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Thread: Suba Games Fan Fiction Contest

  1. #31
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    Thank you very much

  2. #32
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    Ricarten Town
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    Deep in the heart of Priston, a new evil has awoken: Salzacck, and the world shall be plunged into chaos and despair. Only the 8 heroes of the north and south continents will rise up and defeat him.

    Chapter 1-The Meet of the Future


    "Alright, I have to train as much as I can now!" A young man with fiery orange hair said, a wooden axe strapped to his back. He had blue tattoos running down his face, and had a bulky stature. He smiled, although was freaking out on the inside. Then, a woman walked up behind him.

    "James, you can't rush into every battle blind." she said, shaking her head. She had long, brown, flowing hair that reached her shoulders. She was holding a bow in her hands, green eyes glistening. James sighed, folding his arms.

    "Oh, Sasha, you don't need to worry about the toughest young aspect in Ricarten." James said, filled with pride. Then an older man walked up to them, a blue mask covering his mouth. His cold, blue eyes stared at James and Sasha intensely.

    "You guys are so immature..." he said, nodding as if he agreed with his statement. His blue hood that ended in a point on the back of his head blew in the wind. He had a spear gripped in his left hand, jagged and fierce.

    Sasha rolled her eyes, scanning the man blankly.
    "Mark, do you always have to get involved with everyone's business?" she asked, irritated.

    James shrugged, walking away.
    "Geez, can't I catch a break around here?" he asked himself, not looking where he was going. James bumped into a younger boy, and the both of them fell to the ground.

    The boy groaned, green hair falling in front of his face.
    "Ow....look where you are going, James." he said, annoyed.

    James got up and helped the boy to his feet.
    "Henry, be quiet. You'd better look where you are going next time." he huffed.

    Later...

    James and Mark walked into the room of the leader.
    "Verkan? Are you here?" James asked loudly.

    Mark sighed, hitting James in the back of the head.
    "Silence is a virtue." he said, continuing forward in the room.

    Henry and Sasha came out of a small corridor to the left of the room, stopping before they bumped into Mark.
    "Oh great, not you again." Sasha complained, narrowing her eyes.

    Henry looked away, scared of Mark. They were half-brothers, and Mark was usually the one to take charge.

    James walked up next to Mark, frowning.
    "Henry, Sasha? Where have you been?" he asked.

    Sasha rolled her green eyes.
    "Oh please. Obviously we were visiting Master Lance." she replied bluntly.

    Henry nodded, mad at James.

    Mark raised an eyebrow, looking back and forth between James and Henry.
    "Looks like you two have something against each other." he noticed, walking through the corridor.

    James growled, bumping past Henry, following Mark.

    Sasha grabbed Henry's arm, walking out of the sanctuary-like dungeon.

    Chapter 2-The Holy Unholiest

    In the town of Pillai:

    A boy with brown hair sat on the roof of a building, frowning.
    "Why father...?" he asked, looking up in the sky. A girl with long flowing pink hair floated up in front of him.

    "Aster, what is the problem?" she asked, smiling. She sat next to Aster, putting an arm around him.

    Aster sighed, taking out a necklace from his pocket. He looked at it, and clenched it in his fist.
    "My father died failing at a task that we are now burdened with, Julie. I can't take it!" he growled, sobbing.

    Julie frowned, trying to calm Aster with a hug.
    "Not to be mean, but crying over it won't change anything." she said.

    A man with midnight blue hair and a robe walked by, deep in thought. He walked up to another person wearing a robe, greeting him.
    "Raven, it is a pleasure meeting you. I have something to ask of you." the man said to Raven, who paused and listened. "I know that Salzacck is the main problem, and there will be more people that I have to combine my prowess with, but do you really think that they will be up to it?"

    Raven didn't motion a response. Instead, he gave words of encouragement.
    "Zale, you know not about what lies within you, nor about what challenges await. All we can do is cheer for you." he said, before walking off. Zale had much to think about, but he sighed.

    "Then I must find out..." Zale said, walking off to the teleport area south of town.

    A woman with brown pigtails and a javelin studied Aster and Julie from afar.
    "What is up with Aster lately? He has to set his emotions straight." she said, spinning her javelin in her hand.

    Later:

    Zale came back from hunting, unimpressed.
    "I need advanced training, or else I will not beat Salzacck..." he muttered, walking home.

    Julie and Aster were sitting near a shop, looking at the customers that came by.
    "Thanks for lifting my spirits." Aster said, hugging Julie.

    Julie giggled, getting up.
    "Cya tonight!" she said, running off.
    Last edited by Oshawhat; May 23rd, 2013 at 01:49 PM. Reason: MORE of the stoy!

  3. #33
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    Sep 2009
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    A world where people are high... in the sky.




    Part 1: The Flight Test.


    *Somewhere, lost in the middle of a desert...*

    - "*shzzzz* Engine's ready, shield's ready and my body's ready. *shzzzz*" I state to the radio transceiver.
    - "*shzzzz* Good, Start moving. *shzzzz*" my instructor says.
    Pushing up my joystick, I advance faster and faster on the runway. Near the end of runway I finally take the very first flight of my life.
    Flying in the desert, I can contemplate the blue sky opposing the yellow sand, though there are lots of unidentified mechanical parts spread all over the sand that I have yet to know why there's so many of them. As I turn around, I can see the very small airport in the middle of nowhere, even wondering why it is built here since there's no town and no resources nearby. I decide to do my first barrel roll, like I used to do during my virtual flight training. I got sick and barely lost control of my aircraft.
    - "ew, it must be because the barrel roll is more realistic than in virtual flight" I whisper.
    It takes me a few second to realize how obvious that statement is, since I'm flying for real now.
    My thoughts are interrupted by the radio:
    - "*shzzzz* everything seems good" my instructor says "now look for the flying target, lock on it and then fire your missiles. *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* Roger. *shzzzz*"
    It doesn't take me long to find the target on my radar. Once I've locked my target, I press the fire button. Cockpit's windows open themselves then I'm suddenly ejected from my aircraft. With a dafuq face, I can only watch my aircraft flying straight to the target, then collide it and explode in a marvellous fireblast.
    - "*shzzzz* What the bee just happened?" my instructor says "I told you to launch your missiles, not the aircraft. *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* But I've pressed the fire button, I swear! *shzzzz*"
    And I'm certain I did everything right, I couldn't miss the big red button on the joystick that should have sent the missiles.
    My instructor breaks the small silence:
    - "*shzzzz* Ah well, most likely our Korean engineer who screwed up with the aircraft's plan again... Good thing you're still alive, now go back to the base. *shzzzz*"

    Thank Bee, my seat has a functional parachute, but as I'm slowly falling down, I start to wonder how often the engineer fails to make a proper aircraft? I'm answered right away when my seat finally lands on the ground, seeing over 525 destroyed aircraft around me. As I walk back to the base, I glance at all different aircraft that didn't made it till the end. Tetrahedral aircraft, Square aircraft, Tube aircraft, Spike aircraft, I wonder how those can be aerodynamic and fly in the first place.
    Once I'm back to the base, I'm welcomed by my instructor with a big smile:
    - "You're quite lucky to be alive today." he says "The other day, someone had all his missiles eject from the aircraft with parachutes, and the cockpit with his pilot was launched straight to the target and destroyed it."
    That sure is a perfect way to welcome back someone who could have same destiny.
    - "...I have a few words for the Engineer." I say.
    - "Well, you could try, but if you don't speak Korean, you won't be able to make him understand anything." he says with a sorry face.
    - "But don't you have any translator?"
    - "Nope." he replies "When he came here, he started to build aircraft and it was impressive how fast he was, so we let him take care of making aircraft, and got rid off our old engineer."
    - "How about making them work as expected."
    - "Well, with how many aircraft he makes everyday, we eventually get one that works."
    I facepalm, and try to remember why I decided to be a pilot.
    - "...anyway you've successfully done your flight test." He adds.
    Looking back at the desert I just came from, I realize how awkward it is to qualify it as a success.
    Oh well. He continues:
    - “so it's up to you to choose your path. Stay Freeska? Join BCU or ANI?"

    Freeska, BCU or ANI. Freeska is where I decided to start with, a mercenary nation that helps BCU to keep some areas clear as well as providing future successful pilot, or should I say, lucky pilot that survived the flight test. BCU, known as Bygeniou City United, is extremely Nationalist and give importance in controlling all of their areas, their resources and their people. ANI, Anti National Influence, are opposite to BCU, in a way that they want more freedom and they accept any kind of pilots.
    I later choose ANI because the ANI's girl Operator is sexy.





    Part 2: The City and the first enemy encounter.

    *A week later, in ANI Nation*

    - "Welcome in Arlington City, pilots." says Monica, the ANI's Operator.
    Walking with a new group of pilots joining ANI, I stare at Monica's body with interest.
    - "I'm your operator that will guide you through the ANI's City."
    ...
    - "and I'm a Robot."
    - "BEE THAT!" Suddenly shouts my whole group and me.
    So that's how it is, making an attractive robot to lure people in choosing the right nation... from my group reaction, I'm guessing I'm not the only one that fell in the trap... The City's visit goes on, we're nearby what seems to be a hangar.
    - "This is our Engineer." says Monica.
    - "Hello bros!" Welcomes the engineer while grinning. "if some of you came from Freeska, you've probably met my bro, the Korean Engineer."
    Hearing that, I freeze in fear, thinking I'll be dealing with a poor engineer again.
    But I'm unable to see any similarities between his face and the Korean Engineer's face, so I ask:
    - "How close are you a bro to him?"
    - "Well, quite a far bro." he replies.
    - "How far?"
    - "So far that you could say we aren't bros."
    - "hm.. so you aren't bros in fact?" I conclude.
    - "Well yeah." he nods.

