"
Tank: "No. Just means I think I could out-draw you." I winked and Ranger's mouth fell open in mock shock.
Ranger: "Oh really?!"
I laughed and was about to say something else but Cat interrupted,
Cat: "Alright boys; If you're done measuring up, I'd quite like to get out of this forest."
Ranger: "But of course, mon cheri." He grinned with a mocking bow.
Rich: "Well..." the elder man began, as he finished picking his way over the rubble. "This is where we part ways then." Rich extended a hand to me first and I shook it.
Tank: "Any idea what you'll do next?"
Rich: "Well, I don’t know about these guys, but I'm going home. I've had quite enough action to last me the rest of my life!"
Tank: "Can't argue with that." I smiled.
Rich: "But I hope you find your peace soon. I've not known you long at all, but you're clearly a man who's being driven. You're searching for something, that's obvious, so... whatever it is, I hope you find it soon."
Tank: "Thank you." I replied gratefully. I hadn't realised that my desires were that obvious. Maybe I was letting them control me more than I had thought? But there was no time to dwell on that now.
As Cat and Jasmine shared a farewell hug, I shook Ash's hand and we all said our goodbyes.
Ranger: "You sure you lot don't want to tag along?" He offered. "There's plenty of room."
Rich: "Take care of yourself Ranger." He smiled.
Ranger turned back to myself, Cat and Tracks.
Ranger: "We set then?"
Cat: "Let's do it." She nodded and together the four of us stepped out through the breach. Free.
The INV Anvil…
High above Toliv, the Imperial Naval Vessel Anvil floated in orbit. Ever present. Ever watchful.
On the bridge, business continued as normal. The crew pits were filled with crewers going about their daily routines. Checking their scopes. Taking data from their instruments.
Captain Lya Drayson walked slowly along the command walkway, Cadet Arianne Odanna at her side, deep in conversation.
Ari': "What about the Anti-Collective League?"
Drayson: "They're little more than a rag-tag bunch of hooligans these days. But they've signed up none-the-less."
The pair were discussing the Captain's plan for unifying the Imperium's enemies and Drayson was updating the Cadet on her current progress. Overall, it was going well, however it hadn't been quite the sweeping success that the Captain had wanted it to be.
Drayson: "The Ratcheters and the Red Hand gang are the latest to have joined. And the Mockingbird gang, Gravediggers and E'cktarh P'reet signed on before them." The Captain elaborated. "In short, it is going... well."
Ari': "Only 'well'?"
The Captain 'Hmm'ed in response.
Drayson: "Whilst it's true that we've had success as of late, all of these are small, almost insignificant parties. I wanted to unite all of our enemies - that includes the Marauder Council, the Claws of Etrion, the Matlock Mafia - all of the names that terrify households across the system, and bring them together to either work for us or be destroyed by us. Instead, all I've gotten so far is a load of nobodies whom most people won't even know are missing."
Ari': "But it's a start, at least. And you've got the Claws, don't forget! Vahroos finally signed up yesterday."
Drayson: "Yes, but that's one. One of how many? And the Claws are no longer what they once were anyway - you saw how broken and defeated they've become."
Ari': "Yes, but the public didn't. You and I may have seen how battered and bruised the Claws are now but nobody else has. As far as the public are concerned, they're as strong as ever. Yes, Ashworth is dead, but the public simply assumes they have a new leader. Bring them down or bring them under control - either way, you'll be a hero."
Drayson let that sink in for a moment. Her mentee had a very good point, one that she herself had not considered. Being able to see the bigger picture and see things from another's point of view was not a skill possessed by everybody.
She was learning well.
Drayson: "I'm not looking to become a hero. I'm just looking to do my job and do it well. All in the service of the Galactic Imperium."
Ari': "Well, want it or not, it's what you'll become as soon as news of your scheme becomes public. The woman who reigned in the system's most dangerous criminals." She smiled. "Hero."
Drayson: "Well, either way," the Captain replied, repeating Cadet Odanna's own words. "Hero or no, we still have a long way to go before that happens."
