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Author Topic: MR: War Arc: Coryn: Part 1  (Read 79 times)

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Offline Coryn

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MR: War Arc: Coryn: Part 1
« on: June 09, 2019, 08:45:49 PM »
And the War Arc rolls on! We got a series of more personalized stories coming out to continue the story! Each of these will be written by a single one of our authors, so you'll get to see a whole handful of individual styles on display!



CHAPTER 1: INSURGENCY
MR: WAR ARC: CORYN: PART I

CHAPTER 1: INSURGENCY

A spring day passed on MangaRaiders as many a spring day had passed before. People went about their business. Some of it was personal, some of it was for work. Men and women occupied MR Tower and monitored the city to keep it free from intruders. Others enjoyed a drink during a free moment, or even took their mid-day meal in one of the city’s many parks. All throughout the streets, MangaRaiders’ occupants took the time to enjoy the warming rays of the sun, glad to feel free of the frigid winds of winter. Even the cherry-blossoms blanketed the roads and pathways with their fair colored petals.
   From this description, one might assume that all was as it should be.
   And depending who you asked, that just might be true.
   There was just one problem. That problem was that while people went about their business, while men and women monitored the city’s safety, while others enjoyed a drink or a meal, while the occupants soaked in the sun and the pink petals fell, while all of the good things about spring took place at exactly the right time that they should, the people who were enjoying those things were not the raiders themselves.
   The raiders sat locked up in camps, or huddled in their no longer private homes. They huddled in dark buildings and underground. They scurried past patrols while no one was looking, or bent their heads in reverence, out of fear that they would join their brothers and sisters in the camps if they didn’t. They stood in far away places, looking into the sky, hoping that in all the intricacies of the Net, that they were somehow looking in their true home’s direction, but knowing they may never return.
   The raiders were scattered and quelled by the might of the Lost Chorus. And no matter how warmly the sun might shine, or how gently the petals might fall, none of them could take solace in the beauty that spring brought forth.
   So was the situation that MangaRaiders found itself in during the first spring of 4Kids’ occupation. But for all Bethuw’el and his Lost Chorus had changed, even the vaunted general could not keep night from following the day. As the day waned on, the sun dipped below the horizon, the moon emerged, and the warmth of spring gave way to the chill of night. Jackets and coats emerged from lockers and closets, and both 4Kids and the surviving raiders hunkered down for another cool night.
   All, that was, except for a notable handful.

   At Fuel and Chemical Depot 11, a pair of Lost Chorus soldiers patrolled the catwalks over the hulking vats of vehicle fuel. The white painted containers were covered with sturdy lids, so they did not worry about the possibility of falling into the fume heavy mixture below them. Leaving explosive fuel open to the air would have been foolish, and 4Kids was anything but. No, no stray ember or absent mindedly flicked cigarette could affect them. What the two soldiers worried about was something far more tangible.
   For the first two months of occupation, 4Kids had presided over a quiet city. Any open resistance from the native population had been squashed within a week. Those responsible had been carted off for interrogation and ‘special’ reeducation. And so, the first few months had passed in peace. But in the two and a half months since, a little bit of hell had broken loose. Someone, or a group of someones, had been carrying out attacks against 4Kids installations. They had always struck under cover of darkness, and while not always deadly, they had succeeded in causing headaches among the upper ranks. As a precaution against further strikes, command had doubled the guard at what had been dubbed ‘sensitive locations’. Of course, fuel depots were chief among those.
   One of the soldiers looked down at the enclosed lot that held the two massive fuel containers. A mix of prefabricated buildings and canvas tents filled out the rest of the site. Between them, she could see other patrols, all keeping a sharp eye on the facility. The math was simple to her. There were twice as many guards here than was needed, at least three dozen. The insurgents were estimated to be less than half a dozen in number. In the worst case scenario, they outnumbered them six-to-one. It would have been suicide to attack Depot 11. No matter how brazen the raiders had proven to be in the past, the only answer any reasonable person could be expected to come to was that resistance was futile. The insurgents' only course of action have to submit themselves to the order and unity of 4Kids. Their only other option was death.
   The soldier took in a deep breath through her nose, and let it out through her mouth. The depot was safe, she and her comrades would see to that. 4Kids reigned supreme, the raiders would not last until the end of the month.
   She relaxed, just a little.
   That was the exact moment she felt a knife plunge into her neck.
   
