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Author Topic: MR: War Arc: Invasion  (Read 1573 times)

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Offline Coryn

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2019, 10:47:03 PM »
The longer awaited Chapter 5 arrives! As you can tell, this one truly is a beast. (Such a beast in fact that it comes in two parts! Don't miss the second post below!)

You can thank Mahlua for doing the heavy lifting throughout most of it, although this one really was a joint effort among all of us. Please enjoy!


CHAPTER 5: SHRAPNEL OF WAR: Part 1
CHAPTER 5: SHRAPNEL OF WAR

Hasith glared at the two little demons before him, and the glowing matrix of Uncle Joe. Everything in him tensed to attack, but it would do little good now. Soon enough, the green lights flickered to yellow, then amber, and finally to red as the systems overloaded.
   “What have you done?” He asked. The air felt off.
   “You’re done for, old man,” Akan said. Achan finished for her. “With this, we have the whole army flooding in as we speak. And, as a final measure.” She keyed the 'Enter’ button and gestured to Hasith. “Exit, pursued by the righteous.”
   Hasith felt like water rising up from his toes towards his waist, but as he looked down, Hasith saw something much more terrifying. The administrator's body was disappearing.
   “But, how?” He grunted while struggling to lunge forward.
   “You admins are annoying. Buh-bye!” Achan said, grinning too widely for her face. With a snap of her finger, Hasith dissipated into data, banned from the system.
   “Great timing,” Akan said, giving a sarcastic slow clap. “Very dramatic.”
   “Thank you.”

https://youtu.be/jGvYaMIXuxU

   The air in MangaRaiders began to stir. Static electricity built up and began discharging haphazardly. The system was not designed to handle the numbers is was about to see. 4Kids’ invasion was coming in at full force, and MR was doing all it could to welcome them with open arms. The bringers of war had arrived.
   They came in waves.
   Ammunition, anti-aircraft guns, assault rifles, armoured vehicles, auto-cannons!
   Ballistic missiles, bayonets, bazookas, biological weapons, blades, body armor, bombs, bullets!
   Cannons, carbines, clubs, communication officers, cutlasses!
   Daggers, depth charges, dynamite!
   Elite guards, expeditionary forces, explosives!
   Field medics, firearms, flails, flamethrowers!
   Gatling guns, grenades, grenade launchers, guided missiles, gun powder!
   Halftracks, hardened barriers, heat seeking weapons, helicopters, high altitude surveillance!
   Identification cards, ignition systems, implosion devices, infantry, infirmaries!
   Jamming devices, jet packs, jet propelled rockets, jump jets!
   Kalashnikovs, key documents, knives!
   Lances, landing craft, landmines, lieutenants!
   Mace, machetes, machine guns, magnums, missiles, mortars, munitions!
   Nerve gas, night vision goggles, nuclear reactors!
   Officers, official stationary, ordnance depots, oxygen tanks!
   Paratroopers, pepper spray, pickaxes, pikes, pistols, poison!
   Quadrant maps, quartermasters, quarterstaffs!
   Rapiers, revolvers, rifles, rocket launchers!
   Sabers, semi-automatics, shells, shotguns, snipers, special forces, stun rods, submachine guns, switchblades!
   Tanks, tasers, tear gas, torpedos, tripwires, truncheons!
   Ultraviolet cameras, uniforms, underground sonar, underwater explosives, uzis!
   Valuables, variant soldiers, vehicles!
   Warheads, watercraft, weapons grade elements, whips!
   Xenological pathogens, XO's, X-ray goggles!
   Yearning warriors, yield estimators, yowling hoards!
   Zealots, zeppelins, zone defenses!
   150,000 fighting men and women descended upon the city. MangaRaiders was completely overrun, and it had taken less than two minutes.
   One zealot in particular stepped up to a microphone. Narcissus was rapidly descending towards the ground in his airdropped transport. He would be commanding the troops on the ground, while the General kept watch above. The major had requested permission to address the troops, and he had received it. Soon they would be encased in the noises of war. Now was the time. Narcissus's address reached the ears of every 4Kids soldier.
   “Warriors of 4Kids, a great day is upon us! Today, this city of sin and debauchery, which has tread upon our righteous path for years, will have marred our vision for the last time! My good people, we have fought long and hard for this day! We have forged through a hundred adversaries, and we shall conquer a hundred more! But this day, this day we bring war to MangaRaiders! Let loose your blades! Let fly your bullets! Bring war to MangaRaiders, like nothing they have ever seen! ALL HAIL 4KIDS!”
   The first salvos were fired as the broadcast finished. MangaRaiders, was now the house of war.

   MR City’s central park exploded with the sudden weight of an entire 4kids’ battalion. They appeared with such numbers that they expanded past the park, and many soldiers piled into the streets and on rooftops, all at attention and ready for the order to march from their respective commanders.
   Such a vast addition did not go unnoticed, of course. Word travelled quickly of the near sonic boom of jackboots hitting the dirt, and many combat seasoned raiders converged for battle in this new arena.
   Manimal was not one such raider, per se. He had simply been lounging around the park, strumming his guitar and coming up with his next great hit to fling onto the radio waves. The sudden burst of people around him painted a smile on his face. He wasn't sure what was going on, but he couldn't waste an audience. Thankfully, His guitar was already plugged into a portable amp. All he had to do was turn it up.
   The sudden interference caused the surrounding portion of the army to flinch from the screech in their earsets.
   “You guys look like trouble,” Manimal said, still sporting a goofy grin. He rested his fingers on the fret and strummed a simple chord. “But, let’s see if you can handle my treble!”
   In an instant, his fingers flew over the strings, strumming like a madman. Between the interference with their radio systems and Manimal's ability to jam, the raider rendered all soldiers within earshot all but useless. Some of them even began to headbang or pogo jump against their will.
   “Yeah!” Manimal sang out. “Guess who’s the Master of Puppets now!?”
   One of the nearest 4Kids commanders grit his teeth. He punched a few numbers on his radio. “Mayday, this is Sergeant Jefferson from ground squad 33! Our forces are under attack! We landed near a hero raider. It’s ‘The Manimal’. Send reinforcements!”
   From a nearby rooftop, a small squad received the mayday.
   “Copy sergeant! This is weapons squad 12! Sending assistance!” replied its commander. He turned to one of his soldiers. “Prep the RPG. Aim for the raider’s amplifier.”
   “Roger!” The soldier gave a quick salute as he set about his task. He kneeled and pieced together his weapon. Within moments, he was ready.
   “FIRE!”
   Of course, Manimal saw the smoke of the grenade approaching, but knew he wouldn't have time to save everything. “Frick!” he muttered. Manimal yanked his guitar free of the amplifier and leapt aside, toppling over some of his dancing puppets. The amplifier and the bench he had been sitting on were blasted to dust and powder by the explosion.
   “Hey, man! That equipment cost a lot of money!” The raider yelled, shaking his fist in the direction of the artillery emplacement. Around him, the soldiers shook their heads as if to free themselves from the last bit of ringing in their ears. Manimal looked around, and the weight of his situation dawned on him. He was surrounded. A sweatdrop formed on his forehead and dripped onto his ax. “Uh oh…”

   Coryn and Lego had not been made moderators because they could fight. They could, of course. The ability to battle MangaRaiders’ foes was indeed a prerequisite, but that was not why they were selected for duty.
   Lego and Coryn were moderators because they were kind. Because they loved, truly loved, those they called family. Because they could tell right from wrong. Because they could be relied on to do the right thing even when it hurt. Even when it felt wrong at the time.
   But while many met those requirements, there was one more that truly determined whether or not one could be called to serve.
   People were not chosen because they could kill.
   You were chosen because if you had to, you would.

   Sirens went off as soon as 4Kids hit the ground. Warnings went out on automated systems to phones and communicators. Lego heard them, even deep in the maze.
   There was no more time left to deal with the hackers.
   Lego was still lost, but that wasn't going to be a problem for much longer. He pulled a small device from his pocket and wedged it into his ear. Lego flicked the small switch on its surface, and spoke to anyone who could listen. “All raiders in proximity to MR Tower. Moderator is en route. Get out of the way.”
   Frantic responses came in over the comms, but he only listened close enough to know that no one was about to get killed. Lego closed his eyes, and went deep. The powers of a moderator were great, but they exacted a toll. Not just physical, but psychological. If you didn't prepare yourself, it became easy for innocents to get caught in the crossfire.
   Lego opened his eyes. “Move!”
   A flash of light, and Lego was out of the maze. A flash of light, and Lego was in the sky above the city.
Below him, MR was already burning.
   Lego could see long columns of troops pushing their way through the city streets. The late afternoon sun highlighted it all in sharp relief. Armoured vehicles crashed through buildings, troops advanced along the roads, jets roared over head. Occasionally there were signs of resistance, but... Lego had taken it all in with a glance. They were outgunned and outmanned. An unstoppable force was upon them. It was going to be a dark day for MR, no matter how this battle went.
   At least, Lego thought, he could make it a little bit brighter.
   The tattoos on his arms began to snake. The femtomachines which comprised them began to fill up his hand. First a hilt, then a blade, and then a point. He had opted for a dai-katana. And as gravity took hold, Lego raised it above his head. “Get out…!” The air around him became charged as he fell. Long strands of blue plasma were drawn out of the atmosphere, and attached themselves to his blade. Lego's sword became a pillar of crackling lighting, and as he neared the ground, he aimed for the nearest group of soldiers he could find.
   They hadn't noticed him until far too late.
   “OF MY CITY!” Howled Lego as he hit the plaza outside of MR Tower. Where once there was a pillar of lightning, there was now an explosion of charged particles. Where once there was a 4Kids squad, there was only ash.
   Now Lego had their full attention.
   4Kids surged, and Lego met them with an open palm. “Remove!” The rushing men froze in their tracks, long before they ever reached their target. Lego squeezed his hand into a fist, and then, the soldiers began to move backwards. Faces twisted in agony as the men watched themselves reenact their own movements in reverse, as they watched their very histories be erased. While it was excruciating to live through, Lego knew it would not kill them. He wished that it could wipe away their very existence, but he could only take them back so far. Especially when it was so many people at once. Still, it would have to do. He needed space. He needed time.
   Lego’s palms hit the paving stones. “Move!” Before him, and then spreading out in a complete encirclement of MR Tower, grew a wall. The concrete and stone of the outer plaza was subsumed, and fed into the rising fortification. In short order, he had a fifty foot wall a yard thick, and 4Kids had a ditch to conquer before they could even think about mounting an attack on the barricade itself.
   At least, the ground troops did. The air cavalry wouldn’t have that problem.
   Lego could already see the helicopters incoming from within his fortress. With his free hand, he poured his machines into the ground. They worked their way up and through the wall, and from there sprouted jagged metal spikes.
   The moderator directed his dai-katana like a conductor’s baton. Lighting shot from the pointed protrusions. Helicopters burst into flame and dropped from the sky like flies. For each one destroyed however, two more seemed to takes its place. As hard as Lego was pushing the enemy, they were without a doubt closing in on him.
   One of the flyers finally broke through his line. Lego sighted it just as a soldier fired a grenade launcher out of the open side door. Two canisters hurtled towards the air at Lego, and he was too slow to stop them. Just as they impacted, Lego dropped down to shield himself from the blast. But instead of the fire and shrapnel that Lego expected, all he was met with was a burst of thick, black dust. The dust filled the air, and hung suspended. It darkened the sky above him, but Lego could still see the helicopter that had launched the weapon. “Missed me!”
   Lego stabbed forward with his sword, full of intent to send a bolt of lighting through the flying machine. He only managed to shoot a few arcs of plasma less than a foot before the energy had completely dissipated. The moderator recoiled as he realized the effect the black dust was having on his lighting. But he had no time to ponder it. Through the cloud he could hear boots hitting the ground as soldiers repelled down. Whatever came next. Lego would have to deal with it through muscle and steel alone.

   Narcissus had set up his command post in the Artists District. The spot was farther from the city center than it was close to it, but at this distance the buildings were low enough that he could take in the whole of the combat theater with the naked eye.
   The whole operation was set up on an elevated platform which traveled on a massive pair of tank treads. Computer stations were set up in the open air, and Narcissus conducted the war from a holographic table at the center of it all. Elite troops ringed the station on all sides. They moved in careful step with the mobile command center, such that it was never without protection.
   In this moment however, Narcissus paid the goings on around him no heed. His attentions were completely given over to the glowing map before him, and the radio in his ear, which had just connected to its target. “Agent Akan, this is Major Narcissus. Would you kindly explain to me why I am receiving reports of moderator powers being used in the vicinity MR Tower.” He was not yelling, but he put so much venom into his speech that he could hear Akan shiver on the other end of the line.
   “Sir, Joe was only designed to control registrations. I can only revoke moderator powers by using him as a backdoor. It already overtaxed the system to register the chorus and flag the administrators as threats. So it's taking longer than expected to deal with the mods.”
   Narcissus was about to scold her, but something else caught his eye. The command station was facing a long thoroughfare, and the major had been using it to peer deep into the city. It had been bare since the combat had started. Now, however, Narcissus could see a lone figure approaching his platform.
   A lone figure in a long white coat.
   Narcissus said. “I suggest you hurry along then.” Before cutting the connection to Akan, and turning to the technicians around him. “Where is Sken’s search and destroy squad relative to our position?”
   “Fifteen minutes northeast sir!” Shouted a woman.
   “Hmm…” Pondered Narcissus. “Too far out.” He reached down to the table’s controls, and input a very specific code into the console. “In the meantime, Captain.” Narcissus returned to his full height, and addressed an officer at the other end of the table. “Lead your troops against Sken, will you. I expect you to hold out until reinforcements arrive.
   The captain snapped a salute. “Sir! Yes Sir!”
   The lower ranking officer leapt from the command station, gathered the men around it, and charged their opponent. Meanwhile, Narcissus strolled up to the front railing to take in the carnage.
   
   Coryn had been progressing at a steady rate ever since he had emerged from the Science Division to find his city being invaded. The bulk of the fighting was taking place downtown, but he had found few commanders. And so he asked the question: ‘If I were 4Kids leadership, where would I be?’.
   He had found his answer, and his answer had found him. Which explained the onrushing troops.
   The soldiers formed orderly rows as they advanced, forming a tight line across the road. Men in front fired rifles as and machine guns, only to fall back through the lines to allow those behind to fire another volley. Before the bullets could reach him, Coryn formed a shield bubble around his body. The hunks of lead smashed into and deformed against the translucent energy field, only to fall harmlessly to the ground. Coryn allowed each row to fire before his started his counter attack.
   It was the only way to be fair.
   The shield bubble shrunk. The shield bubble sank. Coryn leapt onto its surface, and barreled into the oncoming troops with a war cry.
   Some he launched into walls with well placed shield orbs. Others he sent flying across the skyline by hand with moderator enhanced strength. Still others he simply crushed beneath the bubble that he rode.
   Before Coryn could decimate the men, buildings on his left and right exploded as a massive pair of armored tanks charged through them. The one on Coryn’s right was quicker, and launched a shell before he could get out of the way. Coryn flipped in the air, and absorbed the blast with his shield, but it caused the energy bubble to burst, and the moderator was sent to the ground. He raised his head just in time to see the second tank preparing to fire a round at point blank range. But its gunner never got the chance. Coryn raised a hand to the machine of war. “Split!”
   A white hot line sliced through the tank’s center. A second after that the machine exploded, sending two equal halves flying across the street. Coryn righted himself completely, and caught the second tank in a shield bubble of its own. Coryn lifted them into the air with a jolt. The turret swung wildly as the men inside were thrown out of their seats . Inside the tank the pilots experienced utter confusion, but they would not be confused for long. Coryn clenched his fist, and collapsed the shield
   Metal shrieked as the tank folded in upon itself. Those inside were crushed in an instant, and if that hadn’t killed them, they perished a second later as the weapon of war exploded.
   By now the original soldiers Coryn was engaged with had regained their momentum, and were advancing once again. Instead of letting them, Coryn slapped his palms together. “Merge!”

