This is a fan-fiction based on characters created by Yoshiki Takaya and contains violent situations with adult language. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead is unintentional and purely coincidental.
|Title||Chapter 7: Union of the Guyvers – Part 2|
Sho clenched his hand into a fist under the table and gathered what shreds remained of his patience. “As I have said before, I have been a Guyver for-“
“About two years now, yes, you’ve said that already.” His liaison, though maybe interrogator was a better term, had a gruff, gravelly voice. And also the capacity to make every single syllable he spoke sounds unbelieving. “The problem is we’ve never even heard of you before and now you just conveniently show up at our doorstep just as this so called War Relic is discovered by Chronos.”
Sean turned away from the one-way mirror in disgust. Silently he left the packed observation bay and headed towards the commissary to find some coffee.
“Hey Sean! Wait up!”
He turned to see Jason extricating himself from the bigwigs as well. Together they made their way down to the mostly empty cafeteria on the next floor. Jason grabbed a carafe for them both as Sean found prepackaged Danish that tasted bad enough to be a strategic weapon of deterrence. However the coffee was black and hot and managed to wash the taste out of his mouth.
“You know Jason; I’m really surprised Sho has managed to sit there as long as he has. If it was me, I’d have been busting up the place by now.” Sean managed to tamp down his irritation enough to keep the conversation civil, knowing that Jason had no say in what was standard operating procedure these days.
“I know Sean, and by the look on his face that may indeed be what he ends up doing. I wish things were different. But you’re going to have to be ready to help contain him if things get out of hand in there. We just have to be sure of his intentions and unfortunately this is the only way we can do it in a hurry. And if he’s right about his War Relic then we need to get moving like yesterday.” Jason sighed and shrugged noncommittally. “It’s not the warmest of welcomes, I know. But it’s the safest one.”
“But all he really wants is my help.” Sean said; clearly frustrated by the situation.
“All the more reason to be sure of his intentions, losing you will all but cost us the war.”
“I know but he did save my life and he’s a Guyver for god’s sake.”
“So was Crane, Sean we just have to be sure.” Jason sighed again, “Besides it should be over soon any-“
Yells from the hallway brought them both to their feet, coffee forgotten as they bolted for the door. The hallway was full of people, both military and a few civilians who were brought to a halt by the same shouts that had alerted the two of them. The commotion echoed out of the doorway leading to the stairs. A moment later Sho stormed out of the stairwell and headed away from them. Sean almost called out to him, but hadn’t done more than draw a breath when two armored MP’s burst from the stairwell in pursuit.
“Sir! You must return to the debriefing room!” One of them spoke with a dangerous and forceful tone as the other mumbled into a shoulder radio mike.
“I’ve had it with your debriefings! I’ve had it with your insinuations! I’ve had it with you all!” Sho didn’t even look back as he ignored the weapons pointed not quite at him, but not quite away either. He was however, brought to a halt by the three other marines that suddenly rounded the corner down the hall and blocked his progress.
He remained silent for a moment as he studied the men in front of him. “Get out of my way.” The words were spoken near tonelessly, and with a sense of quiet menace behind them that made the hairs on the back of Sean’s neck stand on end. He started forward. He had to stop this!
A hand closed on his shoulder and pulled him back. The Major who had been interrogating Sho pulled him back and shook his head. His warning glare silently took in both Sean and Jason that they were not to interfere with this. Jason took Sean’s other shoulder and pulled him back another step, motioning for him to be quiet. The look in the agent’s eyes was suddenly guarded and unreadable.
“We can’t do that Sir. Our orders are that you are to be detained until you can be ascertained to be no threat to us.” The marines all went to a higher degree of readiness, weapons brought to the ready, though not yet trained on their target. “Please return to the debriefing room, otherwise we are authorized to use force!”
Sho stepped to the middle of the hallway. The set of his shoulders was that of extreme fury yet his voice, if anything, grew even icier. “Are you people crazy, you do realize I’m a Guyver!?… Fine then your job is done! I’m possibly the greatest threat on this continent right now if you don’t get out of my way! If I’m going to be treated like an enemy, then I’ll have no compunction in defending myself. So your force better be greater than mine, because if you’re not going to take the current threat seriously, then I have to get back to those who will!”
The marines came to full alert, weapons now trained on their target. Sho tensed, ready for instant action.
Sean gulped, fearing he might have to fight Sho.
And then a voice, speaking in fluent Japanese brought Sho around in surprise. The Major that had been questioning him stepped forward, waving the marines to stand down as he continued to speak gravely to the young Japanese man. Sho’s eyes narrowed as he responded shortly in the same language.
Sean had no idea what was being said, but after a few moments of tense discussion he watched Sho slowly begin to relax. The Major then surprised both Sean and Sho by offering a proper Japanese bow of respect before turning, and without another word, departed along with the guards. The other people quietly and quickly dispersed as well, leaving Sho, Sean and Jason as the only occupants of the hall.
“Well Sho, I have both apologies and congratulations to offer I guess.” Jason said as he stepped forward to offer his hand, “Apologies that we had to push you so far and congratulations that you passed the test.”
Sean gaped silently at Jason’s back, “Test!?”
Jason turned to glance at his friend, and grinned at his expression, “Yes, test… and I’m just glad it worked, considering we had no procedure concerning vetting any Guyvers that suddenly appears. The General made the decision to continue as I had started and see how you reacted. It was a risk but we surmised that a quisling would try to alter his story to be more palatable instead of sticking with it in the face of such suspicion.” He brought his attention back to Sho, still offering his hand.
“You stuck to your story, even when it might have hurt your case. And even when mad enough to scare the crap out of hardened marines, you didn’t really try to harm anyone. Those two points do a lot to reassure us. Again, my apologies, but we had to be sure. And if you’re right about that War Relic we had to be sure fast and this was the quickest way. No hard feelings I hope?”
Sho remained unresponsive for a moment longer, before with a sigh of released breath he took the offered hand. “No, no hard feelings… if I were in your position, I’d probably have had to do the same thing.” He smiled, tight and humorlessly, but it was a start. Jason smiled back and shook hands firmly.
“Welcome to the ACTF Sho, I’m Jason O’Conner. You already know Sean. Since I serve as Liaison between the military and our… Guyver ally, it was decided that I’d serve as yours as well. I’m sure you must have questions, I’ll answer all I can.” He gestured back towards the cafeteria, and ushered his charges, old and new, to the table that they had hastily vacated moments before.
Naval Ground Weapons Testing Facility
The day was incongruously bright and unseasonably warm as the ACTF finished pulling out of the burned out remains of the facility. The Zoanoid attack had caused too much damage for their limited resources to repair. Also, with the final security checks of the old Chronos facility in Washington DC completed, it was determined to be strategically sound to occupy the facility as being more defensible then the current military bases.
So it was that Sho and Sean watched as the last transport rumbled out the abandoned gate, and they were alone.
“Why exactly are we here, Sho?” Sean asked, “I mean… you said we we’re going to do some sparring, but why did we need an empty base to do that?”
Sho smiled tightly, “There’s a lot more to the Guyver than you think. That’s why we need space. From what you’ve told me, you know about the mega smashers, the vibration blades, and the head laser. But you didn’t know what I meant by pressure cannon or sonic busters. So, we’re here to teach you what you’re missing. Besides it will take a few days for your ACTF to prepare a strike team strong enough to help us go after the War Relic. So it’s best we use the time to help hone your skills for the battle we’re sure to face, otherwise you might not survive your next encounter with a hyper zoanoid.”
Sean nodded in silent agreement, knowing from Sho that the Zerebubuth that had nearly killed him wasn’t even the most dangerous of the Hyper Zoanoids. The two Guyvers then moved apart before activating their units… It was strange for them both when they summoned their units. The twin blast fields revealing similar Guyvers. While both blue, there were a few noticeable differences. Sean was more mottled in shade, his unit seeming more organic than Sho’s, which had cleaner, more defined curves, and was a solid smooth blue.
< Can you hear me Sean? >
Sean jerked at the voice in his head. “What the f… Is that you Sho?”
Sho chuckled, nodding. < It’s me Sean; we can communicate telepathically through the organisms on our backs. >
< This is so weird! Can you hear me? > Sean’s mind voice was tentative but clear.
< I can indeed; this is how I keep in touch with Agito even from this distance. You may not be able to contact him yet, you two haven’t met. But now we’ll be able to keep in touch regardless of distance. >
Sean grinned under his armor, < I talked with a Relic once; it seemed to understand me, is this something similar? >
< Yes, though Relics communicate directly with your control medal. You’ll have to tell me how you ran into a Relic, but that’s for later. Right now, let’s see what else you can do. >
To Sean’s amazement, the other Guyver then floated as casually as could be into the air. “You can fly!?”
< So can you Sean, the orb at your waist controls gravitational forces. Focus on it and think about going up. >
Sean hesitated for a moment before doing as he was told. He twitched as he felt his feet leave the ground and lost his concentration, dropping back to the tarmac. Staggering forward as he tried to right himself, he felt his face warm with embarrassment. Concentrating again, he lifted from the ground, this time maintaining it as he began to grin under his armor.
Sho laughed as the dark blur that was Sean shot upwards passed him at speed. Still chuckling he took off in pursuit. < Well, a game of tag then? > He felt Sean’s elation as an almost palpable thing, and found that he partly shared it. He’d never been able to just fly. And it struck him what an enjoyable thing it was as he spiraled up around Sean into the clear sky. To the left, the Atlantic sparkled in the sun, while all around the vast countryside of New England grew smaller beneath them. They engaged in a playful game of cat and mouse, Sho being the prey as they tore across the sky at ever increasing speed.
Into this Sho began to inject martial arts, as it slowly became more of an aerial sparring match. His impression of Sean’s skills was that they were decent, if unimaginative. Still Sean had quickly become mobile enough to keep himself in one piece once Sho stopped holding his punches. He still had Sean heavily on the defensive when suddenly a vibration blade whined through the air. He dropped back as Sean completed the defensive slash, panting for breath under his armor.
< Oh geez! Sho are you alright?! >
Sho kept his distance, as he made sure he hadn’t been hit. < I still seem to be in one piece, no damage, > He replied wryly.
< Man I’m sorry. Geez, it’s like it just happened on its own! >
Sho nodded and signaled for them to land, dropping back towards the landing field. < Don’t worry about it Sean. The Guyver has a certain amount of defensive reflex. I think you were probably a little panicked trying to keep up with my attack and it reacted by activating the weapon automatically. >
Sean touched down a few dozen yards away. < Well, that makes sense, but I could have decapitated you! >
Sho grinned and extended his own blades before he sprinted directly for the other Guyver. < Let’s see! > He called mentally as the distance between him and Sean disappeared. Sean recovered quickly, his other blade extending as they met in a clash of sonic shrieks.
Their battle grew fierce and Sho marveled at Sean’s ability with the blades. He was quick! Coming out with whirling attacks and slashes that Sho was hard pressed to block or avoid. Soon he was panting for breath as he swept Sean’s feet out from under him and dodged back. Sean regained his feet and charged, Sho setting himself for the attack. He dodged the blade that whistled in at his chest.
He grunted as he felt a knee slam into his gut, lifting his feet off of the ground. He sensed the blade coming before he saw it and twisted nimbly aside as it scythed through the space he had just occupied. The blow he landed in the meantime was a lot more solid, the edge of his hand slamming into Sean’s throat. He had the satisfaction of hearing the American gurgle in surprise as Sho’s arm snaked in to wrap around his neck.
Sho heaved, bracing himself as his strength pulled the other Guyver off his feet, flipping him up and over in a carefully balanced throw that flung him down in a heap. Sean tried to roll with the impact and ended up crouched on one knee, panting for breath, poised for defense from any further attack.
But there was no other incoming assault. Sho stood panting as well, feeling quite a few slashes to his armor twinge as they slowly healed. < Time for a breather Sean. . . But wow, you’re good with the swords. Don’t retract your armor; little exertions like this won’t tire you for long. > He watched as Sean relaxed and began to laugh between breaths.
< Well, you’re a lot tougher to hit than anyone I’ve fought before… I mean, Hell! A Guyver Zoanoid wasn’t as hard! >
Sho straightened, “A Guyver Zoanoid? Chronos has a Guyver? And it’s a Zoanoid!”
Sean shook his hand and brushed aside Sho’s sudden concern with a wave. “Nah, they don’t have it anymore… I killed Crane when I kept that relic out of Chronos’ hands. Mega smashed his ass through a mountain, deactivated his control medal and buried it under a couple thousand tons of rubble when I freed the relic.”
Sean stood up and moved to sit against a convenient pile of rubble. “So, how many Guyvers are there?”
Sho came over to stand beside him. It felt so weird to hold a casual conversation in his armor, almost surreal. “Mine was the first unit activated in Japan, as such my codename is Guyver 1. Guyver 2 was an agent for Chronos, and I killed him. Guyver 3 is Agito, who is keeping things going in Japan. Other than that, we know of no other units, save for yours, and as you say, the dead Guyver Zoanoid. Which reminds me, what do you call yourself?”
Sean glanced up at him, “Huh?”
Sho grinned, such an amusing and thoroughly American response that. “Well, we can’t really call you ‘Sean Barker’ going into battle! You’re a relative unknown, and should stay that way. So, what’s your code name? Guyver 0? Since you’re apparently a little ‘older’ than me? Guyver 4? What do you want to call yourself?”
Sean nodded and leaned back, apparently mulling it over. Then he began to chuckle. “Well, since I’m the only Guyver in the States… Call me Guyver US.”
Sho laughed a weirdly distorted sound through his armor. “Well then, Guyver US. Let’s see what else you can do!”
They continued sparring for most of the afternoon. Sean proved passably adept with the pressure cannon, once he knew how to control it. Though he had difficulty concentrating enough to fly and use it at the same time. He excelled with the sonic busters, and Sho privately thought he might have a greater attack radius with the weapon than he or Guyver 3 did. He surmised that the smaller orbs on either side of Sean’s mouth might be secondary sonic emitters. He found the change from the norm intriguing, much like Agito’s additional blades.
It was shading towards evening when they rested, deactivating their armor for a true breather. Sho told most of his own story, and in return Sean had told him his. Sean had grown increasingly quiet during the last hour, as if coming to some important decision.
“Sho… I’ve got a favor to ask.”
Sho looked up and nodded. “Sure Sean, what can I do for you?”