   The 4Kids guard fell still in the masked raider’s arms. Across the catwalk, he could see as his partner silenced the other guard just a moment later. In unison, they stripped the pair of their helmets and rifles. The bodies were tipped over the catwalks, only to fall a few feet onto the fuel tank lids. A soft ‘thud’ rang out as the dead soldiers landed, but it was not enough to alert the guards below. If anyone had looked up, they would have only seen two figures patrolling at a studious and practiced pace. The quick disguises would not fool anyone taking an close look, but the raiders had placed their faith in the rest of the guards not taking too much interest in them. If two shapes were moving through the darkness five minutes ago, two shapes moving through the darkness now would not raise the alarm.
   That was for the rest of their team to do.

   In the front right corner of the depot, another soldier was walking by on patrol. Just as he turned the corner, an object bounced off his helmet. At first he was only startled, and he looked up to see if there were some obvious explanation for what had hit him. He saw only the top of the high wall surrounding the depot, and heard no movement. So instead, he looked for what had hit him. When he laid eyes on the object, his eyes nearly burst out of his skull. Laying on the ground right next to one of the chemical sheds, he saw a live grenade.
   Years of training kicked in, and the soldier rushed to lay himself over the explosive. He would surely die in the act, but it was his only chance of saving the chemical shed the bomb was threatening to detonate. After all, the life of a single soldier was worth far less than the collateral damage the loss of the important chemicals would cause to the Lost Chorus. His legs pumped hard, and he dove for the grenade. It went off while he was still in the air.

   A ball of fire erupted in the corner of the depot as the chemical shed went up. At once, every soldier within the walls was rushing for the flames. After all, if they didn’t put them out, there would be a much bigger explosion to worry about once the fire reached the main fuel tanks.
   Every soldier that was, except for the two on top of the fuel tanks. The two raiders kept the helmets and rifles on. Both for protection and defense, and for the off chance that if another soldier spotted them, that the sight of a 4Kids helmet might be enough to dismiss them at a distance. They slid down the tanks’ ladders, and made straight for a tent on the far side of the storage depot from the exploded chemical shed. Both rifles snapped up as they burst inside the canvas flaps, and prepared to fire on any enemy occupants. To their relief, the found only one living soul inside, and it was the one they were hoping to see. Another raider stood amongst the crates. He wore the same face masks that they did, a simple cloth that hid the everything below the eyes, and a hood which covered the hair. It was a simple affair, but it kept their faces off the cameras. With everything else going on in the city, they needed even the meager advantage anonymity still provided.
   As their rifles went back down, the man in the tent spoke to them. His expression was unreadable, but his intentions were clear through his voice. They needed to hurry.
   “Swift 2, grab everything from your list that you can find. Swift 3, cover the entrance. Let us know if you see anyone coming.”
   Swift 2 nodded and set to work, while Swift 3 slid his back up against the tent’s ‘door’ and peered through the slim opening. With luck, his black clothing would keep any passing soldiers from noticing him through the gap. Behind his back he could hear the other two rustling through the crates, boxes, and cylinders as quietly as possible. There were some noises that could not be avoided, but the inferno raging on the depot’s far side drowned out most of it. As they worked, he shot back a question. “Any word from Swift 4, Swift Leader?”
   The man they had found in the tent, Swift Leader, replied. “She’ll be halfway back to base by now if they haven’t captured her.” He was shoving samples of the stored materials into a backpack. “Swift 4 will be fine. Just concentrate on what’s going on out there. What can you see?”
   “The fire is spreading, it’s nearly halfway to the big tanks.”
   Swift leader opened his mouth to acknowledge the situation, but was cut short as a voice cut through the permeable canvas of the tent. “Hey! Who’s in there?!”
   “*censored*!” swore Swift Leader under his breath. He turned towards Swift 2 and tossed him his backpack. “Get that out of here. The supply run is over. Swift 3, we’re causing a distraction.”
