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The Insurgency: S4 #2 The Rise (FB)
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Part 2 in Season 4 of my Insurgency series! This was supposed to be released about a week ago but with the site crashes and real life it got a bit delayed. But now here it is! Please comment, rate and enjoy!
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21st October 2097: Present Day


The facility was on high alert. Every room, every control centre, every corridor, was lit by flashing, red warning light and the air was filled by the sound of ear-shattering sirens.


Officers issued orders to the lower ranks. Personnel rushed everywhere delivering updates and important information to whomever required it.



Armed guards ran along the corridors, aiming to head the threat off. So far, all attempts to stop it had failed, but surely by throwing enough force, it had to be halted eventually...


Guard Captain Hendros came to a stop in the corridor and instantly crouched beside the wall. He raised a fist, signalling for his men to do likewise and everybody readied up, guns trained down the length of the corridor to the sealed door at the other end, roughly eight meters away. This was it. They were the last line of defence between the force that was coming and everything they were guarding.



The Captain took a deep breath, preparing himself for what might be about to come - his training, his years of experience, all present in his mind. The rest of the guards were all individually doing like-wise. Mentally preparing for battle. Focusing themselves. Trying to block out the horrendous sirens and just concentrate on the door ahead.


And then the power went out.


The corridor was plunged into total darkness for several seconds, before the emergency power kicked in and the red, flashing wall lights re-activated, basking the corridor in a horrible crimson glow and sending shadows flickering up every surface.


The guards all began to re-adjust themselves, but it was in vain. A silver sphere rolled along the corridor to a stop just in front of them and Captain Hendros realised too late that the door was open.



Cap. Hendros: "SMOKE!" He shouted.


The sphere shot out thick, grey smoke, that very quickly filled the corridor and made the guards cough as they breathed it in. Some frantically tried to cover their mouths, but again, it wasn't worth it.



Through the smoke, emerging from the doorway, came a figure.


Tall, imposing and dressed all in black armour, they merged perfectly into the darkness. Nevertheless, Captain Hendros saw them, his eyes widening in fear.





Cap. Hendros: "OPEN FIRE!!!"
The guards who could, began firing their weapons blindly through the smoke-filled corridor, in the hope that they would strike the intruder, but had no such luck.



The masked figure appeared right before Captain Hendros and, without pausing, drove a long, black sword through his chest. The Captain collapsed as the intruder moved on, slicing down another guard and then another and another - mowing down everybody in his path.


Darkblade vanished through the smoke and reappeared in front of another guard. The man screamed as the long black blade of death cut him in two, and then moved on to its next victim.



Effortlessly, Darkblade drove his blade into the neck of one alien, before turning, the body still wedged on his sword, and impaling another.


As everyone else began to retreat, one guard charged towards the mercenary, hoping to take advantage of his trapped weapon. But Darkblade wasn't fazed at all. Using his free hand, he simply grabbed the man by the face and slammed his head into the wall, killing him instantly. A quick swipe with his sword freed the weapon and Darkblade continued towards his goal...



It took less than a minute for Darkblade to dispatch the entire guard squadron. Sixty seconds to slaughter them where they'd stood. Kicking aside the body of his final victim, Darkblade punched the door release and proceeded into the room beyond.


The facility was a lock-up for confiscated goods. Items from prisoners across the system, as well as contraband from illegal dealers and the like were all stored here, locked away for safe keeping by the Galactic Imperium.



It took longer for him to find what he was looking for than it had to kill all those men, but soon, Darkblade found what he'd come for.
Pulling out a drawer labelled 'Jarred Zeal', he grinned under his helmet, as from inside, he produced two, intricately carved black knives.


Darkblade: "There you are." He sighed.



Tank’s Apartment



Finally, it was coming together.



After seven months of trying and failing, the brand new Tracks was at last taking shape!


Before, it had seemed that fate was working against me. Everything I tried, every time I began to assemble a component, it would fall apart or else fail miserably. But now, after Cat and I had stolen parts from the junk droids that had been controlled by One, the ancient drone, it was a different story entirely. Every combination that I tried. Every weld, drilled hole, electrical assembly that I made worked perfectly. Everything fitted. It was almost as if it 'wanted' to be assembled. Almost as if Tracks himself was trying to come back to me.