Sean remained silent a moment before finally he sighed. “It’s about Cori… She’s way up in the mountains and considering the news you brought; I probably won’t get a chance to see her again for a while. I was wondering… do you think you could cover for me, back at base I mean?”
Sho considered this… and part of him was amused by the way Sean squirmed. But he was too fair-minded to prolong it more then necessary. “How far away is she?” He asked finally.
Sean relaxed a little. “She’s up in the Pocono’s in Northern Pennsylvania, a little over 200 miles away.”
Sho smiled, the soft urgency in Sean’s voice was touching. And in the end, who would it hurt? “You can be there in about an hour then. I’ll keep in touch if we have any problems tonight… and if anything and I mean anything goes wrong, you’ll better be calling me immediately. Agreed?”
Sean readily agreed, having been steeling himself for another ‘it’s really not advisable’ response, just like he got from everyone else. “Thanks Sho… I owe you one for this.”
Sho chuckled as he stood and moved away from the pile of rubble. “I’m sure you’ll repay it soon enough. GUYVER! Now get out of here, though try and be back early enough to avoid awkward questions. I’d rather not end up on the receiving end of a gun again for this.”
The humming crackle of the blast field and the distortion of his unit didn’t mask his words as he slowly lifted off. Behind him, a second flash and crack was followed by the receding presence of Guyver US as he flew off to the North. Guyver 1 returned to the main ACTF base, wondering what Cori was like, and thinking privately, deep inside where no one else could possibly hear, of Mitzuki.
He knew he loved her. He’d had a crush on her, an infatuation, all through school. Her brother had seen right through him of course. Tetsuro had teased him mercilessly about it, but had never tried to put him off; maybe thinking they were a good pair.
Everything had changed when he found the Guyver unit. Suddenly it was as if he wasn’t entirely human anymore. And he killed. He had to, he never wanted to…but he was a killer nonetheless.
He squeezed his eyes shut against the burning tears. And his dream of him and Mitzuki ever sharing a life together had had to die. And as Chronos became more and more powerful, he had tried to divorce their lives from each other, tried to get away from her, to protect her from what he was.
But however he tried, whatever he did, Fate kept throwing them back together, and he was forced to fight to defend her. And in the end, if he ever admitted it to himself, that was the only reason he fought. That was the world he fought for… not for himself, he had already seen too much bloodshed, a lot of it shed by his own hands. He wanted it for Mitzuki, Sweet, innocent, utterly beautiful Mitzuki. He fought to create a world in which she would be safe, and happy. It was the only gift he could hope to give her now.
And he would not rest until that world existed, or he was dead. That was the legacy of the Guyver, unrelenting, no quarter asked or given.
Onward Guyver 1 flew, his resolve hardening again, his momentary weakness bottled up again behind it along with the battered soul of one Sho Fukamachi. Chronos or him, one would die, so the other’s dreams might live…
Jason was not happy with Sho’s explanation of why he returned without Sean. If truth be told, the thought of Sean out there alone brought him close to panic. What if there were more of these so-called hyper-zoanoids out there, just waiting for him?!
Sho had eyed him with something of a blend of amusement and annoyance. What zoanoid could catch a Guyver traveling at close to 300 miles per hour? A Zoalord perhaps, but Zoalords never fronted attacks if they could help it. And they were seemingly not overly concerned with the relatively minor annoyance posed by the ACTF, focused as they were on excavating the War relic they had found. And since Sean had never manifested flight powers before, who would ever be looking ‘up’ for him?
All these were valid points, but it annoyed Jason even more. Part of it was his own stubbornness he knew. But he had worked closely with Sean for months now, and he felt somewhat betrayed that Sean hadn’t thought to check with him about this.
Then Sho had outguessed him again and swept his feet out from under him, figuratively speaking. “Would you have let him go if he’d asked?” The younger man had asked point blank. “Or would there have been a lot of evasions and delays, and general ‘if you sit up and eat your peas’ type statements?” Sho had retorted tartly.
Jason resented the sarcasm, but couldn’t help but see the point. Sean was an important individual, but he was also human under all that armor, with a human’s needs. Grudgingly he lost the argument as gracefully as he could.
Sho returned to his assigned quarters, to find an unexpected gift awaiting him. There was no name on the small packet, but it did have a hand written note attached. Opening the package, he was surprised to find a small pouch of green tea leaves, and the familiar scent of Japanese Sencha. He blinked in surprise, curbing his delight as he opened the note. Printed neatly in Japanese was the inscription. ‘For those who do not drink coffee, army bases are dull places.’
Sho found himself grinning as he breathed in the fragrant scent. He had not had a decent cup of tea since coming to this country. He was somewhat startled by how much he found he missed it. How much he missed home. Closing the little packet again, he slipped it into his pocket as he left the room in search of the cafeteria.
Sho sipped at his tea, the taste was still off. These Americans seemed to enjoy only scalding hot, or ice cold beverages! It had taken him awhile to get the temperature he preferred. And a Styrofoam cup only added to the grievance! Still, it was better than nothing and it tasted so good after a long deprivation. He briefly considered attempting to make another cup before a soldier with the rank insignia of Corporal walked up beside his table.
“Can I help you?” Sho asked noncommittally as the soldier saluted smartly. This corporal looked vaguely familiar somehow. His uniform was freshly pressed, the creases looking sharp enough to cut. Grey eyes piercing in their clarity below a newly shaved military haircut, the edges still razor fine. He smiled.
“You already did, my friend.” He dropped onto the table a roll of harness from which the familiar stock of the Zoanoid Buster protruded. “You got us out of a very tight scrape… and I just wanted to thank you for it.”
Sho just stared at the harness, and then up at the man who when last they had met, sported an outrageous Mohawk. The soldier noticed the direction of his gaze and raised a hand to brush over the short bristle of hair still on his head. “Yeah, that was one of the most annoying disguises I’ve ever tried! And in the end, I needn’t have bothered.” He then held out his hand in a civilian handshake.
“Corporal Jeff Morgan, Sir, US Army Special Forces.”
Sho accepted the offered hand, and the strong grip of the shake. He smiled with genuine pleasure. “Sho Fukamachi, Japanese Resistance.” He replied. He had the pleasure of seeing the officer blink in confusion.
“You’re not the ACTF Guyver?”
Sho smiled as he began straightening out the harness, checking over the weapon. “No, I’m not.” He was surprised at the condition of the Zoanoid Buster. Despite its heavy use, at least four more shells than he had fired were missing, it was pristine. He glanced up at the Corporal, arching an eyebrow.
The soldier smiled and shrugged. “It’s a habit, I’m a bit OCD, and so I always clean the weapons I use. And may I say that is one fine piece of craftsmanship. I’ve never seen anything like it, even if it does kick like a mule!” Jeff gestured to the seat opposite to Sho, “Mind if I join you for awhile before I have to report?”
They spent another quarter of an hour catching up on events after they had separated. The Corporal had managed to keep the group together and moving. Despite their ragtag looks, they were all highly trained soldiers and had managed to make it to one of the ACTF’s forward sentry posts fairly quickly. It was here that Chronos finally caught up with them and they had helped repel a zoanoid assault force.
Jeff was full of praise for the Zoa-buster. Citing it as the reason they were still breathing. There had been another hyper zoanoid in the attack. From the description it sounded like a Thancrus type. It was busy slicing up an ACTF armored soldier when he blew it away from behind with a well-aimed headshot. The story was a good telling, and it held Sho’s interest because the description was so different to his own experiences. He was realizing just how much trouble even these primitive zoanoids were to normal humans.
Soon enough, Jeff had to report for duty. And Sho, growing tired after the long day, headed to his room. The Zoanoid Buster was snug back into its velvet case until needed as Sho collapsed onto the bed with a sigh, and sank into much needed sleep. He managed to get a reasonably good rest before a marine banging on the door jolted him upright in bed…
Sean shot through the deepening dusk, the wind whistling around him as he skimmed the tops of trees. God! To be flying! He had never thought it possible to experience one’s childhood fantasies. But this was definitely one of them come true! As he traveled he experimented with his mobility, learning how to ‘push’ to change direction. He streaked into a sharp ascent, climbing high into the atmosphere with a crow of exhilaration.
As he leveled out at a couple thousand feet up, he gazed down on the countryside beneath him. Okay, he recognized the road and a few of the landmarks that led to the tiny hiking trail. And the trail went a good 2 or 3 miles up into the hills. He grinned as he got his bearings, dropping rapidly towards the ground as he recognized the little clearing he was looking for.
He took the landing at speed, letting his legs flex to take the impact even as the ground compressed beneath his feet. His hyper sensors came alive with warning as he sensed weapons pointed in his direction.
Four hidden turrets popped out of the ground with auto aiming chain-guns around the cabin’s perimeter, with two quickly locking on his position. This was quickly followed by the appearance of four marines who quickly came into view from their hiding places. One of them carried a M1014 Combat Shotgun; two carried M4A1 Carbine assault riffles equipped with 203 40mm grenade launchers, while the fourth toted a SMAW (Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon) anti-armor rocket launcher. One look at the arsenal pointed at him made Sean’s skin prickle. He had no doubt that that sort of ordnance could damage even him.
“It’s alright! It’s Sean!” Someone from within the cabin yelled to the marines.
A moment later the chain-gun turrets deactivated and returned to their hidden positions. The other marines quickly followed suit and lowered their weapons.
Another Marine soon stepped out of the cabin and yelled, “Sean! When did you become Superman, huh?” It was the same voice that had spoken before and Sean couldn’t help but grin.
“My first day doing it Jake, man… some things have changed since last we had contact!” He closed his eyes, and willed his armor away. Feeling it peeling away, vanishing back into wherever it went when not in use. When Sean opened his eyes, it was just in time for him to set himself ready for the impact.
Cori seemed to almost launch off the rickety porch, the force of her pounce nearly knocking him off his feet, her arms nearly squeezing his breath away. And the rest of the world fled as he lost himself in the feel of her in his arms, his face buried in her hair as he held her just as tight. “Hi.” He murmured quietly.
“Hi stranger,” She murmured back, and he could tell in her voice she was smiling as she said it. “So what’s a guy like you doing out in these boonies?”
He grinned as he kissed her forehead. “Looking for a girl like you, of course,” He glanced over the top of her head and gave Jake a glare for the sappy smile on his face. The marine backed away, hands raised to fend that glare off, though the boyish grin didn’t dissipate one bit.
Cori seemed to remember they weren’t alone either and reluctantly let him go, throwing a glare of her own at the marines who, shouldering their weapons, headed back around the corner of the cabin whistling innocently.
Everything was better up here he mused over dinner, the air, the food, most definitely the company. Cori was telling him all about her work. The research she was doing on artifacts taken from the caves surrounding the relic they had encountered. As his eyes slowly glazed over she gave him an annoyed look. “Are you even listening to me?”
“No, I was looking at you.” He replied, enjoying the sudden delicate flush that crept over her cheeks. He grinned, his egghead of a girlfriend sometimes forgot how drop-dead gorgeous she was. Even in a rustic setting like the cabin, wearing old clothes and no makeup.
“Oh you!” She turned away, not hiding the pleased smile very well. Sean had discovered early on how useful a properly timed complement could be. Washing up from dinner took a minimum of fuss and the crackling of the fire provided the only sound, as Cori lay snuggled against him on the couch. His arms kept her close against him as he nuzzled at the side of her neck.
And for a few precious hours, all was right with the world.
Sean slipped away from Cori’s sleeping form, tucking the covers around her to keep off the chill. He wished he could stay longer but he knew Sho had probably taken some heat for letting him go in the first place, and he didn’t want to abuse that. He paused as he dressed; taking a moment to just watch Cori as she slept on.
He had told her everything; even those things that he knew would have made Jason rail at him about national security and the need for secrecy. But he had always talked things out with Cori. She was a good sounding board and her insight was oft times able to nudge him back onto the right line of thought if he was too wrapped up in being disgruntled.
This time, she totally agreed with him that he needed to go help Sho, but he had tripped off the argument when he flatly refused her desire to come as well. It wasn’t much of a fight; she had always been able to out-debate him. And she had some very valid points; very few people had her understanding of her father’s work.
Marcus Edwards had been a Chronos Archeologist, and a Zoanoid. But beyond that he had been one of the foremost archeologists on what were now known as Creator artifacts. His notes and journals had provided insight into Creator-era humanity. His work had been scoffed at in mainstream archeology circles. He had been considered a publicity hound and crank. But in the end, the truth turned out to be even more disturbing then he ever made it out to be.
Sean slipped out of the bedroom and crept silently to the door. Marcus had been killed trying to protect his daughter from the Zoanoid Crane. Defying his ‘masters’ at the last, to save his ‘little girl’. Sean honored the man’s memory, and had finally had to capitulate enough to agree to bring up the subject of Cori’s inclusion in the mission with General Carter.
He stepped out onto the porch, waving off the guard who appeared to check on the movement. It was the darkest part of night, right before dawn came and he shivered at the chill breeze, his breath fogging. The flash of his unit activating was brief, and hopefully would not wake Cori as he waved to the marines that had come to watch him leave. They saluted smartly, and Sean felt a wry amusement at the accolade. He was a civilian as such they didn’t have to salute.
It was then that the call came through.
< Sean, can you hear me? >
Guyver US turned his head towards the sound of the voice in his head.
< Sho! I’m on my way, is anything up? >
Quickly he took off, rising up into the overcast blackness of the night sky. The weather was growing chancy, and it looked like perhaps snow would be coming at last he mused. And then Sho replied, and his attention was diverted to things much more important.
< They’ve found a Chronos base; they think it’s the one that fielded the force that attacked the test facility. It’s located downtown in a city named Boston. Do you know it? >
Guyver US increased his speed as he adjusted his course. < Yeah, Boston, Massachusetts, right? >
There was a slight pause, and Sean grinned, imagining Sho asking directions.
< That is correct; I’m going with the ground force since I don’t know the way. They’re arranging a full out assault, now that they have a larger force of Blue armors. But they want us to run point. Our ETA is about an hour and a half. Can you meet us there? >
< I’m on my way Sho. Let me know once you get there, I can use you as a reference point to find you. >
He heard Sho’s chuckle even through his mind voice. < You’ve got it, Guyver US. >
Back at the cabin, the guards remained on duty. Unaware that Sean was off to do battle. It was about an hour later when Cori was jolted awake by gunfire and the explosion of a rocket. The bass thrum reports of automatic turret chain-gun weapons and the high rapid reports of machine guns firing at full speed. She felt next to her, and the place where Sean had laid wasn’t warm anymore. He must have left, she realized as she fumbled for her clothes.
