Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-10

Red Prime resolved his copies and checked them for integrity. Satisfied, he addressed them: “We are Section 5, I am Red Prime and the mission is go.”

Nala 5 smiled, but Green 5 cut him off. “I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

“Belief is not required, Green.” Blue 5 said.

Yellow 5, Nala 5 and Red Prime nodded in concurrence.

“File your protest after the fact.” Red said, “Now, here’s the plan. We’re going to hit that group of workers over there and overrun them. We need to be loud and stompy. This will provoke the Hive to send Fliers after us. We’re going to run interference on the ground for the other sections for a while, until one of them breaches the Hive. Once that happens, we stop playing here and go join the party.”


Section 5 drew their batons and resolved blaster rifles into their arms. Then, on Red Prime’s signal, they attacked the workers. Caught by surprise, the sudden barrage of blaster fire ripped apart the worker Bugs and then their warrior escorts without any chance for counterattack. Red Prime got the last Bug, but—as planned—let the alien get off an alarm before tearing the thing’s body to shreds.

“Time to intercept?” Nala 5 inquired as he double-checked the enemy casualties.

“No launch yet.” Green 5 said.

“We raid until they do.” Red Prime commanded, and Section 5 obeyed. Flashes of blaster fire and fires from flaming corpses spread throughout the Hive’s dig sites, each one overrun by Red Prime and Section 5 in turn. Unable to ignore the attacks, the Hive dispatched Fliers to deal with Section 5- and got shot out of the sky from their coordinated ground fire.

“That got their attention.” Yellow 5 said, “These Fliers have no shooting attacks. Neither do the ground Bugs. There’s no way that this Hive will just throw Bugs at us until we win, right?”

“We have no way to know that for certain.” Blue 5 said, “The presence of the Bug Mastermind changes all that we know of their adaptation capabilities.”

“We’ve got company coming up from below.” Green 5 said, “Diggers!”

Erupting from the ground came a group of giant-sized Bugs with massive mandibles meant for deft digging, and glands that extruded some acidic substance meant to make digging easier. One of them erupted beneath Yellow 5, capturing him in its mandibles fast and—before its violent emergence completed—snapped Yellow 5 in half. Shattered, the copy fell apart and deresolved instantaneously.

“Crap!” Green 5 said, “NALA! I thought we were as good as the originals!”

Nala 5, fully in the moment, did not hear Green 5 or Yellow 5 as he reacted without thought to the new arrivals. With his rifle, he blasted one down at point-blank range, and then tossed his chakram at a second closing from the flank while he engaged a third coming from behind and hosed it down with rifle fire. The chakram, energized as usual, sliced through the Digger’s armored carapace with aplomb and cut it in half before returning to Nala 5’s hand- and then to its sheath.

“There’s your answer.” Red Prime said, “Now get your head straight.”

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-09

Blue Prime watched the copies of Nala, Red, Yellow and Green resolve before him in the water. Once he satisfied himself of their integrity, he signaled for them to follow him ashore where they crept into a cave-like ruin.

“What’s our status?” Red said.

“The mission is still go.” Blue Prime said, “We are Section 3, and I am Blue Prime.”

Nala 3 smiled. “It worked.”

The others nodded, and then Green 3 asked “What is the status of the other sections?”

“Unknown.” Blue Prime said, “We’re under silence until the rendezvous point inside the Hive.”


The five members of Blue Prime’s Section 3 carefully negotiated their way to the Hive’s pillar base, where they took great care in planting and concealing a series of demolition charges keyed to a no-win remote trigger. While Blue Prime and Nala 3 focused on the charges, Red 3 took Green and Yellow 3 to intercept and dispatch Bug sentries before they could raise an alarm.

“Blue, we’re going to raise an alarm soon.” Nala 3 said, passing a charge, “If that leader is as I think it is, then it maintains contact with the drones. As soon as it notices that these drones are gone, we’re going to have company.”

“Understood.” Blue Prime said, setting the charge.

Nala 3 turned to the others. “Get ready for Fliers!”

Section 3 watched several groups of Fliers launch out of the Hive far up into the sky, but none of them descended towards them. Distantly, they noticed one dogfight going on that involved another section.

“Not yet.” Red 3 said, “But soon they’ll come for us.”

“Done.” Blue Prime said as he finished the final link in the set.

Just then, some ways above them, they saw one of the other sections blow a hole into the Hive.

“Ascension now!” Red 3 ordered, “There’s our door, so let’s get inside.”

Grabbing batons from their holsters, Section 3 resolved their personal bikes and, with a quick hack, shot up the side of the Hive as if on level ground. Green 3 saw some Fliers peel off to come for them and flashed a warning.

“Acknowledged.” Red 3 said, and then ordered “Let’s make some bows for them.”