    What ever, at least I know he has nothing in common with that Korean Engineer, so hopefully he knows what he's doing. As I glance in the hangar, I can feel safe as they're clearly well made aircraft. When the visit ends, we're told to do what ever we want, join a brigade, fly or go to partner-swapping clubs.
    While I'm still thinking on what to do, I'm accosted by a guy with a black uniform, holding some nice charisma:
    - "I'm guessing you're here because you've found the ANI's operator attractive?"
    - "Huh." embarrassed to be found out so easily "Well yeah, I'm not really into Nation's philosophy, so I just decided on the sexiest body."
    - "HA, I knew it!" He shouts, with a victory expression.
    - "Isn't that your case too? Seeing that my group felt in the trap, I'd assume it's something fairly common."
    - "Well it was, in fact I was in BCU first."
    - "Oh really?"
    - "Ya really, but guess what, the other operator is a robot too!"
    - "Sad."
    - "Yeah, I thought changing for ANI would be a better idea, guess not."
    - "But it looks like you've stayed here."
    - "Obviously, there's no point to change again, so I've decided to become Robophile."
    - "Right.. Good luck."
    - "Thanks."

    I don't even want to know what kind of thoughts crossed my mind to make me say good luck to him.
    - "What gear do you pilot?" He asks.

    Good question, there are 4 different type gear existing in this universe :
    - Bgear, known as Bombing Gear, as the name suggest, it launches loads of missiles at once to the ground, but it's also capable to do the same in the air, thanks to gears detection implemented in the missiles. This is the most powerful gear of all, which is not a surprise knowing that a Sage Korean Coder once said "Bgear main bomber so stronk".
    - Igear, known as Interceptor gear, they're the fastest gear and are specialized in chasing and harassing other gears. Nothing much to say, so I'll just quote again the Sage Korean Coder "Igear supersonic speed zooooom".
    - Mgear, known as Medic gear, gives heals, buff supports and unbuff skill known as pury, but deals too few damage to do any harm. Only silly people plays them as their main.
    - Agear, known as Autocannon gear, a tank needing grounds to use at full potential his cannon, but it can fly. Expect to hear people telling you "Go play a real gear" if you choose this one.

    - "Igur." I reply.
    - "I see. Hm, you don't seem to have joined any brigade, how about you join mine?"
    - "Welp, why not, how to apply?"
    - "Here." Handing over papers. "and just sign."
    After I've quickly signed, I check the brigade names : TheRobophilians.
    Not even a second has passed, I'm already regretting joining this brigade.
    - "Great!" He says "Now that I'm your Superior, I'll appoint you to a mission, a simple one don't worry."
    - "I'm all hear..."
    - "You'll first go to Bark City."
    Bark City, a well known place which is the origin of the separation of United City, the greatest city back then, into 2 nations : ANI and BCU. Nobody is certain on why a war has started here, but it is a theatre of regular fights between the 2 nations.
    As we both walk to the hangar, a question comes to my mind:
    - "You will come with me?"
    - "I don't feel like doing it, it's too dangerous there, so you'll do it alone."
    ...
    I'm seriously regretting joining this brigade.

    Taking off from the city, I use the gate to be warped instantly to Herremeze Relic Site. Relic's a nice place, quite wild with its hellflowers throwing some odd projectiles, but really fresh with its green land and blue lakes here and there coupled with some buildings and aircraft made by the local intelligent species, the Phillon. While I'm admiring the landscape, I find my way to the next gate.
    I'm warped to Den-A, a kind of tunnel map, which doesn't give much spaces to move around, though, there is a dome on other side of the tunnel. After a while I arrive at the dome, and land on the Supply Pad in order to refuel my aircraft. Talking with the guys working at Supply Pad, I realize how friendly they are. So friendly that they also refuel the enemy aircraft in front of me. It seems the enemy saw me, and flies to the gate to warp to Bark City. After finishing fuelling I also go through the gate to Bark City.

    My tense drastically increases as I've finished to warp in. A quick check on my radar shows me that there's no enemy nearby. Suspicious, I keep an eye on the radar. Suddenly an aircraft appears in it, and is located behind me. I instantly overboost to avoid his missiles to reach me. I understand that the enemy is a Bgear, an aircraft using invisible and ABM (shotgun like attack) with his missiles. I decide to turn around and face him, launching my missiles to him, he tanks them. As I approach him, I'm getting nervous as I know Bgears are deadly with their ABM. When I see he has activated his ABM, I execute a well-timed barrel roll that let me go through his missiles without scratch. I can't help myself but grin while trying to not vomit. However, one second later my aircraft is heavily damaged, despite the missiles being clearly far behind me.
    - "What the bee just happened here!?" I shout.
    I decide to contact my superior:
    - "*shzzzz* Hello, it's the new recruit here. *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* Hey mate, what's the matter? You sound angry. *shzzzz*"
    I quickly explain him what happened.
    - "*shzzzz* I see." He says "This is actually the target you'll have to take down for your mission, but it looks like you're facing a Bgear that uses L.A.G. Attack. *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* What the bee is a L.A.G. Attack? *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* Lame Anal Ghost Attack, they're capable of sending ghost missiles when the true ones are sent with delay. Thus you see yourself barrel rolling false missiles, and then the real missiles hits you... and you get butthurt. *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* ...Any way to counter it? *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* Just never let it be close nor face you. *shzzzz*"
    I sigh. After flying around the Bgear for a while, avoiding all the time his ABM, I eventually find myself capable of sending my missiles without getting close to the Bgear. When I take out his shield, I see him panicking and for some odd reason he decides to crash on the ground, despite his aircraft's health being still in a very good state.

    The enemy being down, I take my spare time to see how Bark City looks like. It's quite a desolated area, everything seems to have burnt long ago, but I can see a few rare buildings proudly standing up on the carbonized land. I find a place to land my aircraft, and I approach the burning Bgear. I find the guy alive, in really bad state though, probably is about to die.
    - "hey.. ugh.. youu.. der." he says
    - "Yes?"
    - "Hahahu.. ah.. you didn't take me... down... since I crashed before... you destroy me! Shame on you!"
    ...
    What.
    He adds:
    - "Come here.. I wanna say a few wise words... before I finally die, so hopefully... my life have contributed... on something."
    I feel like his life still won't contribute in anything anyway.
    He continues:
    - "You see.. you should love your parents, you should love all your mates... Don't do anything to anyone what you don't want anyone to do to you. Believe in something, as it's the only way to advance in life. Don't do Drugs. It's ok to be gay. Make sure you've put enough fuels in your aircraft before flying." etc...
    Seeing he's not about to finish his speech and his advices are getting worst and worst, I decide to leave him alone and come back to my aircraft.
    - "Wash your socks if they're dirty. Watch your steps when using stairs. Use a pen if you want to write something. Speak in a language that you understand, if you want to know what you're saying." etc...
    I can barely hear him anymore when I've reached my aircraft, so I peacefully go back to my base.





    Part 3: The aircraft experiment and the second mission.

    *An hour later, in ANI's City*

    Walking around the city, I bump into the Engineer.
    He says:
    - "Hey bro."
    - "Hey."
    I understand now why he claimed the Korean engineer was his bro. He calls everyone his bro.
    - "There's a new flight test going on, with a new aircraft design I want to test, wanna see how it'll go?"
    I accept, having nothing else to do. When we finally arrive at the hangar, I find an aircraft ready on the runway. Before I find out why the aircraft's look seems weird, the engineer says:
    - "I wanted to be sure the aircraft will be extremely aerodynamic and will be able to penetrate the air super easily, so I've inspired myself with a model that already exist in our world."
    I look back at the aircraft, and now see the big picture
    - "A Dildo gear?" I ask.
    - "Yeah, and I'll let you guess what's the liquid around it."
    No thanks, I don't want to guess. But something tells me he's inspired by the fantasy of the Korean Engineer. I hear the engines heating, and my curiosity makes me check the health data of the new pilot, as I want to know what kind of pilot would want to try a Dildo gear.
    I notice something is wrong. The engines are now hot and I see the aircraft slowly advancing on the runway.
    - "But wait, how is he supposed to fly this if-"
    - "Don't worry, his physical condition are perfect to support aircraft's harsh movements."
    - "It's not about that..."
    My fear increases as the aircraft is reaching a great speed, fast enough to attempt a fly.
    - "It's about the fact that he's-"
    All pilots and the engineer in the hangar can admire a magnificent explosion coming from the aircraft crashing into the wall... on the runway?
    - "-Blind."
    Thinking again about what I'm seeing, there's definitely a wall at the end of the runway. Now that I see the whole environment around me, I realize we're in a closed hangar.
    - "How is he supposed to fly here?" I ask
    - "Normally you activate yourself the button to open the gate at the end of the track, in the hangar."
    - "Ah... but since he's blind he couldn't know..."
    - "Well, such sad loss. He had the best physical condition of all our current pilots, and I couldn't see if my new design worked."
    Watching again the big fire, I realize that ANI isn't better than Freeska,. They may build properly working aircraft, but they accept people that shouldn't think even once about flying an aircraft. Not many people survives the flight test here too...

    Going back to town, my superior finds me, he seems pretty angry
    - "Where the bee were you?"
    - "I was watching a flight test, or a firework, I'm not sure."
    - "Well, I have another mission for you, and this one won't be easy."
    He watches his watch, and then say:
    - "You'll go to Herremeze Relic Site first, I'll explain later what to do as I have something important to do right now."
    - "Fine."
    I take off and warp to Herremeze Relic Site again. Waiting for next instructions, I fly around the site. I detect quite a big UFO on my radar. Out of curiosity I check myself what is it. At my surprise, I see a Big Potato.
    - "What the bee is that? it's worst than the Korean Engineer's design." I whisper.
    Realizing that I'm not given any instruction yet, I decide to contact my superior.
    - "*shzzzz* hello there, I see a Giant Potato in Relic, what do? *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* A Potato? *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* Yes a Potato. *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* What kind of Potato? *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* A flying Potato. *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* How can a Potato fly? *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* There are wings on the Potato. *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* What else can you tell about the Potato? *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* I don't know, but our conversation is not healthy, there are too many Potatoes in it. *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* You're right, lets add some chicken wings and onion rings. *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* That's still not healthy, and what does it have anything to do with the flying potato? *shzzzz*"
    - "*shzzzz* I was deciding on my dinner. Now that it's settled I'm going to eat, cya mate. *shzzzz*"
    ...
    So that was his so called "important thing to do". Ah well, I'll trust my instinct, and take down that potato because it seems to be quite threatening.
    Locking it, I launch a few missiles. The reaction is immediate as I see 3 small cute aircraft getting out of it and attack me. The damages my aircraft's shield receives are laughable so I keep firing. Then 3 more aircraft get out of it, this time pretty big ones. I fly around the Potato and avoid easily the missiles from the new enemies. Not wanting to spend more time on the Potato, I decide to activate my Final Skill, Berserker. My aircraft restructures himself a bit and opens more holes. As soon as the berserker mode is ready, I spam my missiles. This is certainly a terrifying sight for the Potato, as a tsunami of missiles are reaching him, doing dazzling massive damage. I can feel the Potato's life going down fast. Eventually his health is down.