Dressing hurriedly she secured the handgun that was kept in her nightstand. Not that she knew more then how to point and shoot, but she did manage not to shoot Jake when he barreled into the room to get her.
“I don’t know what it is, Ms. Edwards. But nothing we throw at it seems to be stopping it. We’ve gotta get you out of here!” He said as he shifted his shotgun to cover the door as suddenly the windows exploded inward. Both instinctively dived to the floor, as suddenly the roar of the chain-guns fell silent. A second later they heard a piercing scream from somewhere outside. Other small arms could still be heard firing sporadically. “Damn it must have got Marks and taken out the perimeter defense guns, quick out the back!” He managed to take a single step before a narrow beam of green light blasted through the side of the cabin, burning through his shoulder and throwing him to the ground. His grunt of pain was swallowed by the sudden loud crackle of a fire starting inside the cabin.
Cori tried to pull him back to his feet as a huge crimson creature loomed in the fire lit doorway. The soldier shoved her back towards the back door as he tried to crawl away from the menacing form. The massive creature strode into the cabin as smoke belched out the doorway it had entered from. An inhuman high-pitched series of almost insectoid sounds came from it as it stalked towards them.
“Go! Get out!” Jake screamed as he rolled onto his back, his one arm useless, covered in blood from the gaping hole in his body armor, though most of the wound had been cauterized by the intense heat of the laser. He growled in pain, bracing the shotgun against his good shoulder as he pointed it at the monster. “You want some of this, hotshot!? Come get some!”
Cori was outside and running when she heard the crash of the shotgun, once, twice, three times… and then an all too human scream. She had just time to register a red blur of motion before she tripped over something in the darkness. She put her hands out to cushion the fall and felt them sink into something soft, and warm, and… and wet. She stared at her hands, in shocked horror. The dark wetness that covered them making her skin crawl as the fire in the cabin leapt high enough to illuminate the ground in front of her.
She struggled back and let out a sobbing shriek as she got a good look at what she had tripped over. It was Marks’ body, torn to pieces, his blood seeping into the frozen ground. She blinked her vision clear of tears as she tried to run, only to be blocked by a large dark shape.
“Ms. Edwards!” She almost wept in relief as the spotlights on the red armored figure flared to life. “Get out of the way!” She dropped to the ground as the armored form trained its weapon on the cabin. This model was armed with the usual auto gun, but currently the weapon was deactivated. Instead it held over its shoulder what looked to be a modified tank barrel! Its hard pounding tread shaking the ground as the soldier moved warily towards the cabin “Is anyone still alive?” The voice coming from the P.A. was wary, and shaken.
Cori tried to find her voice, but she was hyperventilating too hard to speak. She turned to watch as the soldier strode toward the now freely burning structure. Then movement caught her eye as a dark hulk burst out through the side of the cabin, in the smoke and backlight of the fire, she couldn’t make it out too well.
The blast of sound was like a physical blow as the tank gun fired, shaking the dirt. The creature braced for the attack, but the force of the projectile blew it backwards into the burning cabin. The armored marine dropped the smoking cannon and activated his auto gun. The rapid clatter of high velocity slugs from the flashing muzzle tore into the cabin blowing through wood and brick like cheese as the roof, bereft of too many support beams, sagged slowly inward with a groaning crash. The flashes of the weapon lit everything in a surreal strobe yellow as he continued firing into the wreckage.
The weapon fell silent, still smoking as the marine watched the rubble warily. “Ms. Edwards, are you alright?” Slowly he turned towards her, relaxing his vigilance in the face of the silence from the remains of the cabin.
Just as insectoid chittering from behind Cori made her whirl! A strange rush of air washed over her and she turned back in time to see the attack hit its target. One moment the soldier was raising his gun-arm, hesitating because she was between him and his target. A moment later the right shoulder of his armor seemed to buckle, then disintegrate. The trooper was thrown back as he cried out in agony. The metal arm that had attached to that shoulder falling to the ground, it was smoking… and bleeding, the auto-gun firing into the woods and then faltering as it went dead. Dragging himself upright, the severely injured marine groped with his remaining arm for the cannon he had dropped moments before.
Two more soldiers had reached the scene, one had a M82 high powered .50 caliber heavy sniper rifle, and tried to set up for a shot, the other shouldered his assault rifle and began popping away at the shape in the shadows, screaming for Cori to run.
Scrabbling back on the ground away from the monster, Cori raised the gun she held to point shakily at the creature. The sharp reports of the shots seemed so pathetic next to what this thing had already shrugged off, her eyes wide as she got a glimpse of its inhuman armored form in the muted flashes of the weapon.
The creature seemed not to care about the bullets glancing off it as it casually lifted the upper of its two right arms, and calmly pulled its upper right chest plate open. The gun now clicked emptily in her shaking grip as the growing white glow of the inner cell illuminated where she lay. Her eyes growing wide in terror as she realized what it was.
The other soldiers and the armored marine, now with the cannon balanced precariously on his left shoulder as he tried to bring it to bear, saw the intensifying white light and did the only thing they were able to. They kept firing for as long as they could.
The weapon lit up the area like day as Cori’s scream rent the night; it was cut off as the cabin, half the hillside, and a long stretch of New England forest was vaporized by the powerful discharge. And then darkness returned…
And silence reigned.
Sho leaned against the metal railing, staring out across the black water at the far shore. Lights twinkled and winked at him as the fresh sea breeze ruffled his hair; bringing the tang of salt with it.
The LKA Meridian was so fresh from reconditioning that the acrid stench of drying paint still clung to it. The fresh sea smell was vastly preferable to him.
The whine and groan of the ships many cranes and hoists continued to rumble on as the horizon out on the Atlantic began to turn the most delicate shade of sapphire blue with the coming dawn. Sean had arrived aboard the Meridian two hours ago, and was catching a brief catnap before the assault.
Sho turned toward the holds of the ship, lit like daylight with halogen work lamps as the soldiers readied their equipment.
The infantry combat armor looked unwieldy to him. And he made no secret that he was dubious of its effectiveness. And considering these cocky Americans just grinned at him when he tried to air his concerns, he’d be enjoying bailing them out of whatever pit they stumbled into on shore. They had even laughed when he’d asked why they were called ‘Boomers’ telling him he’d see.
Shrugging, he went back to his contemplation of the coast.
Jeff Morgan had thought he’d seen everything. But this ‘Boomer’ combat suit made him as dubious as Sho. Had he known, he might have felt a little better about it. The unit was mostly exoskeleton. Heavy duty armored boots connecting to an articulated frame that encased the legs and hips. This in turn attached to a hard shell torso piece that had a rather bulky backpack. The arms were unarmored, and the helmet was standard military spec.
He’d asked why there was nothing for the upper body, and had been told that if he wanted a full suit, he should request transfer to one of the Alphas. Boomers weren’t tanks, and if that was his mindset, he’d just become a casualty. Sheer personal pride kept him from backing out then as he checked over the unfamiliar weapons he has been issued.
“P90 lightweight Submachine gun,” a voice from behind him stated, and he turned to see a Marine Captain giving instruction to a rather green looking bunch of privates. “Most of you haven’t seen this one before.” The marine snapped the transparent 50 round clip from the weapon with practiced ease and began stripping it down right before their eyes. Jeff moved closer to get a better view. “Mostly plastic, it’s a bit lighter than your familiar M16. But don’t let that fool you, it packs quite a punch.”
He clicked a round from the clip free, the shiny brass cartridge gleaming in the harsh light. “5.56 mm armor piercing round, brass jacketed in a 50 round magazine. While it takes a lil more know-how to reload it quickly, this weapon shoots as hard and a bit faster then the M16, and does not have the same overheating issues. As you know, AP rounds are effective against most zoanoids, aim center of mass unless you’re sure of a headshot. Either way, use short, controlled bursts as this baby can completely unload a clip before you realize you’re out. Though the round clips are made of semi-clear plastic so you can see exactly how many rounds you have left. It’s also extremely stable so even with full auto you should be able to hit your target with every round, provided of course you can hit the broadside of a barn to begin with.”
He assembled the weapon in nothing flat as he handed it back to the soldier who had relinquished it to him. He grinned as he smacked the soldier on the shoulder and moved on. His eyes caught Jeff’s and he came over to introduce himself.
“Stephen Cain, you must be Corporal Morgan, from Bragg?” The hand he extended had a firm grip, even as he smiled amiably. “Bet you never thought you’d end up here when you left home.”
Jeff saluted before taking the offered hand. “Yes sir, it is a little… different than I expected, Sir.” He candidly agreed.
Stephen grinned. “You can cut the Sir, bit. We’re a new outfit here, and I’m not too much on fancy titles.” He tapped his Lieutenant rank tab. “Out in the field, the only thing this means is I have more training and experience, especially with this equipment. And I want it understood that when I give an order that is what’s talking… not these little bars. Understood?”
“Yes, uh… Yes boss.” Jeff grinned in return as he picked up the word he had heard flung about the cargo hold now and then, and it all clicked. Stephen Cain was simply ‘The Boss’.
Stephen reacted to the name, arching an eyebrow but his smile didn’t slip. “So, I doubt anyone has had time to show you what all this stuff is about. Got any questions for me?” He gestured to the stacked pile of gear, the pile of armor parts, and the weapons and ammo box.
The Corporal shrugged and smiled self-effacingly. “Well, since my main problem is zero info about it. I haven’t been able to think of a good question yet Boss.”
Captain Cain laughed. “Then let’s get you up to speed. This is the Mark II Tactical/Recon/Combat Frame. Better known as a Boomer…”
Logan International Airport was a sprawling complex across the river mouth from downtown. The tall silvery spire of the office building Chronos had appropriated was in plain sight. As always, it was the tallest structure in the city, set a block or so from the coast. Sitting in downtown, amidst the civilian buildings, it was placed so that any large-scale combat would cause collateral damage.
Luckily there were other options.
The airport proved to be an easy take. The hovercraft came in from three different approaches and disgorged infantry onto the tarmac. A SEAL team had already disconnected hard-line communications from the facility, blunting their ability to call for help. Along with area wide jamming from the Meridian, it took about 15 minutes to secure the facility.
Sho and Sean were not involved in the airport’s taking; they instead were high above watching from a bird’s eye view.
“G-US to Omega, G-US to Omega. . . what’s our status? Over!”
Sho was rather amused to watch a Guyver fiddling with a hand held radio as they both hovered high above the city, their armors providing a nice camouflage in the lightening sky. Guyver 1 kept watched as Guyver US delicately turned up the volume on the blocky device. “Say again Omega, G and I are listening.”
“Repeating, the fox is in the hen house. Dirty birds have been scrubbed. Buzzards are on their way. Copy?“
Jason’s voice was tinny, but understandable, and Sho couldn’t help grinning. The catchphrases in the conversation were another example of idiomatic American. ‘Fox in the hen house’ meant they had the airport. The ‘dirty birds’ were the current personnel who had been captured and detained in case they were not really human, so they were ‘scrubbed’.
Guyver 1’s hyper sensor orbs shifted as he detected something new in the clear morning sky. “And here come the buzzards.” He murmured with a mixture of pride and a slightly savage glee at seeing the plan going smoothly.
“Copy that, Omega. Buzzards are in the chicken run. The coyotes are hitting the farmhouse. Over and out!”
Guyver 1 heard the crunch as Sean stopped being gentle and simply crushed the radio before tossing it away. “Boy that felt good!”
Sho laughed, “It’s not easy working with something made for human hands when you’ve got Guyver strength!” He commented as he eyed the ‘buzzards’. Radio would be useless now anyway, the Meridian would be cranking up its jamming capabilities to blanket the city. Which meant the clock was now ticking.
In they came, in a straight-line formation, four C130 Hercules cargo planes. They passed a few hundred feet above the two Guyvers, but the flight crew flashed their running lights in acknowledgement of the presence of their irregular ‘escort’. Guyver US waved, even though there was little chance anyone could see him, even if they were looking.
“Well Guyver 1, shall we go start the party?”
Sho chuckled as he bowed to his friend politely. “I believe so, Guyver US. After you!”
“Heh… Don’t mind if I do!” Guyver US flew towards the city, Guyver 1 trailing behind him. By letting Sean go first, Sho was confirming his belief that the US Guyver could handle himself, and he could feel Sean’s pleasure at the compliment.
And if there was one thing the American could give, it was a good show. Sean dropped out of the sky like a meteor, the wind whistling about him as he approached the ground. He used his gravity powers to lessen the force of his impact. But only a little…
The sudden thundering boom and the crack of overstressed concrete as he landed served notice of his arrival, a crater now in the forum right in front of the Chronos building.
“Knock knock, you Chronos bastards!” He yelled as he cupped his hands, a ball of energy that seemed to suck even light into its depths growing between his fingers. He jerked his arms forward, sending the pressure cannon spinning into the glass doors of the building. Glass shattered, steel and aluminum was blown back, an alarm began sounding somewhere within the building and Sean grinned. They’d be coming!
Guyver 1 chuckled as he watched Guyver US make his entrance, running into the smoking ruins of the atrium. Then he concentrated on his part of the plan, which was a little more delicate. He dropped to the roof, a measured slash of his vibration blade defeated the locks on the door, and he disappeared down into the building as well, hearing new alarms sound as his presence was noted.
Jason rushed to help chock the stubby tires of the fourth and final cargo plane. The whine and grumble as the tail ramp lowered to the tarmac was drowned out by the basso thrum as the huge props spun slowly to a stop. And from within the cavernous belly, the higher pitched whine of servos coming online could be heard. The plane shuddered as a clanging metallic tread stomped down the ramp. The beta gleamed in the first light of morning as the wearer put it through its final checks before walking off to join the growing number of assault armors forming into their combat groups.
As Jason strode up into the dim hold; other soldiers were clambering into their armors. Red and Blue armored plates swung into place. In the case of the Alpha armors, they then had to have technicians load the ammo pack. A large metal compartment that clipped onto the back over the hatch; it had to be removed or jettisoned before the wearer could get back out of the suit.
His new Beta didn’t have that problem. Dual ammo packs slid into the back of the ‘waist’ to either side of the pilot compartment. They were integral to the design, a notable difference to the retrofitted Alphas; which had originally been intended to be little more than armored space suits to handle extreme environments.
He climbed into the padded compartment, feeling again the slight claustrophobia of the helmet as a technician assisted him with the buckles and straps. He exhaled as the chest harness tightened, letting it snug firmly against his ribcage before inhaling to make certain it wasn’t too tight. The hissing klatch of the front plate sealing was followed by the staccato rap of a metal tool against it, his signal to start powering up.