The junk robot parts had been a pain to acquire, but since then, the re-build of my best buddy had been plain sailing. I'd worked at him almost non-stop for the better part of the last month, and my efforts were already paying off. Before me on the dining room table lay an almost finished robot.



Old Tracks had been rickety and wobbly - built from the scrap that I'd been able to scavenge during my time in a cave on Iapra. But new Tracks was going to be better. Ironically, I was still using scrap to create him, but this time I had better tools, more experience and better parts to work with. As such, the robot in front of me was a magnificent sight. Tall, well-built and sturdy looking, he still had an Aurora of Tracks about him, but he was improved in every way.


After Tracks had been destroyed, Basher had managed to recover Tracks' face plate for me and that was what I was currently welding into place. I'd finished all his facial internals; his visual sensors, audio receptors, the servos that drove the limited movement that he had in his expressions, and now I was fixing his face plate in place. I had also decided to fit new Tracks with a voice module. After spending so long hearing him whir and groan without one, I'd gotten used to it, but felt that I couldn’t in good conscience deny him a voice for the simple reason that I liked to hear him whir! Originally, Tracks had talked just fine, but something had happened to him while I was in prison and he was locked up by the Imperium that meant when I rescued him, he was unable to speak.



As I drilled the final screw into position, my comlink began to bleep from where it sat on the table beside me. I finished the job, set aside my tools and answered the call. To my pleasure, my good friend, Archmage of the Collective Eris Arathon appeared before me.
Tank: "Eris!" I greeted with a grin, still on a high from my progress with Tracks.
Eris: "Tank." She greeted, but there was no smile on her face or humour in her tone. Something was wrong.


Tank: "Is everything okay?"
Eris: "I've just been informed about a break-in at the Shockshaw Ironworks facility on Rerador." She began.


Oh dear.



Eris: "It just so happens that that was one of the facilities where robots controlled by One were sent to be destroyed."
Tank: "Okay..." I began, not knowing if I was being accused or informed. Did she know it had been me? I didn't want to drop myself in it if she didn't already know!
Eris: "Was it you?" She asked, eyebrows raised.


Tank: "No. No, I don't know who it could have been." I lied.
Eris: "Oh cut the act, Tank." She snapped, sounding disappointed. "I know it was you - I've seen the security footage."


Damn. She knew.


Eris: "I just wanted to see if you'd be honest enough to admit to it."
Tank: "Look, Eris, I'm sorry." I sighed. "I just... I need those parts. They're my last proper chance of getting Tracks back..."



Eris: "No. You don't." She interrupted. "Tank - DO NOT attempt to re-build Tracks. I warned you right after the battle against One and I meant it. If you re-build him using those parts, parts that were controlled by One, who knows what might happen. You need to get rid of those parts, Tank. Whatever you took - throw it out. If you do, then that'll be the end of it. If you choose to ignore me again... well..."
Tank: "Well, what? Eris, he was my best friend and I have the chance to get him back. I'm going to take that chance. I'm sorry."
Eris: "Don't do it, Tank." The Archmage warned, sounding sad, but I just shook my head and ended the call.



As the little blue hologram vanished, I let out a sigh and thought on what Eris had said. Yes, it was true that I didn't know everything that would happen when I put parts that had been controlled by One together. But what I did already know, was that it had been easy for me to put them all together. If it was so bad, it wouldn't have felt this good, this right, to assemble him.


So, no. Sorry Eris. But I was not going to pass up on this opportunity. And besides, I'd already nearly finished! I was going to get Tracks back, prove Eris wrong, and there was nothing she could do about it.



Governor Boan’s Office



Three fingers became two. Two became one. One vanished and a little green light on the side of the professional video camera blinked into existence.



Judas: "Citizens of Qoter. People of this system. The Collective have been an integrated part of our society for almost two years now. Every day they work alongside us. Live with us. Love us. Fight with us. They are a valued part of our lives.


However, we are also all aware just how powerful some of them can be. Our system still bears the scars of the war that The Collective brought with them when they first arrived and we have seen, several times, what that power can do in the hands of evil. Azgoth, The Ambassador, and more recently a hit-and-run Collective terrorist who murdered the High Reverend of the Followers of the Universe.