    *POOF*
    ...
    ...
    And that's all? Not to mention there aren't even a single drop to be seen anywhere.
    I expected an epic crash at least, like in the film Independence day... but with a big potato instead. What a waste...
    Probably due to excessive frustration from killing that potato, I feel tired and so I decide to take some rest in this area. I land at the Supply Pad of Relic, and find a nice camping place nearby. The sun is setting, so I quickly set up a tent for the night. Just when I've finished building my tent, I hear some weird noise. I turn around to check what it is.
    - "How dare you!?" says a familiar voice "I HAD NOT FINISHED MY SPEECH!"
    I recognize the guy who crashed himself to the ground in Bark City. Considering the bloodpath behind him, he most likely moved all the way from Bark City to here.
    - "How the bee did you manage to come here?" I ask, while I see him crawling on the ground with his right arm as the only body's part in good state.
    - "My right arm and right hand never gave me up when I was in need."
    The loneliness is strong in this one. Though I can't help myself but admire that right hand, I could need that on some lonely day too.
    He adds:
    - "So! Let me continue from where I was at... huh..."
    I sigh in despair, I just want a peaceful sleep tonight.
    After quite a long silence, he says:
    - "Actually I've already finished."
    - "Would've have been nice if you realized that sooner no?"
    - "Yeah, damn, now I have to go back to Bark City."
    - "But why? Can't you die already?"
    - "I want to die near my aircraft, not here."
    I crunch my fingers, trying to keep calm despite the absurdity I'm witnessing.
    I suggest:
    - "Well, if you want to come back to your aircraft in Bark City, I can take you with my aircraft and bring you back there."
    - "I'd rather die."

    I can feel my brain jumping out of my head, and fly away with a jet-pack, saying "nothing to do here".
    He adds:
    - "Well, that was a nice talk with ya dude, cya in paradise maybe."
    - "Yeah right... cya."
    After watching the guy painfully crawling back on his path thanks to his loyal right arm, I decide to come back to my small tent, and lie on the bed. Taking a long breath, I'm suddenly interrupted by a horrible scream heard far away.
    "aaAAaAaAaARRRRRrrRGGhhhhh HNNNNNNNGNGNGHNGNG YOLO DUUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRR TROOOLOLOLLL AYAYAYAYAY WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
    DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO derp *dead*"

    Oh, so the guy have finally died. A smile grows on my face as I know I'll be able to sleep without disturbances this time. On my bed, I move my head up in order to watch the night sky, which I don't see since I'm in the tent. Then I close my eye, and let my thought navigate through many memories I've made since I've decided to be a pilot.
    "What the bee..." I whisper.
    Indeed, what the bee was all of this? but I'm glad I've survived until now, so I can look forward new experiences I'll be having soon.

    After a while, I manage to sleep...


    To bee continued?



    PS: A small tiny short thanks to Saykai who helped me to check Ace online's story so I don't say BS.
    3948 words.
    Last edited by WolfyLovesCookies; May 26th, 2013 at 10:30 PM.
    Iceflower, Wolfierce, Forcewile, Owlfierce.

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  4. #34

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    This night, Gemini constellation was shining brightly above Avalon Fort, protecting the newborn life there…
    The powerful leader of the Knight Regiment hurried back home after glories victory over Giants. He couldn’t wait to see his son and future successor. The tall man in heavy armor rose his eyes, looking at shining stars above his fortress. The sky around even lost its usual crimson red shade and turned into dark blue.
    The lord of Avalon opened the heavy door and entered. How he was surprised, when he saw two identical babies, covered by blankets and the old woman coming near.
    “Welcome back, my lord, she said immediately. The knight noticed, she is very nervous.
    “Twins?” he asked the midwife and nodded towards bed.
    “Yes, my lord. Twin boys, born during twilight.” She answered.
    “They are unique. When the first one was born,” she pointed to the one of them, “ the sun was still shining on the sky, but when the second one came into this world, there was already dark.”
    The man was listening, then, he noticed something.
    “And my wife? Where is she?”
    The elder woman was silent.
    “What happened?!” the warrior came closer, grabbing her shoulders violently. “Speak!”
    “I am sorry, my lord. She passed away…”
    The man’s eyes became so full of anger, that the midwife was scared.
    “I… I am really sorry. I did everything I could do, please trust me. But she was bleeding too much. I tried to stop it, but she was too weak after the birth of the second child…”
    The woman thought, that this will be her last moment.
    “Well, go away!” the knight said in the end and his voice was cold.
    “Go away and never return! If I see you again, I will kill you!”
    When the midwife disappeared from his sight, he went back to the bed when his newborn sons were lying, curled against each other and sleeping peacefully.
    Gemini twins. Aspros, who was born into the light, and Defteros, born into the dark.
    ***
    Four years after the death of his first wife, their father got married again. His new wife was from the City of Trade, Gold Port, far away from Avalon. She came from really rich family of merchants who were travelling across the whole world to sale their goods. The knight from Avalon Fort met her when he saved her life after the caravan was attacked by Giants.
    She loved both twins as her own sons and they were happy to see some friendly face on this place of endless war. But she couldn’t stay here too long.
    Once, Aspros and Defteros were walking to the stables as always and met their stepmother here.
    “Are you going to ride a horse?” the older one asked.
    The young woman smiled at him.
    “And can we go with you?”
    Now her smile became sad. She came closer to little twins and stroked their hair gently. “Not, my children, not this time.”
    “But you will be back soon, don’t you?” Defteros whispered, looking at her with his emerald eyes.
    “No, my children…” she said hesitantly. She hugged both of them.
    “C'mon. Don’t worry. I just have to go to longer journey, but I'll see you again, I promise.” She smiled and both of them nodded. She mounted on her horse. Before leaving stables, she turned back to twins. “I would like to ask you something?”
    “What is it?” they said at the same time.
    “What name would you give to someone who is important for you?”
    They looked at each other. “Why?”
    “Its surprise,” she said with a light smile.
    They were silent for a few minutes. Suddenly, they remembered a tree with some wild berries, which they liked, because it is the only plant on this place.
    “Bery, it would be nice name.”
    Their stepmother nodded. “You are right. Thank you both. See you.”
    She turned her horse and followed the regiment of knights, waiting for her outside.
    Yeah, it will be the nice name for your future brother or sister.
    When she found out she was pregnant, her husband was proud. For her own sake, he decided to send his second wife and their unborn baby back to Gold Port. He wanted to keep that in secret so she could not explain it to the twins.
    ***
    The children, protected by the Gemini constellation, were growing up in the dangerous world of war between men and Giants. Both blue-haired boys seemed to be very close to each other. When one of them was sleepy, his brother began to yawn, if one of them was hurt, his twin felt the same pain, if one of them was happy, the other one was smiling. Every morning they woke up at the same time and every evening, they closed their eyes in the same moment, hugging each other as if they were only one person.
    Their father hoped that his first born will become the powerful knight and mighty warrior like himself, but Aspros, usually called Asp, wasn´t very talented for sword mastery. He prefered the art, music and also magic which he studied secretly when his father was on the battlefield. He was fascinated by mystic powers which could allow him to control storm and fire, cure fatal wounds of dying friend or bring the death in agony to the enemy.
    His brother Defteros, who was called Deft, was much better suited to the requirements of their father. He was strong, brave and more talented with fighting skills, even if he preferred firearms. But father never gave opportunity to him. It was more than clear that the honoured knight hates his younger child. He considered him for some evil shadow, someone who caused only sadness and misfortune to his family.
    He thought it was just Defteros´s fault that his first wife died. As the midwife said, she was too weak. The birth of the second child exhausted her too much and took her life, he thought. He never lost a word with his younger son and Defteros became very silent child. The only one he was talking with, was his twin brother.
    ***
    Two guys were sitting by the window of their bedroom and watching heavy raindrops falling down on the ground. They were about 15 years old. Suddenly one of them disapeared.
    “Still afraid of thunders, little brother?” The older twin stood up and walked to his brother hiding under their cover. He sat next to him and patted his head. “You are cute…” He smiled at his brother.
    “I´m not!” Defteros growned.
    Aspros just laughted and hid himself under the cover. His younger brother was sitting there with his eyes wide opened. He looked so helples that Aspros had to hug him and hold him really tight.
    Defteros frowned. He didn’t like to be hugged or something. He usually was his twin brother’s shield and protected him.
    Another thunder and Deft suddenly hugged his older brother. His body was shaking.
    “Don’t worry, I am here with you.” Aspros whispered, caressing his twin’s back gently. Under this soothing touch, Defteros forgot the storm outside. No thunders anymore. Now he could hear only the beating heart of his brother. He realized that the hands and body of Aspros are still so cold. Deft immediately pressed himself closer to give his own warmth to his twin. The older one smiled.
    They couldn’t see anything because of darkness here, but they still could feel each other’s gaze, which caused that both of them shivered. Deft leaned closer and kissed his other half.
    ***
    Thein hair was mixed together, arms wrapped around each other´s body. Then, suddenly, an unnown strenth hit the younger one and two big arms grabbed his hair, tearing Deft appart from his beloved one.
    Aspros was trying to help his twin, but strong hand hit his face.He heard the voice of their father, full of anger.
    „Stay here!“
    Then, everything faded into black…
    The first thing, that Aspros realised when he regained consciousness was that he is no longer in his room. He didn’t know what happened. The last thing he remembered the thunder, his other half and someone tearing them appart. His heart started beating strongly.
    Defteros! Where is he?!
    “I am here, brother.”
    The older twin finally opened his eyes and saw his other half next to him. Then he noticed that their clothes were soaked by blood. And the dead body was there. The body of mighty warrior from Avalon Fort was lying on the ground. Somewhere in the distance, Aspros could hear angry roars. With fear in his eyes, he looked at his brother.
    “What happened to our father?” he asked. “How did he die?”
    His younger twin was silent. He couldn´t tell him the truth. The older one did this to protect them. He couldn’t kill someone by himself, so he created another personality, who ended father’s life. . He just couldn’t stand being separated from his brother. Aspros is not a murderer. Defteros knew it. He couldn’t let him live with this burden…
    “Brother?”
    “Giants… killed him when you came. You were injured, that’s why you don’t remember anything…”
    Blue haired boy put his hand on his twin’s face, caressing him gently.
    “Don’t worry, my Aspros. It´s over.”
    “What will happen with us now?” the older one whispered with fear in his eyes.
    “We cannot stay on this place anymore. And we cannot return.”
    “Yeah, you are right. But now, we are free. We can start new life, somewhere far away, where nobody knows us…”
    The older twin nodded and embraced him. They wanted to forget everything from their past, everything except this strong and deep bond which they shared together. They were like one soul in two bodies. They were soul mates since their birth. And nothing could change this.
    ***
    The children of Gemini travelled so far away from the fortress where they were born and visited many different places. But even in the greatest danger, they weren’t alone, because they had each other.
    Two blue haired boys, two mirror images, were standing in front of a big city, which seemed to be full of kindness. It was so different from their home land.
    “Where we are?” the older one asked the unknown woman in front of them.
    “You are new here, aren´t you?”
    They nodded.
    “This Is Thereall, the capital city of Acadia.” She answered with the smile.
    Thereall. The city of peace. Their stepmother once told them about the capital.
    “This city seems to be perfect place where to start our new life, what do you think, my other half?”
    His twin nodded. “Yeah, you are absolutely right.”
    Holding their hands, they smiled to each other and then entered.