As he stomped down out of the plane, he heard the thrumming drone of the hovercraft as they pirouetted gracefully in place, fully loaded with infantry units. He grinned and flicked on the short-wave, tuning it to the infantry com band. The crash of jamming interference met him, but underneath it he heard the sharp voice of Lieutenant “Boss” Cain through the snow.
He thumbed his unit to transmit. “Bravo Lead to Kappa Lead. Hey Boss, Good luck out there.”
“Roger Bravo Lead, We’ll see you at the party; don’t be late!”
The interference grew into complete chaos, and Jason flicked his unit back to his own band. “Alright Bravo company, sound off.”
“Alpha team, ready.”
“Beta, good to go.”
“Charlie, green light.”
“Delta to Bravo Lead. We’ve got a jammed tread on Mercy 2. Recommend you move out with Mercy 1 and we’ll join up as soon as we get this fixed. Sorry boss.”
Jason nodded quietly to himself; it was always something.
“Roger Delta, we’ll move out now. You catch up as soon as you can. You all know the drill; from this point on its radio blackout. Let’s get to it.”
The pounding tread of some 60 armored feet shook the ground as the ranks filed down the tarmac. Once outside the airport grounds, individual teams broke off from the main groups, each moving to assigned destinations by pre-assigned routes that would have them all in position for any trouble that broke out.
Jason and his core team remained with a massive treaded vehicle that had stenciled on its side, MRRCV 1. Mobile Refuel/Rearm Combat Vehicle One was a massive treaded monstrosity of engineering. The deep bellowing belch of 3 huge diesel engines carried it forward on broad tractor treads. The thickly armored vehicle housed ammunition stores and fuel for the armors. This was its trial run in a combat situation, and already one of them had malfunctioned.
Giving his men the signal to move out, Jason mentally shrugged. Shit happened… all he could hope for, was that it didn’t get any deeper.
Guyver US weaved under a slow clumsy punch from a Lisker. “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” His own hard blow to the midriff doubled the creature over, and a knee to the side of the head put it down as he danced away. “Come on, you guys are hardly a challenge anymore!”
The Lisker roared and staggered to its feet, shaking its head before lunging forward, clawed hands reaching to grapple.
“That’s the spirit!”
The door blew inward as the flying bulk of the Zoanoid slammed through it and into what looked to be a corporate office. The splintered door crashed to the ground as Guyver US kicked his way into the room in pursuit. The Lisker had hauled itself to hands and knees, blood dripping from its snarling mouth as it turned its head towards the threat.
The dull crack of its neck as the snap-kick connected was followed by the hollow, lifeless thud of the corpse to the floor. Guyver US took stock of his surroundings, the office was empty, but from the hallway he could hear the pounding of many boots. He grinned under his armor as he turned back towards the door.
The Chronos trooper that stormed into the room barely had time to register his presence before being blown in two by the pressure cannon volley that Sean aimed at him. The blast continued on through the door, blowing through the other wall. Sean heard growls and snarls in the hallway and leaped through the smoldering hole where the door had been and into his next skirmish.
Guyver 1 was faring about the same but unlike Sean he was taking more care to minimize the damage to the building as he kept physical combat to a minimum and executed most of the zoanoids he encountered with well placed head beam and sonic buster bursts. Fortunately the plan seemed to be working and most of the zoanoid forces had headed down to face off against Guyver US. So Guyver 1 faced minimal resistance as he cleared the top two floors in this manner as he descended, leaving most of the damage to the building being done by the zoanoids who burst their way through walls foolishly thinking they could get a jump on him, before he encountered a squad of Vamores. A quick exchange of laser fire and pressure cannons left sizeable holes throughout the floor, leaving a not too pleased Sho, peaking through one of the more sizeable holes, wondering how many more such encounters the building could take before its integrity were compromised.
Elsewhere an alarm notice was triggered indicating an emergency at the Boston Chronos facility, the flashing red light calling notice to itself from desk in front of a cloaked figure. A moment later the figure casually deactivated the alarm and simply said, “Interesting.”
The bone-vibrating drone of the massive turbines that powered the hovercraft gradually dropped in power to a deep hum as the craft ran aground. The scuffling of sand and gravel beneath its cushion as it came to a halt gave way to the soft whistle of the ocean breeze. Silently, with the minimum of jostling, the remaining fire teams disembarked.
“Bozeman, Rico, Lambert! 6 meter spread. Take your teams out and make sure we’re clear.” Boss Cain’s voice barked out as half the soldiers moved out. “Diaz, you’re on point.”
“Got it Boss!” Diaz and his three-man team moved out, readying their weapons.
Guyver 1 had continued his descent on his way towards the main command center, having cleared three more floors since his first encounter with resistance when suddenly his hyper sensors twitched. He was already in motion as the scarlet laser beam blew through the wall he had been passing and slammed into the armored exterior wall.
Coming lightly to his feet, Guyver 1 slipped through the gaping hole to face down the Vamore who had tried to blast him. “Well, I was wondering when another one of you would show up.” Vamore’s yellow eyes widened as he staggered back a step. “Guyver 1, Y-you can’t be here!” His shoulder pods already open now began to glow and hum as they built a charge.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Sho warned as he extended his vibration blades. “You must know you can’t really hurt me.”
“It hardly matters Guyver, my purpose was to do nothing more then confirm your presence.” The zoanoid seemed to shudder for a second as it relaxed its lasers dimming. “I must admit, I expected Agito to be the one to come looking for the US Guyver. . . Though perhaps I should have considered you being the one to show up.”
Sho’s eyes narrowed… the tone of the voice had changed, no longer as raspy as it had been, sounding more cultured… the word choice and tone familiar. He felt his hands clench into fists. “Imakirum!” He growled in sudden insight.
Vamore grinned, a truly hideous facial expression for the monstrous creature. “How perceptive Sho. I must admit I am impressed. Now… what do you hope to accomplish? Gaining these pathetic guerillas as allies? They are insects. You know that don’t you? Have you finally come around to Agito’s way of thinking? Expendable cannon fodder for your fight?”
Sho took a step forward. “No! You bastard! I’m not like you; I don’t let others fight my battles!” His voice shaking in anger at being taunted so.
“And what about me Guyver… did I not die for you? You were busy playing with your new toy while Guyot tore me apart. Have you forgotten so quickly?” Vamore spread his arms wide; Sho could almost imagine Imakirum in his place, making the same gesture. “And here we are… I have found my place. I now belong. What of you Sho? Where do you fit?”
The silence between them lengthened, broken only by the hissing breath of the zoanoid. Finally Sho shook his head. “I’m not going to play that game.” He answered quietly. “That’s what you’re doing… isn’t it. Delaying me here… now why would you be doing that?” He turned towards the door. “I must be pretty close to the control room… and you must not have immediate access to the destruct sequence.” He paused at the door, his back to the Vamore. “Am I right, Imakirum?”
The warbling hum of the Vamore’s bio-lasers powering up was the only reply. “Thought so,” Sho mused as he pivoted, hand snapping up. The pressure cannon blasting out from his palm reduced the Zoanoid into a steaming pile of remains. “Nice try though, old friend. But I’ve changed as well.” He murmured almost gently before dashing out the door and down the empty hall.
More zoanoids exited a lift at the far end of the corridor. Sho barely spared them a glance. Poorly trained, poorly made… they counted on their inhuman strength, but they were no match for his, and rather than waste time fighting them, he brought his blades back into play. Blood spattered the walls as dying screams reverberated through the empty corridors, descending to silence, save for the soft, almost cheerful chime of the elevator as it carried it’s silent occupant further into the bowels of the complex.
A horde of zoanoids could be seen rushing through the streets towards Jason’s position. He appeared to be a lone Blue Armor as he readied his mini-gun towards the oncoming zoanoids, emerald targeting lasers locking on to the one in the lead.
“Just a little bit closer,” Jason whispered to himself as he carefully eyed his proximity sensors HUD readout. A moment later Jason flicked a switch and a flare was fired from his Armor an instant before he activated his mini-gun and started to mow down the snarling and snapping horde of zoanoids before him, while simultaneously two other armors hover jetted to his side and added their fire to the mix. Another trio of armors came up behind the horde and boxed them in as two squads of Boomers started firing from their positions on top of the buildings on either side of the street and sprayed their deadly crossfire into the horde of zoanoids from above.
Within seconds it was over and they marked another sector clear of zoanoids as other Boomer squads scouted ahead for any other concentrations of zoanoid activity.
Jason smiled, at this rate they’d be done before an hour had passed. But just then a few warning lights started to flash as his HUD display showed he was starting to run low on ammo. <Hmm, better check in and reload before continuing.> Jason thought before he activated his armor’s laser communicator to the other five armors, “Bravo Team, fall back to Mercy 2 and reload, Bravo 2 and 4 take our six, Bravo Lead out.” Jason said over the line of site laser comm. before directing his own armor back to the MRRCV. Jason thought before the roar of his hover jets kicked in and his armor started to accelerate.
Meanwhile Team Kappa was progressing on schedule as they scouted through the city, preparing to secure the area around the Chronos building to clear the way for its take over by the ACTF as soon as the Guyvers finished their sweep of the building. Corporal Jeff Morgan had been a bit skeptical, even after Boss Cain had fully briefed him on the capabilities of his equipment but all doubt quickly vanished after his first skirmish with a zoanoid. The Boomers may be no replacement for full powered armors but in a group as a highly coordinated squad it proved to be very effective.
The limited leg and back muscle enhancement powered by a rechargeable highly efficient methanol fuel cell power pack built into the backpack allowed them to carry up to an extra 70 pounds of equipment, allowing each of them to move with ease even while loaded to bear. While throughout the armor there’s a liquid reservoir providing both drinking water on the go and natural heat regulator that helps mask a soldier’s body heat so they would not be so easily detectable by zoanoids with infrared vision. Additionally noise cancellation technology is employed to mask the soldier’s heartbeat and respiration, along with soft sole boots to reduce a soldier’s noise signature as much as possible.
So much of the Boomers design was dedicated to stealth that Jeff couldn’t for the life of him figure out why they were called Boomers but Boss Cain had assured him he’d figure that out quickly once they saw them in action.
The loud report of the RPG as it took out a lone Zoanoid followed by other similar booms as other zoanoids were taken out in various positions almost simultaneously quickly explained the reason they were called boomers.
Jeff couldn’t help but grin as everything snapped in place and he stealthily moved on to find his next target. As long as they avoided detection the boom would be all the zoanoid ever heard. But even if they were detected, they made sure to stay close enough together to quickly take out any zoanoid with their combined firepower. It looks like he was definitely going to enjoy this detail much more than he had predicted. . .
Elsewhere in the City
Crouched on a rooftop, Asu watched the convoy approach. The huge mobile refueling platform rumbled and ground it’s way along, leaving deep grooves in the asphalt as it advanced, flanked by its squads of protectors.
The asian’s eyes narrowed as he studied the armored suits below him. They looked like something out of a Manga, and a clumsy attempt at that. But he had been briefed on the capabilities of the red models already encountered, surprisingly, a human in such a suit could contend with a basic zoanoid toe to toe. And the armament gave them enough range to make a melee unnecessary. Their effectiveness was impressive.
Interspersed amongst the red armors were those of a new design. Here and there were blue mecha that gave a more clean, humanoid look. They looked dangerous, and capable, and moved with more grace then their smaller red brethren. Asu couldn’t help but grin in anticipation. He lived for challenges, the bigger the better, and he always won. With a chuckle he settled back, waiting until the signal was given, a feral and very unpleasant grin on his face.
Finally the big machine passed the invisible line that had been set as the point of no return, and from the tops of the two building on opposite sides of the street, two hulking forms leapt into the air, out into the expanse directly over the convoy, twin roars of challenge as the pale white shapes plummeted towards the sudden chaos below them.
The marines responded quickly, the fire teams scattering to make more difficult targets, here and there the flash and rapid whine of automatic weapons fire lit the buildings as heavy armor piercing shells lanced skyward.
Asu growled as a round slammed hard into his chest, leaving a dent in the dense armor that covered him. He spotted the armor that had drawn a bead on him and roared his challenge, landing with a concrete shattering impact, he was already on the move, sprinting faster than something of his bulk had any right to be capable of as he brought his heavily spiked forearm around in a full roundhouse. He made sure his arm was not in position to penetrate, instead landing a crushing blow against the armor’s midriff.
The force of the blow lifted the marine off his feet and knocked him backward through a storefront window. The shattering of the glass lost in the drowning drone of multiple weapons firing nonstop. Asu leapt, carrying himself high into the air as AP rounds chewed up the pavement where he had been standing. The Danaplus hyperzoanoid was designed to combat Guyvers. Heavily armored, massively built, yet with enough agility to match the speed of its main prey.
Against the armors, his attributes and those of his twin were devastating. He shoulder checked one armor, feeling his heavy spines penetrate the thick armor. Warm blood ran down his shoulder from the gaping wound as he tore the dying soldier free and hurled him at a comrade, the heavy armor knocking the other to the ground. He then quickly followed with his spiked fist driving through the fishbowl faceplate in a meaty crunch. Withdrawing his bloodied fist, he drove it in again at the chest, blow after blow following as he pulverized armor, shattered bone and shredded flesh.
Asu found himself laughing as he reveled in the carnage, his body responding instinctively, brutally to any threat. He so lost himself in the blood haze, that when a blue armor shod fist decked him, he was stunned. The armor was battered, bloody, but already had its minigun facing the threat and spinning up, emerald lasers targeted the zoanoid as the armor unleashed the full barrage his weapon was capable of.
Asu had a moment to regain his feet and present a massive shoulder to the sudden intense onslaught. He howled in pain as the heavier fire of the weapon tore into his armor, shredding it and snapping off spines with equal facility. The Danaplus couldn’t dodge, curled around to protect his more vulnerable torso, a bullet slammed into his thigh, almost taking his leg out from under him, tearing into the thick armor and through the thick slab of muscle as he strove to weather the barrage.
Blood ran down his side from the gaping wounds that pocked his humped shoulder plate. Blood pulsed sluggishly from his leg as the rapid thrum of weapons fire dropped to the high pitched whine of an electric barrel rotating with no more ammo to expend. Asu grunted through the pain and then began to chuckle, out of bullets.
