The WASP came in to the government bureau. The enemy had massive amounts of anti-air and ground forces. They were also getting their airships into position over the capital building. This was a problem. Wolf had the shield come down over the front, sending out the glassy attachment. The WASP’s particle beam let fly, and it was beautiful. The beam was redirected in a hundred different ways, ripping their ground vehicles apart. It also brought down dozens of fighters. There was another effect. The beams ripped several of the stabilizers of the enemy airships apart, sending them drifting down. One landed on the Upper Tier. Everyone could hear the support columns buckle. It wasn’t a pleasant sound. Pandemonium was overtaking the city. Droves of people took to the streets, eager to be a part. Chaos was a subtle word for the battle that was unfolding.
Two-Face’s unit unloaded not far from the tram station. The civilians were already scared. He felt like a cop again, helping them get to safety. Catwoman was backing them up, headed for the civilian sectors of the Upper Tier. He had special new units with large specialized shields covering them. The people were already on their side. The Empire’s forces were scared, not caring who they killed. It made Two-Face sick. This kind of undisciplined bullshit should have gone out of them with basic training! But his people were not losing their calm. Their losses were few, thanks to these new shields.
The fighting there wasn’t nearly as fierce as on the Lower Tier. Their allies were signaled to move in once the attack had begun. The Lower Tier descended into madness just that fast. People were in the streets with Molotov cocktails and any weapon they could get their hands on. The Empire’s forces abandoned restraint and started firing on the crowd. This had the opposite effect that it was intended to have, which was to get the people to back off. If anything, it just made the crowd angrier. Rage was fuming out, as Black Mask desperately tried to get their forces to get to where they were trying to go. Once tanks started rolling out, all semblance of law and order disintegrated. The Runners displayed quite a bit of ingenuity when they saw that giving guns to the citizens who were determined to fight wasn’t a bad idea. It worked. Old soldiers looking for payback, former police who wanted to help the people they had abandoned and even Honorary Americans who couldn’t pull the trigger on their own people. They were all given weapons, and it was helping Winter’s Shadow immensely. The Runners even deployed explosives on the tanks, which was helping them more. But the fighting was brutal. The ghettos were burning, with no fire department able to help them. Another interesting thing that was happening was that people were running into the streets not to fight, but to get people to safety. Office workers, restaurant servers and blue-collar workers were finding balls they never knew they had as they helped get the injured and bystanders to safety. EMTs were running through the gunfire, acting as field medics. There were two, a young woman and man, who were something else. They were dodging explosions as they went to where the front was, helping treat wounds and even do rudimentary surgery on the civilians who were fighting. It was impressive, to say the least.
Azrael was neck-deep in it. The Empire knew that if they lost the government bureau, they lost the city. The area was absolutely loaded with automated defenses and soldiers. Bane sent some of his people to back him up when he was being pushed back. But just as things were looking bad for them, something happened. Fire came raining down from the sky. It turned the area in front of him into a funeral pyre. Inferno landed in front of them, letting his flames ignite the soldiers in front of them. The screams from cooking men and women were ringing out. Shockwave landed beside him as well, sending electricity through the piping, bursting them. It covered soldiers in water, which was just what she wanted. The voltage carried through, making soldiers double over and get shocked to death. It was an ugly way to die. Wolf’s Knights were finally on the scene.
