Chapter 30: The Last Note
“Captain Adams, you were part of the team sent to Opulent C, correct?”
“Mind filling me in on some details? Everyone is saying the same thing over and over again, complete FUBAR”
“Unfortuantly, it was sir. We underestimated our enemy. The Savage Locust were easily dealt with, but the Lambent, it was a different story!”
“Like the attack on the back up counter measure?”
“Ye sir, we had to deal with Lambent that were… well, sentient. They had the usual mutations we’ve met before, but there were others that showed intelligence! For example, my team and I were attacked by several Breechshot wielding Lambent we’ve dubbed “Marauders”, they appeared to command the mutations and mutate their bodies to give themselves an advantage on the battle field.”
“What about this monster you say The Epsilon encountered?”
“I never saw it myself sir, but I had countless reports from others. Some kind of Lambent Behemoth, trashed anything that stood in it’s path. They say it was some gigantic, furious wrecking ball.”
“Hmm, well, we can only hope that it was killed in the chaos. Thing is, they’re telling me that the artillery was deployed and the Lambent site destroyed, but not by us…”
“Well sir, one of our scouts recovered some footage from a Cyron Recon drone hovering nearby. You ought to take a look…”
“… damn it to hell…”
Colonel Hoffman and Onyx Guard Captain Adams, debriefing the mission to Opulent C.
The last Lambent Drudge collapsed into a heap, it’s body spewing Imulsion as the remains of it’s head splattered in different directions. Taus looked at his kill, carefully making sure it wasn’t going to suddenly change into a different beast, but no, he scored a good kill.
He, Onwa, Krall and Nokada watched as the piles of dead and destroyed Lambent were scattered all around. The nearby stalks, now free due to the destroyed nightlights, suspiciously quiet. Any second they could spill all reinforcements.
They’d done good so far, mostly dead Drones, Drudges, Wretches, one or two Marauders and a dead Heavy. Good stuff so far, but they’d rather not stay to fight any bigger breeds.
Hence, on the other side of the Hotel, Sauvix was working frivolously on the artillery. A machine similar to the one that deployed the Lightmass bomb, it seemed as though it would fire a series of small missiles into the crater, which would then detonate samples of Imulsion counter-measure. Therefore, the crater would be purged.
“Not long now…” Sauvix uttered, preparing the final sequence. Thing is, he also had a few explosives strapped to the artillery, set to go off once the payload had been delivered. Hakar’s orders, to ensure that humans would try to find a way to use this weapon against them, should they find Lacouna’s castle.
With a few more button presses, Sauvix has finalised the procedure. He backed away as the artillery was preparing itself.
He rushed round the front to meet up with Onwa, Nokada, Taus and Krall.
“Let us move.” He stated. “The explosives will detonate shortly after.”
The Soul Killers promptly left the scene, unaware that as they fled, a Cyron recon drone hovered nearby, observing their actions. They passed through the field of dead humans and Lambent and got as far back as they could.
The artillery was deployed, it aimed it’s payload upward, then fired it into the crater like a mortar. The payload crashed into the crater, and a series of explosions rocked the nearby area. The counter measures samples worked fast, spreading through the crater and purging the Imulsion within.
The stalks nearby the Hotel withered and collapsed, while the crater itself appeared to cave in. It seemed like only seconds, but the crater was purged clean of any Imulsion. The Lambent had just lost a large breeding ground.
Then shortly after, Sauvix’s explosives detonated, destroying the artillery platform. The explosions also trashed the Hotel, causing it to collapse into a pile of rubble. Dust and smoke choked the nearby air and debris rolled down in all directions.
“Our work is complete.” Onwa said, watching the outcome from a distance. “Now, we must find Hakar.”
“What was he thinking?” Nokada stated. “Such foolish actions, luring an Emissary away.”
“You still have no idea how he works, do you?” Sauvix uttered, eyebrow raised.
Nokada didn’t respond. She may not have known how he was personally, but he did share a certain secret of his with her.
However, The Soul Killers would not have to search for their leader, for he would find them! They turned around after they heard a nearby noise and from out of the shadows of a nearby road came Hakar.
Hakar was dragging a smashed gear helmet with him, he looked calm, but slightly pained. He was still reeling from his battle with Rage, but he soldiered on. His team-mates were quick to rush to his side.
“Hakar! You live!” Nokada gasped.
“Still as strong as they come.” Onwa joked. “Joking aside, what happened?”
“I tried to lure Rage away from you so that you could finish this mission.” Hakar explained. “However, where I lead him to… allowed me to finish him off.”
“You killed Rage?” Onwa asked in surprise.
“I believe so, he’s buried under a pile of rubble and a ring of fire.” Hakar said proudly.
“I hope you are right.” Nokada said.
“Mmm, I also ran into some Gears that tried to stop me. They didn’t fare very well…”
The Soul Killers, satisfied with their mission, began to make tracks to leave Opulent C, leave the Gears and remaining Lambent to their firefights.
“Well, I am glad that we may leave here.” Sauvix uttered. “Hopefully, we won’t be sent out on any more… errands, for a while.”
“I somehow doubt we’ll get a moments rest…” Hakar replied.
Meanwhile, Nokada watched Hakar with concern.
On the roof the parking lot, not far from the Library where the Gears were held up, The King Raven helicopter had deployed some reinforcements for Captain Adams. Radio signals were improving all around the city, but it was too little too late. The Reinforcements weren’t going to be needed.