The sounds of gunfire were dwindling, the ground littered with armored bodies as Asu glanced around, seeing his partner tearing the armored door off the massive vehicle, the high pitched reports of small arms fire from within made him chuckle… the screams made him cackle with manic joy through the throbbing ache of his wounds.
The clatter of the mini-gun dropping to the ground caught his attention, the armor before him standing erect, and no longer in combat stance as he plucked something from his side, a metallic cylinder sized for his metal shod fingers.
The armor’s thumb pressed down on the activation stud just as Asu’s hand closed over it and squeezed. The shriek of tortured metal was beautiful as he crushed the hand around the device, preventing the stud from being released. With a wrenching jerk he tore the hand from the armor and tossed it and it’s contents away, his other hand slammed up into the head of the blue armor, crushing it down into the torso of the suit, the gurgling from within disappointed him… he should have given him time to scream at least.
As the Danaplus proceeded to cave the armored chest in, cackling once more with glee, the hand he had tossed away had rolled beneath the front end of the now impotent Mercy 2. The refueling vehicle had taken damage, a stray bullet had nicked one of the diesel fuel tanks, spilling flammable diesel down one of the treads to pool on the ground.
As the hand rolled to a stop beside the rapidly expanding pool of gas, some final partial signal from the shredded control circuits caused the ruined hand to go slack. A soft, triple tone chirp of warning followed the click of the stud snapping back out as the device went active. This went unnoticed by the two zoanoids who were gleefully absorbed in their tasks. The next noise the device made was much much more noticeable.
Hydrogen fuel, pressurized, super cool liquid hydrogen fuel. That is what the huge triple walled insulated tanks of the MRRCV held. When the grenade detonated with a powerful but hollow sounding crump the first thing it did was nearly blow the treads off the vehicle. In the process the diesel spill caught fire.
The second effect was to drive a splintered shard of the underbelly armor up into the main storage tank with crushing force. The belly armor had not been designed to take such a point blank explosion, and it shredded. The internal members that ribbed the tanks had not been designed to handle such an impact either. They were twisted and bent aside. The torn fragments dented the heavy metal of the internal tank, and in one place, pierced it.
The explosion had surprised the two zoanoids, jolting them from reveling in their slaughter. Asu watched as a pale blue, almost invisible plume of fire jetted out from the undercarriage of the damaged vehicle, engulfing his partner.
The other zoanoid roared in shock and pain. While not as vulnerable to fire as a human would be, he was far from fireproof. He staggered clear of the flames smoking, one clawed hand clutching at the side of his scalded face.
The eerie blue fire intensified, the metal around the rupture heating from the assault, groaning as the internal pressure stressed it further before finally cracking under the strain. A long ribbon of flammable fuel erupted from the gaping tear. And with an earthshaking detonation, Mercy 2 spontaneously transformed herself into a brilliant bloom of expanding blue fire and shrapnel.
The corridor was silent and empty when Guyver US made his entrance, an expanse of floor blowing upwards in a shower of broken masonry and dust. When Sean’s armored feet crunched across the resulting debris, the corridor now resembled the floor below it, and the floor below that. The lights shattered or flickering wildly, one or two hanging lose and swinging crazily.
With a sudden nudge from his senses, he located Sho in the next room and sprinted to a thick armored door, drawing his fist back to ‘knock’ just as the door hummed open smoothly, revealing Guyver 1 standing over the corpses of the command staff, holding a section of torn out console that could only be the building’s self-destruct.
“Well Guyver US… I hope you left enough of the lower floors intact that the building doesn’t fall over.”
Sean panted, glaring at his erstwhile partner. “Hey, I was the decoy remember?”
Sho laughed, tossing the mangled components to Guyver US. “So you were, well, lets get out of here and help the…”
Both Guyvers tensed as they suddenly sensed the coming shockwave even as the hallway lit up with an unearthly blue light, and a moment later the floor beneath them shuddered with the shockwave of a massive explosion.
Guyvers One and US sprinted out of the room and down the hall towards a bank of exterior windows, the latter tossing the shattered destruct panel aside.
“Oh no.” Sho gasped.
“Shit.” Was Sean’s reply.
And the windows before them shattered as two armored figures took to flight towards the rapidly fading fireball and the rising, billowing column of smoke and dust that marked the final resting place of Mercy 2.
What they found when they arrived was carnage. Barely mindful of the roaring flames, Sho dove into the inferno that surrounded the wrecked hulk of the refueling vessel and began searching for survivors. Sean a step behind him, amazed at how little the heat affected him.
“Sho, I didn’t know we were fire proof.”
Guyver One grunted as he lifted a massive plinth of shattered girder off of the crushed remains of an armored trooper. “It takes a lot of heat to harm us, like Zerebubuth lasers. The Vamore model I fought in the headquarters can barely scratch us with theirs. At least for short term, we’ll be unharmed here.” He sighed softly, “Unlike these people.” He finished quietly.
Both of them made a sweep of the area before admitting defeat. No one had survived. But the evidence that Sho did find only fueled his impotent rage. From the crushed and mangled corpses, the dents and marks on the armors, and the massive foot prints, this was caused by zoanoids.
“Sean, we’ve got a problem.. to do this kind of damage, especially against these soldiers, there’d have to be a few hyper-zoanoids around here Doesn’t look like Zerebubuth…” He murmured to himself, examining one of the crushed imprints in the pavement. “I’m not familiar with this one… but.” He followed the shallow dig marks away from the wreckage, where it joined a second, both moving out of the area, one at least trailing blood.
“We have to find them, and wherever they’re heading for… before they set up another ambush like this!”
Asu growled as he staggered down the crumbling, unlit hallway, half carrying his partner. The other zoanoid was naked, having reverted to human form. Both were bleeding from at least a half dozen wounds, his own shoulder bleeding freely, but the other had been damaged worse, half of his face blackened and charred, he might even have lost the eye.
Such was life. Grunting he all but threw the other zoanoid forward the final few steps to their destination, pushing open the door as they staggered into the makeshift command center, harsh halogen lighting bathed the area as a technician ran up to check their status as coldly as if he was a mechanic. Not that either of them noticed as they received basic first aid and injections of stabilizers. Not that they even cared.
Asu felt the harsh drugs enter his bloodstream, revving up his metabolism as a pack of liquid nourishment was slapped into his clawed hand, tearing open the package, he poured the bitter, acidic contents down his almost insectoid maw. His body burning through the nutrients painfully as it cannibalized parts of his unique physical structure to repair the damage done to him. He stood there, teeth gritted against the searing pain as his heart hammered in his chest, his wounds bleeding freely for a few moments longer, before they slowed to a sluggish dripping, and then finally stopped. Healing could only be accelerated so much, the technician informed him needlessly. His next foray against the enemy would have to be shortened, and he would be going alone.
He glanced down at the seizing body of his onetime partner. His body had been too weakened to accept the stabilizer. Even as he watched, the seizures grew worse, a horrible rattling gasp escaping his foaming mouth, before he went slack. A moment later, and the corpse began to dissolve away as Asu watched impassively, already adjusting his prepared tactics to operating solo. A brief, incongruous thought impinged on his concentration as he wondered as to the corpse’s name. He pushed the thought away. The other had died a Danaplus. No other name was important . . .
The Boston Insulated Wire and Cable Company… So the faded, peeling sign over the gate read. Sho felt a small part of his attention ponder that name, but his attention to it was fleeting as he turned it back to the task at hand.
The factory was a wreck… A massive monstrosity of brick, iron and slate. Parts of it had burned down, leaving the interior open and naked to the elements like raw wounds. The silence of decades hung about it; a relic of a bygone era, waiting for its final dismantling.
The mechanism of its ultimate fate was very much in evidence, scattered about the building were cranes, bulldozers, and other heavy machinery. This building had been slated for demolition before X-day had given it a tenuous reprieve. When Chronos took over, large corporations were assimilated, smaller agencies and businesses ceased to exist. Starved for profits in a sudden, wartime economy, or going underground if their business might draw too much scrutiny from the new Overlords.
Whether the company who had inaugurated this demolition effort was the former, or the latter, was irrelevant. The fact was, they were gone, leaving equipment moldering in the elements, and no one had taken notice of the factory since.
Now however, it seemed someone had.
The door that Sho approached, was not the main entrance, it was not even one of the sub-entrances to the three-story building. Sho waved Sean to a halt as he peered in through the shattered door of the loading dock. He couldn’t see anything, but something about this place was making him very nervous.
“Sean, does this place feel wrong to you?”
Guyver US crept up beside him, crouching next to a crumbling section of masonry. “Now that you mention it, yeah. This place just feels creepy, I don’t know why.” He straightened, still staying as inconspicuous as possible to anything watching them from inside. “What’s the plan?”
Guyver 1 sighed shortly, the sound nasal and metallic through his unit. “We have to find out why they are here. If this is cover for a backup base we need to take it out before they can rally for a counter attack.” Sho felt himself slipping into a role he had never been comfortable with. “We go in as a pair, no joking around, alright? Watch each other’s backs, and no risks.”
Sean simply nodded, his usual humor subdued by the strange unease of this place. He remembered all the horror movies he had watched about houses haunted by the spirits of the dead and cursed his memory for dredging those up right now. The LAST thing he needed was to start imagining ghosts in here. “You got it, Sho. You lead, I’ll follow.”
The two Guyvers slipped silently into the gutted remains of a storage warehouse that abutted the main factory. Its roof had collapsed long ago, leaving the bright morning sunlight to create a crisscross of shadows over the debris-strewn floor. Their footsteps scuffling over gravel, shattered slate, and wooden support members that had long ago given up on supporting anything.
They made there way to the inner door, which despite their efforts wouldn’t budge to normal strength means of opening. Finally, to save time at the cost of silence, Sho kicked it open, the splintering crack as the door not only gave way, but busted right off it’s hinges was followed by the hollow clatter of the various pieces against the concrete floor. A moment later, and the two Guyvers had disappeared into the shadows of the main factory.
It was dark inside, that in and of itself was not so startling. Sho had been in the dark before, but never had it seemed to wrap around him so thickly. He could literally hear the pounding of his heart. The scuffling of footsteps behind him spoke of Sean, following him down the long corridor they found themselves in. Here and there a hazy shaft of sunlight pierced a broken window, or a cracked wall, but these did little to penetrate the blackness in between them.
Approaching a closed doorway, Sho tried to sense what was on the other side, and got nothing. Not an empty room, or a stairwell, or a room full of Oni ready to rend him limb from limb, he squelched that thought mercilessly, and he got… nothing. Sho narrowed his eyes, giving his head a shake. Then he took a sharp breath as something dawned on him. He ignored what his eyes saw, what his ears heard… he concentrated instead on those senses the Guyver imparted… its own hyper senses.
The rational world flowed away from his consciousness in its place a new perception presented itself. Wood, brick and mortar became transparent; it was as if the world around him faded to nothing but air, at least for a meter or so. In a realization that sent a cold trickle of fear down his spine, he realized that his hypers enses faded into blackness barely three paces from where he stood.
A sense behind him, entering his sphere of perception was resolved in his mind into a presence, that of Guyver US. “Sean, we may be in trouble. What are you getting from your senses… can you see beyond this wall?”
Sean stepped up beside him, and he could almost imagine the American narrowing his eyes in the same way, trying the same experiment he had just tried. Then Guyver US jerked. “Uhhhh… Sho… I can’t see shit!” The sudden tremor in Sean’s voice matched the leaden lump of ice that settled into his own belly.
Sho gritted his teeth and let out a sharp breath to calm himself, “Alright, the obvious answer is that Chronos has something here that’s scrambling our hyper senses. That’s bad, but we know what’s happening now, and can adapt… we just have to be careful.”
He really, really, wished he was as confident as he hoped that sounded. But they had a job to do, and people’s lives were riding on it. He tried the knob and it turned with a squeak, letting the door push open. He could have done without the long slow creak the door let loose as it swung back to the wall.
The room beyond was pitch black, and every instinct he had told him he really didn’t want to go in there. Ignoring it, he plunged into the inky blackness and crept slowly beyond. Sean following a step behind him, muttering softly to himself with a long string of words almost too soft to hear, but even in the darkness, the monologue made Sho grin.
Sean continued to curse a rather impressive array of things, starting with the moron who had been mugged by a flashlight and wanted nothing to do with lights in here, and then began describing some colorful, athletically difficult, and physically impossible things he was going to do to the zoanoids who made him come in here.
Together they cleared the room, and crept to the next, and the next, finding offices, storerooms and even a lavatory… All in shambles, all old and forgotten. The creak of floorboards and the settling of dust the only sounds that accompanied them. Finally they reached the end of the hall, and the last door, a heavy duty steel door that must lead out into the factory.
“Hey Sho, I’m getting sick of all this cloak and dagger stuff, and don’t want to be in here all day… can we do this one my way?” Guyver US crouched next to Guyver 1, who shrugged. “We need to hurry, so go ahead.”
Guyver 1 came to a secondary combat position back away from the door and Sean grinned. “Alright! Time to do some damage!” The impact of his kick tore the door from its track with a twisted shriek of rending metal, the hollow boom as the door crashed to the ground with Sean on top of it echoed alarmingly through the vast open space they found themselves in.
“Awwww hell.” Sean groaned. And as Sho slipped forward to join him, he had to agree. The factory was huge; three stories tall and packed with the remains of the machinery that had once earned its keep here.
“We can’t search this all! It’ll take weeks!” Sean stepped off the torn remnants of the door. “We’re gonna have to split up Sho, if we expect to do this quickly.” Guyver 1 shook his head. “That’s not a good idea Sean, we’re more tempting targets singly.”
“Look, we still have our telepathy, the chances of them being able to beat us both down at the same time is slim. One of us gets in trouble; we yell for help, the other can be there in seconds.” Sean shrugged. “You’re call man, but this is our best chance of shutting them down fast.”
Sho sighed, nodding reluctantly. “You find anything, you see anything… you even feel something looking at you, and you call me… Alright? It’s only a victory if we get out of here in one piece.”
Guyver US nodded. “You’ve got it, let’s get this done and go home.” Without a further word he stepped to the edge of the concrete platform he stood on, and dropped out of sight. < Keep in touch; I’ll check below, you check above?>
Sho sighed and headed for a service ladder he could see heading up, the feel of Guyver US vanished as they moved apart, and he was alone. < Alright, be careful.> Ignoring his misgivings about this course of action, he focused on the area above him, working to identify the alien shapes of the machinery as he crept up onto one of the many catwalks that spanned the building.