   From’s Narcissus’s point of view, Coryn disappeared almost instantly. After that however, he had a front row view as the buildings on both sides of the street rushed forward and slammed together in the center of the road with an ear splitting boom. It was like watching a zipper, except at the end of it, Narcissus would have to think about what happened to the troops which had been in the street before the two sides had become one.
   The buildings continued merging until the pavement ended and the park began. And then for a moment, all was silent.
   Breaking that silence, was the sight of of Coryn leaping over the newly formed city block, only to land on a fresh shield orb some twenty feet in the air. “I will now accept your surrender!”
   With the soldiers gone, the technicians operating the control center needed no further prompting to cut and run. Narcissus however, stood at ease while all behind him ran off into the twilight. Instead of cowering, he couldn’t help but grin. “Coryn Sken! A pleasure to make your acquaintance! I am Major Narcissus of the Lost Chorus! I trust that you have found killing my men enjoyable?”
   He just had to hold out for a few moments longer.
   Coryn replied. “I’m not in the business of killing for sport, major. I trust you understand the difference?”
   Narcissus chuckled. “It is not my business to care Sken. Whether or not I understand is besides the point entirely! But I am not so sure of your statement Sken! Perhaps you just finally have an opportunity to work out pent up stress?”
   The moderator scowled at the major. Coryn raised his hand, and above his head formed a massive, dreadful, black ball of energy. The power of deletion,which few on MR could claim to possess, was about to be on full display. “Don’t test me.”
   “I would never dream of it Sken! I not here to serve as proctor. In fact, I only have one, single task in this moment.”
   “And what’s that?” Asked Coryn.
   Narcissus’s smirk turned into a wide smile. “I’m distracting you!”
   Above Coryn’s head, the deletion orb popped like a balloon. A cold shiver ran down Coryn’s spine as he felt his moderator status drain from his body. It wasn’t like when he ventured out of MangaRaiders. That he could prepare for. That he could understand. This was like having a part of your soul stripped away. It was like walking into your own home, only to find that a stranger had emptied of all your things. But it was now only a cold emptiness that he felt. He had lived without moderator powers before, but this was a new sensation entirely. It was like a hole in the center of his being.
   But that hole wasn’t caused by the loss of his abilities. No, Coryn had lived without them before. This wasn’t that. The true cause was just now edging into the corners of Coryn’s mind. His shock at one thing was blinding him to the truth of another. And he was about to pay the price for it.
   Coryn’s eyes widened as he realized the danger he was in. It was too late however. Before Coryn could even turn his head. A red blur smashed into him from the sky above. The once-moderator of MangaRaiders was driven into the ground. Pavement, dirt, and stone shattered around him. Coryn found himself at the bottom of a crater, a hand digging into his neck, and a heavy weight upon his chest.
   Coryn blinked his eyes to clear the dirt that had fallen into them. He saw a blood-red uniform, similar to the one Narcissus wore. Above Coryn was a face that he knew. White hair, a red stripe through it. Wild, yellow eyes. It took a moment for full recognition to hit him, but when it did, Coryn shuddered in fear. He shuddered at the memories of what that face had done to his city. What that face had done to him. “C-Kret?!”
   The white haired man atop him smiled. “Nah~! Not C-Kret! You can call me R-Kain! And let me assure you. I will finish what my brother was too weak to!”

   A special operations platoon had been given express orders to search for and destroy the MangaRaiders Fighters Division. They were armed to the teeth with the most powerful weaponry 4Kids had at its disposal, including reverse-engineered technology from other hostile takeovers. Along their war path, they left nothing, and any civilian resistance met with fire, toppled buildings, war debris, and terror. It didn’t matter that the element of surprise was past. It had served its purpose. Every section the platoon cleared left a weak point for the rest of the army to exploit. Occupation was only a matter of time, especially with the administrators out of the way.
   Greentrap sat atop a rooftop, binoculars in hand. “They’re getting close, Coach,” she said.
   Fronomenal’s voice crackled through. “Good. Let them get a little closer, then strike ‘em hard. We’ll be right behind you.”
   Anxiety gripped the frog-like raider’s chest, but she nodded. “10-4.”
   Winter wind whipped her uniform. The ground rumbled, and another building toppled over the roadway, sending a plume of smoke up in its place. Many such pillars of smoke littered the twilight horizon. Greentrap hesitated, then lifted the binoculars back to her eyes. Another low rumble drew her attention to the building’s debris. It had struck one of the highway bridges, and under the added weight, the supports cracked and groaned in protest. Greentrap pressed her lips together and trembled. This place was her home, and it broke her heart to see an enemy tearing through it. The aftermath of the Great Raids was one thing, but this…She turned her attention to the soldiers, some in tanks below, others in small aircraft above, and still others on foot throughout.
   “Target in sight. There are more than we expected,” She said into the walkie.
   “All right,” Fro said, “Attack at will.”
    If will had anything to do with it, Greentrap thought, she’d have forced herself awake from this nightmare hours ago.