The WASP landed, with the Empire’s soldiers running to meet them. Anarky came out first. His kinetic blades were deflecting bullets. The man walked with a cruel sense of confidence. He wasn’t afraid of anything. Ever. Radio ran out after him, jetting herself up with her sonic emitters. Soldiers fired at her, but it did nothing. The bullets warped around her, not even coming close. Soldiers with particle beams were coming out as well, which was a problem. She let loose with the emitters, gathering up the sound waves. She sent it down in one fell swoop, literally crushing those beneath her. She landed deftly, getting out of the way. Particle beams were rushing out. This was where Firefly and Deathstroke got to show their Specials counterparts what they were made of. Firefly was like a dancer as she deftly moved to avoid each shot. It was beautiful to watch. Deathstroke, on the other hand, was like a ninja. He kept low, moved fast. By the time he closed the distance, the enemy had no idea he was there. His blade went to work, cleaving through the enemy. The enemy was scared. The League of Assassin’s three members who were with them joined up with him, each clearly being impressed. Firefly saw a tank coming, and she knew what to do. Her boosters let her glide over, and she grabbed the machine’s exterior. Her charged arm did it’s job. A red glow burst forth, and the metal inside of the vehicle started to have bubbles form up. They grew and grew until it exploded.
Red Hook and Anarky caught sight of some soldiers coming up behind, and they went to work. Anarky’s blades created a fountain of gore from them. Red Hood’s invisible arms had them being ripped in half, not seeing what did it. The entire force was dead before they knew that something was happening. Full-Crank ran over to the fallen tank, mutating its munitions into something he could use. Another tank was coming up. He turned the gun on it, firing a round at the side. It blasted through the tank, sending it off the edge. Wolf’s Knights were proving how good they truly were. The Empire’s soldiers were doing their best to keep distance, but it was not helping.
The only side of this battle that was doing well for them was the airship side. The Empire had lost about 12 of their airships, but they were still in this fight. Winter’s Shadow was now in a kind of stalemate as they were going back and forth. This wasn’t good for them. The flagship of this fleet had powerful shields, so unless they could get close enough to unleash their full potential, the Aurora Cannon was useless to them.
Admiral Bequette looked at what was happening at the ground. All we have to do is hold out! If their airships fail, then we can just bomb their ground forces! We can still win this! All we have to do is hold the line!
On the bridge of the Odysseus, Captain Matthias was worried. We can’t keep this up much longer! We’re not gaining any ground! That’s when he knew what to do.
“Bring the Aurora Cannon online!”
“But sir, we aren’t close enough to get past the flagship’s shields!”
Matthias shook his head. “We’re not aiming at the flagship. This is becoming a battle of attrition. One that we can’t win. It’s time we take the edge off of them.” He cued up a firing solution. “Take aim at these coordinates. Fire when ready!”
The cannon started charging.
“Admiral, they’re preparing to fire their primary weapon!”
The Admiral smiled. “Don’t worry! At that range, we’re safe.” You’re getting desperate, Winter’s Shadow!
The beam let fly. The red glow was like a sun, painting everything happening below the color of blood. It was on target. Instead of going at the command ship, it instead targeted another part of the encirclement. Six of the Empire’s airships were completely destroyed. Another two crashed, one outside of the city. The other landed right on the edge of the Upper Tier. It ripped through it, collapsing onto the Lower Tier. The supports of the Upper Tier were screaming as they buckled. To everyone below, it gave them pause. For a moment, they were contemplating that the section above was going to come down on them. It was a scary thought.
“All ships, move to the opening! Hit the flagship with everything you’ve got!” Matthias ordered. “Bring its shield down!”
The Admiral was nervous. They used our formation against us! How did they get a weapon that powerful?! He tried to coordinate for their ships to move in, but the fact was that they just didn’t have that kind of mobility. A new problem came up. Their smaller ships were back! They were pummeling the backsides of the other ships in the encirclement.
Matthias looked over, smiling. “I knew you wouldn’t let us down!”
The screen cued on with a Japanese captain saluting. “We’ll bring down the remainder of their fleet! Concentrate all fire on that monster!”
He saluted back. “Will do. Good hunting, captain!”
“To you as well.” All of the airships were now involved. The Aurora Cannon couldn’t be fired consecutively. But it didn’t matter. The smaller cannons fired, slamming into the enemy’s shield. All of Winter’s Shadow’s airships grouped around it, concentrating their fire on the Odysseus’s target.
