Part 3 in Season 4 of my Insurgency series. A freebuild for the Marauders. Please comment, rate and enjoy!
About this creation
Corresponding text underneath each picture.
Before you read this episode, make sure that you have read THIS episode, by Iris AD.
14th November 2097: Present Day
Bringing the dead back to life.
Once upon a time it had been a fantasy; A sweat lie told to make people feel better about the concept of death. It was never real. Scientists had tried and failed numerous times over the years with varying degrees of results, from the hopeful but ultimately doomed, to the downright abominable failures. It seemed to be destined for life, once ended, to remain just that.
Having lived without my parents for the last 12 years of my life, I had grown used to the idea of them being dead. That didn't mean I was happy about it, but I was fully aware that it was the simple reality of the situation. They were dead and that was that. There was nothing that could be done.
But now. Now, thanks to an unexpected visit from Kiera, I had learned that it was in fact possible. Resurrection was a reality. It could happen. Not through scientific means, but through the mystic powers of the Collective.
It was now possible, for me to bring my parents back to life!
Dustin: "But don't you think that it would be... immoral?"
I was pacing back and forth in the living room of my apartment. Two friends, Dustin and Risa, whom I'd met last year when we fought One together and had formed a good friendship with, were stopping at my place for a bit while they dealt with some business in the city. They were both currently sat on my couch, with Cat sitting in the armchair close by and the newly-rebuilt Tracks perching on one of the table stools nearby.
Dustin: "I know how much family means to you, especially after everything you've been through, but... it just seems wrong." He reasoned. I'd just told them about my plan to resurrect my parents and to my surprise everybody seemed to be entirely against it!
Tank: "But if you know what I've been through, surely you can understand why I want to bring them back!"
Risa: "Yes, but it's just not right. The dead have no place among the living."
Dustin: "If you resurrected your Mom and Dad, they wouldn't be the same. They've been dead for, what, 12 years now? Who knows what they would come out like!"
Risa: "And that's if the process even works." She added.
Tank: "But Kiara has been dead for over a year now, so if it works on her, then it could work for my parents!"
Dustin: "Exactly! Kiara has only been gone a year. Your parents have been gone for twelve times longer than that! And this is all if Kiera can even find whoever it is she’s looking for, so that they can attempt it!”
I shook my head in disbelief. How could nobody see my point?!
Tank: "My whole adult life, from the moment Jarred murdered my parents when I was 10, I have spent wishing they were alive. Wishing they were alive and trying to avenge their deaths. I killed the man I thought responsible, Zeth Stripe, only to find out that it had in fact been Jarred the whole time, and now he's missing - I don't know if he's alive or dead. I'm never going to get closure. Also, because I murdered Stripe, the only man who knew who hired Jarred to kill my parents, I'm never going to be able to clear my own name! Frank Foster will always be wanted for the murder of his parents."
Tank: "But now I know that it's possible to bring people back from the dead and you're telling me NOT TO do it?!"
All four were silent.
Tank: "Tracks, buddy. Help me out." I pleaded to him. If he'd been programmed to sigh, he probably would have done right about now, as he unfolded his crossed arms.
Tracks: "As the leading expert here on coming back from the dead, I'm not sure what to tell you. No, being disassembled and then put back together again is probably not the same as being resurrected, but it's the closest any of us here have come. Being... gone, is fine. They don't know, Tank. They don't know that they are dead. It will have hurt them at the time, the last moments of life, knowing they were going to die, but then... nothingness. What will hurt more is if you try to bring them back. They will be confused and likely in pain. It's all very well fixing my circuits every time something goes wrong, but you can't do that with a human being. I was confused enough as it was when you brought me back and I'd only been dismantled for 8 months! Think how disorientated and bewildered your Mom and Dad would be."
I couldn't believe it! The one person I'd counted on to be on my side had turned his back on me! I shook my head again.
Tank: “It’s bad enough that Eris kept this a secret from me! But now, this?!”
Dustin: “You don’t know if Eris knew this was possible or not. It’s very plausible that she had no idea.”
Again, I shook my head, not knowing what to think.
