Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-18

Red Prime watched over Nala 4 via the scope on his rifle, while one of his copies watched over the hatchery as a whole. The other shadowed Nala 4, shrouded in stealth protocols and armed for close combat. The latter pair stalked through the dormant Bug eggs, crept up upon the closest of these alien technicians and quickly cut him down. The second approached at that moment, so the infiltrators threw their chakrams and cut him down, but the third could not be seen from their position. Red Prime and his copy couldn’t see the remaining technician either, and let Nala 4 know.

“Keep an eye out for that last one.” Nala 4 said, curtly, “We’ll set explosives; cover us.”

Nala 4 and the Red copy supporting him quickly cover the hatchery in explosives, and as the duo completes their demolitions work Nala 4 sees a blast from an unknown weapon burn through the Red copy’s chest from behind and deresolve him. Once under cover, Nala 4 linked to Red Prime.

“Can you see him?”

Red Prime and his copy scan the room, but don’t detect him. “Nothing. He’s either well under cover or stealthed.”

Nala 4 activated his own stealth and moved out. This was now a game of cat and mouse, of two parties silently maneuvering for position before attacking from ambush and assassinating their enemy. Nala 4 watched the room, looking for tells revealing one’s presence, heightening his senses to sensitize motion. Tense moments passed before Nala 4 detected alien footfalls faintly found in the floor, a trail Nala 4 then pursued, before those sensitive senses served him well at a critical moment.

Out of the corner of his eyes, Nala 4 caught a flash and brought up his chakram to shield himself in a split-second, deflecting away the deadly shot, and then dove for cover. He locked his eyes on that position, and then Red Prime began firing upon it. This forced the technician to break out of that place, and Nala 4—now attuned to what tells to watch for—noticed the technician's flight. With one throw of the chakram, the last technician went down.

“That’s finished.” Red Prime said, annoyed, “Let’s not see any more surprises.”

Nala 4 switched scanning modes, a hunch prompting him to do so. He scowled.

“The Bug eggs are awakening. Slowly, sure, but they’re going to start hatching soon.”

“Not this shit again.” Red Prime said, “So damned predictable. You know what to do.”
Nala 4 hurried back to Red Prime’s position, and with a button he detonated the explosives. The eggs immediately splattered about the chamber, and the Hive shook. Shortly thereafter, the surviving three got the signal from Nala Prime to exfiltrate- and with flames engulfing the chamber quickly, they needed no further reason to quit their position. Once more with rifles in hand, they fled the hatchery and moved to link up with Nala Prime.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-17

Nala Prime and his team approached the very center of the Hive. They expected a Queen Bug, but did not find one within. They found, instead, a dull grey humanoid of androgynous sex and features that can only be described as minimalist: its eyes, ears, nose and mouth were the barest possible to act as intended. Its legs seemed Man-like, as did its arms, but again only enough to function as intended; it seemed to be a proto-Man figure.

Once the group settled in, they listened as it walked about the strangely void chamber. Thought none of their gear or protocols could pinpoint it, all of them felt great potential energy- but energy low of frequency. Then, remembering back to their educations, they shifted their perceptions back to those basics imparted to them many years ago in the Academy: now, though faint, they noticed the network of drawn circles on the floor- circles mirrored on the chamber’s roof.

Without words, Nala Prime signed to the others “User?”

The other Nalas and the Reds nodded their concurrence, and they prepared their usual plan for taking down a User: attack from stealth in close-quarters, incapacitate the target before it can react and then lock down the User’s ability to enact protocols. They awaited the signal, which came from the room below when Red Prime’s team engaged the Bugs in the Hatchery. Their target immediately spun about the room, raw power shooting from an outstretched hand and channeling it into the master node of the circle system.

Nala Prime chopped at the air, signaling an immediate attack. The group, going invisible, rushed the alien target and tackled him to the floor before it could seal itself off. The Blues and the Reds got off and spiked the circle system with their batons, draining the power in the system and funneling it to them- power they badly needed. Then they drew their chakrams.
They needed those weapons, because the Nalas found that their target, to their surprise, was a construct- an android! It flung them all aside with some violence and leapt to its feet, resolving blades into each hand and attacking the Reds and Blues.

“Black Knight Neutralization!” Nala Prime bellowed, “NOW!”

As the Nalas got to their feet and drew their swords and chakrams, they watched their target take on the Blues and Reds—fighting as a unit—and matched them blow-for-blow, step-for-step without apparent strain. Nalas 2 and 3 joined the melee and soon found that their added numbers did not help; the User demonstrated a mastery of awareness, acumen and athleticism that they found previously only amongst the greatest of the Sons of Ken or the Knights of the Azure Flame.

Nala Prime drew his chakram, prepared to throw and took aim. Roaring with a barbaric yalp, Nala hurled his chakram at the User. Each of the others, in swift succession, disengaged just enough to throw their own before rejoining the fight. The User fell into a stance and weaved his blades such that he created a swift-pivoting wall of steel, and the others did not let up their assault upon the User for a few critical moments.

Nala Prime, again invisible, leapt high into the air. Using a protocol to enhance his hang-time, he plucked each chakram out of the air and hurled them down from directly above the User. Each struck a limb, severing it, save his own. He held that in hand as he landed. The now-limbless android sputtered helplessly as Nala Prime approached it.

“Game over.” Nala Prime pronounced, “You lose, User.”