   Swift 2 tossed Swift Leader the stolen rifle in exchange, and made ready to slip out under the back flap of the tent. “Good luck!”
   “Won’t need it, but thanks.” said Swift Leader as he cocked the rifle. He joined Swift 3 at the entrance, and listened. The fire was positively howling in the background now, and the acrid smell of burning chemical stung their noses. But past all of it, they could detect the sound of approaching footsteps as they crunched over the gravel.
   After a countdown on Swift Leader’s fingers, the pair burst out of the tent, rifles raised. Just outside the tent, they found a 4Kids officer flanked by a pair of guards. Normally the members of Swift Team would have had a disadvantage in this match-up, but right now the 4Kids soldiers weren’t prepared for a surprise attack. The raiders were, so they dropped the guards while the officer was still reaching for his sidearm. Swift 3 dropped him before he even had it out of its holster, but now their secret was out. Even the inferno, glowing brightly in multiple colors as it ate through the stored chemicals, was not noisy enough to mask gunshots.
   The smart move for the two remaining members of Swift Team would be to retreat over the wall behind them, but that could inhibit Swift 3’s retreat. So instead, they rushed forward. The first few guards they met were still easy pickings, but as more gunfire filled the night air, the rest came to the correct conclusion about what was happening. The correct move, in the eyes of 4Kids, was to overwhelm the insurgents and put and end to their attacks then and there. Many guards chose that approach, but the towering flames had a way of cutting right into the reptilian brains of even the most hardened and well trained 4Kids soldier. In turn, Swift Leader and Swift 2 had a much easier fight on their hands, but it was still unwinnable. Almost the moment they met organized resistance, they had to start falling back. Their fighting retreat was spurred on as much by the soldiers and their guns as it was by the brilliant flames. The fire had reached the main tanks, and it was steadily climbing up their sides. White paint blackened and peeled off in great ribbons as the flames ascended. There were protections built into the containers for such a situation, but they could only delay the inevitable. At last, the remaining steadfast soldiers decided it was time to make a run for it. Swift Team made the same decision at almost the exact same moment, and together the two groups began sprinting in the opposite direction.
   Because of this maneuver, Swift Team did not notice as one of the fleeing guards decided to throw a grenade of her own. It was a last ditch effort, and she threw it wide, but when it went off, it exploded another storage tent that was yet to catch fire.
   A tent that just happened to be right next to Swift Team.
   Swift 3 was far enough away that the blast only knocked him to the ground, Swift Leader however, was much closer. Although the shockwave and shrapnel did not reach him, he could not evade a flaming mass of chemical goop that was ejected from the tent. The searing chemicals caught him across the face. It latched onto his mask and hood, and sent him to the ground. In shock, he sucked in a breath of superheated air which flooded into his lungs through his facemask. But the shock did not last long, and the materials he wore were resistant to such things. Swift Leader reached up with gloved hands and tore off both garments. Neither were connected directly the the rest of his clothing, so both came away easily. Swift Leader tossed both to the ground, and took in another breath of cool, if foul air to calm the fury in this throat and lungs. The damage would put him out of commision for a few days, but they still had enough medicine that he would not suffer permanent scarring. A minor relief, given the pain he was experiencing in the moment, but a welcome one.
   Swift 3 had recovered before Swift Leader, and his eyes went wide in shock at seeing his compatriot unmasked. “Your mask! The surveillance!”
   “It’s too late now!” shouted back Swift Leader. “The smoke should be covering us by now anyway! Let’s get out before reinforcements show up!”
   With that word, the pair made for the perimeter. They scaled the fence, and dropped into the darkness of the alleyway beyond. They would be far away by the time the big vats went off, although the shockwave still proved to be more than enough to send them to the ground. Thankfully, the local 4Kids presence was more concerned with getting the blaze under control than they were with capturing those who had caused it. The insurgents of Swift Team would live for another day.
   Of course, there were still those who aimed to see they wouldn’t see a third.