  5. #35

    Default Entry

    Prologue


    The sweltering sun bore down on the dusty, dry desert, rays of heat savaging the worn ground like a fierce tiger. Soft clusters of sand swirled, twisting in unique patterns like miniature shoals of fish as they adventured across an endless open sea.
    Above the desolation, a bright orange aircraft soared through the air, trails of dust and sand following closely in its wake. At its triangular front, a large glass canopy sat in front of a wide, even winged body; an elongated spine stretched down the back of the cockpit, leading down smoothly towards the wings, and finishing in a large vertical tail fin. Underneath the smooth metallic body, a set of quadruple engines burned brightly, blue flames erupting from them like a fiery volcano.
    Beneath the cockpit glass, Leo “Redcat” Holaven sat in a comfortable chair, his thin frame strapped into the seat. Around him, various computer consoles flickered quickly, cycling through different pieces of valuable flight data. As his bright blue eyes watched the desert passing below him, he heard a beep from a nearby console, making him look up towards the noise.
    His eyes fell upon the communications console, a soft light glowing green, informing him of an incoming transmission. Eagerly, he reached over and pulled a headset down over his head, the microphone positioned comfortably next to his mouth. Reaching over, he then pushed a button on the console, accepting the transmission.
    “This is Arlington airspace control to approaching craft, please state your name and clearance code” The sound of a stern, professional male voice filled his ears
    “This is Redcat, transmitting my clearance now.” He responded, quickly flipping switches on the console.
    “Arlington control Redcat, your clearance is green. Please proceed to land at hanger bay G-7 Level 4 ” The same man responded moments later
    “Thanks, Arlington control. Redcat out.” He replied, politely finishing the communication before placing the headset aside.
    As he looked outside once more, his eyes fell upon a pair of massive mountains looming in front of him to either side, smooth sandy slopes appearing over around them.
    “Nearly home” He reminded himself, his hand reaching for the flight control joystick.
    Banking the craft above the natural canyon, he noticed a large stone wall at the base of the mountains, a dark blue energy dome shining brilliantly above it. The moment he noticed the dome, he slowly pushed on the controls, pitching the craft down straight towards the wall in a controlled dive.
    As he passed by the dome, his eyes sighted a sprawling chaotic city, its shape sheltered underneath the dome; lights flickered and danced inside as hovering vehicles darted along winding roads, their shapes twisting between soaring skyscrapers; at the edges of the roads, people wandered around beneath bright, flashing neon signs like ants inside a colony of light.
    “Arlington” He smiled to himself, the city disappearing as he passed in front of the wall.
    Soaring down further, he flew over a series of holes shaped like wide open mouths, the craft diving down towards one of them. As he finally approached the opening for his plane, he carefully guided it upwards, passing safely through into a cluttered hanger. Once inside, he slowed the plane down, bringing it in to land against rough tarmac a few moments later.
    Quickly powering down the craft, he pulled open the cockpit, unstrapping himself from his seat and standing up. The moment he stood, he noticed a ladder appear out of nowhere alongside him, his body moving to climb down it seconds later without hesitation.
    The moment he reached the bottom, a large burly hand gripped him on the shoulder, a towering voice filling his ears from behind.
    “Welcome home Redcat!”


    1


    Leo leapt up as he turned in fright, a curse nearly escaping his lips.
    “Damn you Stan!” he shouted, his long blonde hair following him in irritation “You scared the hell out of me!”
    A large, dark-skinned man in front of him guffawed, eyes hidden behind a set of dark sunglasses. An image of amusement lay etched onto his sharp features, his emotions clearly visible underneath thinning hair and a small headset.
    “Well what do you expect!” Stan replied jokingly “Good flight?”
    “No not really.” He replied honestly
    “It wasn't any mechanical problems I hope?” Stan continued
    “Yep, both the wings fell off.” Leo teased him
    “Oh you -” Stan replied, both of them laughing loudly
    “Anyway, I have to get going, see you around Stan!” Leo said after a moment
    “Take care!”
    He waved to him politely, his legs bounding eagerly towards the exit to the hanger.
    Suddenly, just as he was about to walk out of the large metal doors, a pair of tall smartly dressed men appeared as they stepped through them; at their backs, a large plasma rifle lay strapped securely, the weapon wobbling as they stormed quickly towards Leo.
    “Leo Holaven?” A cold voice called as they came to a halt alongside him.
    “Yes that's me” He replied, looking up
    A metal badge flashed up, the man pushing it in front of his face, allowing his eyes to fall on the curved blue symbol.
    “Arlington Security force, we've been instructed that you come with us immediately.”
    Leo gulped, his vision filled with the plasma rifles at their backs.
    “S-sure” He stammered, stepping shakily between them.
    In moments, they led him outside the hanger and to an unmarked, sleek black hover vehicle waiting on the roadway. Nodding towards Leo, they indicated to him to get into the back, and he found himself complying with shaking hands. The second he sat down, a kick pressed against his chest, the men sending the vehicle speeding down the road.
    They drove him to an unmarked, crumbling building close to the centre of the city, ushering him straight inside; as soon as he entered, the guards guided him to a lift, travelling along with him up to one of the upper floors. Once they arrived, they led him towards an unmarked door at the end of a corridor, standing sternly beside it.
    “Please Enter” One of them said
    Leo nodded, shakily walking over to the door and pushing it aside, stepping into a plain white room. As he glanced around, his eyes fell upon a long haired female wearing full military uniform, the pupils widening in shock as he recognised her. At one side of her face, a long scar ran down the smooth skin, passing under a black eye-patch and appearing at the edge of her cheek.
    A single, clear blue eye caught his gaze as the woman looked up, seeming to sense his presence.
    “At ease, Airman before something breaks.” She commented, referring to Leo by his rank
    He found himself unable to speak, paralysed, as he stared into the legendary face of Herne Santorani.
    “Ma'am its an honour...” He finally managed, saluting respectfully.
    “The honour is all mine.” She replied coolly, pointing to a chair opposite her “Take a seat”
    Unfreezing his legs, Leo managed to walk over, promptly sitting down in the chair.
    “Coffee?” She asked, a can appearing in her hand out of thin air from under the desk.
    “No thanks, I'm not thirsty, ma'am” He replied, watching her with interest.
    “Ah, its good stuff this canned coffee.” She remarked casually, pouring herself a drink into a mug, the words “World's best rebel leader!” printed on one side.
    “Anyways, I apologise for not coming personally to see you, but there are Bygeniou spies all around, especially at this crucial time.” She explained. “I have something to ask of you, have you even flown in the Pandea continent?”
    “Uh...” He thought, trying to remember his previous experiences
    “I have, but it isn't an easy place to fly through Ma'am, there are many hazards along the way, not to mention the Vatallus gears in Sunshine Born.”
    “Hmm.” She took a sip of coffee “Have you managed to get into Bach mountain chain through there?”
    “Yes, Ma'am but it was no easy feat. We took heavy losses just getting to Nubarke Caves” he answered, Herne standing up and walking over to the battered window.
    “Tomorrow, the Bygeniou mothership will be passing across Tylent Jungle, for the first time in several months. We do have an offensive already planned and mapped out.”
    “Yes, Ma'am, everyone has been briefed to meet in Redline beach and push forwards from there.” He nodded, noticing one side of her face glowing in the light from outside.
    “I am changing your orders” she said suddenly “I want you to fly through Pandea.”
    He gulped nervously “Alone?”
    “No, a formation of I-Gears will accompany you as an escort.” She took another gulp of coffee “We intend to place high yield nuclear missiles onto your gear. Basically I want you to use them to send this mothership crashing to the ground.”
    Leo felt suddenly cold, the idea of carrying nuclear weapons into enemy territory frighting him, his mind wandering over every possible scenario.
    “Nukes? Ma'am, With all due respect, is that a good idea...?”
    “Rumour has it that Bygeniou high command are on board that mothership. If those rumours are true, we may have a chance to strike a devasting blow against our enemy. Possibly one from which they may never recover.” Her features suddenly appeared hard against the light from outside as she turned to face him “And above all, this is one chance I am not prepared to waste, no matter the cost.”