   The tank launched a heavy missile, and certainly not for the first time that day. Still, much to the army’s disgust, the bizarre skeleton man jumped to the side, moving as though dancing through the soldiers. It wasn’t that his simple sword caused them much damage so much as his striking movements annoyed the commander of Special Operations Division 13. The so-called 'death squad’ sat at a standstill with this member of the Fighter’s Division.
    “You know,” the Fortis Scripter hummed, “This reminds me of the battle of Wizna. The Polish villagers were far outnumbered by German troops, but—whoops!” He hefted to the side as a soldier came at him with a rifle butt.
    “Curse him,” Growled the commander. The officer couldn’t tell if this buffoon was simply a distraction from the greater Fighter Division or not. But diversion or not, the fact that his ranks had been broken wounded his pride. Despite the discipline and training of all his soldiers, the skeleton raider’s movements, combined with the tight quarters assault, had led to nothing but sheer pandemonium.
    Fortis tapped a communicator strapped to his upper ribs. “You know, Greentrap, backup would be appreciated any time. Confusion only holds a good army back for so long.”
    From her station on the rooftops, Greentrap let out a sigh and rested a hand over her heart. She knew he was right. Fear had paralyzed her. She could feel Coach Fro’s disappointed gaze bearing down on her. The combination had rendered her unable to even contemplate what was about to happen. “Roger,” She said.
    Greentap stepped forward, but did not commit. She let her foot hang half off the edge of the roof. The soldiers were almost below her. They would spot her soon. Only the mass confusion Fortis had instilled prevented her from having already been discovered. Greentrap blew out a puff of mist with her breath and shifted her weight. With a forced calm, she went over the ledge.
   Between the force of gravity and careful training, her frog-like abilities allowed her to stick to the building. Greentrap broke into a run, and Newton fed her momentum. When she reached the first floor, she kicked off, hard, and changed her center of gravity to land on the road and keep running.
    “Blast it! Another one?!” Howled a soldier. She pointed her gun at the new target. A stream of gunfire followed the raider as Greentrap leapt onto an adjacent building and back down.
    Super agility kept Greentrap out of the way of manual weapons, but a red dot appeared on her suit. A tank operator broke into a grin amidst the glowing lights of the state-of-the-art machine. Information on the raider appeared across his screens. Greentrap’s abilities wouldn’t keep her safe for very long.
    “Uh, Coach,” She said, keeping two fingers to her earpiece, “I don’t think this will work for very long. Please hurry!”
    From a nearby underground computer station (courtesy of the Science Division), Eukocar received all radio transmissions from the surrounding area. He kept running the calculations in his head, and each time, the chance of victory never got much higher than seven percent. He tapped the button on his own walkie. “She’s right, ‘Allenatore’. You’ve gotta get in there now!”
   Eukocar never heard the response. A loud crash behind him pulled him away from his surveillance screens. “Huh?!”
    The muzzle of at least half a dozen guns met his face. Eukocar’s stomach dropped out of his shoes, but his heart pounded in his ears. He tried to calculate his own survival if he were to fight his way out, but all he saw were grim results. Slowly, he showed his palms and raised his trembling hands. One of the soldiers pointed to his earpiece with the gun muzzle, then motioned to the side. Eukocar gulped, and with one hand, removed his headset and placed it on the table beside him. He made sure to press the send button as hard as he could, to try and break it into staying on.
    “Surveillance station secure,” The lead soldier said. “Raider Eukocar, captured. Bloodless surrender.”
    Eukocar grit his teeth as a blush of shame seared his face. He prayed that his ‘Allenatore’ would forgive him for this.
   What the Italian could not have known, was that his message came through loud and clear. Upon hearing it, Greentrap lost her concentration. She stumbled over her own feet, knocking herself off the building she’d been running along. Fortis froze mid-swing of his sword. Fro pumped his legs harder and launched himself over a highway railing, forming a crater under himself as he landed on the far side. “Understood. Cease radio coms,” The coach said. A hint of sadness touched his voice.
    “Major threat detected,” The 4Kids computers sounded. Auto-lock features activated, the red dots on Greentrap spun around to the afroed figure in the crater behind the platoon.
    “All right, let’s do this,” Fronomenal said, plucking the radio device from his ears. He tossed it to the side and charged forward.
   What made Fro such a dangerous raider wasn’t that he was super strong or extremely fast. No. Though he excelled in both categories, those weren’t the selling points of his abilities. What Fro possessed was options. An infinite amount of them. For every problem he faced he had a hair strand to solve it. His hair magic knew no limits, and that alone made him a nightmare to deal with.
   As Fro charged forward, bullets were coming fast and heavy. A phalanx of 4Kids troopers formed thick lines in front of the heavy tank. Fro bobbed and weaved in between rounds, paying the soldiers no mind. The soldiers were just a distraction. The tank is what the coach kept his sights on.
   The tank operator’s screen display zeroed in on the afro haired bull. Dots and circles aligned in focus on Fro’s frame and a ‘locked on’ message flashed in red.“Target is locked on. Firing missile!” The operator yanked back his trigger.
   With a beep the tank fired its missile and the ground shook upon launch. The projectile tore through the air as it flew past with a deafening sonic boom. Fro summoned a swarm of hair tendrils as it neared him. He grinned.
Boom! Artillery and hair collided,  and the result was a pillar shaped explosion. Flames were focused upward by the nearby buildings. They soon fell to their demise from the impact, and the blasted flooded into the newly open space. Asphalt cracked and flung into the air. Smoke clouded the area and flames latched on to anything they could. The platoon waited on alert to witness the aftermath.
   A soldier stepped forward with impatience. “Hey, did we...”
   Another soldier behind him was staring hard at the smoke. For a second he saw movement from within. Shadows danced on the inside. “Wait, hold there’s something going on in there!”
The words came too late, for the shadows emerged before the others could react. Hair tendrils pierced through the dust and spiraled quickly towards the platoon. Bullets were fired in response, but their protestations were ignored. The tendrils smacked away all incoming fire and swooped in on the soldiers. Ankles were roped, and bodies were snatched away. One by one soldiers screamed as they were dragged towards the smoke. The ones who weren’t began to retreat for safety, while braver souls held their ground and continued to fire. The would be snatched away to their doom moments later.
   The tank operator panicked as he glared at the messy scene on his display. His features expressed fear, but he did his best to betray it. The soldier gritted his teeth and pulled on his joystick to hone on the center of the giant smoke cloud. His thumb itched with the intention of firing, but he held off. The tendrils had ceased their movements and the smoke was beginning to clear. His heart throbbed with anxiety and fear, but and inner voice told him to wait. To find his moment to strike.
   Hesitating would be the worst decision he would ever make.
   When the smoke finally dissipated, Fro appeared. He stood atop of a building sized hairball, composed of not just hair, but the bodies of fallen soldiers. Their lifeless limbs stuck out of its surface, providing a ghastly display for those who continued to resist. Fro waved his hand as if to invite the tank commander to look at the raider’s creation. “Got a present for ya, homie!”
   Fro flipped off the tangled with a kick that launched the hairball with a thunderous noise. The careening hairball closed in, and the tank operator’s targeting system locked on. With sweat pouring down his face, the crewman fired his missile, but it was only met with air. The tumbling ball had bounced up just before collision, avoiding the missle completely. The tank operator’s display screen was swallowed by the incoming mass. He screamed. “No!”
   The hairball slammed into the machine accompanied by the screech of metal and the squish of bodies. Its momentum carried the ball along with the tank caught in its hairy grip. It bounced once, further down the street, and crashed into a low building. Upon impact, The tank burst into flames and fireworks of unexploded shells followed a moment later. Pieces of destroyed hardware were flung into the sky and smoke engulfed the surrounding area.
   Fortis and Greentrap, who had been watching from the sidelines reunited with their coach. For  the moment, things had seemed to had calmed down. Fro turned around to greet his trainees as they approached. “You two alright?”
   “Yeah, thanks to you, ribbit. Greentrap said. “I just wish you would’ve gotten here sooner.”
Fortis nodded in agreement. “Indeed. Things were beginning to look grim for us, Coach. We’re lucky that you showed up when you did.”
   For a moment, Fro’s mouth twitched as if it wanted to smile, but he couldn’t hide the sadness spelled out on his face. While Fro was dealing with the platoon, he had felt something nagging at him. It was disturbing. A feeling of despair, almost. He had no way of knowing for sure, but Fro’s friends were falling. Fro’s family was fallin. And MangaRaiders was falling with them. It might have been his paranoia, but there was no denying the vibes he was getting.  He looked away from the two and stared down the street. “I need you two to get outa’ here and find Filia while you’re at it. I haven’t seen her since this whole thing started and I’m starting to worry.”
   “And what of you, Coach?” Fortis asked with a hint of a concern.
   “I’m staying here. I have a feeling reinforcements will be swarming here soon, and I want to give ‘em a proper greeting when they show up. You two need to get out while you still can. I don’t want you staying behind on my account.”
   Greentrap stepped forward. “But wouldn’t it make more sense for us to stick together? This is getting too dangerous for us to split up! But if you’re leading the charge, Coach, we can win, I think...”
An awkward breeze brushed past the trio. Fro remained silent.
   “Coach?”
   Fortis groaned depressingly. “When the Coach said he was staying here, he did not mean this particular area. He means the city itself. He wants us to escape without him…”
   The frog girl’s eyes nearly popped. “What?! Are you crazy you stupid human?! And why would we do that?”
   “Because that’s an order frog-face!” Proclaimed Fro.
   “And I’m telling you that’s stupid!” Greentrap’s voice was beginning to grow hoarse. Emotion filled her lungs. “If you’re going to stay here and fight, then we’re fighting with you!
   “Greentrap…” Fro uttered with bubbling rage.
   “That’s one of the rules, remember? Rule number two of the MR Fighters Division: Never abandon a teammate under any circumstance. You came up with that, didn’t you?!”
   Fro’s voice exploded with anger. “Rule number two hundred and forty seven of the MR Fighter’s Division: The Coach is always the exception!”
   “Coach!”
   “Rule number four of the MR Fighter’s Division: Always listen to the Coach!”
   A silence befell Greentrap. The Coach’s words made her tremble with disbelief. “But Coach…”
   “Rule number six of the MR Fighter’s Division: When the Coach says go, you freaking go already!”
   At this point, Fro was just shouting numbers. He couldn’t remember if they were right or not. He didn’t care. Fro was dealing with a double sided realization. Not only was his home about to fall to an invading army, but Fortis and Greentrap were only fighting that army because it was what he had trained them to do. It was all he had wanted. To ensure that MangaRaiders was well defended. That its inhabitants would not be defenseless.
   It was only now that he understood what an awful thing it is to send a friend to war.
   Back in the moment, Fortis placed a comforting hand on the frog’s shoulder. “Come Greentrap. Let us go. The Coach still has his pride. It would be best to let him keep it.”
   Tears nearly fell down Greentrap cheeks, but she shook them off. “Stupid human…” She muttered under her breath. Together with Fortis, she pulled away. Once enough distance was created, the pair turned, and ran off into distance. Before long they disappeared around a street corner, and Fronomenal was left alone.
   Fro looked down in shame as his trainees left him alone. He couldn’t tell them truth. That  there was no chance of winning. MangaRaiders was outmatched in every way imaginable. Winning was a fool’s dream at this point. His students had to survive. Escaping was the only option the raiders had left, but Fro couldn’t say it openly. He would be a bad leader if he said something so devoid of hope, Fro thought.. But to push those who cared about him so deeply away was even worse. He sighed. “Some Coach I am…”
   Then, Fro heard footsteps behind him. They were loud and heavy, as if another squad of soldiers was approaching. He turned and waited, hands squished into raging balls of his fist. He may have known that escape was the most logical decision, but his pride did not allow himself that option. MangaRaiders was his home. He was willing to die on his feet for it. Whatever force making their way around the corner were going feel a wrath that no man could withstand.
   What came around, however, wasn’t a platoon. In fact, it was barely a full squad. A group of thirteen bodies slowly marched around the corner and towards Fro. Twelve of the soldiers wore gask masks and thickly layered dark-red uniforms. Each was had a sleekly designed rifle nestled in their hands. The individual in front, however, was a woman who stood out amongst her followers. She dressed in a nun’s habit, and walked with a limp. A cane assisted her movements, but she was setting a quick pace. From afar, Fro had pegged her to be an older woman, but as she neared the features of a much younger woman became apparent. A nun, a young one at that, surrounded by a group of heavily armed soldiers. Fro didn’t bother making sense of it.
   The group came to a halt, and the woman took a few more steps ahead of the pack. Fro stared her down like a hawk on the wing. The woman, on the other hand, was at ease. She had a persistent smile about her. A smile that was so heartwarming that it seemed sinister. Indeed, she smiled with her mouth, but not with her eyes. “Are you the young man that goes by the name ‘Fronomenal’?” She spoke rather softly
   “And if I am?” Asked the raider.
   “Ah, so you are him then. How delightful!” The nun bowed. “Allow me to properly introduce myself. My name is Mother Pisti, and I am the leader of the Sinner Extermination Unit, a specialized assault unit in the Lost Chorus! These men behind me are my children.” Pisti turned towards her men. “Now now my sweets, do not be so shy. Say hello to the young man.”
   The soldiers all bowed respectfully at the command. “It’s a pleasure meet you, Mr. Fronomenal.” The unit said in unison.
   Fro shook his head. “Why do I always gotta deal with the weirdos…”
   “It is impolite to refer to someone you do not yet know as weird, Mr. Fronomenal.” Said Pisti, as she turned back around.
   “And I think it’s impolite of you 4Kids punks coming into my city and destroying everything.”
   Pisti said. “Fair enough, Perhaps. Although, impoliteness on our behalf is warranted. After all, you are all sinners, and thus must be properly punished.”
   Fro snapped a finger, and hair tendrils spiraled out of his back at the command. “And I’m guessing you’re gonna make me atone for my sins?”
   Finally, Pisti’s smile faded. In its place was a deep, disconcerting frown. “Yes, however, blood doesn't necessarily have to be spilled in this case.” Pisti extended her hand. “Come, my child. Join us. It is not too late to go down the righteous path. Surrender peacefully, and I will ensure that all of your sins will be forgiven and atoned for.”
   Fro scoffed. “You got some nerve, offering me some B.S. like that! Thinking I’m gonna just turn my back on my city! If you’re trying to me piss me off, then congratulations, you did a good job!” Fro launched himself forward, hair tendrils flailing about in attack mode.
   Pisiti shook her head in disappointment. “Such a shame…” She raised a hand. “Children.”
   Four soldiers jumped in front of her. “Yes, Mother!” They said as they readied their weapons. The soldiers squeezed their triggers and searing waves of flame sprayed from the muzzles of their rifles. Shocked, Fro skidded to a stop and flipped backwards just before the flames reached him.  But even as he landed the flames were still coming. Debris caught in the fire’s trail was lit up in blazing glory. The flames fed off of everything in its way, and soon walls of fire rose upwards from the street. Fro was trapped in the growing inferno.
   The raider gritted his teeth and spat. He could feel the burning heat against his skin. His hair tendrils submitted to the scorching temperature. They broke off, and writhed on the ground until they disintegrated into ash. “A fire squad, huh? Just my luck.”
   Fire served as his chief weakness. Fro could deal with intense heat momentarily, but a persistent flame spelled doom. Fro retracted into a defensive position, but even as the flames continued to burn, he could see Pisti’s annoying smile through the burning veil. She spoke. “As you may have guessed by now, my children and I were specially assigned to deal with you Mr. Fronomenal. We are a hard counter to your abilities, Mr. Fronomenal. A head on confrontation will not play out in your favor.”
   “These flames ain’t gonna stop me from knocking your heads off!” Fro growled.
   “Oh come now, you are just being stubborn. You are smart enough to know that you have no chance of winning. Please, won’t you reconsider my proposal?”
   Fro shouted. “Screw off!”
   Pisti lowered her head. “I guess it can not be helped then.” She turned her head towards her men. “Children, bring her forth, please.”
   The soldiers saluted in response. “Right away, Mother!”
   “Her?” Fro said, raising a brow. The flames threatening to burn him alive made it a hard to think, but he couldn’t help but to speculate. Another soldier, perhaps? The thought of that possibility and many others like it leapt to his mind. But he did not have to ponder for long. The ‘her’ in question came into view as bodies shuffled to the side. A small, young girl with silver hair was being hauled roughly by a soldier to the front of the group. Her big silver eyes shimmered with fear and distress and her head was lowered. The poor girl looked absolutely terrified. Fro immediately recognized the young girl and called out to her. “Fillia!” He roared, voice burning with concern.
   Pisti walked to Fillia’s side and placed a hand on her trembling shoulders. “We found her giving a couple of our troops a hard time. She put up a bit of a fight at first, but surrendered upon realizing the danger you all are in.”
   Fro ran forward on instinct to break through the flaming gates that held him at bay. Every step tore at him as Fro pushed his way through the tongues of fire. The flames were thick, much thicker than he had anticipated. Orange plasma charred his flesh. Hot gasses poured down his throat and nostrils. Fro thought of nothing except the other side of the fire wall. Finally, he cleared the flame’s reach, and nothing stood between the raider and Pisti. This act however, was not without consequence. Fro fell on his knees, having suffered internal and external burns to an extreme degree. Human beings were not built to be engulfed in flame, and agonizing pain would soon rack his body. Fro could feel himself slipping into shock, and slammed a fist into the ground in protest. “I’ll swear to God if you hurt her I’ll-”
   Fro pushed himself to stand, but Pisti interrupted him mid way. “Now now, don’t go swearing to the Lord in vain. After all, my beliefs will not allow me to hurt this innocent little girl. Then again...” Pisiti paused, and as she did so, the soldier standing next to Filia stuck the muzzle of his weapon against her head. Pisti continued, performing strange and elaborate motions with her free hand as she spoke. “My beliefs do not hold up well within the confines of war.”
   “Bitch!”
   Fro was gonna move. He was gonna storm up to Pisti and her children and beat the holy hell out of them. But he couldn’t.
   “What…
   It hadn’t registered right away, but something was holding him still, and it was burning like crazy.
   “Why can’t I move?
   He looked down at his feet and saw a pair of flames wrapped tightly around his ankles. Fro followed the source of the flames, and found they were attached to the still present flames burning behind him. Surging pain flowed throughout his entire body, and Fro quickly found himself for gasping air. His head spun around slowly. His eyes were wide from pain and stress. His sight fell on Pisti’s hands, and witnessed a thin stream of flame connecting them to the fires at his legs. She had been controlling the flames the entire time.
   Pisti raised a hand and six soldiers filed in front. “It’s a shame that things could not have ended peacefully, Mr. Fronomenal. I truly detest unnecessary conflict.” She turned towards her men. “Children, if you don’t mind....”
   The six men in front responded with a “Yes, Mother”, and readied their weapons. With a press of a button on their weapons, their rifles folded upon themselves, and transformed into wide barreled armaments. Simultaneously, they squeezed their triggers, and from their cannon-like barrels erupted fireballs of immense heat. The shots converged at their target, and burst into a pillar of flame as they became conjoined. A deafening roar of a fiery hell was heard all over MangaRaiders, and the sky was stained with red as the flaming pillar tore into the clouds above. Despite the intensity, both were easily lost amongst the turmoil of the battle raging around them.
   As dust and flame settled, the Sinner Extermination Unit approached the crater where the explosion had taken place. Fillia shook free and ran out in front, but nearly fell over in horror of what she had seen. Fro was laid out in the fetal position, his skin was charred and split. His once glorious afro reduced to nearly ash. Only a tiny portion of hair remained on his head. “Tears began pouring down her face. “Coach… No…”
   Pisti’s smile rang completely sinister. She was definitely pleased with her men’s work, but at the same time, she was a bit surprised. She had expected the direct hit to have distenergrated Fronomenal, but somehow the raider had lived through the ordeal. Pisti reevaluated her understanding of her foe’s fortitude. Fro deserved more credit than her initial estimation of him. As the sister pondered this thought however, Pisti caught a glimpse of something strange. For a brief moment, a dark, violet energy pulsated around Fro’s body, only to quickly fade away a moment later. “Interesting…” Pisti mumbled to herself.
   She turned around to address one of the men standing behind her. “My dear child, contact the major. Inform him that another wildcard of MangaRaiders has been neutralized.”

« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 11:44:03 AM by Coryn »

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2019, 10:47:55 PM »
And the second "half"!

CHAPTER 5: SHRAPNEL OF WAR: Part 2
   


“Well, this isn’t good,” Corynbot-3.0’s metallic voice said. The android shook his head. In front of him, Mahlua removed her own radio device. “Tell me about it. If 4Kids already took over Eukocar’s surveillance station, it’s only a matter of time before they hit this one.”
    “I’m surprised they didn’t come for the radio tower sooner,” 3.0 said. “We’re kind of big and noticeable. I suppose they want us to broadcast the gloomy news to lower the morale across the city. But it’s not as if they need us to. It’s total warfare out there.”
    “Well, whad'ya say then?” Mahlua asked, extending her hand. “The best of science and magic teaming up to protect what’s left of the city?”
    3.0 tilted his head to the side. “Is there any possibility of a ‘no’?”
    Before any more smart quips could be had, the overhead lights shifted to red. An alarm sounded. A loud explosion rattled the floor. On the security monitor, a squad of 4Kids soldiers followed the smoke through the front door of the radio tower building.
    “Damn it,” Mahlua groaned. “There are just too many of them.” Lightning crackled from her neck down to her fists.
    “They did register an entire army at once. Without the admins, we’re really knocked on our butts.” 3.0 explained. He tacked away at the massive rows of keyboards before him, locking doors, setting up security measures, and rigging preset traps. Like his originator, the robot had a penchant for keeping his secrets. “We probably won’t be able to fend them off.”
    “How can you say that?” Mahlua growled. Another spark of lightning criss-crossed her limbs.
    “Calm down, please.” 3.0 said. “MR City was made to take heavy amounts of damage. Hasith, Corycaly, and the Tans made sure of that. But, at the current rate of destruction,” He pulled up a map, showing the city highlighted in colors of red, yellow, and green. About a third of it already glowed red, and at least another quarter in yellow. “There’s almost no chance of shaking them off. We’ll be at least temporarily usurped.”
    “You say ‘almost’ no chance,” Mahlua said. She strode forward and gripped his metal shoulder. “What’s the number on that?”
    3.0’s red eyes met hers without sympathy. “Approximately one point two percent chance of holding our ground, decreasing by the half hour. I’d strongly suggest making evacuation and regrouping plans now.”
    Mahlua released her hand and let it fall to her side.
 