Tank: "Cat." I begged, looking to my girlfriend for support. Until now she had been silently staring at the floor, but now she finally looked up at me.
Cat: "Don't do it, Tank. It would be unethical. You would be causing them more pain than anything else. Just let things be. People die, that is the way of life. As you said, you may not like it, but you learn to live with it and that's the way of the galaxy. You need to let them go."
I spent the rest of the day fuming. I couldn't believe that my friends were stopping me from doing this! My whole life has been dedicated to my parents, and now, when I have the chance to bring them back to life, I was being told not to!
Although, as the day wore on, I did begin to accept some of the points that had been made and I started to calm down. Was I wrong? No, I didn't believe that. I still believed that I should at least try and resurrect my parents. But, at least for now, I would have to wait.
Dustin and Risa had headed out and both Cat and Tracks were elsewhere, so I was sat on my couch alone, thinking it all through whilst mindlessly watching the TV. Suddenly, an interesting headline caught my attention. The news was on and the headline read, 'FotU Push for Registration.'
I had, of course, seen Judas' speech on the TV, when he spoke about the proposed Collective Registration Act. I wasn't sure what to think of it. On the one hand it did make a certain amount of sense, but on the other, it seemed like a pretty big invasion of privacy.
One of the news presenters was doing an interview and the caption at the bottom of the screen informed me that the guest was Hruuk-Te, Vice Reverend of The Followers of the Universe.
Presenter: "...The Followers of the Universe have only existed since the Shift brought Earth to our system, that's a matter of a handful of years - The Collective have been around for millennia. If their history is to believed, their ancestors, The Singers, helped to bring the whole universe into being..."
Hruuk-Te: "That is their belief, yes. But it is false. The Universe created itself. Over billions of years, it expanded and evolved and grew - even to this day, it still expands, we know this as fact. Real, scientific fact, not the misguided beliefs of a group of terrorists."
Presenter: "I think you'd be hard pressed to call The Collective terrorists." The presenter interjected. "They have lived peacefully beside us for 2 years now. As always, it is the actions if the few that tarnish the many."
Hruuk-Te: "And that is why the registration act is a good idea. It is a way of monitoring the many in order to weed put the few. Ordinary citizens have nothing to fear from the act. Only those with something to hide should be worried." The red-skinned Hasat explained.
Presenter: "There has never been a monitoring system on this scale before..."
Hruuk-Te: "You forget; only those worthy of being monitored will be - just the most powerful of The Collective. The one percent. The rest will have to register, yes, but if they are not above a certain level of abilities, they will be left alone. Alone those with a significant amount of abilities will be kept track of. And in my opinion, that's a small price to pay for that level of power."
The presenter nodded thoughtfully.
Presenter: "When surveillance cameras were first introduced, there were concerns about how much of an intrusion they would be on everyone's lives. People were worried that they were going to be spied on 24/7..."
Hruuk-Te: "And were they? No. And think how many lives CCTV has helped to save. It is a tool for stopping crime, not for keeping track of ordinary people every moment of every day. The registration act would work in much the same way."
As both presenter and guest debated, I couldn't help but get drawn in. It was a genuinely interesting argument about the pros and cons of such a controversial policy. When Judas had first announced it, I had been unsure, but now, listening to the debate on both sides, I must admit that I was beginning to lean towards approving the act. It made sense. The act wouldn't get in the way of ordinary citizens lives, it would just monitor those with the most amounts of power.
Presenter: "But is the act not a huge invasion of privacy? It asks an entire race to divulge very personal information to the Government. Surely that is, on the one hand unethical and on the other discrimination? Why not ask the Molluscans how strong they are? Or the Zaruns how intelligent? Is the act not a huge act of racism?" He countered.
The Vice Reverand shrugged ever slightly.
Hruuk-Te: "The price to pay for security. It is not every race. Merely the intruders; The Collective."
Presenter: "You say 'intruders', as if The Collective are not welcome here? The Followers of the Universe have clashed with The Collective ever since they arrived in our system have they not?"
Hruuk-Te: "We have, but not by design. In any confrontation, The Collective have forced our hand."