“Transfer all non-essential power to the shield! Don’t let the enemy get through!” This wasn’t looking good. Not at all.
Deadshot and Delta took up position on a skyscraper in the Lower Tier. They were assisting the Runners by sniping any vehicles and troops that were taking shots at them. It made for a good training ground for his method of shooting. Delta was a good student. She was even taking risks and took a couple shots from her teacher. He was impressed, to say the least.
Ghost, Copperhead and Ventriloquist got into the enemy’s barracks. Ventriloquist finally got to show off her talent. Her dark passenger took over one of the enemy’s commanders, using it to set up bombs all over the place. Anyone who got suspicious ended up with their throat slit or a bullet in the back of their head. When it was done, they got out, blasting it when they were in a culvert that led to another part of the base. The entire thing collapsed, with the enemy unable to do anything about the fire. The water mains had blown ages ago, when this battle started.
Wolf and her team got into the capital, heading toward the chamber where the Viceroy was kept. Wolf was very clear about keeping the Viceroy alive. She needed a bargaining chip for when Adam inevitably came for a counterattack. His little sister would do just fine. She was going to send a couple parts, to make sure he knew she was serious, but she didn’t care. It was all good, in her mind.
Right as they came around the corner, a Knight of the Crown was standing there. It was Cecil. She had two pistols, both very long, drawn.
“This is as far as you go, Wolf!” the Knight snarled.
A dark laugh came from her. “Is that so?!”
“I will finally avenge our fallen comrades! Your days of fighting against the Empire are done!”
Another laugh came. It was from Emily. She came around the corner, with 20 of the Empire’s soldiers under her control. “You are a slave, Cecil! You will regret that decision!”
The Knight was in shock. “Emily, but why?! You’re one of US! Why would you fight against your own people?!”
The soldiers opened fire, but the Knight was ready. The piece she had on her back suddenly became dozens of little pieces. The pieces all glowed a vivid red. Like the pedals of a rose. They became as blossoms, blocking the shots as they came. Suddenly, the bits went flying individually. The soldiers that Emily was using were cut to pieces. They turned on her, but were blocked by swords that looks and sounded like glass. Anarky came up behind her.
Emily shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe it’s because they aren’t my people! The Empire imprisoned me and used the person I loved as a weapon against me! My days of being their slave are over!”
Cecil snarled, “Then you shall perish with the rest!” The bits formed all around her. There must have been hundreds of them. The glow was beautiful. Emily fell back. She knew that this kind of battle was out of her league. And Cecil was smart enough to not let her get close enough to use her talent. Though that wouldn’t help, because these things were controlled by the Knight’s mind. So they would cut her to ribbons anyway. Anarky, Radio, Firefly and Deathstroke stood tall. The bits became as swords, flying at them. Anarky was in his element. He could not only control the kinetic blades from afar. He could also grab them and use them on his own. His blades blocked incoming bit-swords, while he grabbed two. He charged right at her. But the Knight was ready. She used her guns to block his blades, while firing at him. Anarky used every trick he could think of, but she was as good as her name implied. Deathstroke came up beside him, also getting in on the hand to hand. Anarky couldn’t use his distant kinetic blades, as they were blocking her bit-swords. Cecil saw an opening, kicking out his leg and then using a booster to send him flying into a wall. She turned on Deathstroke, but her bit-swords were still blocked. She looked over to see Radio projecting a field of sonic energy around Deathstroke.
“It seems that your talent is only as good as the person using it, Imperial dog!” he snarled.
Cecil brought her guns up. “We shall see, Number! We shall see.” The battle between the two was as fierce as possible. But Deathstroke was a superior swordsman to Anarky, and it showed. Cecil was having to move incredibly fast to block his blade, which made it harder for her to control her bit-swords. This, in turn, made it easier for Red Hood to get behind her.