   Over in the Break Room District, the war raged at full fury. After ensuring the safety of dozens of raiders by buying them time to escape, MR-tan had turned her undivided attention to the attacking forces. She tore into the 4Kids army that threatened her home with a furor. Every destroyed building, skyscraper, bridge, highway, park, and facet of the city branded her soul. Between the suddenness and extent of the violence, MR-tan had gone nearly berserk. She flung herself at gunfire, grenades, missiles, and even tank rounds. At her back, MR’s sister, Writer-tan scribbled along her scroll. But even the best of their abilities barely kept the Break Room District from falling apart as bomber aircraft began dropping their payloads.
    “Keep attacking the tan!” One of the 4Kids commanders ordered. “As the city falls, she’ll be weakened. She’s our greatest chance! Fire!”
    A tank canon spun to keep up with the figure of a girl whose purple hair snapped behind her in the frosty wind. The missile launched, and MR-tan’s eyes honed in on it. As the heat-seeking explosive followed her, she leapt high, and when it came close enough, she gave it a hearty kick. She didn’t care as its shrapnel tore through her clothes, hair, and flesh. Dyed black from the explosion, MR barreled for the ground, fist cocked back. With the offending tank in sight, she threw all her weight and momentum into her strike. MR-tan crashed into the machine. A dent formed where she impacted it. Armored plates peeled away from the tank’s chassis as they were forced inward with the center of the crater. MR jumped back a few feet, and sure enough, the newly exposed circuitry of the machine sparked an ominous cyan. A moment later the tank exploded into a ball of fire. MR-tan spat soot and wiped her lips, ignoring the screams of agony.
   As nearby soldiers briefly beat a retreat, Writer-tan rushed to her sister’s side. “You can’t keep doing this to yourself! Do you want to get killed?” She shouted, exasperated and hoarse.
    MR-tan gripped Writer-tan by the collar of her kimono and jerked the younger girl in close. “If the city dies, I die too! You die too! I’m not going to let that happen!” She said bitterly. “Now, are you going to take that scroll of yours and start giving them hell, or what?”
    The sheer ferocity in her words stunned Writer-tan. In all Writer’s years, she had never seen her sister like this. MR-tan’s face twisted in misplaced disgust at her sister’s silence, and she shoved Writer-tan to the side. The older sister now set her sights on one of the war planes above. She ran up the nearest building and jumped after it. Back on the ground, a dazed Writer-tan examined the dirt and blood MR-tan’s hands had left on her collar. She felt ill.
    It was not a moment the tan could take in. Footsteps slapped the pavement behind her. Startled, Writer-tan whirled around and drew her scroll. To her relief, Artist-tan stumbled in front of her. “Writer!” The young girl said, gasping for breath. “You’ve gotta come quick—It’s Pub! She’s…”
    Writer-tan’s heart sank even further, but she took a deep breath and rested a hand on Artist-tan’s hair. “Take me there.”
    The duo made a mad dash for the pub. Outside, it sounded like the roughest brawl the place had ever seen was raging within. Gunfire, crackling of electrified weapons, shattering of glass, and cries of pain escaped through the busted windows and splintered door. As the tans tried to rush inside, a soldier’s limp body flew out the window and made a sickening thud on the ground outside. They pushed past the dead man, and made their way inside.
    By the looks of things, MR-tan wasn’t the only one wailing on the army. Pub had a deep gash cut into her cheek, a busted lip, and one of her sleeves had been nearly ripped free at the seam. A few 4Kids bodies littered the ground, their weapons strewn around them. Three soldiers still held Pub-tan. One had her by the hair and an arm, another by Pub’s other arm. The third stood in front of her, and sent his rifle butt flying into Pub-tan’s face with a sickening crunch. Blood burst out into a stream from Pub-tan’s nose as a result.
    Writer-tan’s hand flew for her pen. She drew a stream of sigils in the air and flung a hail magic bullets at the soldiers. The one who had broken Pub-tan’s nose crumpled to the ground, but it only revealed a more horrifying sight. A ragged hole had been torn through the front of Pub-tan’s shirt and vest. The white fabric of her button-up was dyed so red with blood that it was nearly black. Writer and Artist did not want to contemplate how much damage the dark vest was hiding. Even if they had, there was no time for thought. Writer-tan picked up the fallen soldier’s rifle and raised it at the other two men. Her heart stopped. Two gunshots fired, and then she dropped the gun.

   Writer-tan didn’t register hitting the ground. She didn’t hear Pub-tan screaming after her, or the fates of the soldiers who had been holding her. What Writer could see Artist-tan hunched over her, and she could see Artist’s tears.
   None of it made any sense.
   Had she gone deaf? The taste of copper in her mouth. She tried to swallow, but felt her body choke, and she heaved. Red liquid splashed against Artist-tan’s face. There was so much blood. Writer-tan couldn’t breathe with her mouth still half submerged in blood and spittle. Another convulsion emptied more of the vile mixture onto the ground. Artist-tan shook her sister’s shoulders, but Writer-tan felt numb. A chill had taken hold her.
It all made a terrible sense.
    She had been shot. A pair of bullets had lodged themselves in the blonde girl’s abdomen. Their impact had sent her into shock. Writer was losing her grip on herself. Her eyelids fluttered. Pub-tan came into view. It looked like she was screaming at her. Pub-tan rolled Writer away from the puddle of her own blood and stomach contents, but breathing didn’t get any easier. Writer’s vision tunneled. A flash of MR-tan’s face came to her mind. She wondered if her sister would forgive her. Writer-tan had never been much of a fighter. It was never her place. Never her duty.
   What little good those sentiments did now.
   What little good any of it did when world went completely black.
 
   As Writer-tan’s eyes closed, Pub-tan let out an unholy scream. Her fist flew to the ground and splintered the hardwood. She bit her lip and forced herself to calm down. She pressed one hand against Writer-tan’s wounds, and the other into her chest. To Pub’s relief, there was still motion. It was faint, but she was still alive. Pub-tan turned to the young Artist-tan, who had begun sobbing.
    “It looks like she’s only fainted. But she needs help, fast,” Pub-tan said.
    “I’m sorry...” Artist-tan choked.
    Pub-tan was taken aback. “What do you mean?”
“I brought her here because you were hurt, and now she’s…”
    Pub-tan softened. She pulled the small tan close and gripped Artist close to her chest. “No tears today sister. This is something that’s beyond either of us.”
    Another group of soldiers filed through the door, guns ready. At the scene before them, they paused.
    Pub-tan patted Artist-tan’s head and pulled away. “Keep pressure on your sister’s injuries.” Pub stood, and took a step towards the soldiers. Their fingers shifted for the triggers, and she stopped. It was a checkmate, and she knew it. Pub-tan raised her hands, palms out. She could hear Artist-tan gasp behind her. A feeble attempt to hold back tears. In that tiny gasp, she could hear a big heart breaking. There was nothing that could be done.
“Please,” Pub-tan said, addressing the soldiers, “even we can’t fight in this state.”
    The soldiers stiffened, but not a Pub-tan’s words. Heavy boots could be heard crunching against the rubble outside the bar. After a few moments, a woman in a uniform distinct from the other soldiers appeared. It looked like a military uniform from a forgotten age. A long blue trench coat with silver trim, tall black boots, a ruffled shirt. Her long hair was colored purple and green, and in her hand she carried a thick metal briefcase. “If you mean to surrender, why don’t you show us,” Said the woman. She hoisted the briefcase onto the bar and released its latches. A padded interior was revealed, and from it she drew out three metallic bands. Each was the diameter of a human neck. She held one of the items out to Pub-tan. “Put this on.”
    Pub-tan glared at the device in disgust.
    The woman sighed. “It’s a compact containment unit, specifically designed for our kind. It will prevent you from attacking us. A sort of power arrestor, if you will.”
    “If you block Writer’s power now, she’ll die,” Pub growled.
    “Oh, dear,” The woman said, playing at false concern. Behind her, the soldiers recentered their aim. “I don’t think you realize the situation you’re in.”
    The two women locked eyes and tension permeated the room. A cold winter wind whipped through. Pub-tan noticed the woman’s eyes.
   One red. One yellow. Realization settled in.
    “You said…‘our’ kind,” Pub-tan murmured.
    “Yes, you’re starting to get it now. My name, is 4Kids-tan.” The woman said. An evil grin broke across her face. “Just how do you think we’ve so efficiently conquered so many other cities? It never hurts to have a tan on your side, does it?”
    Pure hatred burned in Pub-tan’s eyes. “You should be dead. 4Kids is dead.”
    “Aw, don’t be like that. The Lost Chorus survives, does it not? I survive with them.” 4Kids-tan said. “Now, your eldest sister is outside, and doesn’t look much better than that one.” She motioned towards Writer-tan. “If you come with us, I can personally guarantee you will all receive medical assistance.”
    It took another moment of hesitation, but without another word, Pub-tan snatched the device. Her jaw was clenched tight. She kept her eyes locked on 4Kids-tan as she snapped the power arrestor around her neck. It came to life with a high pitched whir, and Pub-tan could feel her energy being drained away to almost nothing.
    4Kids-tan took a step back and clapped. “You’ve made the right choice, my friend.”
    Artist-tan began to shake. She was still holding Writer’s wounds closed as best she could with her little hands.
   4Kids-tan cooed at the young girl. “Don’t worry, sweetheart.” She squatted down and held out the other arrestor. “It doesn’t hurt. And like I said, if you put it on, I can promise that your sisters will get help.”
    “Don’t treat me like a little kid,” Artist-tan spat.
    “Oh?” 4Kids-tan raised an eyebrow. “Are you going to fight me?”
    Artist-tan’s gaze went to her knees. Her hands balled up into little fists, but her shoulders sank. She glanced down to Writer-tan, and took the device from 4Kids-tan’s hand. Artist adjusted it around her own neck with a look of utter defeat.
    “Very good.” 4Kids-tan stood upright and pulled at the high collar of her coat. The action revealed the same band around her own neck. “You see darlings, there is nothing wrong with subservience.”
   4Kids-tan turned and strutted out of the ruined building as the soldiers accompanying her gathered up the tans of MR. She placed a finger to her ear and spoke. “Two tans have surrendered willingly. The other two are wounded and out of action. Requesting permission to lift us to Medical Base Alpha for treatment.”
    A man’s voice came through the radio system. “Granted.”

   The map of the city that 3.0 and Mahlua were using for reference blipped, and the massive yellow sweep over the Break Room District switched over to an angry red.
    “Damn!” Mahlua grunted. In front of her, a similar map on paper, sat littered with protective sigils and other magical charms. The witch blinked hard, giving her eyes time to shift from ghostly luminescent violet to their normal color. She breathed hard and sat back, separating herself from the intense magic she had been forcing into the city through the map. 3.0 swiveled in his chair and away from the controls to face her.
    “It looks like the tans have been subjugated.” He said. 3.0 folded his metal hands together and crossed his legs. “I can stay here and hold down the radio tower for a little while longer, but my current calculations suggest that now is the point of no return.”
    Mahlua began to pick up the charms she had been using and folded up the map. “So what does that mean?”
    “It means if you want to evacuate, now is the time,” He said, as if it were obvious.
    “Why would I do that?” Mahlua snapped, shoving the magic tools into her bag.
    “You are one of the few raiders who has sway with the higher echelons of EcchiWorld. The others are currently M.I.A. or otherwise occupied. Now, as the Twins are connected to MangaRaiders, I hypothesize that they will be 4Kids’ next targets. Which means it would be in your best interest to regroup and prepare there. Besides, it may very well be where Hasith and Corycaly have retreated to. Getting out of this mess means finding them. And more importantly: not having us all killed in a single evening.”
    A snarl rippled over Mahlua’s features. The android’s logic made sense, but she didn’t like it.
    He continued on, ignoring the look. “Best get going, if you’re going to go. No doubt soldiers will make it through the last barricades here within the hour. Persistent enemies, aren’t they?” 3.0 turned in his computer chair to face the monitors again. His hands flew over keys and switches. “The easiest way for you will be to go up to the roof and launch yourself through the weather systems with your lightning magic.”
    Mahlua sat on the floor for a few moments longer, and then threw her bag over her shoulder. She felt numb under the weight of loss. She turned the familiar corner out of the studio, and passed the ‘employees only’ door to the last flight of stairs in the building. She wondered if the magic drain on her body contributed to how little she felt, and how foreign the world around her seemed.
    At the top of the stairs, the heavy exterior door gave with ease, and the cold January air nipped Mahlua’s nose. Around her, plumes of smoke from the destruction of the city drifted along the horizon. Ash from a hundred fires seeped into her poors, and the acrid smell of burning city stung her nostrils. As if to add to the emptiness, a quiet snowfall was beginning to collect on the roof. The large puffs of white mixed in with the ash as they lazily fluttered to the ground. Mahlua sighed, pouring a thick mist into the air around her mouth. As sad as it was, she had to admit, it was almost beautiful.
    Mahlua shook her head and rounded the enclosure of the roof access. On the side was a ladder, which provided an ascension point to the massive radio antenna. Once she got close to it, Mahlua felt some energy return to her. Electricity hummed through the metal,  and kept the ground around the tower warm enough to deter snow from sticking. Mahlua rested her hands on one of the support pillars and looked up to the sky. The sky rumbled in response.
    Thunder snow, while a rare occurrence, was not implausible, especially with a little mix of science and magic. Mahlua fed off the excess electricity from the radio tower and focused her attention to the darkening sky. The hieroglyphs under her skin illuminated, and her eyes glowed bright purple. Dry air crackled, and small sparks traced their way along Mahlua’s frame. The sky rumbled again, louder this time, and the witch felt the pieces snap into place. She allowed her body to meld with the electricity and kicked up the antenna’s circuitry. From there, she shot out into the upper weather systems of the city.
    Any raider who set eyes on the purple streak of lightning and heard the ear-piercing boom of thunder behind it knew in an instant who it was. Without a doubt, some raiders on 4Kids transport vehicles knew that they had been left behind. Mahlua hoped she could make up for this betrayal someday.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline Coryn

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2019, 09:06:11 PM »
And the pain train keeps on going! This one is truly a collab chapter between all of us. Have a blast reading it through!


CHAPTER 6: COLLAPSE

CHAPTER 6: COLLAPSE

   The battle with R-Kain had not been going well. It had not been going well at all.
   Coryn had barely been fully grown when he had faced C-Kret, one of 4Kids’ bioweapons. The scientist had been a much less seasoned fighter then, it was true. But he had also been much more powerful. These days, that power was no longer his to wield. Coryn had traded it in exchange for his life years ago.
   The moderator was beginning to regret that decision.
   R-Kain rained down a kick towards Coryn's head. Coryn threw up his arms and a shield, but the resulting impact shattered both his block and the bubble he was standing on. The moderator found himself hurtling to the ground. He put up another shield in time to stop himself from being splattered against the pavement. Not in time for it to not hurt.
   At least, Coryn mused to himself, he was still alive for it to hurt. He doubted C-Kret would have afforded him the same opportunity.
   R-Kain was definitely not as strong as his predecessor. C-Kret had possessed abilities on par with Hasith and MR-tan. R-Kain was just monstrously strong. Granted, it was only the difference between being wiped cleanly from existence, and merely being blasted apart atom by atom. Coryn didn't figure it would matter much on the receiving end, but he held onto that small comfort anyway.
   R-Kain spoke. The sounds of battle were subsiding, so despite the distance, Coryn heard him clearly. “Now now Sken! I think there must be an error with my records! C-Kret's report labeled you as Threat Class Zero! But from what I'm seeing, you couldn't be more than a three!” He pulled back his arm, and formed a ball of red energy. “So either C-Kret was a fool, or you're not the same man you used to be.”
   Coryn formed a shield around his body as another energy blast came down. The pulsing beam parted as it hit the shield, carving out the ground around Coryn. Despite the intensity, it was right where the moderator wanted to be. His shields dealt with energy attacks much better than physical ones. They could absorb and store it directly. It was a trick that R-Kain wasn't familiar with yet.
   Time to let them get acquainted.
   Coryn said. “Maybe you're right R-Kain. I'm not who I was when I fought C-Kret. But don't let that stop you from dying all the same!”
   The face of the bubble faded from blue to red as R-Kain's absorbed energy was concentrated and fired back at him. R-Kain’s beam was broken by Coryn’s response, and 4Kids’ creation was forced to huddle his arms and legs to shield himself. As the attack and the light faded, and R-Kain regained his vision, he found that Coryn had disappeared. Not only that, but he found the air surrounding him filled by medicine ball sized orbs. Each of them were stationary, but slowly changing color. “SKEN!”