These powers are beyond even the comprehension of 'normal' people and as such, people are getting scared. Scared of what might happen to them. To their loved ones. I stand before you today, firstly to remind everyone that these evil-doers, these terrorists, do NOT represent The Collective as a whole. They are a minority; as all terrorist groups in history have been. You cannot allow them to scare you into dis-liking The Collective en-mass. So please. Remember that before judging your neighbours, colleagues, loved ones differently.



However, that being said, the second reason that I speak to you today is to announce a proposed plan. An initiative called the Registration Act, that would see every member of the Collective register their power levels.


This means that every member of The Collective would submit to an examination which would determine the level of their capabilities and this information would then be compiled into a database, accessible only by the relevant authorities. It means that people in power can monitor high-powered individuals, so as they may step in if necessary and prevent any acts of evil.


This is not a decision that I have come to lightly, however, my aides and I have come to the agreement that this is the best course of action to take. It combines freedom with peace of mind, in order to provide security to the masses. But, as this is a big step to take, as previously mentioned this is only a proposed plan. As of midnight tonight, the full proposal will be available to all to read on the Imperium website and you may then vote on whether or not you believe the act should be passed into law or not.



This is now in your hands. The hands of the people.


Until such a time as a decision is reached, stay vigilant. Stay alert and most importantly, stay together. For unified, we are stronger.


Long live the Galactic Imperium."


Cameraman: "And we're off air."



The camera crew began to move, taking apart their set-up and packing equipment away into carry-bags and as they did, Judas visibly relaxed. His shoulders slumped and he took a deep breath.
Manerre: "You worry too much, brother." Manerre Boan insisted as he limped across the room towards the Governor.
Judas: "I'm still not sure about this. I know that the Archmage will not approve and I have serious doubts that the public will either."
Manerre: "The public will see that this is the best possible balance between freedom and safety." He insisted. "Monitoring powerful individuals means that any further uprisings by talented beings can be thwarted before they've even begun. Think of what could happen if there was another Azgoth. Think how many innocents died because of him. If he'd been monitored by the right authorities, then he never would have been able to rise to power and kill all those people."
Judas: "I suppose." He agreed reluctantly, but seeing Manerre's point.
Manerre: "And as for the Archmage, when she sees the public's reaction, when she discovers that the people are for registration and not against it, then she will have no option but to change her mind and go along with it."



Judas nodded as he made his way around the desk.
Manerre: "And if she doesn't... well, then I expect she will fall out of public favour and it may well be time for new Collective leadership."
Judas plonked himself down into his chair and rubbed his face with his hands.
Judas: "Yes..." he agreed at last. "As usual you are right, Manerre. Now, I have other matters to attend to. I shall speak to you later."
Manerre nodded curtly.
Manerre: "Fear not, brother of mine. Time is the resolution to everything. The people will vote and all will be well. You shall see." He offered and Judas replied with a small smile.



Manerre turned and ambled away from the Governor, a smirk of deception spreading across his twisted lips as he left.



The INV Anvil



The vast darkness of space was as bleak and black as ever. The planets hung, illuminated globes in the void, the light from the sun reaching even the furthest away.


The water world of Toliv shone particularly brightly, the light of the sun reflecting off of the planet's watery surface.



High above the planet, The Imperium Naval Vessel Anvil held its guard position, ready to fend off against any who may wish to attack the planet or the Galactic Imperium research facilities down below. As it happened, thanks to the Iguanian revolution, the Imperium presence on the planet had been greatly reduced as of late - the research having been moved off-world for fear of attack.


However, the revolution raging down on the planet below was of no concern to Captain Lya Drayson at present.



The Captain stood in her private study, quietly pacing back and forth, her hands, for once un-gloved, clasped behind her back, as she waited for her student to finish. Seated at the Captain’s desk was Cadet Ari Odanna. Cadet Odanna was Captain Drayson's mentee aboard the Anvil and was currently working on an assignment on interstellar mapping. She finished typing in her final answer and hit the submit button, confident that she'd done well.


Ari: "Finished, Captain."
But Captain Drayson didn't respond, her attention focused elsewhere, gazing into thin air at only something she could see, a slight crease on her black forehead. Ari' frowned. It wasn't like Drayson to get lost in thought. Something must really have been on her mind.
Ari: "Captain?" She prompted again, louder this time, and finally Drayson turned to face her.