Right as she finally got through Deathstroke’s defense and got a gun pointed at her head, her arm suddenly was ripped off at the shoulder. The woman screamed in pain, falling to the ground. Then, one of her legs was ripped off as well. The Knight was rolling on the ground in agony. Red Hood came up in front of her.
“First rule in combat, never let your guard down!” She took out her pistol, firing right into the faceplate of the fallen Knight.
“I didn’t,” was the last thing she said. In that moment, a bit-sword took Red Hood’s head clean off. Then the bits collapsed as she died. It was a rather somber moment as they stood there, seeing one of their own and one of the enemy fall. Wolf was the one to step forward.
“Anarky, take Red Hood’s body and get it back to the WASP. We shall mourn her once the battle is done.”
He nodded. “Yes ma’am!” He got over to her, resting his hand on the fallen body. “You did good, Red. Real good.”
The airships of Winter’s Shadow didn’t let up on their assault. Finally, the Imperial flagship’s shield collapsed.
“Hit it with everything you’ve got!” Matthias ordered. As bidden, they let fly with as many round as they possibly could. The secondary cannons on the Odysseus fired again. While the Empire’s ship was strong, it couldn’t take this kind of barrage. Much like the sea-faring ships of old, rounds ripped its hull open. Then, a rail-cannon hit their primary reactor, and it was hell from there. Particles could be seen leaking out of it.
“All ships, fall back!” Matthias ordered. Good thing, too, because in that moment, the reactor went critical. It blasted everywhere. Strange thing, the blast didn’t just go outward. Particle jets went in odd direction, ripping into the Upper Tier, all the way to the Lower Tier. Whole sections of the city were completely destroyed. The lights were beautiful as they fell. Like falling stars. The sun was coming up as the ship’s parts rained down as well. Whole sections fell onto the Upper Tier. By this point, it was almost completely destroyed. Winter’s Shadow lost a LOT more people to this than it did to the Empire’s forces, who were all-but-defeated at this point.
Emily looked up at the destruction. She could feel something. Someone. Someone she wanted to see. She knew he was alive. In the fallen wreckage, but alive. Limping his way out, trying to sneak away. She meant to follow.
Wolf burst into the bunker which was where the Viceroy was supposed to go, in the event of an attack. But she wasn’t there. Nobody was! In fact, if there was one thing that was odd in all this, it was that the capital building was oddly absent of activity. There were signs that people hadn’t been here in a while. This was strange. Did they get her to safety? How could we not have seen anything? No way an airship could have gotten her out. Not in this battle. Something’s not right here. She set a link with Oracle on their network.
“Oracle, see if you can find any information about the Viceroy. She’s not here. Something’s off about this.”
“On it, boss.” There was silence for a few minutes. “She disappeared! Princess Amelia hasn’t been here for almost three weeks! They’ve been scouring the city for her, but no luck. Imperial forces are scared as hell. They haven’t told anyone. They don’t want to admit it. With how things are, I can understand that impulse.”
Wolf nodded. Part of her plan was up in smoke, which wasn’t good. It wasn’t good at all.
Admiral Bequette was far outside the city. The section of wreckage he was in had crashed in the woods not far from it. The man was barely able to walk with is leg gashed open, but he was determined to get away. Far away. All I have to do is wait for Prince Adam! I’ll tell him that we were betrayed! He’d buy it! No way that some fucking Numbers could outsmart the Empire! I just get away from those fucking animals, and I can retire with my reputation intact. It will all be just fine. He looked back at the city, with the sounds of war still echoing. Numbers just a bunch of animals anyway! Who give a shit about them?! Way I see it, we should have killed those trained gorillas ages ago! We’ll come back, then teach them never to fuck with us again! Just you wait! Just you fucking wait! He limped further, until the forest was all around him. The man became very lost. The sounds of war were long gone, blocked by the density of the trees here. He looked in every direction, not sure what to do next.
Suddenly, he was frozen in place. He couldn’t move at all!