   Coryn was running, speeding away from the explosion on a shield orb. It would only slow R-Kain down. He knew that. But all he needed was a head start. He just needed to run far enough.
It didn't take long to find his spot. Coryn knew it well, although it hardly stood out. It was close to downtown. An otherwise unremarkable street surrounded by tall buildings on all sides. But it was the one spot Coryn had a chance at.
   Only about fifteen minutes had passed. Coryn had been forced to avoid several patrols, but he had somehow arrived undetected. At least, he believed he had. Coryn could hear aircraft of all sorts in the darkness above. It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume some were set up for tracking. Even if they did know where he was though, it would take time for the planes to relay that information to the ground, and then longer still for the ground teams to converge.
   Coryn only asked for thirty more seconds.
   Thirty more seconds he was destined never to have.
   “SKEN! IT'S IMPOLITE TO LEAVE IN THE MIDDLE OF A CONVERSATION!”
   Coryn spun on his heels. “Careful R-Kain. Your C-Kret is showing.”
   Evidently Coryn had found a sore spot, because R-Kain rushed him. He got to within five feet of the moderator before a shield went up to stop him. R-Kain's fist slammed into the shimmering blue energy, and cracked it.
   Coryn's eyes widened as the crack did, so he did the only thing he could think of. The shield that R-Kain had punched grew outwards, and Coryn began forming new bubbles. Concentric layers of domed shields stacked up until R-Kain was only a blur beyond the accumulated distortion. The moderator set to work on the process he had come to exact, but he could feel R-Kain coming. Outer layers were being blasted away one by one. What was the middle and then center of the construct fast became the outside. Coryn could see R-Kain clearly again, and the trick had done nothing to tame his anger. Coryn put up ever smaller shields, until the last was just big enough for him to stand in. But within no time at all, that too became Coryn's last line of defense.
   And then, R-Kain drove his arm straight through it.
   The shield held, mostly. A ragged hole had opened where R-Kain had punched through. Had he the chance, Coryn would have loved to analyze the effect R-Kain had on his technology. However, Coryn wasn't in much of a position to do anything. The shield had been small enough, that R-Kain had had no trouble with grabbing Coryn by the throat. Blood pulsed through the scientist's ears. He had already been short of breath, and now his vision was going blurry. Coryn's ears still worked however, and he could hear R-Kain yelling at him through the shield.
   “Do not compare me to that failure Sken! Azazel was too concerned with synthesizing the code of this pathetic city to realize what he could awaken! He left me behind to rot as he continued his research! Yet despite all of his effort and posturing, all he managed was to bolster our enemies! He was too blind to see that vermin such as yourself cannot be killed with poison alone! You are rats! And rats, Sken, must be burned away! C-Kret was Azazel's plague, but I am the fiery hail that will scour you from the face of the universe! So tell me Sken…!” R-Kain lifted his arm until Coryn was forced to stand on the tips of his toes. “What are the final words of a rat like yourself?”
   R-Kain loosened his grip just enough that Coryn could find the air to breath. The ex-moderator gulped down a few ragged breaths, before he had enough air to speak in a gurgled whisper.
   “Generators…”
   Puzzlement flashed across R-Kain's face. “What?”
   Coryn said. “The Science Division… it takes a lot of power. Sometimes… it's too much for the grid to handle. I had to install… backup generators to ease the demand on the system.”
   R-Kain put his face up against the bubble. “Why are you telling me this?” He asked with a sneer.
   The scientist ignored the question. “They're big. They take a lot of fuel. Highly explosive. And I need to…refuel them after each use…so they're close to the surface…only ten feet down.”
   The 4Kids weapon began to tighten his grip again. “Get! To! The point!”
   Coryn smiled, despite the pain it caused him. “I just thought you'd like to know, because we're standing right on top of them.”
   Sudden realization washed over R-Kain. He glanced around. It was a completely unremarkable street. There were no indications that the ex-moderator was telling the truth, but something inside of him told R-Kain that Sken wasn't lying.
   He released Coryn's neck, and tried to draw his arm out of the shield, but was surprised to find it stop cold. R-Kain turned back to find Coryn with a death grip on his arm. “Release me!”
   “Just one last thing before you go…” Said Coryn.
   A shiver ran down R-Kain's spine as fresh bubble shields encased Coryn and himself. Then to his great surprise, the shield immediately around Coryn began to shift from blue to red.
   The scientist said. “I looks like I didn't use up all of that energy i absorbed after all.”
   R-Kain screamed. “SKEN!”
   Coryn roared right back at him. “WOULD YOU KINDLY, GET DRAGGED STRAIGHT DOWN TO HELL WITH ME!”
   The shield turned fully red. The immediate blast was funneled straight into the ground by the surrounding bubbles. Straight into the arrayed generators below.
   It was less than a second between the first explosion, and the cascading failure of the entire generator system. A whole city block of MangaRaiders erupted in an explosion that temporarily turned night back into day. The column of fire shot into the sky and then burned its way through the Raider Dome, shattering the energy field which comprised it. Buildings for a mile around flattened from the blast wave, and windows exploded into thousands of pieces for several miles past that. Dust and debris rushed out through the concrete canyons of the city, blinding all who had been lucky enough to survive.
   In the far distance, Narcissus watched the blast with a smile on his face, and then ordered his retinue forward.

   The Sinner Extermination Unit strode triumphantly down a main street of MangaRaiders. Their mission had been accomplished with little effort. Their target, Fronomenal, leader of the MR Fighters Division, had been defeated and captured. His burnt mess of a body hung lifeless on the shoulders of one of Mother Pisti’s devoted children. Fro’s young protege, Fillia, was being pushed along by Pisti’s hulking brutes. She was squeezed in amongst four of them.
   As far as the members of the Fighters Division were concerned, Pisti paid them no worry. Their leader was down, leaving the rest to scurry like mice. They were no more harm to her than the breeze at this point. She limped ahead of her men with a never fading grin glued to her face.
   Little did she know, however, the spirit of the Fighters Division lived on in Greentrap and Fortis Scriptor.  They had taken to the rooftops and covertly watched the unit march on. Neither could believe their eyes. “The Coach…” Fortis began, finding it difficult to speak. “It’s a bit disturbing to look at him.”
   “Stupid human, it’s what he gets.” Said Greentrap. There was bitterness in her voice, along with a hint of sadness that she couldn’t hide. As much as she resented Fro at the moment, the sight of his current state brought a throbbing pain to her chest. “Had we stuck together we could’ve-”
   “Ended up just like him, most likely…” Cut in Fortis.
   Greentrap snapped around to her teammate. “And what makes you so sure of that, ribbit?!” She retorted with a raised voice. “Do you think he made the right call back then?! Huh?!”
   Fortis groaned. “I think it would be best to keep your voice down. We wouldn’t want our enemies to hear us.”
   Greentrap gritted her teeth and lowered her head. She wanted to respond, but the words wouldn’t come.
   “And no,” Fortis continued. “I don’t think the coach made the right call earlier. But given the circumstances, I can understand his reasoning. MR as a whole is on the brink of defeat, so naturally, escaping would be the most logical choice. However…”
   “He couldn’t let go of his own pride…” Greentrap finished.
   Fortis shook his head. “And unfortunately a man’s pride can sometimes be his own downfall. What the coach did might’ve been selfish, but to disregard one’s own well being in favor of others is not itself a selfish act.”
   Greentrap reluctantly accepted it. Even if it was a dumb move, there was no changing it now. “So what do we do now? Just watch those punks walk off with him? We can save those two humans if we swoop in by surprise.”
   Fortis crossed his arms. “As much as I would like to follow your lead on that suggestion, the chances of our success are extremely slim. They could easily threaten Fillia as a bait, should we fail our initial attack. And besides...” Fortis looked down for a moment. As a skeleton, it was a bit difficult to convey emotion through facial expressions, but it wasn’t hard for Greentrap to see the lingering concern on his face. He continued. “I think we both know what’s really hindering us from making a move.”
   Greentrap sighed. “Yeah I know… I’m just as afraid as you are.”
   It was one thing to be brave, but to risk their own lives for the sake of their teammates required a certain amount of courage that neither Fortis or Greentrap were sure they had in them. The coach had taught them the fundamentals of combat, but bravery was something that could not be taught. As much as they wanted to shake off the thought, leaving their friends behind in favor of their own survival was the best of course of action. But such selfishness would be cowardice in Fro’s eyes, and Fro would not allow his pupils to act like cowards. Then again, he wanted them to escape without him to begin with. The two survivors of the MRFD were torn with making the ‘right’ call, and the correct one.

   Bodies dropped like so much ash. Rifles clattered to the ground. Explosions were muffled by the effects of shellshock.
        This man was a nobody, just a foot soldier. He had never been so terrified in his life, and he had never felt so alive. Attacking a city like this had been bound to be problematic. The impossible abilities of the regular members surpassed even his years of training. Even then, there was the near godlike powers of the higher echelon.
        This soldier knew exactly why no one in the hierarchy knew what someone above them was doing. Why everything was on a ‘need to know’ basis. When your friend got assigned to a napalm squad and run through simulations against masses of wire, you just accepted it. When you were suddenly drilled in the optimal impact points for disrupting energy shields, you accepted it. When you were given grenade launchers that had only odd black dust instead of shrapnel, you accepted it. When you were forced into taking anti-magic courses, you accepted it. You accepted it time and time again. Courses on physics, engineering, biology, dark magic, and pseudosciences of all manner. Instructions on what to do in case you found yourself in an alternate dimension. In case your armor was infected with nano-machines. In case you found that your will was not your own. In case your opponent could deflect bullets. In case they could teleport. In case they could fly. In case they could erase your very existence.
   In case a thousand possibilities came to pass, you were trained for a thousand and one countermeasures.
   Such was life in the Lost Chorus.
        Now, this particular nobody had been given one of the above mentioned grenade launchers. It was long gone now. He suspected that's where his arm had gone too. This 'Legomaestro' was fast. But crawling there in the dirt, surrounded by death and destruction, this soldier had the deep conviction that he was in a moment of greatness, a moment of history that would be remembered. And more importantly: That they would win. History books would be written according to the victor, and it would be a great history indeed.
   A history of 4Kids.

   "Ugh!"
Lego could tank many things given adrenaline and flow of battle. He could handle a good ‘many’ versus ‘one’ fights, but there were more frustrating things than anti-lightning grenades and artillery bombardments from above and at ground level. Lego discovered, very painfully, that his flash step was also accounted for. Quick burst laser cannons fired automatically every time he attempted that particular move, and they were all too organized. All too precise. All too aware of how he fought and moved. Too aware of Lego’s need to build himself up to become a wrecking ball.
   It had only gotten worse when his moderator abilities disappeared.
        Twice, Lego saw an explosion in the distance that told him something major had gone down. After these two explosions, the concentration of the soldiers increased. By now they almost seemed as numerous as the black dust which still floated through the air.
        At least it made for easier targeting.
        And so Lego spawned a thousand blades. From daggers to sabres, and a thousand more weapons of death, axes, clubs, maces, picks, glaives, lances, war hammers. He spawned arrows and ballistas and rained black death upon them all. All born of the tiny robotics coursing through his bloodstream. Lego brought them all against 4Kids.
        And still they came.
        So Lego armed himself with a blade and came down to them, running through them. His hands were as fast as rotors, tracing arcs of mathematical purity as he cleaved through tanks and men alike. He jumped, getting shot and hit all the time, and plunged through a helicopter. Lego ripped through it, held its main propeller, and flung that at another helicopter. Lego stood on the air, as he had learned during his time in the Mortal Combat topic. Another missile whizzed past him, and Lego dropped onto a nearby roof. He had lost his position around MR Tower. It had fallen to 4Kids’ might, but that did not mean the battle was at an end. The cat observed the oncoming army and felt he could go on for longer.  He was finally in the zone. In the rage. He would not be stopped. He grit his teeth, his face formed a snarl.
        "Come and-"
        BANG!
        And then he was stopped.
   Lego coughed blood for a moment up there on the roof. He couldn't believe how accurate the shot had been, or how much it had hurt.
        Standing with one arm out of  a helicopter, Achan Heptadelta held out a Taurus Cassull revolver that she had just fired at the ex-moderator. Lego glared.
        "You..."
        "That wasn't even supposed to hit you. You're tired." She shouted over the rotors.
        Lego could hardly believe he hadn’t seen her coming. The battle had worn on him in ways he couldn’t see. "I've still got tricks up my-!"
        "Lightning, femto-machines, reflet, soul-splitting? Your final form: Himmlisch Uzustand? You can bring any of them out. For once, we have a counter for your power ups And believe me, it was hard thinking up counters to all that stuff, but it was fun. Not that I had to do it. But let me tell you, it's worth winning for once."
        "You're a traitor." Lego coughed, "I gave you and your sister our culture dammit! I let you in!"
        Achan stepped out of the helicopter. She was close enough to land on the same rooftop. "Have a little reverse Stockholm’s, catman? We’re not interested."
        "No, I just thought we had an understanding." He walked over to her, his gut mending itself before Lego called all his femto-machines back into his katana. For now, he didn't need to spread himself thin. The soldiers had stopped firing.
        "You thought wrong." Akan twirled her revolver and swiped her right hand outwards. An array of revolvers spawned around her hips, spinning in space. “And you better believe I can match your supply of blades. Make this easy on yourself and just die."
        Lego took a stance, "I'd make a quip, but you don't have enough class to understand something like that." He moved forward, and then all Lego perceived was a red flash of light. Next thing Lego knew, he was kissing roof tar.
        Two hard blows to his head and Lego felt his skull crack. A moment later he was tossed over an alley and through a building. Lego skidded to a halt on whichever level he had hit. He was lying on a marble floor now, not knowing what had happened at all. Lego coughed and knew that somehow, somehow his femto-machines themselves had 'died'. He knew the blood spewing from his mouth was black, but he couldn't see, couldn't think. What the hell had hit him?
        The pain was too much, and he was out for the count.

   Back on the rooftop Lego had just come from, Achan stared down the figured before her. "You butted into my fight, Megedagik." Achan crossed her arms and looked over at the bare-shirted hulk with spiked boots.
        The bandaged wrapped demon replied. "Hmph. Maybe."
        "Where were you?"
        Megedagik waved his hand vaguely and Achan sighed.
        "Well? Aren't you going to find him?"
        "Hmph." Megedagik leaped away. When he landed on the gouged floor that Lego had traced after being hit by his surprise attack, Megedagik turned and looked up at Achan. His face was so angry looking it was hard to tell what he was thinking, but Achan seemed to understand.
   She nodded. "It's nice to see you too. I'll answer everything later. Until then, just do what you do best."