From his higher vantage point, he spied a few things he couldn’t see from below. < Sean, I see lights; some off to the right, another set down at the other end of the building. You make your way to the nearer set, I’ll check the ones down the other end.>
< Gotcha, I can see the light, I’ll make my way there.>
Sho ghosted silently down the catwalk, heading for the distant glow at the other end of the huge chamber. The catwalk ended in a twisted mass of metal about halfway through the immense space. Guyver 1 barely slowed, lifting himself free of the catwalk as he sailed across the empty space. The slight hum of his gravity orb fading as he dropped back onto the other side of the expanse.
It gave a little under his weight and he staggered, stumbling forward as the catwalk creaked alarmingly under his weight. Silently he cursed himself; he was used to trusting his hyper senses too much. The anchors stretched a little, the catwalk wobbling side to side as he clutched at the railing. Regaining his footing, he waited for the swaying to calm before cautiously making his way forward.
< Sho, this looks like an office, or internal warehouse… I can see movement…>
Guyver 1 turned to look back at the now distant glow. < Just wait then, let me check this one out, and we’ll decide what out next move is. >
< Gotcha… don’t be long. >
< Count on it. >
Sho increased his pace, wincing as the catwalk rattled beneath him. He sprinted down the rest of the length, bringing himself out over an open area of the factory floor. Halogen lights had been set up in a haphazard fashion, showing a variety of equipment. Three troop transports of the kind Chronos favored. Various equipment racks, a fuel tanker truck, and rack upon rack of weaponry.
< No-one seems to be down here, but they have stashed their transportation here. >
He focused on one of the Transports, his head crystal glowing, before an emerald laser bolt lashed out to rake the side of the vehicle. The tires promptly blew, the transport sagging to the side like a wounded animal as the energy beam melted rubber and steel, a moment later the transport was ruined to Sho’s satisfaction and he turned to the second.
< Sho, I think you better get back here… something’s going on…>
Sho could hear roars echoing through the warehouse. Whatever was going on, the Zoanoids weren’t happy about it. < Just another minute, let me finish off their vehicles. >
The second transport shuddered as it joined the first smoking heap. He snapped his right arm up, a mass of blackness gathering in his palm. He hurled it at the third vehicle, already whirling back the way he had come as screaming metal and the hollow crump of the transport being blown nearly in half echoed around him.
< Sean, what’s happ… > “Nnnngh!” Sho grunted in pain as an incoherent shriek echoed in his head. He staggered a step under the incredible telepathic scream before it seemed to ebb, still a distracting cacophony in his head, but bearable, through it he could make out Sean’s mental shout.
< Sho! My god, something’s ……… The zoanoids are de…… all of them.. Dead! >
The physic scream suddenly rose in volume, drowning out the rest of Sean’s response.
< I’m on my way Sean! > Sho ‘shouted’ back into the gale shrieking in his head as he took three more steps before a blur of movement in his peripheral vision was followed by a full scale scream of warning from his hyper senses, too late for him to react in the instant he had before a crushing blow slammed into him from the side. The impact drove him back into the railing, the sudden snapping of the retaining cables followed by the sensation of freefall.
The feel of whatever had hit him slamming him down along with the falling catwalk into the mass of machinery beneath him, a sudden impact from behind as he slammed into the steel supports of a massive crucible… Weight and crushing pain following him into the darkness, along with the eerie sirens’ wail in his head.
Sean had managed to creep up against one of the walls to the squat structure on the factory floor. It was oblong, with a few screened and shuttered windows but only one door on the side he was facing. His conversation with Sho was short, and he caught a brief image of a trio of trucks. The echoing sounds of explosions made him grin as he imaged the havoc Guyver 1 was wreaking.
A moment later, a deep-throated bellow from inside told him the zoanoids were aware of what was happening. He slid along the wall towards the door. If he was lucky, he might be able to pick them off as they came out. He informed Sho of the activity and made his way along the wall.
He was almost there when the whole building seemed to shake, massive crashing sounds from within. ‘Damn! They must be trashing the place!’ He slipped up next to the door, extending a vibration blade as he crouched to wait. It made sense that they would trash their equipment rather then leave it for the ACTF. He winced at another massive crash from inside, along with roars that sounded close to screams.
And he realized with a start… that’s exactly what they were.
Silence. . . Suddenly, all the noise ceased. Nothing, not a growl, not a footstep… and he felt a cold chill down his spine. Slowly he slid up the wall to stand beside the door, right arm crossed high over his chest, blade poised for a slash. He was just about to move to break the door, when the wall behind him shuddered and cracked. A bestial scream rent the air and a 6” piece of pipe burst out of the wall over his left shoulder.
Letting out a surprised yelp, he dodged back from the wall, whirling to face it. But nothing burst through after him. The light from within was noticeably dimmer through the windows, and moved oddly back and forth, one half lit, the other dark, and then it reversed. His attention focused on a new sound…
Tap. Tap. Tap.
A growing stain on the ground below the wall led his gaze to the metal pipe, to the dark fluid dripping from it.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Each drop splattering in the growing pool on the concrete floor, and suddenly the dark seemed to close in about him, choking him. He launched himself at the door to the building, shattering it from its hinges, throwing it into the room in pieces. He recoiled from what he saw within.
Blood spattered the walls, ran on the floor amidst steaming shapes. The single still functional ceiling light swayed back and forth crazily over the carnage, casting moving shadows throughout the room. A still functional computer screen displayed nothing but a strobing array of static through the blood that spattered it. He turned to the wall beside the door. A massive grey armored zoanoid was pinned to the wall, his chest caved in like an eggshell; a 5’ piece of rusted pipe jutting from his abdomen. His eyes open but unseeing, face rigid in death. A death so sudden that only now did its body start to evaporate and Sean felt a tiny portion of his mind wrestling with how something so alien, could look so terrified when it died.
Guyver US staggered back outside, head wringing as he tried to form his thoughts to Sho.
< Sho! My God, something’s in here with us! The zoanoids are dead! A-all of them are dead! >
He shook his head, realizing the wringing was not natural, and his hands rising to clutch at his temples as he grunted under the painful intensity of it.
< …Sean! >
He barely heard the faint cry through the waves of masking sound. Then a massive crash shook the floor beneath him.
There was no response.
< SHO! >
He launched himself into the air, twisting to bring himself around to land on the metal roof of the building, balancing on the slanting surface as he looked towards the motor pool Sho had destroyed. A cloud of dust and a mass of torn girders and metal was settling halfway there.
< Jesus! Sho! Can you hear me?! >
He lifted himself into the air again, and a tingling at the back of his skull made him hurl himself sideways, just as a blast of air passed through the place he had just occupied. The roof gouging in as a long furrow opened in it, before the blast impacted with the floor, blowing a crater in the concrete.
He dropped quickly to the ground, keeping to the shadows, as out of plain sight as possible. His breathing ragged as he tried to figure out what had just shot at him. It looked like a pressure cannon… but Sho wouldn’t be shooting at him.
Over the strange cacophony in his head, a rising cackling sound, like a giant cicada filled the darkness around him. The sound echoed around him, making it hard to determine its direction.
He felt a sudden jolt of awareness and threw himself to the ground, just as a second blast blew into the wall behind him, blowing through it and letting in a column of sunlight that turned the clouds of dust within into a brilliant haze.
This time Sean had seen what direction the blast had come from, and even as he rolled to his feet, he slung his right hand forward, lobbing a quick shot back before dodging to the side, through a narrow alcove around the side of the building. He heard the pressure cannon slam into a bank of rusting girders, blowing through them and collapsing a section of scaffolding. Using the noise for cover, he took off towards the last place he knew Sho was. They HAD to get out of here.
He took another few steps before the wall in front of him exploded in a cloud of dust and debris, the shockwave from the blast blowing him backwards off his feet. He rolled and came up running… but away from the direction he had taken… Leaping up into the scaffolding and girders, another blast crumpling the steelwork behind him. He whirled in the air, launching a shot in return, his stifled hyper senses not warning him of the beam that slammed into his hip, spinning him around and dumping him to the floor.
Even as he rolled to his feet, a dark shape detached itself from the shadows and closed with him, as it approached, it was like a huge mass of shadow wrapped around his hyper senses, strangling the tiny bubble of sense he had left into nonexistence.
He lunged forward, taking it low, like a football tackle. The move must have surprised his assailant, because it staggered back under the assault… but just staggered. A moment later and a hammer blow fell hard against Sean’s back, and he felt his knees buckle.
Grunting in pain, he rolled away from his attacker, scything his legs through the space the shadow figure had occupied. Cursing as he didn’t connect. A kick connected with his ribs and he felt himself lifted off the ground by it as it drove the air from his lungs. He lashed out, vibration blade whining through the air even as he flew backwards from the force of the kick.
His attacker dodged back, and Sean managed to turn the bruising impact with the floor into a roll that brought him to his feet in a crouch, blade interposed between him and his foe as he drew in a croaking breath from the kick. The shadow just stood there, almost imperceptible in the darkness. And a moment later, a glint of cold white light shone out from its forehead. A sight that made Sean go cold as his own control medal flared in answer.
The shadow moved, and he lunged to meet it. His blade arcing in, to deflect off another, the scream of the blades meeting followed by a blow to his chest that knocked him backwards into a support, the steel denting from the impact as he rebounded off it, rolling away from his attacker, sprinting into the darkness as that harsh cicada-esc cackle filled the air around him.
Sho strained, putting his whole body behind the effort. The beam he was pushing against shuddered, and moved a few inches. It wasn’t easy, he mused, in the minor part of his brain he let consider such things right now, to shift weight with one of your arms pinned behind you and your feet unable to touch the floor. He relaxed, letting himself rest a moment, to deal with the pain of the dislocation.
Endure now… heal later. He shifted his free arm, gauging the distance… and then twisted. Growling in pain as his shoulder was ground against the side of the tank he was pinned against. His free blade whined as he extended it to slash through the girder and a chunk of stone behind it. The mass crumbled to the side, the weight against him shifting and lessening just a little, one of his feet gaining a precarious toehold against a slab of stone.
He heard the sounds of battle and gritting his teeth. He had to get loose. Whatever was attacking Sean had hurled a huge chunk of machinery like it was a beach ball. The sort of strength that could do that was difficult to comprehend. He strained, lifting himself off the injured arm with difficulty, his foot slipping against the edge of the slab it pushed against, he went limp again, his throbbing arm lying against his side. A moment later he felt his muscles seize painfully pulling taut as if they were cramping, and with a wet pop, his arm returned to its socket.
Grimly, he twisted, bringing his arm up to join the other as he pushed against the rubble that encased him, the pile shuddering and groaning as he braced himself against the tank and pushed, ignoring the flame of pain in his shoulder, ignoring the crashes of the fight raging beyond him in the darkness… Concentrating only on attaining his freedom.
A blast of shattering stone and masonry blew into the yard outside of the factory, out from beneath it stumbled the form of Guyver US. His breaths coming in painful gasps as he turned to face the crumbling wall he had just been knocked through. This thing was unbelievably powerful. The sun was high in the sky now, illuminating the whole courtyard. At least he was able to get out of the dark.
He had been on the receiving end of punishment is every engagement with this thing, no matter how he tried to block or what attack he used, his opponent had always been able to counter, and counter hard.
He caught movement from the shadows and braced himself as his opponent burst into the open in a cloud of debris. He had the briefest glimpse of red, the color of blood, before a flash of light made him instinctively parry, the scream of the swords meeting was followed by his being knocked back by the force of the blow.
And he finally got a good look at his opponent. “Holy shit…”
Lifting itself to tower over him, massively built, it was incredibly tall. Humanoid, if you could call something with two sets of arms humanoid. And as he took in the finer details of its construction… his first dread crystallized into certainty. Upon its massive misshapen forehead, a large silvery control medal glowed softly.
The impossible creature cackled again, that alien, insectoid noise it had made before. But now it just stood before him, as if giving him time to take its measure.
“What the hell are you?” He growled, remaining poised for any attack the creature might make.
< Ensir^oe*ditidmfio-What-the-hell-are-you-it-does-not-know-has-not-seen/encountered-unit/shape/form-S^harwae*ntodir-before-DEATH-its-thoughtforms-crude/unevolved-it-poses-Its^acondra^mori-little-threat/harm-yet-it-HARM-is-enhanced-it-must-know-its-ITS-purpose-Deathdeathdeath-PURPOSES-death-sha*rwal^sitconda-shiera >
Sean gasped and growled at the words screamed inside his head. Overlaying the unrelenting din of the alien shrieks he now realized were emanating from this thing before him. The words were understandable… barely, and seemed wrapped in an additional layer of distortion, the sounds and words seeming strung together, no clearly defined breaks… and there were bits and pieces of nonsense mixed with it.
All in all, it did not sound in the least interested in being friendly. And another uncomfortable thought surfaced.
“You’re not from Chronos are you? Who sent you?! What are you?!”
The creature rose to it’s full menacing height, both upper arms sprouting vibration blades.
< Gr^akken-unit-was-traced-unit-shall-be-death-Asjhal^siconda*-Traced-in-mountains-in-structure-death-death-battle-destroy-DESTROY-As^hundito*mordu >
This time, the words were clearer, not as garbled and he found himself getting more then words. He saw darkness, starlit darkness, then the earth, hanging like a blue and white ball in the expanse of starry sky, flaming light, blazing all around, mountains, forest, a cabin… Cori’s Cabin!
“No! What have you DONE!?”
The images came faster now, flames lighting the cabin through the shattered wall, he heard weapons fire, wood splintering. “GO! GET OUT!” That was Jake! The screams that followed made him shake. He had a glimpse of a Armored trooper, a brief moment of hope bloomed as the vision tinted red with pain, the fire around him, the cabin coming down atop him.
Get away…. Please… please dear God… let her have gotten away… He prayed against the cold dread in his chest, turning his guts to ice.
The armor downed. Cori… oh God… CORI! Firing into the monsters face… her final scream tore into his mind… her face blotted out in the white blaze of the megasmasher.
He found himself on his knees, clutching at his head. And over it all a inhuman insectile cackling like alien laughter.
His scream cut through that horrible cicada cackling as he launched himself at the monster before him. He had a blurred impression of it setting itself for his charge, but he didn’t care. He launched himself at it, taking the creature around the waist, avoiding it’s down swinging punch as he drove it backwards, staggering under the force of his charge.
His legs came off the ground as it reared back to full height, and he lashed out at the massive knee of its right leg. Connecting solidly he felt the joint give, the giant stumbling as the leg gave way. The feel was wrong though, not the popping or cracking of bone, oddly spongy. He didn’t care.