    2


    His meeting with Herne Santorani finished abruptly, the two security escorts leading him out of the building, before driving him back to the military complex. The moment they arrived, the guards ushered him out of the car, promptly diving off into the distance seconds later.
    “Damn I could use a drink” He thought to himself the moment they left, turning himself away from the complex and walking down the street.
    After a few minutes, he arrived at a small building with a glass front, a neon orange sign flashing the word “BAR” above. Slowly, he walked towards a small door and stepped inside, instantly finding himself surrounded with a warm welcoming environment; plush leather chairs sat neatly between various circular tables, a luxurious bright red carpet coiled underneath them like a sleeping ocean; soft sounds of classical music reached his ears from a jukebox in a corner, the room filling with quiet, soothing tones.
    Squeezing past the tables and chairs, he walked over to the bartender and ordered himself a simple drink, sitting down in the nearest seat moments later. As he waited, his mind wandered over his conversation with Herne, a bad feeling about his orders already filling his stomach like a dead weight.
    “It's bad enough flying through there without nuclear missiles. But what if they have air patrols?” He thought “I wont be able to defend myself with Flare since the weight will strain the engines...”
    His thoughts were interrupted as a young girl, dressed in smart uniform, stepped up to his table; a tray of various drinks held aloft in her hand. On her head, a portable headset sat comfortably, the earpieces hidden behind erratic, wavy purple hair; a welcoming smile spread across her face as she placed a drink on his table.
    “Hi Redcat, how did the practice go?”
    “Hi Monica” He responded after a moment, wincing as she referred to him by his call sign instead of his name “Not too badly, yourself?”
    “Same as always” She responded “Tomorrow will be a real challenge though.”
    “Ah, that's true.” Leo continued “Lots of pilots to manage”
    “Nothing I cant handle.” She spoke, confident “I should get back to work, see you around Redcat.”
    She wandered off, her slim body weaving around the tables as she carried drinks to the rest of the bar patrons, stopping for a brief chat with each one.
    Just as he started to sink back into his thoughts, another voice interrupted him, making him jolt in his seat again.
    “Hey Leo, interesting drink?”
    He looked up slowly, his eyes sighting a slim figure of average height standing stiffly beside his table; a warm, friendly smile beaming down at him from above.
    “Hi Lawrence!” Leo said in warm tones “Sorry about that!”
    “It's alright” Lawrence replied, sitting on a chair next to Leo. “What's on your mind?”
    “Just tomorrow. These big assaults always make me edgy” He replied “How are you, my friend?”
    “I'm well thanks, a little nervous myself. I doubt there is any pilot here who isn't nervous about tomorrow.” Lawrence's soft brown eyes watched him as he took a sip of his drink “You should be fine, you're pretty skilled with that old gear.”
    “I wish.” Leo chuckled softly “I'm not too bad I suppose”
    “Oh come on, don't kid yourself.” Laurence took a great gulp from a glass of beer in his slender hand “You fly better than most the M-Gear pilots I’ve seen in a long while.”
    Suddenly, a loud cheer erupted from one corner of the room, making them both look up. In front of a large, flashing slot machine, a fellow pilot seemed to be celebrating; the machine spewing out a large pile of glittering, gold credit tokens. Unable to help themselves, they both burst into laughter, the pilot dancing in front of the machine manically.
    They talked for a while about different topics, finishing only when Leo started to feel exhaustion in his legs, deciding he needed to go home and sleep. Politely bidding his friend farewell, he walked back the way he came, travelling past the hanger and going inside a large tower block.
    Minutes later, he arrived outside his apartment door, quickly unlocking it with his keys and stepping inside. A sea of discarded junk lay scattered all over the floor below him, forcing him to take wide steps over it all as he began to get himself ready to sleep.
    Suddenly, his eyes fell upon a small picture frame at his bedside, stopping him in his tracks. Gently, he reached over and picked it up, his eyes glancing down at the beaming faces of his mother and father; their arms stretched around each other as they stood in a grassy park, the sun just visible behind a large green tree.
    He stared at the image, remembering taking the picture in the midst of Bark City, just one week before it was decimated by both Arlington and Bygeniou. A wave of disgusted sadness filled his stomach as he placed the picture back down, crashing onto his bed heavily and closing his eyes.

    3


    Leo awoke with a start the next morning, disorientated, after dreaming vividly of running between burning buildings amidst loud explosions. Taking a few slow breaths, he pulled himself out of his bed before taking a shower, the warm water helping him clear his mind from the lingering dream.
    After a quick breakfast, he got himself dressed and proceeded straight to the hanger. The moment he entered, his ears filled with the howls of crewmen shouting manically, their shapes darting left and right erratically in front of him. Amidst the chaos, he heard Stan's distinctive voice bellowing orders to his subordinates, his large frame storming between parked aircraft like a rampaging ox.
    Casting his eyes around the hanger, he eventually spotted the distinctive bright orange shape of his gear, Flare, seated in amongst the line of planes. Cautiously looking around, he slipped between scattered equipment and manic crewmen, heading towards the orange shape. As he approached, he instinctively began to examine the frame, his eyes darting across its body as he visually inspected it.
    Finally, he arrived at the ladder beside the cockpit. In that instant, he noticed that all the other weapons systems had been removed.
    “Great, not only am I carrying weapons of mass destruction, I'm also defenceless” he thought dryly, beginning to clamber up into the cockpit again.
    Quickly seating himself, he reached over and grabbed a clipboard off the top of a console, a long list of pre-flight checks for him to complete visible on the paper. Eager to get going, he started switching on the consoles, carrying out each one of his listed checks in turn. Just as he was about to finish, he suddenly spotted something strange from one of the console readouts, making him stop dead.
    “Odd” He muttered, peering down at the checklist again, a puzzled expression crossing his face as he double checked the value.
    Convinced something was defiantly not right, Leo clambered back down the ladder and waved down a nearby crewman, asking him to find Stan and bring him over. He waited patiently for several minutes, thinking to himself, before finally the crewman returned with him in tow.
    “Hey Stan” Leo greeted politely “Sorry for disturbing you but I was running pre-flight checks and I noticed something wrong with the shield generator.”
    Leo saw concern etch immediately onto Stan's hard features, and he paused for a few moments.
    “What exactly is wrong with it?” He inquired
    “Well, the pre-flight manual says the output range for this gear should be between 30 mega-watts and 60 mega-watts, but the console in there is only showing 12” Leo explained
    “That is very low...” Stan agreed “Did you notice any power problems as well? Low output to from the generators for instance?”
    “Nope, the power systems all looked fine” He told Stan, shaking his head
    “Alright, i'll take a look at it now.” He replied with a grunt
    Leo watched curiously as Stan wandered over to the back of the craft, taking a multi-tool device out of his pocket, and stripping a panel off the back of the gear frame. A loud clunk echoed as it fell to the ground, Stan peering inside, his hands carefully pushing wires aside like the branches from a tree.
    “Looks like you made a good spot, but it is not good news I'm afraid” He said, pulling his face away from the panel and standing up again
    “What's up?” he asked, fearing the worst
    “Well...” Stan began to explain “The shield generators they place into these gears only last so long and for so many charges and discharges, much like a giant battery. The one on this gear is beginning to wear out”
    “Can't you replace it?” Leo asked
    “No, well... Yes we can replace it, but shield generators are not cheap, and getting hold of one for this frame now would not be a cost effective option at all.” Stan sighed “I'm sorry Leo, but once you return from this mission we have to decommission the gear”
    “But... Surely she can still fly without the shield generator” he protested
    “She can, but we both know the dangers of it. The shields do more than protect you from bullets, and for M-Gears, these are what allow you to shield charge other gears. Besides, Arlington command would fire me if I allowed anyone to fly in an unsafe gear”
    His heart sank inside his chest, realising that Stan was right. A sense of disappointed loss filled his heart, Flare had once belonged to his father, and as long as he could remember the sturdy airframe had always had a place in his life.
    “Alright Stan...” He said emotionally “She can still fly this one last time right?”
    “Yeah, I'll patch in a couple of temporary boosters to bring the shield power up to normal. While I’m doing that why don't you get yourself settled in and do another check? In case you find anything else.”
    Leo nodded sullenly, clambering back into the cockpit and sitting heavily against the chair, the consoles around him flickering innocently. With a heavy heart, he picked up the clipboard again and ran through the list of checks, thankfully finding nothing else out of place.
    “All good?” He heard Stan call up from below
    Leo checked the shield readout one last time and nodded, the value now back to normal.
    “Thanks Stan... See you when I get back” He called, passing him the clipboard before sitting down in the pilot seat.
    A few moments later, the ladder beside him slowly moved away. Once it had vanished, he reached over and pressed a button, closing the cockpit and surrounding him in a transparent bubble. A gentle thud echoed around him as the glass pressure sealed and locked shut. Once he was sealed in, he pushed a throttle lever forwards a tiny bit, engines flickering behind him as Flare began to move forwards for her final flight.