   MR Tower still teemed with activity, courtesy of the Lost Chorus’s upper echelons. Military command had taken control of the upper levels, intelligence commanded the middle, and general administration had taken the rest. There were, of course, exceptions to this structure. Some floors were reserved for special reasons. Some served as officer barracks, others were dedicated to studying the raider relics found there. But one in particular, served as a scientific lab for a very unique member of the Lost Chorus leadership. And it just so happened to be the floor that Major Narcissus found himself currently traversing.
   Narcissus strode along the long corridors with a jaunty tune whistling out between his lips. He clasped his hands firmly behind the small of his back. They held something that he found very interesting indeed, and he intended to share it with the class.
   Aides, lower ranking officers all, passed him in the winding corridors. Each came to a halt to give him a sharp salute when their moment came. Maybe a word of acknowledgement would follow, but the major ignored each and every one of them. Narcissus had a much bigger fish he needed to talk to.
   Well, two, technically. But Narcissus thought of the other more like a fighting dog. Caged, but always rearing to be set free. The imagery brought a smile to the man’s face, and Narcissus carried it with him as he passed into the room he was looking for.
   The space took up the central portion of the floor. It was dark inside, lit only by a scant few overhead lights and the light of dozens of computer screens. Each station was occupied by a member of 4Kids’ research division, but Narcissus was not interested in what they were doing. Instead, he concentrated on the far wall, where his targets that morning awated him, even if they did not yet know it.
   “4Kids-tan! R-Kain! It brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart to see you two getting along so well! May I join you for a moment?” Asked Narcissus with a grin. It was an order disguised as a question, and neither had any choice but to humor him. Not that R-Kain had any other options in that moment. He was held firm and undressed by a contraption which he was placed in the middle of. His forearms and lower legs disappeared into metal bindings which connected him to a floating metal ring that encircled his whole body. Lights flashed along the ring's surface, and Narcissus could trace long tubes of fluid from the bindings, through the ring, and into a bulky computer system which sat adjacent to the circle. Beside this stood 4Kids-tan, who seemed to be monitoring the goings-on with a handheld screen. She looked at him with disdain, but knew better than to assert her own priorities over his.
   “Major Narcissus,” she said with practiced ease. “to what do we owe the pleasure? As you can see I am just performing my weekly examination of R-Kain’s physiology.”
   “Ah, yes,” cooed Narcissus. “more blood from the failed tan to fuel your research on the real ones. How goes that, by the way?”
   4Kids-tan shook her head. “My headway is slow, but I am beginning to glean useful information. It is not often that we have access both to the original sample, and their copy, even if he is corrupted.”
   At this insult, R-Kain sneered at Narcissus. “What is it that you want? I am not here for your amusement!”
   Narcissus made a ‘tut-tut’ noise with his tongue and shook his head. “Of course you aren’t my dear boy! You are here to serve at the pleasure of Bethuw’el! No, I bring you today a piece of information I think you will find interesting. 4Kid-tan, if I may.” The major gestured at an unused computer terminal that stood nearby, and the tan nodded in agreement.
   “It’s yours to use. Just a moment, I will let R-Kain down. I have all that I need for today.”
   A minute later, R-Kain and 4Kids-tan joined Narcissus at the station. R-Kain was yet to put his uniform back on, but Narcissus excused his lack of protocol. He was a man that valued function over form, and it would not serve their purpose to have R-Kain waste time by rerobing. With a small sense of personal satisfaction, Narcissus opened the file he had uploaded to the terminal. On the screen now played a video. Neon flames and thick black smoke was all that the three 4Kids leaders could see. Every once in a while, a small glimpse of the ground beyond could be glimpsed, but they only lasted a moment, and showed nothing. Even still, Narcissus smiled widely. “This, my compatriots, is footage from last night’s attack on FCD 11. Do you notice anything?”
   R-Kain shrugged with a huff. “Just fire and smoke. Cut to the chase. What do you want us to see?”
   “I concur with R-Kain,” said 4Kids-tan. “we do not have time to waste, major.”
   Narcissus sighed, and began sliding his cursor along the video’s timeline. “Neither, of you have any flair for the dramatic do you? Nevertheless, I shall indulge you. Now, see here.” He pointed at a seemingly random point on the screen, which showed only smoke, and set the video to play back at a fraction of normal speed. Then, one frame at a time, the smoke parted, and a face was revealed. A moment later the smoke collapsed once again, but Narcissus placed the cursor back to the time signature in question, and left the video paused.
   There, frozen in digital time, was the face of Swift Leader, he was breathing hard, twisted around for a reason that wasn’t apparent. His hair was mussy, and he had let his usual stubble grow into a short beard in the time since he was last seen, but his visage was unmistakable.
   On the screen in front of them, almost completely obscured by smoke, but very much alive, was Coryn Sken.
   R-Kain took a step back with shock, but did not let it show on his face. Narcissus though, smiled at knowing he had put Azazel’s failed experiment on the backfoot. The major turned to R-Kain. “Indeed, it seems the ex-moderator is not as dead as you lead us to believe, R-Kain. Perhaps you can enlighten us to why you have spread such a destructive lie?”
   R-Kain did not rise to the prompt. “So he’s not dead? So what? I kicked his ass the first time, and I can do it again. You can just-!”
   The fiery experiment was about to go into a tirade, but 4Kids-tan cut him short with her own words. “So I take it Sken has been the cause of this insurgency then? You are implying that, aren’t you major?”
   The tan was perceptive as always, and Narcissus gave her a nod of appreciation. “Indeed, which is where R-Kain comes in.” He turned towards the man, who was still trying to swallow his words from a moment earlier. Narcissus continued without waiting for R-Kain to finish. “You are to hunt down Sken and his insurgents, and to wipe them out for good this time. Am I clear?”
   He had been, but R-Kain felt the need to push for more. “I’m only one being. I’ll need to requisition some things.”
   Narcissus waved the request off casually. “Of course, of course. But you had better do your job right this time. If not, the general may not be so courteous to you.”
   R-Kain narrowed his eyes. “He won’t need to be.”
   The major met the expression with his own equivalent. He accepted R-Kain’s claim with the exact amount of malice he felt necessary. “No, he won’t. Now get dressed. I want you on the hunt by this afternoon. Dismissed!”

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