Ari': "Well; Let's go round up some criminals then." The younger woman playfully grinned.
Ranger: "Behold; The Eagle!" Ranger grinned, his arms spread wide as we entered the docking bay where his ship was moored.
Mostly unpainted but with blue accents and a yellow bird's beak painted on the nose, the freighter-sized ship was quite a pretty thing. Sleek and streamlined, it looked like it could be fast when it needed to be, and from the little I could tell of Ranger so far, I got the impression that he probably needed it to be fairly often!
Tracks whirred admiringly as we got closer and worked our way round to the rear of the ship. Here, Ranger hit the access panel and the boarding ramp descended.
Ranger: "Come on board." He welcomed, stepping to one side and allowing us access to his craft.
As I stepped through the hatchway, I looked around the interior. It wasn't exactly huge, but was a lot more spacious than The Viper.
The Viper. For a moment my heart ached for my fighter - back there in the forest, crashed into the dirt, left for the local wildlife to explore and turn into their home.
Ranger: "Ain't she a beauty?" He boasted, snapping me out of my reverie as he brushed past us and made his way towards the front of the craft, where I could see the docking bay wall beyond the glass canopy of a cockpit.
Between myself and the cockpit, directly ahead, was an open living area, with a couch along one wall to my right and a food preparation area on the left. There were doors immediately to the left and right - leading to where I didn't know, but it wasn't a massive ship so it must have just been a single room beyond each, I assumed. Further into the ship, a small corridor branched off from each side, angling backwards into the wings. A door mid-way along the corridors stopped me from seeing what lay beyond, but Ranger, without looking, shouted back to us from the cockpit,
Ranger: "Bathroom first on the left, storage on the right. My bunk front right and the... er... 'guest suite' front left. Make yourselves comfy."
The floor beneath our feet vibrated as Ranger powered up The Eagle's engines. Ignoring our pilot's offer of getting comfortable, I made my way to the cockpit and leant on the back of the co-pilot's chair and watch as Ranger flicked a whole load of switches, before gently pulling back on the throttle and easing us into the air.
Ranger: "Okay; who wants to get out of here?" He asked aloud before replying to himself in a high-pitched voice, "Me! Me!"
Ranger: "Alrighty then! Let's do it!" He finished his own conversation and we lifted up over the docking bay walls.
Ranger's sense of humour, combined with the sudden beautiful vista of Sigmaridian laid out before us brought a huge grin to my face. The city shone in the morning sun, the beams reflecting off of all the glass and permasteel and lighting the entire place up like a beacon, a beacon inviting the entire galaxy to come and marvel at its splendour.
Ranger: "Where to, boss?" He asked with a glance over his shoulder.
Tank: "Boss?" I queried with a quizzical raise of an eyebrow.
Ranger: "We can swap if you want? Do you want to be the slave?"
Tank: "Nah. I'm good, thanks." I laughed.
Ranger: "So where to?"
Now that I was being asked, I realised that I hadn't really thought this far ahead. All my focus had been on getting to Sigmaridian and now that I was here, I wasn't really sure where to start.
Ranger: "Perfect! Erm city it is!"
Tank: "Oh, shut up." I laughed. "Where do the out-of-system cruisers dock?"
Ranger: "Mountpass. All system to system ships come and go from Mountpass - the transport hub in the north of the city."
Tank: "Okay. We'll start there." I decided. If Darkblade had come to System 55, then he would have had to land there. It was at least a starting point.
The Eagle set off over the buildings of Sigmaridian and almost as soon as it did, I began to see the carnage that was trailing through the city.
Tank: "Wow..." I muttered under my breath as an entire side of a tower block gave way and it crumpled down to nothing. Ranger had to swerve to avoid the cloud of smoke and dust that came billowing into the air.
Cat came to stand beside me and took my hand as we looked out at the city under attack. Police craft swept past us, heading deeper into the city as ahead, I caught a glimpse of black moving among the glass and metal structures.
Tank: "There!" I pointed. "Look! Take us closer."