    4


    An eternity seemed to pass, the gear ambling slowly across the tarmac as it rolled into position. Bright light shone through the hanger entrance, the sand outside shining brilliantly. Taking a deep breath, Leo pulled his headset on, opening a channel to Arlington command.
    “This is Redcat to Arlington command, requesting permission to launch”
    “This is Arlington Command, Monica” He heard her voice reply “How are you Redcat?”
    “I'm good thanks Monica” He lied “Just eager to go.”
    “Your escort gears are already waiting for you in Reynard.” She continued “You have launch clearance Redcat, good luck out there!”
    “Thanks Monica, Redcat out.”
    He waited for a few moments, a crewman hurrying forwards in front of him, holding up a pair of yellow lights towards him.
    With a loud cluck, a rattle echoed through the cockpit, a series of protective barriers emerging from the hanger floor, surrounding the gear; as soon as they were in place, all of the crewmen stopped suddenly, their bodies racing behind the barrier to get away from his engines.
    After several moments, the lights in front of him changed colour to green. Within seconds, he thrust the throttle lever forwards as far as possible. A powerful, shaking roar suddenly erupted into the hanger; the tremendous engines at the back of Flare leaping into life. Velvet blue fire gushed outwards from the back of the craft as slowly, it began to move, the force from the engines pushing Leo back against his chair. With another thunderous rattle, the gear slowly began to accelerate, the desert light inching closer in front of him.
    The crewman in front of him dived out of the way, the gear shuddering as it wheeled faster and faster down the runway. All of a sudden, the runway ended, the gear lurching as it dived dangerously forwards. Quickly, he pulled up on the flight joystick, pitching the gear's nose upwards. In seconds, like a graceful bird leaping into the air, Flare soared off the ground and glided gently into the desert sunlight. With one steady on the controls, Leo flipped a switch on the main console, causing the landing gear and flaps to retract into the gear body with a soft clunk.
    He let the gear ascend for a few moments before levelling off, pulling back on the throttle to reduce power to the engines. Beside him, twin monstrous peaks enclosed upon him, caressing him in their rocky embrace. Taking a quick glance at the map console, Leo pointed the gear forwards, heading in a straight line away from Arlington.
    “Least I’m finally flying...” He thought to himself “Should be over pretty soon I hope..”
    After a few minutes, a gigantic hovering, circular gateway appeared on the horizon; at each side of it, a series of spires pulsed with dark blue energy, a slowly rotating yellow ring set against the front of the structure; filling its inner space, a thin solid wall of rippling energy filled the air, the surface waving gently like the surface of a calm ocean.
    Carefully, he pointed his gear towards the wall, the front connecting with the energy a few seconds later. In that instant, a deep rumble echoed through the cockpit. A great, shuddering gasp erupting from the metal, pure energy bursting outwards from the spokes and surrounding him. Seconds later, with a blinding, powerful flash, the energy suddenly turned itself into kinetic force.
    Leo felt a massive push against his chest, like a savage bear pinning him into the chair, the gear suddenly accelerating massively in an instant. A speed monitor on one of the consoles began to climb rapidly, the numbers jumping into four digits, then five. With a loud smash, the gear entered an opening, the speed display jumping into infinity.
    In front of his eyes, a tunnel of pure energy surrounded him, soft swirling colours dancing against the glass. The force against his chest continued, pushing the air out of lungs, the cockpit rattling and rumbling around him. He felt the very frame of the gear shudder, the metal strained against the massive kinetic force around him.
    Then, almost as quickly as it started, there a flash of white blinded his eyes. A small plain, covered in small cliffs and patches of soft grass, swam up underneath him; in the distance in front of him, a vast ocean stretched into infinity, beautiful orange sparkles shining from the surface as the sunlight reflected off the water.
    “Reynard Beach. One down lots more to go...” He thought to himself as he banked his gear towards the east, the ocean spinning to his left.
    Suddenly, as he flew across the terrain, a sleek silver gear appeared alongside his own; at the front of the craft, Leo noticed a pouncing, familiar blue bear painted on the nose cone. The moment he opened his mouth to speak, his headset crackled to life with the sound of a familiar voice.
    “Good to finally see you Redcat.”

    5


    “Bluebear!?” he exclaimed, surprised “What are you doing here?”
    “Escorting you” Lawrence's voice came back over the headset “At least that's what my orders are.”
    “Why the hell didn't you tell me yesterday?!” Leo shouted back
    “There wasn't really time, and besides, we were told not to mention our mission.” he explained “Anyway, now that you're here, lets get going, we have no time to lose.”
    “Alright, but you're making this up to me with a lap of the beach once its all over.” He teased in a warm voice
    “Fine.” Lawrence responded “In fact, that sounds like a good idea anyway”
    At that moment, a group of four other gears appeared from the south, all of them designed with the same smooth shape as Lawrence's. As he watched, the other gears lined up alongside, position themselves into a perfect, straight line.
    “Alright everyone, Redcat is here so we are ready to roll.” Lawrence spoke up “I want everyone in an A shape formation. Myself, Peanuts and Anchor will take point. Teddybear, Rollermine you guys will watch the back. Redcat, you are to stay in the middle at all times”
    “Also, be sure to patch your status reports to Redcat, in case we need some shield charges” He continued, looming steadily towards them.
    After a few seconds, a small panel at the top of his cockpit lit up, displaying the five other gears by their call-sign. Below each entry, a blue bar stretched across underneath a dark red bar, indicating the shield and hull strength of each gear around him.
    “This is Redcat, I've got all your status reports coming through clearly.” He informed the other pilots
    “Good to hear Redcat, everyone lets go! We'll form up when we're back in Edmont Valley”
    Leo leaned back in his chair, preparing himself as they passed through the gateway, emerging moments later into a desert-like plain. Wide rocky valleys, covered in broken brown sand, stood alongside sharp steep cliffs. Out of the corner of his eye, a set of towering tall mountains stood together, positioned like a row of behemoths.
    Sighting his escorts waiting in front of him, he quickly lined his gear up, positioning it directly behind Lawrence. The second he fell into line, the gears around him began to move, his own hand reaching over to the throttle and increasing his speed to keep up with the formation.
    Outside the glass, deep clay canyons soared below him, sharp peaks pointing like knives into the air. Some distance away, a great dark cavern passed across his vision, the entrance shaped like a gateway to hell.
    “Glad I’m not going in there” He thought to himself “That's the Hornian Habitat”
    Noticing his formation bank to the right, he glanced forwards just as they passed through another gateway, Leo following them through a few seconds later.
    After nearly a minute, he finally came out of the gate, quickly lining himself up with his escorts. As soon as he flew into position, the formation veered off again, their path heading around a massive icy peak; huge cold spires rose upwards from the ground around them, white snow surrounding it in a covering as thick as lead, the snow blindingly brilliant as it stretched out in all directions.
    As he peered around, he spotted a ruined tower passing across his right side of his vision, and the snow below finally gave way to an icy ocean; icebergs floated gently across the surface, their shiny surfaces shimmering against the cold, dark sky.
    “Alright everyone, prepare for the next jump” Leo heard Lawrence as he flew through another gateway hovering above the vast ocean.
    Less than a minute later, Leo found himself hovering above an immense bridge when they arrived, the structure stretching in front of him into infinity; looking around in every direction, he found nothing but cold, deep water rippling roughly below.
    “So much water here, its like hovering in the middle of nowhere” he commented down his headset as he returned into formation.
    “Gjert is our supply line between Pandea and Arlington” One of the pilots responded “We might see a few Arlington navy boats as we pass if we are lucky.”
    “It might be good to see something, we've seen nothing but sand and snow since we left” Leo spoke back, flying up over the steel spokes of the bridge.
    As they passed through the deserted ocean world, Leo's eyebrows rose, spotting a group of grey blips on the edge of his radar screen. Immediately, he focussed his attention on them, waiting to receive identification data. After several long moments, he breathed a sigh of relief, the blips turning bright green as he peered out of the cockpit.
    “Looks like we have boats” he mentioned down the headset, noticing a group of hulking destroyers escorting a bulky aircraft carrier.
    “There should be a few more docked in slope port” Teddybear answered “When we eventually get there.”
    Just as the next gate appeared in the distance, they passed across a massive, open iceberg; at the top of the bridge, a series of five white towers sat on top of the spokes, energy zapping along cables to the main one at the centre; seated above the central point, a holographic symbol of Arlington rotated around slowly, acting as a brilliant beacon amongst the ocean.
    Leo bowed his head for a moment in respect, the symbol of Arlington in front of him serving as a reminder of the pilots lost in the last Pandea war. Moments later, he raised his head just as they zoomed forwards through the next gate.
    Half a minute later, they emerged into Slope Port, finding themselves above a wide open area filled with clear white water. In the distance, a series of grassy cliff-tops pressed against each other, bright green colours mixing together with dark browns; As they set off, Leo sighted a huge battleship moored against a port to the west, gigantic quadruple-barrel cannons sitting snugly against the bulking frame; he also noticed his radar suddenly becoming a flurry of activity, hundreds upon hundreds of small ships sailing beneath them. Following a path up and over the cliffs, the water and boats gradually fell behind into a deep river canyon, the next gate appearing in front of them at the furthest end as they sped hastily through it.
    When they emerged, Leo found his eyes blinded by brilliant white, a snow covered world surrounding him again; dense white canyons rose up in all directions, an igloo shaped dome sitting squarely at the centre of them, waves of dark green energy pulsing upwards from its roof.
    Moving onwards through Portsmouth Canyon, they followed the dome all the way around to its southern tip, positioning themselves to fly into one of the canyons. A few moments passed before another gate appeared at the far end of it, their gears speeding through as they left the white world behind them.