All five bikes flicked on their light walls and rode in close formation, the brilliant walls revealing their location. The Fliers closed quickly, now seen as a group three times their number, and lacking any ranged attack forms.

“Point-Defense Protocol!” Red 3 bellowed, and he—along with the others—drew their chakrams from their back sheaths and energized them. As the lead Flier dove to attack, they threw their weapons; all five, unerringly, struck and sliced through the gigantic flying insect before returning to their hands. A few more flew in, and as one got shredded in the same manner two more got lured into the bikes’ light walls and crashed.

“Not long now.” Nala 3 said.

Just then, one of the other section strafed the attacking Fliers from his light jet- and caused one to crash into the light wall left in his wake while shooting down many more. The hole in the Hive fast approached, and the Point-Defense system held off the attacking Fliers as Section 3 breached the Hive one-by-one.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-08

Nala crept into a well-concealed position on the outskirts of the Old World ruins and then signaled to the others: “Nala Prime to Special Team Sections, report in.”

Concealed hull-down in an overgrown brush: “Green Prime, standing by.”

Concealed under a camouflage protocol deep within the ruins: “Yellow Prime, standing by.”

Just under the water in the large, freshwater lake: “Blue Prime, standing by.”

Standing outside a work gang in the ruins, Red said “Red Prime, standing by.”

Nala looked at the map superimposed over his vision, showing the five of them spread out evenly around the Hive, and with each of them ready to execute their part of the plan.

“All sections, resolve and attack!”

Nala activated the backups, resolving copies of Special Team 1 about him. He turned to them, gave each of them a quick evaluation for integrity, and smiled- it worked.

“This is Section 1, and you are Special Team 1. I am Nala Prime, and we are to continue the mission.”

“Understood.” The copies of Special Team 1 nodded, and then Red asked “What’s our status?”

“Hive’s there.” Nala said, pointing to it, “Diversions are in place and underway, and under cover of those diversions we’ll slip into the Hive and rendezvous with our reinforcements before moving on to the objective. Then we hack the enemy leader’s mind, set the Hive to blow and then exfiltrate.”

“Hitting as a unit?” Yellow asked, and Nala nodded.

Blue looked at Nala with a crocked eyebrow, but before he spoke he looked at himself and the others of Special Team 1.

“What’s our designation, Nala Prime?” Blue asked.

“Section 1. You are all Section 1.”

“You did it, didn’t you?” Blue 1 said, “We’re copies, but the originals aren’t dead. What did you agree to designate us?”

“Each copy appends the section number to their name.”

“So,” Green said, shocked, “You’re the original Nala.”

“No.” Nala Prime said, “I am the first Nala. Each of you are the perfect copies of the first Special Team 1. Should you survive, and the Prime not, you become the Prime.”

Yellow 1 then spoke up. “Nala Prime, what if none of us make it?”

Blue interjected right then. “If he worked with the First Founder for this project, and this is a field test, then lab tests already occurred and succeed. The First Founder isn’t about to let such a man be lost to mortality like that.”

Nala Prime nodded. “I can’t confirm or deny that he did so, but if I know the Old Man as well as I think I do, then he probably did back all of us up. However, unless he remotely synced with us, those backups will lack our knowledge.”

“Irrelevant. We’re immortal.” Red said, “That has consequences, Nala Prime.”

“We’ll see.” Nala Prime said, as he—along with the others—took notice of the Hive sending out Fliers to deal with the sudden explosions denoting the other sections making their moves. “Move out!”

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-07

Special Team 1 sat back, wordlessly proclaiming their disbelief.

“Yes, I do recall that the Bugs took notice of our presence. Yes, I am aware that another infiltration will be far more difficult. Yes, I do recall that we are only a small team of brothers and not the vanguard of an army. That does not worry me, because I know how to use all of these facts to our advantage.”

Special Team 1 did not seem convinced, let alone impressed.

“We’re going to split up and infiltrate along different vectors, with a rendezvous point set by the first of us to breach the Hive.”

The four of them looked at Nala as if he proclaimed fire to be ice.

“But first, we’re going to sync up and copy our emergency restore files to each others’ systems. Once each of us begins infiltration, we initiate those restores.”

“Wait a moment.” Yellow said, “Is this going where I think it is?”

Nala nodded. “I’ve continued the work I began at the Academy, under the mentorship of the First Founder, and in the Inner City I devised a working protocol that gets around the problems with the restoration protocols.”

“You came up with a hack?” Yellow asked.

“Better.” Nala answered, “I upgraded it.”

Blue, again faster than the rest, got to the point. “Yet we don’t have it, and we’re amongst the first to receive the new stuff. Therefore I conclude that your upgrade hasn’t yet received final approval from the Masters, and it hasn’t gotten that approval because there aren’t any records of a successful field test.”

“I dislike being deployed as a test dummy. That’s what test programs are for.” Green said, dismayed.