Presenter: "So the Followers are anti-Collective?" The presenter interrupted.
The Vice Reverand paused to think before replying, and when she spoke, she managed to talk her way around the question.
Hruuk-Te: "The Followers of the Universe are anti-anything that harms the Universe that we all live within and love. The Universe gave us life, created us. It deserves respect and admiration. The Followers of the Universe give it that. The Collective galivant around from galaxy to galaxy, system to system, enforcing their ways onto people who neither want nor need them. They wage war wherever they are not accepted and force peace terms on those where they are. How much damage was done during the Collective war? How many people died? And how many have died since at the hands of various Collective miscreants? Most recently, our leader, High Reverend Regus was murdered in cold blood by a Collective Mage." She explained, pausing briefly before continuing. "We cannot remove The Collective from our beloved system, but the Registration act goes some way towards preventing monsters like Azgoth and the Ambassador from rising to power and hurting the people and planets that we love."
Suddenly, there was an almighty crash from nearby. I leapt to my feet, concerned, and darted into the corridor.
There, I came face-to-face with a Collective mage and a small squad of Collective soldiers.
Tank: “What the hell?!” I demanded, reaching for my pistols, only to find that they weren’t there! I didn’t wear them when I was in the house, there didn’t usually seem any point! Which left me defenceless against the intruders.
Tank: “Who the hell are you?” I demanded, standing my ground.
Lashka: “I’m Lashka Mareen. You are Tank Rockwell. Pleasantries over.” The Mage responded. “Now get out of my way.” I stood my ground as long as I could, but this Lashka woman simply shoved me aside and strode past into the living room.
Tank: “What do you want?” I shouted, following close behind and coming around to face the woman as she came to a halt in the middle of the room.
Lashka: “We’re here to check on your droid.”
Tank: “My droid?! Why does he need checking on and why the hell does that allow you do break down somebody’s door?!
The female mage turn her full focus to me and I felt like her eyes were boring into my soul.
Tank: “He’s not here.” I lied.
Lashka: “Don’t play games with me, boy. If I wanted I could extract the information straight from your mind, but I’m on strict orders to be nice.”
Tank: “You’re being NICE?!”
The woman scowled.
Tank: “Look, I demand to know what’s going on!” I yelled as soldiers, one of whom was carrying an active comlink, moved in closer.
Lashka: “I’ve already told you. We’re here to examine your droid.”
Tank: “On who’s authority?!”
Lashka paused and then reached out to the soldier holding the comlink and he passed it to her. In turn, she passed it to me and my heart leapt as I found myself staring at Eris.
Eris: “Mine.” She replied, answering my question.
Tank: “I should have known.” I muttered, furious.
Eris: "Nothing has changed." She responded. "Including you. Just as stubborn as always." She continued.
Here we go. I sighed and rolled my eyes.
Eris: "Tank, I told you not to rebuild Tracks and you disobeyed me."
Tank: "I'm not your child, Eris! You may be the head of an intergalactic race of mystics, but I'm older than you!"
Eris: "Then grow up and act like it." She cut across me. "Listen to yourself! You sound like a child."
Tank: "I have done nothing wrong!" I insisted. "You're being completely unreasonable!"
Eris: "How am I? I'm trying to protect you and everyone else in this system from an entity hell bent on destroying it!"
Tank: "One has gone, Eris! You and Jay cut him into pieces and pushed him into a black hole!"
Eris: "But we have no idea how he effected those under his control. You've used junk robot parts to remake Tracks..."
Tank: "And he is fine!"
Eris: "For now! Who knows what might happen in a week! In a month! Ten years down the line!"
Tank: "Exactly! Who knows! You may be right, or, I might be! You can't tell me for certain what's going to happen in the future." I argued and Eris sighed and stared past the holo-cam to something I couldn’t see.
Tank: "Eris, you're the one being unreasonable. Tracks is fine, I swear." I told the Archmage, but she remained silent, staring off into the distance.
Eris: "He's evil." Said Eris quietly.
Tank: "Tracks or One?"
There was a short pause before Eris replied.
That annoyed me. Nobody insulted Tracks. Eris was really starting to piss me off now.