    6


    They stormed out of the next gate into a deep, tunnelling corridor, topped off with a blue energy field; small platforms stuck out at odd intervals, each one containing a single, lethal looking anti-aircraft cannon. The moment they began to travel into its depths, Lawrence's voice filled Leo's headset as his friend began to give instructions.
    “Alright everyone, after we get through here, we'll be rapidly approaching enemy territory. I want everyone's eyes open.” He commanded as they banked left, heading down a fork in the passageway. “Once we get to B point I want everyone formed up on Redcat at all times. Make sure if any enemy gears go after Redcat you deal with them swiftly and cleanly.”
    A small chorus of ayes came through the headset as they began to climb up a steep shaft towards a central dome
    “Redcat, keep your eyes on that radar. If you see anything shout as loud as you can.” Lawrence addressed him sternly “Keep yourself as far out of trouble as you can, your extremely vulnerable without your weapons.”
    “I''ll do my best” Leo replied, guiding his gear through a main central dome cluttered with iron beams and gangways.
    Plunging down another shaft, they sped down another corridor for a few moments, passing back into a main tunnel. After a few seconds, a gateway filled with white energy appeared in front of them.
    “For Arlington!” He heard Lawrence chant as they sped into the Sunshine Born gate
    “For Arlington!” He himself reply in the last few seconds, the energy tunnel surrounding him again.
    When Leo emerged into Sunshine Born, a powerful rumble erupted from his gear, followed by a shuddering shake. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge gust of wind buffeted his gear. With an abrupt wobble, the gear tilted to the side against gale, the engines stalling from its mighty force. With a frantic pull on the flight controls, Leo tried to drag the gear away from the gate and stop himself slamming into it.
    A mighty green flash abruptly erupted from the sky. The clouds tearing themselves asunder as a furious bolt of lightning streaked downwards, slamming into the ground close by. His gear rattled intensely, roaring rain pounding against the glass as he finally brought it under control, only to be thwarted by another pounding blast of air.
    “Holy hell!” He exclaimed aloud
    As he finally got his gear back under his control, he heard a garbled transmission through his headset, the sound of Lawrence's voice interlaced with heavy static. Making out something about travelling on to the next gate, he pushed his gear forwards into the storm, his eyes trying to make sense of where he was going through the scattered raindrops.
    Below him, the radar screen flickered and pulsed uselessly, the screen intermittently flashing with red blips as he struggled over a hill and above a massive crater; a mighty tower slowly appeared into his view on his left, rain thundering down off the top platforms of the structure, the radar lighting up for a second with a dark red blip before it vanished in the static.
    Continuing to fight against the storm, he finally managed to see the gate appear in front of him, his spirit surging at the sight of the device. As he came within inches of it, a lightning bolt tore down in front of him, missing him by inches and blinding his eyes for a moment before the gear went through the gate.
    He jumped as the second he emerged, his headset filled with Lawrence's panicked voice.
    “Move! Move! Everyone full speed to Daisy!”
    Leo jolted, moving the gear forwards just in time as a turret platform behind him activated. A Hailstorm of bullets shot down the corridor in his direction, passing through his previous position and scattering against the wall with gold sparks erupting into the air.
    With a sharp jolt on the controls, he tilted his gear to the side, attempting to make it less of a target; more turret fire sprayed towards him, his gear banking left down a fork in the corridor. More bright, yellow flashes lit up the cockpit seconds later, streams of bullets hurtling towards him from all directions. With seconds to spare, he flipped his gear upside down, skilfully evading the projectiles
    Reaching the end of the corridor, he pulled up into a chute, flipping his gear back to the right orientation. Upon reaching the central room, he weaved through the cluttered metal struts without hesitation, plunging back down the opposite shaft at full speed.
    In a few seconds, the gear stormed out of the chute and sped forwards, Leo keeping the gear close to the floor as he possibly could. For a few moments, the turrets lost their lock-on, the extra speed allowing him to outrun their targeting systems. Within a few moments, an orange gateway appeared in front of him, the cockpit filling with its brilliant heavenly glow.
    All of a sudden, a pair of pointed guns appeared out of nowhere behind the structure, its twin cannons pointed straight at him. Leo's eyes widened as he realised he had no way to avoid them. With a bright flash, bullets erupted and stormed through the air, getting closer and closer by the second. A gold light filled the space in front of his eyes with a deathly halo, forcing him to blink and look away.
    In that instant, a savage jolt kicked Leo hard in the chest, the deadly bullets suddenly vanishing from view.

    7

    The sound of his own heart pounding in his chest filled his ears as he finally arrived in Daisy Riverhead; bright sunlight poured down from a crystal blue sky, casting brilliant reflections off the water from inside deep, winding riverbeds; on either side of him, Leo could see long flat plateaus of golden green grass, the blades waving softly in a gentle breeze.
    Wiping the sweat from his forehead, he scouted around for his formation, finding them waiting for him just above the water inside a river channel. His hands trembling, he gently manoeuvred his gear into position behind his friend, the reassuring sight of his gear back in front of him. Once again, the second Leo lined himself up, they set off once more; water trailing up magnificently behind them as they soared down the channel.
    Passing below a gigantic floating temple hovering above the middle of the river, Leo noticed smoke trailing from a hole in one of his escorts wings, the gear wobbling a little unstably. Looking up, he observed the shield display for each of his escorts registered near zero, showing they had taken considerable damage. Instantly, he began to press buttons on a few panels, preparing the gear to make a shield burst.
    “Whoa get roughed up a bit in there?” He called down the headset
    “Most of us are okay, Rollermine took a bad hit though, but he seems to be holding up.”
    “She's fine” Rollermine answered back “Wings a bit clipped, but she'll fly.”
    As soon as a light blinked on the main console, he pressed a small button, initiating a shield burst. At the back of the gear, a series of emitters on the hull rapidly charged up, reaching full capacity in seconds. Suddenly, the hull unleashed a wave of bright white energy in a large sphere from the emitters. Whenever the energy struck another gears shields, it surged back into the generator, recharging their power.
    When he next lookup at the formation panel, he noted the shields of his comrades had all been restored by around a third.
    “That should help you all out” He spoke down the headset
    “Thanks Redcat” Lawrence replied in a grateful tone
    “You're welcome” Leo found himself smile a little, the river bank beginning to thin out as another gate loomed up in front of him.
    Reaching the other side of the gate, they emerged into a large, open plain covered in smooth, grey mountains; towards the east, various cliff top plateaus led downwards into a wide ocean, the smooth water lapping at the rocks around the base of the cliffs; as they began to fly down towards the rocky crags, Leo sighted a ruined temple in front of a pair of mountains, its shattered shape surrounded by crumbling pillars on all sides.
    Diving down to a cliff just below the temple, they passed through a tall arch and slipped into a dark tunnel. A purple glow emanated from the middle of the tunnel walls, generating a soft light that revealed other small passageways, each one with its own archway entrance.
    At that moment, as they turned a corner in the tunnel, a red dot appeared firmly on Leo's radar screen, positioned directly behind them. He gawped at the display a moment, watching it as it followed them at the same position. Just as he opened his mouth to say something, the dot promptly vanished again, leaving the radar screen clear.
    “Strange... Maybe the scanners are malfunctioning” He thought, his instincts telling him otherwise.
    Diving downwards, they passed into the next gate, reappearing underground inside a deep cavern; crystal stalagmites, composed of an unknown purple mineral, hung down from the ceiling at various angles with tips like sharp swords. Slowly, they began to navigate through the caves, carefully guiding their gears between the stalagmites.
    After a while, they passed straight through a central chamber, soaring across a group of large anti-tank cannons. Leo caught a glimpse of the symbol of Bygeniou, its shape flickering between the cannons, before they soared onwards into more cavernous corridors.
    Occasionally as they travelled on, Leo kept glancing down at his radar screen, waiting to see if the blip appeared again. Thankfully, after several long minutes of winding in every direction through the stalagmites, they made it through the next gate without incident.
    Emerging against a gigantic green ocean, they quickly moved into position and soared across the water, their gears passing down into a small river channel; all around them, dry, scorched earth covered both the banks of the river and beyond them.
    “Just two more gates” He thought, willing his gear onwards as the end of the channel came into view
    Suddenly, the radar in front of him lit up again. The same red blip appeared again, directly behind them to the left. Just as he opened his mouth to yell a warning to the others, the radar lit up again. Three more red dots appeared, approaching them rapidly from the north, cutting them off from the exit. Seconds later, Leo found himself frozen stiff as they were joined by two more dots, both of them directly behind them.
    “Bluebear, this is Redcat, we have multiple enemies, front and back on an intercept vector!” he nearly shouted down the headset. “We're trapped inside the river!”

    8


    Several long, silent moments passed, the enemies closing in on them with every second.
    “Alright, Redcat, pull out of the river, go around the mountain and straight through the gate. Rollermine, Teddybear go with him. We'll distract them in the river channel” Lawrence finally spoke up “Go! Now!”
    Obeying instantly, he pulled up, breaking the formation and banking over the left edge of the river channel. Keeping the throttle at maximum, he pulled his gear around a vast mountain, following it in a close curve. Steadily, the next gateway started to appear in front of his eyes, the peak slowly sliding away to reveal its presence. Carefully twisting the controls once more, he brought the gears wings back down level and raced forwards.
    All of a sudden, five blips sailed into view on the radar, spread out in wide pattern. Peering down, his eyes sighted five hulking A-Gears positioned right under the gate, waiting patiently for them to approach. Upon each of their frames, a mean looking plasma cannon pointed upwards, alongside several powerful missile systems.
    “Guys, there's no way you can handle that kind of anti-air fire. Break formation and let me get their attention.” Leo commanded to his remaining escorts quickly “As soon as you see my shields go dark orange race into the gate.”
    The moment he heard a pair of acknowledgements, he raced forwards towards the ground hears. The second he came into their range, a thunderous, crackling sound filled the air around his gear. Streams of rapid-fire, purple plasma energy rocketed upwards, white flashes erupting from his shields as they fought off blow after savage blow.
    Keeping himself in a straight line to the gate, he sighted all five of the gears now beginning to concentrate fire on him. Within moments, a shield warning flashed on his status console, causing him to slam a switch beside his flight joystick without hesitation.
    Instantly, a brilliant sphere of orange surrounded his entire gear, the shields suddenly supported by a layer of impenetrable energy. His two escorts surged forwards, catching up and passing by him, their shapes safely disappearing into the gate. In the instant before he went through the gate, a sudden flash of light erupted out the corner of his eye. He turned his head just in time to see Anchor's gear explode in a shower of metallic debris before the world around him disappeared again.
    He emerged with his pair of escorts into a place full of multiple steep, brown mountain peaks. Long, winding pathways stretched between them, creating a maze of passageways. As soon as he was clear of the gate, the formation display flashed as Peanuts and Bluebear also emerged.
    “You alright Redcat?” Lawrence spoke up as soon as they flew down into one of the paths, Leo also setting off a shield charge to recover his gears shield.
    “Yeah...” He gulped “I think so...”
    “Good, we're nearly there. Just a few more minutes.”
    As he spoke, the radar in front of Leo came to life again. This time, multiple red dots appeared, scattered all over the place, but heading straight in their direction.
    “We got multiple contacts, multiple directions, all on intercept.” He spoke quickly but clearly
    “Redcat stick to the mountain paths and stay low” Bluebear responded “Everyone else, keep Redcat's path clear, there's no easy way out of this one, so just protect him as best you can.”
    Pulling the gear downwards, he lowered his altitude until the craft started to skim the ground, dust scattering up underneath him. Suddenly, just as he turned into another mountain canyon, the formation display above him flashed. The data for Peanut's gear abruptly disappeared, an ominous, empty blank box appearing in its place. Unable to help himself, he stared at the display, transfixed. In those brief seconds he broke his concentration, an enemy I-Gear slipped down into the pathway behind him, unleashing a volley of missiles.
    A loud blaring klaxon erupted all around him, the sound hitting him like a punch in his face. Snapping out of his trance, he slammed the gear throttle backwards, pulling it as far as the lever would go. Instantly, the quadruple engines initiated a reverse burn. Each of the jets on either wing flared forwards, the force pushing the gear backwards. His speed dropped quickly as he slowed, eventually dropping into the negatives, the gear hurtling backwards. With a quick tug on the controls, he pulled the gear upwards, trying to evade the missiles.
    A whirl of smoke passed over the front of him, all but one of the missiles tearing past the nose and slamming into the mountain. The remaining missile swerved to the right and slammed into the rock beside him. A sickening crunch erupted through the gear as the explosion rocked the gears shields, the force of the impact causing them to immediately fail.
    The enemy gear soared past him suddenly, its pilot performing a skilful snap roll so it faced him again. Another burst of missiles erupted from the gear, hurtling straight towards Leo. Reacting quickly, he tilted the gear to the side, evading the second burst of missiles as explosions rattling against the rocks. In that instant, Leo decided to try and pull up out of the mountain pass to get away from the gear.
    As he gained altitude, out of nowhere, a B-Gear appeared. Its pilot heading straight for him. A flash lit up his eyes as he saw the gear activate its bombing mechanism. Within seconds, twelve unguided bombs hurled forwards off the wings and straight towards him.
    Leo's eyes watched, the bombs sailing through the air, with red trails blazing like crimson fire. He knew he was done for, that he was caught, like a tiny rabbit in the headlights of a massive car. His mind slipped back into his memories: of Bark City in those last few moments, the ferocious fires burning; the massive explosions as the bombs fell; his parents lying dead in the rubble of their home, their bodies twisted and broken.
    All of a sudden, a flash of silver erupted out of nowhere, another gear streaking forwards, positioning itself straight in front of oncoming bombs. His eyes fell upon the symbol of a pouncing blue bear on the nose of the gear. In that instant, an almighty slam ripped through the air, the gear frame shattering like glass as the bombs tore into it. Shards of deadly debris and metal hurtled forwards, violently connecting with his gear and tearing one of the tail fins clean off.
    Moments later, a huge bang erupted from the left wing, a large chunk of broken nose cone slamming viciously into one of the engines. Instantly, a danger message flashed on the console, the engine igniting with a jet of fiery flame like the breath of a dragon.