Now Red tapped his head, remembering something. “I remember your thesis!” he said, “Yours was the first thesis not to be freely disseminated by the Academy after its acceptance and defense in a generation.”

“Three, actually.” Nala smiled. “It’s a distinction truly earned.”

“It got flagged for review by Internal Affairs under the Eden Clause.” Red continued, “I sat on the review committee at the time, so that’s why and how I got a copy.”

Blue’s eyes now perked up, his curiosity aroused. “Oh, really?”

“Nala here submitted a lengthy thesis, under the sponsorship of the First Founder, laying out the case that there was no difference between a sufficiently-complex program and we human beings- and, as such, we could easily use this fact to advance ourselves far beyond the limitations of Mankind. By the same token, we could no longer afford to regard our most sophisticated constructs as mere automatons but instead as fellows like us- or even as us entirely, as wholly-created humans. The key element to his argument, backed up with experimental data as well as building upon past generations’ work on similar queries, rested upon the very process that occurs when we cross to or from the Inner City.”

The other three members of Special Team 1 looked aghast at Nala, and he just smiled at them.

“What was the committee’s decision?” Yellow asked of Red.

“After one session, where we interviewed the First Founder about it, we concluded without dissent that—though disturbing and radical—Nala had not violated the Eden Clause and would not be sanctioned in any way. However, his thesis would remain locked away under the Masters’ Seal.”

Before Green or Yellow could follow up, Blue again got to the point.

“Nala figured out how to get around the Fork Fracture problem.” Blue exclaimed, his voice trembling slightly as he fixed his eyes upon the man, “The implications of this breakthrough are-“

“-revolutionary. Yes, I know. The First Founder took me on as a student for a reason.” Nala proclaimed, “The Masters have reservations. They want proof that it will work as intended before formal recognition, and subsequent publication to the fellowship.”

Nala paused, letting the fullness of this information steep in their minds.

“If we succeed, this means that the war will be won within the year.”

“And failure?” Red inquired.

“If what Nala intends works, failure is impossible.” Blue answered.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-06

The brothers soon returned to concealment and reviewed the information gotten from the Son of Ken, using it now as a holographic playback device.

“It seems that the Sons had the same idea that we did.” Red said as he watched the playback of the Son’s infiltration of the Hive’s perimeter.

“They’re not fools, so they think of this place as a possible hunting ground.” Blue said, as the group watched the Son stalk, slay and consume a worker Bug form, “I think, however, that they are not capable of dealing with the heavy airborne presence.”

They watched as the Son alerted the Hive inadvertently, having noticed the digs and could not comprehend any reason to dig up Old World ruins. He attempted to flee, got cornered and then fought his way out only to be hounded and cornered repeatedly over a series of days before fatigue and wounds finally weakened him enough for a Bug to put him down. Most of this occurred by the Flyers, as he could not long evade them or easily dispatch them.

“Impressive.” Red said admiringly, “He made them pay.”

“He did not get a good price.” Blue said, unmoved. “Bug life is cheap, and these forms are no different from any we already encountered.”

“Halt playback.” Nala said, and the image froze. “Repeat the direct encounters between the Son and the Bugs, slowly.”

Yellow did as asked, and during the first encounter between the Son and the Fliers Nala again called a halt. Again, the image froze, and Nala called out a distant image behind the Fliers about to get into close quarters with the Son. Without being asked, Yellow isolated it and brought it out for easy of inspection.

“Watch closely.” Nala said, pointing out a connection between the image and the Bug about to attack the Son, “I think we have our lead.”

The playback resumed, and there seemed to be a brief flash of light between the two. The Bug then appeared to be far more skilled in close combat than Fliers usually are in their experience, yet still got cut down. Before another engaged the Son, there was another flash and the phenomenon repeated itself. Noting the pattern, the group saw this persist throughout the playback. Finally, as the final Bug struck that fatal blow, the Son locked eyes—as it were—with its slayer and its eyes glowered with some sentience heretofore lacking in the Bugs.

“Nala, you’re right- something intelligent is behind these Bugs.” Green said, his voice quivering in disgust. “That’s malevolence of a very personal sort. This Son wasn’t merely on the wrong side of an impersonal part of life, but actively hated and willfully murdered.”

The rest of the playback consisted of other Bug forms, heretofore unknown to the brothers, of a sort that mocked the human form in grotesque and obscene ways attempted to communicate with the Son- and torturing him. One, larger than the rest, observed and managed the Bugs doing the work; this also glowered at the Son, hate in its eyes.

“That Bug, Special Team, is our primary objective.” Nala said as he pointed back to the Hive, “That Bug Hive is where we need to go to get to him.”

“Five against a Hive?” Yellow shook his head in disbelief. “Nala, you can’t be serious.”

“I am serious, and I have a plan.”