Tank: "Just because he's powerful now, doesn't make him evil!" I retorted. "You're powerful and you're not evil!" I declared and Eris spun to me with a face like thunder. For a moment, I thought that I may have crossed a line and come too close to comparing her to her brother, Azgoth, but then I settled my resolve and stood my ground.
Eris: "Watch your tone." She warned and I'm sure I saw a flicker of something - fire? - in her eyes.
Tank: "Or what, Eris?" I tested.
Cat: "What's going on?" I heard Cat's voice ask as she entered the room behind me and from the sound of the footsteps, Tracks was with her.
Eris and I maintained eye contact for several more seconds before Lashka took the comlink back from me and held it up so she could see Tracks.
Tracks: "Is something wrong, Eris?" He asked with a concerned frown and I saw Eris's eyes widen again as she heard him speak for the first time.
Eris: "That voice..." She whispered and I couldn't help thinking that she actually sounded a bit scared.
Cat: "Archmage, what's the matter?" She asked, but Eris gave no reply.
Instead, she took a deep breath and announced,
Eris: "I'm sorry Tank, but I cannot let this be."
Eris: "I hereby claim this droid as property of The Collective."
Tank/Cat: "WHAT?!" We both asked incredulously.
Eris: "It is made from Collective drone parts and as such, is Collective property. It will be taken care of aboard the Spire."
Tracks: "But..." he began to protest, but was cut off as with the gesture of an outstretched hand and a muttered word from Lashka, he froze in place, rigid as a board.
Eris: “Take him.” She commanded.
With another sweeping gesture and a voiced command, Lashka created a swirling black hole beneath him and my newly-created buddy dropped straight into it.
Tank: "Nooo!" I screamed and in my rage, lunged at Lashka. The mage spun, put out her palm and I felt myself get knocked to the ground by an invisible force.
Eris: "I'm sorry." She repeated from the comlink, before Lashka waved at her troops and stepped back into the portal herself and vanishing. The soldiers followed suite and then the black hole instantly shrunk in on itself and within a second, had vanished altogether, leaving Cat and I alone.
Cat stood still, flabbergasted. I lay, shaking, on the floor. Shaking with adrenaline, with anger, my jaw trembling. I wanted to scream, to shout, to smash something to pieces.
This was the final straw. Eris had first gotten my hopes up for my parents, teasing me with the possibility of bringing them back to life, only to then rip it away by forbidding it. And now this. Now, she had taken Tracks away from me. I'd only just gotten him back, and now, once again, he'd gone...
One, two, breathe.
One, two, breathe.
Deep in his hideout, Darkblade was furiously working away at a training dummy. His injuries had made him slower than ever, but in turn, his anger at being slow fuelled his power. His fighting style was changing, adapting to his new capabilities.
One, two, breathe.
One, two, missed!
He roared in anger and lashed out, striking the dummy again and again and again and again for as long as his screaming body would allow. Then, still raging, he grabbed his sword from where it lay on a nearby crate and slashed the dummy clean in half.
If only it had been that easy to kill Tank.
He stood there panting, his aching chest heaving inside his armour, his head drenched in sweat and a snarl on his face. His body felt as if it were on fire, thanks to his injuries, but he was only now beginning to feel it.
With a growl, Darkblade tossed his sword to the floor and stalked away across the warehouse, pulling off his gloves and wiping the sweat from his face as he did. He desperately wanted to remove his armour, but couldn't be bothered to hook himself up to the external life support machines that he would need if he did so. The built-in systems would have to do.
As he approached his bank of computers, he longed for the time when he didn't need specialist equipment to keep him alive. When he could just be himself and be free from his now necessary mechanical casing. And it was all Tank's fault. How he hell had a boy with no training managed to beat him? A man with more training and experience! A man simply better in every way!
Dumb luck. That's all it had been. Since he emerged from his coma, he had always intended on killing Tank, but now that desire was even stronger than ever. He would kill him.
But not yet. Darkblade sat at his computer bank as they hummed to life. As much as he hated to admit it, he couldn't best Tank yet. Not in his current condition. He was nowhere near fit enough now. Not strong or fast enough.