Snarling in his rage, he dodged the hasty counterpunch and leapt back out of reach. The ‘Grakken’ was staggering, it’s right leg bent oddly as it brought its lower arms up, two crystals on the back of the hands glowing. Sean leapt away from the withering blasts of laser fire that were suddenly sweeping the place he had been standing. He watched in disbelief as the alien’s leg pulled itself back upright, shifting almost liquidly back to the proper direction.
Sean launched himself forward again, rotating to his left as he slashed at the monster. “You KILLED Her!” Their blades met again with a scream as his feet touched down, this time however, he was ready for the side slash from the other blade, jumping straight up, one hand batting the arm aside as he whirled, bring the other blade around to score a slash against the giant’s shoulder releasing a gout of pale milky blood, before being knocked away.
He skidded to a stop and launched himself back, the pain, and the fight seeming so unreal. “I’ll take you apart a piece at a time you son of a bitch!” He snarled, lashing out with his fist at the monster’s face. The meaty smack as his fist slammed into the alien’s palm seemed very real, as did the crushing pain as those armored fingers closed over his hand.
The Grakken jerked him off the ground, even as he clawed at the hand that grasped him. A hard blow against his chest knocked him sideways; a second crushing blow caught him on the side of the head, knocking him back and to the ground. He felt the monster loom over him blocking out the sun and lashed out with his left blade blindly, slashing the air between them to drive it back. A numbing shock as their blades met and his arm was knocked back, and then an explosion of blinding pain as the alien’s other blade bit into his arm just above the elbow.
He realized he was screaming as blood fountained from the wound. He tried to pull the arm back his other raising to guard him, his vision blurring as he staggered back. And found himself clutching the ragged stump where his arm had been, blood running between his fingers as he saw his arm laying on the bloodied ground between them.
A sudden movement and a numbing blow against his midriff lifted him into the air; he struggled to recover, unable to stop himself as he slammed back into the side of a parked dump truck. The heavy steel denting as it absorbed his momentum, and dropped him to the ground in a heap.
Sean dragged himself upright… struggling with only one arm to do so. The Grakken coming towards him, and the sickening realization that there was no way he could stop it. It… was going to kill him.
Cori… I’m sorry…
The alien lifted its upper arm to its chest plate. Sean tried to stagger up, but couldn’t seem to make it to his feet. He knew what was coming… and there was so much left undone… so much he’d not be able to finish…
And then the monster started at something off to the side behind him… And disappeared as a blurred object slammed it with an impact hard enough to be felt, and powerful enough to fling the creature back into the side of the building, collapsing it on top of it.
Sho ran forward, what little he had seen of the battle had been brutal and bloody. Sean fighting with a feral ferocity he had never seen in the American before. The grimly enjoyable activity of picking up the largest object at hand, in this case a forklift, and hurling it with all his might at the monster had given him some satisfaction. If it liked throwing things at people, it better be good at playing catch.
He grabbed Sean, pulling the injured Guyver to his feet. “Sean!” And jerked back as the other man began to struggle. “Sean! It’s me, Sho! Calm down!”
Sean struggled to free himself of Guyver 1’s grip. “S-Sho!? Where is it! Where did it? I-I’ve got to kill it!” He shrugged away from Guyver 1’s grip and staggered towards the rubble.
“Sean? Get back! You’re in no condition to fight that thing!”
Sean didn’t listen, and as Guyver 1 watched in shock, he dug his fingers into his chest plate, and pulled open his right mega smasher. “Die you god damned alien bastard!” He screamed as the cell powered up, the hazy white glow intensifying until with a jolt he felt the weapon discharge. Gritting his teeth as he felt the clawing fatigue rising to meet him as a brilliant beam of energy lanced out into the rubble pile and beyond.
Miles away, at the sight of the ruined Mercy 2, Jason directed the efforts for rescue and salvage, the battle was over, any remaining skirmishes were light and random. He jerked up as the sky lit with the brilliance of the mega smasher. “Oh hell.” He thumbed his mike on. Now that the jamming field wasn’t needed it had been taken down. “This is Bravo lead. Particle beam sighted, Configuration suggests G or G-US is the source. Alpha and Beta, stay and help with the search and rescue… Charlie with me. Kappa Lead, if you can spare a squad or two, we’d appreciate it.”
Without waiting for the response, he kicked his armor into motion. “Hold on Sean, I’m coming.”
The gravel crunched beneath Sean’s knees as he dropped forward onto them, his one good arm catching him shakily. It was done.
‘Cori… oh god, Cori was gone.’
An armored hand fell on his shoulder and he shrugged it away.
“Goddamn it Sho… leave me alone! Just go aw-ay!” His voice breaking on the last word fed his anguish into rage as he staggered back to his feet. The furrow carved by the mega smasher was hidden in a blanket of thick, oily smoke. The contaminated soil at the edge of the blast zone headed enough to cook the various chemicals out of it into a noxious cloud that blanketed the ruined structure.
“Sean, what’s happened? Tell me!” Sho gripped his good arm and tried to turn him away from the devastation. The numbness settling over him snuffed Sean’s rage as quick as it formed and he staggered against Sho.
“I-it showed me where it came from… it s-sent pictures… in my head. That thing showed me Cori’s cabin. It… It killed her!”
The agony blazed back up from beneath the numbness, and his knees buckled again as he gritted his teeth together so hard they hurt as he curled in on himself. He dimly sensed Sho trying to support him, trying to ease him down gently. But all he could see was Cori’s face, the terror in her eyes, and then the incandescence of the megasmasher as it blotted her out.
He could hear himself sobbing, and hated every moment of it. But the harder he tried to stop, the worse it became. “It was looking for m-me… it f-followed me here. SHE’S DEAD BECAUSE OF ME!” The howl of frenzied sorrow tore from him as his fingers sank into the ground in front of him, clutching at the packed earth hard enough to leave grooves.
“Sean… Sean!” Hands were shaking him now, he was dimly aware. “We’re not safe yet. That weird interference with my senses hasn’t disappeared. Look out!”
The shaking turned into a grab, and he felt himself lifted and flung to the side. The shriek of metal behind him reached him at the same time he hit the ground, rolling limply before he managed to pull himself to his knees.
The monster loomed out of the smoke, not even singed by a blast that should have killed it. In one of its hand, it clutched a strange object, like a short rod of metal. Even as he watched, the object seemed to telescope, growing into a staff that ended in two wicked edged blades on each end. It glared at him, brandishing the weapon, which began to glow with the dark energy of a gravity weapon.
Sean felt a stab of regret, he hadn’t killed it, and he had nothing left to fight with. It was as if he was hollow, emptied. He’d put his heart into that last effort, and it wasn’t enough. Cori was dead, and he’d soon be joining her.
But then a blur flashed out of the corner of his eye, a blue streak that met the creature halfway. The monster had not seen the attack coming, but it adapted quickly, shifting its attention to the unwounded Guyver.
The staff whined through the air, slicing through the place Guyver 1 had been but a second before, the blade carving a neat furrow into the ground as it came around. But Sho was already inside the effective range of the weapon.
Sean has a blurred impression of Sho using the giant’s knee as a springboard, before the human Guyver landed a crushing blow against the side of the monsters face. He staggered the creature with the force of the blow and was already whirling in mid air when the counter-blow slammed into his gut, nearly doubling him over and throwing him back.
Guyver 1 hit the ground in an improvised shoulder-roll that brought him back to his feet. “What are you? “ He barked at the thing before him.
“Grrrrrak-ken.” Came the inhuman response, the creature repeating the sound as it leveled the staff at Guyver 1, a blaze of dark energy blasting out from it, blowing a crater where Guyver 1 had stood.
But Sho was no longer there. In a move almost too fast for Sean to follow, he had sprung straight up in a Guyver-powered standing jump that carried him well clear of the blast. He dropped towards the monster as his blades extended and he forced the giant to counter with his own.
And Sean found him dragging himself to his feet, running towards the battling pair. The Grakken had been turned away from him, he had a clear shot at its massive back, and he intended to use it. His hand shot out in front of him, fingers clutching claw-like at the air. It took a moment for the pressure cannon to form, weaker then usual either from his only having one hand, or just due to his battered and weakened state he couldn’t tell.
It became quite clear to him, that a pressure cannon was nearly impossible to aim in his current condition when the dark sphere of energy dipped so low it almost hit the ground as he threw, and then inscribed a graceful arc that almost cleared the creature’s shoulder.
Sean felt a manic grin spread across his face as his shot slammed hard into the Grakken’s shoulder, the creature roaring in pain as the energy tore through it’s armor, releasing a gout of milky fluid the likes of which Sean had never seen. The thud of the massive arm that had just been severed dropping into a twitching mass on the ground made him laugh.
With a convulsive heave, the alien Guyver threw Guyver 1 off of him. Sho managed to get one slash in as he sailed backwards, his blade scoring down the left side of its chest, before he slammed hard into the same dump truck Sean had encountered. Sho winced as the air rang with the resounding thud as the vehicle was nearly rolled onto its side by the force of the blow.
And the Grakken turned towards him. Sean had a brief moment to watch it pluck something from the shaft of the staff with its lower hand before it’s upper blurred back in a throw that launched the staff like a spear at him. He twisted, and almost managed to clear the weapon, but the blade caught him just above the left hip, and he cried out as the blade bit, piercing his armor as only a vibrational weapon could. The force of the blow knocked him back against the building, and he felt the blade sink deep into the wall behind him, it’s barely felt hum going silent, leaving it embedded in the brick wall, pinning him there.
He grabbed at the haft with his good right hand, but having to reach across his own body, he couldn’t get any leverage to remove it. He jerked his gaze back to the Grakken to see it turned to where Guyver One had fallen. Sho was getting up, though a little dazedly.
“Oh shit… Sho! Lookout!”
The Grakken had already torn his right upper chest plate open, the mega smasher already powering up. Sho had enough time to look up and see what was coming, but no more then a second to react to it.
Sean screamed as the weapon fired, it’s blaze of light blotting out Sho, just as it had Cori.
Another friend gone in the blink of an eye… erased as casually as one might swat a fly.
But this fly wasn’t helpless.
And it had been swatted by bigger and badder things before.
Nearly obscured in the nimbus of the mega smasher, an anomaly was present, a barrier through which the brilliant beam could not pass. It was as if a bubble that the blast could not pierce had been set in its path. The energy washed over and around this pocket of space, its destructive energies splashing out, unfocused and weakened.
A new shape rose within the roaring inferno of the mega smasher, something as massive as the creature it fought. Yellow armored, massive shoulder pods, so unlike anything Sean had ever seen that it took him a moment to realize it was constructed like a Guyver!
Guyver Gigantic lashed his arm forward, and as the beam of the mega smasher died, his vibration blade flicked out, growing impossibly long on some sort of tendril. The Grakken, caught by total surprise, barely had time to register this turn of events before the blade buried itself in its chest.
The incredible cackling screech that it let loose as the blade burst out it’s back was followed by it crumpling back to the ground. The massive yellow Guyver pulled its arm back sharply and the blade returned, retracting with an audible pop, as it pulled free of the alien’s body.
The voice boomed out through the courtyard, the Guyver distortion present but not entirely masking the voice beneath.
The massive yellow Guyver turned towards the sound. Its pose and bearing so reminiscent of the young Japanese man that Sean found himself chuckling in astonishment.
“Sean, I’ll get you free in a moment, once I’m sure our friend is going to stay down.”
Sho approached the downed creature, tensing as he watched it thrash where it lay, already in a pool of the pale liquid that served it for blood. He had severed its spine of that he was sure. It was hurt badly, but it wasn’t dead yet. As a Guyver, it wouldn’t die quite so easily. As he moves within its line of sight, it suddenly lifted its head and lower arms, brilliant crimson laser blasts peppering his chest.
“Sho!? You alright?”
Guyver Gigantic simply stood over the downed Grakken. The laser blasts left small scorch marks against its armor, but no more. Soon, the Grakken either ran out of what energy it had, or realized the attack was getting it nowhere.
“It’s alright Sean, he can’t hurt me anymore. And now maybe we can get some answers.”
Sho knelt beside the creature, catching the arm it tried to strike him with, pinning it down with one hand, the other gripping it by the throat.
“Who sent you? Why did you attack us?”
The monster didn’t move, or respond. Sho tightened his grasp warningly.
The creature remained completely still, but finally broke its silence.
< Failure-not-tolerated-unit-will-be-arismo*sic’onda-dealt-with-must-destroy-will-destroy-arisa’ketranid >
Before Sho could stop it, it brought its lower hand up, something cupped in the palm and slapped it hard into the open, pulsing chest wound. Sho had a glimpse of a crystal glowing greenly as it was ground to powder against the alien’s chest. Before his enhanced hypser senses screamed a warning and he tried to leap back from the creature.
The Grakken grappled with him, pulled upright as Sho tried to get free. The green light emanating from the gash in his armor grew brighter, and Sho felt the alien’s strength growing. The creature was matching him, even as damaged as it was!
The sickly green glow grew brighter, seeming to emanate from within every fiber of the creature’s being, leaking out from around the Guyver unit’s tendrils… The Grakken pulling itself up against the Gigantic as they struggled. Sho felt its energy spiking, growing unstable, and knew he had to get away!
With a thought, he activated the Gigantic’s chest spike, the vibration spike growing outward in a split second. It knifed through the Grakken’s skull, bursting out the back of its head as it splattered pale brain tissue onto the bloody ground. The alien sagged, and as he retracted the spike, Sho threw the nearly incandescent corpse away from himself, away from Sean, launching the rag doll that had once been the Grakken into the air as the space around Sho shimmered as he brought his full shields up around himself and Sean. The Grakken flopped to the ground a distance away, laying there for a few long seconds before the energy spike Sho had detected finally reached the point of no return and the entire area became engulfed in a blinding green light
Jason felt the ground shudder violently beneath the metal-shod feet of his armor as suddenly the whole area got bathed in a bright green light. His HUD suddenly went black as his armor got hit by the explosions EMP. Leaving Jason to sit in darkness before the Armor systems rebooted.
“What the hell?” Jason exclaimed as he watched his armor systems come back online and noted as his HUD sensors came back that the other armors were also back online. Jason then waved the column of troops forward as he used his jet pods to reach the roof of the tallest building in the area. Looking out in the direction the mega smasher had come from, the massive column of black smoke was easy to see.