Drayson: "My apologies, Ari'. I was... preoccupied."
Ari: "I noticed." She replied. "Is everything okay?"
Drayson: "Yes." The Captain responded. "For now, at least."
Ari: "What do you mean?" She inquired, confused.


Captain Drayson pursed her lips, deciding whether or not to tell her student about her discovery - her suspicions, and if so, how much to reveal.
Drayson: "The Imperium has a great many enemies." She began. "Most of them are known to us. Aurelia. The Marauder Council. Others... are not." She explained cryptically.


Ari': "Okay..." She still didn't understand.
Drayson: "The Galactic Imperium is stretched too thinly, Ari'. It was just about able to hold System 54 together, but now... now with System 55 as well, we are too far and too few."
Ari': "So, why aren't the Imperium hiring? Why aren't we getting more soldiers? More manpower to go around?" She questioned, trying to find a solution, rather than simply listening to her mentor explain the problem. Drayson smiled slightly, pleased with her student's eagerness both to please her and to help the situation.



Drayson: "That would be the easy answer." She responded in agreement. "However, they already are. Recruitment is in fact at an all-time high, thanks to the recent Aurellian terrorist attacks."
Ari': "But still it is not enough?"
Drayson: "Correct." She nodded and it was at this point that Ari' realised she was in fact still being tested. Captain Drayson was waiting for her to find the solution. Which worried Ari' slightly. Surely Drayson couldn't expect her to find a fix for a system-wide problem all by herself?! That was far too much pressure to put on one cadet, even one of Ari's standard. But, nevertheless, she was determined to give it her best shot and try to impress her mentor.


Drayson: "So, if we cannot expand our forces, what option does that leave us with?"
It took Cadet Odanna only a second to come up with a plan.
Ari': "We minimise the enemy." She concluded. "If we can't grow to match them in number, we shrink them down to our size."
Drayson: "Very good." She responded with a smile and Ari' realised that Drayson had known the answer all along. She'd just been seeing if Ari' could come to the same conclusion. "We need less enemies."



Ari': "But, if it is that simple to just destroy our enemies, why haven't we done it already?"
Drayson: "Oh, I don't speak of destroying our enemies." She corrected. "Not yet, at least."
Ari': "Then what?"
Drayson: "Think, Ari'." She tested and watched as her student concentrated, almost able to watch the cogs turning in her head. But after a few moments, Cadet Odanna shook her head perplexed.
Ari': "I don't see how we can have less enemies without destroying them." She admitted, but then her eyes widened. "Unless..."


Drayson: "Go on..." She prompted, hopeful that her mentee her reached the correct conclusion.
Ari': "Unless we can somehow make them allies?"
Drayson: "Perfect." She congratulated.
Ari': "But... How? Surely they're our enemies for a reason? They're not just going to suddenly change their minds and side with us, are they?"
Drayson: "In the majority of cases, you would be correct. However, there are a great number of small, almost insignificant factions who are opposed to us. All of whom may be tempted to change sides by a properly placed bribe or a convincing enough reason." The Captain explained. "My plan is to unite these factions, these gangs. Bring them all together to make one singular enemy, rather than multiples of much smaller enemies."



Ari': "But surely that would be dangerous? What if, once they are together, it makes them more powerful? Surely driving them together would only bring stability and organisation? The opposite of what you are trying to achieve?"
Drayson: "Perhaps." She admitted, already having considered this possibility. "But if that is the case, then we will destroy them. Diving our enemies together also creates a singular entity for us to then wipe out. It would require less energy, less manpower, less resources than to fight multiple smaller forces. If they do not join us, then we will obliterate them. Either way, the victory is ours."


Ari' Odanna nodded in understanding, but then a frown creased her face.
Ari': "But to do this you have to know who our enemies are. You said that most of the Inperium's enemies are known to us. Does that mean that some are not?"



Captain Drayson smiled once again, very impressed with her student's astuteness.
Drayson: "Very good. Well observed. You are indeed correct." She confirmed, but now her smile faded and she turned, walking thoughtfully towards the window. "Some are not known to us..." She repeated, gazing out into the dark of space, at the distant stars and the universe beyond the handful of planets that comprised their known systems.


Hands clasped behind her back, Captain Drayson thought hard.
Drayson: "Something is coming." She continued quietly. "I don't know where from and I don't know when. But something, is most definitely coming."