But he was planning on changing that. And not just by training.
He was searching for someone. Someone he knew would be able to help his condition. The only problem was, Darkblade had no idea where in the system he currently was. He'd been searching for a while now but with no luck. All Darkblade knew was where the man had been. So he guessed that would have to be where he started...
He groaned at the thought of going back there again, but he supposed it was time for a trip back to Iapra...
The Next Day…
Yesterday had been trying. Eris had well and truly pissed me off. Confiscating Tracks, claiming him to be 'property of The Collective', now that he was made from old drone parts, was just utterly stupid. I'd spent the rest of the evening fuming and had barely slept all night.
To take my mind off of everything, Cat had this morning suggested that we take a trip to the police station to inform them about The Boss and try to flush him out.
Initially I had refused, simply because I was still too angry at Eris, but Cat had insisted and practically forced me out of the door.
So now we were walking into the police precinct where we knew that the Chief of Police had his office. If we were going to tell anyone this information, it would have to be him. We had no idea who was under The Boss' influence and didn't want to risk any of his informants finding out. Of course, there was no guarantee that the Police Chief wasn't under Alberto's thumb, but he was less likely to be than just an ordinary officer.
Together, we walked up to the front desk, myself with an anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach. Possibly because of what we were about to do, but also because the last time I'd been here, Darkblade had beaten me half to death...
Receptionist: "Good morning, how can I help?" She asked with a smile that looked very practiced.
Tank: "Hi. We have some very important information that the police Chief needs to hear."
Receptionist: "I'm afraid that you can't just see the Chief like that. You need to make an appointment first and go through the reporting service to begin with. So if you could fill out one of these forms," She explained, handing me a sheet of paper attached to a clipboard. "Then we can get you to speak to an advisor."
Cat: "No, you don't understand. We can't tell this information to anyone but the Chief. It's of the upmost importance." She pleaded.
The receptionist began to repeat her earlier statement, but as she did, a man I recognised from the last time I'd been here walked through a nearby door. It was the Chief himself!
Chief: "Marta, could you contact 3307 and let them know that the Porto case..."
Tank: "Excuse me, sir!" I interrupted, walking up to him. "We have some important information that you need to hear."
Chief: "Speak to an advisor." He put bluntly.
Cat: "Sir, it's about the crime lord 'The Boss.'"
That got his attention.
Chief: "What about him?"
Cat: "Could we talk to you in private?"
A few minutes later and after passing through the main office area of the precinct, we were sat in the Chief's personal office and he had closed the door behind us.
Chief: "Okay, so what's this all about?" He questioned as he took a seat opposite us.
Tank: "We know information about The Boss that will be of use to you."
Chief: "Such as?" Prompted the Chief of Police.
It was going to be best to let Cat explain everything, so I turned to her with a small nod of encouragement. After taking a deep breath, she began.
Cat: "The Boss' true identity is Alberto Rinse, a businessman from Earth. On this datapad," She continued, sliding a pad across the desk to the elder man, who took it. "You'll find copies of numerous illegal transactions, along with a list of accomplices and his home address, although you will likely find it abandoned.'
The police Chief spent a few moments scrolling through the pages of information, his bushy eyebrows raising at what he read, before responding verbally.
Chief: "This is quite the data cashe." He muttered as he looked back up at us. "One would be inclined to ask where you got it?"
Tank: "Let's just say, we've had dealings in the past."
The Chief 'hurrumphed'.
Chief: "So, disgruntled former employees then."
Tank: "Something like that." I confirmed.
Chief: "I should arrest the both of you right now as accomplices." He muttered, turning his attention back to the datapad on the desk before him. "But this is one hell of a lot of information and if it's real, I can't let it go to waste. You may have just helped to bring in a wanted crime lord, congratulations."
Cat: "We want no thanks." Replied Cat honestly. It had taken her a lot of courage to come and do this today; giving information on her father to the authorities.
Chief: "I didn't say you would get any." He replied flatly. I wasn't sure about the Chief. His tone was very brusk and he didn't beat around the bush in the slightest. With him, everything was straight and to the point, but I could tell that beneath the gruff exterior, the moustached man was both kind and also, more importantly, loyal to the force.