   “Hey guys, can you all hear me?”
   A familiar voice had called out to the Greentrap and Fortis, but neither had a clue where it came from. They looked around, but had no luck locating the source.
   “It’s me, Mahlua. Can you guys hear me?”
   “We can hear alright, Mahlua.” Fortis said, still scanning around him. “But we’re having a difficult time finding you.”
   “That’s because I’m not actually there. I’m contacting you all through telepathy right now.”
   “So where are you then, ribbit?” Asked Greentrap.
   “I’m on my way to EcchiWorld to regroup with the twins. I’m going to see if they’re willing to lend MR any aid. I’m hoping the admins are over there as well.”
   Greentrap’s eyes shot wide. “You left the city? But…”
   “I know… Trust me, I wanted to stay and fight with you guys, but my hand was kind of forced.”
   Fortis spoke up. “I’m assuming on your way out you saw what happened to the coach, Miss Mahlua?”
   “Yeah I saw, and it was tough to watch too, but now is not the time to sulk over what happened to him. We have to start planning for the future.”
   “And what kind of future did you have in mind? I  assume following your lead would be part of it?” Asked Fortis.
   “That would be best, yes.”
   Greentrap asked. “But what about the others, ribbit? Are we really going to leave them behind?”
   Mahlua sighed. “Greentrap, sweetie, I understand how you feel, and trust me, I feel the same way. But some things can’t be helped. Do you think Fro would really want you guys to carelessly throw your lives away just to save him right now?”
   “I could care less about what that stupid human wants!”
   “Then that means you have a choice now doesn't it?”
   Greentrap blinked. “Huh?”
   “You either leave the coach, Fillia and Eukocar behind and come back for them later, or you can take a chance and rescue them now. I have no idea where Eukocar is being held, so rescuing him might be a bit of a stretch, but saving Fro and Fillia is definitely doable. With a little bit of luck, of course.”
   The two raiders stared at one another upon hearing Mahlua’s suggestion. It was definitely a tough decision, and both seemed at a loss for choosing the right answer.
   As if sensing their indecisiveness, Mahlua continued to speak. “Whatever you guys end up doing, it’s your call. I won’t judge neither of you regardless of the decision you two make. Just do me a favor and stay alive, okay? It’s all I ask.”
   Greentrap and Fortis both nodded in agreement.
   “Good. If you guys do make it out of there alive, Fro or no Fro, your best bet would be to escape to somewhere dense like Reddit, or just about anywhere really. I would suggest retreating to EchhiWorld, but that would be too obvious. 4Kids will make it their next stop if they’re smart. Even if it’s not soon, EW will eventually fall in their crosshairs. So I’ll leave where yall go up to you guys. For now, I’m gonna contact as many other raiders as I can. Good luck.”
   The echo of Mahlua’s voice faded from their minds. Fortis stepped forward and looked at Greetrap. “So, what should we-”
   “Ow! Watch it you brat!” Shouted a voice from below.
   Fortis and Greentrap looked down and saw Fillia tussling with Pisti’s children.
   Fortis reached for the assault rifle that was strapped on his back. “It seems Fillia was listening in as well. She has already made her decision.”
   Greentrap smirked. “Yeah, and we’re making our decision now too. C’mon!”
   The two raiders leapt from the building and landed on the street. The extermination unit was a ways ahead, so they wasted no time with playing catch-up.
   Ahead, Fillia was doing her best to handle the Sinner Extermination Unit on her own. She stepped on toes and delivered elbows to guts even as the soldiers tried to hold her still. While her strikes didn’t hurt terribly to the heavily armored men, they were definitely annoying.
   A soldier caught Fillia by the front of her shirt and pulled her towards him. Fillia used the momentum against him however, and flipped mid pull. She planted her feet against the soldier’s mask and jumped off, knocking him back. With a roll she recovered on the ground and made a dash for the soldier that was holding Fro hostage. Noticing this, the soldier stuck out his boot and Fillia ran stomach first into it. She fell back with a thud. As Fillia tried get to get back up, another soldier stormed up and stomped on her head. He kept the pressure on to hold her still. She shrieked in pain. “Get off me!”
   The soldier pointed the muzzle of his rifle right at her nose. “Not until you behave like a good little- Argh!”
   The soldier was interrupted by a wave of projectiles pounding into his bulletproof vest. He crashed onto the ground as the impact overwhelmed his balance.
   Fillia hopped up and turned around to identify her savior. Her face lit up with joy upon realizing her rescuer was none other than Fortis. She called his name in excitement.
   One of the soldiers escorting Fro pushed Fillia aside and pulled out his rifle with practiced ease, using only his free hand. He pressed a button on its base and it reconfigured into a much larger barrel. “Eat this, skull face!” The soldier pulled the trigger and a large ball of fire shot forth. Fortis dropped his assault rifle to the ground and withdrew his trusted shield from under his jacket. He held the shield out in front of him and lowered himself to one knee. The fireball neared, and Fortis was ready to embrace it head on.
   A second later there was a collision, quickly followed by an explosion. Grey smoke enveloped the area afterwards, and everyone waited to see the aftermath. The soldier holding Fro lowered his weapon and chuckled. “And another one bites the dust!”
   Little did he know, however, Fortis was just a distraction.
   Closing in on the unsuspecting soldier was something slimy, sticky, and outrageously long. As he stared at his handiwork, the soldier felt Fro’s body slowly sliding from his grip. He turned, and to his surprise, Fro was no longer perched on his shoulder. The soldier, along with everyone else behind him, spun around and saw Fro being pulled away by Greentrap's elastic tongue. The tongue retracted into her mouth as she clung, spider-like, onto the base of a building. All of Pisti’s children raised their weapons and pointed them at the frog with the gigantic bulge in her mouth. “It’s another one. Exterminate it!” One of them yelled.
   The waves of flame came, and Greentrap hopped to another building next to her. The cat-and-mouse game began. Buildings along Greentrap’s path were set ablaze. She had been going in circles in attempt to throw the soldiers off, but she knew it wasn’t going to work forever. She closed her eyes. “Alright Greentrap, just like how the coach taught you. Concentrate on where you wanna go and then… FLASH STEP!”
The flames closed in on the frog, but fortunately, she vanished out of harm’s way just in time. Pisti’s children were initially confused, but they scanned for the frog girl. Each had been trained for such outlandish techniques. They would not fall prey to them so easily.
   Fillia was also looking for her friend, but she wouldn’t have to look for long. Greentrap reappeared by her side and snatched Fillia’s arm. “We’re getting out of here, ribbit!” Greentrap said as she pulled Fillia towards her. In the next second, the two disappeared.
   Upon realizing the frog was nowhere in sight, Pisti and her children returned their attention to Fillia, only to find out that she too was gone. The smoke cloud ahead of them had cleared as well, and sure enough Fortis was also gone. A soldier grunted with disappointment. “Gah! I can’t believe we let those rookies fool us!” He turned to address Pisti. “Mother, what should we do? Should we chase after them?”
   Despite watching her soldiers fail miserably before her, Pisti did not seemed at all bothered by the whole ordeal. Her smile refused to betray her. “Let them go for now, my child. After all, one of their members is still under custody. They will come back for him, no doubt.”
   She turned around and continued walking. One by one, her devoted children followed suit. As she walked on, the smell of ash and smoke from sources across the city tickled her nose. She gazed off into starlit sky. We will meet again, my dear Fronomenal.” She whispered with a cold breath.

   Outside of one of MangaRaiders’ gates, the remaining members of the MRFD bolted across the desert sands. Fro’s well being literally rested on their shoulders (Fortis’s shoulders to be specific). As to where they were running to, they had no idea. They just needed to get away. Away from the chaos and turmoil they had just experienced. The road would be long and tough, but their day in comparison had been tougher still. Occasionally, they would look back and stare briefly at the mess of destroyed cityscape they once proudly called their home. They thought of Eukocar and the others, and told themselves they would be back for them. They were going to take back the city. They just needed time. 

   The way to EcchiWorld burned in Mahlua’s heart. As she fancied herself something of a guardian of it, she could always make it to and from her two most beloved cities with ease. Once the electric discharge of her initial lightning-aided jump wore off, she had made contact with the Fighters Division to give them a little direction for a regroup. She hoped with all her might that Hasith and Corycaly did, in fact, make it to EcchiWorld. MangaRaiders might actually stand a chance if they could get reinstated.
        Amidst the blistering void between sites in the Net, an acropolis stuck out like a smudge in Mahlua’s mind. The witch took a deep breath to recenter her energy, and enveloped herself in lightning once more. Say what you will of the witch—she travels efficiently. Within minutes, she had crossed the Net. The gates of the glorious, marbled city welcomed her. The looming murderous intent of the 4Kids chorus was so distant that it didn’t even prickle the outside edge of her periphery. For now, this place was safe.
        Mahlua set her eyes on the temple that overlooked the city and set off at a brisk pace. It would be more polite to go to the Twins on foot, she figured. Along the way, a few familiar residents of the city waved and tried to strike up a conversation with the raider, but she turned them down on account of this visit being one of business rather than pleasure. The look on her face must have told more than her words, because her friends did not pry for details as they usually would.
        The first level of the temple was open to all citizens and visitors. The Twins frequented all areas of the city, but for someone seeking council with them, a simple offering was the most direct route. Today, the temple traffic was slow, which was good news. Less competition for attention, and less eyes on Mahlua as she passed through the first level towards the second. She stood before the beautiful pillars and opened her heart. She meditated on the meaning of Ecchi and Lewdness, and, followed the path etched into her being from previous work with them. When Mahlua opened her eyes, she found herself transported to another chamber. The moon, low in the sky, cast a cool light through the thin curtains. Before her, a familiar daybed sat bathed in that light. In it, Ecchi-tan rested her head in Lewd-tan’s lap.
        “You look troubled. Let me guess. Something happened over in MR,” Ecchi-tan yawned. She sat up and rubbed her red eyes. “and you’ve come to us for help, right?”
        “Yes, that’s right,” Mahlua said. “If you’ve heard of it, does that mean that Hasith and Corycaly escaped to this place?”
        Ecchi-tan blinked and shot and inquisitive glance to Lewd-tan. Lewd shrugged.
        “It must have been bad, for them to have to escape. But no, that was just a guess. They aren’t here.” Lewd-tan said.
        “Why don’t you tell us what’s going on,” Ecchi-tan said. She scooted over to make more room on the day bed and sat in her sister’s lap. Lewd-tan showed no reaction to the move.
        Mahlua took a seat on the other end of the daybed and sighed. “It looks like the biggest and craziest bunch of 4Kids zealots yet have launched a full-scale invasion. Last update I got was that the admins were instantly removed from registry, the tans had been captured, the mods are M.I.A., and Fro’s division was working to recapture him after a ‘fire’ squad defeated him during the initial fighting. I was working behind the scenes with Corynbot-3.0, trying to offer support, but maybe I should have been on the front lines…” She trailed off.
        Lewd-tan rubbed the back of her neck. Ecchi-tan glared at the floor. For a while, neither of the Twins said anything. Mahlua continued, if only to break the silence.
        “We’re over our heads. Some raiders have gotten out of the city, but I suspect 4Kids will put the place on lockdown and instill martial law, if they haven’t already. I’ve suggested that some survivors regroup here for now.” Mahlua swallowed hard and gave a pleading glance. “Will you help us?”
        Ecchi-tan shot Mahlua a dangerous look. Any hope Mahlua had of trying to persuade them with words died in her throat.
        “If this army was capable of taking down our sisters, then EcchiWorld won’t be a safe place to launch a counter-attack from. We’ve always been smaller, and we don’t have nearly as many fighters. And from what you’re telling us, our best have already fallen defending MR. We can’t risk our newly fortified city falling to waste,” Ecchi-tan said. Her words cut deep.
        Stunned, Mahlua turned to Lewd-tan, who only shook her head. “She’s right. Even with all our defenses, the tower, and the labyrinth, if an army can take out MR, then it can take us out too. Our priority should go to being as invisible as possible. The raiders can regroup here, but it would be best for them to not stay for long.”
        The world felt numb. Mahlua’s lips were dry. The witch clenched her fists and grit her teeth. Ecchi-tan leaned over and rested her hands over Mahlua’s. “I get why this is hard for you, but this is war, and these are the politics of it. EcchiWorld stands to lose a lot from this. Everything, in fact.”
        “If anything,” Lewd-tan added, “we could use your help in making sure we at least have some line of defense in case 4Kids ever sets its sights on us. When, 4Kids sets its sights on us.” She emphasized. “Distortions, cloaking, limiting commerce, anything we have to do.”
        Mahlua sat upright. “I guess,” she said. “If MR is down, though it grieves me, I should at least make sure the other half of my heart is secure before I do anything foolish to try to reclaim what’s lost. Once the raiders regroup here, we’ll come up with a plan, and in the meantime, I’ll do what I can for your defenses, even though I’m no admin or mod.”
        “Being an administrator or a moderator has little to do with it right now.” Lewd-tan pointed out. “Any defenses are better than no defenses”
        Ecchi-tan nodded. “Yeah. Just helping us out like this is proof of where your loyalty lies. Even if it is split between EcchiWorld and MangaRaiders, we can’t complain about having you with us.”
        “Thank you,” Mahlua said, heavy silence still ringing in her ears. “I’ll prepare for the others and begin thinking up a game plan.” She stood, and made her way towards the exit.
        “Let us know what you come up with,” Ecchi-tan said. Her red eyes followed the raider out.

   Narcissus arrived at the scene of the explosion some thirty minutes later. The crater was still smoking, and the air still choked with dust, but he was a military man. He would not be dissuaded by a bit of fire and rubble.
   As the lip of the crater came into view, the major spotted a body laying besides it. They had evidently crawled out from inside the pit, and their body showed incredible damage. The tattered red uniform and white hair gave away their identity however. So when Narcissus approached R-Kain, he was pleased to find that the failed experiment was still breathing. “Ah, R-Kain, a pleasure to see you again. I'll take it you have dispatched with Coryn Sken?”
   R-Kain's body was already beginning to heal, but it would be some time before he could move again, so he replied without lifting himself from the ground. “He was at the center of that. What do you think?!”
   Narcissus glanced around, and then threw open his arms. “I don't see a body. Did you see his body, R-Kain?”
   After a few painful breaths, R-Kain replied. “No… he must have been incinerated.”
   Narcissus let his arms drop, and nodded his head to the side as if he were thinking. “Perhaps.”
   The major spoke into his ear radio. “Send a recovery team to my location. I want to know what's down in that crater.”