Tank’s Apartment



Sparks shot out of Tracks' neck as I attempted to activate him for the first time. Some motors were grinding somewhere inside of him and the start-up system made a sound that it definitely shouldn't have been making, so I quickly flipped the power switch again and shut the systems down.



With a few muttered curses and grumbling to myself, I picked up the drill again and started to undo the neck plating, ready to diagnose the problem and try and fix whatever it was that wasn't working properly.


As I did so, Cat walked through the door, datapad in hand and sat herself down at the end of the table. For a minute or so, she watched my progress and then, once I'd reached a suitable pausing point, having finished using the drill, she spoke up.
Cat: "I've had an idea."



I frowned, not knowing what she was referring to.
Tank: "What do you mean?" I asked, setting my tools aside.
Cat: "My father is still out there and I have no idea if or when he's going to come for me. And you!" She explained, clearly worried.
Tank: "Sweety, we've been through this." I replied, trying to sound reassuring, just as I always did when Cat brought up her dad. Cat's dad was in fact a criminal mastermind known as 'The Boss' and after I turned his daughter away from him, he now wanted the both of us dead. However, since our confrontation, he had vanished into thin air.


Cat: "I know, I know, but that's what my idea is about."
Tank: "Okay." I prompted.
Cat: "We don't know where he is - we need to flush him out. I'm tired of waiting for him to turn up, for him to suddenly appear and come for us. We need to make things happen on our terms."
Tank: "Alright." I agreed sceptically. "So what's your idea."



Cat: "Well, we can't find my father and you said that Mr. Grey told you The Brain hasn't managed to locate him either, so we go to the only people left - the authorities."
Tank: "Really?" I asked, surprised. "Your grand idea is to run and tell the police?"
Cat: "Well what else can we do? Do you have a better idea?"


I had to concede that I did not and it did make a certain amount of sense.
Tank: "Okay." I nodded. "But the people who could actually do something about it aren't exactly accessible. We can't just waltz into the offices of the IIA and say 'Hey! Guess what! We know who The Boss really is!'."
Cat: "No, but we can tell somebody in the police that we trust and then they can pass it on."
Tank: "Okay." I nodded. "But what exactly do we say?"
Cat: "Exactly what you just did. We tell them The Boss' real name. We tell them everything we can. Everything we know."



Tank: "And... What? Just hope for the best."
Cat: "It's all we can do. Sooner or later he'll run out of hiding places and then we can deal with him."
Tank: "Deal with him?"
Cat: "One way or another." She replied solemnly.


I sighed and thought it over for a few seconds.
Tank: "Okay. Let's do it." I finally nodded in agreement.



Cat spent the rest of the day beginning to compile all of the information on The Boss that she could. Gathering everything together and sifting out the relevant bits. I offered to help, but was told that Cat needed to be left alone to concentrate on what was useful and what wasn't, so I returned to Tracks and continued my work there instead.



He was so very nearly complete now. I had fixed the start-up issue from earlier on this afternoon and whilst doing so had noticed two additional issues which I had then proceeded to repair. I closed over the open access hatch and drilled it shut again.
Tank: “Right…” I muttered aloud. “Attempt number… whatever I’m up to.”


I reached behind Tracks’ neck and threw the activation switch once again.



The eye shutters flashed open instantly, revealing two glowing red irises. There was a slight grinding coming from somewhere within, but nothing too serious and garbled sounds came from the processing units as the software booted up for the very first time in this configuration. After several seconds, the ‘Start-Up complete’ message was spoken and I watched with a growing grin on my face, as Tracks two point oh sat upright on the table.


He looked around for a few moments and I just stood there, grinning like a giddy schoolkid.
Tank: “Tracks?” I asked, seeing if, firstly, his audio sensors were working and, secondly, if he registered his own name. “Tracks, can you hear me?” Did he remember who he was? How much of his original data had been restored? I’d used as many original parts as I could find and used the memory chip that I’d retrieved from the battlefield, but none of that guaranteed anything.
For a worrying few seconds, Tracks continued looking around, taking in his surroundings, before his eyes settled on me and he nodded.



Tracks: “Tank?” he questioned and his eyes widened in surprise at the sound of his own voice. I began to laugh with glee as Tracks placed a curious hand on his throat. He remembered me!
Tracks: “I can talk…”
Tank: “Yes!” I nodded. “Yes, buddy, you can!” I clapped my hands together and squeezed tight, unable to contain my excitement.