Chief: "I want to ask you all sorts of questions about how you came by this information, but I suppose you'd be disinclined to answer them?" He probed, looking back up at us.
Cat: "It's all true. You can run it by your data analytics department if you desire. They'll discover that none of it has been faked. As for how we came by it... we were close." Cat replied, giving nothing away.
Chief: "Hmm. I see." He mused.
Cat: "The Boss has gone into hiding, so he may be harder than ever to find." My girlfriend continued. “But hopefully if the right people get this information, they will be able to flush him out."
Chief: "Don't worry." He reassured us. "Only those I trust the most will handle this information. I'd like to say that I trusted everyone here with my life, but in this day and age, you can never be too sure. Nevertheless, I'll pass this on to the IIA, who I'm sure will make good use of it. It'll be kept safe, you have my word." He nodded to us with the slightest smile beneath his over-sized moustache.
Raucous laughter echoed across the bar, accompanied by the sounds of clinking glasses, eager chatting and background music. All of it mingling together with the smell of beer and toilets that probably hadn't been cleaned for longer than they should have.
The dingy pub, located somewhere in one of Qoter's less prosperous regions, was packed as it always was at this time of night. Jovial drinkers mixed with sorrowful sinners to dowse themselves in alcohol and lose control of their inhibitions, all squeezed together in the one small, dark room, it made for quite the squeeze.
However, one patron, a regular as of late, was sat slightly apart from the others. The grey-haired man had been in here quite a bit more than he should have been recently, spending most of his days sitting alone, a little further from the main hustle and bustle of the bar area.
His swirled the last dregs of his latest pint around the bottom of his glass before downing it and slamming the glass down onto the table beside him. He growled to nobody in particular as a passing barman took the empty glass.
Patron: "Another." He ordered. The barman shook his head. Not to the patron, who was staring blankly at his own feet, but to himself. He knew how much the man was in here and knew it would do him no good. The past was the past and could not be changed, no matter how many pints he drank. Still, the more he came in, the more money the pub made, so unless he started causing trouble, the bum was free to come and go as he pleased.
The drunk belched into a fist, then wiped his mouth with the same hand. He paused to examine the liquid left on his fingers, before wiping it away on his tattered clothing. Where once he had been dressed in finery and uniform, now he wore only shirts and slacks.
The barman returned with a fresh glass of beer and set it on the table.
Barman: "Are you paying today?" He questioned, sounding like he already knew the answer.
Patron: "Add it to my tab. He responded gruffly. Again, the other man shook his head as he walked away, past a couple of laughing aliens heading the opposite way.
The drunk picked up his new pint and wiped away the excess foamy head, flicking it onto the floor with his hand, then lifted the glass to his lips. But as he did so, one of the two passing aliens bumped into his arm and sent the glass smashing onto the floor.
There was a moment of 'Oooh!'s from across the pub in response to the sound of a glass breaking, but the patron didn't hear them. He cried out in a deep groan of surprise before growling and grabbing hold of the perpetrator.
Patron: "Hey! Watch it! Do you know who I am?!" He yelled from his seat, yanking on the man's clothes to pull him down to his level. "I'm an Imperium Colonel!" He shouted.
But the alien wasn't intimated. In fact, he just pushed the drunk's hands away and scoffed as he stood.
Alien: "Ha! WAS." He corrected, before he and his friend moved on, laughing together at the incident and leaving former Colonel Xavier Ramson to glower furiously at their backs.
What had his life become? He'd gone from being a respectable Imperium Colonel to a paralysed bum in the corner of a pub. He'd lost everything. His career, his dignity, his life...
When he'd been fired, the Imperium had taken his hoverchair away, so now he was forced to push his way around in an old-fashioned wheelchair. Beta Squad had been disbanded, but not only that, they'd all been freed! They had all been pardoned as an off-the-books, yet apparently 'official', apology for everything they had been put through.
It was a joke. All of it. As Ramson glared after the, by now, long-gone aliens, he couldn't help but wonder if anything was really worth it any more...