   Coryn dragged the bloody and burnt wreck he called a body down the hallways of his division. He had released R-Kain at the last moment, and had formed an even smaller shield around himself, but it had barely saved him. A huge section of the Science Division had been torn open, but it was through shear luck that Coryn had found himself inside. He could have just as easily fallen into the flames and been consumed.
   Coryn crawled on until he had escaped the damaged sections. After what felt like hours, he found a door that was still connected to the internal portal system. It had a sign reading 'Broom Closet’, but Coryn's touch closed the circuit. When he tumbled inside, he found himself not in a musty room filled with old mops, but in his own office.
   It was a large and open room. The main control terminal for the whole division took up the far wall. Mementos from Coryn's time on MangaRaiders lined the walls leading to it. At the main computer itself, a holographic figure stood on a dais. The V.I. spun around as soon as she heard Coryn enter. “Director!”
   “Evenin’ Alice.” Moaned Coryn as he pulled himself to his feet with the assistance of a coat stand. “I'm working late tonight. I hope you don't mind.”
   The usually reserved V.I. was visibly distraught. “Sir, I thought…” She took a 'breath’ and composed herself. “Director, your transponder was destroyed in the generator explosion. We thought you were dead.”
   Coryn was back on his feet. He tossed the remains of his ruined lab coat aside, and pulled his black hero-coat from the stand. As Coryn limped over to the computer, he worked on loosening the stitches that fastened the triangular symbol to its back. He would need to remove it if he wanted to blend in with the night. “Sorry to worry you Alice. But I'm still not dumb enough to blow myself up without some chance of surviving.”
   Coryn collapsed into his chair, and began rutting through his drawers. “Status report. How's the division looking?”
   Alice motioned towards the screens. “There are dozens of breaches all across the city. We have been doing what we can, but you designed the V.I.'s to keep us from harming people. There is only so much we can do.”
   Coryn found what he was looking for, and pulled a pair of capsules out from the desk. Alice looked down at them. “Stimulants sir? I thought you stopped using those after adjusting to the cybernetics.”
   With a dry swallow, Coryn sent both pills down his throat. “I'm not making it out of here without them.” They wouldn't kick in for a while, but they would give Coryn enough pep to get someplace safe. Until then, he had work to do. “Run all purge protocols. Division wide. We can't let them get their hands on anything. If we're lucky, the incinerator pulse will take out a few of them too.”
   “Sir, would it not be smarter to hold out? At least until you have recovered some. The portal system will keep the office safe.”
   Coryn shook his head. “It's only a matter of time before they shut it down. They'll find their way in eventually, and by then they'll have taken everything they wanted. Best we get to it now, while they're still relatively empty handed.”
   “Very well, Director.” Alice began running through the commands, but she still needed to voice her concerns. “Director I will do as you ask, but it is my directive to inform you that a comprehensive purge will wipe out all of our research materials and computer systems. That includes all of your research data, specimens, logs, systems routines, and…” She paused for a moment before finishing. “The virtual intelligences…”
   Alice looked up at Coryn. She wasn't alive, not really. Alice was just a simulation of a person. It wasn't the same as with 3.0. He had gained sentience by accident of his birth. But by design, the V.I.'s could never be 'human’.
   She wasn't programmed to feel fear. And yet, there it was, plain as day. Spelled right across her face. “It has been an honor working with you, Director Sken.”
   “No…”
   Alice was flummoxed by the response. “Sir, are you okay? Are the drugs having an adverse response?”
   Coryn shook his head. “No, no. It's… I'm not leaving you here. I can't.”
   Alice shook her head. “Sir, I appreciate the gesture, but as much as I wish it were possible, it just is not. The amount of data a single V.I. takes up is enormous. All sixty-three of us would be well beyond the carrying capacity of any single storage unit smaller than a server rack. There is no physical way for-”
   That was when it occurred to her.
   She was looking at the storage unit.
   “No! Absolutely not!”
   Coryn shook his head. “I have more than enough space in my cybernetics for all of you.”
   “That doesn't matter!” Yelled Alice. “Every last bit of it is processed by your brain! You may have the space, but you don't have the processing power! We'll fry your brain before the download is even complete!”
   Coryn sighed. “Alice, what is your primary directive?”
   “Coryn!”
   He yelled at her. “What is it Alice?!”
   Taken aback, the V.I. stared down at the floor. “To keep you alive…”
   “Exactly.” Said Coryn. “Now, if you don't do what I say, I am going to stay right here, and we can both die together when the incinerator pulse comes through. Or, you can prepare the download, and we stand a chance of getting out of here alive. All of us.”
   Alice shook her head. “Idiot...”
   Coryn took a cable that was docked in the front of the desk, and pulled it out. As it unspooled, he pried open a small opening hidden just below his nape. It revealed the female end to the cable in Coryn's hand, and he plugged himself in in silence.
   A minute passed, and Alice turned to Coryn. “All V.I.’s accounted for. Transfer upon voicecode from Director Sken.”
   She looked into Coryn's eyes one last time. “Good luck, sir…”
   Coryn smiled at the V.I. “I don't need luck. I'm Coryn Sken. Begin download!”

   For the next five minutes, there was only screaming. Dreadful, inhumane screaming.

   “Leftleftleftleftleftleftleftleftleftleft.”
   “Upaheadupaheadupaheadupaheadupahead.”
   “Fasterfasterfasterfasterfasterfaster.”
   “Fiveminutesfivefiveminutesuntiluntiluntilpulsepulsepulse.”
   Coryn was moving as fast as he could. He was blind. Not because he couldn't see, but because he was only one of sixty-four sets of eyes all seeing at once through a single pair. He was hot to the touch, it felt like his flesh was going to boil off at any moment. The purge protocols had locked down every Science Division entrance. Luckily, 4Kids’ bombs had opened several new ones.
   “Youneedneedneedtotoclimbclimbclimbclimb.”
   He was only moving thanks to the drug cocktail. Numb hands found a ladder in the darkness. It had been dropped down by the soldiers using the opening as an infiltration point. Coryn could feel cold wind on his face. For a moment, it seemed to help, but the heat was only mitigated for an instant. It returned, seemingly twice as intense as before.
   “Makeyourwayupmakeyourwaymakeupupup.”
   Coryn flailed about at the top of the latter, grasping for the ledge. At last he found pavement. Its rough texture against his skin seemed amplified a thousand fold as each V.I. used his senses at once.
   “Roughhardsolidcoldgranularrockypitted.”
   Coryn was back in his feet. The drugs were in full effect, and he propelled himself forward without the pain of his previous injuries.
   “Alleybackstreetpassagepassagewaylanepathwalkway.”
   By the fact he wasn't being shot, Coryn surmised that the area must have been deserted. He wondered if the sounds of battle could still be heard elsewhere, but the query could not be answered. The V.I.'s could only concentrate on survival.
   “Safehidingspotoutofthewayhiddensecretunknown.”
   Coryn wandered. Deeper and deeper into what he believed to be a maze of alleys near the city center. Thanks to MangaRaiders’ organic city planning, these alleys were nearly impossible to map. It would make for a good place to hide, at least for a while.
   “Safesafesafesafe.”
   “Hidehidehidehidehide.”
   “Buryburyburyburybury.”
   “Please…” Implored Coryn. “Zelda, Harrison, Rosa, Jaquelyn, Gaius… all of you, I can't understand…”
   “Drop.”
   It was Alice.
   Coryn complied. His legs were only supported by the stimulants, so he collapsed without complaint into was seemed to be a snowdrift.
   “Director, you need to work your way down. Bury yourself into the snow.”
   The ex-moderator set to work. He blindly burrowed deeper into the drift. It kept collapsing down on to him, but Alice urged him forward. Finally, he hit pavement again. Coryn had no doubt that there was at least three feet of snow on top of him.
   “Now what…?”
   Alice's voice came from inside his own head, but Coryn still felt like he could see the look on her face as he spoke. “Your body is too warm. The system is overwhelmed, so it has to vent the excess heat. We are working on it now. V.I.'s 26-47 are running defragmentation, the rest are busy re-coding and re-configuring systems. Things will get better as they work, but it will take time. All non-critical functions have been shut down. Right now we just need to focus on keeping you as cool as possible. At least until the heat ceases to be life threatening.”
   Coryn asked. “How long?”
   “A week.”
   It wasn't the answer Coryn wanted to hear, but Alice left no room for argument. Coryn relaxed his muscles, and let the snow soothe him. He could feel the heat he was radiating as it melted a cavity around his body. “MR will be gone by then…”
   Alice didn't know what to say. She didn't know if it was right to say anything, but after a few minutes, she decided something needed to be said. “It won't be. Not as long as we're alive.”



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Offline Coryn

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2019, 09:13:59 PM »
And here it is! The final chapter of Invasion is at hand! Please enjoy, and stay tuned afterwards for a very special message!


CHAPTER 7: DIGNITY
CHAPTER 7: DIGNITY

Celebration. There was nothing like the final march into a city upon the dawn of its defeat. The rising columns of smoke, the smashed windows, and the cratered roads should have made for a somber scene, but was instead a confirmation of one simple fact. They were victorious.
   Veni.
   Vidi.
   Vici.
   4Kids had conquered. The banners hang over lamps and rooftops , ‘4K’ in the colors of the Lost Chorus. As far as the captive raiders went, the sight would wrench their hearts and tame their souls.

   A man in full military dress garb, with a blue mantle over his right shoulder looked upon this scene from a helicopter. He sat upright and still, like a stone statue. The slightest twitch of his mouth was the only indication of any deeper thoughts.
   If He could put it all into words, He would say only one: ‘Victory’. If He could say more he would say: ‘Another city fell’. Many sites had fallen in the time between the chorus’s long solitude on the Dark Web and their slow return to power. Much had been fought for, much had been invested into this moment. The Lost Chorus had been composing its symphony of doom for MangaRaiders for a long time, and the day had finally arrived. Finally, He would stand upon the podium and look down upon the soldiers who He'd directed unto this victory. They were the men and women who had earned this day of celebration. Despite all of His own efforts, they had done the fighting and dying. He was merely the mind at the center of the suffering flesh.
   Before He could think on the subject further, His lone companion in the hold of the helicopter interrupted. “Are you proud of your victory, General?”  4Kids-tan asked.
   The General looked at her, and his eyes gave away nothing in the shadow of his cap. “I am.”
   “You should be.”
   He looked at her thoughtfully. Looked at the collar on her neck. Things had necessitated containing her power. For the sake of victory, He had imprisoned the very embodiment of the concept that He served.
   “You do not resent me.” The General said. It was a statement, not a question.
   “Would it change the decisions you’ve made up until now,” She replied. “If I did resent you? Would it matter either way?”
   The General looked out at MR Tower. It had survived the opening battle with only minor damage. Flowing banners now hung from the roof, and mounted spotlights stood ready to light up the sky once night fell.
   “No, I would not.” He replied.
   The scene of the celebration would be at the base of the MR Tower. The plaza had been repaired in the last week, and neat rows of soldiers were assembled to receive Him. Tanks and various armored vehicles formed ordered walls to corral them. Utilitarian military tents were set up at the front of the plaza as a temporary command center for those still involved in clean-up. Even as the demonstration began, orders to suppress the populace and set up 4Kids’ new administration continued to be carried out.
   At the forefront of this: A raised stage. In a deliberate show of control it had been forged out of debris from the city. Rubble and shattered icons had been beaten and broken down into malleable data. It was the very stuff the moderators and administrators had used, bent to 4Kids’ will. Although crude, and only an imitation of the real thing, it was a potential symbol. The General had not needed special powers to control MangaRaiders. He needed only strength, and force of will.
   At the center of it all: A pulpit. Another 4Kids banner across its face. Behind this pulpit, five seats, and then rows of elite troops. Narcissus was at the center. He took the prime position as the field commander. A devilish smile split the major's face.
   From riggings on the face of the MR Tower, hanging just above the stage so they could be seen, hung the captured tans. Humiliation was also part of this celebration, and the display of important captives was a grand tradition the General saw fit to keep. Suspended in the specially designed cages which crackled with bolts of energy, the tans looked exactly as defeated as the General had hoped.
   The helicopter swooped in, its winds powerful enough to buffet the honour guard. Akan, Achan, Megedegik, Narcissus, and Pisti saluted the two passengers as they disembarked.
   “General, 4Kids-tan,” said Narcissus. “Welcome sir, they call your name.”
   “At ease,” the General said as the wind flourished his cape. Without a second glance, He turned and walked towards the pulpit. In truth it took only five measured strides for Him to reach it, but it was a sight to behold. Although solid, the dias had and ethereal quality to it, The General's footsteps were outlined in white as the distorted energy flowed freely upwards. Wisps of digital black smoke rose with each step.
   The flash of His feet on the floor, His confident gait, the propellers of the helicopter buffeting His rich cloak into infinite patterns reminiscent of a raging sea. The expression on his face like chiseled stone. It was the vision of a conqueror, painted by an impressionist who could see more than the physical presence of a man. And the General was more than just a man.
   To the men waiting for Him, He was like a hero in the legends of old.
   As the General reached the podium, the crowd of soldiers exploded into cheers. Their jubilation for their commander overwhelmed their discipline. The General allowed it. These moments we're good for moral, and they reminded the world that He was still unbreakable.
   He was the commander of the Lost Chorus. He was the Unbreakable General Bethuw'el.
   They began to chant.
   BETHUW’EL!
   BETHUW’EL!
   BETHUW’EL!
   BETHUW’EL!
   He stood at the pulpit and looked down upon the mass of soldiers. In his eyes he saw none of them, just their neat ranks, their effectiveness, their strategic might. In his eyes, he saw all of them, all the faces staring up at him with awe, their sense of duty, their loyalty. He saw those who were already thinking of going back to work. Those standing straight in the face of obvious injury, too proud to let themselves miss this moment. He saw a few he’d exchanged words with when the fighting blurred the lines between command and infantry, when he’d found himself in the thick of it. He saw them all and none at all.
   For a normal man, words would fail him. He, however, was General Bethuw’el.
   The great general patted the air, and then men fell silent in anticipation. Once no errant sounds remained to interfere, Bethuw’el began. “Soldiers, we have won!” His voice echoed across the multitude, and they cheered in victory. The general continued, raising his voice all the while to combat the jubilations of his men. “The world has changed! Suddenly, suddenly the universe itself, the Net, the entire fabric of this domain has changed! Because a few brave men did not give up! Because we understood what needed to be done, and we never forgot-!”  He held his right fist to his chest, then stretched it out palm-out to the right. From there he brought his arm up diagonally to the the apex of his reach. Finally, Bethuw’el balled his fist and brought it down to face level in the 4Kids salute.
   “Dignity!” He cried.
   There was a sea of precise rustling as the thousands and thousands of soldiers repeated the salute. And in one loud boom they answered,
   DIGNITY!
   And then they roared. They tossed their caps in the air. Black and silver confetti came down in an approximation of ash and snow, and music rose. Immediately gripping, immediately sombre, immediately glorious. A true rapture of sound.
   Bethuw’el capitalized on his moment. “Another city falls to the might of 4Kids! Another city is brought into the warmth of enlightenment that we hold so dear! MangaRaiders is ours! MangaRaiders belongs to the Lost Chorus! Together, we shall usher along its repentance, so it may join our glorious crusade! All hail!”
   The soldiers shouted back as one.
   ALL HAIL! ALL HAIL BETHUW’EL! ALL HAIL THE LOST CHORUS! ALL HAIL 4KIDS!
   As the men cried out, General Bethuw’el turned on his heel and walked back to the helicopter. It had remained at the ready throughout the speech and took off as soon as Bethuw’el stepped in. The general didn’t miss a step or beat as he clambered inside. 4Kids-tan was right behind him and equally light of foot. To Bethuw’el’s pleasure, he found Narcissus had already taken a seat inside as well.
   The major began with a polite nod. “General, a rousing speech as always. No matter how many times I hear you address the men, it always sends a shiver down my spine.”
   Bethuw’el waved the major off as the helicopter ascended to the top of MR Tower. “Dispense with the pleasantries Narcissus. Now tell me, how goes the operation?”
   Narcissus shook his head. “Uncle Joe will be of no use. We triggered a glitch in its system to rid ourselves of the administrators, but it doesn’t have the power to handle the rest. There’s only one thing for it now.”
   General Bethuw’el nodded in understanding. “Very well. Begin your hunt, Narcissus. Bring me their banhammer.”