Tracks: “I can talk…” he repeated, more to himself than to me, as he noticed his new body and started examining himself.
Tank: “Tracks, what…” I began, but was unsure of exactly what to say. “What do you remember?”
Tracks: “I…” he started, but faltered. “A battle. Robots. Drones. One.” He recounted as the memories came back to him. Without warning, he leapt to his feet, knocking over a box of spare parts as he did so, a screeching sound coming from somewhere inside his body and he flailed around, seemingly terrified.



Tank: “Hey, it’s okay! It’s okay!” I reassured, trying to calm him. I heard Cat call out from elsewhere in the apartment, wondering what was going on, but I didn’t respond.
Tracks: “I… I died.” He panted.
Tank: “I rebuilt you. You have a new body! A better one! More sturdy, more robust. Hopefully you won’t need as much maintenance anymore.” I explained and Tracks started to calm down. His wide eyes slowly returning to normal size.
Tracks took a few moments to take that in and then took up examining himself again.


Tank: “Here.” I remembered something and headed over to my sack of parts. “Your last one was, uh… well, it was incinerated, so I got you a new one.” I explained, producing a black hat, just like Tracks’ last one and handing it to him.



My droid looked it over for a few seconds, before raising it up and placing it on his own head.
Tracks: “How do I look?”
Tank: “Perfect.” I responded, still grinning from ear to ear.


Cat: “Oh wow…” Cat breathed aloud as she entered the room and spotted Tracks up and about. “You’re active!”


Tracks: “Mistress Cat.” He greeted with a polite nod and Cat started smiling. “Wow. Just call me Cat.”
Tracks: “Very well.” He nodded again.
Cat: “He’s incredible.” She admired, looking him up and down and her compliment just made me grin even more – something I didn’t think was actually possible!


Tank: “I know.” I admitted. “Incredible. I need to make a few adjustments, but soon enough, you’ll be in full working order.” I explained and Tracks nodded.
Tracks: “I understand.”
Tank: “I told Eris there was nothing to be worried about!” I gloated to Cat and she nodded in agreement.



Cat: “He does seem to remember himself. I suppose even the most powerful beings in the universe are wrong sometimes.”


I was so pumped, so full of joy and excitement, that I decided to pull out my comlink there and then. I punched in Eris’ number and waited for the call to connect. It took a minute or two for her to answer and when she did, she looked… well… tired.
Eris: “Hello Tank.” She greeted wearily.
Tank: “Hello. Are you okay?” I asked, concerned, my joy at Tracks’ recreation fading slightly.
Eris: “I’m fine, thank you. Just… very busy!” she responded with a small smile. “I’m in Sector 9 and there’s a lot going on.”
Tank: “Anything I can help with? Probably not from here, I imagine!”
Eris smiled. “No. But thanks for the offer. Now, what was it you wished to speak about?” For a moment, I forgot that I’d been the one to call Eris and not the other way around.



Tank: “Tracks.” I started bluntly, trying to force myself not to smile. “I rebuilt him.”
Eris: “Frank Foster…” she warned, sounding annoyed, but I cut her off.
Tank: “And he’s fine! He’s completely fine! Look!” I shouted and held the com up to Tracks.
Tracks: “Greetings, Eris!” he nodded. “You look awfully weary…” he commented.
Tank: “See!” I boasted, lowering the comlink again. “In fact, he’s better than fine. He’s better than he's ever been!”


Eris was silent, but I could see the anger in her eyes. A small part of me was scared, knowing all too well what she was capable of, but right now I was just glad to be getting back at her. She’d warned me not to build Tracks and she’d been wrong.
Eris: “We will discuss this later.” The Archmage announced. “This is not over.”



Elsewhere…



It was dark.



But that was how he liked it. He'd never been a fan of bright, open spaces. No. A dark room would do him just fine and so a gloomy, abandoned warehouse, deep in the underbelly of Regentis, with all its nooks and crannies, it's alcoves and corners and whatever may have been hidden away in the shadows was perfect.


Shadows could hide anything and this is why Darkblade, trained assassin turned mercenary, liked them so much. It meant that he could hide from his victims and they wold never know what hit them.