The INV Anvil…
Captain Drayson: "...and...?" The Captain prompted.
Ari': "And they would be wiped out." Cadet Arianne Odanna concluded.
Drayson: "Well done." She nodded.
Ari' and her mentor, Captain Lya Drayson, were stood in one of the INV Anvil's analysis centres, pondering over a holographic tactical display table. Capyain Drayson pressed a button and the table changed its display to show an entire block of blue, signifying allied forces, being completely destroyed by an onslaught of enemy red.
Drayson: "But, if you deploy only half of the force to the Eastern flank, the second half, along with the reserves can approach from the North and the rebels will be forced to face an enemy in close quarters on two fronts and therefore have to divide their troops." Captain Drayson explained, outlining the best possible scenario to her mentee as she pressed another few buttons and the holographic map reset to display the manoeuvres that she had just said.
Cadet Odanna nodded in understanding as she watched the imaginary battle unfold, just as the Captain had predicted.
Ari': "But, if the troops on the East attack first, surely they'd be outnumbered and easily overwhelmed? Wouldn't it make more sense to have the reserves fighting with the first wave to boost their numbers?"
Drayson: "It's possible that they'd be overwhelmed, yes, but that is where the element of surprise comes into play. The enemy would expect the bulk of the force to attack first, with the lesser amount as backup, not the other way around."
Ari': "It's risky."
Drayson: "But it worked." Captain Drayson replied, indicating to the tactical table where the blue lights had completely eradicated the red. "Never be afraid to take risks. Calculated ones, at least."
Ari' nodded, impressed and her mentor shut off the holographic display.
Drayson: "That'll do for today, Ari'." She announced and Cadet Odanna saluted sharply, the Captain returning the display.
As both relaxed, Ari' piped up,
Ari': "If you don't mind my asking, Captain, how go the plans for uniting our enemies?"
Drayson: "They go well." Captain Drayson responded with a thin smile, as the pair exited the analysis centre. "In fact, the first mission shall soon be underway, I am just awaiting final confirmation from Admiral C'paya and then everything can begin.
Ari': "That's great news!"
Drayson: "Indeed. The Admiral was rather unsure of my plan to begin with, but with some time I managed to talk him around. As soon as he signs off on the last documents, we will be on our way."
It took a moment for Cadet Odanna to fully register what the Captain had just said, but when it clicked, she frowned.
Ari': "Wait, we?"
Drayson: "Certainly." She replied, matter-of-factly. "You didn't think I would be going without you, surely?"
As it happened, that's exactly what Ari' had assumed, but she declined to admit this out loud.
Drayson: "No," She continued. "I think it high time you had some more first-hand experience."
Ari': "I'm honoured, Captain."
Drayson: "Oh, there's nothing to be honoured about." She reminded. "We're about to walk straight into the arms of our enemies. It's entirely possible that we will both end up dead before the week is out."
Ari': "So why are we going?" She questioned nervously, but trying not to sound it. The plan had made sense initially, but now, having been told that she was about to waltz into the jaws of death, suddenly she wasn't quite so certain.
Drayson: "Because nobody else will." Replied the Captain, as if the answer had been obvious.
Ari': "Yes, but how can you be sure that the enemy won't just kill us on sight?"
Drayson: "I'm not. But if every mission was risk-free, then it wouldn't require doing. All one can do is take the time and make the effort to ensure that all possible precautions are put into place. For this mission, that involved researching our enemies thoroughly and deciding which will be the most likely to accept our proposal. We visit those first, with the hopes that they will agree and then we can move on from there to the progressively more unlikely groups."
Arianne nodded thoughtfully. She still wasn't keen on the idea, but she trusted the Captain with her life.
Ari': "Okay. So where are we going first?"
Drayson: “First, we are heading for Etrion. A few months ago, the so called ‘Marauder Council’ waged a private little war against another criminal organisation known as ‘The Claws of Etrion’. They’re no more than well-armed mercenaries, working for the highest bidder, but nevertheless, it still took intervention from Archmage Arathon and her band to put a stop to them. Now, the ‘Claws’ are worthless. They were so badly defeated, that they are leaderless and without cause. They are our best bet for getting started.”