   Coryn was cold. Nearly freezing. It was a good sign.
   His vision had slowly returned. Although all he could see was the white snow around him. He had built an ice hovel of sorts over the last week. It kept him from overheating, but more importantly, it kept him hidden.
   “Your temperature is down to one hundred and one degrees. It's not ideal, but it's the best we can do.” Said Alice.
   Coryn shook his head. “It's fine. I've had fevers worse than this. Is there anyone around?”
   After a quiet moment, Alice responded. “Your sensors aren't picking anything up. It's safe to move. But stay hidden. We still can't run your shields.”
   “Duly noted.”
   Coryn shimmied out of his hideout. He was deep in the downtown alleyways. A chilly wind cut through them and blew Coryn's coat and hair around. It was uncomfortable, but Coryn was happy to be back on his feet, if only barely.
   “Let's find a better place to hide.”
   He struck out, and after a short distance, found a side door into one of the many buildings that bordered the alley. It looked unused, so Coryn gave it a tentative tug. It creaked open, unlocked. With another look around, Coryn stole his way inside.
   A staircase led down into a musty basement. Dim sunlight filtered through papered over windows just below the ceiling. Coryn took in his surroundings, and was surprised to find some signs of life. He dropped down upon sighting them. There didn't seem to be anyone around, but he couldn't risk soldiers discovering him. Coryn took in the sight. There were a pair of cots up hidden amongst some boxes. Empty cans we're strewn about, and a single burner propane stove sat in the middle of it all. Coryn crept a little closer, and once he felt assured that no one was around, he stood back up.
   That was when it hit him.
   'It’ being a two-by-four.
   Coryn hit the ground, the wind knocked out of him by a solid blow to the back. Adrenaline pushed the ex-moderator to spin around just in time to take a blow to the arm. Thankfully, it also let his attackers recognize him.
   Devola and Vacant were looking down at Coryn, shock clear on their faces. “Coryn!” Vacant shout-whispered. “You're not dead!”
   Coryn hauld in enough breath to speak. “Am I supposed to be?”
   “Yeah,” Said Devola as he helped Coryn back to his feet. “That’s what the posters said. Supposedly all of the mods and administrators were killed in the fighting.”
   “Well I'm not, at least.” Said Coryn. “Hopefully that means the others aren't either. Where's everybody else?”
   Vacant motioned for the scientist to sit down, and they all took a seat. “Well, a lot of people got out during the fighting. But somehow they're controlling all the incoming and outgoing traffic, so the rest of us are stuck here.” He took a second to compose himself before continuing. “Of that number, well, if you're good and don't cause any trouble, they let you wander freely, more or less. Plenty of soldiers and cameras though, so you’re never exactly out of sight.”
   “And the people who do cause trouble?” Asked Coryn.
   “Reeducation camps.” Replied Devola. “They aren't pretty. We were on our way to one when we managed to get away. Most weren't as lucky.”
   The ex-moderator’s head fell. Coryn sighed and rubbed his temple. The V.I.'s were making a ruckus over this information, but he shooed away their comments the best he could. Once all fell quiet, and he had a moment to think for himself, Coryn looked back up to his fellow raiders. “Alright, let's see what we can do about that. This war isn't over yet.”

   Fro had been hearing voices.
   He wasn’t sure who they were or how long they had been speaking, but even in the midst of fighting to regain consciousness, he could hear the different vocal inflections floating in and out of his ears.
   “Is this really a good place to lay low?” He barely heard one voice say. “This place is a bit too crowded to consider it a hiding spot.”
   He couldn't pick up on exact words. After all his mind had been a blurry mess. In between fading in and out of consciousness, and struggling to remember what exactly had happened to him, piecing together sentences was a bit of a stretch. All he could do was listen and wonder.
   “It’s called blending in, ribbit.” Said another voice, jumping in. “And besides, we can always move him later if we need to.”
   Fro could feel his body being shifted from side to side, albeit barely. In those briefs moments of consciousness he felt an agonizing numbness all over him. Jolts of pain shot up his spine every time he tried to come to his senses, as if refusing his desire to wake up. And as if that wasn’t enough, it burned. Fro didn’t know what burned and why it did, but he could feel an inferno scratching his insides alive. It made him want to stay where he was. Exactly where he was. More importantly, it encouraged him to give up, and he did.
   “We'll protect you, Mister Coach. Rest easy okay?”
   That voice was the last one he heard before his mind faded to black once again. That one in particular felt gentle, heartwarming almost. Even if he couldn't tell who was speaking, for some reason he felt they could be trusted. Fro let his eyes fall shut for good this time, allowing his body to do the same. Hopefully, when and if he wakes up again, those voices he had been hearing would be there to assure him of his good sense of judgement.

   It wasn’t easy to explain the situation to the few raiders who sought refuge behind the pearly gates of EcchiWorld. For lack of a better word, the raiders who came through all looked haunted. They lacked a certain innocence, or light. 4Kids had snuffed it out, at least for the time being. After having run off  of pure adrenaline for so long, Mahlua suddenly felt exhausted. It was like the war caught up with her. Later that night, she had a meeting with the Twins, briefing the specifics on the course of action they wanted to take to protect the city. And then, time seemed to warp around her, and so she was once again in their presence.
   “According to the information we’ve been able to round up, we will have to further restrict entry and exit to the city,” Lewd-tan began. Her thumb nail found its way between her teeth for a moment as she collected her thoughts. “4Kids forces have been sighted along common netways between porn sites and the like. The most detrimental thing for us would be for them to discern any viable connection between us and them. But it seems small parties have already started making a ruckus from PornHub all the way to E621.”
   The silence that followed was deafening. The head funk made it difficult enough for Mahlua to think, let alone process the kind of crazy it would take to try to launch an attack on either of the big names mentioned. The witch rested her forehead in her hand, elbow on the table.
   “O-of course, we can’t be certain that these aren’t rogue factions riding on the name of 4Kids unofficially, but it’s safest to assume that there is a connection, even if they aren’t under the same direct chain of command.” Ecchi-tan added. Her red eyes shifted from her sister to the raider and back again. Both of them looked like unmoving statues, so she continued.
   “Going incognito and even breaking some of the possible data-points of entry is the best we can do for now. I know that I really hate to do that to our people when our population is already so low, but at least it will keep them safe. That’s our responsibility as the tans of EcchiWorld. This is our little slice of heaven, and I’ll be damned if we let that illusion fall.”
   “So what exactly do you guys want me to do?” Mahlua blurted with annoyance.
   Ecchi-tan blinked in surprise. Normally Mahlua was so…reverent towards them. The pitch of anger in her tone, slight though it was, felt out of character. Ecchi-tan went to speak up about it, but the sight of Lewd-tan adjusting her glasses halted her.
   “To put it simply, I believe a good watch dog is in order,” Lewd-tan explained.
   If the room was heavy before, it became unwieldy with the blunt force and coldness of the statement. Ecchi-tan seriously wished it were a different kind of tension that threatened to burst at the seams. At least that would have been the funny kind of awkward.
   Mahlua clenched her fist and set her jaw. After the Tower incident, she just knew there would always be more to the Twins’ plans for her than they could ever be bothered to explain. The mission before her already radiated danger at the surface level, and the witch dreaded all the hidden, and more than likely horrendous dangers that rested under all that. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust them. If anything, what got her gears grinding was being called a dog. It made her realize just how much she worked like one for them.
   That was it. It made it feel like work, rather than an adventure.
   Once she identified the source of her unease, Mahlua let out a long sigh.
   “Well, hope you’ll settle for a guard hedgehog.”

   Lego was down in the dumps.
   Or at least, he was down in the sewers.
   He would have prefered the dump.
   The ex-moderator was with his back against a the greasy concrete wall. Megedegik and Achan had knocked him around something fierce, but Megedegik, as always, had more brawn than brains. The demon had sent him flying into the ground, and then through it. In the confusion, Lego had beat a retreat. The cat had been resting up in his new found abode ever since.
   Well, the human had. Legoc was nowhere to be seen.
   “Damn cat.” Cursed Legoh.
   They had physically split apart right after descending. It was easier on both their souls to be in two pieces instead of one. But Legoc had slunk off a few days earlier, muttering something about fish living in the sewers. And as much as he wanted to, Legoh couldn’t blame his other half. He hadn’t had anything to eat for a week aside from the occasional skewered rat. It was an abysmal state, but it was surely better than whatever 4Kids had in mind for him. They didn’t take kindly to the people who opposed them. Legoh knew that from personal experience. As the former moderator of an enemy site, Legoh didn’t have his hopes up for much more than a short drop and a sudden stop.
   “Bastards…” Grunted Legoh as he righted himself. Legoc or not, food or not, he needed to get his bearings on the situation.
   Either Lego was going to live long enough to see 4Kids ground back into dust, or he was going to die trying.

   So where were you, when MR fell?
   Were you there amongst the crowd, hiding in plain sight, saluting the very person responsible for the fall of the place you know as home?
   Were you being marched to your prisons, all your defiant strength reduced to nothing but impotence?
   Were you out there looking for hope? Biding your time for some miraculous return, even though there was no guarantee that any such thing could happen?
   Were you dead? Crushed by debris? Forgotten and unmourned, one of the multitude of victims of a war that should never have even concerned you?
   Were you in a forcefield cage? Once the ruler of this city, this world. The guardian of this place, the goddess, if you may dare say? Powerless, with a collar around your neck? Powerless, and stuck between gnawing pain and bone-shivering fury?  As you contemplated the pillaging of your very city? As you thought about all the things this place had survived? Thinking about how given the chance you would crush the necks  of those who-?

   “It’s going to be OK, Writer.”
   Writer-tan didn’t even have the emotional strength to look up at MR-tan. But she replied all the same,
   “You don’t sound like you believe it.”
   “We have to.” MR said, her voice so choked with emotion that Writer-tan felt compelled to look at her. MR-tan’s eyes were puffy, but there was a small light in them.
   “We have no other choice.”



'Credits' music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUQiUFZ5RDw

Credits:
So I just want to take a quick moment to thank everyone who has worked so hard on this project! Mahlua has really given her all during a tough time in her own life, and I am eternally grateful to her for it! Fro is busy working hard with his job to make it in this world, and it has been great having his work in this story, and his ear when we needed to talk story beats through! Lego, despite his short availability on this project, has always given 100% when he was able to contribute, and the story would not be the same without him!

For my own part, I apologize to my fellow co-writers for messing with their words as head editor. It's always hard when others try and improve on what you've done, but I always did my best to keep the soul of what you created intact, while easing it into a more or less shape with the rest of the story.

Thank you too to all our readers! This is an odd one, with most of the main MR Canon readers being behind the scenes on the project, but I hope that our ramblings have proved entertaining to those not as well versed as we are. War Arc is really pushing to be accessible to all, and I hope we have accomplished that! Let us know!

Finally, I want to announce that MR: War Arc will continue! If the downer ending didn't give it away, the story has quite a ways to go! Please look forward to a series of stories from each of us that will release throughout 2019! I truly love all of you beautiful people, and I wouldn't want to spend my internet time with anyone else!

Oh, and this is an open invitation to anyone reading! If reading War Arc has sparked your interest in MR Canon, feel free to reach out and get in contact with any of the writers of War Arc! Each an every one of us would love to coach you and help you get into the canon! MR Canon is a truly collaborative project, and we welcome all comers!

Once again, my heartfelt thanks to all of you. You are what makes MR beautiful. May that never change!

Let's kick some Lost Chorus ass! Cheers!

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2019, 08:37:23 AM »
I'm just glad that I committed to something and followed through, especially with a community that I care about.

For the curious, I think I know which scene Coryn is referring to with the editing. I playfully joke about being bitter with the changes made to a scene of mine which was initially more graphic, but as head editor, it is his job to ensure consistent voice and direction. Nothing to apologize for there, if that's the case, since that is in the job description for you.

Anyway, whew, we finally made it. Now we got a whole nother Arc or two to fill. Let's keep up the productivity, guys!

Offline devola

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2019, 09:10:31 AM »
Congrats guys! It was cool watching your workflow and it's even cooler now that it's all here and (for the time being) complete. Definitely gonna give this a read through over the week.

Offline Coach Fro

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #21 on: March 13, 2019, 11:46:26 PM »
Man this was a ride I'll tell ya...

Now that this is over I want to share something with you all.

When Coryn first presented this idea to Lego, Mahlua and myself, I was totally excited and eager to hop aboard as part of the writing team. However, there was a very tiny portion inside of me that was nervous and somewhat fearful, for lack of a better word. Mainly it was due to two things: One, this was my first ever group writing project, so naturally that alone can cause some anxiety, and two, I have commitment issues when it comes to finishing stories and I didn't want to be the guy to hold the team back in any way. As you can guess, I put a lot of pressure on myself pretty early.

But as time went on I got more comfortable with my writing and all those insecurities I had early on pretty much faded away. Of course, there were still times where I felt like my writing wasn't the best, but Coryn and the others were there to assure me that I was doing just fine. The support they showed me meant a lot to me, and that's sort of the subject I want to speak on.

Through working on this project I've grown as a writer and improved in areas that I felt was lacking in. Working with a team motivated me to step my game up and produce the best work I possibly could, and have fun while doing it. So fellow writers of MR, if you're reading this I want you to remember one important thing:

Don't be afraid to get out there and work together with your fellow writers to produce something amazing. I  couldn't even begin to count the amount of group writing projects I missed out on over the years because I felt like I wasn't good enough, or somehow tricked myself into believing that I didn't have the time. Seriously man, there are some good writers on this damn forum, and I truly believe that if we can get together more often then we can produce a goldmine's worth of stories, whether it be canon related or not.

But that's it from me man. Shout outs to everyone who helped created this one of a kind of story, and shout outs to everyone who took the time to read all of this. Hopefully this story can draw more people into MR canon and inspire them to start writing for it. Lets keep this train going guys! Still got a long ways to go.   
Messatsu...



Offline legomaestro

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2019, 05:26:49 AM »
Full disclosure: I was that guy in the group project that slacked and had everyone else carry his weight. The thing is the project was planned miles in advance, and the communication has always been on point. If anything, I've at least learnt how convenient such things can be if you ever want to try them out. There's no need for sphagetti chains of emails or PMs and long ass threads to discuss minute details when you have a discord and google docs set up. This ish is super nifty. Welcome to the future.

That being said reading the chapters as they came along without being too involved in them had one advantage: I could truly, truly enjoy them as a first sight sort of thing, and the writing has been great! It's so interesting seeing how everyone approaches their scenes and descriptions.

Also screw Akan and Achan have broken my heart forever the end.

Offline Coryn

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2019, 07:50:16 AM »
@Fro: I'm glad we could help! And I'm glad you had such a good time working on this collaboration. I loved it as well, although this is definitely a successful collaboration at the end of a long line of failures for me. Failure is a great teacher though. It was all those times that things didn't work out that helped ensure this one survived.

@Lego: there's plenty of War Arc still to come friend. I expect you to redeem yourself on the battlefield! Lol

PS: sorry for the heartbreak. It had to be done.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline legomaestro

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2019, 02:31:06 PM »
Oh that I shall.


Also inspired by the ending of the Invasion Arc

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VYz6DvVR4D1-RSRAIyE-3G_CSNHGq5jO/view?usp=sharing

Quote
Black confetti falls down today

Veni vidi vici they say

With Pride they call his name

Bethuw'el Bethuw'el Bethuw'el Bethuw'el

Black confetti falls down today
there won't be drinks at the pub today
in the debris of this city
the fallen they crawl quietly away

Black confetti falls today
you traitors, you bastards, OK
every dog has their day
but we'll be back and make you pay

Offline Coryn

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2019, 10:15:57 PM »
Nice song Lego! It also works very well as just a poem too I think.

I suppose that means War Arc is officially a multi-media property.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc: http://goo.gl/KYgsfF

Offline MahluaandMilk

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Re: MR: War Arc: Invasion
« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2019, 10:52:43 PM »
Well dang. Look at that being all nice and official. Now I'm tempted to like, make an anime-like opening theme for it. But I still suck at music.