Ranger: "Seriously? You want to get closer to that thing again? Was the hover Jeep not close enough?"
Tank: "Just... do it." I sighed. Not from exasperation but because part of me knew Ranger was right. But the rest of me needed to see what was going on.
Ranger changed course and we banked to the left, now following the path of the police ships that had flown past less than a minute earlier. I couldn't see the Artox any more but it wasn't hard to find it - just follow the trail of destruction.
The path was winding. Up boulevards, down side streets, across buildings - the Artox didn't seem to be heading anywhere specific. All it knew was that for the first time in its life, it was free.
Suddenly, Ranger cried out in alarm and slammed on the brakes, throwing us all around. I was about to ask what he was playing at but that second, a police ship, now a fiery ball of scrap, spun past narrowly missing us. It spun nose over end repeatedly until it smashed into the side of a nearby building.
Cat: "What the hell?"
Ranger took The Eagle around the next corner and there ahead of us was the Artox beast. Stood on the ground, it was being swarmed by police ships, all firing weaponry at it - so much so that we could hear the gunfire even from here.
As we watched, the beast reared up with a screech and swatted another of the police ships out of the sky. The too-slow craft barrelled down to the street below and exploded on impact, littering the road with debris and leaving a scorched crater in the ground.
Just as with the guards on the wall, the ships weaponry didn't seem to be having any effect - the hide of the Artox was just too thick. Whatever those scientists had cooked up in the lab was ridiculously durable! The monster snapped its jaws at a craft that got too close but narrowly missed. The pilot swerved out of the way but only just avoided colliding with a building.
Cat: "They don't stand a chance." She muttered sadly.
Ranger: "Wait a minute. I'll patch us through to their radio."
A few button presses later and the radio crackled to life, broadcasting the police ship's frequency.
Voice #1: "It's not working!"
Voice #2: "That armour is too thick!"
Voice #3: "Hold it together Victor Nine. Artillery is on the way."
Voice #2: "Artillery? Wait we're using missiles in a civ' zone?!"
Cat and I exchanged nervous glances.
Voice #3: "Affirmative Victor Seven. Hammerhead mark 3's are on their way. ETA 5 minutes."
Voice #4: "Holy screet... We're using mark 3's in the city?"
Ranger: "Scrim..." he muttered.
Tank: "What? What are mark 3's?"
Ranger: "Hammerhead mark 3's are essentially the missile below a nuke on the 'big boom' scale." He explained. They won't destroy the city but they'll take down a block each."
Tank: "Bloody hell...”
Cat: "But, all those people!"
Ranger suddenly leant forward and flipped a switch.
Ranger: "Attention all police craft, this is The Eagle; attention." He announced.
Voice #4: "Who the hell's that?"
Voice #1: "How'd they get our com'?"
Ranger: "Shut up and listen to me." Ranger demanded into his microphone. "I'm going to draw him out. DO NOT fire Hammerheads at it! I repeat; DO NOT fire Hammerheads at it! I'll draw him out of the city first!"
Before waiting for a reply, Ranger had turned the coms off and began flipping switches and priming various systems.
Tank: "How are you going to lure that thing away without getting close?"
Ranger sent me a wordless look.
Tank: "We're getting close." I nodded, getting and not liking the plan.
Ranger: "Strap yourselves in."
Tank: "Go on." I encouraged Cat with a quick kiss on the cheek, before I hopped into the co-pilot seat beside Ranger.
Ranger: "You know how to fly?"
Tank: "Yeah. That's how we got here!" I reminded him.
Ranger: "Didn't you say you crashed?"
Tank: "Well... Yeah, but..." I stammered indignantly. "We got shot down!"
Ranger: "Well let's hope your bad luck doesn't rub off."
And with that he pushed forwards on the throttle and The Eagle shot ahead.
Damn this thing was fast!
We got closer to the Artox, but the police ships were still holding its attention - it hadn't yet noticed the new craft jetting towards it. Then I had an idea.
After quickly glancing over the co-pilot's controls, I grabbed the targeting control yoke and took aim. The Eagle's machine cannons opened fire and peppered the beast's hide with bullets.