    9


    Leo stared in disbelief, refusing to believe the events just happened in front of him. His eyes stared forwards, wide with shock as the bomber came around again, intending to finish him off. His eyes watched it getting closer and closer, has hands paralysed against the controls, unable to move a centimetre.
    All of a sudden, a barrage of missiles and plasma guns erupted across the side of the approaching enemy. The enemy pilot had seconds to turn and face something before another barrage of missiles blew it apart, sending flames and chunks of burning metal flying into the air.
    Finally, he snapped out of his trance, an I-Gear with a damaged wing soaring past him through the explosion. Chasing swiftly after the other enemy gear, it forced it down into the canyon below him, missiles and bullets flying all over the place. Suddenly, a loud snap erupted from below as the enemy flew, nose-first into the mountain.
    “Redcat, you okay?” he heard a soft female voice on the headset, a gear pulling up on his left side.
    “Y-yeah... in shock but...” he found it hard to talk “Gears lost one engine so I’m real slow, I don't think we're going to make it.”
    “We'll make it.” Teddybear replied, the other gear joining him on the right “We're almost at the gate.”
    He felt himself shrug at the words
    “I guess I can try...” He managed to say, his throat too heavy to speak.
    He pointed his gear towards the south east and flew up over the mountains. Finally, the final gate to Tylent jungle appeared in his gaze, hovering innocently in front of a floating airstrip. Without wasting any time, he pointed his gear down, speeding into the gate.
    As soon as he arrived, he pushed forwards, his gear limping from its damaged engine. Immediately, he turned his attention to a rough missile console, hastily patched into the cockpit. With a hard yank, his hand roughly pulled a lever down underneath the word “ARM”. Across the wings of his battered gear, the four heavy, nuclear missiles activated their warheads; seconds later, a button on the same console lit up, a soft green light flashing in readiness.
    Flipping a switch, he opened a communication to Arlington Command
    “This is Redcat to Arlington command, I am about to launch nuclear weapons at the enemy mothership. All units should pull back immediately.” He shouted clearly
    Suddenly, hovering above an island oasis above the deep jungle, the mothership appeared. A massive, sprawling bulk of metal with six gigantic, yellow engines flaring brilliantly at the back of it; thick heavy armour plates ran down the centre from above the engines, a large, square control room positioned right at the top. A pair of landing runways lay on each side of the bulk, small fighters taking off periodically and attacking nearby gears. On one side, his eyes made out the shape of Anubis, the sitting jackal, painted onto the hull.
    “This is Arlington command to all combat gears, pull back from the enemy mothership immediately. Retreat to a safe tactical nuclear warhead distance.”
    As soon as he heard the response, Leo began counting to ten in his mind, his eyes staring straight ahead. The moment he reached ten, he slammed his hand down on the flashing button, a fizzing sound erupting from both wings as all four missiles took flight.”
    As soon as the missiles were away, Leo quickly slammed his gear into reverse, his eyes never leaving the mothership. The missiles drew closer and closer every second, approaching the bulk from the sides, their trails brilliantly white. Watching them, he began to count the seconds until impact, bringing up his hand to shield his eyes.
    The moment his countdown reached zero, a huge blinding flash erupted above the jungle, followed by another, and another. Metal exploded outwards as a thunderous detonation like a supernova slammed into its huge bulk. Four huge shock waves tore the air around the mothership apart, tearing into it with a sound like a ravaging tornado.
    As the light cleared, Leo spotted one of the landing runways snapping off and crashing to the ground, flattening part of the jungle. The mothership wobbled in the air for a moment, flames covering every metal panel on its massive body. Moments later, the hulk of metal tilted forwards suddenly, slamming into the water beside the oasis with a massive splash. Another explosion erupted seconds later, one of the engines detonating with a humongous bang, sending shards of metal flying in every direction.
    Leo sat back in his chair and closed his eyes. It was finally over.

    Epilogue


    Leo flew the gear to a long, winding beach by the ocean at Reynard, landing it against the sand close to the edge of the water. Clambering out, he hopped down softly and stared outwards at the calm, soft water. The setting sun cast a long, dark purple glow over the surface, reflections of tiny shining stars beginning to show against the glassy liquid.
    Lowering his eyes, he listened, hearing nothing but the soft sounds of his own breathing mixed with that of the rolling water in front of him as it lapped against the beach. His mind replayed everything again, reminding him he had lost so much: His parents, his best friend, Lawrence, and soon, he would lose his gear Flare too.
    Taking a deep, steadying breath, he turned his gaze out upon the ocean as thoughts and feelings raced through him faster than he could make any sense of them. Sadness, anger, desperation, frustration all coursed together in his veins, one after the other. He was so overwhelmed he failed to notice the footsteps approaching him.
    “Its difficult I know. But he did what anyone would have done for a friend.”
    The voice interrupted him, making him look up. The the tall figure of Herne Santorani stood nearby with her arms crossed, gazing out to the ocean with her remaining eye, still dressed in her official uniform.
    Leo staggered, completely taken aback by her presence and he went numb with shock
    “At ease” She continued “I may be in uniform but that doesn't mean you have to be official.”
    “S-sorry” He managed and stood upright stiffly “I was just...”
    “Thinking, about the loss, the pain. Wondering if its all worth it.” She finished for him “back when I used to fly, I used to think about those things too, whenever we lost someone close. That's why after every major battle, I came here, to stare at the ocean and remind myself about what I was fighting for.”
    “Yes...” Leo agreed, listening carefully
    “In the end I decided what I needed to ease my pain was something to remember them all by, all those people who had been lost in my life who meant something. So I started bringing flowers and laying them on the water and watching them go out to sea.” her arms folded tighter “And that's why I'm here now, since as leader of Arlington, every pilot I lose is someone who means something to me.”
    “I... I understand” He responded, sighing gently
    “Did we -” he wondered about the mothership and BCU High command
    “We dealt the damage we were aiming to deal, yes. BCU won't be troubling us for a while” She turned away from the beach “I should get back, I have paperwork that won't do itself.”
    “Thank you...” He replied, but when he looked up, he found she was already gone.
    Leo stayed at the ocean edge for an hour before flying back to the deserted hanger and returning to his apartment. As soon as dawn broke the next day, he got up and went down to the shops in town, buying four flowers from a stall before borrowing a spare gear from Stan and flying back to the beach.
    Once he landed, he took the flowers out and held them in his hands. Two of them had purple petals with a white centre; one had red petals and a deep yellow centre; whilst the last one was completely blue. Gently, he knelt down at the water edge and placed the flowers together onto the edge of the crystal blue water before standing up and watching them.
    Gradually, with soft serene ripples, the flowers floated away from the beach. The bright colours of the petals merged together as they flowed away, becoming more and more distant. Until finally, they were swallowed by the infinite sea around them.
    “No matter what happens, I will never forget any of you.” He promised to the ocean, before turning to clamber back into his gear.
    Behind him, for a few moments, the waters edge at the beach took the shape of a proud, roaring bear. Fierce, jet black eyes glistened as they watched Leo's gear fly away until it became nothing but a distant speck against the golden horizon.

    Some Notes
    - 9979 Words

    This was probably one of the more painful writing experiences i've had. i initially finished it at 16,000 words then had to cut down what i had without destroying the story. Then i had to make sure what i had left actually fitted together into a story.

    I hope you all enjoy it either way

    -FireDragonXI
    Last edited by Lion3142; May 31st, 2013 at 10:37 PM.

  6. #36
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    The contest is now closed. Great work everyone! We will be announcing the winners as soon as all of the Moderators and CMs have made their final choices.

    Good luck!

    Closing thread, a new one will be opened to announce winners!

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