The Raven still had it’s use though, the Epsilon commandos carried the wounded Quake on a stretcher and into the passenger compartment. Just as Cobra was about to climb aboard, Captain Adams rushed over to stop him.
“Wait, before you go!” Called Adams. Cobra turned around to see the Onyx Captain running over to tell him something.
“You’ll be heading back to Haven, right?” he asked.
“That’s right.” Cobra replied. “We’ll be debriefed and get Quake to a proper Hospital there.”
“Well in that case, I’ll send the Recon Drones there.” Adams said.
“Several of you guy’s recon drones are scouting the area, trying to find out what happened at the site!” Adams explained.
Cobra looked out and could see in the distance, the “site” was collapsing. No idea how it was happening, last time they saw it, it looked as though a losing battle was going on there.
“We’ll investigate ourselves, but you guys know how those drones work, maybe you’ll retrieve their data or something.”
“We’ll do that.” Cobra nodded.
“One last thing… thanks for covering us, out there.” Adams said, referring to the Epsilon’s role both at the garage and the library.
“Well, thank you for saving us from the wreckage.” Cobra replied.
The Epsilon Commando held out his hand, Adams responded by shaking hands, a sign of actual comradeship between the COG and Cyron.
Cobra properly climbed aboard and the Raven took off, leaving Adams to go and regroup with his team.
Cobra and Geist could see out the windows, Opulent C was in bigger ruin now. A thick, brownish haze was covering the whole city, pockets of fire could be spotted in different areas and the buildings had been reduced to skeletons.
“No repairing the city of the rich, I see.” Geist mocked.
Cobra didn’t respond, he simply watched the world go by. Meanwhile, Angel was tapping into her laptop, it seemed as though something of interest was occurring.
“Hello, I think we may have something.” Angel announced.
Cobra and Geist went over to see what Angel had found.
“What do you have?” Cobra asked.
“Some of the data we retrieved from the Pariah HQ has been decoded. It looks as though it’s CCTV of the base.”
The Epsilon watched the footage, sure enough, it was of a Berserker trashing the Pariah forces. The angle was awkward though, it couldn’t catch Lash. Just as the killings seemingly stopped, the footage appeared to break down.
“Must have been corrupted.” Angel said. “Not the most… wait!”
The footage returned.
“The Berserker… it’s acting calm?”
Yes, the footage was that of the Berserker not attacking or fighting, but rather, it stood still, looking at something… or someone, with great curiosity.
“The missing Gear?” Angel inquired.
In the footage, the Berserker moved slightly and the identify of the missing Gear was revealed. The Epsilon looked in surprise.
“Well, well, well…” Geist chortled.
Back at the Prison of Haven courthouse, Madison Carmine sat, arms folded and defiant, as Dr Sarasman finished up his notes. Madison could tell the good doctor was probably wiring “insane” all over his notes.
“Well, this has been a most… enlightening experience, Mr Carmine.” Sarasman said.
“Spare me it Doc, just write me as crazy and get this over with. I’ve got friends lost out there, they’re probably thinking I’ve been killed…” Madison huffed.
“Yes, you’re friends…” Sarasman replied.
“Not what you think, Doc! I’m not selling the Locust COG secrets! There are others in the same boat as me.” Madison protested. “Besides, like I told you, the ones I have become acquainted with are not like Myrrah’s Horde…”
“Even the Soul Killers?”
There was a slight pause. Madison wanted to protest, but even he had to admit, saying the legendary Soul Killers weren’t all that bad was hard to swallow, even after the evidence he provided.
“At any rate, Mr Carmine, I won’t right you off as ‘insane’ or ‘crazy’, but what you provided me with will make for… interesting reading.”
“MADISON CARMINE” called a voice.
Just then, Onyx Guards LeMaire and Schneider approached his cell.
“Plans have changed. Your trail has been relocated and rescheduled. You get a few more days in a comfy cell before you spill your guts.” LeMarie explained.
“Wait, why?” Madison protested. “I’ve already been fessing up to the Doctor here…”
“That was for his own research.” Schneider interrupted. “Your trial is about what you did out there…”
“Great… more time wasting! They could be…” Madison was going to say, but LeMaire cut him off.
“Your little grub buddies and grub sympathizers will have to wait, you’ve got explaining to do…”
Madison sighed. A few more days in the cells before the courts throw the book at him, even if he can explain in full detail about what happened!
Still, at least it wouldn’t be a Halvo bay disaster all over again.
Madison grunted and was escorted out of his cell by the two Onyx Guards. Just as they approached the exit, Schneider took Madison up by himself, while LeMaire stayed to talk to the Doctor.
“So, what do you reckon? Crazy or what?” LeMaire asked.
“I… I don’t know.” Sarasman stuttered. “I just pray they will give him a chance to explain himself… there is a lot we could learn from him!”
Opulent C had long been abandoned now. The Gears had pulled out, the Savage Locust had retreated and the Lambent had no reason to stay, now that their crater was no more.
Save for the crackling fire, the whole town was silent. Seemingly no traces of life anywhere.
At the ruins of the “GO” fuel station. The fire was still burning as the ruins of the building were slowly eaten away by the inferno. A humongous pile of rubble where the station shop once was remained still…
… until a slight quake caused pieces of the rubble to move. Then a larger quake, then another…
… until Rage’s fist emerged from the ruins…