Ranger: "It's no good! Those won't do the trick!"
Tank: "I know!" I responded. "I'm just getting its attention!"
And it worked. Although the bullets didn't seem to be harming it, the barrage - heavier than that coming from the police ships - made it turn its attention to us. It roared in anger and turned to face us, rearing up, ready to strike.
Tank: "Roll, roll, roll!" I shouted, not liking not being in control of the ship.
Ranger: "I know what I'm doing!" He snapped, moments later putting us into a barrel roll that took us directly past the Beast's snapping mouth.
Another roar met our ears as we jetted away from the Artox before Ranger banked around and we headed back towards it. Knowing that we needed to keep its attention I opened fire again, this time aiming for its face.
THAT pissed it off!
Instinctively flinching away, protecting its face, it swatted at thin air with its clawed paws as we zoomed past. I brought up a live video feed from the rear of the ship on a screen on the dash and sure enough the Artox was following us.
Tank: "Slow down, slower!" I urged, making sure that we remained tantalisingly close to the Artox so that it didn't lose interest. I spun the central turrets around to face our rear and fired a few short bursts at the black beast. The Artox let out a yelp of surprise before its surprise turned straight back to anger and it continued to bound after us, snapping it's jaws every now and then.
Ranger: "Come on you bastard... he growled under his breath, glancing between the viewscreen and what lay ahead and the rear-view camera on the dash looking back at the monster hot on our heels.
I fired another small burst at the Artox, earning a snarl from the beast.
Ranger: "Aim for the eyes." He suggested, pointing at the screen on the dash.
I was just about to when, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something ahead of us.
Tank: "Look out!" I shouted, pointing at the building that was growing ominously close.
Ranger: "Whoa!" He cried and pulled up hard so as not to crash headlong into it, however, the sudden loss of speed let the Artox catch up and with a terrifying lurch it rammed The Eagle from behind.
Ranger: "Hey!" He yelled. "Not my ship you little scrim-bag!"
There was a bellowing roar almost in response as we banked around the skyscraper and the beast gave chase once again. I watched on the monitor as it took a flying leap and tried to grab us in its jaws. Thankfully, it narrowly missed us and continued to give chase.
Ranger's piloting skills and the occasional burst of laser fire from myself kept the Artox interested enough that we managed to lead it back through the city, following the route it had taken in the opposite direction so as to at least try to minimise the destruction to property. It wasn't long before we found ourselves back on the main boulevard out to the city's fringes.
Tank: "Come on." I urged with another round of lasers that peppered the monster's head. "Keep coming."
Ranger: "Police ships ahead." He informed aloud and sure enough, waiting at the edge of the city limits, between the towering glass structures and the huge perimeter wall of the supposed 'contamination zone', were an innumerable amount of police craft.
Ranger: "Almost there." He encouraged as we led the Artox out amongst them and towards the breach in the massive wall.
We passed over, flying just above the treetops, and the Artox, like a faithful dog, followed close on our heels. Sure, like a rabid, angry mutt that snapped at our ankles every few meters, rather than a well-behaved family pet, but it was following us nevertheless.
I could hear the crashing of falling trees even from here in the ship, as the black beast ploughed through the forest like it wasn't there at all.
Ranger: "Come on. Keep coming, keep coming." He urged, muttering aloud.
I was just considering how deep into the forest we'd have to get it when several police ships jetted past us from behind and our com crackled to life.
Voice: "Unidentified craft, please vacate the area immediately, by order of the Deltarian police. I repeat; please vacate immediately."
Ranger: "That's our cue!"
Tank: "Look!" I exclaimed as Ranger began pulling up, bringing extra distance between us and the treetops. There, dropping down from the clouds ahead of us, was a large craft that could only have been a bomber. Those Hammerheads were on their way.
Ranger: "Time to make ourselves scarce."
Ranger pulled back on the control yolk and we shot higher into the air, putting on a sudden burst of speed. Away from the forest, away from the wreckage of The Viper, away from the police bomber now releasing its payload and away from the Artox beast.