“Holy hell… Charlie team. Double-time it! We’ve got a… massive detonation. Source unknown, possibly nuclear so everyone watch your rads, but we need to backup G and G-US ASAP! Break ranks and converge on coordinates at best possible speed.”
His armored feet left crushed imprints on the concrete roof beneath him as he pounded his way across it amidst a chorus of acknowledgements… His jet pods flaring as he leapt clear of the building and down two stories onto the next. His next leap landed him clear of downtown and out into warehouses and industrial complexes, and a good few hundred yards ahead of his men.
It took him a moment to realize he had company. Flanking him were two of the new Boomer units, he had never seen them in full action and the fact that they were managing to keep up with him was most impressive.
Their strange bouncing gait had been one of the factors that got them their name. The armored leg units ended in pneumatic powered risers with a traction pad at the end. Auto-stabilized by the back unit, they had a powerful if very inhuman stride.
His short-range radio crackled to life. “We got your back Bravo Lead.”
“Boss, didn’t know you’d decided to come for this little jog.” Jason was surprised, Stephen rarely ever left the point of his command, and he had not requested the other commander’s presence.
“Hey, if you got all shot up, General Carter would be asking me why I ‘didn’t send the best of my team to watch your back!’” He was a good mimic of voices, and his lampoon of the General had Jason grinning despite his worry. “Suffices to say, it’s safer for all involved if I tag along. ‘Sides, I can’t let Morgan here out of my sight, and he wasn’t about to stay on clean up. Were you Morgan?”
“Aw, come on Boss. The Guyvers saved my ass, least I can do is return the favor!”
The pounding of the Beta’s feet jarred the pavement, leaving marks even on that resilient surface as Jason and his backup advanced on the distant smoking ruin where Sho and Sean had to be.
Sean shook his head, the wringing in his ears slowly fading. He was horizontal; the wall he had been pinned to had been crushed back by the powerful blast of the Grakken’s self-destruct. He tried to sit up, and winced in pain… no, he was still pinned tight. He did manage to shift the debris off from atop him enough to look around for his partner.
“Sho. Sho! Are you alright?”
His hyper sensors moved and he caught a sense of the other Guyver off to his right, turning in that direction, he saw the yellow giant pulling himself free of the rubble that had collapsed atop him.
“I’m fine Sean, just a bit battered. Are you okay? You don’t have as much armor as I do right now.”
Sean slumped back against the wall, gazing up into the smoky air. He didn’t think he’d be all right again. A moment latter, Guyver Gigantic loomed over him.
“He messed you up pretty bad… didn’t he? Hang on let me see if I can get you free, this… may hurt.”
Before Sean could do more then brace himself; Sho’s armored hand had grasped the haft of the spear that still jutted in the air above him, his other pressing against Sean’s armored midsection. After testing the spears weight, he gave it a firm upward jerk. Sean growled as he felt the weapon pulling back through the hole it had made in his flesh, then it hummed to life, the blade slicing easily through him, the pain intense but bearable as the tearing ceased and the weapon slide from him effortlessly.
Sho pressed his hand over the pulsing wound as he hefted the staff. “Now that’s interesting… I think it’s designed similar to our armor… thought controlled.” A moment later, the weapon shifted, its metal segments shifting with a hiss as they compacted into each other, retracting the blades into the simple rod they had seen the Grakken holding at first.
“Sit tight Sean, I’ll be right back.”
Sho set the rod carefully down beside his fallen friend and moved away from him on some errand. Sean felt the pain in his side ebbing and with an effort, managed to sit up. His groping hand found the weapon and he hefted it, looking down at the device. The metallic surface was octagonal in shape, its surface a dull metallic gray, but textured oddly, the overlapping metal plates seeming almost reptilian, or insect-like in their shape and structure.
Sho returned, carrying the bloody mass of Sean’s severed arm. “Ok Sean, hold still, this is really going to sting.” Without any further warning, he gripped Sean’s shoulder, just above the clean slice the blade had left, and slapped the amputated limb against the stump.
Sean cried out at the sudden sharp pain that jolted through him as he felt his flesh writhe in an alarming and thoroughly alien fashion. Sho watched in satisfaction as the damaged armor and tendrils seemed to flow together. He held Sean still through the worst of the pain as nerves were reconnected, the feedback of their last message of trauma taking a moment to fade.
“Ok, take a deep breath Sean, I know that hurt, but it’s a better option then waiting for your whole arm to regenerate. And we can’t leave any pieces of ourselves just laying around. That’s asking for trouble. Speaking of which…” Sean pulled himself shakily to his feet as Sho moved away again. The Gigantic digging amongst the rubble as he shook the last of the pins and needles from his restored arm.
He shivered, that was his first true amputation by an enemy blade. But the fact that Sho could so calmly handle it meant he knew about, and had probably experienced the sensation at least a few times. The idea of going through it again made him wince as he watched Sho retrieve the Grakken’s still twitching severed arm.
“What are we going to do with that Sho? The ACTF will probably want it for study.”
Guyver Gigantic shook his head. “No. Too dangerous, we’ll mega smash it. Otherwise we could end up fighting its regenerated clone.”He walked away from the surprised Guyver US to drop the limb on a slab of concrete that was clear of any obstruction and in a direction that lead to the ocean.
“What do you mean? That thing will regenerate? How? It has no control medal!”
Sho walked back to join him as he again shook his head. “The armor itself is alive Sean, it’s what allows regeneration, and healing. The Control medal only controls it. Sever a limb from a Guyver and leave if long enough, and it will grow into a… monster. Not a Guyver… but still very strong, and very mean.”
The Gigantic turned towards the limb, ignoring it’s feeble twitching as he pulled right chest plate open. “So, we destroy it to keep that from happening.” The rising hum of building power, and the sudden intense discharges of electrical interference of the Giga Smasher was many times more powerful then Sean had ever seen in his own blasts.
The sudden strobe and the brilliant discharge heralded the complete disintegration of the arm, the slab, and a furrow of earth leading out from the blast site and in a straight line into the waters of the Atlantic more then a half mile distant. The beam, so bright that the sunlight darkened, as it’s own shadows fled, replaced by the black shadows streaming away from the massive blast. The billowing of steam as the beam lanced into the water continued on for an incredible distance, gouging a tunnel into the green waters almost out of sight before finally halting as the beam cut out.
A moment after closing the chest plate, a weird cocoon seemed to appear out of nowhere to envelop the yellow giant. As it fell away, the familiar figure of Guyver 1 staggered out from the enfolding petals, before the whole thing vanished as Guyver 1 knelt, panting.
“What the hell was that!?” Sean’s incredulity carried well, even with the distortion of the Guyver unit. It was enough to make Sho smile tiredly beneath his armor.
“That was the Gigantic, a sort of… upgrade module for the Guyver. I’d really rather keep it quiet for now… I wasn’t meaning to let it be seen. It’s a secret weapon, and I want it to remain such. Okay?”
Sean could only nod dumbly before he sensed motion behind them, a Blue armor and two scout-armored troopers making their way over the rubble towards them. He heard Jason’s voice booming out of the PA.
“Are you two alright? What the hell was that blast!? It looked like a mega smasher, but I’ve never seen one that powerful!”
Sean felt fatigue dragging at him. The armor was done healing his body, and it was subtly prodding him to send it away. “We’re alright, Jason. It… it was a double mega smash… both of us firing at once.” He managed to say, taking a step towards them before he felt a sudden tingle, and a wash of air as his armor retracted by itself. His knees buckling as his vision swirled into blackness.
Guyver 1 leapt forward, catching Sean as he stumbled, his armor abandoning him. He lowered the American to the ground, not surprised to find him unconscious. “Jason, we have to get Sean out of here, he’s taken quite a beating.”
He turned to see the front plate of the armor swinging up, Jason clawing at his restraints to get free of it. “Battle’s over Sho, don’t worry!” He swung down out of the armor and popped a hatch on the side, jerking out a thick, bulky plastic case as he made his way over to them both.
Guyver 1 stepped back as Jason knelt beside the unconscious Sean. Opening the case he removed a thick syringe from a shockproof case. The vessel already charged with a pale yellow fluid. Finding a vein on Sean’s arm he slid the hypodermic home and slowly pressed the plunger. “We’ve discovered the major chemistry of what the Guyver uses up in operation.” He murmured for Sho’s benefit. “This is sort of a cocktail of nutrients and stimulants to stabilize him, it helps his system recover from the after-effects of using his unit strenuously.”
Sho felt his weariness pulling at him, and glanced over to see the rest of Jason’s armored force forming a perimeter around the area. “Since you have things under control… I think I need to de-activate too, before you have to pump one of those into me next.”
Seeing Jason’s nod, he closed his eyes, feeling a tingle just like Sean had felt, before he dropped to his knees, skinning the left on a broken slate. The pain was good; it reminded him he was alive, and still human. As he panted for breath, he glanced up in time to see Jason toss something in his direction.
He felt a certain pride that even exhausted as he was, he could still catch the silvery object. Looking at the label, he realized two things; first, it was a bar of military chocolate. Second, he was ravenously hungry.
It was a good thing he was, he decided, as he wrestled the heavy, unappetizing mass of the bar into his stomach. Its texture was all wrong for chocolate, and it’s taste was about as appealing as a boiled potato. But it was good for fast energy and he was starting to feel better, his hunger pangs easing as Sean finally began to stir.
The first thing Jason did was slap another of the ration bars into Sean’s hand. And from the look of it, Sean was used to this efficient, effective treatment as he tore the wrapper open with shaking hands to wolf down the contents with mechanical determination. Jason handed Sho a canteen, the bitter, plastic tasting water at least soothed his throat before he handed it back.
Sean lay back, chewing the last bite slowly before swallowing and taking his own long gulp from the canteen. “Jason… I… need to get back to the cabin… I-I think something has happened to Cori.”
“You’re in no condition to go anywhere right now.” Jason held Sean down as the younger man tried to get up. “You need to recover before you do anything.”
“You don’t understand… I… I think she’s dead.” The raw pain in his voice, the rigid control he exerted to maintain some semblance of calm as he said those words visibly hit Jason. The FBI agent’s professional mask broke in his shock and the real fear in his eyes was plain for Sho to see.
Without a word Jason got back to his feet and ran back to his armor. The two Boomers, having stayed at a distance out of the way, now moved to flank the two young men, maintaining a strict watch with weapons at the ready as Jason pulled his radio mike out of the armor and started speaking into it in a low but urgent voice that gradually became harder and more insistent as the conversation wore on.
A few minutes later, the approaching stuttered chop of a helicopter showed Jason’s intent. The massive gunship settled to a relatively clear place amongst the rubble in a combat landing that almost bounced it off the ground. Jason left his armor where it was as he pulled a combat weapon from a slot inside and left instructions for his troops to get another pilot to take it back to the LZ as he manhandled both Sean and Sho into the transport.
The two Boomers came along, each sitting in the doors on either side, harnesses latched onto their armor to keep them secure as the helicopter took off with the same speed it had landed. Jason looked like he was aching for details. But trying to say anything in a noisy helicopter was only an exercise in screaming. Sean was so dazed that Jason handed a headset to Sho instead. As Sho put it on he heard the pilot sending out a radio call.
“Sierra Hotel Papa, this is Whiskey Tango Niner come in… Sierra Hotel Papa respond… If your transmitter is down switch to ELF transponder channel 3… Sierra Hotel Papa respond…”
The droning contact request continued for the entire trip, but Jason provided other commentary. “Sho, tell me what happened. If the Safe house has been compromised, how did Sean know about it? And what the hell were you two fighting back there?”
“I can’t give you much information Jason, I’m sorry, but Sean has most of the answers now. I CAN tell you that what we were fighting was a Guyver, and a powerful one. It was not human in even the remotest sense. I don’t… I don’t think it was from Chronos. It told Sean something, it contacted him telepathically, and whatever it told him drove him into a frenzy.”
They saw the faded stain of smoke in the air before they rounded the last ridge. The helicopter circled the area once, before coming in on a low pass. The two boomers unhooked themselves, and as the chopper passed over the pasture next to the crater where the cabin had been, they both dropped down.
The shocks on the leg units took the fall, nearly two stories down without missing a beat. The two each covered a half-circle with their weapons, searching for any threat before moving apart and waving the chopper in. Sean was clambering out almost before the skids came to rest, Jason and Sho a second behind as they followed Sean in his headlong rush towards the crater.
He collapsed at the edge of the smoldering hole, gazing dumbly at the place his life had once been… Ignoring Jason’s questions, ignoring the two Boomers as they fanned out looking for survivors, finding only bodies.
“Sean!” Jason was shaking him now. “Sean what happened here!? How did you know?”
“I-it came in the night…” He whispered, his voice so hushed Jason has to kneel just to hear him. Locking eyes with the younger man, wincing at the crazed look he found there.
“It came, th-they didn’t know it was there until it was already on them.” He jerked away from Jason, gazing out at the furrowed earth, seeing the cabin where it should have been. “It got Jake… inside… C-Cori made it out. There… was… an Armor. It f-fought the thing… Cori shot at it. It… it…” He voice choked off in anguish as he dropped forward onto his hands and went absolutely still.
The fingers on his right hand shook as he clutched at something in the burnt grass, realizing as he did, that he was kneeling at the narrow edge of the Mega Smasher cone. The Grakken… oh god… it would have been standing right here. Again he saw the fevered look in Cori’s eyes as she unloaded her gun into the monster’s face, and then the all-consuming white of the mega smasher.
He lifted his hand, catching the object he had glimpsed in the ash at the edge of the blast mark. A torn silver chain, caked with grime, partly melted, the small locket bent and twisted open. The picture inside too caked with ash and dirt to see, the engraving on the inside of the lid barely legible now, its lines blurred from heat. But he read them as clearly as the day he’d had them engraved.
C & S Forever
Oh Cori… I’m sorry… It’s all. My… Fault.
He didn’t realize he was struggling, he didn’t realize he was fighting both Sho and Jason as they all but dragged him away from the place Cori had died. His screams of denial and his nearly delirious threats endured without complaint or response.
The ruins of the cabin slowly grew cold as the snow began to fall, the whiteness slowly reclaiming the carnage that had occurred there. The chopper lifted and fled the destruction below, but even as Sean finally gave up his struggles in exhaustion, he knew that he was dead. The fact that he stilled moved, meant only that he hadn’t finished his tasks yet.
But his soul lay dead in the snow with Cori, and someone, somewhere was going to pay dearly before he lay down to join her.