Ari’ nodded in understanding, but still wasn’t sure about the idea of heading into an enemy encampment.
Drayson: "But for now, rest. I will summon you when we are ready to depart."
Again, Ari' nodded, unable to hide the fear from her expression.
Drayson: "Do not worry, Ari'. I have confidence that everything will unfold as I am expecting." The Captain smiled, breaking protocol and placing a reassuring hand on the Cadet's back. Ari' enjoyed the moment of contact before smiling up at her superior.
Ari': "And I have confidence in you."
It was precisely 3:27am. I knew that because I had just watched the clock tick over from 3:26am. And I was watching the clock tick over because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't sleep.
I had too much on my mind. The possibility of raising my parents from the dead, and also the fact that Tracks had been stolen from me.
Every time I thought about what Eris had done, I could feel the anger rising inside my chest. In hindsight, it was probably best not to think about it while trying to get to sleep, but I just couldn't help it. Grinding my teeth in anger, I couldn't take laying here any more.
I threw back the covers, probably not as carefully as I should have done to avoid waking Cat, and sat on the edge of the bed for a few seconds. Then, without really thinking about it, I walked to where my satchel hung on the coat stand and from within, retrieved a small holo-chip. I threw on my gown and left the bedroom, heading for the living room.
As I slid onto one of the dining table chairs, I took a deep breath and set the holo-player in front of me, turning it on. My parents appeared, shimmering blue mirages before me, and I watched the message they’d left me for the goodness-knows-how-many’th time. It was on mute, but I liked the watch my parents smiling and talking, as if nothing had ever gone wrong. As if they were really here.
It just wasn't fair. Any of it! I mused, flicking the hologram back off again and staring out of the window at the darkness beyond. The city outside was still littered with pinpricks of light, but at this time of night, it was much quieter than normal.
But my view of the city was obscured, when Cat's reflection appeared as she walked up behind me.
Cat: "You okay?" She questioned, concerned.
Tank: "Yeah." I sighed. It was a lie but Cat already knew that. She placed a comforting hand on my shoulder and I nuzzled into it for a second.
I was fed up of this now. I'd passed the stage of being sad, now I needed to do something about it. Something to resolve my situation.
Tank: "I'm going to steal Tracks back." I announced
Cat: "Is that really wise?"
Tank: "Probably not." I conceded. "But I'm going to do it anyway."
Cat made her way around me to sit by my side.
Cat: "Tank, I know you're upset, but you're never going to be able to just 'steal' Tracks back. You heard Eris; she's taken him to The Spire. You're not going to be able to walk right into Collective HQ, grab him and go!" Cat warned. "Eris will know you're coming. She'll have defences in place and I'm pretty sure Tracks will be securely locked away too, probably using magic."
Tank: "I have to try." I replied without looking at her.
Cat: "Tank, one man against the Archmage and her forces... it just isn't going to happen. I know how much Tracks means to you, but maybe it's time to move on? You can't do this. Not by yourself."
Tank: "That's why I won't be alone." I responded, an idea coming to mind and I finally looked across at Cat, who was frowning. "I have a plan..."
The set for the news interview.
The Chief's Office set.
The amount of work I put into lighting my episodes! haha! There are 6 different light sources, all a different colour.
An alternative shot of Ramson in the pub.
The Anvil's tactical centre set.
N.B. Eris and Lashka by Iris AD. Dustin, Risa and Uek Ferris by Werewolff.
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.
Yet another brilliant episode my friend! The sets for this one were particularly well built, especially the lighting in the pub. I'm also digging the set up for the crossover, there's a lot that's going to go on! And cheers for including Dustin and Risa, and for getting their opinions pretty much bang on about resurrection. The hype for this crossover is very real!
This was probably, by far, our most favorite episode lol! Always an amazing job good sir. I personally like how you did the lightings of the bar, especially the hologram of Eris too. I can only guess that either the next episode or the one after it will be where the Cross-Over shall begin. We are very excited to get to it lol! Nonetheless, spectacular job! ;)