The screams of the Artox reached us first. A screeching, wrenching sound that pierced both my ears and my soul. Then came the explosions, pulsating and reverberating. The rear-view camera was still on and I watched as the fireballs belched into the sky, engulfing the wreathing Artox, even as we jetted high into the sky above, rising up towards the inner atmosphere.
As the fireball cleared, leaving behind nothing but a forest fire that the authorities would now have to deal with, I couldn't help but feel a tinge of sadness for the life form now extinguished.
And then I remembered how many times it had tried to eat me and I felt much better!
Ranger: "Well... that was dramatic! Right;" He declared, instantly moving on. "Side-track over, let's get you to Mountpass."
Synergy Engineering Labs
Dr. Sam Daelman carried his tray of freshly-sterilised implements across the laboratory floor and set them down on one of the work counters.
His partner, Dr. Starla Hirsch, came up beside him with a crate of clean vials. The pair had been working together for quite a few years now and knew each other inside out. As they began unloading their respective receptacles and storing the equipment in the correct locations, they continued the conversation that they were having. It wasn't anything important - just general chatter, but it made them happy.
Sam: "...but if I go for the VR2000, then I get the free circus simulator that comes with it."
Starla: "Since when have you been interested in the circus?" She laughed as the pair discussed with virtual reality simulator Sam was going to buy with his next paycheck.
Sam: "...I'm not. But it's free!" He grinned. "Whereas the Oculus Valero only comes with the standard games."
Starla: "But the Valero is cheaper."
Sam: "Yeah. And better resolution. The immersion is much deeper."
Starla: "So go with the Valero!" She laughed as if the choice was an obvious one.
Sam: "Yeah, but... free stuff!" He grinned.
And then the lab door was blown in.
The scientists screamed as smoke filled the air and the emergency siren began to wail. Sam began coughing as the smoke caught in his throat and he and Starla made for the emergency exit.
But before they reached it, a figure swooped through the fog and grabbed Sam by the throat, slamming him down onto his back on the workbench beside them. As Starla screamed again, Darkblade lashed out and sent her tumbling to the ground.
Darkblade: "Infatope-Z and Baristau-47." He growled, naming the two elements that Dr. Lobotomy needed to recreate the serum that had given Darkblade his enhanced abilities. "Give them to me."
A WIP shot of the interior set for the Eagle. As lots of you will have worked out by now, the reason I crashed the Viper is because now, with Ranger on the team, there weren't enough seats in it for all of them!
One of the sets featuring the wall.
The Artox breaking through.
The set for the Artox breaking into the studio.
The finished set for the interior of the Eagle. Originally, I was just going to use the actual interior of the ship, which is build into the exterior, but I decided that, as we're going to be seeing it a fair bit going forwards and it wasn't all that detailed, I should build a better one with a bit more space.
An alternative shot of the Artox smashing into the studio.
As my series is going to be jumping around though time, I will include a date on each episode and add it to the timeline at the end of each episode so that you can follow it.
Quoting Captain Kenbo
This was cool! Was not expecting the Artox to unleash havoc on the city. I think you did that well considering it can be difficult to show a scene at that scale. Though that and the end of the game maybe felt a tiny bit rushed but not a huge issue. Good that the gang's finally out of the game zone and ready to explore the rest of the planet
Thanks Kenbo! Yeah, if I'm honest, I just wanted it to be done. Haha! When I planned it I thought it would be fun to build and would show something a bit different, but by the time I actually got around to writing and making it, by this point I had a lot less time on my hands and I just wanted it to be over! I wanted to get back to stuff that's actually important to the story. Hence Ranger's little 'Side-track over!' comment in the episode. Haha! It turned out alright though. It'll do. Haha!
This was cool! Was not expecting the Artox to unleash havoc on the city. I think you did that well considering it can be difficult to show a scene at that scale. Though that and the end of the game maybe felt a tiny bit rushed but not a huge issue. Good that the gang's finally out of the game zone and ready to explore the rest of the planet