Nala Prime decapitated the User and took its head in hand. “Change of plans. We take the head with us and hack it in the lab. Time to exfiltrate- signal Red Prime and move out.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-16

Yellow Prime breached the roof of the Hive from within, and was the first to climb out. Both of the Greens followed, and last was Blue 5. The four of them set beacons and dropped lines back inside so the others could easily home in on their position, and then they took up defensive positions- time to wait. The four of them split their attention within and without, keeping eyes on the skies and the Hive at all times, rotating positions periodically.

The Greens glanced at each other often, maintaining a private and silent dialog. Words were not needed between them, as each knew the other’s mind; they weren’t trusted any longer, believed by the others to be compromised emotionally and thus an operational hazard, so why should they stick around? Why not bug out? Why not take the earliest possible opportunity to get the hell out of there and head back to the Inner City- and then let the Masters know what went down? Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it? That’s what the Greens thought.

Of course, Nala Prime anticipated it. Of course, Blue 5 and Yellow Prime figured it out during their transit to their current position. The Greens, now caught up in a paranoia feedback loop, tried to out-think their erstwhile colleagues- and that sort of logical thought wasn’t their strength. The best the two Greens could do was to assume that Blue 5 had their number, and that he kept Yellow Prime in the loop, so if they just edged out and ran in different directions one of them would get away because they could outrun and out-maneuver both Yellow Prime and Blue 5 should they decide to pursue them.

Then they decided that pursuit could not be risked, assuming that their comrades would see a breakout attempt coming, so they decided to ambush Blue 5 and Yellow Prime and disable them such as to guarantee their escape. This too they considered deeply, until their uniformity of thought ceased as one Green favored flight while the other favored fight. Their glances turned to scowls, then to glares, as they increasingly focused on each other instead of on Blue 5 and Yellow Prime.

Without warning, one of the Greens attacked the other with a sword. The other blocked with a chakram and drew his sword. The two Greens, fighting with chakram and sword, soon forgot that Blue 5 and Yellow Prime ignored them both and slipped back down inside the Hive- just in case. As one would expect from two perfect copies fighting each other, they mirrored each other move for move as their clash left simple melee combat and turned to the tossing of their chakrams in vain attempts to trick one off his line and thus leave an opening for a chakram to strike home and end it in deresolving one Green so the other could flee.

Below, Yellow Prime and Blue 5 looked at each other in exasperated bemusement; at any other time, this would be hilarious to witness. Right now, it’s tragic and stupid; both hoped that one Green would get the other and get on with their scheme. After about 15 minutes, they decided to put an end to this farce: they shot both Greens, knocking each off balance and thus unable to block the other’s chakram. The shattered remnants of both Greens rained upon Blue 5 and Yellow Prime as they climbed.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nala Prime and the Great Bug War-15

Red Prime finished off yet another Bug with a burst of blaster fire, and then took a moment to asset his team’s condition. It wasn’t good, but within Nala Prime’s expectations—expectations that he shared—and that meant that things went accordingly to plan, so far. According to the clock running on his helmet’s user interface, he and his team endured near-constant contact with the Bugs for about an hour. The Yellow copies got overrun and deresolved about 15 minutes ago, after they got separated from the group in the last ambush, and that took an already thin group past the point of sustainability.

“Form up.” Red Prime bellowed, “We’re on the move.”

The remaining copies of Special Team 1 reformed around Red Prime, and as a group—covering all six possible avenues of assault—they moved through the Hive towards their objective, below the center of the Hive; the Hatchery, if this Hive conformed to previous experiences, would rest below where the Hive’s commander—previously, a Queen Bug—and the eggs it spawned would drop to that Hatchery to be tended by specialized Drones. The now four-man team managed to avoid or cut-short several more Bug contacts, and then it came upon what usually would be the Hatchery.

What they found, instead, was a large laboratory with complex—and inorganic, apparently—machinery that stored Bugs in various states of development. Some, indeed, were eggs. Others were larval forms, and still others were mature forms. Amongst these Bugs were something far more familiar, far more telling in their very presence: obviously humanoid figures, in positions of authority, acting not just as the specialized Drones of previous experiences but also as technicians.

Red Prime waived Nala 4 up to him and pointed at the scene before them. Nala 4 took a long look at them, and then he waived the others forward and had them all stay out of sight.

“The Bugs are not a problem if we can take out the technicians first, quietly.” Nala 4 said, “But we need to do it fast. If we botch one take-down, the remaining ones will react and likely wake up the Bugs. If that happens, we’re as good as dead.”

Red Prime checked the readout on his blaster rifle; it read low, which mimicked the readouts of his internal power levels- he felt spent, but not yet completely drained, and this time to rest did help to replenish his reserves. His copies, and Nala 4, looked similarly depleted and vulnerable.

“No time to rest?” Red Prime asked, knowing the most likely answer.

“Almost none; take it now, while you can.” Nala 4 said, giving Red Prime that likely answer.

“I assume you’re looking at using a stealth protocol and making close-quarters takedowns, due to our low power levels?”

Nala 4 nodded affirmatively. He put his blaster rifle in his lap, gripped it by the two hand-holds and deresolved it back into a simple baton. Putting it away into a leg shealth, Nala 4 instead drew forth his chakram; Red Prime and his two copies comprehended immediately Nala 4’s intention.

“Red 3, go with Nala 4.” Red Prime ordered, “Red 2, you’re with me on Spotter detail.”

Red Prime reshaped his rifle out of its compact, close-quarters mode and into its sniper mode. Red 2 activated a protocol on his helmet that gave him a full suite of personal sensors suitable for being a sniper’s spotter. Red 3 also deresolved his rifle, and sheathed the baton; he also drew his chakram. Red Prime and Nala 4 nodded at each other, and then Nala 4 and Red 3 went invisible and began the slow crawl into the Hatchery-cum-Laboratory.