Or at least, that's what it used to mean. Now... now it meant that he could hide from himself, hide his own frailties and pretend that they didn't exist. Only they did, and that was a fact that Darkblade was all too aware of.



The only audible sound in the warehouse was the faint, regular 'ping'ing of a heart monitor, echoing off of the cold, bare walls as Darkblade's life was kept in check. Sat in a stolen medical chair situated in one of the warehouse's many alcoves, Darkblade, Jarred Zeal, wheezed in pain as he hooked himself up to yet another drip, via a cannula in the back of his hand.


He was weak. Ironically, a shadow of his former self. And it was all due to his injuries. Injuries sustained when he'd been, first of all, electrocuted and then struck by a high-speed rail shuttle during his fight with Tank.


Tank Rockwell. Frank Foster. The cause of all his pain in the last few years. And now... now more than ever, he was in pain.



Darkblade grimaced as he coughed up some nasty coloured gunk and spat it aside. He had more broken bones than he wanted to think about and God only knew how much internal damage, so now virtually every movement pained him. And that very fact pained him even more. If it hadn't been for his enhanced strength, he would have been torn to shreds by the impact of the train. But thankfully, the strength serum that Dr. Lobotomy had injected him with had kept him alive. Barely. Now, he was embarrassed at his current state. He should be stronger than this! He was used to being in peak physical condition, so to be hooked up to life support machines had nearly driven him insane.


He was embarrassed, but beneath it all, simmering below the surface, was a rage that threatened to overcome him with every passing second. A rage that was purely aimed at Tank. Darkblade was better than the Foster kid, he'd had years of training, but still, somehow Tank had managed to beat him and Darkblade couldn't believe it. It made him furious to think that he had lost to him. He so desperately wanted revenge, to go out, hunt him down and end his miserable life, but in his current state, that just wasn't possible.



His excursion to the lockup facility to retrieve his knives earlier in the day had really taken it out of him. When he'd left, he had been exhausted. Had it not been for his suit, he would have collapsed midway through the facility, so now he sat, breathing heavily in his chair, recuperating and re-gaining his strength. Since the accident, Darkblade had heavily modified his suit. Whereas before it simply offered protection from attack, now he had integrated the various life support systems he needed into it. Constant vital levels checks, a heart rate regulator, a pump that acted as his second lung - one having been punctured; everything he needed was now built-in. Before, Darkblade had been able to remove his armour as he pleased. Now though, it was as much a part of him as his limbs. Without it, he would not survive.


The mercenary closed his eyes with another pained sigh and let the equipment do its work. He would recover; he'd have to. And when he did, he was coming for Rockwell...





BONUS PICTURES




A cool shadow of Darkblade that I took while making the opening scene.



An unused image from the opening scene.



An un-edited shot from the opening scene, just so you can see what it looked like before any editing took place.



An alternative image from the opening scene. A very similar image to this ended up in the final cut, this one just has less smoke, but I liked it enough to include it here.



The set for the opening scene.



The set for Captain Drayson's study.


As my series is going to be jumping around though time, I will include a date on each episode and add it to the timeline at the end of each episode so that you can follow it.



TIMELINE





Comments

 I like it 
  October 24, 2017
NOICE!
 I made it 
  October 24, 2017
Quoting Matt Ridgeway The opening scene reminded me of the ending of Rogue One (which I have acted out with my characters many times ;) ) Great episode as always. Cheers, Matt
Yeah, it was most definitely not inspired by that. ;P Haha! --Blast--
  October 24, 2017
The opening scene reminded me of the ending of Rogue One (which I have acted out with my characters many times ;) ) Great episode as always. Cheers, Matt
 I like it 
  October 22, 2017
Yeah the opening was awesome. Another very high quality episode!
  October 21, 2017
AmaiznG! The story and pics rock!
  October 21, 2017
Very nice! I'll admit, I wasn't expecting the return of Darkblade, but that opening was brilliant! Also good to see tracks back to his old (new?) self. I guess we'll just have to see if he stays that way. You've still got me hooked mate, can't wait for the next one!
 I like it 
  October 21, 2017
Excellent episode! The new Tracks looks great, but the waist is definitely the weakest part, and I don't think he's going to fit in the Viper anymore. The Developments with Darkblade are certainly interesting, and I look forwards to seeing your next part.
 
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