He was turned, face-to-face with Emily. She had collapsed the helmet to her Armor, so she could look him in the eye.
The man relaxed. “Oh, thank god! Emily, you must get me out of here! The fucking Numbers, they destroyed my ship! But no worries. All is not lost.” He smiled at her. “All you have to do is get me out, say that the Numbers had spies in our midst! Then, both of us look good. Then, I get you into the Knights of the Crown, retire with honor and both of us are set for life! What do you say?!”
His face got darker as he heard her start to chuckle. It grew and grew until she burst out laughing.
“What the hell is so god-damn funny?!”
She wiped her eyes, having started to cry, she was laughing so hard. “Oh man, you are pathetic! It doesn’t even matter what the truth is, to you. All you care about is what it looks like. You get your ass whipped, so you make it look like it was the Number’s being tricky. You can’t own up to the fact that you are a pathetic commander. That would be too hard on your fucking pride!”
The man snarled at her. “Now listen here, you little bitch!” His mouth was suddenly clapped shut, biting on his tongue a bit.
“No YOU listen, you fucking bastard! You use me, throw me in jail, try to use the love of my life as a weapon against me, but now you want me to have your back?! Un-fucking-believable! You truly are a narcissist. Nothing matters to you, beyond how you look. You married my mom because she can make you look good by not being a trophy wife. You get me into the Specials so you can be a man of the military, who you placated yourself to. Now, you try to bullshit your way out of failing so that you look like a victim of treachery. Well you know what, I’m done! I’m not doing ANY favors for you anymore!” Suddenly, two of the arms of her Armor disengaged themselves, nestling in the trees above her.
“You ever read the original version of Snow White? See, in the original story, the evil queen didn’t plunge to her death. No, instead, she is tricked. She believes she succeeded, and the good prince invites her to a celebration. There, Snow White reveals that she is alive, and the prince has a special death in mind for her.” The arms started to make the man dance. “They clapped boiling-hot iron shoes onto her feet and she danced herself to death.” A cruel smile came to Emily’s face. “While I don’t have boiling-hot iron shoes, I like the concept.” She looked around. “We’re a LONG way out in the middle of nowhere. Not much of anyone to find you. This Armor can disengage its arms and they have enough juice to be active for a LONG time, at minimal functionality. Keeping you dancing should do just that.” She walked right up to him as he started to pick up rhythm. “Goodbye, father! I’d say I hate you, but the truth is, I’m offended to have known you. I’ll give mom your regards.” The control of his mouth stopped as she started to walk away, not looking back.
“You think this is the end, you little bitch?! I’m not done with you! Do you hear me?! I’ll get you for this! I’ll kill your little dyke too! I’ll rip her apart in front of you! I’m not done with you! YOU’LL PAY FOR THIS!” His screams echoed into nothing, not even getting above the treeline. Someone would eventually find him, several months later. They would be terrified beyond all reason, never going back. It would be the beginning of an urban legend. The dancing corpse of the deep woods.
Far away, Prince Adam heard of the attack. He was finally getting a handle on the AU invasion. Now, he was scared to death. His sister was probably dead, and Area 7 was going to fall back into the hands of the Numbers. It was a sad day for the Empire.
Just then, he got a beep on his console. It was a message. The source was unknown. He cued it up.
“If you’re watching this, then I am dead. Most likely killed by the Wolf. My name is Elena Morrison, and there is something you need to see. I’ve uncovered everything. I know who the Wolf is.” There were dozens of attached files. It was all the information she uncovered. For the first time, Prince Adam was smiling. He finally had an advantage. He could destroy her, once and for all!
Until next time, a quote,
“I mean, do you realize what a vile world we live in? How lonely it is just to wade through all that wretched filth on your own? Of course! Of course, you understand. Even in a crowd of other screwballs, you’re so alone that you can kick, call, yell, scream at the top of your lungs! And no one cares. It’s like you don’t even exist!” -The Joker, Batman: Arkham Origins